Just as Genesis is the book of beginnings, Revelation is the book of consummation. In it, the divine program of redemption is brought to fruition.
What I have just realised is that the books leading up to Revelation, James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1,2 & 3 John and Jude, all provide an amazing progression of teachings that warns us and prepares us for what will unfold in the days ahead, in the “end times”. We can’t say that God did not warn us.
First of all, James warns us that faith without works is no faith. Faith without works is dead and dead faith is worse than no faith at all. Faith must work, it must produce; it must be visible. Without faith, we will not be able to endure the trials to come. Strong faith will face trials head-on and develop endurance. Faith understands temptations. Faith obeys the Word of God. It will not merely hear and not do. Faith produces doers. This is the faith we will need to face the prophesied intensifying persecution.
1 & 2 PETER:
In 1 Peter: Peter warns us that the persecution we will endure in the end times will cause growth or bitterness. Christians will only conduct themselves courageously when they know Jesus Christ and His calling on their lives.
“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:7
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange is happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:12
In 2 Peter: Peter warns the church of trials to come from inside and outside. He warns of false teachers peddling damaging non-Biblical doctrine. They scoff at the thought of Noah’s flood (judgment) and Jesus’ return and judgment.
“You should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this, first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.” 2 Peter 3:2-6
John warns that in the “end times”, two major stumbling blocks will be falling in love with the world and falling for the alluring lies of false teachers. We see both happening in our day. John stresses that God is light, love, and life and that if we are to walk in the light we must regularly confess our sins allowing the blood of Christ to continually cleanse us.
John warns Christians about the coming falling away, the apostasy that Jesus warns us of in the “last days”.
“For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ does not have God.” 2 John 1:7-9
John supplements his warnings in 2 John by comparing a false teacher, Diotrephes, and a true loving teacher, Gaius. To avoid the dual dangers of false teaching and division within the church, believers must practice the dual virtues of love and discernment. Both are necessary.
“I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church. Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.” 3 John 1:9-11
Jude shows us what will be necessary when apostasy arises. Fight, contend do battle when the apostasy arises when false teachers emerge and when the truth of God is attacked.
“But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” Jude 1: 17-21
Jude also reveals an amazing “end times” prophecy given by Enoch:
“It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain the advantage.” Jude 1:14-16
After giving the apostles incredible detail in the Olivet Discourse of events that will precede His second coming Jesus told them, see I have told you beforehand be on your guard.
“But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.” Luke 13:23
What more warnings do you need to prepare for Jesus’ Second Coming?