Have you ever experienced an urgency in your life? Yes – probably so! I experience an urgency on a regular basis as I’m one of those people who utterly despise being late to places. I’m always 5 – 10 minutes ahead, or I’m making myself miserable! So whether there’s urgency in getting the kids to school, or getting the sermon finished, there’s always a deadline that can’t be negotiated!
Last night I had the blessing of hearing my father preach down in Summerdale again. I love dad’s sermons, but I always have particularly enjoyed his topics of end-time and prophecy – Revelation, Thessalonians, Daniel, Matthew (and he touched on all of these passages last night).
Dad preaching last night in Summerdale
Every time I hear a good sermon on the end time, it is like something quickens within my spirit and begins to tell me, “He is coming back SOON! There’s no time to waste!” And my heart begins beating faster, and with a little more excitement, and I realize just how close to the end of this age I believe we are. We are one good situation away from the world barreling straight into the last set of prophecies, and every time I read the news, I ask myself, “Will this be the way in which we are propelled toward the end?”
I remember growing up, being so mindful of the return of the Lord, that I was actually believing even as a young person that I would never live to the age I am now. I believed the Lord would come back before now (see the 1 Thess verse later on in this post for a description of that day).
This morning, I read Philippians, the second chapter. A packed chapter – full of doctrine, and encouragement, and advice. There’s quite a few recognizable verses in Phil 2. Among them is verse 12 – “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” And when I read that this morning, it sparked in me a reminder of how I felt as I was listening to the sermon on the end-times last night.
So often, there is no fear and trembling in our walk. As serious as we are about life, jobs, education, and relationships, it is tragic that we can be the most casual about the one thing with the greatest joy or greatest devastation in our life – our relationship with our Creator. In many instances, people just have a casual relationship with a “guy upstairs,” and there’s no urgency for their walk with Christ and no brokenness for those around them who are lost without Him.
Between last night and this morning, I had already lost that urgency. And it is very possible that I may lose it again before the day is up. Though, I pray that to not be the case.
But to live a life without some knowledge or regards to what God says will still yet happen is to read a book without worrying about the end – is to go to school without worrying about graduation – is about getting a degree with no regards to eventual employment, is to do anything without cognizance of the intended end result. Except, it is on a much greater, and potentially terrifying scale.
I closed my eyes and imagined what it will be like up there. Most of you reading this can probably quote some of or part of the song, “I can only imagine.” And it is a song that gives comfort and happiness. It talks about a place with no pain or suffering.
Revelation 21:4 says,
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And yet, many of us are relying on false promises to attain that glorious end one day.
But do we know the “He” of Revelation 21:4? We can’t know Him based on our own system of knowing someone. We can’t know Him based on our own qualifications for knowing Him. We have to know Him based on what He says about knowing Him. And that involves trusting Him, believing Him, accepting His death for our sins, and living a life of surrender and submission for Him, as His grace helps us to grow in Him.
Some of us try to be a good person, and we end up being a good person. But when you compare our goodness, as good as it can be, to the “Goodness” of God, we fall miserably short, and thus, we can’t experience eternal joy nor a relationship with Christ simply by being a good person.
Some of us believe that there are many roads to attain that eternal joy, and by having some sort of a spiritual journey or adventure, we will find ourselves “taken care of one day.” However, that is completely contradictory to Scripture. In order to spend time in God’s presence for eternity, we must recall the words of Jesus Christ in John 14:6 –
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
It is comforting to think about the place that heaven is, but only if I’m sure I’m going to actually be there one day. Of much less comfort should be the condition and worry of one who doesn’t know how they are going to get there, and considers how close to heaven’s opening we may be.
I know many good people, whom I love and respect. Yesterday, we showed a video in church. And one of the statements went like this – “I know of know greater love one could show to his fellow man than to share the hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ.”
Don’t try to “good” yourself into heaven. Don’t try to figure it out on your own. I couldn’t do it anymore than you can.
Time is urgent. It is short. I don’t know when I’ll go to heaven – whether my death will send me, or whether I will experience 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17:
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
If you believe in God, then that verse probably has one of two effects on you. It either fills you with hope, or fills you with an uncertain dread. One of the greatest experiences the human can have is, I believe, to be experiencing the fulfillment of being caught up together in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And one of the most terrifying, desperate experiences we could ever imagine is to watch as others experience that, but we don’t.
I actually believe I’ll experience 1 Thessalonians in my lifetime. I still do not believe I’ll live to be an old man. But regardless, may we live with such urgency that we’ll have no regrets when the end comes, no matter which form it takes – whether we are taken through death, or through this experience – verse 18 of 1 Thessalonians says,
“Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
If you are not encouraged by those words – if you are confused, afraid, or even oblivious, I’d love to talk to you and share with you. I’ll listen. I’ll do my best to answer any questions. But, especially if you are a friend or family member of mine, the greatest love I can ever show you, despite my imperfections, is to show you how to begin your life as a true disciple of Jesus Christ. It would be my greatest honor to do so. And we can grow together.
God knows I’m nowhere close to perfect. Don’t base your Christianity on Christians. Base it on Christ. I’m not your standard – He is. Without Him, we are lost eternally.
So, call, email, or message me!