Terrible Times Are Coming, But Greater Victory Too!
Summary: Rampant wickedness, the Church persecuted, violence and murder, multitudes growing cold,and many abandoning the faith. This and much more is prophesied to occur in the latter days. Is there any hope? Absolutely. In the midst of growing evil and a proliferation of fearful events, the grace of God will increase even more abundantly. For those who will receive that grace, you can walk in victory even in the worst of times.
2 Timothy 3:1, 13 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days… [13, NASB] evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
• The apostle Paul clearly warns us that those living in the “last days” will experience terrible times. He could have been foreseeing our day! Blood is running in the streets from barbaric terrorist attacks. Innocent babies in the womb are being mercilessly executed and sometimes dismembered. Homosexual conduct, which is so clearly condemned in Scripture, is increasingly celebrated in today’s Western world, and gay marriage has received widespread approval. A casual “love-‘em-and-leave-‘em” approach has led to an epidemic of casual sex and babies born outside of marriage.
• And lest we think this is just a phase that will pass, the Scripture is warning us that things in the last days will go “from bad to worse”! To borrow the old phrase, sad to say, “You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!”
Matthew 24:3, 12 …“what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” …  “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold…”
• Jesus plainly told His disciples that at the end of the age the love of most would grow cold. I take that as a stark warning to all believers living in the latter times of the Church Age that we need to take heed to our walk with the Lord and keep it fresh and vibrant.
1 Timothy 4:1, ESV Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons.
• Just above we read Jesus’ warning about love growing cold. Here we read Paul’s apostolic warning about apostasy from the faith in later times. One cause Paul lists is people falling prey to the “teachings of demons.”
• We certainly see a proliferation of demonic teachings gaining traction in our day. Now gay marriage is not just grudgingly tolerated, but is gaining widespread acceptance. A false doctrine of loose, easy “grace” has permeated much of American Christianity and is being used to justify sinful lifestyles. Secular redefinitions of “family” have done great harm to the traditional family’s biblically central role. The list of additional demonic teachings is long and disturbing.
• In sum, in these latter days we face terrible times … evil going from bad to worse … the increase of wickedness that Jesus prophesied would come … large numbers of believers letting their love for the Lord grow cold … a widespread departure from the faith … and more. Is there any hope? Yes! Please read on.
Romans 5:20bBut where sin increased, grace increased all the more.
• When God’s Law exposed man’s sinfulness, it brought a greater focus on our inward depravity without the Lord. I thank God that “the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). Yes, Moses’ Law exposed and magnified our sinful natures. But Jesus came and brought grace that more than compensated for our sinfulness.
• God in His wisdom has decreed a divine principle — that where sin increases, grace will increase all the more. And this is cause for immense hope in these terrible, perilous latter days.
• Reflecting upon his own sinfulness, the apostle cried out, “[Paul]… a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:23-25).
• Jesus is fully capable and willing to deliver millions of His believers (and of course unbelievers too) both from the sin in our own lives and from the terrible increase of wickedness in these latter days.
• I urge you to memorize and frequently remind yourself of this divine principle, this great hope: Where sin increases, grace increases all the more. As the world around you declines into the terrible times of the last days, you can be assured that God’s grace in your life is available in quantities more than enough to give you victory.
• Let’s look at how this increasing grace of God works in two facets of your life — (1) more grace for your own victory over sin, trials, testing, and temptation; and (2) more grace for powerful, life-changing ministry.
2 Corinthians 12:7-9 …because of these surpassingly great revelations … in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
• God gives you His grace and power in your weakness. Whether you are facing sinful temptations or devilish testings and trials, call on the Lord for help, and you will find that His “grace is sufficient for you.” His power will be made effective within you in your weakness. What a deal! Trade your weakness under temptations and testings for God’s strength!
1 Corinthians 10:13, ESV No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
• When we are undergoing trials, it’s easy to think, “This is a tough one, tougher than what I see others going through.” But this is wrong. God says that our temptations — the Greek word can also mean ‘testings’ or ‘trials’ — are common to man.
• The important point the apostle is making is that God will not let us be tempted, tested, or tried beyond our abilities. Remember, we just read that God’s grace is sufficient for us in any testings. His power will give victory over our weaknesses. No matter what “the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape.”
• So (1) God’s increasing grace is more than sufficient to give us personal victory, no matter how horrible the trials of the end times become. Now let’s look at (2) God’s increasing grace in our last-days ministries.
Acts 6:8, Amplified Now Stephen, full of grace (divine blessing, favor) and power, was doing great wonders and signs (attesting miracles) among the people.
• By ourselves, without the Lord, we can do nothing! (John 15:5) But filled with His “grace and power,” like Stephen and other believers in the early Church, we can “perform great wonders and signs among the people” (NIV).
• To reach a wicked, apostatizing, loveless end-time generation, we will need more than just words. The preaching of the Gospel from the beginning was meant to be done with accompanying supernatural signs. Paul wrote, “Our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit…” (1 Thessalonians 1:5). Jesus linked the Great Commission preaching to His confirmation of it with power: (Mark 16:20, KJV). The apostle Paul modeled how God’s grace enables us to share God’s word with power: “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power” (1 Corinthians 2:4).
Romans 12:6-8 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
• There is an additional list of supernatural spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, KJV: “the word of wisdom … the word of knowledge … faith … gifts of healing … working of miracles … prophecy … discerning of spirits … divers kinds of tongues … interpretation of tongues.”
• These gifts of the Spirit confirm our ministries with convincing power. And Paul reminds us that we “have [these] gifts according to the grace given to each of us” (Romans 12:6).
1 Corinthians 3:10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it.
• The great apostle attributed his remarkable ministry to “the grace God has given me.” He founded churches, won multitudes to the Lord, performed signs and wonders, and more. How? By God’s grace, the same grace freely available to us!
• In these evil last days, walk close to the Lord. Seek His grace daily to enable you to overcome testings, trials, and temptations, as well as to minister for Him with power and anointing.
• Look to Jesus for the promised baptism with the Holy Spirit, with the evidence of speaking in tongues. This mighty Holy Spirit baptism is the source of the ministry power that Jesus promised His followers: “… in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit…  you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:4-5,8).
Haggai 2:9, KJV The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts.
• The temple built in King Solomon’s reign had been destroyed by the Babylonian armies. In the prophet Haggai’s day a new temple was being rebuilt. He prophesied that the glory of this “latter house” would be even greater than that of the former one.
• I agree with the many Christian scholars and commentators who see in this a prophetic promise to the Lord’s church — “the house of God, which is the church of the living God” (1 Timothy 3:15, KJV). As glorious as was the ministry of the early Church, the “latter” church of our day, the “spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5), can see even greater demonstrations of the Lord’s glory. All, as we have seen, by an outpouring of God’s grace.
• As we walk through the wicked, “terrible” times of the Church’s latter days, receive an abundant daily measure of the Lord’s grace — grace for victory in your personal life and grace for powerful, world-impacting ministry. Remember, where iniquity abounds, grace will much more abound!
• Fear not! Let our cry to God and our expectation of Him for these days be: “to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus”! (Ephesians 3:21). His abundant grace in our lives will enable that to be so.