Storm Warnings are Flying
Dr. Gerald L. Stover of Lansdale, Pennsylvania, has served the Lord for many years as a Bible teacher, author and Christian educator.
Someone has said that we are a part of the most amazing generation since apostolic times! It is a day of technological advance. Scientists of our day apparently have researched everything from molecules to moons. Some men have expressed themselves fearful of that which they have helped to create. The winds of moral rebellion have blown upon every segment of society. In fact, they have reached hurricane force, and threaten truth and righteousness wherever they exist. It is not exaggeration to say that in the path of the storm lies our homes, our churches, our government, and behind us is pure devastation.
Storm warnings are flying in great passages of the Word of God. To believe in the prophetic Scriptures is to give heed to the warnings of the Word. To ignore the signs of the times as a Christian is to ignore the warning signals and to invite certain disaster. God describes our days as days of danger (1 Tim. 3:1-5).
During the last century the winds of moral rebellion and apostasy have intensified. The winds of destructive criticism of the Scriptures have brought about new theologies and moralities, and have thus increased the dangers of spiritual decay and dissolution. The Word of God with its interpretations of the times has hoisted the storm warnings for all to see. It not only defines the times, it astutely describes the times in which we live.
Storms of moral and spiritual decay have increased to hurricane proportions. Social corruption is obvious on every hand. The Word of God, with its interpretation of the times, has hoisted the storm warnings for all to see. The times are extremely perilous in our own country and around the world. In 2 Timothy 3:1 the times are defined; in verses 2-5, they are described. “This know also that in the last days perilous times shall come” (2 Timothy 3:1). In the opening words of this verse God utters words that have the sense of “Be keeping this in mind.” The demonstrative pronoun this points us to the truth expressed in verses 2-5. To determine the significance of the last days the context should be examined. Are they the last days of Israel, or do they refer to the last days of the earthly sojourn of the Church? It seems clear that the last days of the Church’s earthly sojourn are before us, days that immediately precede the translation of the Church to heaven.
Richard C. Trench in commenting on the word times (Gr. kairos) says, “a critical epoch-making period foreordained by God, when all that has been slowly and often without observation, ripening through long ages, is mature and comes to birth in grand, decisive events which constitute at once the close of one period and the commencement of another.”
Perilous times as an expression points us to times hard to deal with, difficult, dangerous days, fierce days. There is no hope that the days will improve. In the light of 2 Timothy 3:13, there is no hope for improvement.
2 Timothy 3:2 declares, “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy.” The apostle uses the generic form for “men” (Gr. anthropoi) and therefore, the reference is to all men in general. This cannot be, and must not be, limited to the professing church. This is true of mankind in general, not true of every man, in every detail.
Men in general, without experience with the grace of God, as they will be known to be in the last days, may be described thus. Men so described will be fond of self, self-centered.
To be covetous (Gr. philarguroi) is to be literally a “lover of silver.” Words like grasping, materialistic, earthly-minded, carnal, can be used to describe one who lives for gain. In these first two words describing men in the last days the writer links together a lover of self with a lover of silver. In many lives the two go together. It is so strange that so many can live for what they can count, what they can hold in their hands.
God describes men of the end of the age as being boasters (Gr. aladzones) or pretenders to be many times what one is not. They are proud (Gr. huperephanoi) and desirous of showing themselves above other people, no appreciation of the grace of God. They are described as blasphemers (Gr. blasphemoi). Handley Moule renders this word by “foul-mouthed.” They are slanderous, no reverence for God or the things of God. They indulge in abusive speech, a habit that is widespread today.
That the Holy Spirit includes many young people in this list is demonstrated by the use of “disobedient to parents” (Gr. goneusin apeitheia), ungrateful to man and God, and “unholy” (Gr. anosioi), meaning opposed to righteousness, depraved, nothing held sacred.
“Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good” (2 Tim. 3:3). “Without natural affection” (Gr. astorgoi), used of the love of parents for children and vice-versa. This points up the depravity of the human heart when such can be discarded.
“Truce-breakers” (Gr. aspondos), implacable, refusing to enter into a treaty, refusal to live together in peace. “False accusers” (Gr. diaboloi), slanderers, producers of scandal, backbiting, used of Satan who is the devil. “Incontinent” (Gr. akrateis) without self-control, dissolute, lacking in understanding of sex.
“Fierce” (Gr. anemeroi), meaning savage, not tame, marks a time of increase in bestiality, cruelty, and marks a day of murder, plunder, unbelievable violence of all sorts. “Despisers of those that are good” (Gr. aphilagathoi), indicating those who despise all forms of goodness, whether in men or things, high standards and purity are rejected. Here is rejection of anything that is honorable, just, pure, of good report (a rejection of all things in Phil. 4:8).
“Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God” (2 Tim. 3:4). Traitors (Gr. prodoti from predotes meaning treacherous). Such men are found not only in the world, but often make profession of Christianity and thus do great harm to the Christian testimony. Heady (Gr. propeteis) means literally to fall forward, to fall headlong, reckless, headstrong, heedless of the rights of others. “High-minded” (Gr. tetuphomenoi) from tupho meaning to raise a smoke, to wrap in a mist. In a metaphorical sense it has the idea of to puff up with pride, to render insolent. When one considers the form here the idea is that such a person is one whose mind is permanently given over to pride.
“Lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” gives us a picture of one who madly rushes ahead for pleasure, thrills, fun, social life, and all this with no sense of spiritual values whatsoever.
And the tragedy of all this is that some of those characterized as in verses 1-4 may be further described in verse 5, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” Someone has said that here is religion as a form, and not religion as a force. Unfortunately there are those professing much but possessing very little apart from an interest in religion. A form of godliness may include recognition of certain religious days, participation in forms, ceremonies and gifts. Orders of service and liturgies may be respected, and yet, no real, life-changing experience is enjoyed. This is cold, dead, lifeless religion, religion with no power to change life or destiny. Religion that makes no contribution to holiness in life is worthless. A religion that does not result in a change of direction in the life is worthless, indeed. But the world is full of this kind of religious activity. It is this activity that will abound in the end of the age.
What Paul was saying to Timothy was simply that in the latter days of the Church, perilous times will make their appearance, which times will be characterized by the description of mankind in 2 Timothy 3:1-5. Throughout history there have been many periods of moral depression, and we would not suggest that any one such period in itself is proof of the nearness of the Lord’s return for His Church or the end of the age. There are other factors to be considered as we set ourselves to look at the attending indications that the end of the age is nigh. These factors become important to any study of the end of the age as they are viewed in the aggregate.
Doctrines of Demons
The moral and spiritual decline of the age is important as it is related to other vital factors that point to the end of the age and the nearness of our Lord’s return for His blood-bought Church. Note, for example, the ecclesiastical factors and place them alongside of the moral factors, and to do this, begin with 1 Timothy 4:1-6.
Verse 1 of this strategic chapter declares that the latter times will be characterized by a departure from the faith. In so doing men give attention to doctrines promulgated by demons. Evidently demons work through men who deny the Christian faith. They speak lies in their denial of the faith (v. 2). A sampling of their teaching is given in verses 1-3. Their teachings are demon-inspired, wrote Paul to Timothy. This statement in itself leads us to the conclusion that the blatant denial of the truth regarding the Person and work of Jesus Christ is likewise Satanically inspired. Satan has given birth to the unbelievable denial of the Christian faith fostered by those who support the doctrines of spiritism. In our day those days are growing in their bold denial of all that pertains to the Person and work of Christ, the authenticity of His Word, and many such related points of Christian belief. The Church of Satan, the doctrines and dangers of the seance, the deceptions of the seance and kindred subjects are all Satanically projected with the result that many have been deceived. In the latter days these deceptions will be multiplied.
The denial of Jesus Christ by false teachers is evident from 1 John 2:18; 1 John 4:3; 2 Peter 2:6. The denial of His return is envisioned in 2 Peter 3:3, 4; the denial of the faith is pointed up in Jude. The denial of sound doctrine is evident in 2 Timothy 4:3, 4. Sound moral standards are denied in 2 Timothy 3:1-8, 13; Jude 18. All these things are indicators pointing to the nearness of the Lord’s return.
One of America’s best-known denominations provided a series of studies for its people entitled Paths to God. There can be no doubt about the fact that this was intended to give credence to other religions of the world, and at the same time to deal a blow to belief that the Bible is indeed, the Word of God, and to the fact that Jesus Christ is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” and that no man can come to God except they come through Him (John 14:6). In the judgment of this writer, the first article in this study series gives away their unbelief. The Foreward, Part 1 says, “Aeons have passed since the man-creature pithecanthropus erectus shambled to his feet, looked about him and somehow felt stirring within him a human soul. With that act man’s destiny became linked with the Unknown.” This is sheer blasphemy, and deserves to be denounced by every Bible-loving believer. But then—this is the trend today, and has been for a good many years. One title for a lesson of this series is, “Primitive Religion,” and others follow: Paths to God —Hinduism, Paths to God—Buddhism, Paths to God—Zoroastrianism, Paths to God—Taoism, Paths to God—Shintoism, Paths to God—Confucianism. This in many ways is quite characteristic of the so-called informed, liberal mind.
Attention should be called to the fact that 1 Timothy 4:1 spoke of departure from the faith in terms of “giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of demons.” This passage of the Word obviously credits false, seductive and dangerous doctrines to personalities herein called “spirits” and “demons.” In a very real sense Satan and his hosts can be credited with fostering, fabricating, and spreading false doctrine. I have had the task of teaching the truth about the origin of astrology, demon possession, divination, consulting with demons, and you may be absolutely certain that such pursuits are Satanic in origin, and must never, never be touched in any form by persons seeking truth. And, of course, no Christian ought ever in any way whatsoever expose himself to the attack of the evil one through these channels. I personally have no doubt whatsoever about the fact that much false doctrine, denial of the great tenets of our Christian faith, is the offspring of demonic influence or control. Satanic activity world-wide has as its purpose the destruction of Christianity, the Word of God, and any and all denials of the great doctrines of our faith can be traced to Satanic opposition and intent to deceive, and even destroy the spiritual, mental and moral wellbeing of those who would expose themselves to the attack of the enemy of man’s soul, even Satan. The unbelievable, incalculable spread of demonism and related deceptions throughout the whole world can only be explained by the fact that we have approached those conditions described in the Word as the last days.
There are other indicators that compel attention, and which are indicative of the fact that we are approaching the end of the age. These factors are international, political, and scientific. These will be dealt with in succeeding articles on Storm Warnings are Flying!