Published May 31, 2011
"He's Coming Our Task"
(Part 5 of a series)
These past four weeks have been very interesting, both regarding these Epistles about the Lord's soon return and your responses to them, but also regarding events around the world which seem to fit together like an end-time jigsaw puzzle. We've seen...
- A much-publicized (but failed) prediction about a Rapture date. The world took notice. Many are still laughing. Others are....wondering.
- Developments in the Middle East, especially surrounding Israel. Prophesied end-times alignments vis-à-vis Israel are coming together rapidly.
Studying prophecy is like traveling in flat country, seeing, far off in the distance, a the faint outline of a city that you're slowly approaching. The nearer you get, the clearer the details of that city become. And, the closer you get, the more quickly those details become clear. Only when you actually get there, of course, can you see all of the details. We're getting close.
You've probably noticed that all of our discussion has been about things up to and including the Rapture, which, as we've discussed, most students of prophecy believe is the next thing to happen the first of many events often lumped together under the "end times" umbrella.
- I haven't talked about the antichrist.
- I haven't talked about the nature of the tribulation or the great tribulation.
- I haven't talked about the Beast.
- I haven't talked about Armageddon.
- I haven't talked about Christ's millennial kingdom on Earth.
I haven't talked about these things because as important as they are to our understanding of end-time events I simply don't expect to be around for all of that (at least not in this body 1st Cor. 15:53.) And I sincerely hope that's true for you, too.
The ones who have to worry about all of those things are those who aren't true believers when the Lord comes for His church. In the words of the popular book series, they'll be "left behind" at the Rapture.
But based on the Lord's promises, I plan to be with Him during all that tribulation mess that's coming upon the world. I'm catching what one songwriter called the "first flight out." The Lord will work out everything else. (In fact, He already has.) And I don't have to worry about it at all! As someone once said, "I'm glad I'm part of the reception party and not the planning committee."
I truly hope you've made your preparations so that when the Lord "snatches away" His own, you are in that number! And, yes, as we've been discussing, it could happen very soon. Why, oh, why can't we get that concept fully into our thick heads? So often we're like the people Peter refers to in 2nd Peter 3 when he's talking about scoffers in the last day who will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since the fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." Everything's cool. The sun rises, the sun sets. Life goes on. It's happened that way all of my life. It's just keep going on that way, they say.
But Peter reminds his readers that it hasn't always been that way. God has done remarkable things in the past. He covered the entire Earth by water during the flood of Noah. That had never happened before. Or since.
So Peter goes on to ask the "Million Dollar Question" in chapter 3, verse 11, when he says that, since we can believe God's promise that Christ will return and soon "what kind of people ought you to be?"
What was Peter's answer to his rhetorical question? Simply this: "You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming..." (v. 11b-12a.) He adds in verse 14, "Since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him."
Paul, writing to Titus, says the same thing the promise of the Lord's return "teaches us to say 'no' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ." (Titus 2:12-13.)
James 5:8 tells us to "stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near." In other words, stand firm on your faith. This is essential to remember keep your faith strong.
Paul, in 2nd Timothy 4:8, talks about the "crown of righteousness" that will be given "to all who have longed for His appearing."
Do you "long" for Christ's appearing? The Liberty Commentary on that verse says that Christians who are not taught about the Second Coming of Christ may be cheated out of that reward! So, you're hearing about it right now! You need to LONG for the Lord's return. The dictionary says to "long" for something is to have "an earnest, heartfelt desire, especially for something beyond reach." Does that describe your "longing" for the Lord to return?
Now, assuming you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior you have sought and been granted forgiveness of your sins and you're one of His, and, in that sense, you are ready for His return what follows is the most important part of our discussion.
When Jesus' disciples asked him about His coming in Acts, chapter 1, He replied, "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority. But...you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
Notice what He did there? The disciples asked about His coming. But He immediately turned their attention to something else evangelism! Rick Warren paraphrases what Christ said in this way: "The details of my return are none of your business. What is your business is the mission I have given you. Focus on that!"
But to my mind, nothing brings an enthusiasm, a zeal, an urgency to evangelism like the belief that Christ may return at any moment! A world lost in sin needs to know! And they need to know now!
Are you ready for an intellectual exercise? I want you to think carefully about something that's very important. Just for the sake of argument just to get you thinking if you truly believed that the Lord would return in, oh, let's say a week...
- What would you do differently today?
- What would you do differently tomorrow?
- What would you do differently during the week ahead?
- What would you do differently in whatever time you had remaining?
- Would you examine your own life to be sure you're ready?
- Would you live differently somehow? Would you immediately give up some habit that you wouldn't want the Lord to find you engaged in when He returns?
- Would you talk with your children or your parents or other loved ones to be sure they're ready?
- Would you have more of a burning desire to be sure your friends are ready to go?
- Would you be more likely to witness to your co-workers at your place of employment?
What would you do if you knew the time remaining would be so short? Go ahead stop reading for a moment and think about it. I'll wait....
Surely some things have come to your mind. Maybe it was something you hadn't thought about for a while. Maybe some things you have been intending to do but just haven't gotten around to. Maybe you thought of that person you've been meaning to tell about Christ but you just haven't done it. Maybe it's a loved one who you're just not sure is ready to meet the Lord.
What would you do?
By the way, the wrong answer is "nothing." 2nd Peter 3:9 tells us that God is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
So, what would you do? And, regardless of whether the Lord's return is almost here or not, shouldn't you be doing those things anyway?
Take this little (but important) test.... If you can fully assimilate into your consciousness into your very being the fact that the Lord could literally, actually, in person, return very, very soon maybe today! does the prospect of the Lord's return excite you? Or does it scare you?
If it scares you, you have some work to do right away! Because for anyone who is right with God, this should excite you, not scare you. It is, after all, our "blessed hope." (Titus 2:13.)
Are you ready? If not, today would be a great day to get ready because there's no telling how long (or "short") we have left.
Is Jesus coming back soon? I wouldn't bet my eternal life against it. The Bible tells us that everyone will one day stand before Jesus and acknowledge that He is Lord. (Romans 14:11.) But those who acknowledge Him now will go on to eternal reward. Those who don't fully acknowledge Him now and who don't repent and accept Him as Lord will suffer the consequences for eternity.
So, get ready! Help others to get ready, too! Hey that fig tree Jesus talked about is pushing out shoots all over the place!
"Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus." (Rev. 22:20.) Maranatha!
PS: Next week I plan to share some of your comments about this "He's Coming" series. Questions and comments are welcome.
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