There are two extremes to be avoided regarding how we should live in view of the Lord’s return but there is a biblical response which will affect the way that we live and will be to God’s glory. The first extreme is to be so preoccupied with eschatological (end time) matters that our interest is almost solely on the Lord’s return and other important doctrines are marginalised. The other is to bury our head in the sand like an ostrich and to have little or no interest in our Lord’s second coming meaning our knowledge in this area is deficient and we live as though the second coming is merely abstract.
The disciples asked our Lord about the sign of His coming and the end of the age. The Lord Jesus responded with the Olivet Discourse found in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 and we would do well to read and re-read these verses and familiarise ourselves with them. Of course we should study those passages not in isolation but alongside other passages of Scripture on the same subject to enable us to piece together a fuller picture. We should always link Scripture with Scripture to avoid inserting our private interpretation. It is vital to inform ourselves what the Bible clearly teaches in context and not by examining verses in isolation.
How should we then live, in view of the Lord’s return? In the Olivet Discourse we are given many details but are specifically instructed to make sure that no one deceives us, to watch, and to pray.
How can we ensure that no one deceives us?
Through regularly studying of God’s Word, asking the Lord to help us understand what we read, maintaining fellowship in a solid, gospel preaching, Bible believing fellowship we will grow in knowledge and grace of our Saviour. The more acquainted we become with God’s Word the easier it will become to discern error and detect false teaching. We must ensure that we use the Bible to interpret events around us not the other way and thereby reading into the text details that we have imposed therein.
We should avoid teachers or ministry that is based on opinion or conjecture and is not firmly rooted in Scripture. If in doubt check what they state alongside Scripture. If there is a website, look for a statement of faith and again compare that with Scripture. We have been warned about false messiahs, teachers, prophets and that some of these will come from within the churches. If you are not sure about whether a particular book is sound, apply the same standards above and by all means, ask a trusted and proven pastor or elder that attends a sound fellowship.
How can we keep watching?
Remember the parable to the wise and foolish virgins. The wise virgins took oil in their lamps and were ready for the bridegroom whilst the foolish virgins were slumbering and ran out of oil. We should be ready for the Lord’s return. When we familiarise ourselves with biblical prophecy, we can be properly informed of what to look out for and this will also affect our prayer life so that we can pray according to God’s purposes.
Looking forward to the Lord’s return is also a helpful motivating factor in our evangelism. We want as many people to trust in the Lord Jesus before they meet Him as either their Saviour or their Judge. Part of that is explaining to others that the Lord is coming again, and we can be certain of that because He fulfilled prophecy and proved that He is the promised Messiah at His first coming and so we implore others to repent and trust in the Lord before He comes again.
How should we pray in view of the Lord’s coming?
The fact that the Lord Jesus is coming again gives us an urgency to our prayers and to our witness. We want to pray according to His will, and we can do that by informing ourselves of what is contained in the Scriptures and praying in agreement with that for His will to be done in our lives and for the outworking of His purposes. We have been tasked with the great privilege of praying and to be used in praying so that God will get the glory by responding to our prayers that are offered up according to His will.
It is important to pray and fellowship all the more as the day of the Lord’s coming approaches (Hebrews 10:24-25). If we spend little time in prayer and fellowship with other believers, we become more susceptible to being deceived and our spiritual lives will be inevitably affected. Through fellowship we can encourage and stir up each other to love and good works to the praise of His glory. We can eagerly await the Lord’s coming and be ready without being unbalanced, fearful or disinterested. One last question. Are you ready for when the Lord returns?
Jon Taylor 15th November 2021