The Second Coming and the Disciple’s Life
“...making the most of your time because the days are evil”

By Jon W. Quinn
The Bible tells us that Jesus' coming "is at hand." That is certainly true. His coming "is at hand" in the sense that it could take place at any time. It could have occurred in 100 A.D. or it could have occurred in 999 A.D. or 1492 A.D. It may occur in 2013 A.D. If it had been God's plan for His Son to have returned already, then it would have taken place. It may happen today. It may happen tomorrow. It may not happen in our lifetimes. We do not know; but we do know that His return is always a present possibility. It is “at hand”.

For this reason, The Scriptures urge watchfulness. We should always be prepared and ready to greet the King. There will not be any time to prepare when He appears in the sky. Preparation must take place before that moment. The Holy Spirit, through the apostle Paul, had this to say to disciples of Jesus at Ephesus; "For this reason it says, 'Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine on you.' Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." (Ephesians 5:14-17).

The Bible shows that the second coming of Jesus will occur suddenly (1 Corinthians 15:50-56; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 2 Peter 3:10-13). So then, what effect should this fact have on our daily lives? Listen to the Scripture: "Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not complain, brethren, against one another, that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful." (James 5:7-11).

There is Work to be Done

The farmer has prepared his field for planting. He has gotten seed and has planted it in his field. If he had not already done these things, it would be rather silly to wait for the soil to produce anything but weeds. Without the work, there would be no harvest. Likewise, if we are indifferent about the planting; if we do not have enough time to labor in God's field, then what right do we have to expect to harvest good in eternity? Only expect to harvest if you are doing some sowing now. “And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary." (see Galatians 6:7-9).

We Must learn Patience
"Be patient therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord...You too be patient..." (James 5:7,8). There are at least two senses in which we are to be patient. First, there is forbearance with one another. Sometimes, we forget that others are as much in need of understanding and compassion as we are. What right do we have to demand perfection in others if we, ourselves have not attained it as yet. Now, this does not mean that we should condone or ignore sin; we should not. But it does mean that when someone else is not as spiritually advanced as they ought to be, or when they have slighted us in some way, that our reaction should be controlled by the love we have for Christ and for the soul of the one with whom we are dealing at the time. As James suggested in our text; "Do not complain, brethren, against one another, that you, yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door." (James 5:9).

Also, the idea of patience has to do with endurance during times which are difficult. There will be ordeals and traumas in this life, but they will not last forever. James cites the example of Job (vs. 11). Do not ever give up (see also Job 1:20-22; 2:9,10; 1 Peter 4:12-16).

We Must Grow Strong

"...strengthen your hearts..." (James 5:8). I do not know of a time when there has been any greater need for strength than there is today. We need this strength that comes from outside of ourselves; it comes from God to those who trust in Him. "He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power…. yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles..." (Isaiah 40:29-31).

This strength does not come to the half-hearted or the doubting. It will not be found by those who are vacillating between right and wrong; uncommitted unto God. It comes to those who live by faith.

We Must Tell Others
"As an example, brethren...take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord." (James 5:10). There are many faithful prophets that we could take as examples of men and women who would not be silenced by the enemies of God. Jeremiah was one such prophet. He had his hesitations just like most of us do. He knew the task of calling people back to their God was a tremendous one and sometimes would lead to hardship, opposition and even danger. But because of His love and reverence for God; concern for what was right and true as well as his compassion for those who were lost, Jeremiah overcame it all and spoke out loudly and clearly. At one point during his work, he put it this way; "For each time I speak, I cry aloud; I proclaim violence and destruction, because the word of the Lord has resulted in reproach and derision all day long. But if I say, 'I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name,' then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary of holding it in, And I cannot endure it." (Jeremiah 20:8,9).

We Must Remember the Final Outcome

"...and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful." (James 5:11). The blessings of faith begin right here and now as He fills our hearts with hope and peace. He increases our joy and our respect for ourselves and for one another.

But beyond these things, the final outcome to be revealed at the end of time is marvelous beyond human comprehension. Jesus is coming back to reward His own! The last enemy is destined to fall. Even death shall be conquered, as will pain and sorrow. We fix our hope upon Jesus and live accordingly (1 John 3:1-3).
From The Bradley Banner 4/7/2013
Published by the Bradley Church of Christ
1505 E. Broadway
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