Tonight I want you to turn with me to 2 Peter, the 3rd chapter. I want to speak tonight on the subject, "The End Of The World." Is the world coming to an end? The 3rd chapter of 2 Peter, beginning at the 2nd verse: "That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior: knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation" [verses 2-4].
Now we have many scoffers today in America who do not believe that Jesus Christ is coming back again. The Bible distinctly declares, it seems to me, that Christ is coming back again, that His kingdom will be established, and that the prayer which our Lord prayed in the Lord's Prayer, "Thy kingdom come" [Matthew 6:10], will be answered some day.
The Bible says that in the last days, as we get closer to that climactic event, there will be scoffers. And Peter said that these scoffers will be those, first of all, who walk after their own lust. In other words, they are having such a good time eating and drinking and making merry--having a good time making money, having a good time in their own pleasures--that they do not want their pleasures interrupted. They do not want Christ to come, and so they become scoffers. They do not want to be interrupted in their pleasures.
Then there are those today who are scoffers because they believe in the evolutionary processes, that man somehow is getting better and better. And somehow we are going to come up with an answer to all the problems that face man today, and so Christ does not need to come back.
Then there are others who are just plain scoffers. They said that "all had continued until the present time, and Christ has not come back in all these hundreds of years. Where is He?" The Scripture says these would be the questions that the people would be asking and the things that the scoffers would be thinking about as we draw near the climactic point of history.
Of "this they are willingly . . . ignorant . . . ," says the Scripture; but "by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water"--talking about the flood--"whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished" [2 Peter 3:5,6].
The Scripture teaches that there was a moment in history when the world system did come to an end. It came to an end by the judgment of God through a flood. [See Genesis 7.] Now Peter continues to say in this chapter, "But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are . . . reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" [verses 7-9].
The Scripture says perhaps a thousand years will roll by and Christ may not come. But in God's sight, a thousand years is only one day. In our sight, a thousand years seems like an eternity. A man seventy years of age, it seems to us, is getting up in years. A man of eighty years of age we think is a very old man. But God says that a man one hundred years of age has only lived, in God's sight, one-tenth of one day. So if Christ delays His coming a thousand years or two thousand years, it is only a couple of days in God's sight, the way God reckons time.
So Peter continues, "But the day of the Lord will come," says the Scripture--"the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy [living] and godliness?" [verses 10,11].
Today the entire world has been excited over the fact that we have a rocket on the way to the moon. The last report that I had a few minutes ago is that the rocket is now sixty-five thousand miles up into space. It is a little off course at the moment. They do not know whether it is going to hit the moon. They do not know whether it is going to go around the moon, or they do not know whether it is going to continue on endlessly into space. Nobody knows for the next few hours. Everybody says, "Look at what man has accomplished!"
Do you know how far the moon is away? Two hundred thousand miles. Do you know how far it is to the nearest star? Twenty-five trillion miles. Do you know how many stars there are in our Milky Way? Over one hundred billion. Do you know what the distance is between those stars? In our Milky Way, it averages over seven trillion miles between them. Do you know how many more milky ways they estimate there are now? Over one billion more milky ways.
So I say, if we get to the moon, what have we done? We have not even started. Yet man walks around today saying, "Look what we are doing." It is a great scientific achievement, but in the midst of the oceans of immensities it is not very much.
All of this scientific advance and scientific achievement of the past few years has brought about a discussion all over the world in intellectual circles about the possibility of the end of the world as we know it. Almost all agree everywhere about the possibility of the end of the world. Some of the titles of the current best-sellers recently listed in The New York Times book review section I am going to read to you. Here they are: NO PLACE TO HIDE; MUST WE HIDE?; THERE WILL BE NO TIME; MANUAL FOR SURVIVAL; FEAR, WAR, AND THE BOMB; MUST DESTRUCTION BE OUR DESTINY?; AFTER DOOM--WHAT? Little went on to say that since 1945 a five-foot shelf of books have been written about the physical destruction of the world.
Our philosophers today--many of them--are admitting the possibility. Bertrand N. Russell recently said he would not give a fifty-fifty chance that one person would be alive on this planet forty years from today.
Our political leaders are talking about the end of the world. A European prime minister recently said, "Time is running out." An American senator said, "A war of annihilation seems to be inevitable." Former President Truman said, "Fantastic new weapons are available which could destroy civilization." Sir Winston Churchill said some time ago as he threw up his hands in despair, "Our problems are beyond us."
Science is predicting it. A German scientist some time ago said, "It is now possible to depopulate the entire earth." Rear Admiral Ellis[?], our wartime chief of naval intelligence, said some time ago in an article entitled "Wartime Weapons, More Deadly Than One Atom"--I am going to read it to you, here is what he said, "There are today in the arsenal of several of the great powers, other absolute weapons besides the atomic bomb, physical and psychological weapons more devastating than the atom. They are capable of exterminating the last vestige of human, animal, and vegetable life from the face of the earth. This is not a prediction of horrors to come," said the Admiral. "These weapons exist now. They are being manufactured right now while you are reading these words. They are not an American monopoly. Several nations are known to have them, and to be making them, and to be proving them. Furthermore, unlike the atomic bomb, they are of such a nature that smaller nations with limited industrial facilities are in a position to develop them."
In other words, our leading scientists are saying today that there are weapons now in existence that could be unleashed to bring about the destruction and the end of the world system as we know it tonight.
Historians are predicting it. Professor Weber says, "We are now at the end of history as we know it."
Contemporary theology also teaches the return of Christ, or it teaches the end of the world. There is a return of the study of eschatology today. The Evanston Assembly of the World Council of Churches discussed this very subject two or three years ago. The Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Churches has just ended. And the Archbishop of Canterbury made headlines when he made this statement, "It may be God's will to allow the world to destroy itself." The Interpreter's Bible, which is used by many ministers and edited by Dr. George Buttrick, says in exegesis of Matthew, chapter 24, on page 541, "The teachings of Jesus quoted in this chapter teach that the world as now constituted will come to a catastrophic end." On page 542 the writer continues, "Jesus shared the view of history which nearly all Jews accept and which we call eschatology; that is, God is sovereign of the world as it now is. Man has defaced it and, in his own good time, God will bring history to an end. This age will be superseded by a permanent order of righteousness that befits the kingdom of God." Then he goes on to say that this will come about not as a result of evolutionary processes but by God's direct actions.
Scientists, diplomats, political leaders, theologians--all agree that there now exists the possibility of the end of the world.
Now tonight there is only one book in the world that touches on this subject. There is only one book in the world tonight that is a true book of prophecy. You pick up the Bible, and it is a book of history, yes; but if it is only history, it becomes very dry and boring reading. It is a book of redemption and theology, yes; but if it is only theology, to some it may be irrelevant to the problems of our day. But the Bible is more than a book of theology. It is more than a book of history. The Bible is a book of prophecy.
Now in the New Testament the Bible talks about the new birth or regeneration nine times. It talks about repentance seventy times. It talks about baptism twenty times. And it talks about the second coming of Christ over three hundred times! Over three hundred times the New Testament expresses the fact that Christ is going to come. This has been the hope of the church down through the ages. It has been called the "blessed hope" [Titus 2:13], the glorious hope that Christ some day will come back to this earth again.
Ladies and gentlemen, on the dark horizon of the present moment I see no other hope. There is really no other possibility I see at the moment for solving the problems of the world than the coming again of Jesus Christ. The world is in darkness, and the darkness is growing blacker--frustration, confusion, the world on the horns of a dilemma.
The communist is offering the world a hope. The communist says there is something wrong with the world. The communist says, "We are going to rebuild the world. We are going to bring the kingdom in without God." But Jesus says the kingdom will never come until the Prince of Peace has His rightful place as King of kings and Lord of lords in the hearts of men. Communism will never bring it. The United Nations will never bring it. It will come only at the climactic point in history when Christ Himself shall take over and take control. Then shall the kingdom of God come.
Yes, the Bible teaches that there is coming a climactic point in history. The end of the world system as we know it is definitely on the horizon. How long will it be? I do not know. When it will be I do not pretend to know. It may be a thousand years; it may be two thousand years. I do not know. I only know that this book is filled with predictions of the end of the world. This book is filled with hope that Christ will come back again. Jesus said, "As it was in the days of [Noah], so shall it [also be] in the days [of the coming] of the Son of man" [Luke 17:26]. We are told in Scripture that the world was destroyed before, and that conditions prevailing at that time were to prevail again toward the climactic point in history. In other words, history will repeat itself.
I want us to turn back tonight for just a moment and see just what the conditions were in the days of Noah. You remember the story of Noah. A lot of people laughed it out of school and scoffed at it, but archaeologists no longer laugh at the story of Noah. There is plenty of archaeological evidence that a flood did exist at one time over a certain portion of the world, the portion that Noah lived in. The world of that day was destroyed, and the Bible tells us how it came about. The Bible says that God looked upon civilization, and He saw the wickedness of men. He saw that their hearts were evil continually. He saw the wickedness and the evil, the imagination, the corruption, and the violence of that time. Thus God said, "It repented me that I ever made man." God said, "I am sorry that I ever made man. I am going to destroy man and start all over again. Man is too wicked and too vile. He has wandered far from what I mean him to be." [See Genesis 6:1-7,11-13.]
There are several things said about that civilization which parallel in our day. Jesus said as it was then, so it will be in the day of the coming of the Son of man. There are several things said about that day. First, it was a world in which marriage and home were abused. Marrying and giving in marriage was the idea of exchanging wives. Divorce courts were filled. People were obsessed with sex. Emphasis was on immorality. Look at our world today. Need I comment about it? We, today, are living as in the days of Noah morally.
Secondly, it was a world in which violence prevailed. There were murders, there were robberies, there were all types of violent acts being committed in society. We see the same conditions today. Pick up your paper. The headlines are filled with stories of murders and robberies and rape, and all the rest. Crime is rising at such an alarming rate that Mr. J. Edgar Hoover last warned the nations that this has reached the point of emergency.
Thirdly, it is a world in which spiritual influences were neglected. It does not say that the people in Noah's day were atheists, because they were not. It does not say they were agnostics. It does not say that they fought God or were against God. The Bible simply states they neglected God. They just did not have time for God. They were too busy in their moneymaking. They were too absorbed with things, too absorbed with their materialism, to give any attention to God whatsoever.
Oh, I imagine they might have gone to church once a week. They might have served God with their lips, but their hearts were far from God. They just did not have time for God. And there are thousands of people in America like that today. You are not against God. You are not against religion. You are not against the Bible, but you do not have time for God. You are too busy making money, too busy with your pleasures, too busy with your amusements, too busy with your own self to have any time for God whatsoever.
Fourthly, it was a world threatened by the judgment of God. The judgment clouds of God were gathering on the horizon, but the people paid no attention. Noah preached to them and warned them of the coming judgment. He said a flood is coming. He said judgment is coming. People laughed and scoffed, and nobody believed him.
We have something today that Noah did not have. All Noah had was the word of God. We have today the testimony of science. We have the testimony of history. We have the testimony of the greatest intellectuals in America. We have the testimony of political leaders. We have the testimony of thousands of scientists to support the biblical view that the end of the world is a possibility. Yet people today do not believe. The clouds of judgment are gathering on the horizon. They can clearly be seen by all the world. Yet how many are turning to God?
More people are filled with greed and selfish ambition and pride and neglect of God than ever before. Jesus said, "As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it also be in the day of the coming of the Son of man" [see Luke 17:26]. I believe we today in America are living in almost identically the same type of culture--morally, religiously--that they lived in, in the days of Noah. Jesus said that at such a time, He was coming back.
I want you to look at Noah. In the midst of the confusion, wickedness, and sin, there was one man who lived for God. He was a nonconformist to the world about him. He was separated from the world of his day. Because he was separated, the people did not understand.
One day God came to him and said, "Noah, I have found you righteous in my sight. You have lived a good life. You have walked before me. You are clothed in my righteousness. You believe in me. You believe in me so much, Noah, that you have lived for me." [See Genesis 6:8,9.] Because, you see, what you believe determines how you live. People say that what you believe is not important. Yes, it is important. You say that a creed is not important. A creed is important because God said you "must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that . . . seek him" [Hebrews 11:6]. And that is a creed. You must believe. You must believe in an object, and that object is Jesus Christ.
Noah believed in God with all of his heart, so much that he was willing to be the only man of his time who walked with God. He did not care what it cost him in business. He did not care how many of his high school friends left him. He didn't care how many of the college kids misunderstood him. He didn't care what it cost. He lived for God, and God honored him.
And God said, "Noah, I'm going to save you." God said, "I want you to build a ship 150 feet long, 75 high. Make one door." So Noah started building the ship. He worked on it for 120 years. For 120 years Noah worked on that ship, and all the evidence Noah had was the word of the living God. [See Genesis 6:14-16.]
I am standing here tonight before you people of America with a Bible in my hand, telling you that the Bible teaches judgment is coming. The Bible teaches there is going to come a catastrophic end of the world as we know it. You had better be ready for it, and you had better repent. That's exactly what Noah said thousands of years ago to the people of his day, and nobody believed him. And the flood came and swept them all away.
Noah began to build his ark, and the people came and they laughed and they scoffed. I imagine they had excursions out to see the old man. I am certain that we would have sent him to a psychiatrist. And we would have had some psychological jargon to describe poor old Noah, a crazy old man, building a ship in the middle of the desert. Now, where could he sail the ship? There was no sea, there was no river big enough to take his ship. He was building a big ship, and he had plenty of confidence. He must have had some money from somewhere. He paid union wages, I'm sure. And the carpenters helped him build it.
And there's one of the saddest stories in all the Bible--carpenters helping to build the ship, and they themselves were not saved. There are people tonight in America helping to build good institutions. They are doing good work, and they are even helping to build the church; but they themselves have never been saved. They have never been born again of the Spirit of God. They have never encountered Jesus Christ.
But they kept on building. And one day Noah was standing preaching to the people; and he said, "Ladies and gentlemen, today will be the day. The flood is going to come." Oh, how they all laughed. "How crazy and how stupid! How nonintellectual. Why, don't you know anything about science, Mr. Noah? Why, all the scientists agree that the world is not coming to an end. Why, all the intellectuals say there is nothing to it. Why, Mr. Noah, don't you know you are a laughingstock?"
When I tell you tonight to come and give your life to Jesus Christ and come to the cross, some of you will laugh and scoff. The Bible says that "the preaching of the cross is foolishness to them that perish" [see 1 Corinthians 1:18]. When I tell you that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, and when I tell you that you can only get into the kingdom of God by repentance of your sins and faith in Jesus Christ, some of you will laugh and scoff. And you say, "It is foolish. There must be another way. There must be a better way!"
God says you must come to the cross. Have you been to the cross? Noah built the ark. He did not care what the people said. When the floods came and the water covered the face of the earth, the people of that day and all of their wickedness and sins and evil imaginations, all their business, all their commerce, all their pleasures were destroyed. Noah and his family were safe. [See Genesis 7.]
I tell you tonight that this Bible predicts judgment, this Bible predicts there is coming a catastrophic end to history as we know it. In the midst of the blackness and darkness, and the despair of the hour in which we live, there is hope. There is one bright star that becomes brighter to me every passing day, and that bright hope is that Jesus Christ the Son of God is coming back to this earth again. The Scripture says, "That day and hour knoweth no man, . . . not [even] the angels of heaven" [Matthew 24:36]. We don't know the day. We don't know the hour He is coming. But Jesus said, "[Watch], for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh" [verse 44].
And I tell you, Jesus Christ shall come. And the Scripture has a great deal to say about it. I wish I had time tonight to deal with the subject more fully; I could talk for three hours on this subject. I hardly know where to begin and where to end, for the Bible says, "The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, [and] with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first" [1 Thessalonians 4:16].
All the way through from Genesis to Revelation, Scripture after Scripture predicts that glorious moment when Christ, the King, shall come. "Jesus shall reign where'er the sun doth [its] successive journeys run; His kingdom [stretch] from shore to shore, till moons shall wax and wane no more."
Canon Bryan Green, the Rector of Birmingham, England, of the Anglican church, said in Australia the other day, "Civilization is going toward a blackness and a darkness from which it will never recover, and the only bright hope on the horizon is the second coming of Christ."
Ladies and gentlemen, my hope tonight is not in the United Nations, as fine an organization as that is. My hope tonight is not in man's ability to solve his own problems. My hope tonight is in the personal return of our blessed Lord, which I believe this book teaches and which I believe we need to emphasize from our pulpits in America as never before. I know that fanatics have preached it and used it in the past. I know that it has been abused, and I know that it has been neglected. But I tell you we need to preach it; we need to warn the people. Because Christ said, "Be ye . . . ready: for in such an hour as [you] think not the Son of man cometh" [Matthew 24:44].
I want to ask you tonight: Are you ready? Are you ready for the end of the world? Are you ready for the coming again of Christ? You say, "Well, Billy, it may be a thousand years." Oh, no! Wait a minute. The end of the world for you could come tonight, right now. Because the moment you die, that is the end of the world for you. You could die tonight, and you are not ready. You are not prepared to meet God.
You can be ready, though, because Christ went to the cross and died and shed His blood for your sins. He rose again for your justification. He lives at the right hand of God the Father to intercede for you. And because of that fact, there is hope that you can be forgiven of sin. But more than forgiven, your life can be transformed.
Then Jesus gave some parables. He told us that we are not to become hysterical because Christ is coming. We are not to become nervous and filled with tension, nor are we to sit down and say, "Christ is coming; I don't need to work." He taught the parable of the talents. We are to go out and work, and the very fact that He is coming becomes an incentive for Christian living. [See Matthew
It becomes an incentive for Bible reading, it becomes an incentive for prayer, it becomes an incentive for tithing, it becomes an incentive for church going, it becomes an incentive for doing good social work, it becomes an incentive for Christian living. And, in my opinion, the greatest incentive in the world today is the fact that Christ may come.
We are warned by Jesus Himself to be ready. Have you given your life to Christ? Are you sure of it? Have you had an encounter with Christ? Have you had a personal experience with Him? Do you know that your sins are forgiven? Do you know if you died that you would go to heaven tonight? Are you sure that if Christ broke through the sky and came this night that you would be ready to meet Him? You can be right now, by giving your life and your heart to Christ.
I am going to ask all of you in this auditorium that you will surrender your heart and life to Christ, that you will give Him your life and say, "I don't care what it costs. I'm going to be like Noah." I'm going to ask all of you, hundreds of you, to get up out of your seat and come and stand quietly and reverently here tonight and say, "I want to give my life to Christ."