When you look at what all is going on in the world around you, do you get a sense that we are living in the final days before the Lord’s return? Do you see the signs of his soon return in world news, and in the church, and on TV, in our culture, and in the schools, in the workplace, and in the home?
The Lord Jesus led me to read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 (ESV).
Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. Vv. 1-3
One of the signs of the times in which we now live is the spiritual decline of the church, not the whole church, but a large majority of it, at least here in America. So many churches, i.e. gatherings of the body of believers in Jesus Christ, have gone the way of the world in order to attract the world to their meetings.
They have turned the church upside down. They have turned it into a business of human-making, a marketplace, where the church is promoted to the world as a fun and exciting place to be, with a great band, live music and entertainment, a clown (entertainer) for a pastor, and lots of fun activities for the entire family.
Worship services have largely been turned into massive stage productions in order to appeal to human flesh. Movie clips, even from sexually-charged movies, are shown on stage in order to “relate” to the people of the world. The music is often so loud that they have to hand out ear plugs to the congregants. The music, too, is often flashy and showy and even sensual, at times, with singers who sound more like they are singing in a bar.
Sermons often sound more like pep talks or like speeches given at some type of public event or rally. More and more they are becoming feel good messages intended to tickle itching ears, to give the people what they want to hear, but not what they need to hear. These sermons are often also intended to entertain, even using mockery and sacrilege in order to entertain the masses. Jokes said from the pulpit (or no pulpit) often are turning serious situations into humor, to make people laugh about things over which they should be weeping and mourning.
Thus, the gospel of Jesus Christ, as taught by Jesus and his NT apostles, has taken a hit for the road, and half-truth gospels (lies) have taken its place. Many are teaching that all one has to do is just acknowledge who Jesus Christ is or what he did for us in dying for our sins, and then merely accept his forgiveness of their sins. Then, they are congratulated for having become children of God, and heaven is guaranteed them as their eternal home, regardless of how they live their lives from that point on.
In other words, these preachers are saying “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace. They are dressing the wounds of God’s people, too, as though they are not serious. Sin abounds within the church, pornography addiction is rampant, even among the clergy, as are extra-marital affairs, drug and alcohol addiction, abuse, greed, idolatry and worldliness. These are not only allowed to exist within the church, but are not being dealt with, and thus they are spreading like gangrene throughout the Christian community.
But, what does God’s Word say about this? It says that if we live by the flesh, we will die in our sins. If we practice sin, we don’t have eternal life with God. If we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk in darkness, we are liars. If we hold on to our old lives of living for sin and self, we will lose them for eternity. So, if you want to have eternal life with God, you need to die with Christ to sin, and be resurrected with Christ to new lives in him, to be lived to his righteousness. You must walk by the Spirit, and by the Spirit you must be putting to death the deeds of the flesh.
But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. Vv. 4-8
Those who are living to please the flesh, and those who are convinced that they can go to heaven when they die, but that they don’t have to repent or obey the Lord, will be in for a big surprise when Jesus returns to judge the world and to take his bride home to be with him. The day of the Lord will overcome them like a thief in the night, because they were not prepared.
But, for those of us who have died with Christ to sin, and who have been resurrected with him to new lives in Christ Jesus, born anew of the Spirit of God, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and who are walking according to the Spirit, and no longer according to the flesh, this day should not overtake us. We should be watching and waiting for our Lord’s return, anticipating his coming, and ready for him to take us home to be with him forever.
What this means is that we live as children of light, not as children of the darkness, which is where we once were. This is not to say that we will never sin again, but that sin should no longer be our master. We should no longer be ruled by it, or controlled by it, for Jesus Christ died to set us free from our slavery to sin. Thus, in the power of God’s Spirit living within us, we should be walking in the light, according to the Spirit, and living to please God in all that we are and say and do, for his glory, honor and praise.
For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. Vv. 9-11
When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we are delivered, not only from our slavery to sin, but from the penalty of sin, which is death, but not physical death, for all of us will die one day, but spiritual death and eternal damnation in hell. Therefore, we are no longer destined for wrath if we are believing in Jesus and walking by his Spirit.
But, there is a warning here to those who profess faith in Jesus Christ but who are still walking in the darkness. If you are still living (in practice) to please self and sin, in lifestyle, still addicted to sinful practices, and not willing to obey the Lord; if you are unwilling to repent of your sin, or to submit to his will and purposes for your life, and to surrender your life to him to walk in his will and in his ways, then scripture teaches that you don’t know God, you don’t love God, and you are destined for the wrath to come.
So, the encouragement here is to reject the lies which only put a bandage over your sin, but which do not deliver you from the sin. These lies leave you still in bondage, feeling hopeless, and with no way out from under it. But, if you believe the truth, surrender your all to Christ, yield to his will for your life, and walk in his love and grace, then you do have the hope of eternal life with God, and you will not be surprised when he returns one day. But, you will rejoice that your suffering is now over, and that you will now be with your Lord forever. Amen!
To Be Like Him / An Original Work
March 16, 2014 / Based off Scripture
Crucified you are with Jesus.
To be like Him, oh, you’ll be,
Because He died at Calv’ry,
So from sin you’d be free.
Oh, what joy He brings into your life,
Giving life with Him endlessly.
Oh, what plans He has for your life.
Share the gospel faithfully.
Show the people He loves them.
Now His witness you’ll be.
Tell the world of sin about Jesus,
How He died for them on a tree.
Purifying hearts, He saves them,
Who believe on Christ, God’s Son.
Turning now from their idols,
New lives they have begun.
Jesus saves from sin; we’re forgiven.
Over sin, the vict’ry He won!
When He comes again to take us
To be with Him evermore,
There will be no more crying.
Gladness will be in store.
Heavens joys will now overtake us:
We’ll be with our Lord evermore.
Tuesday, January 2, 2018, 8:34 a.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for these encouraging words. Thank you, too, for your saving grace. Amen!