Wednesday, July 25, 2018
Philippians 4:5 The Lord is near.
1 Peter 4:7 The end of all things is near. Therefore, be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.
It has long been a passion of mine to study the prophecies of Scripture concerning the end of this world’s present system and the coming of Jesus Christ to establish His kingdom on earth. I was motivated by my grandfather, who taught on it for years in churches all across the country. I don’t claim to have figured it all out, but there are some things that make perfect sense to me according to the Bible.
Probably the most significant and irrefutable fact that needs to be considered is this – Jesus is near! We cannot neglect the abundance of evidence based on the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles. All Christians are to be looking up for the return of Jesus at any moment. The Apostles believed it would happen before they died. The early church at Thessalonica believed it to the extent that they even quit their jobs and huddled together in homes waiting for it. The imminent return of Christ was prominently taught in the early church, and it motivated their evangelism efforts.
As the years have passed, many have lost the urgency of living Godly lives in preparation for Christ’s return. We have fallen into a spiritually lethargic lifestyle while seeking to be energized by worldly pursuits. We have traded the desire to be with Christ forever for a desire to have everything this world offers.
Go back in time with me to the early church era and let’s see what they believed. In Romans 16:14 Paul greets a man by the name of Hermas. It is believed by most scholars and the early church historians that Hermas wrote the book Pastor of Hermas. The Pastor of Hermas was one of the most popular books, if not the most popular book, in the Christian Church during the second, third, and fourth centuries. It occupied a position in that time similar to that of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress in modern times. Some of the early church historians report that there was an effort to include this book as one of the inspired books of Scripture. Here is a quote from the book concerning the urgency of living for the return of Jesus.
“You know that you who are the servants of God dwell in a strange land; for your city is far away from this one. If, then, you know your city in which you are to dwell, why do ye here provide lands, and make expensive preparations, and accumulate dwellings and useless buildings? He who makes such preparations for this city cannot return again to his own. Oh foolish, and unstable, and miserable man! Dost thou not understand that all these things belong to another, and are under the power of another? … Have a care, then, ye who serve the Lord, and have Him in your heart, that ye work the works of God, remembering His commandments and promises which He promised, and believe that He will bring them to pass if His commandments be observed. Instead of lands, therefore, buy afflicted souls, according as each one is able, and visit widows and orphans, and do not overlook them; and spend your wealth and all your preparations, which ye received from the Lord, upon such lands and houses. For to this end did the Master make you rich, that you might perform these services unto Him; and it is much better to purchase such lands, and possessions, and houses, as you will find in your own city, when you come to reside in it.”
I know, the language is old, but read it again. It is rich with meaning and application.
Times haven’t changed much have they? People’s propensity to pursue possessions and provide permanence on this planet was the same 2000 years ago as it is today. If only we would fix our eyes on preparing for Christ’s return to take us to our true permanent home He is preparing for us. It is unfortunate that while Jesus is preparing a place for us to dwell with Him for all eternity, we are spending our time and resources preparing to live here as long as possible. We are pilgrims here, and the plan is for Jesus to come back at any moment and take us to our permanent home. Let’s start living like pilgrims, and that process begins with a renewed passion for the return of Jesus.
I will not make predictions about when that will happen. I will not attempt to read more into current events than the Bible does, although much of what is happening today can be viewed as a sign of His imminent return. What I will do is to live in the expectation that Jesus Christ will return at any moment to take us into His presence forever. And knowing that He could return at any moment, I will do whatever I can to help as many as possible prepare for His return.