Saturday, August 27, 2011

Present Living in Light of Prophecy

This article is the final entry in our prophecy trilogy. In part 1, we examined the question, Are we living in the last days?. We determined that the Bible gives many clues on how to recognize the signs and events indicating that the end is near, but that no one knows the date or time. In part 2, The Study of Bible Prophecy - in Perspective, we discussed the study of prophecy within the context of our overall Bible study practice. We now turn our attention to the subject of practical living while awaiting the return of our Lord Jesus.

For those who have yet to secure their salvation, or for others that are unsure, the most important step is to make sure of your eternal destination. Once Jesus returns, it will be too late (Mt 25:1-13). For information on how to deal with this critical matter, see How to Know for Sure that You're Going to Heaven.

For believers, we turn to the last writing by the Apostle Peter just before his martyrdom. In the first two chapters of his second epistle, he testifies to being an eyewitness to the events and teachings of Jesus, and to the reliability of Scripture. He then profiles false teachers, against whom he warns his readers to be on guard. In the final chapter, he turns his attention to the last days, explaining that the heavens and earth have been stored with fire, awaiting the final judgment. He then writes of Jesus’ return:

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. (2Pe 3:8-10)
Peter then asks a question which reveals his true purpose for writing about the last days, “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?”. He then proceeds to answer his own question, “You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God…” (2Pe 3:11-12).

Therefore, we must not become complacent, but continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as we live our lives in eager expectation of his return. As Adrian Rogers once said, “We ought to be living as though Jesus died yesterday, rose this morning, and is coming back this afternoon”.

When Jesus ascended back into heaven after His first advent, He sent the Holy Spirit to guide and empower us to live our lives worthy of our calling within this world, yet also set apart from it. We are also encouraged to live righteously because of the hope He has given us. This “hope” is not merely a “wish for”, but a confident assurance that all of God’s promises for us will be fulfilled according to His perfect plan, a plan that can’t be altered by the forces of this world. The word “hope” is mentioned over 150 times in the Bible, such as hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Rom 5:5). As Christians, we have inner peace, fellowship with other believers, unseen angelic helpers, a purpose for living, and the one true God that we can call upon at any time. We also have the assurance that God will work all things for good for those who love Him (Rom 8:28).

To summarize this trilogy of articles, we can say that no one knows the exact day or time that Jesus will return, so we are to be watchful and prepared by living holy and righteous lives. We should balance our study of Biblical prophecy within our overall study of the Scriptures. Finally, while the media and others are in full panic as current events unfold around us, we as Christians can be confident that God is in sovereign control of all that is happening, and of all that will transpire between now and the last day.

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