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10And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.
11And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.
12And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. (Matthew 24:1012 ESV)
How thick is a sheet of paper? Some people describe the lack of love as “paper-thin love”.
The disciples asked Jesus about the time of His Second Coming, and He replied in saying, “the love of many will grow cold.” (Matthew 24:10–12 ESV) I guess love would be thinner than the thinnest paper then.
1) A Generation that Lacks of Love
End Times Crisis
1But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. (2 Timothy 3:1–5 ESV) The Apostle Paul was a man that was greatly used by God. He reminded the young preacher Timothy to pay attention to his generation, because difficult times would come in the last days. The phrase “last days” is plural in form, which means the end times, and it is not the last of the last days. In the New Testament, “the last days” usually signifies the period of time between the Lord’s First and Second Advents. In simple terms, shortly before the Second Coming of Jesus, the world will be filled with all sorts of crises, and one of them is “without love” (NIV) or“unloving” (NLT).
God created men and women in His image and His likeness, and they have the instinct for love. People should love themselves, but they should also love one another.
Some theologians reckon that well-ordered self-love is good, right and natural; but it is excessive self-love the cause of sin.
Self-love is Normal
It is normal for people to love themselves, but not to love themselves is a problem. The Lord Jesus quoted an Old Testament verse: “love your neighbour as yourself”. Although God does not command people to love themselves, it is the attitude and behaviour that people should have.
Definition of Self-love
What is “self-love”? According to the dictionary I often use, self-love is: First, I love myself and avoid being hurt. Second, I respect myself.
The Expressions of Self-love
Normal people want to be happy and satisfied. No people love to hurt themselves. No normal people want to stab themselves with knives and no people want to burn themselves with fire.
Lovers of Self
What are the crises of the last days? At that time, people love themselves all right, but the crisis is that they only love themselves. “For people will be lovers of self” (ESV). 2 Timothy 3:1-5 is a picture of no affection. In the last days, people will become “lovers of self” (ESV and HCSB). Since people only love themselves will only care for their own interests, it is quite natural that they would be disobedient to their parents, ungrateful and treacherous.
Salt is Good
Salt is good. When the right amount of salt is added to the food, the dish would become tastier.
Sugar is Good
Desserts should be sweet, but too much sugar would spoil them. Sugar is good, but too much will destroy the desserts. The right amount of self-love is good and natural, but excessive self-love is the problem.
Why is that people will become lovers of self when the Lord is about to return to the earth? Right before the rapture of the church, many false christs and false prophets are already in the world, and their false teachings have already poisoned many people. When the greatest and ultimate false christ and false prophet appear, their teachings will deceive people even more. Because of those terrible times, nonbelievers and believers alike would lose their love for others is an inevitable phenomenon. Perhaps, false christs and false prophets would make people despise the law of God, and would even deny God’s standards completely. Consequently, people will become totally lawless. The Ten Commandments describe the intentions and standards of God, and the essence is to love God and to love others. Since people love to have no law at all – they will accept the evil and false teachings instead – no wonder they will not love God and others in the last days.
Many people enjoy hiking because it’s a cheap and healthy exercise. Two hikers were walking through the woods when they suddenly bumped into an enormous bear. One of the hikers took off his boots and put on his running shoes right away. “What are you doing? We can’t outrun that bear, even with jogging shoes.” exclaimed his friend. “Who cares about the bear? All I have to worry about is outrunning you.” the first hiker replied.
The Phenomenon of the End Times
Before the Lord Jesus is about to return to the earth, there will be great persecutions in the world, causing believers to suffer. For their own interests and security, one after another, nominal Christians will abandon their faith, and even true Christ seekers will become apostates as well.
2) The Signs of a Declining Church
A Church in Decline
1“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2“ ‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. 3I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. (Revelation 2:1–4 ESV) The Book of Revelation spoke of seven churches, and one of them was the Ephesian Church. The Ephesian Christians served with diligence and endurance. They could not tolerate wicked people, and had also discerned between true and false apostles, but their only problem was that they had departed their first love for God and people. 12And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. (Matthew 24:12 ESV) Matthew 24:12 mentions that the love of many will grow cold, I believe this includes Christians as well. The coldness of love speaks of a church in decline.
Why do churches decline? By referring to the context of Matthew 24, the Lord Jesus has predicted that false christs and false prophets will appear one after another, and I assume many will infiltrate into the church. Can you imagine that phony pastors shepherding the churches of God? It is natural that false pastors will cause churches to decline.
False pastors will replace the authority of the Bible with their false doctrines. By teaching believers with false doctrines, the decline of churches is inevitable. In “The Sign of End Times 8”, I speculated that false christs and false prophets would openly deny biblical standards, therefore causing all human beings to become more lawless. Most probably, they would teach some kind of extreme anti-law doctrine.
Today, “me culture” keeps on poisoning many people. Ten years ago, a survey stated that among European and American countries, Britain was the most individualistic society in the world. Experts pointed out that “me culture” is making many people anxious and depressed. According to a 2017 survey, Britain is the most individualistic country in the EU.
The design of each product is unique. Each product has its own functions. God created human beings and He wanted them to share their love with one another. When people love others as themselves, not only others would be happy, they themselves would be happy as well. On the contrary, loving only ourselves will cause us more pain.
Accepting God’s Love
Dear friends, “me culture” can’t bring people lasting happiness, but it would bring much anxiety and unhappiness instead. For those who know and have God’s love, they will be happy. When you accept Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour, you will experience the love of God, and by means of His love, you can love the people around you – this is the happiest life. Dear Christians, in the last days, churches will face severe challenges, and many local congregations will decline due to the loss of their first love for God and people. Therefore, let’s be watchful and prayerful, so that we would have the strength to love the people around us.