Summary: Because the end is near… pray, love, and serve.
Honestly, many of us are little afraid of closely examining the Bible’s message on the future. If we focus on the end times too long, we are afraid of turning into a guy walking around the city with a sandwich board yelling about judgment and the end of time. We easily get confused when reading Revelation because of all of the dragons, and angels, and locusts with human faces, and all sorts of images you cannot imagine. We see people that love this sort of thing much like my friend who just walked through our worship center – freaky. Honestly, we just don’t see anything relevant about the end of time to our time. So we give up thinking about the Bible and the future and just focus on the here and now. But maybe you fail to focus on the future for different reason. Maybe your neglect of the future because you see no way that the future can bring you real happiness.
Perhaps you’re similar to Secular Sam. Sam is successful. He has a good job, a nice girlfriend, and a beautiful home. His car is new, and his health is fine. He is humorous, good with people, and intelligent. He can discuss economics, business, philosophy, politics, the arts, and law. Secular Sam is also a Christian. He affirms the things we believe as Christians. He is an active Christian. Young Life and Campus Crusade are in his background. He is moral. He can carry on a discussion with his skeptical friends about the validity of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. He knows about the power of the Scripture. You might be thinking, “How is Secular Sam secular?” He seems profoundly Christian? Sam is profoundly secular in this: he expects to wake up in his bed tomorrow morning. Sam has never heard of what his grandparents’ generation called the “blessed hope.” His concerns about his spiritual life are all contained in this age, in this time. Sam assumes tomorrow will be just like today. Sam’s hope has been collapsed into the now, the present, the visible, and into what he feels.
Today, I want to ask you, “What is your hope fixed on?” What makes you happy? I invite you to turn with me to 1 Peter 4 and stand with me in honor God’s Word.
The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:7-11).
Today’s Big Idea: Because the end is near… pray, love, and serve. Peter is continuing the same thought from last week’s message. In verses one through six Peter called on you to be resolved to fight temptation to do wrong. Why? Because there is coming a day when you will give an account of your life before God Himself.
1. Because the End Is Near, Pray
“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.” (1 Peter 4:7)
Jesus’ words are, I’m coming. I’m coming quickly. One out of every thirty verses in the New Testament mentions Christ’s Second Coming. Out of the 260 chapters in the New Testament, there are over 300 references to His return. Only four out of the 27 New Testament books do not specifically speak of His return. The return of Christ is a major event, a significant event about which the Scripture speaks again and again because it is a tremendously important event.
The Apostle Peter understood this. In 1 Peter, he mentions the return of Christ eight times. It’s worth noting how often this theme comes out in 1Peter. Oftentimes, when it comes to thinking of the end of time people are driven to hysteria rather than clear thinking. Nowhere does the Bible encourage the setting of dates or any other kinds of charts that are so often associated with the Second Coming. Look at Peter’s words again in verse seven: “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.” (1 Peter 4:7) Peter tells his readers three times to be sober (1:13; 4:7; 5:8). The two verbs “self-controlled” and “be clear minded” are virtually synonymous. Because the time is short, you are called to act. You are not called to withdraw up in the mountains, secluded from this reckless world. The imminence of the end should function as a stimulus to action rather than sitting in isolation. You would think Peter would call on us to do something extraordinary in light of the end of the world. The nearness of the end has caused some to lost their heads and act irrationally. Because time is short, Peter places two choices in front of us to pursue happiness – the first again is in verse three where you find happiness by indulging in everything hedonistic desire this world has to offer.