I was recently teaching our baptismal class at church and we were discussing the three angels messages from Revelation 14 and what our responsibility as the remnant is. I posed the question to them, “How many years in the future do you believe Christ’s coming to be?” In asking the question, I had no desire to time-set, as I full well understand the dangers, given the history of our denomination. I also fully understand that we know not when our own lives might end, and therefore when Christ’s “coming” might be for us.
The responses I got were mainly in three brackets – within five years, within ten years and over a hundred years from now. My reason for asking the question was simple, I believe that our view of when our Saviour will return has a far greater bearing on our fulfilment of the great commission, and of taking our message for this time to the entire world, than any sermon, no matter how eloquent, that can be preached. The basic premise for my belief is that if one believes that the second coming is yet in the distant future, one does not have the impetus to work right now, as they believe there is yet plenty of time to work.
Looking at it from another angle; if, somehow, Gabriel let you know that Christ would definitely return in less than week, would you live your life any differently from how you live it now? If so, what would those differences be? I believe that if we had such knowledge, many of us would make a far greater effort to reach out to our friends and family members who are not walking on the straight and narrow than we presently do. I believe that many of us that entertain the justification of sin would not even allow temptation to remain in our thoughts for even a fleeting moment. I believe that many of us that do not spend time in the study of the Word would suddenly be ardent Bible scholars. I believe that many of us that are given to using copious amounts of time on entertainment and selfish endeavours would suddenly use that time constructively and be about doing things that fit us for the kingdom of God. I would venture to add that I believe that some of us would even begin to dress, behave and eat differently. Pause and consider the above before reading on, and check if you would change anything in your life.
The question is this, why would some of us make these changes to our lifestyles? Could it possibly be because deep down in our hearts we DO fully understand what we ought to be doing, and appreciate that we are falling short? Could it be that we believe that we have yet many years ahead of us and we will do the Lord’s work at a “more opportune” time? Could it be that we are at present looking to others to do the work that has been set out for us to do, but under the circumstances described above we would feel that as the work is undone, we ought to put our hands to the plough? If any of us, would make changes to our lives based on the scenario above, then it means our desire to work is influenced by when we perceive Christ will return.
I am often troubled by the thought of people whose acquaintance I have made, saying to me on the judgement day, “Why did you not tell us about the Saviour?” I am often haunted by the thought of being on the receiving end of Christ’s words “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” As a member of the remnant I constantly ask myself, “have I cried with a loud voice? Have I called people out of Babylon?” It is very easy for us to become complacent and believe that we are waiting for the latter rain and then it is that we will work in earnest, what we do not realise is that the latter rain has begun to fall round about us and we may be unaware of it. When I ponder how we can prophesy in His name, cast out devils, do wonderful works in His name, and yet still be lost, I am often pushed to the point of tears. At these times the words of Jeremiah come forcefully to my mind; “The harvest is past , the sum-mer is ended, and we are not saved .”
The judgement begun many years ago. None of us know when our probation will close. The Lord is coming soon. In light of this, let us not be slaves of the time mentality that has the ability to make us luke-warm in our outlooks, but let us be about our Father’s business, for we know not when we shall sleep. Let us not leave undone those things that we ought to do today, believing that we have tomorrow. For if we leave them undone, Christ will surely come upon us as a thief in the night.