The Last Days & Preparing to Meet the Lord: Part 4 - By Sean Gooding -
"Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law."
Lately, there has been a lot of talk about the end amongst conservative Bible believers. I have had many discussions about the end, and I find that there is an urgency that is driving us in many areas. I can say that it is invigorating to me and a bit scary as well. In Matthew 25:21 we find these wonderful words from our Lord Jesus:
"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master!'"
These are some of the sweetest words one will ever hear. Just this morning my wife and I had a discussion about 'are we using our talents wisely?' Will we have profit to offer the Lord on the talents that He has entrusted us with as a family, she as a wife and me as a husband and pastor. Will I/Will we be able to offer our Lord a return on His investment in us?
This is where the proper teaching of the Bible is so important. When the scriptures are properly revealed to us, we can find the ways to live pleasing lives to and for our Lord. But every day we can see that there are men and women who abuse the Holy Scriptures by taking them out of context, using partial verses simply to make their point and - as we used to say in seminary - some preachers look for a verse to blame their sermons on.
We look at passages like Matthew 25:14-29, and we see that Jesus is picturing for us the kingdom of Heaven. Here we see that His servants are given monies according to their abilities, and each one then has to give an account of the way that he invested that money on behalf of the Master. It would be easy to make this a salvation passage if one does not take the time to study. But it is not. It is about saved people answering to the Lord for their lives after the point of salvation.
In many modern churches there is a lack of teaching on the end, the very times that we are in today. Many saved persons have no clue that they too will face a very harsh judgment - not about Heaven and Hell, but about being in the will of God and led by the Holy Spirit. I touched on this a bit last time, and I want to expand on it a bit today. The idea that we will be judged is foreign to a lot of God's people, and too many are not going to be prepared to offer God any return on His investment; sadly, they will suffer great loss. The loss of opportunity and the loss of responsibility in the coming Millennial Kingdom. This Kingdom is spoken about in Revelation 20:4-6:
"And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years."
We again find reference to this Kingdom in Isaiah 11:6-9:
"The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea."
All throughout the Old Testament, it was prophesied about the new Kingdom that would come. Jesus spent the first half of His ministry life talking about the new Kingdom. The Jews could not see, and even the apostles did not see the gap between Jesus' first and second comings. But here you and I are in the gap. Almost 2,000 years have passed since Jesus ascension, and we are nearing the Rapture. There are a lot of writings about the Tribulation and the judgment that will be executed here on earth, but there are not many who talk about our judgment, our time to stand and give an account. Jesus was very, very adamant about our accountability. In 1 Corinthians 16:13 we see this charge:
"Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong."
Stand fast and behave like men. Be strong. The term stand fast is a military term; it means to stand your ground and defend that space until the death. Soldiers had to be adept at fighting and committed to orders in the face of great danger and loss of life. This is the command made to us. What happens when a soldier abandons his post? He is arrested. In the days that the Bible was written, he was executed. Jesus expects us to take the command to behave like soldiers and be men very seriously.
Too many men are not soldiers in the cause of Christ; we are cheerleaders on the sidelines. Some can't even do that. Sadly, too many are asleep at the wheel and cause more hurt than good. You may say, "Hey Sean, where is the call to women?" Men need to wake up and remember that God is not a SJW, and He is not, nor ever will be a feminist. Men, you will be judged first. God made you first; He gave you the first responsibilities in Creation; and He spoke to Adam first even though Eve ate of the fruit in the Garden first. Men need to wake up and realize that we cannot hide behind our wives. God expects us to behave like men and take some responsibilities and show some leadership.
While the inhabitants of the earth are going through the Tribulation down here, we will be answering to the Lord for our lives. Were we Light and Salt? Were we faithful servants? Did we love God will all our hearts, souls, minds, and our strength? Did we put God first in everything? You get the picture.
I want to expand a bit about the Holy Spirit in our lives. To do this we need to take a look at the church in Laodicea from Revelation 3:14-22:
"And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, 'These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'-and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked- 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
"19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."'
No era of the Lord's churches has had the wealth that many modern churches have today. The church I pastor, though small, can endeavor to do many things. Many of our members make a decent living, and the tithes are given faithfully. According to many surveys, the average person gives about $20 each time they attend a church service. For example, a church that has a regular attendance of 1,000 on a Sunday morning will collect about $20,000 each morning service. That is over $1,000,000 per year with 52 Sundays per year. I know of one of our Sister churches that annually collects close to $250,000 just for missions. This is not their general-fund income. Imagine what a church of 5,000 or 10,000 will take in for an offering each service.
It is clear to see that the Laodicean church is a picture of a lot of churches in our time. Notice verse 17: 'I am rich and wealthy and in need of nothing.' We have so much money and resources that we can indiscriminately do the work of the Kingdom and miss the point that if what we do is not led by the Holy Spirit, we are not in obedience. Look at God's assessment of the same church, verse 17(b) 'you are wretched and poor, miserable, blind and naked.' Why are they this way? Because Jesus is not the Head and Life of this church; their activity is. They are busy doing the Lord's work without the Lord.
Every decision we make should be Holy-Spirit led; Where do we send money? To whom do we send money? How much do we send? On and on we can go.
In Acts 16:6-10, we find Paul's call to go to Macedonia. Where he wanted to go was not bad, just not God's will at that moment for Paul:
"Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, 'Come over to Macedonia and help us.' Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them."
This is an example of good works; the right work, led by the Holy Spirit for God's glory only. Paul wanted to go one way, but the Holy Spirit led elsewhere. The desire to go was good, but where to go was God's business.
Whether we are an individual or a local church, the same guideline should apply. We need to ask the question: is this Holy-Spirit led, empowered and God glorifying? You and I should live knowing that we will be judged by Jesus the Righteous Judge, and He will expect us to have profit to offer for His investment in us. Will you have something to offer Jesus? Will I have something to offer Jesus? The Bema seat of Jesus, as described in 2 Corinthians 5:9-11:
Therefore, we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences."
Notice that Paul tells us that we should be aware of the 'terror of the Lord' in verse 11. Yes, the terror of the Lord. The One who can rebuke the storms, rebuke the demons, stop the sun, multiply fishes and loaves, raise the dead and defeat the grave is the very same God to whom we will answer. Did we behave like men? Did we stand fast for the truth? Were we strong? Are you, am I ready to give an answer? Heed the warning of James 5:8; the Lord is near:
"You too, be patient and strengthen your hearts, because the Lord's coming is near."