The Last Days & Preparing to Meet the Lord: Part 4 :: By Sean Gooding

Proverbs 29:18

“Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law.”

Lately, there has been a lot of talk about the end amongst conservative Bible believers. I have had many discussions about the end, and I find that there is an urgency that is driving us in many areas. I can say that it is invigorating to me and a bit scary as well. In Matthew 25:21 we find these wonderful words from our Lord Jesus:

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master!’”

These are some of the sweetest words one will ever hear. Just this morning my wife and I had a discussion about ‘are we using our talents wisely?’ Will we have profit to offer the Lord on the talents that He has entrusted us with as a family, she as a wife and me as a husband and pastor. Will I/Will we be able to offer our Lord a return on His investment in us?

This is where the proper teaching of the Bible is so important. When the scriptures are properly revealed to us, we can find the ways to live pleasing lives to and for our Lord. But every day we can see that there are men and women who abuse the Holy Scriptures by taking them out of context, using partial verses simply to make their point and – as we used to say in seminary – some preachers look for a verse to blame their sermons on.

We look at passages like Matthew 25:14-29, and we see that Jesus is picturing for us the kingdom of Heaven. Here we see that His servants are given monies according to their abilities, and each one then has to give an account of the way that he invested that money on behalf of the Master. It would be easy to make this a salvation passage if one does not take the time to study. But it is not. It is about saved people answering to the Lord for their lives after the point of salvation.

In many modern churches there is a lack of teaching on the end, the very times that we are in today. Many saved persons have no clue that they too will face a very harsh judgment – not about Heaven and Hell, but about being in the will of God and led by the Holy Spirit. I touched on this a bit last time, and I want to expand on it a bit today. The idea that we will be judged is foreign to a lot of God’s people, and too many are not going to be prepared to offer God any return on His investment; sadly, they will suffer great loss. The loss of opportunity and the loss of responsibility in the coming Millennial Kingdom. This Kingdom is spoken about in Revelation 20:4-6:

“And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”

We again find reference to this Kingdom in Isaiah 11:6-9:

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”

All throughout the Old Testament, it was prophesied about the new Kingdom that would come. Jesus spent the first half of His ministry life talking about the new Kingdom. The Jews could not see, and even the apostles did not see the gap between Jesus’ first and second comings. But here you and I are in the gap. Almost 2,000 years have passed since Jesus ascension, and we are nearing the Rapture. There are a lot of writings about the Tribulation and the judgment that will be executed here on earth, but there are not many who talk about our judgment, our time to stand and give an account. Jesus was very, very adamant about our accountability. In 1 Corinthians 16:13 we see this charge:

“Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.”

Stand fast and behave like men. Be strong. The term stand fast is a military term; it means to stand your ground and defend that space until the death. Soldiers had to be adept at fighting and committed to orders in the face of great danger and loss of life. This is the command made to us. What happens when a soldier abandons his post? He is arrested. In the days that the Bible was written, he was executed. Jesus expects us to take the command to behave like soldiers and be men very seriously.

Too many men are not soldiers in the cause of Christ; we are cheerleaders on the sidelines. Some can’t even do that. Sadly, too many are asleep at the wheel and cause more hurt than good. You may say, “Hey Sean, where is the call to women?” Men need to wake up and remember that God is not a SJW, and He is not, nor ever will be a feminist. Men, you will be judged first. God made you first; He gave you the first responsibilities in Creation; and He spoke to Adam first even though Eve ate of the fruit in the Garden first. Men need to wake up and realize that we cannot hide behind our wives. God expects us to behave like men and take some responsibilities and show some leadership.

While the inhabitants of the earth are going through the Tribulation down here, we will be answering to the Lord for our lives. Were we Light and Salt? Were we faithful servants? Did we love God will all our hearts, souls, minds, and our strength? Did we put God first in everything? You get the picture.

I want to expand a bit about the Holy Spirit in our lives. To do this we need to take a look at the church in Laodicea from Revelation 3:14-22:

“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.

19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’

No era of the Lord’s churches has had the wealth that many modern churches have today. The church I pastor, though small, can endeavor to do many things. Many of our members make a decent living, and the tithes are given faithfully. According to many surveys, the average person gives about $20 each time they attend a church service. For example, a church that has a regular attendance of 1,000 on a Sunday morning will collect about $20,000 each morning service. That is over $1,000,000 per year with 52 Sundays per year. I know of one of our Sister churches that annually collects close to $250,000 just for missions. This is not their general-fund income. Imagine what a church of 5,000 or 10,000 will take in for an offering each service.

It is clear to see that the Laodicean church is a picture of a lot of churches in our time. Notice verse 17: ‘I am rich and wealthy and in need of nothing.’ We have so much money and resources that we can indiscriminately do the work of the Kingdom and miss the point that if what we do is not led by the Holy Spirit, we are not in obedience. Look at God’s assessment of the same church, verse 17(b) ‘you are wretched and poor, miserable, blind and naked.’ Why are they this way? Because Jesus is not the Head and Life of this church; their activity is. They are busy doing the Lord’s work without the Lord.

Every decision we make should be Holy-Spirit led; Where do we send money? To whom do we send money? How much do we send? On and on we can go.

In Acts 16:6-10, we find Paul’s call to go to Macedonia. Where he wanted to go was not bad, just not God’s will at that moment for Paul:

“Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.”

This is an example of good works; the right work, led by the Holy Spirit for God’s glory only. Paul wanted to go one way, but the Holy Spirit led elsewhere. The desire to go was good, but where to go was God’s business.

Whether we are an individual or a local church, the same guideline should apply. We need to ask the question: is this Holy-Spirit led, empowered and God glorifying? You and I should live knowing that we will be judged by Jesus the Righteous Judge, and He will expect us to have profit to offer for His investment in us. Will you have something to offer Jesus? Will I have something to offer Jesus? The Bema seat of Jesus, as described in 2 Corinthians 5:9-11:

Therefore, we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.”

Notice that Paul tells us that we should be aware of the ‘terror of the Lord’ in verse 11. Yes, the terror of the Lord. The One who can rebuke the storms, rebuke the demons, stop the sun, multiply fishes and loaves, raise the dead and defeat the grave is the very same God to whom we will answer. Did we behave like men? Did we stand fast for the truth? Were we strong? Are you, am I ready to give an answer? Heed the warning of James 5:8; the Lord is near:

“You too, be patient and strengthen your hearts, because the Lord’s coming is near.”

Missionarybaptistchurch76@yahoo.ca

 

The Last Days & Preparing to Meet the Lord: Part 3 :: By Sean Gooding

Proverbs 29:18

“Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law.”

We have clearly established the need for us to surround ourselves with the proper teaching of the Word of God. When there is clear, correct and regular teaching of the Word of God, society at large is restrained form doing evil. Sin is always there; we are sinners, all of us. But it is not as publicly flaunted as we see today. Sins that used to be done in the shadows, done in private and with some degree of shame are now flaunted as rights, and sin is paraded as normal; and all who oppose such liberties (rights) are intolerant. In Isaiah 5:20, the prophet laments the openness of sin in his day and comes to this conclusion:

“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”

No better statement describes us right now as a society; good is being portrayed as evil, and evil as good. The shame once attached to sin is now being lifted, and that sin is being promoted as good. If one took the time to research the rise of pedophilia in our time, we will see that this is the last straw of human sexuality. There are still taboos associated with this sexual practice, but once society accepts that pedophiles are born this way, just as they say homosexuals are according to the law, then pedophilia will become acceptable as well. Go for yourself and research how many women, especially teachers, have been arrested for sexual interactions with their students, and you will see that pedophilia is just as prevalent among women as men.

Folks, we are in the last days. In Genesis 6:5, we see this assessment of mankind on the earth from God:

“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

I fear that God would make the same assessment of us today. We are an evil people; and sadly, we are proud of it. We have no intention of repentance, no feelings of shame and no remorse. God is old- fashioned and narrow-minded, and we simply refuse to submit to Him. Jesus told us that as it was in the days of Noah, so it would be in the last days, and here we are. Matthew 24:37-39,

“But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so, shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”

The world thinks they have overpowered God; they mistake His gracious patience with either apathy or evidence that He does not exist. Well, like it was in the days of Noah, soon the first raindrops will fall; and it will be too late for billions of people. When those raindrops fall, for us it will be the Rapture; this will signal the beginning of God’s judgments here on earth for a 7-year period as He prepares a people for the Millennial Kingdom. But while God is pouring out His wrath on the earth, we, the saved, will be facing our own judgment. We are told this by the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:8-10,

“We are confident, then, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we aspire to please Him, whether we are here in this body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive his due for the things done in the body, whether good or bad.”

We “must all appear,” we are told, before the judgement seat of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 3:11-13, Paul writes this,

“For no one can lay a foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, his workmanship will be evident, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will prove the quality of each man’s work.”

Here we have it; the foundation is Jesus. He is our salvation. In Him we have eternal life. If you are at this judgment, the issue here is not heaven or hell. But what did you do with the wonderful foundation that Jesus laid in His life, body and blood for you? Verse 15 tells us that if a man’s work is burned up by the judgment of fire, he, himself is saved. But there is a loss of rewards.

This brings us to what we have been discussing over the past few weeks, the fact that – as the Lord’s people, seeing where we are in history and with full understanding that we are in the last days – we should be living in such a way that shows we are prepared or at least preparing to be judged. Sadly, a lot of churches do not teach about the end times. A full 25% of the scriptures deal with the end, the return of Jesus is prophesied by the OT prophets, it is reiterated by the NT writers, and we should take these warnings seriously.

  1. A Recap

We have explored the verse from Proverbs 29:18 about the proper teaching of the Scriptures being a restraining power in the lives of a society and especially in the lives of the children of God. We also looked at 2 Timothy 3:16-17, verses that tell us the Bible is given by God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof and correction and then to equip us to do good works. These are the works that will NOT burn up when we are judged. See 1 Corinthians 3:11-13 again.

In addition to the above verses, we also looked at Romans 12:1-2. These verses give us the process of how we are transformed from doing evil works to good works as we grow in the Lord. Let us establish that normal people can do what appears to be good works on the outside. They can love their wives, love their children, serve their community and help their fellowman, and all looks good. But the problem is that they have not been reborn in Jesus (John 3:3). The inner man has not been changed, so all these good works account for nothing. However, once a person is saved, redeemed by Jesus and washed in His blood, these same actions now have the potential to become good works.

The process begins, as we discussed, with us surrendering ourselves to the Lord. Luke lays this out for us in Luke 9:23,

“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”

Yes, you read that right; deny yourself. Once saved, we must begin the process of surrendering control of our bodies and lives with our dreams and hopes to Jesus. As we daily do this, the Holy Spirit takes the Bible and begins to show us ‘reproof and correction,’ helping us to stop being conformed to the mindset and actions of the world system. He, the Holy Spirit, begins to call us out on things with the intent on changing the way we think. This bring us to the final stage of transformation to aid us in doing ‘good works.’

  1. Transformation – Romans 12:1-2

The word for transformation in Greek is the root word from which we get our English word metamorphosis. In 2 Corinthians 5:17-18, Paul writes this,

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”

This is the whole idea of metamorphosis. We know the process of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly; the caterpillar is cocooned, turns to liquid, and over a process of time transforms into the beautiful butterfly. One cannot have butterflies without caterpillars. Well, you and I are being transformed by the Holy Spirit in us, who changes us from the inside out just like the caterpillar, and makes us beautiful in Jesus. This is a process that affects every aspect of our lives, beginning with the way we think. Paul calls it the “renewing of our minds.”

Let me give you one of the ways that we can be transformed, and I want to stress that this is a lifelong journey. Just read the Gospels and see how frustrated Jesus got with the lack of insight with the men who would become the apostles. But Matthew offers us this lesson in transformation from Matthew 6: 25-34,

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Learning to stop worrying is a ‘good work’; the idea of total and confident dependence on the Lord for everything is part of our transformation. Jesus will supply. He must; He promised to. We stop gauging our lives by the measures of the world: how big your house is, what car you drive, what clothes you wear and how big your bank account is. Rather, you seek to invest in the Kingdom of God first, no matter the cost, and learn to be contented with what you have here. Notice that this good work includes not doing something. This is part of the transformation that we are to experience. Not just that we do some things, but that we STOP doing seemingly insignificant things. How about this that we find in Romans 12:10-11,

“Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Putting others first, thinking of how our lives and our actions will affect our weaker brothers and sisters in the Lord.”

Paul writes this way about taking liberties. Galatians 5:13,

“For you, brothers, were called to freedom. Only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity to gratify your flesh, but through love make it your habit to serve one another.”

In the garden of Gethsemane that fateful night before Jesus was crucified, He was there not for His own sin but ours; not for His redemption but ours; and not for His failures but ours. He tells Peter that in His freedom He could ask God the Father for 12 legions of angels, and they would show up and make an end of the Roman arrest that was going on. But Jesus considered our needs, He considered the Father’s will, and He endured the cross. We are not in danger yet of being called to die for the cause of Christ, but we can begin by denying ourselves some of our liberties so as not to be a stumbling block to our fellow saved family. This is part of the transformation that takes place; I become second to the Lord and others. Me gets demoted to second, maybe third, maybe 100th, whatever it takes to build up a brother or sister. Good works always come from the heart of a servant to Jesus.

One day, maybe sooner than you and I think, we will be called to stand at the judgment and give an account of how we lived our lives once we found the solid rock of Jesus as our Saviour. Let us begin to be ready for this and give our bodies, our minds and our lives over to Jesus to be transformed into His image. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18,

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into His image with intensifying glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

Missionarybaptistchurch76@yahoo.ca