Focal Passages: Matthew 24:9-14, 36-44; Revelation 7:9-10, 22:6-21
What time is it? This is the basic question the disciples were asking Jesus when they were with Him prior to His crucifixion. They had an interest in what were the signs of the end of time. With all that Jesus had been saying about His going to Jerusalem to die, they were wondering about the end. Yet, they knew He had spoken of His kingdom and had hopes that this would be the time His kingdom would come to earth.
In fact as you read Matthew 24 you will find three key questions they asked Jesus. First, they wanted to know about the destruction of the Temple, since it did represent the active presence of the Lord God Almighty in their midst. Second, they asked about the sign of His second coming. Jesus told them He would be returning. Third, they asked about the end of this world. When will the end come? (v. 3)
This sounds familiar today. People are asking when the end of this world will come. Some go as far as to say that we are in the end times, which we are, and want to have a proper understanding. Well, in turning to Jesus one has turned to the right One. People are prone to listen to prognostications of time schedules that set in order identifiable events that one can read so they will be in the know. Yet, Jesus told His disciples and He tells us we do not know the time, just be ready. I just received a piece of mail locally from someone who had their prescribed events that point to the end. They had our last two presidents in their scheme as signs that the end is upon us. Well, they are right in regard the end is nearer today than it was yesterday but I have serious doubts regarding their concoctions about our Presidents.
The reason the Lord Jesus told of His return was for the purpose of readiness. He wants His people to be prepared for His return. We must be ready spiritually for His return. The first step of course is to be saved. What a sad day for many it will be when Jesus returns and people are not saved. Persons who have heard the gospel, persons who the Holy Spirit has convicted of sin, righteousness and judgment remain unsaved. They will be left behind when Jesus comes for His own. Once a person comes to true faith wherein they see themselves a sinner and lost before God deserving hell, they place their reliance and faith in the Lord Jesus for forgiveness of sin and a reservation in the Lamb’s book of life. They come into the family of God by a spiritual birth.
This is only the beginning of being properly prepared for the second coming. A second step in being ready is to be growing as a believer. One must give diligence to grow in the faith and in good works. This is the will of the Lord for every believer. If a person does not give serious consideration to growth, they will be stunted or ill. Should a Christian not grow they will not be ready for Christ’s return.
A third step to readiness is to be actively winning others to our Lord. Witnessing is important. It is an act that assists in our being ready. The Lord Jesus said the gospel is to be spread to the whole world before His return. Taking others to heaven with us is our privilege. The Lord commanded us to make disciples. This involves us sharing the gospel and inviting persons to come to Jesus.
When the Savior returns, He will bring rewards with Him (Revelation 22:12). This is a key motivation for being prepared for the end. The Greek term for “reward” actually means pay, as pay in a wage for work done. This illustrates how just our Lord is, He will not overlook our good works but compensates for them. This gives more reason to sing our praise for such a gracious and kind Lord, who is coming again.
— Hartley is pastor of First Baptist Church, Jamestown.