The Banner Of Truth 2014
Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. (Psalm 60:4 )

"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear Thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth" (Ps. 60:4).


The Beginning of Sorrows
By Al Stoner

The Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has testified abundantly regarding the events that shall precede His appearing in the clouds of heaven. While these pronouncements are somewhat general in nature, yet it appears that there is a reason for this. It is so that we would learn to expect Him to come on any day and at any time. As we hear of political upheavals, extraordinary acts of violence, earthquakes, pestilences, famines, floods, etc., occurring throughout the world, our spiritually-attuned minds and hearts are to call to remembrance the words of the Savior in this connection. These calamities are to serve as a reminder to us that His coming is near at hand because He has taught us to make this association.
It must be recalled that the disciples asked the Lord Jesus with regard to future events, “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Mt. 24:3). We will draw attention here to that part of His answer which is given in verses 7 and 8. “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Mt. 24:7-8). And again, “for nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows” (Mk. 13:8). In Luke’s gospel it is written in this manner: “Then said He unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven” (Lk. 21:10-11).
Some Current Events. The recent hurricane and flooding along the east coast of America, unprecedented outbreaks of violence, and the political upheavals in various parts of the world, and other world calamities and disasters, as well, ought to continually serve to remind us that this world is not the main world. In the United States alone, it has been reported that there have been over sixty natural disasters thus far this year. It is becoming increasingly evident that the present times and places are not safe for settling down and for men’s affection to be set upon them. But “we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (II Pet. 3:13). 
An Unworthy Comparison. As we hear of the sorrow and heartache that people are undergoing because of calamities such as these, let us not forget that Jesus said, “All these are the beginning of sorrows”. The grievous heartaches and losses that men are being called upon to endure in the present time are but a foretaste of something much greater to come when the heavens and the earth are rolled up like a scroll and cast away. The sorrows that men outside of Christ are made to endure now are as nothing compared to the torments of hell. And for them, death shall not bring an end to sorrows, but rather an unspeakably great enlargement of them. In addition, for such ones there shall be no hope of recovery. The door of hope will be forever shut.
Hear the testimony of Scripture on this matter. “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 21:14-15). “And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mt. 25:30). “And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire” (Mt. 18:9). And of those persons who worshiped the beast and his image it is written that, “the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name” (Rev. 14:11; cf. vv. 9-10). And of the unrighteous in general the Savior declared, “and these shall go away into everlasting punishment” (Mt. 25:46).
“Suppose ye that” the thousands of residents of Alabama, Missouri, New England, and elsewhere, “were sinners above” other people, “because they suffered such things?” The Lord Jesus interpreted a similar calamity by saying, “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Lk. 13:2-3). Or what about the many individuals in such states as New Jersey and Vermont, who saw their possessions unexpectedly swept away in one day by flood waters. Were they worse sinners than other men? No, this was a trumpet of warning to all men to alert them to repent, obey the gospel, and so to prepare themselves for the world to come.--Editor


"Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;  and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately" (Lk. 12:35-36).