If Jesus was coming in six months or if you just had six months to live, would you live any different from the way you are living right now? Will your priorities change? Will your devotional and prayer life gain a greater momentum? Will you get rid of certain questionable things sooner from your life? Will you become more heavenly minded and less earthly minded? If the answer is yes, then this is the way you ought to live for the Lord all the time.
This is important because the last days started in the first coming of the Lord. The signs of the end of the age are more evident than ever before. If you don’t know, you have been very ignorant and perhaps just mindful of your own little world around you. Some don’t pay heed to end time teachings thinking that they have been overly sensationalized by christian teachers. But leaving aside the rapture theology and other details, if you are a diligent student of the scriptures, you can’t help but notice the constant emphasis on how the believer’s life should be positioned with respect to the Lord’s return. These scriptures will create a stronger resolve in you to live soberly, godly, uncompromisingly and righteously in this present age with no shortage of zeal for the Lord.
Most importantly Jesus said that the last days will be like in the days of Noah, where people went about doing their usual stuff and not heeding to all the warnings provided. They were eating, drinking and getting married. In other words, from the world’s perspective it is business as usual. It is vital that we don’t get included in that crowd. We can’t afford to get desensitized to the scriptures and become spiritually numb in the midst of this world’s affairs, amusements, technological idolatry and ever increasing entertainment. They may look harmless but if not careful will eventually eat away at your zeal for the Lord.
I think the first century christians and the apostles lived with a great sense of urgency, eagerness and readiness to the Lord’s second coming. The letters of the apostles, reflect the emphasis on this truth. But what kind of believer you will choose to be now?
1. THE SLUMBERING BELIEVER
In the parable of wise and foolish virgins, talking of the ten virgins, Jesus in Matthew 25:5 says, “But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.” Out of 10, half of them were foolish for they did not take oil for their lamps. But note that it says that all the ten slumbered and slept, both the wise and foolish ones. Both the groups had journeyed out to meet the bridegroom. Both the groups started with the same goal. Both the groups slept while there was a delay. But one group had it enough to make it, why?
I believe the foolish ones had been spiritually slumbering for a long time. In the sense that they have been going about their christian life with no real intimacy with the Lord or with a very shallow surface level intimacy if any. They have been running low on the oil of intimacy. But they did not care enough to be prepared for the bridegroom. It is the oil of intimacy that keeps the fire burning in our hearts. In the oil of intimacy, lies the anointing and sustaining power for the journey. And Jesus ends the parable with this, ““Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” Slumbering believers are those who don’t care enough to watch. They don’t invest their time and energies for solid intimacy with the Lord. Outwardly they may look prepared and sound passionate, but in reality their intimate walk with God lacks substance and depth.
NOT DISCERNING THE TIMES
Jesus rebuked the pharisees for not discerning the times. They had the scriptures, the prophecies written in the word about the messiah. But yet because of their hardness of heart they were not willing to consider anything that Jesus claimed.
Jesus when speaking of the end times, told His disciples that when you see these things happening, know that the end is near. Basically with regard to time, He was saying that you can know the season but not the exact date or time of the Lord’s return.
In Luke 12:37-43, Jesus says, “Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching…But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.“
In 2 Peter 3:14, Peter says to the church, “Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless.”
In 1 Peter 4:7, Apostle Peter says, “But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.“
2. THE COLD HEART BELIEVER
In Matthew 24:12, Jesus said, “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold“.
He was talking of the state of believers in the last days. Note that Jesus didn’t say few or some but said many will grow cold in their love and devotion. It seems when believers constantly focus on the rampant sin around them and state of the world, it will affect their faith and in turn will affect their love and devotion to the Lord. Be careful on what you meditate on. Guard you heart, eyes and ears. Be disciplined in what and how much you watch and hear on television or read in newspapers. In everything have a biblical perspective. His kingdom is coming. The world is reaping what it has been sowing and it is only going to get worse. You must develop a thriving prayer life and grow in the knowledge and understanding of the word of God. We must aim for a spirit filled life with perpetual vibrant intimacy with the Lord. I am not saying that you should ignore what’s happening in the world. If you are concerned deeply about some issues, do intercession. Take it up in, prayer before the Lord.
3. THE LOVELESS BELIEVER
In Revelation 2:4, Jesus says to the the church in Ephesus, “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.”
If you read from the beginning of Revelation chapter 2, you will see that from a general perspective, believers in Ephesus weren’t doing that bad. I mean, Jesus says to them that He sees their labor, their works , their patience, their hatred and intolerance for evil men, their testing and successful discernment of false apostles and their perseverance but Jesus goes on to say that they have fallen from their first love.
You can look so christian like from outside, be well versed in scriptures and even labor for His name sake and yet not know that you have fallen from your first love for Jesus. Always keep the main thing the main thing. Intimacy with the Lord and delight in Him must be your top priority and let rest be incidental. All your labor of love, ministry and spiritual endeavors must flow from that place of intimate union with the Lord. Live first to enjoy the Lord without any other agenda.
4. THE LUKEWARM BELIEVER
In Revelation 3:15-16, Jesus says, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.“
Jesus is saying I can do if you are either cold or hot but a lukewarm believer is so repulsive to Jesus that He said I will vomit you out. But why? The answer is in verse 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.”
I think Jesus was saying that cold believers have a greater chance of being revived as they probably will not live in constant denial of their true spiritual state. But lukewarm believers live in such a spiritual deception that they can’t even discern their true spiritual condition. On the outside they may appear to others that they are thriving but in the eyes of Jesus they are spiritual paupers, miserable, blind and naked. We need to be rich in the Lord’s spirit, in His righteousness, in His knowledge, in His presence and character. We must not just know the truth, but the truth has to become a part of us. We need to be living epistles. Even material blessings or riches are no indicators of a thriving christian or a real disciple. To the church in Smyrna, in Revelation 2:9, Jesus said that He knows their poverty but said they are rich. Spiritually they were rich, even though they were facing poverty practically. They were rich in their faithfulness in midst of tribulation. They were rich in patience and endurance in midst of adversity. To the lukewarm believer, Jesus gives the counsel in Revelation 3: 19, “Buy gold from Him to be rich, buy white garments to cover the shame of nakedness and buy eye slave to anoint the eyes to see.”
Too often we take christian productivity or what we can accomplish as the measure of Lord’s approval. But if you see in the letters to the seven churches in Revelation, Jesus was more concerned about the state of their heart. He does notice and acknowledge their works and productivity but that isn’t enough for Him.
5. THE WORLD LOVER BELIEVER
In 2 Timothy 4:10, Paul says, “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world and has departed for Thessalonica.”
Philemon 1:24 and Colossians 4:14 indicates that Demas was a companion and fellow worker in the gospel with Paul. But its sad to read that Demas forsook his first love for the Lord and went after the world. Maybe he was trying to stand in both places from the beginning. I mean maybe his heart and affections were divided right from the start. Sadly many believers are like that today. It maybe a matter of time that they will finally choose one. You cannot love the world and love the Lord at the same time.
1 John 2:15-17 says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
6. THE DISTRACTED BELIEVER
In Luke 21:34, Jesus says, “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.”
If your heart is weighed down with cares of this life, you will loose your spiritual sharpness and discernment. But not only that but you could be rendered ineffective and unfruitful or at most a dim light believer.
Mark 4:18-19 – Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.
Also remember the Martha and Mary story. Martha was distracted and worried. But of Mary Jesus said that she has chosen the good part. So what was Mary doing? She was sitting at Jesus’s feet and hearing His word.
Guard your heart and time. Choose the best part. Spend quality time with Jesus. Spend quality time in His word. Practice His presence. First seek the interests of the King and care for doing what is right before His eyes, rest everything you need will be added. The people of the world get burdened with cares of this life. But you are not of the world. You belong to Jesus and His kingdom operates differently. Learn to live your life with a kingdom perspective not the world’s.
7. THE COMPROMISING BELIEVER
Acts 5:4 – While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”
The above scripture talks about an incident that happened in the first century church where the couple Ananias and Sapphira, died instantly when they lied to the apostles and pretended that they had sold their land and given the full amount. It is shocking, I mean we could expect such immediate judgement occurring in the Old testament. But the couples compromised and thought they could get away. Today many believers cheapen the grace of God and live secretly in willful compromise. God in His grace gives us time to repent. Rather than trying to hide your sin and pretend nothing happened, you should confess wholeheartedly and repent before the Lord.
In Revelations 2: 20, Jesus rebukes the church in Thyatira for allowing Jezebel probably a self proclaimed prophetess to teach and seduce His servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. Amazingly Jesus gives Jezebel and others time to repent.
Galatians 5:9 – A little leaven leavens the whole lump.
8. THE DECEIVED BELIEVER
Acts 20:30 – Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.
Colossians 2:8 – Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
False teachers, apostles and prophets are already there. But their numbers will increase in the last days. They will be wolves in sheep’s clothing. Their teachings or ministry could appear completely okay at first or on a surface level but a closer look will reveal that they are not from God. It is written in the new testament that people searched the scriptures to find out whether what the apostles taught were in line with the word of God. Also Jesus said by their fruits you shall know them.
If you don’t become a serious and diligent student of the word, you may not be able to discern the false teachings. It is crucial that we be disciplined in this. Don’t just leave it to your feelings. Invest time in the word. This generation has been given so much resources and still people just want to be spoon fed only on Sundays. We have the teachings and preachings on the internet, articles, books, television channels like God TV etc. but sadly many believers have no real hunger for knowing God, His ways and His truth. They don’t want to move beyond their prayers for immediate material blessings or other breakthroughs. You need to believe and realize that there is much more to God that you desperately need to know and be aware of.
Not only the word of God talks about false ministers of God but also believers who will not listen to the truth anymore and will follow false teachers willingly.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 – For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
1 Timothy 4:1 – Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.
9. THE FALLEN BELIEVER
Hebrews 3:12 – Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.
It is addressed to believers. Unbelief is evil and will make you depart from God. In Luke 18:8 Jesus says, “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”
Hebrews 6:4-6, “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame”.
The above scripture really questions the “Once saved always saved” theology that some people believe. Can it be more clearer than this?
How will you live as you go through both the mundane things and exciting things of life? Yes, there are also responsibilities in life. We need to do what we have to do. We shouldn’t be like some believers in the new testament that stopped their work thinking that the Lord’s return is imminent. At the same time remember what has been said in the points above and also note that more than 2000 years have passed since then. Many prophecies especially concerning the formation of the state of Israel has come to pass in our generation. We shouldn’t be like the pharisees who had the word but yet couldn’t discern the times and seasons. The challenge is to keep the main thing the main thing. Go the extra mile and do whatever it takes to protect and preserve your zeal for the Lord as you go about your life.
The bible says in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. Who or where is your treasure? Is Jesus your exceedingly great reward? Is He your very life itself? Your life priorities, decisions, time and energy will reflect where your treasure really is.