Rushing Toward the End
A Message From Billy Graham
May 5, 2011 - The present world system will someday vanish. Death itself will cease, and Jesus Christ will set up his eternal Kingdom.
Heaven and Earth will pas away.—Matthew 24:35
by Billy Graham
When I appeared on a talk show years ago, one of America’s most famous personalities told me of the emptiness in her life. She said, “My beauty is gone. I am getting old. I am living on alcohol, and I really have nothing to live for.” This emptiness is typical of thousands of men and women throughout the world.
After that I visited a senior citizens’ home and talked with 10 or 15 people individually. One man asked, “Mr. Graham, what hope is there for a man who has lived a life of sin like I have?”
The Bible teaches that all of mankind is rushing toward death. C.S. Lewis once said that war does not increase death. I wondered what he meant until I thought it through. What he meant was that even though we have war, it does not increase death because death is total in every generation. Everybody dies.
The Bible says that “it is appointed for men to die once” (Hebrews 9:27). All of nature is in the process of dying. Yet most people are living as if they think that they will never die. Most people are living for today with barely a thought of eternity.
The Bible and nature both teach that everything that has a beginning also has an ending. The day begins with a sunrise; but the sun sets, the shadows gather, and that calendar day is crossed out, never to appear again. We will never be able to repeat today. It is gone forever.
Nations and civilizations rise, flourish for a time and then decay. Eventually, each comes to an end. This, because of sin, is the decree of history and the way of life on this planet. This is what prompted Henry F. Lyte to write, Change and decay in all around I see/O Thou who changest not, abide with me.
The Bible also teaches that the world system as we know it shall come to a close. We read in 1 John 2:17: “The world is passing away, and the lust of it.” And in 2 Peter 3:10 we read: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” Jesus said, in Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away.”
Christianity presents a Gospel of crisis. It is the Gospel of Good News, to be sure—that God has a plan for your life, that God loves you, that God is a God of mercy, that God will forgive you if you confess and forsake your sins and have faith in His Son, Jesus Christ—but as far as the world system is concerned, the Bible says that Christianity is a Gospel of crisis. It proclaims that the world’s days are numbered. Every cemetery testifies that the Bible is true. Our days on this planet are numbered. The Bible says that life is only a vapor that appears for a moment and then vanishes, that it is like the grass that withers and the flowers that fade.
There is another sense in which the world system will end. There will be an end of history. That doesn’t mean an end to life, but it means the end of a world that has been dominated by evil. The Bible speaks a great deal about the end of the world.
The Bible teaches that the present evil world system will pass away and come to a climactic, dramatic end. It also says that Jesus Christ will come again and that He will set up a Kingdom of righteousness and social justice where hatred, greed, jealousy, war and death will no longer be known. Jesus talked about the end of the present evil world system and the establishment of a new order, which is called the Kingdom of God.
Jesus Christ did not engage in fantasy. He was not given to terror tactics. He was Truth and Veracity personified. He indicated that when you see certain things come to pass, you can be assured that the end is near. He said, “You can read the signs of the weather in the sky, but because of spiritual blindness you cannot read the signs of the times” (Cf. Matthew 16:3). He indicated that only those who have spiritual illumination and discernment from the Holy Spirit can understand the trends and meanings of history.
The Bible plainly indicates that certain conditions will prevail just before the end. For example, the Bible says there will be knowledge without wisdom. The Scripture says, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their own craftiness’” (1 Corinthians 3:19). Daniel 12:4 tells us, “Until the time of the end … knowledge shall increase.”
Today there is more knowledge about everything than at any other time in history. Young people are graduating from schools and colleges and universities, and we have more knowledge crammed into our heads than at any time the world has ever known.
We are teaching thousands of young people knowledge, but we are not giving them wisdom to use that knowledge. In every area of life people are floundering, suffering from neuroses and psychological problems on a scale that we have never known before. Our heads are filled with knowledge, but many of our hearts are empty. We are confused, bewildered, frustrated and without moral moorings.
Another condition the Bible says will be present at the end of the world system is power without peace. Many little wars are taking place all over the world. And certainly a major war could break out at any time. Somebody may push the wrong button or miscalculate. We could be plunged into a third world war that nobody wants. Jesus said, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. … For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matthew 24:6-7).
The world today is like an armed camp. Billions are spent for weapons that soon become obsolete or are replaced with new ones that cost even more. The world atmosphere is one of belligerence and fear. Tempers are pushed to the limit; patience is running out.
Many people are asking, “Why is there so little peace in a world of unprecedented knowledge and unlimited potential?”
We are trying to build a peaceful world, but there is no peace within people’s hearts. We cannot build a new world on the old, unregenerate hearts of people. The new world will come about only when Jesus Christ, King of kings, Lord of lords, reigns supreme. He is the “Prince of Peace,” according to Isaiah 9:6.
The sigh of insecurity and the shouts of revolution heard across the world are perhaps the death rattle of an era in civilization, perhaps civilization as we have known it. We are reaching the human impasse. On the human level we are facing total crisis.
It is God’s turn to act, and Scripture promises that He will act dramatically. He will send his Son Jesus Christ back to this Earth. He is the Lord of history. Nothing is taking God by surprise. Events are moving rapidly toward some sort of climax, but it will be according to God’s time when Jesus Christ returns to be rightful Ruler of the world.
But before that time comes, God wants to rule in your heart. He has sent Jesus Christ into the world to be the Ruler of your heart. The Bible says that “sin shall not have dominion over you” (Romans 6:14) if Jesus Christ is in your heart as Lord and Master.
You see, there are two rulers. There is self, and there is Jesus Christ. Either self will reign and dominate, or Jesus Christ will reign and dominate. Who is your ruler? Is the Kingdom of God within you?
No matter what life you have lived, Jesus Christ can come into your heart right now if you will turn from your sins and receive Him as Savior. He loves you. He wants to forgive you. You can enter the new Kingdom, the new world that will be born under His leadership when He comes again. ©1972 BGEA
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version.