by Steven Chan
Last week during the Bible Class, the discussion was on the parable of the Ten Virgins. The parable ended with this exhortation: –
“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” (Matt 25:13)
This question was then asked: “what is required for one to watch and be ready?” This article will briefly address this.
- In 2 Peter 3, the apostle Peter reminded the brethren concerning the future coming of the Lord:-
a. “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning Hispromise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Pet 3:8-9)
Be prepared for people to discourage our faith by questioning whether He was really going to return? The apostle Peter replied by reminding them that just as the world was once destroyed by water (2 Pet 3:5-7) the present world is reserved for destruction by fire.
Realize that God is delaying the second coming of Christ (Heb 9:28) not because He is slack or not being serious with His promise of the return of Jesus, but because He is giving time for people to repent so that they may be saved.
Realize also that God is not constrained by time as we measure it. To Him, a thousand years is like one day and vice versa. So let’s wait for God to act in His own time – not in our time.
b. “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of personsought you to be in holy conduct and godliness” (2 Pet 3:11).
So, to be ready for His second coming and the destruction of the world, one needs to always conduct one’s life in holiness and godliness. Holiness means living a life that is consecrated/devoted/set apart to serving and honoring God; not being tainted or blemished by sin. Godliness refers to the attitude of mind that reveres God and desires to do the things that please God.
That means, at all times, we are to portray holiness and godliness in all aspects of our lives. There’s no place for selfish living or selfish ambitions – living to please oneself only regardless of how it affects the name of God and the lives of others. What “manner of living” are we showing to God and those around us?
c. “Looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord issalvation” (2 Pet 3:14-15)
We are to “look forward” to the coming of the day of the Lord. It will be a day of rejoicing as there will be a great reunion with those who have gone on before us (1 Thess 4:13-18) and “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Rev 21:4).
We need to be “diligent” – to make every effort continually – to be “found by God” – to be seen/appraised by God from His perspective – to be “in peace” – no longer enemies of God (Rom 5:1; James 4:4) as we set our minds on spiritual matters (as opposed to the things or affairs of this world – Rom 8:4-9). At all times, we are to keep ourselves pure from sin (1 Tim 5:22c).
d. “Since you know thisbeforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Pet 3:17-18)
We are to hold on to our faith and be very careful not to fall away because of a heart of unbelief being influenced by erroneous ideas.
We are to continually endeavor to “Grow” spiritually both in the grace of Jesus Christ as well as in the knowledge of Him.
Growing in the grace of Jesus Christ refers to growing in ever-increasing appreciation of and reliance upon God’s grace in our lives – all the provisions that He has made for us as our Chief Shepherd – both in terms of saving us as well as continually providing us with His strength, guidance, blessings and promises so that we can overcome and triumph over all obstacles and do the will of God in our lives, looking forward to the reward of faithful service. The Psalmist expressed it thus: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” (Psa 23:6).
Growing in the “knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ” refers to continually developing and deepening our understanding of our Lord (“that I may know Him” – Phil 3:10) – His character, manner of life, attitudes – what and wisdom – as well as deepening our knowledge of His Word/teachings (John 17:8,17) – the Words that God gave to Him that He had passed on to His apostles and revealed by the Holy Spirit to the apostles (John 17:8; 14:26;16:13; 1 Cor 2:9-13) – the things given by God to us – His instructions, promises and warnings (2 Pet 1:3) so that we may live soberly, righteously and godly (Titus 2:11-13) and thereby glorify His name (2 Pet 3:18; 1 Cor 10:31)
- In Matt 26:41, Jesus asked us to watch and pray so that we do not fall into temptations: “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed iswilling, but the flesh isweak.” The apostle Peter counselled us to place our cares on God and he warned us about our adversary: “humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith” (1 Pet 5:6-9). We need to be always aware of situations where the devil seeks to cause us to fall into sin. We need always to pray for God’s guidance and for His wisdom and deliverance (1 Cor 10:13; Heb 4:16)
- In Luke 12, Jesus exhorted His disciples to be watchful and ready at all times. He said: “Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching.” (Luke 12:37) and again “blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.” (Luke 12:43). He then gave a severe warning:
“But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. 47 And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” (Luke 12:45-48)
God expects all of us to be always busy doing His will. If we delay or procrastinate in doing His will because we prioritized our own interests, then we run the risk of Him coming at a time when we have not started doing His will.
God also expects those whom He has blessed with much talents and abilities to do much more than others. We should not compare what we are doing with others who may be doing less. We must be faithful stewards of God’s blessings in our lives and serve Him in accordance with the abilities which He has supplied to us (1 Pet 4:10-11).
Paul exhorts the church at Corinth: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Cor 15:58). What’s that work? “Go therefore[c] and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen” (Matt 28:19-20). The early Christians understood this work needed to be done without any delay – even during persecution – “Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.” (Acts 8:4). Paul exhorts: “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.”
Are we preparing ourselves so that we are ready to serve Him faithfully and continually? “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). “Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work…And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition”(2 Tim 2:21-25).
We need to heed the warning of our Lord that we should always be ready to meet the Lord, being found in conduct consistent with our calling by God, not being stumbled in our faith by the devil and always doing the will of God.