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Christian, Be Ready!

by Tom Stewart
November 18, 2001

Christian, JESUS IS COMING-- BE READY! "Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:36). Wherever we look, we see indications that Jesus is coming soon. "22 For we know that the whole Creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the Adoption, to wit, the Redemption of our body" (Romans 8:22-23). Every tragic event reported on the news only reinforces our confidence in the words of our LORD, "Behold, I come quickly" (Revelation 22:7). Keep your hand to the Gospel Plough, not "looking back" (Luke 9:62). Continue to seek the salvation of the Lost, the repentance of the Backslidden, the comfort of the Weak Saints, and the further maturity of the Willing Body of Christ, until our LORD comes for us. "40 Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of Man cometh at an hour when ye think not. 43 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing" (Luke 12:40, 43). [See our editorial, "Behold, I Come Quickly" ---New Window, to see what our LORD meant by "quickly".]

Many years ago, when this writer was attending a Middle School in New Jersey, a change in my father's employment required my family's relocation and a change of schools before the end of the term. I recall informing my teachers that this was to be my last day in their respective classes, feeling that "freedom from school" had all but begun for me. Math class had its customary in-class assignment, which was to be turned in at the end of the period. Though I was tempted to begin my "holiday" early, I completed the assignment, as I was accustomed. When I handed in my work, as I was leaving the room, my instructor informed me that she had been watching me to see whether or not I would complete the required daily assignment. Voicing her approval that I had decided to keep participating in the class until the class ended (for me), I was also glad that I had completed my final assignment! In a much greater way, our LORD is watching us to see that we
"finish [our] course" (Acts 20:24). We have already "put [our] hand to the plough" (Luke 9:62); and, though the Moral Law, which demands supreme love of God and an equal love of our neighbour, requires an unending obligation of love, it is the "love of Christ [that] constraineth us" (2Corinthians 5:14) to continue to the very end. "We love Him, because He first loved us" (1John 4:19).

Our beloved Brother Paul warned the Thessalonians-- and us-- against walking disorderly, while waiting for Christ to return, i.e., the
"patient waiting for Christ" (2Thessalonians 3:5). Disorderly conduct is discontinuing profitable work, while having the capacity to do such work. "For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies" (3:11). Though society promotes the concept of freedom from labour, True Christianity only seeks to save itself from one sphere of labour, to free itself for even greater labours, i.e., "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto My Father" (John 14:12). "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat" (2Thessalonians 3:10). John Gill, the commentator, recorded concerning Second Thessalonians 3:10:-

"Not he that could not work through weakness, bodily diseases, or old age, the necessities of such are to be distributed to, and they are to be taken care of, and provided with the necessaries of life by the officers of the church; but those that can work, and will not, ought to starve, for any assistance that should be given them by the members of the church, or the officers of it."

Until Providence disables us, or until the LORD returns for us, we must continue to work, if not for our own sustenance, we ought to labour for the spiritual good of our neighbours. Love "seeketh not her own" (1Corinthians 13:5).

At the same time, the thoughtless, uncaring, worldly, lost, or backslidden, should be receiving the parallel message that JESUS IS COMING-- REPENT OR PERISH!
"I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3, 5). Now is not the time to engage in the theological polemics of "I know that I am a Christian, but I am just walking in sin," because the message to five of the Seven Churches of the Apocalypse (Revelation 2:5, 16, 22; 3:3, 19) is REPENT OR ELSE, e.g., "Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the Sword of My mouth" (2:16). No one is afforded the luxury of dwelling in the "pleasures of sin for a season" (Hebrews 11:25), while receiving the Blessed Assurance of the Holy Spirit's testimony that you are His and that you are ready to depart when Jesus comes, for the Holy Spirit is "given to them that obey Him" (Acts 5:32).

Christ's Parable of the Ten Virgins teaches us the necessity of continual readiness for the LORD's return. In this parable of Matthew 25, emphasis is not centered on our profession, but our readiness.
"1 Then shall the Kingdom of Heaven be likened unto ten virgins [Professing Christians], which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the Bridegroom [Christ]. 2 And five of them were wise [True Professors], and five were foolish [False Professors]. 3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: 4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 While the Bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him. 7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. 10 And while they went to buy, the Bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with Him to the marriage: and the door was shut. 11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, LORD, LORD, open to us. 12 But He answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. 13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of Man cometh" (Matthew 25:1-13). [See our article, "A Tale of Ten Virgins" ---New Window, for more explanation of this passage.]

As the time of our departure approaches, our desire ought to be for the LORD to receive as much use from us, until we depart.
"Thou art worthy, O LORD, to receive Glory and Gonour and Power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created" (Revelation 4:11). We must continue to be ready:

(1) to minister the Gospel, i.e., "So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the Gospel to you that are at Rome also" (Romans 1:15),

(2) to do whatever good we can, i.e., "Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work" (Titus 3:1),

(3) to testify of Christ's power to both change and sustain the Christian's life, i.e., "But sanctify the LORD God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" (1Peter 3:15), and

(4) to be ready to die for Christ-- should we not be raptured first, i.e., "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand" (2Timothy 4:6).

Whatever time, possession, opportunity, or talent that we possess, ought to be employed to further His Kingdom-- for He is worthy. "14 For the Kingdom of Heaven is as a man [Christ, Who is the Son of Man] travelling into a far country, who called his own servants [the Professed Saints], and delivered unto them his goods [the Gospel and the gifts of the Spirit]. 15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey [ascended back to Heaven]. 16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents [the Apostolic Church]. 17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two [hopefully, the rest of us]. 18 But he [un-elect professing Christian] that had received one went and digged in the Earth, and hid his lord's money. 19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh [Second Coming of Christ, and the events before and after the Millennium], and reckoneth with them. 20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. 21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord [Bema Seat Judgment for Believers]. 24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 25 and I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the Earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. 26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: 27 thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. 28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. 29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. 30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth [White Throne Judgment of the Lost]" (Matthew 25:14-30). [See our article, "The Judgment Seat of Christ" ---New Window, for a further discussion of the White Throne and Bema Seat Judgments.]

Maranatha! [Greek, our LORD cometh or will come.]

Tom Stewart

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