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Jack Graham - How to Live in the Last Days

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    Jack Graham - How to Live in the Last Days
TOPICS: All Things New, Book of Revelation, End times

At the end of the age there is coming great wrath, the final wrath of God. In fact, in chapter 15, beginning in verse 1 it says: "Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, seven angels with seven plagues", these are not chubby little cherub angels, these are executioners, these are judgment angels, "which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished". It's the final curtain, it is the last act. The wrath is poured out. And with this wrath, God as always reveals His grace and His love.

Verses 2 through 4 tell us this: "And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire", have you ever wondered if it shows up in a song about the crystal sea in heaven? That's the imagery here. This beautiful sea of glass, here mingled with fire, "and all of those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside", notice they are standing, "beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb". It's always so true of God. Romans 5:20, "Where sin abounds, grace much more abounds". And in the midst of all of this judgment there is the joy! With all of these plagues and the pouring out of the cup of God's wrath, the water-boarding of the world, if you will, there is coming great joy for the Christian.

And John sees this vast multitude, this massive throng around the throne of God! These are the tribulation saints, those who have come out of the Great Tribulation, who stood for Christ in the worst times in the history of the world. Times, Jesus said, were so evil, so wicked that no one would survive them. And yet, these tribulation saints, the 144,000, the great two witnesses, those who come to Christ against all odds in the tribulation, they are standing there. They refused the mark of the beast, the 666, and they are faithful to Christ. And therefore they sing a song of victory. Now these, of course, are representative of all of us who will stand at the crystal sea. All of us who will be before the throne of God in that day. It says they are playing harps or instruments. Never understood why some churches never wanted to have instruments in their church. There are instruments in heaven. Beautiful instruments and praises to God are being offered, worship!

Worship ministry continues in eternity. All of our worship leaders are still going to have a job. I'm not sure about me! But did you know there are more commands in Scripture to sing than there are to pray? Of course, we're to pray! But we're to always praise God. And in this prelude to the pouring out of wrath, this pause, if you will, before the plagues come to the earth, there is worship. And we are now getting ready for that day. That's why we worship! The Scripture says in Psalms 16:11: "In Your presence, Lord, is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore"! What joy it is to worship God in advance of this day and then throughout all eternity! This is why we sing "Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound". "When we've been there 10,000 years bright shining as the sun, we've no less days to sing God's praise than when we first begun".

Ten thousand reasons, ten thousand years and forevermore we will be singing and worshiping our great God! Well, chapter 15, the shortest chapter in the book of Revelation, concludes because it is, as I said, a prelude to the plagues that come in chapter 16, and the details of the final judgment that are to come. The angels are pouring out these bowls. And the word bowls here in chapter 16, it's really a saucer. You say, what's the difference? Well, it's the sense that it is a shallow saucer in that these bowls of wrath are not poured out a little bit at a time but they're splashed on the earth! They're just emptied very quickly out of these bowls or saucers of wrath. This is the darkest chapter in the Bible. Chapter 16 of Revelation is the most horrifying chapter in all the Bible!

Now let me encourage you, when you come to chapters like this that reference judgment, don't skip over that. Don't say, "Well, I, you know, I don't like all that judgment. I don't like all those plagues and wrath". You just, "Get me to the other end, get me into heaven". No, we need to realize as we read the Revelation, first of all, there's a blessing promised when we read the Revelation, all of it. The very first chapter of Revelation, there's a blessing promise to those who read and heed the words of the Revelation. So don't skip by this! But let it settle, let it sober you in the face of such judgment. And again, never, ever, ever, ever as a Christian apologize for the holy judgment and justice of Almighty God! The chapter warns us that a fiery end is coming, that God is punishing and purifying the earth.

Remember, he's making all things new. In order to make all things new He eradicates sin and sinfulness. And there is, therefore, the plagues that are poured out. Verse 2 speaks of the first plague: malignant sores, cancerous disease. Verse 3, polluted seas. The seas are toxic and polluted, they're blood-like. Verse 4, poisoned fresh water. The seas as well as fresh water, drinking water, all the rest, poisoned. Verse 9, scorching fire and heat. Peter tells us that the world is going to end in a fiery blast. I don't know about global warming, but I know it's going to warm up a lot at the end. Verse 10, or the plague 5 is chapter 16, verse 10, darkness and misery and anguish and hell. People gnawing their tongues. Jesus described this. It's a brutal picture of hell. People chewing their tongues and gnawing their mouths. It's hell, it's misery, it's darkness.

Then there's military invasion in verse 12. That's the sixth plague that is poured out as armies from the east, a great battle will ensue, and we'll get to that battle in chapter 19. But then earth, earthquakes and final judgment in verse 17. So there you have it. These seven plagues that are poured out. Now for years and years we have talked about nuclear holocaust. Since the atomic bomb was dropped in the late 1940's the potential of nuclear disaster has been on the horizon. We've had treaties and weapons controls and all the rest, but there's always the fear that someone's going to push the button. And today, of course, the deep and valid concern that a terrorist group could get hold of an atomic weapon or a nuclear weapon. And now you have dirty bombs or chemical weaponry. And it seems that this kind of nuclear holocaust is described here in Revelation chapter 16. We know it will be global catastrophe. Up until now when you read your Bible all the judgment-Noah's flood, and Sodom and Gomorrah, judgments in the New Testament-they've been localized. But this is worldwide.

This is a global catastrophe. And the response you would think would be cries for mercy in the midst of this misery, repentance. But in fact, verse 9, look at it. Chapter 16 and verse 9 says: "They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. And they did not repent and give him glory". Incredible! The fact is a person can become so hardened, so scorched in their sin that their conscience is seared over! They have no desire to repent, to receive forgiveness and mercy! Their heart is hard and calloused; their conscience is crusted over. And in the face of judgment they're not flinching, they're cursing God, blaspheming the Spirit of God! It can happen today by the way.

The fact is that you can hear the Gospel of Jesus and say no and no and no and no and no, and you know, typically what we do over and over again, we get pretty good except for golf. But if we do something over and over again we get pretty good at it. If you get unfortunately good at saying no to God, you get really good at it, till you say a final no, and you pass the point of no return, beyond the point of redemption! God says, "My Spirit will not always strive with man". The Proverbs says, "He who is often reproved", who hardens his neck, that is bows up, against the grace of God, stiffens your neck against the love and the grace and the mercy of God, "He who is often reproved shall suddenly be cut off, and that without remedy"! There's no cure. And that's what happens here in the Revelation at the end, but it can happen to you today. That's why we say, "Today if you hear His voice, don't harden your heart". Come to Jesus. If you're a Christian get your friends to Jesus.

C.S. Lewis said this: "There are only two kinds of people, those who say 'Thy will be done' to God and those to who God in the end says 'Thy will be done.'" All that are in hell choose it! Without that self choice it wouldn't be hell. And so mankind chooses hell and judgment. Verse 14 calls this a very descriptive word: the "great day of God Almighty". You see it there in verse 14? This great day of God Almighty, this final war, the final battle, it's the great day of God Almighty! Paul spoke of that day. He looked in faith at that day. He said, 2 Timothy 1:12, "I know whom I have believed. I'm persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed unto Him against that Day". That is our confidence in Christ! We believe! And when this Day comes, we will be saved from that wrath which is to come. Are we living in the Last Days?

The title of this sermon is "How to Live in the Last Days". We're told not to speculate or guess, but we are given signs and scenarios in Revelation and throughout prophetic scriptures that are indicators-like birth pains in preparation for birth-that tell us, that suggest that the final act of history is here and now. When you see all of this in the Tribulation and antichrist and judgment and economic collapse, and diseases that you can't control, and terrorism. When you see all of that in the tribulation and world government and religious apostasy and moral collapse, when you see all of that developing that will be in the Tribulation, if we're getting closer to the Tribulation, then we're much closer than that to the Rapture when Jesus comes to take us home! So be ready! It should come as no surprise to Christians as to what is happening in the world. We are right on schedule with God's plan for the future! Right on schedule!

So then how should we live? Verse 15 of chapter 16, look at it: "Behold, I am coming like a thief! (That is suddenly, unexpectedly) Blessed (happy) is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed"! Stay awake, stay alert. In fact there is a parallel passage to this. Keep your place there in Revelation, but in Romans, chapter 13 there is a parallel scripture to what we just read when Christ comes again. Beginning with verses 11-14 in chapter 13. Look at it: "Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires".

How should we live in the Last Days? Listen up! First of all, wake up. It said it's time to wake up from sleep. Jesus said, "Watch, watch! Be awake, be alert! Because you don't know the time of My coming". We have so many sleepy, push-the-snooze-button-alarm Christians who are apathetic! It's time to wake up, to be alert! This is not a time for laziness; this is not a time for lethargy, this is not a time for listlessness! Why? Because the night is gone; time is far spent. Every day is bringing us closer and closer to eternity! Wake up! It's daybreak! Christ is coming soon! Be ready, be responsive, and be responsible!

Ephesians 5:14 we read: "Wake up, sleeper, arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you". A lot of sleepy saints and dead churches in our era, and this is a word to believers; this is a message for Christians. We need revival, new life. Wake up! Open your eyes! Get up, get awake! And then we're to clean up. Verse 12 says: "cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light". We're to clean up and then gear up for battle! He says get rid of anything and everything in your life that's not pleasing to God! Live in purity. Live in personal godliness. That is the call for every Christian. And verse 13 says some things specifically that we should discard permanently in our life as Christians. He calls them the works of darkness, and he names some of them. Paul is the kind of preacher, he names sin by their first name.

You know, Calvin Coolidge, he didn't say much. They called him silent Cal, president of the United States. He went to church one day and someone asked him after the service, "What did the preacher say"? And he said, "Well, he preached about sin". They said, "What'd he say about sin"? "I don't know, I think he was against it". Well, Paul named it and he started with these words of darkness, "orgies and drunkenness". And then he talked about lewdness and lust, sensuality, and then not in strife and envy. Now when it says, "not in orgies or revelries and drunkenness," it's saying don't be a drunken, stupid, party animal! You ever notice how people who drink too much get loud and obnoxious? You're having a nice evening at the restaurant and then some group over there gets over served and there's always one person typically leading the party, shouting, laughing, losing it! And the louder they get the more stupid they get. And then there's always that guy who thinks he's super cool. It's ridiculous! That's why Paul said no drunkenness.

I've said it many times over these years; I'm going to keep saying it: drinking alcohol is a bad choice for you as a believer and follower of Jesus! I know there's some today who say, "Well, I have liberty to drink. I'm a Christian but I have liberty to drink. It's all under control. I know when to stop, I know how to stop"! And yet they're living under the influence, and they're often going for the buzz and losing it! As a pastor for these many years I could point to you time and time again the damage of alcohol in people's lives. That's why Paul says, no drunkards. Don't live under the influence of alcohol. I don't want to be under the control or the influence of anything but Christ! We're not to be under the control of spirits, but the Holy Spirit of God! So he says, "put away drunkenness and revelries".

Belshazzar was a king in the Old Testament that had a drunken party. God put the writing on the wall and he was severely judged. Turn out the lights, the party's over. Then he said in verse 13: "not in sexual immorality or sensuality". Lewdness, lustfulness. You know these are very ugly words, aren't they? The word here sensuality or lust in some of your Bibles, it's a word which specifically here means someone given over to immorality and is incapable of shame, someone who is given over their bodies, their lives to immorality; they are incapable of shame. They are involved in shameless, sinful, sexual behavior. This is the kind of person who is immoral and is proud of it. They brag about sleeping around, their conquests, their debauchery. As Isaiah the prophet said, "In the Last Days there will be those who call evil good, and good evil".

My dear people, we're there! We are there! I know people who say they are Christians who are having affairs, sleeping around, shacking up, and somehow they have convinced themselves that God is okay with this! But God is not okay with this! We are to live not in immorality, but in personal holiness and godliness. You say, "Okay, you missed me, preacher. I'm not lewd, I'm not lustful, I'm not debauched, I'm not that depraved, I'm not a dirty old man, I'm not drunk". Well, wait just a minute, look at verse 13. We're told not to live in strife and envy, "quarreling and jealousies". Sometimes the sins of disposition are greater than the sins of dissipation. And in this case, a spirit of strife which is always ready to cause conflict, always being ticked off, always looking for a fight, always argumentative, always angry, always negative.

With strife comes envy. And I would say strife and envy and anger and negativity has done more to divide the church, the body of Christ than a house full of drunks! He said put away all of this anger and this attitude, and this jealousy! You're always competing, you're always comparing! You're argumentative. You're fighting with your wife, fighting with your kids, you're fighting with your boss, you're fighting with your employees. You're just perpetually ticked off! He said put all that away. You're better than that. You're a child of God. You're a child of the Light, not a child of the darkness!

So wake up, clean up-get your life right, gear up-put on spiritual battle clothes, stay in the battle-the armor of God. And then finally, quickly, Luke 21:28, "look up for your redemption is drawing nigh". Look, we're not looking in the Last Days for the antichrist; we're looking for the Christ who is coming! We're looking for Jesus, the Author and the Finisher of our faith! Now when you say, okay, what does that mean? "Looking unto Jesus". Does that mean I'm supposed to run around staring into outer space? No, of course not. Looking to Jesus means that we are looking forward to His coming, we're longing and loving His appearance. We're on tiptoe with expectation and joy because Jesus is coming soon and He's taking us to be with Him forever and ever! Look up!
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