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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - How Do I Prepare For The End Times?

Robert Jeffress - How Do I Prepare For The End Times?

Robert Jeffress - How Do I Prepare For The End Times?

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". Some Christians view Bible prophecy as interesting but somewhat irrelevant. Sure, the end times will unfold sometime in the future but does biblical prophecy have any bearing on how we live right now? Well, the answer is Yes. And today I'm going to explain how the reality of Christ's return should impact our everyday lives. My message is titled, "How Do I Prepare For The End Times"? on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".

In his book, "World Aflame," Billy Graham tells the true story of something that happened during the time of President Dwight Eisenhower. Eisenhower was vacationing in Denver, Colorado, one year and Eisenhower had his morning cup of coffee, he was reading the newspaper and noticed an open letter in the newspaper to him from a little boy, 6 years old, named Paul Haley who was dying of cancer. And the little boy asked the president if he would come by to visit with him. And so, in one of those gracious acts of a president, he paid an unannounced visit to the Haley family.

One Sunday morning the limousine pulled up to the family residence, the president got out, knocked on the door, and you can imagine the surprise when Don Haley, Paul's father, opened the door, dressed in an old T-shirt, faded blue jeans, and an unshaven face. Little Paul was standing behind his father and the president looked around and said, "Paul, I'm President Eisenhower. I understand you wanna see me. I've come to visit with you". And so, he took him by the hand and they walked outside, up and down the sidewalk a couple of times, had a brief visit. The president said "Goodbye," got in his limousine, and fled away. The Haley family and the neighbors talked about that event for years afterwards. Everybody couldn't believe the president would do that. They were so excited. Everybody, except one person. The father, Don Haley, he said, "I can't believe it. An unshaven face, faded blue jeans, an old T-shirt, what a way to greet the President of the United States".

Granted that would be embarrassing, but I'll tell you something that's going to be even more embarrassing, and that is one day when the clouds part and the trumpets sound and the King of kings returns to earth, there are many Christians who are going to be embarrassed. They're going to be ashamed because of their lives. They will suddenly discover that they have wrapped themselves in ambition, greed, immorality, bitterness, and they'll be unprepared to meet the King when he comes. The fact that the King is coming ought to motivate us to change our lives now.

The fact that Christians could be embarrassed at the Coming of Christ may seem foreign to you but it's a reality that the apostle John wrote about in 1 John 2, verse 28. He said, "Now, little children, remain in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming". John was not writing to non-Christians. He was talking about Christians, little children. It's possible as a believer to be ashamed when the end times arrive and Christ returns. How can we make sure we're not ashamed? What changes should we make in our life right now? That's what we're going to talk about today in this concluding message in our series, "Are We Living in the End Times"?

Today, I want to address the subject, "How Should I Prepare for the End Times"? You know, as we've seen in this series, there are two truths that shine like beacons throughout the Bible about Christ's coming. Two truths about Christ's coming. "Wait a minute, Pastor, when you talk about his coming, are you talking about the Rapture or the Second Coming of Jesus"? Yes, the answer is both. We saw that Greek word, "parousia," is used to describe the Rapture of the church and it's also used to describe the Second Coming of Christ 7 years later. At the Rapture, the Lord comes in the air and snatches us up to be with him. At the Second Coming, the Lord comes to earth, the Mount of Olives, Zechariah 14, and he returns with believers to set up his kingdom on the earth. But whether we're talking about the Rapture or the Second Coming, I want you to jot down these two truths.

First of all, Christ's coming is certain. It is certain. In John 14, Jesus said, "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again. I'll come at the Rapture, I'll come at the Second Coming and receive you unto myself that where I am there you may be also". Jesus himself promised he's coming back again. That's what the Bible says. Christ's coming is certain. But secondly, Christ's coming is soon. It's soon. Whether we're talking about the Rapture or the Second Coming, or our own death when we meet Jesus, it is coming soon.

You say, "Pastor, how can you say that with such certainty, that he's coming soon"? Because, remember the next event on God's timetable is the Rapture, the snatching away of the church. And there are no signs that must be fulfilled for that to happen. It could happen in the middle of this sermon, it could happen before Christmas. Wouldn't that be a nice Christmas gift from the Lord? Not to have to buy gifts. Let the unbelievers buy all the gifts that are left behind. We get raptured from that. It could happen before Christmas, it could happen at any time. As we look toward the signs that must be fulfilled for the Second Coming, 7 years later, the regathering of Israel, the building of a temple, we can see those things start to fall in place, but the Rapture, nothing has to happen and that's why Paul said it's going to be soon.

Let me suggest to you from the Bible, four qualities that ought to characterize every believer as the end times approach. First of all, the Bible says we ought to live with hope. Knowing that the end is soon, we ought to live with hope. You may say, "How can I be hopeful when I look at what's happening in Ukraine or Israel or China or a potentially nuclear Iran? And not to mention our own country which has its own governmental dysfunction that is going to intensify. How can I be hopeful"? I was reading this week, Richard Haass, a long-time US diplomat, said, quote, "The world is in complete disarray". Do you know, I've been a pastor for 45 years. Never once has an unbeliever asked me, "Pastor, would you give an account for why you believe in the virgin birth of Jesus"? Never once. I've never had an unbeliever ask me, "Why do you believe in the pre-Tribulation Rapture"?

I've never had an unbeliever ask, "Why do you believe in the substitutionary atonement of Christ for our sins"? Yeah, those are all important doctrines. Don't misunderstand. But the unbeliever doesn't know enough to ask those questions. That's not what Peter's talking about. He says, "Be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is within you". That's what attracts an unbeliever's attention. When he sees a Christian so filled with hope, no matter what the chaos is, that he stands out of the crowd. That's how we're to be in these end times. We're to live with hope.

Notice, Peter doesn't say, "Be ready to give an account for the depression that is in you or the apprehension that is in you". Spend too much time listening to talk radio or watching cable news, you're gonna be filled with despair and anxiety. No, what attracts unbelievers is when they see the hope that is within us. We're to live with hope but, secondly, we're to live with insight. Now, tucked away in the book of 1 Chronicles in the Old Testament, in chapter 12, is a listing of Jewish men who decided to leave the service of King Saul and start supporting God's man and Hebron, King David. And it lists these men who made that decision to switch affiliations, and it listed them by the tribes of Israel, the men of Judah, the men of Benjamin, the tribe of Levi, and then when it got to the tribe of Issachar, you find this word in 1 Chronicles 12:32: "The sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do".

These men understood that the political winds in Israel were changing. "Oh, you didn't know what was happening in your world? Congratulations". No, we're to understand what is happening in our world today. I think about Billy Graham. You know, Billy used to say, "I keep a newspaper in one hand and I keep my Bible in the other hand. The newspaper tells me what's happening; the Bible tells me what it means". Now, again, you can go overboard in that. You can become obsessed with news events and political talk, but we need to be aware of what's happening. Why? So that, number three, we can be people of action. We are to live with action.

Again, 1 Chronicles 12:32: "The understood the times and knew what Israel should do". It is so easy for us to do nothing, to be paralyzed with fear and depression because of what's happening. No, the Bible says we need to know what is happening so that we know what to do. I think about a story about Catholic theologian, Richard John Neuhaus. Neuhaus was on his way to a speaking engagement and his drive started lamenting the condition of the world and what terrible times they were living in, and Neuhaus finally said, "You're right. The times are terrible, but they're the only times God has given us".

Remember, even in these times, hope is a Christian virtue and despair is a mortal sin. We need to know what we should do. I read about a famous evangelical pastor, you know him. He was meeting with a group of pastors, talking about what they should be doing in light of what's happening. And this pastor said, "If we would simply stop watching pornography, slandering other people, gossiping, and give attention to our relationship with God, our world would be a better place". Now, I agree with that. I'm all for stopping watching pornography and slandering and gossiping, and reading the Bible. But then he went on to say, "Personally, I think we ought to take a year off from fighting the culture wars and instead just concentrate on our relationship with God".

Now, that sounds so good, that sounds so pious, but it is so wrong. Take a year off from pushing back against the slaughter of millions of babies through abortion? Take off a year from speaking out against immorality or to speak out against human trafficking? We don't get to take time off. As Christians, we are to be people of action. That's what Jesus called us to. In Matthew 5:13, we've been over this many times, but we need to remind ourselves of this. Jesus said, "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men". Jesus said as the church of Jesus Christ we're like salt. Salt was used as a preservative in Jesus's day. It slowed down, it didn't prevent, but it slowed down the decay of meat. It gave the meat a longer shelf life.

In the same way, Jesus said, "I'm leaving you here as my representatives," first of all, to slow down the decay of the world so that we have longer to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with people. And that means speaking up and pushing back. There is a new book, you may have seen it advertised on TV, I'm reading right now, called, "The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory". It's a look at evangelical churches over the last 20 years. And the author, Tim Alberta, is trying to answer the age-old question, "What should the Church's attitude be toward cultural rot and decay, toward an ungodly government? What should we do? Should our attitude be isolation and indifference"?

That's exactly what the German pastors thought in the time of Adolf Hitler. They said, "Hitler's rise to power is none of our concern. We don't preach politics from the pulpit; we just preach the gospel. We believe in the sovereignty of God. Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be. We'll preach the gospel". That is the reason Adolf Hitler was able to exterminate 6 million Jews, was the indifference of Christians who found a reason not to get involved and push back against evil. So this book was of special interest to me, certainly because a chapter was devoted to me and to our church, so I wanted to see what they said, and he said some nice things about our church but he threw us into that mix of mixing the gospel with politics.

You know what is so interesting to me? The people who criticize us for doing that, they never once criticized Martin Luther King, Jr., for his involvement in the Civil Rights movement. Why did King get involved in that? Because his faith compelled him to. It wasn't right to discriminate against a person based on the color of his skin, but nobody accused him of getting involved in politics. This group never accuse Christians abolitionists who ended slavery in our country for getting involved in politics. That's okay, that's conviction, but if a church like ours speaks out against gay marriage or the murder of unborn children, suddenly that becomes political. No, Jesus has called us to push back, to be salt in this decaying world. And that means we've got to be people of action.

But he also said, "You are the light of the world". We have our light of the world offering. Our ultimate aim is not to save America or to save the world, that's impossible. But we're to save individuals from God's judgment by introducing them to faith in Jesus Christ, and God has given First Baptist Dallas an incredible platform to do that. That's why we're taking up this offering to make sure we're able to continue shining that light into every corner of the earth in 2024. "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill that cannot be hidden". Look, we can't just sit in our pews and soak in the truth. Daniel 11:32 says: "The people who know their God shall stand firm and shall take action".

It's time for the church of Jesus Christ to be known as people of action. And finally, he calls us to live with courage. A.W. Tozer once said, "A scared world needs a fearless church". Now we are going to stand firm but we need to realize there is a price to pay for doing that. Unlike Christians around the world, we've never really had any persecution in America for our faith, but I believe it is coming. Jesus predicted it would happen. In John 16:33 he said: "In the world you will have tribulations, but be of good courage for I have overcome the world". We ought to live with that courage. What should be our first priority for the last days? This is so important. The very first priority is to make sure that we're in a right relationship with God.

The British humorist, G.K. Chesterton, was reading an article one day in the London "Times". It was an essay titled, "What's Wrong With the World"? Ha, ha, G.K. Chesterton wrote a reply. He said, "Dear Sirs, I am. Sincerely, G.K. Chesterton". He got it right. What's the problem with the world? You're the problem. I'm the problem. Those who have rebelled against God have caused the world to be like it is and all of us have rebelled. Romans 3:23 says: "All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God". And if we wanna make the world a better place, we have to first of all be reconciled to God. The most important decision you can make to prepare for the end times is to be sure you're at peace with God.

Romans 5:1 says: "Therefore having been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ". You'll never be at peace with yourself, at peace with other people, at peace with the world, until first of all, you're at peace with God. The Bible says our sin has become a barrier between God and us. We have to remove the sin in our life. How do you do that? That's what trusting in Jesus is all about. When we confess our sins and place our faith in Jesus as our Savior, God takes our rag-tag and spiritual clothing, our dirty righteousness, and he puts it on his own Son, Jesus Christ. He takes our unrighteousness and puts it on Jesus Christ and then he takes the righteousness of Christ and wraps it around us. "He who knew no sin became sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him". And the best way to prepare for the end times is even tonight, before you go to bed, to make sure that you have received that forgiveness from God.

In my book, "Countdown to the Apocalypse," I tell a familiar fable about Satan meeting with three apprentice demons. He said, "Now, demons, our goal is to deceive millions of people from trusting in Christ as their Savior. Does anybody have any new ideas on how to do that"? The first demon raised his hand and said, "I've got it. We'll tell humans there is no God". Satan shook his head, said, "That won't work. They can look around the world and the universe and know that didn't just happen by accident".

The second demon raised his hand and said, "I've got it. We'll tell people there is no hell". Satan said, "That won't work either. People see the evil things that happen in the world. They know innately there has to be some ultimate punishment for that". The third demon raised his hand, said, "I've got it. I've got it. We'll tell them there is no hurry," and Satan smiled and said, "Perfect. With that tactic, you will deceive millions". It's so easy for us to fall into that trap or think there's no hurry about being in a right relationship with God.

Maybe right now, you're saying, "I know I need to square things off with the Creator, but I'll tend to that after I deal with this health problem that's a focus in my life right now". Or, "I've got this family issue that's really causing problems I need to take care of first". Or, "I've got a business problem that really has me tied up in knots, but when I get that solved, then I can get around to my relationship with God". Ladies and gentlemen, there is no promise of a tomorrow. Today's the time to make sure you're in a right relationship with God. In 2 Corinthians 6, verse 2, Paul said, "For this is the acceptable time. Today is the day of salvation". Ladies and gentlemen, Jesus Christ is coming back again, and he's coming soon. Are you ready?
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