“But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers” (1 Pet. 4:7).
As time draws nearer to the coming of the Lord our attitude should be one of soberness and watchfulness. Every righteous generation of saints has eagerly anticipated the Lord’s coming. The biggest reason He has not come is understood in 2 Pet. 3:9.
“The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent” (2 Pet. 3:9).
The Lord does not want anyone to be lost. His delay is based on His love and patience for all mankind to allow them time and space to repent. Nevertheless, every true Christian is to anticipate the Lord’s coming with desire and eagerness.
A heartfelt desire for Christ’s immediate return was expressed by the early Christians and every righteous generation since then. Along with this desire there are exhortations to live a holy life, especially in the light of the Lord’s return drawing nearer.
“Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ“ (1 Cor. 1:7-8 NIV).
Here is a great promise that the Lord will keep us firm until the end so that we will be blameless at His coming.
Notice the same pattern in the following scriptural references. At the mention of the Lord’s coming there is almost always an exhortation to holiness. As the Lord’s return draws near we are to cast off the works of darkness and put on the Lord Jesus Christ, making no provision for the lusts of the flesh.
“And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed (this speaks of our complete salvation which includes our new resurrected bodies). The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts“ (Rom. 13:11-14).
Once again, we see that as the day of the Lord’s return draws near, not only are we to maintain an anticipation for the new heavens and new earth, but we are exhorted to live holy and godly lives, making every effort to be found living peaceful, pure, and blameless lives.
“But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment. Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames. But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness. And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight“ (2 Pet. 3:9-14).
We are admonished in the following verses again to keep the commandment Paul just gave in the preceding verses, without spot and blameless until the Lord comes.
“But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing (1 Tim. 6:11-14).
In this next scripture we are encouraged to abide in Him so that we’ll have confidence and not be ashamed when He comes.
“And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming“ (1 Jn. 2:28).
In these next verses notice how the hope of being like Him when He is revealed at His coming has a purifying effect on our lives. This is not just a natural hope but it is a living hope, a hope that presses into being conformed to His image. As we behold the glory of the Lord in our hearts we are changed (2 Cor. 3:18).
“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 Jn. 3:2-3).
This pattern is so consistent and so clear with every New Testament writer. In nearly every reference to the Lord’s coming there is almost always a strong exhortation to holiness and sanctification as well as a certain looking forward to and expectation of His return.
There are so many of these scriptures that we cannot refer to all of them. But I’m giving you a good number of them so that you can be fully convinced and persuaded of the unmistakably clear pattern of this theme in all the apostolic letters. Let’s look at three final verses.
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ“ (Tit. 2:11-14).
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ“ (1 Thes. 5:23).
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Heb. 10:24-25).
Are you getting the full picture from these scriptures on what our position is to be at the Lord’s return? And if He does not return in our lifetime we are to have this same position when we depart and leave this earth to be with the Lord.
What the Lord sees in our lives is the position of our hearts – the longing, the yearning, and the burning desire for Him. The memorial in your life as a Christian is what you are doing inwardly in your heart toward God. That is called sanctifying the Lord in your heart (1 Pet. 3:15).
May it be so for everyone of us who calls themselves by His Name. As I stated in my last blog, pursuing and perfecting holiness is the main theme of all the apostolic letters, and all the more so as we see the Day approaching. It is time that all the churches emphasize what the early apostles emphasized.
The separation is here. While many are departing from the faith many are stepping up their pursuit of God. May our hearts burn with His holy fire.