by Paul Tautges | March 28, 2017 10:59 am
Jesus is coming again. Though we do not know the exact time, and trying to figure that out is warned against in the Scriptures, we know He is coming, and his coming is imminent. We believe this. We also believe that knowing this should lead us to live differently. Our church’s Statement of Faith affirms the immanency of the return of Christ, and that this blessed hope has a vital bearing on the personal life and service of the believer. Jesus urged His disciples to live with the ever-present reality that He is coming again: Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect (Matthew 24:44).
First Peter 4:7 begins the final section of the apostle’s first letter with these words: “The end of all things is at hand; therefore.” Peter’s urgent call to ministry was based upon the fact that our time on earth is limited. We’ve all had enough time already to live for the flesh, but now that we know Christ we are to live for Him (see 4:1-2). The day is drawing near. Time is short. On the day Jesus returns, many will be ashamed because of laziness and procrastination. But let us each strive to live in such a way that we will not be ashamed when Jesus returns. And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming (1 John 2:28).
In 1 Peter 4:7, the apostle calls us to be self-controlled (to have a cool head, balanced mind, and live in moderation) and sober-minded (calm, collected, and serious). Together, these words speak of having a disciplined mind, a mind focused on Christ. All of this, again, speaks of the priority of Christ-centered living. Christ-centered living begins with having a Christ-centered mind (see Colossians 3:1-4). Since the end of all things is at hand, we ought to be urgent about being active in ministry in the body of Christ.
If we really believe that Jesus is coming again it will impact how we approach serving His church. Peter draws out attention to 4 activities.
What should be the goal of our service? The proper motive for ministry and the use of spiritual gifts: the glory of God. Spiritual gifts are never given for the glory of the individual. If you have speaking gifts then be sure to speak the “oracles of God,” i.e. Scripture, the writings of God (2 Tim. 3:16). Teachers will be judged by a stricter standard. Therefore, do not depart from what is written (Titus 2:1; 2 Tim. 1:13; 4:3). If you have a serving gift then serve in “the strength of God,” not the strength of your own flesh. God is glorified by the growth of the body as believers use the gifts He has given to them.
Jesus is coming again. In light of this, we must be urgent about ministry. People are dying and going to Hell. We must rescue them. Christians are stuck in immaturity. We must help them to grow. Serving Christ this way means we must live with constant expectancy. What does constant expectancy mean? Here’s the answer I gave in my EFCA ordination paper, last year.
Constant expectancy for the believer implies a call to live in holiness and hope, longing for His return, being excited that He could return at any moment (Luke 12:40; Phil. 3:20; 1 John 2:28). We are called to be patient, and stand firm because His return is near (James 5:8). Constant expectancy also means we are to live with a sense of evangelistic urgency. He will come like a thief in the night and, therefore, we must be ready (1 Thess. 5:2). There is no prophesied event that must occur beforehand and, therefore, we must live with constant expectancy; we should want to be found “waiting,” but not passive (Jude 21). We are commanded to be “looking” for His appearing (Titus 2:13). The prayer of our heart should be “Even so, come. Lord Jesus, come” (Rev. 22:20).
[Adapted from last Sunday’s sermon at Cornerstone Community Church in Mayfield Heights, Ohio.]
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