Summary: Beyond salvation, we must be serving. Christians don’t know when He will return, but we know WHAT He expects! We know what to BE, and what to DO.....
A newspaper (Houston Chronicle, 11/3/92, p.11a), printed an article some years ago about the church known as Mission for the Coming Days. That “church” disbanded on Nov 2, 1992. The pastor had been put in jail...(for a very good reason)! It seems that his central message was the return of Christ on Oct 28, 1992. The members of this group numbered in the thousands, and many of them had sold property, quit schools and jobs, left families and deserted military duties. They should’ve checked the pastor’s financial portfolio first. The Korean-born minister had swindled $4 million in donations, and had $380,000 invested in bonds that wouldn’t mature until May ’93.
The Bible very plainly teaches (from cover to cover) that every person ought to be prepared for the coming of Christ. It is just as specific in telling us that we have no business setting dates on speculation.
1Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. 2For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3When they say, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! 1 Thess 5:1-3
If we accept this as so (which I do), then why study the events of the return of Christ? If I can’t know when, what difference will it make in my life today? Answer - Lots! It has to do with being obedient with what we know to be the will of God.
A church member was always speculating about odd questions. Whenever his pastor visited him he would ask questions like, Will Japanese people have yellow skin in heaven? or Will we eat animals in heaven? This man was interested in the obscure,insignificant, irrelevant theological minutiae. But he showed no concern about such clear passages as Hebrews 10.25, which warns us against forsaking our worship responsibilities. Even a practical atheist like Mark Twain knew better. He once reportedly said, It isn’t what I don’t know about the Bible that bothers me, but what I do know. Speculation isn’t serving God.
We must be more like the young supply clerk in a factory. When he came on his shift he noticed a box left on the loading dock that had "DANGER! DO NOT TOUCH" stenciled on all sides. He called his supervisor, who advised him to leave the box alone until management could make a decision on it. He wouldn’t even breathe on the ominous-looking package until the supply foreman arrived with the morning shift. He put on safety equipment and carefully opened the box. Inside were 25 signs that read "DANGER! DO NOT TOUCH".
We can be obedient to the command of God’s Word to be personally prepared for His return. The first and foremost preparation for that return is to be saved. God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10who died for us (1 Thess 5:9,10a).
Beyond salvation, we must be serving. Christians don’t know when He will return, but we know WHAT He expects! We know what to BE, and what to DO.....
We can BE the Body of Christ
"Being the body" carries the idea of living in character as the people of God. Paul describes it in several ways:
AWARE OF JESUS’ RETURN
But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; 1 Thess 5:4-5a
Christians are to live in daily contemplation of the return of Christ. We ought not to be like the Houston church people who sold all their stuff and sat down to wait. That’s not in agreement with much of the teaching of the Bible (ie: those who won’t work shouldn’t eat...occupy til I come, etc..).
An awareness of the return of Jesus means faith in the FACT that He is coming, and less concern over when that return might happen. And, as we learn from James 2.26, "Faith without deeds is dead."
So, our faith in the return of Christ is rather useless if we keep it to ourselves. The whole reason Jesus allowed us to know of His return is so we can share it with others.
ALERT TO SATAN’S RESISTANCE
…we are not of the night or of darkness. So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. 1 Thess 5:5b-7 NRSV
Getting drunk speaks of losing control of one’s ability to accurately perceive his surroundings. Reality is lost to a drunk. It is told that President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s favorite story was of a drunk who wandered into a funeral parlor late one night, and fell asleep in one of the caskets. In the morning he awoke and noticed his surroundings. He immediately attempted to figure-out his fate; he thought to himself, if I’m alive, why am I in this box…but, if I’m dead, why do I have to go to the bathroom?