Signs of Our Time
TV Message: 2/25/01
Question: Whom do you love the most, your God or yourself?
You say, "Ben, that's a hard question." I know it is...let's talk about that.
Changed Lives, God's encouraging word in simplicity and power for our time. Changed Lives comes to you each week from Chattanooga, TN, the scenic center of the south. Our music is under the direction of Glen Draper and our speaker is Ben Haden.
From the word of God, Paul's second letter to Timothy, chapter 3 beginning at verse 1: "But realize this that in the last days difficult times will come for men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness although they have denied its power. Avoid such men as these, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
Signs of our time. We've been taught as children no one is above the law. Marc Rich is. He avoided apparently hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes. And while Americans were held hostage in Iran and our government declared sanctions against anyone doing business with Iran, allegedly he did $200 million worth of business with Iran. He was never tried; he was an international fugitive according to American posters. And did you know that three European countries were ready to cooperate and if he stepped into those countries they would arrest him and return him to the US for trial? But he was pardoned by the President of the United States.
And after denial for over two years that he'd lied, the President of the United States stepped out of office after signing an agreement that he did lie. And for his adultery, he was being comforted and encouraged and counseled by an ordained minister, Jesse Jackson, and simultaneously Jesse Jackson was in an adulterous affair with a woman who bore his child out of wedlock. And though he represents a tax-exempt organization, when he fills out his forms required by law, he doesn't fill in the information required of all the rest of us. That's a sign of our time.
And you know the story in Missouri, a very popular governor running against an incumbent US Senator and that popular governor and his son were both killed in a tragic airplane accident during the campaign. His name continued on the ballot and his wife said, "I'll serve in his place if elected" (and it's very questionable whether someone's name not on the ballot can be elected to office). But are you aware that the incumbent US Senator who lost by 3,000 votes to a dead man stepped aside and said "I would like to see his wife serve as she's offered to do and I will not contest the election." And he's known as a Christian leader. Did you know that when he came up for confirmation in the US Senate to serve as Attorney General that that lady to whom he had been so gracious (and in my opinion would probably never have been allowed to serve as US Senator), did you know that she voted against him for confirmation as a member of the Cabinet?
Did you know that for decades Japan has denied the existence of Unit 731? Again and again and again "There's no such unit." But did you know that more recently they have admitted the existence of 731 back in the 40s and throughout WWII? And did you know that there are now plaintiffs who have filed for compensation and for a formal apology from Japan for germ warfare of Unit 731? You say, germ warfare! That's right, in the 40s.
I have a personal friend, a doctor, who served behind the Japanese lines during WWII for one year just investigating germ warfare by the Japanese. You know what the evidence indicates? that they dropped fleas that had been treated to spread bubonic plague, typhoid, cholera and anthrax. That's what the litigation is about. You know that there has to be a follow-up of 50 years to see the effect of it; not just the immediate deaths but deaths in years to come And if true, where those fleas were dropped (and the evidence is very strong that they were), they've had to burn hospitals and homes and public buildings to avoid bubonic plague and the other disasters that those fleas could cause. Signs of our time.
The Apostle Paul is writing to his son in Christ (no evidence that Paul was ever married or ever had a child but this is his son in Christ, Timothy) and he's not talking about the current false teachers with whom he combated every day, he's talking about the future false teachers-he's talking about the signs of the last times that many of us think we live in. And do you know how he characterized those last times? as times unforgiving.
Do you know how often today we hear of revenge, vengeance, never getting back together, never being able to put something behind, unforgiving and unholy? Oh, we give credit to the name of God, but unholy, no respect for him.
Do you realize we live in a time when there's Christophobia; when one of the greatest accusations you can make against someone is to say "He's one of those Christians." Now they call the Christians "Right-wing Christians" and I always get a kick out of that. I happen to know "Left-wing Christians" and "Centrist Christians" as well as "Right-wing Christians." Christians are not right, left or center, Christians are those who trust Christ and they come in all persuasions, of all types of culture and of all colors. But Christophobia is a sign of the time. It's as though being a Christian is a hate-crime and it is spreading like wildfire beginning in the US Senate and the US House and the Presidency of the United States-beginning throughout the body politic.
And we live in times that are ungrateful. I don't care what this country does for you, there is no gratitude. We look upon the Statue of Liberty so often as a place of welfare; that Statue of Liberty is the place of opportunity, a place of responsibility, a place of freedom, a place of significance of the individual, where you get a second and a third and a fourth chance no matter where you come from. And we've forgotten the Cross of Liberty where Christ died to give us liberty from the control of Satan and liberty from hatred and liberty from unforgiveness and liberty from personal sin.
And we live in a time basically of selfishness. "What's in it for me?" "I'm the center of the earth." It's coupled with money and what is it now that money can't buy? Tell us, Marc Rich, what is it that money can't buy? It's time we faced up to that.
The signs of the time: boastfulness, arrogance, brutality, hatred, disobedience to parents, irreconcilability, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. Paul said, "Those are the days, Timothy, that are coming and you'd better be ready for them." And he says, "You know the deceptive part? The deceptive part is that it's all going to be combined with a form of godliness." You say, "Ben, how does it work in times like those? A form of godliness!" Have you ever heard of as many Bible study groups? Have you ever seen as many spiritual tangents as you do today? Do you know in Hollywood the crowd you can draw by doing channeling and claiming that you have the voice and the wisdom and the philosophy of somebody from another century? And people will sit around in awe and pay all kinds of money to listen.
You take a Gallup poll
"Do you believe in God?"
"Aw, yeah, of course I believe in God!"
"Do you belong to a place of worship?"
"Yeah, very often I go to a place of worship!"
"Do you have a Bible?"
"I have 2 or 3 Bibles!"
A form of godliness but unloving; not loving God, not loving Christ, not loving other people, writing them off because they're poor or of a different color, or a different culture. And that hatred comes out today so much in litigation. Boy, we're a litigating nation! Ego dominates everything! You look back on the history of Eastern Airlines as to why it failed (and it was a major airline). It came down to ego-ego in the company man and ego in the union man. And that company was destroyed and it was once a great airline.
We've become an unloving nation. You say, "But Ben it says ever learning." That's right, ever learning. We have glorified intellect and we've paid no attention to the human heart. That's what's happened. We compete with God intellectually but we have no heart for God. How do you compete with God intellectually? I have a friend in Dallas and he said that every time he saw this man after he confessed Christ, for the next ten years he'd meet him and all the man wanted to talk about was theology. Now theology is man's word about God's word; theology is not God's word about himself, that's the Bible. And he said he suddenly met this man just recently and the man started talking about Jesus Christ and he said, "Well, what happened to all your interest in theology?" And he said, "Aw, forget it! I'm interested in Jesus Christ now, forget the rest." You say, "Well, what happened?" You see theology appeals to us intellectually; we can get very philosophical, we can talk until wwaaaayyyy early in the morning about theology but we can avoid examining ourselves, our own lives, our own sins, our own shortcomings. And the Apostle Paul cautions Timothy, "Sure they are ever learning; sure they have a form of godliness, but," he said, "I want to remind you of something-they never come to a knowledge of the truth. They live in virtual reality but never reality itself." And then he makes this promise, and this is God's promise-if anyone will live godly in Christ Jesus, if you actually try to follow Jesus Christ and you put aside all this selfishness, unforgiveness, ingratitude, lack of love, unholiness, put it aside and follow Jesus Christ, he says, YOU WILL BE PERSECUTED. That's a promise that is just as real as the resurrection. And who's looking to be persecuted?
So let me pose that question one more time, to me-"Whom do you love the most, the Lord or yourself?" Let me pose it to you-"Whom do you love the most, the Lord or yourself?" Look at the cross, my friend, before you answer, look at the cross.
Now then, my friend, what about you? "Well," you say, "Ben, are we living in the last times?" Many people think we are. The times that we read about today perfectly describe the times in which we live and for all of us these ARE the last times, we forget that.
How is it between you and Jesus Christ? "Well," you say, "Ben, I think I have a form of godliness-I belong to a church, I have a few Bibles and I pray whenever I'm in a tight spot and I give a little money, a little attention, you know, that kind of thing." My friend, a form of godliness won't cut it-that's a sham. The real thing is to know Christ and to have him know you and to invite him to come inside you and to start living him. "Well, Ben," you say, "is it easy?" No, it's hard. "Is it popular?" No, it's unpopular. "Will I be rejected?" By some. "Is it worth it?" You bet! both in life and in death.
If the Lord has spoken to you today you know how much he loves you and I invite you right now to pray with me and to give him your life. "Almighty God I'm a sinner by nature and by choice. I now turn from the way I've been living and I come to you like a child. I throw myself on your mercy and in a step of faith I now place my life under Jesus Christ the Lord, under his love, his forgiveness, his direction and his blessing. And now I place all my sin, all my guilt and all my past under his blood and I accept your wonderful word "I am forgiven for his sake." That's your prayer.
I want you to write me...and mention in your letter however brief, "I prayed the prayer" only if you did and only if you meant it. You say, "Ben, what will I get?" Helpful literature that will ground you in the Word of God. That's where the power is...
[Audiocassette of this message entitled "Love the Most" $5, videotape of this message $20]
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