Matthew 16:1-4 The Times Are the Signs The religious leaders came to Jesus seeking a sign, some evidence of what God was doing or was about to do. Jesus told them that while they could discern the whether, they could not discern a sign if it came up and bit them on the nose. (Thatís my paraphrase.) Jesus was saying that the signs they were seeking were all around them. The times were the signs. Tthe miracles, the sermons, the love that Jesus was showing the people, those were the signs. As it was in Jesusí day, so it is today. Many do not realize that the times are our signs as well. I. We need people to know that some things have changed. A. Times have changed. 1. To say that times have changed seems to be an extreme understatement. a. We have become a drug abuse culture. (1) 51.9% of those 12 and older use alcohol on a regular basis. http://alcoholism.about.com/od/faq/f/How-Many-People-Drink-Alcohol- In-The-U-S.htm (2) An estimated 36.5% of American have abused a illegal drug at some point in their lives. http://www.drugscope.org.uk/resources/faqs/faqpages/how-many-people -use-drugs (3) I could not find a statistic on how many might be abusing prescription drugs but I did find an article dated 10/26/2011 which stated more people now die by abusing prescription drugs than illegal drugs, and their source is their own medicine cabinet. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/10/26/ prescription-drugs-number-one-cause-preventable-death-in-us.aspx (4) Of course, with several states now legalizing the use of marijuana, I believe those numbers are going to increase. b. We have become a socialized culture. (1) 49.2% of the American population are receiving government aid in the US. http://cnsnews.com/news/article/terence-p-jeffrey/census-49-americans -get-gov-t-benefits-82m-households-medicaid (2) That is only going to get worse. c. We have become a violent culture. (1) I know the government keeps saying crime is going down but I am not seeing a decrease in crime around here. (2) From our music, movies, and games to our everyday life of gangs, shootings, bullying, rapes, home invasions, and murders, our world has changed. d. We have become a sin-tolerant people. (1) The definition of a marriage has been changed by our government. (2) Even churches have changed their views. (a) I saw two articles in the last two days on the Presbyterian Church USA, the more liberal Presbyterian organization. i. They voted to withdraw financial support from three major funds (HP, Caterpiller, Motorola) because those funds support Israel. ii. Allowing gay marriage. (b) It is not just the Presbyterians. i. The Baptist Union, a union of Baptist churches in the UK, have opened themselves to the possibility of gay marriages. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock/2014/05/the-baptist-union- to-allow-differences-on-same-sex-marriage/ ii. 80 pastors of the United Methodist have recently signed a letter stating their concern that their denomination will split over gay marriage. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/06/10/southern- baptist-methodists-gay-marriage/10261611/ 2. I give all of these statistics merely to say that TIMES have changed. B. People have changed. 1. The lost world will not agree with us, but the truth is that people have become worse, more sinful, more debased, more anti-truth and more anti-God. 2. The reason the world will not agree is because they refuse to believe the ruler, the Bible. 3. The Bible not only condemns sin. It measures sin. a. The more sins we accept and the more extreme the sins that we accept, the darker the human race becomes and the closer to Godís judgment the human race gets. b. \\#Romans 1:19-32\\ Romans 1:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. 4. Another way to measure the evil of mankind is to note how much of Godís Word they will listen to. a. I am not saying "accept." I am saying, "listen to." b. The world has never been so intolerant of the Bible. (1) The Jews were intolerant of the Word concerning Jesus. (Stephen) (a) \\#Acts 7:54\\ When they heard these things they "gnashed on him with their teeth." (b) \\#Acts 7:57\\ Stopped up their ears and ran upon him and stoned him. (2) However, the other cultures and nations listened and learned. (a) \\#Acts 8:14\\ Samaria "received the word" (b) \\#Acts 17:10-11\\ Berea received the word with "all readiness of mind." C. If times and people have changed, you can betÖ 1. The church has changed. 2. Our nation has changed. 3. Our politicians have changed. 4. Our judiciary has changed. II. We need people who know that some things have NOT changed. A. The Bible has NOT changed. Ps 119:89 For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven. Mt 24:34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. 35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. 1. Man may update, revise, rewrite, re-release, alter, add or subtract from his personal copy of the Bible, but the Word of God will never change. 2. B. That being the case, we also understand that: 1. God will never change. Mal 3:6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. a. Based on that verse, I believe that if God did change, it would not be to become a more liberal Being but a more just Being. b. If God ever changed, He would be LESS merciful! 2. Sin will never change. a. The definition of sin doing what God says is wrong not what man says is wrong. b. Manís definition of legal and illegal, right and wrong, moral and immoral may change. c. Godís has not and will not. 3. Death and judgment will never change. Heb 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: a. Death and judgment are both inevitable, imminent, and, if you are without Christ, agonizing. b. There will only be two choices for eternity, heaven or hell. 4. Salvation will never change. Heb 7:25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. a. Salvation will always be through Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone. b. The conditions will always faith and repentance. c. Your opportunity will always be limited to being a live and the Holy Spirit drawing you. 5. The return of Jesus will remain the focal point on Godís calendar until Jesus comes. a. It is may not be clear to you without studying our text some but Jesus was chide against the religious leaders not recognizing the times was that they did not recognize the time of His coming. b. \\#Dan 9:25-27\\ Daniel gave the Jews the exact year, some would say, the exact date that Messiah would be on the earth. c. We do not have that much detail regarding the coming of our Lord, but He is coming and all of manís efforts to deny it will not stop it from happening. d. All that is happening in our day is an indication that the return of Jesus is getting closer! III. We need some people who will stand regardless of what else changes. A. I believe I am preaching not only to the saved but to some of Godís best. B. However, this is not the environment that will determine that. C. What you do for Jesus as the world continues to change for the world will. 1. Political pressure 2. Peer pressure 3. Persecution pressure Eph 6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.