How can we be ready for Christ’s return?
Throughout history the return of the Lord Jesus Christ has been considered to be a cornerstone of the Christian faith, and it is this aspect that has stirred believers to a deeper commitment and urgency to take the Gospel message to the ends of the earth. However, in the postmodern world that we live in today, it seems that a vast portion of the Christian world has either out confusion, ignorance or shear disobedience completely ignored this marvelous truth altogether.
On closer examination it is truly overwhelming to see the number of times throughout Scripture where the return of the Lord Jesus Christ is mentioned by servants of God such as Job, Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and most of the Minor Prophets in the Old Testament. In fact, the Lord Jesus Christ often spoke specifically about His own return to earth, and well over 300 references to His return are made in the New Testament alone.
Make no mistake about it, the Lord Jesus Christ will come back one day, and He has even given to us crystal clear instruction for what we are to do while we wait. Here are just 5 points to help us consider how we can start to get ready for Christ’s return:
Watch out for when the Lord Jesus Christ returns
(Luke 12:37: Mark 13:32-33)
One of the biggest challenges in the Christian life is to overcome temptation and the weakness of the flesh. You may recall the time when the Lord Jesus Christ left Peter, James and John in Gethsemane to keep watch while He went away to pray (Mark 14:32-41). The Lord returned within the hour to find they had already fallen asleep, and in fact this happened three times in that very same night!!!
Every Christian is faced with this same temptation as these disciples, and so often it is because many of us get so easily caught up in the things that dominate the minds and hearts of nonbelievers, such as what we will eat, what we will drink, what will we wear, how much will we earn and where will we live. Instead, we should be consumed with our pursuit of the kingdom of God. We should seek, above all, the rule and reign of Jesus Christ in our lives. We must strive to watch out for when the Lord Jesus Christ returns. For it says: “It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them.” (Luke 12:37). And, even though we do not know the exact day or hour of His return, God still warns us to “…Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.” (Mark 13:32-33)
So let us always stay alert, and careful to not fall asleep on the job. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:38).
Get ready to go with the Lord Jesus Christ
(Luke 12:36; 1 John 2:28)
While Airlines hate saying no to their customers, the safety of their passengers and crew always comes first, and that is why luggage items that are likely to pose a risk to safety and security or can be used to cause harm are carefully restricted or banned altogether. This way, passengers have the chance to be prepared well in advance for their flight by packing sensibly so as to avoid causing any unnecessary disruption to their flight.
In a similar way our loving God puts our spiritual safety and eternal security first, and we need to make sure that we are not carrying any harmful items in our lives that can cause harm to ourselves, to others, and to our relationship with God.
If the Lord Jesus Christ came back today, would you actually be ready to go with Him? And, if, at that moment that the Lord Jesus Christ came back, would a place where you’re about to go, a thing you’re about to do, or a word that you are about to say cause you to be ashamed or embarrassed in any way at all? If so, then you need to change what you’re doing. If you are not living in a way that is pleasing to Him right now, then His return will come as such a great shock and surprise to you – and far worse than a mere disruption to a flight!
Surely, we want to be able to open the door of our hearts to Him without any shame whatsoever. “…like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him.” (Luke 12:36) “And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.” (1 John 2:28)
Don’t jeopardize your own flight to Heaven!
Desire to be more like the Lord Jesus Christ
(2 Peter 3:11-14,18; 1 John 3:3)
In a world full of distractions and demands on our time and pockets, our focus and attention can so easily be drawn away from the most important person in our lives. If we have invited the Lord Jesus Christ into our hearts to be our eternal Saviour, then surely we should want to become more like Him each and every day.
According to 2 Peter 3, “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him…But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” (2 Peter 3:11-14, 18)
And so, if you have a real sense of His imminent return, then it will impact the way you live and will cause you to purify yourself, even as He is pure (1 John 3:3).
Anxiously await the Lord Jesus Christ’s return
(Philippians 3:20; Revelation 22:20; 2 Timothy 4:8)
It has been said that “The worst part of life is waiting. The best part of life is having someone worth waiting for.” I am so blessed to have my wonderful children look forward to seeing me return home after my mission trips. They wait for the sound of a car on the driveway. They constantly lift the curtains to see if I am in the car outside the house. They pull the door open before I can knock or put my key in the door. And I think that’s what it means to “anxiously await” someone’s arrival.
Many will know the feeling of anxiously awaiting for a loved one to return to us – or perhaps the feeling of waiting for a shop assistant to help you with a specific problem. Well, in a similar way every Christian should be anxiously awaiting all the more the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Most Christians overlook the fact that their true nationality is “Christian”, for we are told that our citizenship is in Heaven – and so that is why, “…we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ…” (Philippians 3:20).
And so, we should not hesitate for a moment in saying “…Come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20).
Do the work that the Lord Jesus Christ has given you to do
(Luke 12:43; 2 Timothy 4:1-2)
It is clear from Scripture that we are saved by grace, through faith – and this is not from ourselves (Ephesians 2:8). However, one of the many great challenges in the Christian walk once we are saved is to balance faith and deeds. This is why in the book of James we are told that faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead (James 2:14-26).
It can be said that while watching is the evidence of faith, working is the evidence of faith in action. Watching for the Lord’s return will help us prepare our own lives, but working will assure that we will take others with us. “It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns.” (Luke 12:43).
As Christians, we should evaluate to what extent we love the Lord Jesus Christ. Is it just enough to attend church each Sunday, to sing the songs, to listen to the sermons, to make an offering in the collection basket???? If we love the Lord Jesus Christ that much, surely we will want to obey His commands as well. The very last command the Lord Jesus Christ made, was to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15). Surely, His last command should be our first priority, and we need to make this our first priority in this New Year!
Our Lord does not want us to be silent disciples. He encourages us to witness boldly to others about His amazing grace. Scripture provides eloquent proof that we are to be vocal about our standing in Christ. Romans 10:9 states, “Confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus.” And verse Romans 10:14 asks, “How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?” If you love the Lord Jesus Christ, then please be reminded that it is your duty to witness to others. Maybe all you need to say to someone is: “The Lord Jesus Christ means so much to me. I wish you knew Him too!” You may have a chance to offer that person a good quality gospel tract or book to find out more and you may even get to share the message yourself. You will be surprised what such a simple, straightforward testimony can accomplish.
If your faith in Christ is worth having, it’s worth sharing – and so be prepared to share the Gospel. There are three essential things that you must do in order to get equipped for sharing the Good News:
Prepare: Your Mind
Apply yourself to studying God’s Word, along with reading other helpful resources that will sharpen your mind and understanding. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15). You can find some helpful on-line study material on evangelism right here: http://www.tonyanthony.co.uk/passion
Prepare: Your Heart
Ask God to give you a heart of compassion for the lost and an earnest desire for their salvation. “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9). Ask Him to stir up an urgent fervency to see the lost lovingly called into a relationship with Christ. “…so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God…” (Colossians 1:10).
Prepare: the Way
You have to pray! Ask God to give you boldness to share the whole Gospel with every person whom He leads you to. Ask Him to grant you wisdom so that you can minister to their specific needs. Pray that you will be a prepared messenger speaking to prepared hearts.
Any effective sharing of the Gospel must always begin with a God-given burden. We have to care. Jesus cared. Do you? Do you want to reach out to perishing people?
We should go to where people are. We should care about them and reach out to them, for we have been commanded to do this.
“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.” (2 Timothy 4:1-2)
“Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8).
Let’s get ready for Christ return, today and throughout the New Year!