IN THE DAYS OF HIS POWER SERIES.
TOPIC: STANDING TALL EVEN IN PERILOUS TIMES
Rev. Innocent Peace-Udochukwu President Living Fountain Ministries Int’l LIFOM
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”
“You, however, have followed my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, my faith, my patience, my love, my endurance, as well as the persecutions and sufferings that happened to me in Antioch, in Iconium, and in Lystra. I endured these persecutions and the Lord delivered me from them all. Now in fact all who want to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil people and charlatans will go from bad to worse, deceiving others and being deceived themselves.
You, however, must continue in the things you have learned and are confident about. You know who taught you and how from infancy you have known the holy writings, …
“Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.”
It is time for God’s people to be stronger than ever. We must get our fight back. The only way to do that is to grab a hold of the mantle of strength and apply it to our lives. Strength is not an attribute; it is a position. A position that will allow you to fortify your walls, attack when necessary, and defend what is rightfully yours in the kingdom.The principles of Standing Strong in Perilous Times will create an atmosphere for victory, moving you into the life of a Kingdom Achiever as you learn to stand strong in—• The Elijah/Elisha Concept• Honor• The Blood Covenant• In the Fight• In the Blessing• Knowing Your Enemy• In Your Speech• In Responsibility
We are living in difficult times, and there are indications the times may get even more difficult.
Although we don’t know when, Jesus is coming! Thankfully, God has given us all we need to know about “End Time” events to help us stand firm, in confidence and security while we wait.
Paul warned Timothy of the difficult (also translated “terrible”) times that would happen throughout church history. People would be lovers of themselves, lovers of pleasure instead of God; they would be abusive, unforgiving, and having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof. There would be many false teachers that would lead people astray. Just as Paul warned Timothy, Christ warned his disciples as well. Satan would plant tares among the wheat and yeast in the flour (Matt 13)—the church would be full of false believers and false doctrine.
Because of this reality, many have become angry at God, bitter at the church, and some have fallen away from Christ all together. These are very important realities to be aware of in order to protect ourselves and persevere.
Paul says to Timothy, “You, however,” or “But, you” (v. 10) and he calls him to “continue” in what he had learned (v. 14). Timothy was to be different from those with an empty religion. He was called to “continue” being faithful, even while others went from “bad to worse” (v. 13). In this text, we will see four principles about standing firm in difficult times—not only do these apply to difficult seasons in the church but ultimately bad times in our lives.
To Stand Firm in Difficult Times, We Must Remember the Faithful
You, however, have followed my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, my faith, my patience, my love, my endurance, as well as the persecutions and sufferings that happened to me in Antioch, in Iconium, and in Lystra. I endured these persecutions and the Lord delivered me from them all.
it reminds us to look at the faithful around us. We must watch them—how they maintain their integrity and faith during hard times. Their example will help us to stand. Like Timothy, we need to intimately “know” other faithful believers so we can draw strength from them.
In 1988 evangelical philosopher and theologian Carl Henry made a stunning prediction in his book, Twilight of a Great Civilization (Crossway Books). He said that as America progressively loses its Judeo-Christian heritage, paganism would grow bolder. What we saw in the last half of the 20th-century was a kind of benign humanism, but he predicted that by the start of the 21st-century, we would face a situation not unlike the first-century when the Christian faith confronted raw paganism—humanism with the pretty face ripped off, revealing the angry monster underneath. His words have come true, and are coming truer with every passing day.
So Paul warns Timothy, “After I am gone, things are going to get worse before they get better. Buckle up, Timothy. Terrible times are coming.” That’s why Paul said, “Mark this,” or “Understand this,” or “Pay attention to this.” Don’t be naïve and think that everything is going to be okay. It’s not all going to be okay. But forewarned is forearmed. If we know what is going to happen, we won’t be surprised when it does.
If this is what we have to look forward to (and it is), how then should we live? How will we survive the “savage days” that are coming our way? Verse 10 emphasizes that Christians are called to be different. “Timothy, you were called by God to make a difference by standing strong. Don’t be discouraged by world conditions. Don’t let the world change you. Instead, go out and by God’s grace change the world.”
If we follow the ungodly, we will become like the ungodly. If we follow the arrogant, we are likely to become arrogant. If we follow those who follow Jesus, we are more likely to become like Jesus ourselves. In this case, Paul uses himself as an example, and says in effect, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” These are the marks of the godly people we should follow:
They have nothing to hide. “You know my way of life.”
They teach the truth. “You know my doctrine.”
They practice what they preach. “You know my faith, my love and my patience.”
They aren’t afraid of persecution. “You know my sufferings and my persecution.”
Paul’s point is: Find people like this and follow them. Regarding persecution, he points to his own sufferings. In Antioch he was opposed. In Iconium he was almost stoned. In Lystra he was stoned and left for dead. But it does not matter because “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (v. 12). What happened to Paul will happen to Timothy sooner or later. What is happening around the world to Christians in Sudan, Nigeria, parts of China, in Indonesia, in Iran, in many of the Muslim countries, will happen to those who live in the United States sooner or later.
Stay the course. Don’t be distracted by clever-sounding religious hucksters. Don’t believe everyone who knocks at your door.
Paul then begins to develop the heart of his survival strategy for the last days. It involves a proper understanding of the Word of God. In verse 14 Paul reminds Timothy that the Word of God gives confidence in days of difficulty. It steadies the soul by giving us the absolute standard for truth.
So Timothy is to remember both what he has learned and also who taught him the truth. Consider your teachers. Ponder their character. Think of their sacrifice. That will keep you on the “straight and narrow” when you are tempted to turn to one side or the other. In verse 15 he reminds Timothy of his spiritual heritage: “And how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”
Because the Bible comes directly from God, it equips us to do every good work. Do you want to know God’s will? Study the Bible. Do you want to fulfill your mission in life? Study the Bible. Do you want to know what God wants you to do? Study the Bible. Do you want to live a better life? Study the Bible. Do you want freedom from sin? Study the Bible. Do you want God to be pleased with your life? Study the Bible. It will tell you everything you need to know.
We are thoroughly equipped to do what God wants us to do.
A soldier needs the right equipment in order to win the battle. The Bible is the Christian’s sword by which we fight the battles of life. But a sword does no good if it is left in the scabbard. You have to take it out and use it. Likewise, the finest study Bible in the world will do you no good if you do not read it.
This is Paul’s final answer to the “terrible times” that are coming in the last days.
Know the Word!
Read the Word!
Obey the Word!
The world will get worse—Don’t be surprised.
Tough times are coming—Don’t be discouraged.
It’s easier to stand strong if you don’t stand alone.
Believers who build their lives on the Bible may be persecuted but they will never be defeated.
We believe the Bible is the Word of God and we are going to stand upon it. We have staked our lives upon that fact. That’s why the Scriptures come first in our Articles of Faith. This doctrine is the foundation of everything else we believe, and if the foundation is strong, you can build a house that will stand during the storm, while other houses are blown away by the howling winds of unbelief. Amen.
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