The End of all things is at hand!
Try a little experiment here. Before reading this post, ask the Holy Spirit to take the veil off your heart and mind. Ask him to grant you revelation or illumination, that you might be able to see spiritual truth through spiritual eyes. Why is this important? Because according to the following Scripture text, unless God gives you his Spirit while you read, you will not understand. The result will be that you will consider all that follows “foolishness.” On the other hand, if God grants you the grace to read with understanding, it could transform your entire life in a moment of time:
1 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV)
14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
We are drawing closer to the end than most people imagine. God is reaching out to those who will humble themselves to seek him with a genuine heart. He is hardening those whose hearts and consciences are cold and seared.
Matthew 24:3–14 (ESV)*
Signs of the End of the Age
3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.
9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Think about this. God gives EVERYONE an invitation and opportunity to receive and accept the “Good News.” If Jesus is not more important to you than this world system, if he is not at the center of your life, if you are not “born-from-above,” (John 3) then Jesus will deny you before His Father in heaven. You will lose not only your life, but will forfeit your eternal destiny in his Kingdom. What in you would want to embrace an empty future instead of the future you could have as a beloved son or daughter of the Father?
It’s time to wake up from the Matrix.
Matthew 10:32–39 (ESV)
32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
Not Peace, but a Sword
34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Intensity of relationship here is what Jesus is referring to. Having a nominal I-go-to-church mentality is a denial of Christ. When the hard times come, you will fall away if you are not a diligent follower of Jesus BEFORE hard times come. Those whom He will “acknowledge” before his Father are those who seriously love and follow Him . . . today. Once he re-invades his realm to set up his government, it will be too late to declare your loyalty. He given everyone an opportunity to recognize his reign on this side of His second coming. He is right at the door and is sending people to warn and call you.
Be careful before you reject someone who tries to reach out to you in the name of the Lord. Seek to understand that the reason the person is reaching out to you is because someone reached out to him or her, or because that person knows and loves you. God’s desire is for you to know him. Those who are his love what he loves and care about the people and values HE cares about.
The spiritual veil that covers our eyes can only be removed by the grace of Christ through someone who cares enough to bring the truth of the Good News, despite what it may cost them. Receive that person as an honored envoy of the “King of Kings.” In the following text, the King—Jesus—speaks to the crowd:
Matthew 10:40–42 (ESV)
40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41 The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”
If you treat God’s royal envoy with honor and dignity, rather than disdain, then Christ guarantees your reward. Even if you give someone who comes in the name of the Lord a drink of water–because he or she represents Jesus–you will not lose your reward. How much greater reward if you give Jesus your heart and life.
If you have not chosen to follow with all your heart yet, I implore you to invite him to be your King today.
QUESTION: Are you prepared for the end? Are you Christ’s disciple or the world’s?
©2012, David C Alves
*All Scripture unless otherwise stated is from the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Holy Bible published by Crossway.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Some have said that Paul was talking and acting from pride. They must not have read or thought much about Paul, his teachings and his own testimony. He told us to have the same mind that was in Christ Jesus. Humility was constantly modeled and taught by Paul. No, Paul was merely stating what was true to encourage his son in Christ. He was urging Timothy to follow his “father’s” example.
As a spiritual dad and son of the Living God, I too want to finish well. I want to finish stronger than I started. And I want that for my spiritual sons–the young men I mentor/coach.
Paul used a couple of metaphors. Each brings something special to the table to be seen. He was in a habit of mixing metaphors, but not by mistake like so many of my previous students in English. He knew what he was doing and what those metaphors would evoke in the mind of his reader(s).
First he says in verse seven that he has fought the good fight. Faith can be just that too. Faith fights the deadly “D’s” of the enemy–doubt, discouragement, disappointment, depression, and darkness. Holding onto the promise can be hard–a fight. Certainly we’ve all fought doubt and discouragement. We know what it is to battle against unbelief. Unbelief plagues every promise and word of His. Paul has been there and holds up a picture for Timothy. He has fought the “good” fight. The fight is worth it. IMPLICATION: And so can you. You can and will. Paul, ever the encourager, places this encouragement before his “son.”
Second, he brings in an entirely different picture. “I have finished the race.” Interesting from two vantage points.
Paul sees our sonship as a race in that it has a starting line and a finish line, toward which we “run.” We began completely by the grace of our Father. Likewise, we have a destination. Otherwise how could he say that he “finished.” How did he know that? I think when you or I finish, we too will know. We don’t quit. We FINISH. As long as we finish well, we don’t need to finish first or even second. Even if I come in dead last (no pun intended), I want to FINISH. And from beginning to end, God’s grace and delight will carry us the distance.
Both metaphors–the fight and the race–point to activities that have an END. He says, I have fought and I have finished.
Finally he says, “I have KEPT the faith.” The word literally is “kept watch over” in the sense of a sentry on guard. Are you guarding, watching over, the Good News and your spiritual formation? Paul made sure that he held on to what was important to Father in the ministry he carried out. He was faithful, like his Master.
I love it that Paul was not asking Timothy to live something he had not lived. He was encouraging Timothy to walk like his “father.” To pass on what he had seen and heard in Paul (2 Tim. 2.2; Phil. 4.9). This is the pattern given us in Jesus (1 Jn. 2:4-6). The pattern is passed on through Paul to Timothy and all of us.
From start to finish, the fight, the race, the keeping of the treasure ALL require endurance. That is where the power and steadfastness of the Holy Spirit must be the energy at work in you to keep you going until the end. Paul desired for us to know the power and he wanted also to know the power that raised Jesus from the dead. That’s the same power that can carry you through all to finish well.
With all this in mind, we do well to invite Father’s Holy Spirit to empower us to fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith until we see Jesus face to face.
QUESTION: What are your thoughts on this pattern in Jesus, Paul, Timothy, or YOU?
©2011, David C Alves