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Imagining for a few minutes that the second coming of Jesus Christ could occur at any time is a highly sobering exercise. I know I have personally struggled with sin, and I have wondered after seeking forgiveness, “What if the rapture happened while I was sinning?” I don’t have any doubts that I would still be taken up into the clouds with the Lord because I have been saved. I know that Jesus Christ died for my sins and they are covered in His blood past, present, and future. It’s a wonderful security to say the least, and I have no worries over whether I will be a citizen of Heaven or not. With that said I still think that we’ve got a responsibility as believers to take some considerations about His return. The status of the world seems all the more indicative that the time is near every day, and while only God the Father knows the exact day and hour, we can be sure that it’s possible for it to occur in our generation. Even if it doesn’t occur in our generation, it’s helpful to keep a mindset of optimism about the coming of our Lord and Savior. (V*1 Titus 2:11-15). It helps us to recall how integral it is to maintain an urgency about serving God by fulfilling the Great Commission, taking up our cross daily, and denying ourselves of the world’s deadly passions. We look forward to what is to come, the greatest of which we have to look forward to is the return of Jesus Christ. Instead of spending your time focusing on the comparatively pitiful matters of earth, you’ve got an eternal outlook that seeks Him righteously. This should inspire all of us to share the Word of God and continually seek God’s provisions in order to execute His will.
On the most essential level salvation is the most important priority, this first paragraph clearly operates under the assumption that we’ve been saved already and that we’re looking to execute our purpose under God’s will in the meantime. If on the other hand you have yet to accept Jesus Christ as Savior and understood how vastly we ourselves fall short you’ve got something more important to do first. We’re nothing without Jesus Christ and all we can do apart from Him is but filthy rags in His sight. It’s only by Jesus Christ that our work is made pure. (V*2 Isaiah 64:6). Our lives are a breathe of air, and if we’re saved we’ll be caught up in the blink of an eye when the return of Jesus has come. (V*3 1 Corinthians 15:50-54). Once you’ve come to this position and understood your place in humility, you’ll be better equipped to understand your mission on earth and be steadfast in fulfilling it while there is still time. We need to wrap our mind around the fact that time is short whether the rapture is in our generation or not, as a byproduct of our lives themselves being short. Not a day of our own is promised, we rely on God for each breathe. Every beat of our heart, movement of our feet and arms, anything we can do now or will do in the future is under the authority of God. I love that it’s there, and those that embrace this reality will know this is the only place they’d want it to be. Whether I live or I die I know that I am alive in Jesus Christ, so in this sense life is good and death is good. If I die I am still alive in Jesus Christ, I am assured of eternal security with Him and if I live it’s great too because I can share the Word of God with those who need it. I can store up Heavenly Rewards to the extent that God empowers me and allows me to. I can continue to pray that God polishes my character, my person – that I would better serve Him and better avoid sin. So while you’re still alive and breathing, there’s always work to be done. You’ve got a place in God’s army, remember that there is both a physical and spiritual war at hand here, remember that if you cannot fight physically you can pray. Remember that prayer isn’t inferior, if anything it’s likely superior to anything of what you could do in the physical realm. Don’t underestimate its’ power when you are praying under the authority of a Sovereign God who is in control of the entire universe. Don’t be afraid in terror or panic, only fear God in reverential awe and worship. (V*4 Isaiah 41:10, V*5 Joshua 1:9 & V*6 Ecclesiastes 12:13-14.)
I have seen some short video clips that demonstrate the moment when Jesus Christ would return. They dramatically showcase what could happen, showing mostly disappearing congregations and moments of what it might look like when that day and time arrive. The movie and book series “Left Behind” captured the events as well, it actually became a best selling series of books. I am optimistic that this made a large cultural impact and those that managed to read through may have had a sobering reminder of what’s to come if they viewed it seriously. Of course the books are fictional because of the fictional characters and specific scenarios built off the basis of supposedly sound Biblical theology. I have noticed that there might be some elements of compromise in consideration of the criticism the series has garnered. I am not well versed on these criticisms so I won’t dwell on them. I will mention that a quick Google search would bring about Christian forums and discussion groups that both criticize or defend the series depending on what side of the fence each respective post takes. I believe that getting the idea of the rapture into the public square is a large feat, and deserves its’ lion’s share of recognition. I would also venture to suggest such a series has done more harm than good, but I am certainly not in the position of God to judge this on a high level of detail. It is noteworthy to mention I am not trying to support the idea of compromise in Christian media being an “end justifying the means” situation. What I do believe is that some have most certainly taken heed of these warnings, and it may have inspired many to dig into their Bibles or to reach out to modern day commentary that is both reliable and sound as a result of their encounter with these materials. Much of which may not have occurred if the series had not existed, so suffice it to say it has had a potentially positive impact because of these people. So with that sense in mind hats off to the authors who have received both praise and criticism for their work.
I would bet that as much as one would desire, it’s no easy feat to ensure that such a dynamic extrapolation of future Biblical events would be done without fault. There is a lot of debate within Christian circles in terms of pre-tribulation and post-tribulation rapture possibilities for instance, and that in itself would cause such a series done one way or another to become quite a stir up. I personally think that there is a lot of sound evidence for a pre-tribulation rapture, but the purpose of this article is not to discuss the viability of one or the other. The beauty of being saved and prepared for the return of Jesus Christ is that we don’t need to have all the answers. As long as we place our trust in Him, we know that it is not in vain or misplaced. We know that not understanding all the mysteries of the Bible is perfectly excusable given our finite minds and the challenge that it entails to understand them even on a very basic level. With that said I am happy that my salvation does not rest on my intellect, abilities, or interpretation of the Word of God. (V*7 Ephesians 2:8-9) My salvation rests solely on Jesus Christ and my faith in Him having come to die on the cross for my sin a bit over 2,000 years ago. I know for certain and by His grace and to His glory I can continue to share what I strongly believe to be the truth based on His infallible Word.
Together we’ve reviewed that God’s word involves some responsibility for each and every one of us in our current life station under God’s authority. While we all have an authority to share the Word, we all have unique gifts and talents where we may be able to share it in unique ways. One of my favorite ways to share the Word of God is through writing, and I wouldn’t doubt it if someday God may call me to speak in front of audiences as well as part of my call. I don’t limit God’s plan for my life because God holds the blueprint. I don’t need to know all the dynamics of how He plans for me to do all of it or what aspects of it I will fulfill, but I want to be as open as possible to His plan and the shifts in gears that my life goes through. I cannot speak for everybody but I feel as though God leads me through some seasons of patience and preparation, others of trial and perseverance, and still yet others of using my gifts in a more seemingly fluid fashion. Sometimes these can blend up pretty well, often to the point where it may be difficult to decipher where I am at. All I know is that I am confident He continues to prepare me [refine, sculpt my character/person, & sharpening my skills for instance], and use me [to share the Word, to love Him first and foremost, and to love people as well.]
Another high priority consideration is to strategically avoid, and often times conquer sinful habits and weaknesses in our lives. How are we to be prepared for the coming of Jesus Christ if we’re still dabbling into our old pet sins? So I pray that He assists me in defeating those unheathly, old habits that need to be conquered in Jesus name. Also focusing our mind on things above and taking the worldly thoughts captive in obedience to Jesus Christ on a regular basis. (V*8 2 Corinthians 10:4-5). The bad habits aren’t simply replaced with all good habits instantly when one becomes a Christian. We need to seek God’s help in identifying where our struggles remain and seek with our whole heart to put these at the foot of the cross. Sometimes I feel as though I have finally given up everything, and I still find myself struggling with some of the same filth days later. (V*9 Proverbs 26:11). Don’t be discouraged, God loves you as you are and He knows you better than you know you. Just confide that He will deliver you and He doesn’t start works in you that He will not see to completion. Have faith that no matter how difficult He will come through and help you with ways of escape and His provisions which I have discussed many times including His full armor, the leading of His Holy Spirit, and the power of prayer. These are always available to you as a child of His. Rely on Him fully because our own self-control and capabilities are severely limited. It is only a matter of time before you fail on your own, just surrender it all to God. Surrender all your battles, areas of convenience and inconvenience, and be fully aware that we all need Him every second of every day. Once you’ve come to this point of humility I sincerely believe the bulk of the battle has been won and we can know for certain that the war has been won through our Savior Jesus Christ. We may lose many battles, but He is undefeated and will forever remain so. Our adversary is a fallen one, and while we may have failed countless times, we must know that in the end we have already won. This is no excuse to become complacent or give up battles unnecessarily, it should make you all the more fired up to serve such a loving, merciful God who made this all possible through His Son Jesus Christ. He knew we’d fail on our own, but He loves us unconditionally anyway. Mentally embrace that you’re not expected to be perfect, but that you are expected to aim to be. (V*10 2 Corinthians 12:9). God’s grace is sufficient for us when we are weak, and His strength is made perfect in our weakness. There’s a reason for everything, including what we are weak in and how He will deliver us from those issues in His timing.
Thankfully I believe if you’ve taken the bulk of my advice to heart, you will have begun to understand what it means to be prepared for the return of Jesus Christ. I believe I am prepared, but I also don’t assume that I have obtained full mastery of what other responsibilities I may have to bear before that time could come. I think the key is to know it could come at anytime, and look forward to it as you would something of the utmost value. When your house is in order you don’t need to be anxious about this possibility, draw comfort from the Lord as He gives you peace. Peace that exceeds our understanding to know that you are in right standing with Him and that you are following His plan. I cannot think of any other better place to be or any other feeling to experience on earth than to know that your plans are in alignment with His plans. (V*11 Philippians 4:4-7). He is open to hearing from you, maintain a steady prayer life with the Lord. Listen to His commands and aim not to be anxious of anything but instead faithful that God’s providence will show up at every key time in your life. What an incalculably awesome blessing! To God be the glory.
V*1: 11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. 15 Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.
Titus 2:11-15 (NKJV).
V*2: 6 But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.
Isaiah 64:6 (NKJV).
V*3: 50 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
1 Corinthians 15:50-54 (NKJV).
V*4: 10 Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV).
V*5: 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9 (NKJV).
V*6: 13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. 14 For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 (NKJV).
V*7: 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV).
V*8: 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (NKJV).
V*9: 11 As a dog returns to his own vomit, So a fool repeats his folly.
Proverbs 26:11 (NKJV).
V*10: 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV).
V*11: 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-7 (NKJV).