Pretend It’s The End Part Two: “Weighing Our Options” –

A Bible Study for the New and Growing Follower of Jesus

By Timothy Smith, Posted in 2022

“Pretend It’s The End” Part Two:

Weighing Our Options

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TruthTexts presents a 6-part Bible study about living every day as though our time here on Earth is short.  We know civilizations, nations, and our own lives will not last forever. But believers in Jesus know that  “the end” is really the beginning of Eternity. So we will examine the Bible’s TruthTexts on how to behave, how to think, what to say, and what to do, in order to share the love of Jesus with the whole world. There are no “End Times” speculations in this study, no rash predictions. There’s just a serious look at some practical TruthTexts about living radically different lives by following God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit in these perilous times.


“...when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” – Jesus, in Luke 18:8

“My Kingdom is not of this world. If it was, then my servants would fight to prevent my arrest,” explained Jesus to the Roman ruler, Pilate. (from John 18:36)

“Though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ!” – Paul (2 Cor. 10:3-5 RSV)

What Happens to Believers When Whole Civilizations Fall?

This short study series, “Pretend it’s the End,” dives into some very serious issues for believers facing drastic changes in their world. I’m not qualified to speak with certainty about the “End of the World.” Actually, no one can predict when the events predicted in the Bible will take place, or how they will unfold. Anyone who claims differently is running far ahead of where the Spirit is leading us. I believe when the time draws near, we will know, if we are listening to God and His Word. But I can recognize when a nation or culture is nearing its end, both from TruthTexts that give general warnings, and from the examples of history.

For example, the fall of the Roman Empire has always fascinated me. There were desperate letters from Roman Britain pleading for reinforcements, sent to a government that no longer was able to defend its own capital. I recall reading of monks who retrieved priceless handwritten books from libraries across Europe, taking them to Ireland to be preserved and copied. Meanwhile, the cities the books came from were being sacked and burned.

When China became a closed country, with a government that was hostile to believers, the followers of Jesus in that country numbered in the low millions. Decades later, when the country began to open up to the outside world, the number of followers of Jesus in China was more than one hundred times greater, larger perhaps than the entire population of the United States. And this was after years of persecution, with believers passing around handwritten collections of verses, since the Bible was a forbidden book. We can look around at our own world, and be shocked at the sudden decline of  countries, leaders and movements: sidelined, discredited, and destroyed by old-fashioned weapons of war or by the weapons of our digital age. But we can be confident that no matter what, the Kingdom of God will survive and increase. “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it!” (Matthew 16:18, KJV)

God’s Word Has the Help We Need!

It should not surprise any believer that the Bible has answers for us. The Word can provide us with all the training and resources we need. We can survive, and even grow in our faith. Many of the texts we use for the “training and resources” were actually written while the authors were under the heel of oppressive and hostile forces, or even in prison for believing in Jesus! The “Church,” meaning the family of the followers of Jesus across the world, seems to thrive in a hostile environment. Believers only grow while dependent on the Holy Spirit and God’s Word. So when worldly power, influence, resources, and comforts are swept away, miraculous growth occurs. I am not volunteering to live in such a world! But I know that followers of Jesus can grow and do amazing things for God’s Kingdom if we have to face that kind of trouble.

In the face of such terrible opposition, what are we to do? Paul says to patiently endure hardship, keep your head, and above all, to share the Good News “in season and out of season.” Here’s what Paul said about that, while in a Roman prison for being a believer:

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people!” 2 Timothy 3:1-5 NIV

And Paul continues,

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage —with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”  2 Timothy 4:1-5 NIV

Three Options, But Only One is Good

In reality, we have three options when our society falls apart. First, we could fall away when trouble comes. We can demand that God give us back the life we had before, and give up on Him when He doesn’t. We’d be saying, “See, it was all just a bunch of nonsense. God wouldn’t let these things happen to us if he had any power!” Jesus spoke of this when he said, “And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other.” (Matt. 24:10 NLT)

Second, our “love can grow cold.” We can join in the decline of our society, thinking, acting, and reacting exactly as the rest of our society is doing. We can go to war to preserve our former power and influence, either as angry online warriors or as literal warriors, violently attacking the new centers of power. Read again the verses from John 8 and 2 Cor. 10 that are posted at the top of this study if you want God’s opinion. As Jesus warned, “Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold.” (Matt. 24:12 NLT)

The first or second option puts us in a downward spiral of hate, revenge, and loveless despair. If we walk away from the love of Jesus in the Holy Spirit, we lose our joy and the “Peace, not as the world gives” (see John 14). We’d be asking for a miserable life that actually repels people from the Good News. We can’t take these options, adopting the methods and thinking of the world around us, and still expect to be a witness for Jesus. Or to live a joyful life, either!

The third option is the way of the Spirit, guided by God’s Word, as we share the love of Jesus even to a crumbling world of falsehood and evil. And the Spirit will empower us in ways we never imagined. We’ll look closer at our options, especially the way of the Spirit, in the next study. Here again is my version of Philippians 2:14-16:

Don’t complain, belittle, lash out, or argue like so many others are doing. That way nobody can criticize you or claim you’re a troublemaker. Stay clean, pure, and innocent, showing that you are God’s child, empowered by His Spirit. In this way, you’ll shine as a bright light while surrounded by dishonest and cruel people. Hang on to God’s Word, which is our lifeline. Study it, know it, and act on it. Then when Jesus returns, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that the actions you took and the life you lived were not wasted, but produced the results that honored God (and spread His love, even in very trying circumstances!)

Take Action!

First: Check my work! Be sure to look up the verses in this study in whatever translation of the Bible is the easiest for you to understand.* Read the whole section that each verse came from, and make sure that the words I have said about them are true. Once you are sure that I have given you accurate information, ask yourself the questions. Finally, ask God to show you what you should do next.

Can you think of your own example of when persecution helped the Church to grow?

What detail of how the world acts stood out to you in 2 Timothy 3:1-5?

What parts remind you of today’s time?

What does it mean to “correct, rebuke, and encourage”? (2 Tim. 4:2)

How can we do this in a loving way?

Why do believers who fall away, who turn away from their faith,

end up losing their joy and peace?

Think of a situation in which the people in authority took away your earthly power,

property, and influence. What would you still have? What could you still do?

What should your focus and priorities be?

* I use many translations of the Bible in these articles. Any of them would serve to support the points made in the chapter. All verses with no listed translations are my own paraphrase; please check with your own favorite Bible to be sure I got the right idea.

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