Tuesday, June 28, 2011

REMEMBER THE END OF ALL THINGS IN NEAR!


REMEMBER THE END OF ALL THINGS IN NEAR!

1PETER 4:7                                                    
But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.
Harold Camping was right when he said that the end of the world order is coming. And for this we must commend him that at least he is not oblivious to the end as many are but he is living bearing in mind that the end of this age is so near. However, he was wrong in giving it a date. For sure, if there is something very clear, in as far as the coming of the Lord is concerned, is that the date is unknown. Therefore, if there is a day when you should be sure that the Lord will not come it is the day when men have shouted ‘Christ is here.’ For He cannot come on such a day as he has told not to believe them. Therefore, when you hear him give another date, a he has done, mourn that he has spoiled yet another day for the coming of our Saviour. On the other hand, when you hear of such a date, then pray “I wish that it would be true”. We should yearn and crave for the day of the coming of our Lord and so we are to pray, “Come O Lord Jesus Come! Maranatha!”
The End is drawing!
 “The end of all things” as put in this passage, reminds us of the idea the final termination of the present order of things. For this reason, we are called upon to be sober and watchful unto prayer. This is the way for the one who expects all things to be withdrawn. Our conduct now is to affect future events.
The end is when all things shall either be done away with or transformed beyond all imagination. When there will be eternal judgment. This is the time when death shall be swallowed up in life and time will be no more. It is the time when both the earth and the heavens will be dissolved and everything therein completely consumed – the earth disappearing in a twinkling of an eye and the heavens being rolled up like a scroll, ushering a new order of things, with a new earth and new heavens.
Many people will dismiss you out rightly saying, “Forget it! I have heard that before. Jesus and His Apostles had the same song. However, two thousand years have gone by and the end has not come yet.” So what does it mean when we say the end is at hand? Was Apostle Peter mistaken about the end? I don’t think so because this statement shows that Peter expected the end in some sense to take place shortly. Soon after he wrote this epistle something very remarkable in the Jewish order took place. The temple in Jerusalem and the city of Jerusalem was destroyed, exactly as the Lord had told them in Matthew 24:1,2, 15-25. He had warned them that before the existing generation would die there would be no stone that will be left unturned in Jerusalem and this is exactly what happened – the Jewish economy was ended.
Now this was a remarkable incidence in the story of redemption because it closed the curtain for all Old Testament arrangement. There was no longer a temple to take sacrifices because the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the World had died. His death was once and for all and had completely paid the penalty for all the sins of His people.  
As it is so clear in the Bible all the major events in God’s great salvation plan culminated in the atonement – death and resurrection of the Lord. So we should not expect an anticlimax whereby there will be a need for the rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple and the return to offer animal sacrifices. If that were the case then the value, the merit and the meritorious work of Christ would no longer be vicarious. That idea that there would be a need for the re-building of the temple in Jerusalem is completely foreign to the plan of redemption because its dissolution was a milestone in marking the end of the old Jewish economy ushering a new Covenant order that led to the admission of the Gentiles into the household and commonwealth of God.
Pushing aside all these contention let us ask ourselves what we are to do now that we have been born in these last days – between the first coming of the Lord and His second (and final) coming of the Lord. We are to bear in mind that the end of all things is nearer because our final salvation is nearer than we first believed (Rom. 13:11). Brethren the great Day is coming! There is no question that this is the last hour! (1John 2:18)
Here we are told that the end is hand. Therefore, the question that we ought to ask ourselves is what manner of persons ought we to be? How are we to conduct ourselves in godliness? What lifestyle best suits the pilgrims to heaven? What sort of talk best suits the heavenly bound person?

1.   We Are To Be Sober

While with anticipation we await the glorious appearing of our great Saviour and God Jesus Christ, we should be clear and sober minded. This is the exhortation in this epistle:
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1Pet. 1:13)
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1Pet. 5:8)
It is still there in 1Thessalonians, “So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. (1Thess 5:6)
This is to say we are to avoid being involved in frenzy preparations. For example, a few years back, the adherents of the House of Yahweh in Rift Valley confined their followers in underground embankments as they waited for the end. Others have burnt themselves to death in a church building! What utter nonsense? Christians on the other hand, ought to consider any claim of the end in light of the Word of God – they soberly engage their minds with self-control. So you are to be self-controlled in your effort to wait upon the Lord.
Sobriety must be exhibited in all you do – whether in eating, not to be a glutton, in wealth not to amass for yourself perishable wealth here on earth and have it as your treasure for then there your heart will be and you might lose it to thieves, moth and rust! Sobriety is to be exhibited and evidenced in what you read – read only what is edifying – not fiction novels which only make your blood hot and leave your heart bankrupt. Moderation is needed in what you watch in TVs otherwise you will be left a covetous person. Moderation and self-control are to be seen in every aspect of a Christian.
Temperance in drinking, abstinence from undue use of alcohol and drunkenness because not a single drunkard will enter the kingdom of God. This is because drunkenness is the work of flesh and kicks out the Holy Spirit from His temple because we are told not to be drunk with wine that leads to debauchery but instead to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
We are to be conscious, alert in mind and so act cautiously and prudently like men not like kids. We are in full possession and exercise of our senses. When faculties are rational then we can adorn the gospel, bringing honour and glory to the Lord and immeasurable profit to our neighbours.
We are to think soberly by not thinking of ourselves more than we ought (Rom. 12:3) and especially for the pastors and those aspiring to this noble office. They are to be sober-minded, self-controlled (1Tim 3:2,3). Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. (1Tim. 3:11). Christian wives are to continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. (1Tim. 2:15)
These exhortations call us to be prudent seasoned with practical wisdom so that we are able to rightly deal with both temporal and permanent things, visible or invisible, present or things eternal. Sobriety calls us to beware of mistaking shadows for realities and realities for shadows as an experienced preacher has said.
When we are morally sound-minded, we will discover it in the way we think, feel, and act in this present evil age. We will discern when to flee sin or when to resist it. We will know how to deal with the good and the evils of this world so that for those of us who have wives, we live as though we did not have them. Those with money as though they were broke, those who are mourning as if they are not because they look forward to a place of peace and fullness of joy in the presence of the Lord, soon coming to take us. Those with education as if they knew nothing because the education is only useful for this life – after glorification we will not know in part but in full. Those who are rejoicing are to live as if they are mourning because the joys of this world are shadowy, short-lived and deceiving and will soon be over but instead look forward to the sovereign rejoicing found in the Lord Jesus Christ.

2.   We Are To Pray

What is prayer?
Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God [Psa. 62:8] for things agreeable to his will,[Rom. 8:27] in the name of Christ,[John 16:23] with confession of our sins,[Dan. 9:4] and thankful acknowledgement of his mercies.[Phil. 4:6]. This is the way the Shorter Catechism defines prayer. It is the expression of one’s state of mind and heart, thought and feelings to the Lord.
Prayer is a very important aspect of Christian’s spiritual life and more so bearing in mind that Christ is coming. The characteristic already highlighted of a self-controlled and sober mind is integral part of an unhindered prayer. Prayers require effort and we should be willing to give our time towards it, as it is a requirement for a Christian who desires to lead a life that is pleasing to God and man. It through prayer that e vertical relationship with God is established and this brings to force the horizontal relationships with men.
The Lord Himself urges us to pray like this in Matthew 7:7-8, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Therefore, we ought to always pray and not give up.
The many exhortations to prayer are not just words but promises. Promise not only to listen but also to provide. For we are to be anxious of nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving to make our requests known to the Lord and He shall give us His own peace, unknown by men, to reign in our hearts and minds in His son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.
In this passage, we are told not just to pray but ‘to watch unto prayers’. This assumes that you do pray so that without prayers then it would be that you are not connected to your Father and His Son and so you are not a Christian. But assuming that you pray, then what is the manner of your prayers? You are called upon to pray severally, i.e. ‘prayers’ as it is indeed in plural. To pray as regularly and fervently. To pray with understanding and in spirit. To pray intensely as one who cannot live without prayers.
To be watchful unto prayer then may either mean that we are to be watchful while in prayer or to be watchful in order to pray. Does it refer to the overnight prayer meetings called Kesha? There is no evidence that this refers to overnight prayer meetings. This is not to say that keshas are wrong – I love the attitude behind kesha because these people exhibit a lot of exertion in prayer. But I mean that this passage does not refer to the night vigil prayer meetings.
The point here is that we are to be vigilant when we pray so that we fit opportunities to prayer and avoid anything that might be an obstacle to one’s prayer life. Having agreed that we are to be watchful in prayer in light of Christ’s second coming, then we ask what are the things that we should be alert about?
We should be alert to circumstances in the political world and pray that the Lord may use those situations to advance His Kingdom in preparation of His coming. Two men, an unbeliever and a Christians watch the news together yet the Christian must look at things prayerfully. A Christian may hear the reports from Sudan and say there is a mission field for taking the gospel and worldly man says, there is a business opportunity for me to invest my money!
We are to be vigilant of the worldliness of mind and heart that creeps in silently to destroy our souls. We are to pray knowing that if we regard iniquity in our hearts, God will not hear us (Ps. 66:18). We are to be aware of the sort of prayers we pray so that we are not just mentioning words without thinking. We are to engage our faith, our mind and our spirit in prayer, so that it is without wavering because he who prayers doubting will not receive anything from the Lord.
We are to be watchful in prayer in terms of the results we are expecting. After prayers do you expect God to answer? Or when the prayers are answered, do you shout in disbelief, “I can’t believe this!” We are to be like prophet Habakkuk who after praying said, I will take my stand at my watch post and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me,”(Hab. 2:1)
A Christian waits upon the Lord expecting answers to his prayers so that when they are answered in affirmative, he is thankful and praises the Lord and when the answer is negative, then he is gratefully patient for the Lord to give better than what he requested from the Lord who works out everything to our good.

So how are we to pray?
I think the answer in the Shorter Catechism is better by than what I may offer. Christians are to ask these questions in regard to any prayer they offer:
·         Am I directing my prayers to God? [Psa. 62:8]
·         Am I praying for things agreeable to His will?[Rom. 8:27]
·         Am I accessing the Father in the name of Christ?[John 16:23]
·         I am coming with confession of my sin?[Dan. 9:4]
·         Am I thankfully acknowledging His mercies? [Phil. 4:6]?
In conclusion, prayers is the means to achieving the end of our faith – the redemption of our souls. We are to be watchful and vigilant waiting for the glorious appearing of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

No comments:

Post a Comment