Is this The End?

Already in this young year I’ve written about the times in which we live. To say the least these are scary times. One of the words being used now in connection with the coronavirus outbreak is pandemic.  The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is calling the locust plague in Africa an unprecedented threat. There are, to use a Biblical expression, wars and rumors of wars circulating almost daily in the news. And those are just some of the major issues facing our world.

The turmoil that our world is in causes Christians to ask the question: Is this the End? Are we facing those issues that will usher in the end of this world and the beginning of the next?

The answer is Yes, and I don’t know.

We have been in the final stages of human history ever since the time of Jesus. The writer of Hebrews introduced his book by telling us that we are in the last days (Hebrews 1:2). Jesus told His disciples that when they saw nations rising against nations, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places it signaled the beginning of sorrows (Matthew 24:8). This has been going on for over 2,000 years.

So, Yes we are in the End.

But if you are asking if Jesus will come tonight, or tomorrow, or soon, the answer changes to I don’t know.

While we believe that the return of Jesus is imminent; that is, there is nothing recorded in the Bible that has to happen before He comes, we need to exercise a bit of caution before we make any definitive proclamations.

History, even in our lifetime has had its share of date-setters and so far they have proven to be 100% wrong.

Jesus made an interesting statement to His disciples about the timing of the end. He said that no one knows the timing of the coming of Christ, not even the angels in heaven. But then He takes it one amazing step beyond the angels and says not even the Son (Mark 13:32). Is it possible that the all-knowing Son of God did not know the exact time of His own return?

Theologians have debated this statement for generations. How is it even possible?

There are several theories and I’ll leave it up to you to investigate them. The point that I want to make is that if for some reason Jesus did not know, we need to tread carefully lest we join that ignominious group of false prophets who have gone before us.

The timing of the return of Jesus shouldn’t occupy us as much as how we are living out our faith.

That was the Apostle Peter’s point when, just after he described the world ending in a cataclysmic ball of fire, he said, therefore, since all of these things will be dissolved, what kind of people should you be in holy conduct and godliness (2 Peter 3:11)?

You see, The End is not about setting dates. It’s about living life. Because we know the end is coming, we should live like the end is coming.

Should we live like Jesus will come tonight? Absolutely.  And when He doesn’t we need to live tomorrow like He will come tomorrow night. And the next day, and the next, and the next. Even if He never comes in our lifetime.

Don’t obsess about The End but live like it is.

Stay in the Word

Pastor Steve

Appearance is Everything

We live in a world where most of us make judgements with less than all of the facts. After all, it’s almost impossible to have all of the facts. The problem is that we often don’t even have enough facts but that doesn’t stop us from reaching certain conclusions.

Mary Poppins addressed our penchant for quick assumptions when she sang; A cover is nice, but a cover is not the book. Her point is that you can’t judge people by their looks – there’s more to them than you see on the outside.  There’s some truth to her downhome philosophy. Too often we pass judgment on people based solely on external, even trivial things.

A cover is not the book.

But there are times when we need to pay attention to appearance. Not our physical appearance (although it would help if some people did!) but our spiritual appearance. People make judgements on the authenticity of your spiritual life by how your life appears to them.

1 Thessalonians 5:22 says abstain from every kind of evil. Some of the older translations say abstain from all appearance of evil.  The original word can mean either kind or appearance. There’s really not much difference between the two. Appearing to do evil is one kind of evil. One translation is more general the other is more specific.

Regardless of which translation you prefer, the concept of how we as Christians appear to other people is important. That’s one reason there is an emphasis in the Bible on holiness. Because we are to be holy and we are to appear to be holy.

When people look at us they shouldn’t have to wonder if we are holy or not. They shouldn’t have to think about the rightness or wrongness of our actions.

It’s entirely appropriate in evaluating our actions to ask the question, How does this appear to my neighbor? Do they think that I’m lying? Do they think that I’m cheating my employer? Do they think that I’m committing adultery?

They may jump to the wrong conclusions because they don’t have all of the facts, but that’s really our problem, not theirs. We have to make sure that whatever facts they have, however limited, are in line with the Word of God.

What exactly do people think when they look at me? What does the appearance of my life tell them?

What they think is often determined by what they see. And even if they don’t see it all – or if they see it inaccurately, the burden falls on us.

Appearance is everything.

Stay in the Word

Pastor Steve