“I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth … Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. (Revelation 7:1-3)
When this age-abiding promise was first uttered by Jesus to his
apostles, it did not make sense. To the naturally minded men who
followed Jesus, they assumed the logical move would be for Jesus to
take charge as a King, throw off the yoke of Roman bondage, exalt the Jews and bless the world. Why should he leave now? There was work to be done here. When Jesus spoke of his death and strangely of his leaving, the idea simply did not fit into their expectations.
But as they wended their way along the path to Gethsemane, Jesus had assured them, If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again.
Dazed, these words made little impression on his little band. But forty days later on Mt. Olivet, huddled together in amazement with eyes turned heavenward, straining to catch the last glimpse of their
ascending Lord, this promise came alive. “I will come again.” Yes their beloved Master would return. The Apostles wove that glorious theme into the fabric of their ministry and their very lives.
No other doctrine is discussed more in the New Testament—over one third of its writings deal with this momentous event. How our hearts trill at the hope of being united with the returned Lord, our heavenly Bridegroom, seeing him as he is, living with him and experiencing his love forevermore—and the reality of reigning with him (Rev. 20:5) in a kingdom that extends to the ends of the earth, bringing “peace…like a river and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream.” Isa. 66:12
Long have faithful Christians prayed with the Apostle John, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” Centuries have passed. Seemingly nothing has
happened. But suddenly our day is charged with an air of expectancy.
Few would question that we are living in an unprecedented time of
human history. Most Bible-believing Christians feel we are living in
the very time the Bible says Christ is to return. There is a surge of
interest in prophecy—a revival of interest in the second advent. Many speak of the imminent coming of Christ. This expectancy is based on our Lord’s Great Prophecy recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 17 and 21. Many believe that the nearness of Christ’s return is indicated by such signs as the following: Israel restored (Matt. 24:32; Jer. 16:13-18); knowledge and travel increased (Dan. 12:40); evils exposed as never before (Luke 12:2; 1 Cor. 4:5); infidelity rampant from university to pulpit (Luke 18:8; 2 Tim. 4:1-4); men seeking pleasure, morality rotting (2 Tim. 3:1-5, 13); strikes, walkouts (James 5:1-4); racial strife, riots (Zeph. 1:7-9)’ juvenile delinquency (2 Tim. 3:2); wars and war preparations intensified (Joel 3:9-11); men crying fearfully for peace (1 Thess. 5:3, Luke 21:26); trouble everywhere (Matt. 24:21,22).
But let us take a closer look at our Master’s words and see what these signs really prove.
And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him
privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming [Greek, parousia], and of the end of the world? Matthew 24:3
Coming or Presence
The Greek word translated “coming” is parousia. It really means
“presence.” If parousia means “presence,” then the fulfillment of the
signs of this prophecy would mean that Christ is not coming shortly,
but he is already secretly here as a “thief in the night.” Remember, the Scriptures show that Christ’s initial return would be a thief-like, secret presence (1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 16:15) before “every eye shall see him.” The following dictionaries (standard works in fundamentalist and evangelical bookstores) confirm this definition of presence.
W. E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words:
Parousia, literally, a presence, para, with, and ousia, being…denotes
both n arrival and a consequent presence with.”
Robert Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible: Parousia, a being alongside, presence.”
Moulton and Milligan’s Vocabulary of the Greek Testament Foreword: “Parousia, as applied to the return of the Lord, is simply the anglicizing of the Greek word which literally means ‘presence.'”
The Bible Definition
However, we are not confined to dictionary definitions. The Lord has provided a Scriptural definition for the Greek word parousia. Parousia appears in Matthew 24:27 where it is mistranslated “coming.” The following chart compares its parallel citation in Luke 17:26, providing the Bible’s own definition for parousia.
Matthew 24:37Luke 17:26 But as the days of Noah were, = As it was
in the days of Noah, so shall also the parousia of the Son of man be =
so shall it be in the days of the Son of man.
The phrase “parousia of the Son of man” in Matthew 24:27 means the same as the phrase, “in the days of the Son of man” in Luke 17:26. the “days of the Son of man” (Luke 17:26) refers to the time that Christ is present, just as the “days of Noah” would refer to the time when Noah was present among his wicked generation. Therefore, parousia in Matthew 24:37 should be translated “presence of the Son of man” instead of “coming” of the Son of man.”
This is further confirmed by the Apostle Paul’s usage of the word. The thought of “presence” is plainly shown by the contrast with “absence” in Philippians 2:12. “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence [Greek, parousia] only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” This is also shown in 2 Corinthians 10:10.
Evangelical and Fundamentalist Consent to “Presence”
The Emphasized Bible translated by Rotherham is published by Kregel, an evangelical publishing house. Rotherham relates his struggle with the word parousia in the third edition of his translation. Although contrary to his theology, he acknowledged that parousia means “presence” and so translated it in every occurrence. He states on p. 271 in the Appendix:
“In this edition the word parousia is uniformly rendered ‘presence’
(‘coming,’ as a representative of this word, being set aside). The original term occurs twenty-four times in the N.T., viz.: Matthew 24:3, 27, 37, 39; 1 Corinthians 15:23; 16:17; 2 Corinthians 7:6, 7; 10:10; Philippians 1:26; 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 3:3; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 8, 9; James 5:7, 8; 2 Peter 1:16; 3:4, 12 and 1 John 2:28. the sense of ‘presence’ is so plainly shown by the contrast with ‘absence’ (implied in 2 Cor. 10:10, and expressed in Phil. 2:12) that the question naturally arises,—Why not always so render it? The more so, inasmuch as there is in 2 Peter 1:16 also, a peculiar fitness in our English word ‘presence.’
This passage, it will be remembered, relates to our Lord’s
transformation upon the Mount. The wonderful manifestation there
made was a display and sample of ‘presence’ rather than of ‘coming.’
The Lord was already there; and, being there, he was transformed (cp. Matt. 17;2,n.) and the ‘majesty’ of his glorified person was then
disclosed. His bodily ‘presence’ was one which implied and exerted
‘power’; so that ‘power and presence’ go excellently well together—the ‘power’ befitting such a ‘presence’; and the three favored disciples were at one and the same moment witnesses of both.”
Harry Rimmer (D.D., Sc.D.), who was styled “Fundamentalism’s
outstanding spokesman” until his death, admitted that the word
parousia meant personal presence. In his book, The Coming King, he
observed that the Greek word parousia is used 13 times in describing the return of Christ and not once does it have the thought of “coming.”
Christianity Today (a well-known evangelical magazine) published a
series of essays on “Fundamentals of the Faith.” the essay in booklet
form on “The Second Advent of Christ” had this to say about parousia: “…let us look at the Greek words used in the New Testament for the idea of the return. First of all, there is the word parousia, which means basically ‘presence.'”
No doctrine is more frequently mentioned in the New Testament that Christ’s second advent. Yet, few doctrines have been as greatly
fragmented into such diversified concepts. Much of the beauty of this doctrine has been wrested from the grasp of God’s people. All secular Greek dictionaries define parousia, “presence.” Most Biblical
dictionaries likewise define parousia, “presence.” Most current
fundamentalist and evangelical writings on the second advent usually begin by correctly defining parousia, “presence.” Then a strange thing happens. Somehow the word “coming” replaces “presence.” Incorrect theology requires parousia to be translated “coming,” but Scriptural harmony requires that it be translated “presence.”
“Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth”
Historically there is not a single Protestant concept of the second
advent that has an unbroken lineage back to the time of the
Reformation. Since that time, Bible-believing Christians have
fluctuated among a number of conflicting concepts.
Our purpose in this work is to set aside all theories of men and
ascertain from the Scriptures, and the Scriptures alone, the glorious
beauties of this momentous event. The faithful Christian is to “study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). The Word of Truth was originally written in Hebrew and Greek. But now the average Christian is no longer dependent upon the translators or scholars to determine the meaning of a specific Hebrew or Greek word in a given text. In fact, many of the new “translations” are mere
paraphrases of former translations, with little or no consideration given to the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. Further, even the best
translations have some flaws since they are the works of man.
The ready accessibility of Biblical concordances, Hebrew and Greek
dictionaries and lexicons in libraries and Bible bookstores is one of the blessings of our day. With the Bible in one hand and a concordance and lexicon in the other, the average Christian can verify the meaning of original words in the Hebrew Old Testament or Greek New Testament manuscripts. He can be a “workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15
For many centuries, the church has been on a rough and stormy sea
longing for the blessed haven of Christ’s return. Now, with the chart
and compass of God’s word, the Christian can trace the various
independent lines of prophecy and see the blessed haven just before
him. As there is the danger of shipwreck upon reefs just beneath the
water’s surface along many shorelines, so the Christian must be his own mariner avoiding the ensnarements of unscriptural or even partially Scriptural theories on the second advent. As a “workman that needeth not to be ashamed,” he will utilize, whenever necessary, the tools that make the Hebrew and Greek texts of Scripture readily accessible.
If this work inspires the reader to a deeper search of the Scriptures on this subject, then it will have made a contribution to the fellowship of believers.
A Secret Presence Before “Every Eye Shall See Him”
Having observed that the word parousia means presence and not
coming, Matthew 24:3 properly reads: “What shall be the sign of thy
presence and of the end of the world?”
Luke 21:25 refers to “signs” in the plural.
The Scriptures show that the first stage of our Lord’s parousia,
presence, will be secret. “The day of the Lord will arrive [will be here,
Greek, heko—see Strong’s, Young’s or Vine’s] as a thief.” 2 Peter 3:10, Rotherham A thief enters a house quietly, doing a secret work.
Consequently, the first works of our returned Lord are during a secret presence. The world will, at first, be unaware that Christ has returned.
“But ye brethren are not in darkness that day should overtake[implies, a period of overlapping] you as a thief.” 1 Thess. 5:4 Later, his presence will be made manifest to all. The Scriptures use another Greek word, apokalupsis, to describe this revealment to all. “The Lord Jesus shall be REVEALED [apokalupsis] from heaven in flaming fire taking vengeance.” 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8 It is in reference to this revealment to all, that Scriptures like Revelation 1:7 apply; “He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him.” Christians, who are not overcharged with the cares of this life, will experience the joys of discerning the signs of his secret presence (Luke 21:34-36), before they are “caught up together” with him.
A Kingdom on Earth…is the real answer we need.
“Thy Kingdom Come. Thy Will be done in Earth.”—Early Christians expected a literal fulfillment of this prayer. Shouldn’t we?
Just imagine what it will mean!
Real joy and peace and health. Real contentment and fullness. Real government by God, for man, which will not perish from this globe.
Real hopes—soon to come. Read them. Find joy and calm.
CONSIDER THE WORLD NOW! BUT THEN…
…the earth shall yield her increase. Psalm 67:6
The want of today will give way to the fullness of tomorrow. Blight will no longer cause famine—insects no longer destroy; and the inhabitants shall no longer say “I am sick.” The balance of
nature will return: the wolf, in peace, will rest with the lamb, and nothing will hurt nor destroy in all is holy kingdom, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
The eyes of the blind…shall be opened! Isaiah 35:5
Restoration of all that man has lost will be the first work of the kingdom. He whose eyes are darkened will see again with bright delight; he whose mind has been darkened will comprehend
with clarity. The dignity of a sound mind and a sound body will return. Ears which have never perceived sound will hear; minds which have never perceived truth will understand. Love will
extend from hearts which had been stone; wrongs will cease and forgiveness will reach out from those who have been wronged. The knowledge of God will fill the earth as the waters cover the
sea; fear will flee away.
The lame man…shall leap like a deer. Isaiah 35:6
Vitality will pulse through limbs once withered. Wholeness will return to bodies once dismembered. Life! Life expressed in energy, in direction, in attainment, in the joy of knowing that our bodies will respond to our wills—all accompanied with the profound peace of the knowledge that tragedies will no longer strike us down. Think of all the beauty of human form and feature that you have ever seen—and know that perfected humanity will be still of surpassing loveliness.
Neither shall they learn war anymore…Isaiah 2:4
The enemy which has cast its shadow across the path of every man will perish. Death itself will die! And the hope (seemingly beyond hope) will be realized as all who have died are awakened, restored, and are given the opportunity for life without end; for God is the Savior of ALL—not just those who have believed.
Think of the reunions, the rebuilding, the re-planning—all without fear of termination. Think of the peace, the calm, the certainty—the government of the Prince of Peace: “and of the increase of His government and of peace there shall be no end.” No tears or pain; no sorrow and crying; no death, no dying. Weeping has endured for a long, long night; but joy and song will greet the morning!
He will swallow up death in victory…Isaiah 25:8
“Thou openest thine hand and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.” Psalm 145:16
Food for all in rich supply will be one of the abundances in God’s kingdom. Hunger will vanish. But there is another kind of hunger, one that can be satisfied now. It is the hunger for truth. If you
have found the kingdom prospects shown in these writings to be good, then you may be hungering for more. There are answers for the questions so often asked but rarely answered: How does God plan to accomplish these things? If God really exists, why has He permitted suffering? How does He deal in both love and justice with believers and also with unbelievers?
What is all of this that we hear about “church” and “being saved?” What about the scriptures which speak about heaven instead of earth? What about Bible contradictions? Truth is available. Truth is consistent. Truth is reasonable. Taste it! Read the 360-page book,
THE DIVINE PLAN OF THE AGES, available on this website. This booklets you see that the Bible does, indeed, make sense. You can know the when, the how, and the why of the kingdom on earth!
God hath made everything beautiful in its time. Ecclesiastes 3:11
This Biblical texts on which this is based are listed below for your consideration:
Genesis 22:18; Job 33:25,26; Psalm 30:5; Psalm 72:8; Psalm 145:16; Isaiah 9:6,7; Isaiah 11:5-10; Isaiah 29:24; Isaiah 33:24; Isaiah 35; Isaiah 45:18; Isaiah 61:11; Isaiah 65:21-25; Jeremiah 31:33,34; Ezekiel 36:36; Micah 4:1-4; Zephaniah 3:9; Zechariah 8:20-23; Matthew 6:10; Acts 3:20,21; Acts 24:15; Romans 8:20-25; 1 Corinthians 15:25-26; Galatians 3:8; Ephesians 1:10; 1 Timothy 2:4-6; 1 Timothy 4:10; Revelation 21:4
One of the wonderful things about the Bible and the Christianity founded upon the Bible’s teachings is the fact that it contains so much sympathy — comfort for the bereaved, the sorrowing, the troubled. This is not true of any other book or any other religion in the world.
And who is there that does not at some time in life need sympathy, need encouragement, need a powerful and loving friend such as our Bible assures us our God is to all who will accept his favor?
But our great adversary, Satan, seeks to make the light appear dark and the darkness light. He seeks to negative the testimonies of God’s Word, and, to a very great degree his deceptions have been successful, as is witnessed by the creeds of Christendom. Practically all of our creeds, even though they assert that God is gracious, careful, kind and loving, contradict this description of Him and His plan for humanity in monstrous terms, fiendish in the extreme. The majority of creeds tell us of His foreordination and prearrangement of whatsoever comes to pass, and that this signifies that a saintly handful will gain eternal life of joy in heaven and that the unsaintly thousands of millions of heathendom and Christendom are equally foreordained to spend an eternity of torture foreknown, foreintended and provided for before their creation. Is there comfort in this? Is such a plan God-like or Satanic?
Could any intelligent and good being rejoice in such a plan of damnation or sincerely worship an Almighty God who would so misuse His unlimited power to distress His creatures? “Born in sin, shapen in iniquity; in sin did their mothers conceive them.”
The majority of Christian creeds declare the same results, but that they were not designed of God, not foreknown by Him, not predestinated. They tell us in other words that we have an incompetent God, well meaning, but deficient in wisdom and in power. Is there any comfort in this? Would it assuage the grief and pain of those suffering in eternal torment if they could be assured that their lot was such, not because of Divine premeditation and design, but because of Divine incompetence? Surely there is no comfort to be had from such a view.
After all, we Protestants did not make much of an improvement upon the theory held by our forefathers against which we protested in the sixteenth century. Surely purgatorial tortures of a few centuries are no worse, no less comforting than our Protestant conceptions of an eternity of torture for all the non-elect.
Our Catholic forefathers manufactured Purgatory without a shred of Scripture upon which to base the theory. They built it in their imaginations; they invented its fires and tortures. Our Protestant forefathers, using their imaginations, gave us an eternal torment hell—not more tangible, not more Scriptural than Purgatory. They did indeed use a Scriptural term —sheol, hades, hell— but, overlooking the fact that these words all signify the state of death, the condition of the dead, they wrested the language and warped it in an unscriptural manner to signify torture. The penalty or “wage of sin is death.”
They made of it torture everlasting, without the slightest authority of Scriptures except a misunderstood and misapplied parable, which rightly understood, teaches a totally different lesson.
THE FALSE GOSPEL
Our contention is that during the dark ages the church lost sight of the true Gospel message of comfort, rest, help, held out by the Lord as a special boon and reward for the weary and heavy laden, to attract them. During the dark ages we substituted another Gospel containing no comfort, and therewith we sought to drive men to love, serve, worship, adore, a God we erroneously pictured as meaner and in every way worse than the worst of his fallen creatures. Is it not time for us to get back to the Gospel of our text, the Gospel of comfort, of sympathy, of gracious promises? The false Gospel has surely lost its power. People are becoming too intelligent to endure it. As a consequence attendance at churches is decreasing and reverence for God is diminishing. Infidelity, called higher criticism, etc., is increasing.
The need of the hour is the Gospel of comfort. St. Paul declares what we all know, namely, that “the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God.”
Here we see the necessity for this Gospel of comfort. We see also that God has provided it and that it is coming to the world in the end of this age, in the dawning of the new age. It will come to the world in general as soon as the elect church shall have been selected, and, by the “First Resurrection” power, glorified with her Lord as His kingdom class, as the glorified sons of God, whose mission it will be to bless all the families of the earth.
“FATHER OF MERCIES— GOD OF ALL COMFORT.”
When St. Paul says, “Knowing the terrors of the Lord” he evidently refers to the fact that our Creator has declared that “the wage of sin is death” (not eternal torment); that “all the wicked will God destroy” (not preserve in fire); and that only such as come into vital relationship with the Redeemer can have everlasting life.
Knowing these things respecting the Divine government we persuade men everywhere, “Be ye reconciled to God” — and thus attain the only eternal life which He promised.
But, on the other hand, note the kindly description of our God which the Apostle furnishes, “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all of our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them that are in any tribulation, by the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our comfort also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation, . . . or whether we be comforted, it is for your comfort and salvation, . . . knowing that ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the comfort.” 2 Cor. 1:3-7
What a wonderful statement respecting the divine intentions for the comfort of the world and the comfort of the church, all proceeding from “the God of all comfort!” Nothing written in any sacred books of any people at any time reveals such a God as the God of the Bible — a God infinite in justice, wisdom, power and love. It is He that is working all things according to the counsel of His own good will, for the ultimate comfort and salvation of as many of his creatures as will accept his favors, after being brought to a knowledge of the truth respecting them. The church is now comforted during this Gospel Age (saved to the highest plane of the heavenly nature) and during the coming age the world is to be comforted and saved to the human nature — as many as will. For the world this means the glorious opportunity of the mediatorial reign of Christ which will constitute their time of restitution, uplifting, resurrecting, to all that was lost in Adam and redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. Acts 3:19-21
“COMFORT—WITH THESE WORDS”
Our text not only tells of comfort, but that this comfort is to be attained and enjoyed through words —through instructions, through God’s teaching, through human channels and agencies. Thus, as the Apostle declares, “God hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son.”
And God’s Son used His twelve apostles as His special mouthpieces to declare the Father’s will, the word or message of comfort. And in turn God is pleased to use human instrumentality’s for the explanation of His gracious message — for the enlightenment of His people — that the faithful and obedient may have the necessary words of life, for their comfort.
In order to appreciate the meaning of our text we must consider the words of the apostle preceding it, beginning with the thirteenth verse. He declares, “I would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” All Christian people agree that the word sleep here refers to those who died. They are not asleep in heaven, of course, for there all is wakefulness and intelligence and joy. They are not asleep in purgatory, of course, for, according to our Catholic friends, sleep there would be an impossibility. They are not asleep in an orthodox hell, for, according to the description given by Protestants, none could sleep there. Where, then, are those who are “asleep?” St. Paul says that we should not be ignorant concerning them. Have we not been ignorant in the past — foolishly ignorant? We have ignored the apostle’s words entirely. We have refused to believe that any are asleep and claim that all are awake, alive — a few in heaven or joy, the many in purgatory or eternal torture. But St. Paul was right! The entire Bible teaches that all who die fall asleep. Thus we learn of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, that he “fell asleep” (stoned to death). We read of the good and the bad, Kings and peasants, falling asleep in death. We read that King David slept with his fathers —some of them heathen. The Bible tells us where they sleep and that they will all be awakened from the sleep of death in due time —in the resurrection during Messiah’s reign of a thousand years. The Prophet declares that “many that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to life everlasting and some to shame and lasting contempt.” (Dan. 12:2)
Those who will be awakened from the sleep of death unto resurrection of life will be the blessed and holy, the saintly, who will be associated with the Messiah in the kingdom work for the blessing and uplifting of the non-elect. Those who will be awakened from the sleep of death to shame and age-lasting contempt will be the non-elect world. Their shame will be in proportion as they have enjoyed light, knowledge and opportunity and have failed rightly to appreciate and use these. They will have contempt from their fellows, in proportion as their shortcomings of the present time will be shown up.
Many highly esteemed among men will be awakened to that shame and age-lasting contempt. But their case will not be a hopeless one. Much of their weakness and dereliction were the result of Adam’s transgression and the sinful conditions which have resulted, including unfavorable environment. God has provided in Christ redemption for all from the sins and weaknesses resulting from Adam’s disobedience, and thus the entire race of Adam is guaranteed an individual trial under favorable conditions for life everlasting or death everlasting.
All who will render obedience to the laws and regulations of Messiah’s kingdom will begin to rise up, up, up, out of their fallen, degraded condition of sin and be brought back to all that was lost in Adam and redeemed at Calvary. In proportion as they will retrace their steps and come back into divine fellowship their shame will decrease and their contempt also. Finally, in the consummation of that age all who will may have attained full restoration and regeneration and freedom from shame and contempt. The unwilling and disobedient and rebellious will be destroyed in the second death — “twice dead, plucked up by the roots” —without hope of any further resurrection or restitution.
“COMFORT WITH THESE WORDS”
St. Paul urges that Christians should not be ignorant concerning those who are asleep —that they that “sorrow not even as others who have no hope.” It is bad enough to think of millions of heathen as being totally extinct, hopelessly dead, without any prospects of a
resurrection. The same would be true respecting our neighbors and friends, parents and children, brothers and sisters, who are not saintly, who are not in “Christ Jesus,” who are not walking after the Spirit, who are not heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord.
And if it would be a sore trial to think of them as utterly destroyed in death and without hope of resurrection, how much worse would it have been when, in our misunderstanding of God’s plans, we thought of them as even worse than to believe them without hope and extinct.
The Apostle proceeds to point out the basis of this hope in these words, “If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring (from the dead) with (by) Him.” (1 Thess. 4:14) So, then, the Apostles declare, the resurrection hope is the Christian hope, and the basis of the hope of this resurrection is that Jesus died that He might be man’s Ransomer —that He arose from the dead that He might be the great Deliverer of mankind, the Prophet, Priest and King of God, and that He might gather to Himself the elect, Church, the Bride, the Lamb’s Wife, as His joint-heir.
Christians, of course, in thinking of the resurrection of the dead, would primarily, chiefly, consider their dear ones of the household of faith; hence the Apostle continues his argument, saying, that those of the church living at the present time of the Second Advent will not precede or hinder those members of the Church who have died during the past centuries, for the dead in Christ shall arise first —shall be awakened first from the sleep of death.
“THEM THAT SLEEP IN JESUS”
We cannot think that the Apostle refers merely to the Church in this case, for uniformly, in speaking of the resurrection of the dead, he refers both to the Church and the world, the “resurrection of the just and of the unjust.”
So in this case he evidently refers both to the Church and the world as, “asleep in Jesus.” The expression will be noted as different from another one of his respecting those who “sleep in Christ.” The latter expression evidently refers to the Church as the glorified members of the Christ. But in speaking of those asleep in Jesus he evidently has reference to the whole world of mankind. The whole world died in Adam without having a voice in the matter of their birth or trial or condemnation. “Condemnation came upon all because of one man’s disobedience.” Likewise justification is to pass upon all of our race through the precious merit of Christ’s sacrifice. The fact that He “died, the just for the unjust,” constitutes His death a satisfaction price for the sins of the whole world.
From this standpoint, therefore, the whole world not only died in Adam but now sleeps or waits unconsciously for a resurrection of the dead through the merit of our Redeemer’s sacrifice. If we believe that Christ died for our sins and laid the foundation thus for His great work of blessing the world of mankind, including the Church, the first fruits, let us believe also that God who began His work will not stop until He shall have brought forth judgment unto victory —until all the redeemed world shall be brought to a knowledge of the Redeemer and of the Heavenly Father and to an opportunity for life everlasting through obedience. The world died in Adam — “in Adam all die.” Jesus is the Redeemer of the world. “Even so all in Christ shall be made alive.”
The message has reached the Church only, as yet. In due time it will reach every member of the race. The Church is already reckonedly quickened from the dead by the holy Spirit, and will shortly be born from the dead in the “First Resurrection.” The world, therefore, from the divine standpoint, is not dead in Adam now, but merely asleep in Jesus, waiting for the glorious time when, His Kingdom established, He shall call all mankind from the prison house of death, from the tomb, that each may learn to the full of the grace of God in Christ, and have opportunity for attaining life everlasting.
These are the words in which we are to comfort one another —words of hope respecting the resurrection of the dead, both the just and the unjust—words of sympathy, words of assurance, words that show that God is better than all our fears; that yet in a little while He that shall come will establish His Kingdom —first the Church in glory, and, secondly, Israel and all the families of the earth through them. Everything connected with the divine message is full of hope, full of encouragement, full of blessing, to those in the condition to receive it.
The Apostle Paul was one who, on many occasions exhorted the brethren. Many of those exhortations are recorded for us in Scripture. As we read God’s Word, you’ll notice there is a sense of urgency that is transmitted from the words and from its pages.
For those who fear God and wish to walk in His ways, that sense of urgency has to be embraced and applied on a day to day basis. There is an urgent cry found in Ephesians 5:16, which reads “redeem the time, for the days are evil.”
That word “evil” is ponēros [Strong’s 4190], a Greek word translated “hurtful in effect or influence.” We can all agree that in the times we live in there are plenty of things that can be classified as “hurtful” especially among the brethren, both young and old, as none of us are invulnerable.
We are admonished in Isaiah 55:6; “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found.” Now is the time for the Lord’s people to cry out to Him, to draw close to Him, to receive the strength and the help we all need. None of us are able to execute what needs to be done in our own personal lives apart from God Himself.
Because we are human, there are things that crop up in our lives, things that cause roadblocks to our spiritual growth and well being. For example, apathy and lethargy. We live in a world that is apathetic and lethargic. And because we live in this world, it’s easy for that to bleed off into our lives. Maybe not in the whole spectrum but in certain areas of our lives where we can become apathetic and lethargic, such as in our prayer life, where days go by and things escape us, like personal Bible study, preparing for meetings, because we let other things crop up into our lives, from the world around us.
We have admonishment in Scripture that tell us that this sort of thing happened to the Church in the past. Such as in the early stages of the Ephesus Church when they first began. (Rev. 2:4) Where it says after starting out so good, something happened, and all of a sudden they lost their first love. And the admonishment was to WAKE UP, get back on track in your consecrated walk.
What is this “first love”? Deu. 6:5 tells us: “Love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might”. If something else comes in the way of our consecrated walk, somehow the love of God got diverted into other areas. The Ephesians were becoming apathetic and lethargic in their execution of what God had commanded them. A little bit later as the Church progresses along the prophetic picture that is pictured in Revelation 2 and 3, we see in Revelation 3:15, 16, the last Church that is mentioned is Laodicea.
Laodicea is a church that is described as being in a quasi state of affairs, hot and cold, which is translated as being lukewarm. They are not full of fire and zeal for the things of God, but they are not against it either. They are as we say cooled down. We are told because of the world we live in, the Laodicean age, “the love of many is waxing cold.” (Matt. 24:12) And as it waxes cold, it is going to have an impact upon the consecrated, lest they recognize this as the scriptures exhort us to do. To be mindful, to WAKE UP to what’s happening all around us.
This WAKE UP call is very important. As you know our nation was stunned back in 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and our nation was suddenly hit with a WAKE UP call, the likes, it had not seen before. It wanted to stay out of this trouble that was going on in Europe and Asia. Well this trouble became reality on December 7th, and “we” had to do something. We had to WAKE UP as it were, and it mobilize the whole nation, as we were in a fight for our physical survival as a nation. That’s how serious it was.
Again on 9/11 2001, two airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center and another WAKE UP CALL goes out to the powers that be of the United States. What happens? They get quite concerned “What’s going on?” And immediately, they take action, and start taking the necessary precautions to protect the homeland, people rushing to the Churches to draw close to God in this time of trial.
But after a handful of weeks and months, what happened? It was business as usual. The Churches were no longer filled as they were. Seems like people always run to God when there’s trouble, when times are good who needs God? That’s exactly what happened; people began to fall back on their former ways.
So the American people became a little apathetic, lethargic, to the seriousness of that wake up call on September 11, 2001. The Apostle Paul had admonished the Christians in his day, and his words are preserved for our edification so that you and I will keep something in mind, that we never lose sight of God’s admonishment and WAKE UP call.
In Romans chapter 13, we’re told that there was a need for exhortation, the Apostle Paul wanted to exhort the brethren in Rome, and he told them to AWAKE, as it were, out of sleep. He said that their lives were beginning to reflect a dull sleepiness, and he senses that they are losing something.
Exhortation has to do with giving warning or advice, as an example of that, 2 Tim. 4:2 where the Apostle Paul told young Timothy; “Preach the word; in season, out of season” and tells him to do what? To “exhort”, in other words let the people have the warning from the scriptures, help them to understand the sense of urgency that God is trying to convey so that they don’t fall into an apathetic or lethargic lax frame of mind and therefore things slip up on them, and capture them unaware.
What we see in the term “Awake!” carries the connotation of don’t be careless or indifferent, because It is so easy to get careless and indifferent, because we live in a careless and indifferent world, where people don’t have that spark, that desire to want to do things the right way. Even from a physical point of view.
We need to understand that we are called from a spiritual point of view. We have to shake off as it were any slothfulness, we need to be mindful that if we’re not constantly aware of what is going on around us, it will infect our mental state of mind. This is why we have to bring every thought into subjection to Christ, according to the word of God. Because if we don’t then other things can get in there. There are a lot of things that can penetrate our minds that don’t belong there. That is why it is important to be mindful that we cannot be fatally indifferent to spiritual things.
It’s time for us to wake up, because the day and age is moving very rapidly and as it says in Romans 13:11; “knowing the time”; Paul is focusing in on time, time is a precious commodity that we have been given. And here we are told that the time is now “high time”, in other words this is something that should be top priority on our time schedule of events.
Paul continues “that now it is high time to awake out of sleep” that if we have been sloppy, groggy, somewhat dozing, in terms of our own personal lives that God wants us to wake up and realize the seriousness of the time in which we find ourselves living.
We are not living back in the middle ages, we’re living at the consummation of man’s world we’re living at the day where scriptures talk about all the prophecies that have been proven and that have definitely been fulfilled in the Old Testament ring loud and clear and all the prophecies in the New Testament concerning the Lord’s presence have great impact saying “For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.” (Luke 21:22 ) We are living in quite an unusual period of time to say the least.
Now is not the time to be dozing off. Paul says “our salvation” that is what God has called us to understand, grasp and comprehend, and he says it’s nearer now then when we believed. When we were first coming in as “babes in Christ.”
Now look at how the years have passed in our life, what have we done with those years? Have we really made them count when it comes to our relationship with our Heavenly Father Jehovah, and elder brother Jesus? I think it’s safe to say we should all hang our heads in shame, that we have wasted an awful lot of time. We have wasted time on foolish things, on things that are not worth it when all is said and done. If we were to put it on a scale and see what we’ve done with that time , we would all be ashamed and say “Father, be merciful on me a sinner, I have truly messed it up.”
God is desirous that we wake up and acknowledge our shortcomings. He’s willing to forgive us. But if we say we’re wide awake and walking in the light when in reality parts of our life are dark, we’re walking in darkness as the scriptures says. If we do that we lie, and the Truth is not in us.
The verse is clear; “it is nearer now then when we believed, because the night is far spent, the day is at hand.” God’s Divine Plan is drawing closer and closer with each passing day.
Do we sense that urgency? As God sees it, as he tries to convey it to us. It goes on to say “therefore cast off the works of darkness” now we’re told in John 3:19 that men love darkness because their deeds are evil. You and I have been told in 1 Peter 2:9 to come “out of darkness and into his marvelous light”, we’ve been transferred into that marvelous light. He goes on to say “Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying”. In other words not get caught up in the devices and problems of this world as the world is sinking in morality very fast.
Rom 13:14 “put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof”.
Let’s ask ourselves a very important question. Why do we need to keep awake? What is Paul emphasizing? Time. Time is a critical component for us. We don’t know how much time our heavenly Father has bestowed on each and every one of us. Time is in His hands. And he’s given us time, and we ALL hope and pray that we use whatever time we have left wisely in making our calling and election sure. Knowing that the time is short, it should speed us up with an urgency and a desire to make the most of that time.
In James 4:14-17, we’re reminded that our lives are like a vapor. How many of us can remember our youth. It seemed like yesterday we were in grade school, high school, college, and now out on our own. Married, children, grandchildren, and we ask, “where did the time go?” It went by so fast. Actually, it went by one day at a time, and it was gone before we knew it. That is why we need to make the most of our time as the 2 Corinthians 6:1-2 tell us: “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (Firstfruits for he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) Paul tells them the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)”(this should read “a” day of salvation, according to Isaiah 49:6) And it is for the firstfruits of God. Those called at this time, have been given insight to understand this very important calling.
This is revealed to us in the Scriptures, through the Divine Plan of the Ages. So we see that this is our day, our time, the rest of the world will have a different time, a different schedule, when God will work with them. He is no respecter of persons, and wants ALL to come to a knowledge of the Truth, but the vast majority of the world is not at this time able to do that. They do not know what they are doing. They did not know what they were doing when they crucified Jesus. In their minds they knew exactly what they were doing. They were putting to death one who claimed to be the son of God. What they didn’t know, was that he WAS the Son of God, who provided a “ransom for all”, to provide salvation through his death, his shed blood for all of us, and so the Apostle Paul tells them “that through ignorance ye did it.” Acts 3:17.
Next we are told that our salvation draws near, and yes it is. And most people do not grasp or comprehend what are we talking about when salvation is discussed. They think it means going t o heaven when you die. And they do not realize that there is much more involved when the Scriptures mention salvation. It is nearer because God’s Revelation tells us as we move through the corridor of life we begin to discover how truly our own mortality is. “The living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing at all.” Until the times of restitution, when the Lord will call forth all mankind and bring them forth in the resurrection of life and judgment. We are reminded in Hebrews 9:27: “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Because of what happened in the Garden of Eden, and the path that was chosen by our original parents. We have all been indoctrinated and implanted with a seed of rebellion in our natures, and we have all gone down that wrong path, and it has brought about wages that we have earned. Paul talks about that in Romans when he said; “the wages of sin is death.” Death is in this world, but it is not God’s desire to allow it to remain in this world. He is going to destroy it in the process of time. He tells us that “the night is far spent,” and what does that translate too? It translates to the fact that the world we are living in is drawing to its final close, that the time of man’s days is drawn unto its conclusion, and the Kingdom of God is on the horizon, and when the Kingdom is FULLY established, the world will see something wonderful, a transformation of this whole entire world . What humans beings have talks about, God is going to produce. Human beings talk, but they do not produce the right results, only God can. Notice what it says in 1 John 2:8; “Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.” We now have access to the True Light, and what does light do? It dispels darkness. God is cleansing our hearts, minds and spirits. He’s showing us what Truth is all about. How it relates to His character, He is the most beautiful being in all the universe.
That’s why he says “don’t make any idols or statutes, and try to pawn them off as God.” Because they don’t even come close in representing what he is like. This is what we need to keep in mind. This is the fear of God that shows acknowledgment and reverence to Him.
Now we live in a world today that is far from the Truth, we hear a lot about God in the Churches, but as 2 Tim. 3, states: “they have a form of Godliness but deny the power thereof”. They don’t want to hear about God “ruling in the Kingdom of men”, that’s exactly what Daniel 4 says he does, he rules in the kingdom of men, he is bringing to pass the prophecy of his word, just like he said he would. He uses individuals to bring to pass what He wants, and when it’s all said and done God weaves his wonderful promises and all these things come to pass and not one fails. Not one promise will return without accomplishing His purpose.
This is what God wants us to keep in mind. How He’s working with us, because we are a work in progress. We are the first fruits of this wonderful work in progress that God is creating. We have been made in His image.
What are we willing to do in return? He tells us we should respond accordingly because the night is far spent; it’s coming to a close. If we look around today, just as the scriptures say prophetic clouds are gathering. And as those clouds gather, what are they telling us? They are rushing towards fulfillment. When we read the book of Revelation we see a book that has a special blessing for all who read it. And yet there are ministers out there in the Churches who say “you don’t need to read that book. It doesn’t mean anything.” How sad, when people need answers to the questions that plaque them and bother them today.
2 Peter 1:19-21 states: “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
We see that God’s hand is at work, His hand is going to accomplish his will, his purpose and that brings us as to how we ought to walk. As we look at the world around us, we need to stop and consider very seriously how have we been walking? How have we been using this time that God has given to me? Have we walked with him more this year than the last? Did I walk with Him less? Did I pray to Him more? Did I pray to Him less? Did I appreciate and thank Him for the many blessings that he has given me? Or did I just accept those blessings and never said ‘thank you’?
Today we live in an age when people just accept things and never have the courtesy to say ‘thank you’. We live in serious times. We are told to cast off the works of darkness”. Romans 13: 12 “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.” We need to be combat ready, we have to wear the material that will aid us in our daily battle and struggle in living life as God fearing men and women. This armor is described for us in Ephesians 6.
I would hope and pray that none of us are deliberately practicing willful sin, but at the same time it would be an error to say that we are sinless today, if we say we have no sin we lie and the truth is not in us. We have all strayed from the path, not deliberately, but because of human weakness we stumble, we falter from time to time. The point in question is, do we follow the example of David, do we quickly give back to God and acknowledge to God where we have fallen, where we have gone wrong and ask God to help us and to restore us again with the joy of His salvation? Would we rather shake ourselves to get back on track or would we rather have God shake us? I believe the former is the better way to go. Don’t you?
Because when God arises, he is going to shake this earth, and people are going to go out of their minds, they are not going to know what to do. The Scriptures constantly admonish us to consider our way. The world has encroached upon all of us, perhaps in more ways than we care to admit, and that’s why it’s time to WAKE UP. All of us need to take a self-analysis. Do we allow into our lives now things that just ten years ago we would not have done? Has something softened us? Weakened us? Invaded our spiritual lives? Only we as individuals can answer that question. And if it has happened, do we see it for what it is? Do we acknowledge it for what it is? Do we run back to God and say ‘forgive me Lord”. This becomes a very important issue. What are we suppose to get rid of? Notice some of the things mentioned in Gal 5: 19-21 Col 3:5-8. “drunkenness, revelry, lewdness, lust, strife, envy, adultery, fornication, idolatry, sorcery, contentions, jealousies, wrath, selfishness, and the list goes on.
Some of you may say ‘I’ve never been involved in that’, but you’re wrong, perhaps not deliberately, but vicariously. Jesus stated Matthew 5:28 “whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Have you been to the movies lately? Do you have a television? What are the themes of those programs? That many times we have ALL watched? Murders, adultery, fornication, violence, vulgar language, it crops up doesn’t it? They keep pushing the envelope. Granted, it’s not like you sit there and say, I want to see this program and listen to the vulgar language, no, we’re not talking about that. We’re talking about sitting there, watching a program and say, “well, this is a decent program and then all of a vulgarity is slipped in. Sometimes you know it’s coming and think they’ll bleep it out. They no longer bleep out the bad words. Why? Because it is now culturally acceptable and people are beginning to become addicted to it.
Well the point of it is this, we need to view everything in life according to how God sees it. He said “come out of her my people” this is not anti-movies and television, because there is a balance here. There are wholesome movies, but most people aren’t interested in wholesome movies, they want action, violence, death and see things blown up. But even with so called wholesome movies, we need to be careful. The ratings system is no longer what it was, as time and culture changes, so does ratings. What was unacceptable 10, 20 years ago, is now acceptable. Sex, violence and profanity have crept into PG and even G rated movies, something that was rated R years ago.
That is why we are admonished to put on the whole armor of light, because we are constantly in combat mode. Now you have to watch when you go to movies or watch television. There’s always a good side to everything, remember it’s not the thing that is wrong, it’s how it’s used. Man has this wonderful proclivity of taking something good and twisting it and making it wrong. Now in this particular case what we see is that people today are being hypnotized literally by this stuff, it’s a form of entertainment to them, instead of entertainment it should be viewed objectively and look back and asked, where are they taking me with this?
We need to put on Christ, by first arming ourselves as we are at war, in combat. On a National Geographic special there was an episode about the lioness’ (the female lion) and how they hunt water buffalo for the pride, they go out and circle the herd of water buffalo, and what happens is that they target a specific one. That’s how the adversary works; 1 Peter 5:8 tell us that Satan “roams about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour”. They’re out there seeking which one of those water buffalo is going to be the evening meal. Here’s the interesting part, they start a procedure whereby they go around and around and around and they’ll attack the herd and push them back and they’ll attack again and push them back and they’ll go around and around. The whole point being this, they keep pressuring the herd and pressuring the herd until the herd makes a mistake. When the herd makes its mistake, they go for the kill. How many times have you and I made mistakes in life because we were under pressure and we finally caved in under pressure? Satan knows how to attack, he knows where our weak spot is, and he will pressure and pressure until he can succeed in his attack. Therefore it is important that we do not allow him or as Ephesians 4:26 tells us, “don’t give place to the devil.”
Speaking of pressure, have you notice that the world in which we live in is like a pressure cooker? People long for the good old days, when you can sit on your porch and relax (provided one has a porch). What happened to those days? They’re gone! Everybody’s so busy now, everybody’s pressured, pressured, pressured.
Who’s creating the pressure? Who’s out there seeking whom he may devour? This is why you and I have to be combat ready according to scriptures. Put on Jesus Christ, Galatians 3:27 tells us , we did that when we were baptized. We are told to continue developing the character of God. It is critical, that we are to make no provision for the flesh. How do we understand that? We have the responsibility not to feed the flesh. When you feed the old man, you get the wrong results. When you feed the new creature, you get the right results.
It’s like everything else, if you don’t make the right deposit in your checking account, if you don’t keep putting money in, and you’re just taking out all the time, sooner or later it’s all gone. A zero balance. In the same way, if we allow ourselves to feed the flesh rather than the spirit, then what ends up happening is that we end up being spiritually delinquent and we live only for the moment, the flesh, and that is what Paul is warning us against.
Let’s notice Romans 8:12, 13a; “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die” In other words if you just go about your normal pursuits of life, and don’t take God seriously in the equation of living life, you will die. And that’s what the world is doing, they live, they die. Perhaps that’s why they came up with that old expression in 1 Corinthians 15:32, “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.” They see no hope, no future. Only through God do we see a hope and a future, because He gives us one.
Romans 8:13b; “but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body…” That is when a wrong thought comes into the mind, we immediately dismiss it. Kill that thought, stop it right then and there.
Wipe that thought out. Because if we hold onto and feed it, it’s going to feed the flesh. So we see if we do this, and “mortify the deeds of the flesh, ye shall live.”
1 Corinthians 10:13; tells us that “God is faithful,” and he “will not allow you to be tempted beyond that you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” So our Heavenly Father will never allow anything to get so bad against you that it would break you spiritually. He knows your breaking point. You know, everybody has a breaking point. You could only go so far. And God says I will never put anything on you or allow anything to come on you greater than you can bear.
Now let’s take a look at 1 Peter 4:7 because this has a very important application. I Peter 4:7. Here we are admonished on the following: It says: “But the end of all things is at hand:. . .” and because of that, it says: “. . . be you therefore sober,. . .” notice that means have a high degree of alertness, that’s what sobriety means in the term you’re sober; you’re very much alert, and notice, “. . .watch unto prayer.” As you’re watching, as you’re looking, and evaluating things in your everyday life, make sure you’re praying about these things because what you see is not always what it is. You may see something and think it’s a certain way, but when you pray about it, all of a sudden God’s Spirit puts something else into your mind and you say, “Oh wait a second, there’s more here than meets the eye.”
Because God’s Spirit, remember, is a Spirit that does what? “Shall show you all things,” it says. It’ll show you prophetic applications of things, and it’ll lead you the way God is directing the affairs. Otherwise, it’s just a guess. It’s just speculation. And that’s what human beings do. They guess; they speculate; but God knows the outcome. And God tells us to be sober and to watch unto prayer. Now we know that we are to watch for what reason? So that we may be accounted worthy to escape all these things.
There are things coming that we don’t want to be a part of. They are recorded for us in scripture to both inspire and encourage us to do the right thing. It’s not designed to scare the daylights out of us as if God’s going to get us, so we’d better do this now. That’s not what God wants. He wants us out of what He has revealed as Jesus said, “Behold I’ve told you all things ahead of time that you might believe. That you know that I have your best interest at heart. That I’m trying to show you what to escape, to avoid the minefield that’s gonna blow up and cause mass confusion in the minds of people. But God is not the author of confusion. He’s the author of wisdom, knowledge and understanding, and He shares that with us and gives us that understanding. So we see here a very important application that we need to ask ourselves how serious are we in this regard of waking up and redeeming the time.
Are there areas in our lives where we need to really wake up and get on the ball and as we see God’s Plan moving closer and closer to the end? We cannot afford to be indifferent about spiritual things. We can’t allow the Spirit of God to become something that is looked upon in a careless manner. We need to value the Spirit of God. We need to stir up the Spirit of God. We need to thank God for His Spirit because without that Spirit, all we’ve got to rely on is our human spirit, and that’s not enough. We have to be guided and directed in the knowledge of the things of God. And only God can administer that to us, but we have to ask. You have not because you ask not. And you’ve got to make sure you’re always asking with the right motive at heart, because if you ask amiss, it isn’t going to happen. Plain and simple.
So God, out of love and concern is telling us He does not want us to be in any aspect of our lives lethargic or apathetic. Let’s have to look at 1 John 1:8, 9. We already read verse 8 before:
1 John 1: 8 – “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
Verse 9 – “If we confess our sins,. . .” and that’s part of what this whole period of self examination is all about right now. We’re in the process of confessing our sins to God. Have we been indifferent? Have we been lax in areas? Do we need to polish up the armor of light so that we can let God’s Spirit work and flow more effectively in us? It says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness”. He’s there to help us do what? To keep His commandments and do those things pleasing in His sight.
Because unrighteousness is the opposite of what righteousness is. And the righteousness is defined as keeping the commandments of God. Psalm 119:172: “My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.”
So God is teaching us how to live by His law. To have it written in our hearts and minds, so that we understand how we are to conduct ourselves.
We need to be excited each time we come together as brethren in Christ. This is not something to take for granted. This is something that the adversary would love to destroy, and we have to guard it. Hebrews 10:25 tells us “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” God commands that so that we hear when we hear, it inspires us and encourages us and makes us realize our God is real. And that our God is going to do what He said He’s going to do. No human being can alter that fact.
We find from God’s Word that as individual men and women, we are to be children of the day, not the night, to clean up our lives, if there’s any dark spots, any places there that are unacceptable. We’re to put on Christ more and more and let that light shine just as He said. We’re to put that whole armor on. We’re to walk properly, to stay away from things which are wrong.
You know, the world we live in can hypnotize you if you’re not careful. Have you ever been driving down the highway, your eyes wide open and yet you were asleep? For a split-second. Does that ever happen to you? It’s happened to a lot of people. Myself included. The technical term for it is myoclonic jerk.
You’re driving down the highway, and all of sudden you do this jerk, and you suddenly come back to reality. Where was I? I thought I was awake, driving down the highway. They call it highway hypnosis, that you just keep your eyes riveted in one spot all the time, this will happen to you. So they tell you always to keep your eyes moving. It breaks up that monotony so you don’t fall prey to that.
Well, think about how people today are hypnotized through the media, e.g. television, radio, news, advertisements, etc. Their eyes are focused on one thing, and they’re constantly blitzed and bombarded by this stuff. And a lot of the things that are on there today, once they get in there, it’s hard to get it out. And so what God is telling us, just like that myoclonic jerk, it’s time to jerk yourself back to reality and see exactly what’s going on around you.
Unfortunately some of our brethren get caught up in the latest fads, the political scene. They get upset over things they have no business getting upset over. It’s one thing to watch the world, it’s another to get involved. This is something we have to see through God’s eyes, and what God sees, He says it isn’t very good. What a merciful God we have, that in spite of all the chaos that goes on in this world, in spite of all the evil, God still blesses.