Monday, May 2, 2022

What Do You Believe?



May 1, 2022

What do you believe?

Acts 1:6-8


We are going to begin a series that is entitled, “Are we living in the end times?” Ever since Jesus died on the cross and rose again, then ascended to the Heavenly Father, believers have been looking for Jesus’ return. In Acts 1:6 we read that the apostles asked Jesus before his ascension, “Will you restore the kingdom to Israel at this time?” Jesus answered basically “no” by saying in the 7th verse, “It is not for you to know the times or date the Father has set.” I am not sharing these upcoming messages to scare anyone or to get anyone worried about what lies ahead. I am sharing these messages because on some of the news broadcasts they are asking whether the world is headed toward World War III with what is going on in the Ukraine with Russia. With Russia seemingly becoming more aligned with China and Iran, it is easy to wonder where this is all going to lead. I feel obligated as the one entrusted to spiritually lead this congregation at this time to have us as ready as we can be. We need to fully understand what we believe and why we believe whatever that may be.


This morning I am going to share a number of scriptures that show what Jesus tells us about what is eventually coming to the world, as well as some other scriptures we find in the New Testament. The most fundamental question we must answer for ourselves is “what do we believe?”


Have you thought about the fact the Bible seems to point to a time the world as we know it will come to an end and Jesus will come back to earth to establish his eternal kingdom? Do we believe this is literally going to happen, or is it a kind of transformation earth will achieve without eternal life being part of an actual plan from a creator God?


How many of us have ever thought about these things? Are most of us aware the Bible talks about these things as facts that will indeed come to pass. Let us dig into some of the scriptures to better understand what is written in the Bible. First Jesus talks about signs on earth that will point to God’s judgment on a sinful world. 


Luke 21:25-28  25 “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26 People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. 27 At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”


We read what Jesus is telling his disciples what to look for.


Matthew 24:3-14 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.


He goes into more detail about what is happening on earth just before the end of this age and Jesus returns. In the verses in Matthew, Jesus is telling not only what will be going on in the last days but also challenging God’s people to stand firm and to not be deceived by those pretending to be Christian leaders who are really out to deceive.


Now let us look at some of the scriptures found elsewhere in the New Testament.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.


In this we read a list of attitudes that are becoming common in the world. In verse 5 we are being warned that there will be a form of godliness but it is powerless. Basically, a watered-down version of what God has made available to his people.


We will see if we back up to 1 Timothy 4:1-3 some more warnings of what will happen during the end times. It talks of people abandoning the faith and believing what is called deceiving spirits. In verse 2 it goes as far as to say these false teachers are hypocritical liars who have no conscience. Paul in these verses even warns that they will discourage marriage and yet encourage people not to eat meat that God has said is acceptable to eat. Any of this sound familiar in today’s world?


I Timothy 4:1-3  The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.


The final passage I will share with you today is found below.


2 Timothy 4:1-5 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 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. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.


These verses are directed at the church, at true believers. Paul again is warning in the last days there will be a time when some in the church will turn from the truths of the Bible. People will embrace things, that suit their own desires by looking for “godly teachers” who preach what they want the Bible to say instead of what it really says. The 4th verse says they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. In other words, to lies that are not truly in God’s Word. These warnings were actually given to Timothy by Paul about some of what he would encounter during the ministry God had called him to.


The question for us today is, does any of what Paul was warning Timothy about happening in our world today? During Paul and Timothy’s times they were battling a variety of pagan religions that existed in their world. And some who were coming from those religions into the early church were trying to bring some of these evil beliefs with them. Paul was encouraging Timothy to stand strong in the true faith. In our world today is the church being attacked if they believe in the historical views of scripture? On a regular basis are we being told to accept things that not long ago would have been rejected by almost everyone in the church. We must go back to the question that the title of this message asks, “What do we believe?”


We will spend some time over the next few weeks looking deeper into what the Bible says about some of the things we read this morning. I ask your indulgence and patience as we look at the times we live in and what the Bible tells us to be looking for. I pray the Holy Spirit will lead us as we explore some of these things together. I hope never to give my opinion as much as share what God’s Word says. We must each know what we believe. Is what we believe based on what the world is telling us or what God is revealing to us in his Word? The first question we must answer is whether the Bible is trustworthy and still applies to the church and God’s people today.

 Pastor Larry



Bible Study 9:30 Tuesday


May 11 Board Meeting 6:15 Exec. Comm.; 7:00 Commissions; 7:30 board


May 15 Council Meeting immediately following worship


May 18 12:00 Women’s Fellowship Luncheon, a salad potluck


May 18 7:00 p.m. via Zoom—Stepping Out of Covid, sponsored by the District potluck committee—info on bulletin board


To register for Camp Emmanuel, go to:

Women’s Camp begins the season, June 3-5


Offering plates are in the back of the sanctuary. Thank you for your continued giving!


Donation Box: VBS

First Sundays: food donations for food banks


Pastor Larry Traxler- (217) 454-2362


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Together, as the Church of the Brethren, we will passionately live and share the radical transformation and holistic peace of Jesus Christ through relationship-based neighborhood engagement. To move us forward, we will develop a culture of calling and equipping disciples who are innovative, adaptable, and fearless.


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