Dear brethren, beloved of our Precious Lord, I pray for all of you always, that He might find you waiting and watching in this hour; for His appearing for His little ones. Be strong and of great courage, for our King is coming! That which is held in mystery in the present will soon be manifest; and let all who name the name of Christ Jesus be found standing fast in the faith when He comes to fulfill all of His promises.
Now there is a night and day difference between loving our Lord’s “appearing” and loving this present world. I draw your attention to 2 Timothy, where the Apostle Paul makes this vital distinction –
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up 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 loved His appearing. Make every effort to come to me soon; for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. (2 Tim. 4:6-10)
Here we see that crowns (reward in His soon coming Kingdom) are destined for all those who love His appearing, and yet those who love this present world forsake the will of God. Early in this epistle, Paul prophetically declares the state of the Christian testimony “in the last days” –
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2 Tim. 3:1-7)
“Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God”; yet still wanting to appear very much righteous and christian-like, they hold to a “form of godliness”, yet deny the true spiritual power of this new life in Christ Jesus. I humbly ask you brethren – does this not most accurately describe the current state of the testimony of Christ in this hour? Indeed, maybe you may feel tempted to attribute this state of things to the unsaved world at large, yet this cannot be so. For the children of the devil have always fit this description. What the Lord is revealing through Paul here is the abominable state of the popular and professing church just prior to His appearing. And just like Demas, many Christians will abandon the true testimony of their King for the things of the world – pleasure, money, the glory of men, and a powerless religion that will never produce true godliness or peace in this world.
What about you my brother or sister? What is it right at this moment that you love first and most. Are you like the believers in Ephesus that seemed to have all things together but let slip their first love?
But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. (Rev. 2:4-5)
Are you so caught up in your buying and selling, and arranging your little space in this world that you will be found unworthy and unapproved when the thief comes at night to take away His precious things? Is our Lord your first and deepest love? And does His coming for His saints pervade your hope and attention in this last hour?
And yet what does this mean to “love His appearing”? It would seem, my brethren that this is precisely what the message to Timothy is primarily about (and indeed many others as well). Here you will find a continuing exhortation to endurance, patience, and holding fast to the faith and to the Lord when seemingly everyone else abandons Him for the world, its things and its god. Hardship and discouragement may be the result, and deep confusion, as all things Christian seem to be turned inside out and upside down. The command by our Lord in the letters to the churches, written for precisely this time, is –
TO STRENGTHEN THE THINGS THAT REMAIN!
TO HOLD FAST WHAT YOU HAVE UNTIL HE COMES!
TO RETURN AND REPENT IF NECESSARY!
TO KEEP THE WORD OF HIS PATIENCE!
Now if this sounds something like a siege, then may we suggest that this is precisely what it is, and we have but a little strength (Rev. 3:8) until our Liberator comes. In the meantime, we are not to give in or give up; we are not to lose hope. Yet our faith and resolve must be tested by He who must know He can trust us; that we are faithful and true to the One Who is the rightful heir and king.
Consider the definition of the word “persevere” –
To persist in anything undertaken; maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement; continue steadfastly. (Dictionary.com)
Indeed, the counter influences of the flesh and the world, and even the false testimony of Christ that is all around us besiege the child of God daily. Its opposition flows from the enemy himself; the god of this present age who knows he has but a short time. Only in Christ Jesus, only in the Spirit that keeps us, can we truly hope to maintain our purpose and not abandon our present course. He will never abandon us certainly (for He is coming quickly as a thief in the night), but the question remains – will we, as Demas, abandon Him for this present age and its empty promises?
Dear saints, if you have not done so recently, I would encourage you to prayerfully review all of these letters to the churches in Revelation, as well as Titus, James, 1st and 2nd Peter, 2nd Timothy and 2nd Thessalonians. For this admonition is directed to us today, and whether we are a Demas (a lover of the present world) or a Paul (a lover of His appearing) depends on whether our hearts receive it or not.
In his letter to Titus, Paul once again draws this distinction between the Lord’s appearing and this present age.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you. (Titus 2:11-15)
Rather than love (and be caught up and conformed by) this present age as Demas, we are to stand against it as a living testimony by living “sensibly, righteously and godly”, “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus”. For we are a new creation in Christ and a heavenly people. We are not of this world but of His Holy Kingdom that will soon subsume all kingdoms of this present age. All that remains is for the Father to put all of His enemies beneath the feet of His Beloved Son – Jesus Christ. He has been anointed and He is currently marshaling all of His “mighty men” (consider David wandering in the wilderness prior to actually assuming the throne over a united Israel) to serve with Him in His kingdom.
The injunction for us is to STAND FAST, as this false and lifeless testimony of Jesus pervades the church and the world like a cancer, and as our Lord allows all iniquity, in Israel, the church and the gentile world, to flourish unto judgment. And what was yet future when Paul and John wrote these epistles, is now the present for us. Those with eyes wide open in the spirit know this to be true. It is not merely one man’s opinion or perspective, but the conviction of the Holy Spirit of truth and the eyes of our Lord as He surveys His flock just prior to His appearing.
HE IS COMING!
And the prophetic witness borne of the Spirit indicates that the hour is imminent!
“And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.” (Rev. 22:7)
But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ. (2 Thess. 3:3-5)
Go to Him now, my friends, and ask that this might be so. And we must also ask Him to reveal our hearts to us most fully, that the love of this present world might be replaced by the love of His appearing; and that we might have patience until He comes.
Then pray for one another dear children; that our hearts might not be –
… weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. “But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-36)
This is our sincere prayer for all of you; and may our Lord encourage and establish you in this hour, in all watchfulness and readiness, in all faithfulness and hope; that He might preserve you for His heavenly kingdom (2 Tim. 4:8), and that He might not come as a thief unexpectedly and find us distracted by worldly things.
We are further admonished in Ephesians to be “making the most of the time because the days are evil” –
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:15-18)
One way we do this is by allowing the Holy Spirit full reign within our hearts to fully sanctify us – spirit, soul and body – before the coming of the Lord. This is nothing less than the complete reproduction of the nature (or image) of Jesus Christ in our human spirit (in fulfillment of Genesis 1:26).
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. (1 Thess. 5:23-24)
While we are here in 1 Thessalonians, let us back up a bit and include the verses that proceed those above, for they speak of this very subject, and the dark and difficult times in which we live –
Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. (1 Thess. 5:1-11)
Again, do not presume that those caught asleep and unaware are children of darkness, for it is readily apparent that these words are written for Christians (whatever their condition) and not the children of the evil one. That these (like Demas) are sleeping saints is obvious once you comprehend this and other such admonitions given to the servants of the Lord throughout the New Testament. To allow oneself, as a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, to become intoxicated by the pleasures of this present age, is to invite shame, loss and devastation at His appearing. A strong message indeed my brethren, but these are the times in which we live, and again, all of this was foreseen by the Spirit at the inspiration of these apostolic epistles. Jesus Himself asked –
However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8)
That there are indeed such back-sliding and ill-equipped Christians (then and now) is further confirmed in Paul’s letter to the Philippians –
Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. (Phil. 3:17-21)
So do we set our minds on earthly things to the neglect of our heavenly inheritance in His kingdom? Have we determined that these few fleeting and hollow moments of sensual gratification and earthly glory are worth more than sharing in our Lord’s glorious inheritance of the Kingdom? Have we so quickly forgotten His command to “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” and effectively forsaken our first love? Have we allowed our belly to become our god, and to lead us away from our Lord’s table? Are we little more than the Israelite scoffers in the wilderness, pining for a return to the delicacies of Egypt?
Dear children, this cannot be, for the time is at hand, and our Lord will come with eyes of fire to judge His people, and who can stand in that day?
Again, James encourages us to –
Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. (Jam. 5:7-8)
Then Peter reminds us of the glory of the heavenly inheritance that is as sure and certain as our Lord Himself –
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. (1 Pet. 1:3-9)
Oh that we would pray for one another always that we would be kept in this awful hour by His mighty power, and that the proof of our faith might be fully proven and realized. I pray this for all of you dear readers, if indeed you have this hope within you, and you are one who loves His appearing for His saints.
Peter continues, echoing the end-time exhortation of the Apostle Paul –
Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” (1 Pet. 1:13-16)
Are you ready therefore brethren, for the time will come and indeed is here already, when many (even those professing Christ) will scoff at His appearing, as though it were some kind of impossible dream.
Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.
Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, (2 Pet. 3:3-14)
We see then, brethren, that the admonition for those truly seeking the Lord and loving His appearing in this final hour before the Thief’s coming is consistent among all of the apostles, as the Holy Spirit inspired them all. He alone can keep us, and help us to stand fast in the hope of our salvation, and the coming of His righteous and eternal kingdom, of which we are to share in His inheritance. Only He can establish our hearts against all of the impending unbelief and earthly wisdom pervading the testimony of Christ on the earth at the end of this present age.
Now I realize fully that this is a hard message to bear, but the time for ear-tickling, soul-gratifying and flesh-affirming words is long past. Dark and difficult times are upon us, and we may well be that final generation on the earth before the commencement of the final days of tribulation yet to come.
There is much here, brethren, to inform our prayers, and I beseech all of you to go to Him now, in supplication and fasting to plead for His grace and help in this time of need. I also solicit your prayers on our behalf, for we are all one in Him dear ones.
In Jesus’ Precious and Mighty Name. Amen.