In Is This the End? Study Guide, Pastor David Jeremiah looks at ten major developments in America and the world that almost defy imagination. Just a few years ago, nobody could have imagined the things we hear about daily in the news. We need to understand these events: what they are, what the Bible says about them, and how we should respond as followers of Christ.
Follow Dr. Jeremiah as he unfolds five developments in America and five developments on the international stage–all of which beg the question, "Is this the end?"
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People are Asking ... Is This The End? Study Guide
Signs of God's Providence in a Disturbing New World
By David Jeremiah, William Kruidenier
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2016 David P. Jeremiah
All rights reserved.
The Age of Anything Goes
This lesson defines the issues playing a role in our culture today and offers insights into how the Christian can make a difference in an age where "anything goes."
We live in a time that is historically unprecedented in its open idolatry, debauchery, and pursuit of immorality, but as we look to God's Word we gain understanding on how to live for Christ during a time of moral decline.
I. The Expression of Our Moral Decline
A. Depravity in Our Minds
B. Depravity in Our Marriages
C. Depravity in Our Military
D. Depravity in Medicine
II. The Explanation of Our Moral Decline
A. The Historical Explanation
B. The Biblical Explanation
We live in an age of decadence, where the shameful acts of yesterday are the celebrated triumphs of today. Perversions are seen as normal, purity is labeled as puritanical, and the pursuit of personal pleasure is king. As Christians we should not be surprised at the depths to which humanity continues to sink because Scripture clearly speaks of man's propensity to sin and God's holy intolerance of it. It is no wonder that we have found ourselves in a place where "anything goes."
"Anything Goes" is the memorable toe-tapping song written by Cole Porter in 1934. If you listen closely to the lyrics you will find they celebrate the moral free fall of the American twentieth century. "We've rewound the clock," say the lyrics. Profanity and nudity are in vogue, and "now God knows — anything goes."
"Anything Goes" represents the moral relativism that has infected our culture, leaving the West on the brink of spiritual collapse. Ironically, it's a philosophy that ruined Cole Porter's own life. His secretary lamented that her boss never found the strength that came from faith in God. We're living in a world where anything goes, but nothing satisfies. That is why it is vital for Christ-followers to resist the siren calls of our decadent age.
The Expression of Our Moral Decline
The Bible anticipated these times. In speaking about His Second Coming, the Lord Jesus said, "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. For as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be" (Matthew 24:36–37).
Those words take us back to Genesis 6:5, which is a description of the society swept away by the flood: "Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."
Read 2 Timothy 3:1–5, where we are reminded "that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves ... without self-control, brutal, despisers of good ... lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying its power."
This rejection of God and His standards is a symptom of our isolation from God. It began at the Fall of man and continues to this day. Depravity is the root cause of America's moral decline.
Depravity in Our Minds
The Internet offers many benefits for us today, but it created an avenue for destructive behavior that is staggering in its reach: pornography. Online pornography is an addictive and destructive trap that brings lurid material into the hearts and souls of consumers. Even worse, over one quarter of Internet pornography is child related. It is a sickening trend, which brings with it a depravity of the mind and soul, with innocent children being abused — causing emotional scars that last a lifetime. Sexually explicit content is not limited to the Internet; television today contains material that in earlier decades would have never been allowed. There are not adequate words to describe the sex, violence, and addictive nature of some of today's options for so-called entertainment.
In Noah's day, every thought was only of evil continually, but today we have the technology to take the most lurid fantasies of the human mind and project them onto a screen a child or adult can hold in his or her hand.
All this has led to the coarsening of Western culture. We've become a profane people, with fewer restraints on behavior and language, and with a lessening respect for human life, even innocent life in the womb.
Depravity in Our Marriages
Another aspect of our sexually demanding society is vehemence of the LGBTQ movement (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning), which won a great legal victory in 2015. In the case ofObergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court of the United States, in a 5-to-4 vote, took it upon itself to "redefine" marriage.
But God Himself defined the marriage covenant in Genesis 2, in the Garden of Eden, before human governments were established. It wasn't human government, Mosaic Law, or church councils that established the definition of marriage. God did it before any of those institutions came into existence.
The Lord established the formula for marriage just like He established the law of gravity or the axioms of physics. God ordained marriage as a lifelong covenant union between one man and one woman, and this is the only proper God-given arena for the exercise of sexual relations.
Depravity in Our Military
Today, Bible-believing members of our Armed Forces face new restrictions on expressing their religion, and our military chaplains are on the front lines of intense pressure to be politically correct. While at this point there is no official policy banning voluntary prayer, religious services, or pastoral counseling, there have been several instances where Christian chaplains have run into politically correct buzz saws for praying in Jesus' name, counseling from a Christian perspective, and expressing biblical standards for sexuality.
We have yet to see the full moral effect of the U.S. military's recent policies of allowing gays to serve in the military and the inclusion of women in combat roles. But it should be clear to any objective thinker that these decisions cannot but foster increased moral deterioration, not to mention diluting the effectiveness of our forces in combat.
Depravity in Medicine
Dr. Paul Church is one of Boston's most-loved physicians, a urologist who invested 28 years practicing medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and teaching at Harvard University. One day, hospital officials noticed that on the hospital's online portal, Dr. Church had posted concern about the health dangers of same-sex activity.
In September 2014, the hospital launched a formal investigation into Dr. Church's views, and that began a long and losing battle for Dr. Church, who has now been expelled from the hospital. Sadly, we have reached the point where political correctness trumps public health concerns. As the Bible puts it: "For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths" (2 Timothy 4:3-4 NIV).
The Explanation of Our Moral Decline
It's time to ask the question: How did Western morality arrive on such a slippery slope? What happened to us? It can be explained in two ways: (1) historically; and (2) biblically.
The Historical Explanation
The historical explanation dates back to the eighteenth century Enlightenment. Throughout the Middle Ages, the Western world, for all its darkness and depravity, at least had an understanding of objective truth. The existence of God was granted, which provided a basis for belief in absolute values of right and wrong. But hard on the heels of the Reformation, the secular thinking of the Enlightenment (or the Age of Reason) radiated from France like a force field across Europe and to the New World.
As philosophy detached itself from religion, morality was liberated from divine authority. This newfound "freedom" and doctrine of the perfectibility of humanity set the stage for all kinds of mischief — the Communist movement of Karl Marx, the theological liberalism of Julius Wellhausen, and the evolutionary hypotheses of Charles Darwin.
Darwin's evolutionary ideas spread to all other areas of thought, including non-scientific philosophical arenas. We are constantly changing and forever evolving, said the enlightened thinkers, and that includes our values. Darwinian morality replaced biblical codes of conduct and character.
The rising tide of humanistic secularism was shoehorned into America's education system by John Dewey, a shy, bookish educator who hailed from Vermont. Dewey's core principle was the rejection of absolute unchangeable truth. Final truth, he believed, was illusionary.
About that time, the American judicial system entered the picture and began mandating secularism, almost as though it were the nation's new official religion. In 1963, the Supreme Court of the United States prohibited school officials from organizing or leading Bible reading or prayer exercises in schools. We've now had two generations to see how that has worked out.
Against this backdrop, moral relativism entered the pop culture with a vengeance between the 1920s and 1960s — remember, Cole Porter wrote "Anything Goes" in 1934 — and set the stage for the sexual revolution of the 1960s through the 1980s. Hollywood jumped on the bandwagon, and America's moral values turned downward like economic charts of the Great Depression. The culture today is reaping the seeds of moral relativism and a secular world view.
The Biblical Explanation
While we can trace the philosophical decline of our moral foundations, the true explanation is found in humanity's rebellion against the holy character of God.
A culture begins to collapse, said Paul, when it rejects the reality of creationism and of a Creator. Romans 1:18-20 says, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood in the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse."
The existence and complexity of Creation demands a Designer. This presents an insolvable problem for modern humanity, for the existence of a Creator implies His authority over all His creation. If we're subject to a Maker, we're not autonomous, for morality is intrinsically rooted in His holy character.
To escape these implications, our society has chosen to believe the unbelievable — that everything came from nothing in an unexplainable explosion, that primordial sludge was jolted from death to life, that molecules developed from randomness into complexity, and that human beings are the resulting accidents. That's the foundation of secularism, and it leads downward in belief and behavior. It leads to ingratitude.
We Have Rejected God Through Ingratitude
Paul wrote, "because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened" (Romans 1:21, italics added).
We Have Rejected God Through Idolatry
The rejection of the Creator-God means only one thing — humanity must construct its own gods. Romans 1:22-23 goes on to say, "Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man."
Anything that comes before Jesus Christ in your affections or priorities — that's your idol. In Colossians 3:5, the apostle Paul told his readers, "Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry."
Our goals, ambitions, dreams, obsessions, addictions, pleasures, or opinions can become our gods. But make no mistake — when we reject the Creator-God of Scripture, we must find a substitute. We must have an idol, which leads to the next downward step — a lust-driven life.
We Have Rejected God Through Immorality
Paul continues in Romans 1:24–25 to say, "Therefore God also gave them up to the uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen."
Only the true God of heaven is holy enough to empower His people to live according to the dictates of His holiness. All other gods lead to an erosion of morality, to sensuality, to sexual sins, and to lust-driven lives. How sad to follow this downward course when God longs to give us an upward path. But the steps keep descending. The next stop on the way to the days of Noah is a sex-saturated society.
We Have Rejected God Through Iniquity
When a culture denies its Creator, erects its own gods, and succumbs to a lust-driven existence, it inevitably becomes sex-saturated. Romans 1:26–27 says plainly: "For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use of what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due."
This downward spiral of decency finally leads to the basement of debauchery — total moral collapse.
The history of the world is littered with the stories of cultures who descended this staircase never to return. Our pathway from the Enlightenment to Postmodernism isn't new. The same thing happened in the days of Noah. It happened to Sodom and Gomorrah. It happened to the ancient empires of Assyria, Babylon, Greece, and Rome. It even happened to ancient Judah in the days of the prophet Ezekiel.
The Lord's glory dwelt in His Temple for 400 years. But by the time of King Zedekiah, however, the temple of the Lord was a different place, for the nation of Judah had followed step-by-step the sequence of sin described in Romans 1: the rejection of the Creator, the proliferation of idols, lust-driven hearts, a sexually saturated age, that led to total moral collapse.
As the Babylonians began their assault on Judah, one of the early victims was Ezekiel. In chapters 8–11 of his book, Ezekiel described how he was given the awful privilege of watching the glory depart from Judah. The biblical word for this is Ichabod — the glory has departed. All hope for Israel was gone — decimated by the Babylonians. But before you despair that Ichabod may now be indelibly inscribed on America, let me give you hope. In lesson 5 we will learn the story of revivals that have saved our nation in the past.
The Church of Jesus Christ and its message are the only things standing between this world and the judgment of God. Our Lord has placed us here for times like these, and we mustn't be drawn into the corruption of our culture. Instead, we're to shine like stars in the nighttime as we firmly hold out the Word of life to a crumbling culture (Philippians 2:15–16).
The Bible tells us to remain fully committed to Christ, to keep ourselves unspotted from the world, to hold our convictions without fear, and to preach the Gospel without compromise. It's easy to condemn our age — and we certainly have the biblical authority to speak the truth and expose sin — but we also need to demonstrate Christ to our world.
Without succumbing to the ways of the world, we should reach out in love to the people of the world, reflecting the heart of Christ to everyone we meet. Let's remember the truth of John 3:16 — despite everything, God loves this world.
Our times are not lost on our Lord. He understands our culture, and He loves its people. We're engaged in our times because Jesus died for times like these, and we are living in a world for which He offered Himself on the cross.
I hope you feel as I do, that it's an honor to represent Jesus Christ to my generation, even in times like these. It's an honor to be a light in a darkened age.
Keep yourself unspotted from the world, but don't disengage from the world. Let's love our neighbors and rescue the perishing. We are here in these days as His ambassadors on assignment, serving the One who told us to go into all the world with the Gospel — even into a world where "anything goes."
Excerpted from People are Asking ... Is This The End? Study Guide by David Jeremiah, William Kruidenier. Copyright © 2016 David P. Jeremiah. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
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Table of Contents
ContentsAbout This Study Guide, 7,
PART I: IS THIS THE END FOR AMERICA?,
Lesson 1: The Age of Anything Goes (Romans 1:18–32), 13,
Lesson 2: The Bleeding of Our Borders (Selected Scriptures), 25,
Lesson 3: The Increase of Intolerance (Selected Scriptures), 37,
Lesson 4: The Apathy of America (Selected Scriptures), 51,
Lesson 5: The Remedy of Revival (2 Chronicles 34–36), 65,
PART II: IS THIS THE END FOR THE WORLD?,
Lesson 6: The Isolation of Israel (Genesis 12:1–3), 79,
Lesson 7: The Insurgency of ISIS (Selected Scriptures), 91,
Lesson 8: The Resurrection of Russia (Ezekiel 38–39), 105,
Lesson 9: The Rapture of the Redeemed (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18), 119,
Lesson 10: Translated Before the Tribulation (Selected Scriptures), 133,
Leader's Guide, 145,
About Dr. David Jeremiah and Turning Point, 151,
Stay Connected, 153,