No other topic stirs more debate among Christians than that of the end times and the coming of the Lord. People are infatuated with the ideas of the rapture, the antiChrist, the mark of the beast, the millenium, and the signs of the times leading to the ultimate climax of life as we know it.
While the Bible does give us glimpses into future events, I think too many have missed the most constant message about the coming of the Lord given to us in the New Testament, which is the call to godliness in expectation of the appearance of Christ.
Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. ~ 2 Peter 3:13-14
Throughout the New Testament the theme of preparedness can be seen over and over again in view of the coming of the Lord. Oftentimes, preparedness is preached to the unbeliever with sayings such as, “Jesus is coming, are you ready.” However, the message of preparedness in the New Testament is not a message aimed at unbelievers. It’s aimed at believers.
And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. ~ 1 John 2:28
From the Olivet Discourse given by Jesus in the gospel accounts until the final chapter of the book of the Revelation, the theme of living righteously and godly in expectation of the coming of Christ is repeated over and over again.
In his Olivet Discourse, Jesus says the following:
Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. ~ Matthew 24:45-51
In the book of the Revelation Jesus says, Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. ~ Revelation 16:15
Unfortunately, too many Christians (especially evangelicals in the West) have corrupted their faith with political ideas of Christian nationalism. Instead of taking seriously the call to be pure at the coming of Christ, they react to conspiracies which take advantage of their end time ideas such as labeling certain aspects of politics as part of an antiChrist system. End time beliefs without obedience to the call to godliness results in the manipulation of Christianity for politicians, who arouse Christians to a type of “political holy war” for their own selfish gain.
Yet the Bible teaches us that we are to follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord ~ Hebrews 12:14
This is evident in Paul’s exhortation to the Thessalonians:
And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: to the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. ~ 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13
Why is it important that our heart be established unblameable in holiness before God at the coming of the Lord? It is because real faith is not a one time believing experience which has no fruit of godly living. Real faith in Jesus is lived, and when Christ appears at his coming we will be rewarded not for a moment in time when we once believed the gospel, but for the endurance of our faith in Christ.
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls...Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ… ~ 1 Peter 1:7-9, 13
There is not a shred of evidence that can be presented that the New Testament teaches that a person can have a conversion experience and then live a life of ungodliness and be Ok when the Lord comes. In fact we are told to put away the traits of the old life of sin in view of the coming of Christ.
When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: for which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:.. ~ Colossians 3:4-6
Notice that Paul tells the Collossians to modify the impulses to sin that are in the flesh because of the coming of Christ. Consider also Paul’s words to the Christians in Rome:
And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. ~ Romans 13:11-14
Again and again, the message in the New Testament is to put away sin in expectation of the coming of the Lord. While many have the idea that since they were once saved by the grace of God, God will overlook a life of ungodliness when Christ returns, the Bible says otherwise:
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee. ~ Titus 2:12-15
According to the apostle Paul the grace of God that brings salvation teaches us us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in expectation of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. How can we expect to be saved by grace if we deny the teachings of grace?
The Christian life is not a sprint, it is a marathon, and we are called to lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us… Hebrews 12:2. We are to run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. ~ Hebrews 12:2
Notice that it is “with patience” that we run our race. Yet patience is often the one attribute which is the least desired by believers, but Jesus said, “in your patience possess ye your souls.” ~ Luke 21:19
The apostle Peter speaks of the trial or testing of our faith being rewarded at the appearance of the Lord, and James tells us that the trial of our faith works patience, but James does stop there, he tells us to let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. ~ James 1:4
Nothing prepares the believer for the day of the Lord like patience.
In his letters to the Thessalonians, Paul mentions patience in context to the coming of Christ: And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ. ~ 2 Thessalonians 3:5
Have you ever given any serious attention to that verse? Have you sought to allow the Lord to direct your hearts into both the love of God and the patient awaiting for Christ’s return?
James says something similar to Paul’s words to the Thessalonians: Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; establish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. ~ James 5:7-8
God is a patient God and he calls his people to be patient. This is evident in Peter’s words concerning the coming of Christ:
This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night… ~ 2 Peter 3:1-10a
The concept that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day is sometimes often thought of in view of eschatological timelines, but the context is the patience of the Lord. The Lord is long suffering and does not want anyone to perish, and neither should we. We are called to live in a manner which adorns the doctrine of godliness, holiness, and righteousness and this should be our pursuit in this life as await the coming of the Lord.
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things (the things which have to do with the love of money); and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: . ~ 1 Timothy 6:10-14
Notice that Paul tells Timothy to follow after (pursue) righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, & meekness. Paul instructs Timothy to do so without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is a command we should all take to heart.
With that said, are you truly ready for the coming of Christ?