When we speak of the "end times" today, we're generally referring to the time directly preceding the rapture of the church and the seven-year tribulation. Jesus seemed to refer to the "end times" in a more comprehensive way, spanning the time between His ascension to His return when He will reign in the Millennial Kingdom. So, yes, we are living in the end times. Whether we are living within decades of the rapture is hard to know. While He was on Earth, even Jesus did not know when He would return (Mark 13:32). We have certainly been seeing signs of the end times since Jesus ascended to heaven, and they have progressively continued to get stronger over time.
Are we living in the end times?
Jesus prophesied the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and the signs that would precede His second coming: earthquakes, famine, pestilence, wars, and persecution (Luke 21:10–28). These events are "birth pangs" leading up to His return (Matthew 24:8). There is no doubt that we have seen natural disasters, disease, wars, and persecution throughout history. There is no sign that these things are ending, and perhaps even signs that they are increasing.
Jesus also warned the disciples that false prophets will lead people astray, that lawlessness will increase, and that people's love for Him will grow cold (Matthew 24:4–12). Paul warned Timothy that in the end times the darkness and deception within people would get darker as they indulge in every self-obsession and lawless desire they have: "But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people" (2 Timothy 3:1–5). Sadly, this verse has characterized much of human history, and certainly seems to characterize society today.
Not all signs of the end times are negative. The prophet Joel prophesied that there would be a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28–29). This prophecy was fulfilled when the Holy Spirit came and rested on people with tongues of fire on the Day of Pentecost shortly after Jesus ascended to heaven (Acts 2:1–4, 16). Throughout history, there have been countless revivals, fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit, sparked by Spirit-led movements. These have resulted in the preaching of the gospel throughout the whole world, which is also a sign of the end times: "But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come" (Matthew 24:13–14).
What is our responsibility in all of this? We need to be continually making sure that we are keeping our hearts inclined toward the Lord and His ways, staying obedient to Him that we may be ready whenever He returns. Jesus warned us to be watchful and vigilant in the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1–13). None of us knows the day or hour that Christ will return, so it is our job to be ready for Him at all times.
If you have not given your life to Christ, now is the time. God desires that all people will come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9) before He returns. Redemption from sin comes only through Jesus Christ (Romans 3:24). Believe in Him and you will receive salvation and everlasting life (Acts 16:31; John 3:16).
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