By Greg Thornberg
Today I searched what the End Times “experts” were saying about the end and I found these videos:
How America Fits into The End Times
Proof that the End Times Are Here
Hamas Attack is Proof the End Is Near
The Labor Pains Have Begun
Great War Has Begun, Millions Will Die
Jesus is Coming in 2024
Why The Euphrates River Matters
These YouTube titles are sensational. The Bible is sensational too. But the distinction between the Bible and YouTube is their different emphases. For example, in 2 Peter 3:10, Peter wrote, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.”
This is sensational. Yet what was Peter’s emphasis? Second Peter 3 has eighteen verses. Only four verses discuss sensational details about Christ’s return. This means most of the chapter is spent discussing the implications of Christ’s delay and the implications of Christ’s eventual return–the need for holiness.
Today I wanted to explore a few biblical emphases regarding the End Times and how we should apply this knowledge.
1. We Are to Live Holy and Godly Lives
In 2 Peter 3:11, Peter writes, “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness.” I suspect some of us would debate whether this fire is literal or figurative. I also suspect that if Peter were here today he’d say, “Guys, you’re totally missing my point. Who cares if it’s literal or figurative. What I want to ask is, are you striving for holiness and godliness?”
2. Christ’s Delay is a Good Thing
In Matthew 24 and 25, Christ’s parables teach us that He will be delayed before his return. And Peter wanted us to know that this is good thing. He wrote, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). First, if Christ is delayed, there is still time to labor in the Gospel for the salvation of souls. This is why Peter concludes, “And count the patience of our Lord as salvation” (2 Peter 3:15).
Second, you came to faith because Jesus delayed His coming. Christ waited to come until after you were saved.
3. Be Faithful in Your Care Of Others
In Matthew 24:45-51, Christ tells us that his delay will lull some people into complacency. And because they no longer sense the imminent danger of God’s wrath, they will abuse those in their care. But Christ reminds us that His return will surprise those who abuse and neglect those under them. Judgment is certainly coming, and it will come suddenly. Therefore, be a faithful and live like Jesus might come at any moment.
4. Always be Watching and Ready
In Matthew 25:1-13, Christ said that some will grow weary and lack readiness. Those who are not ready will not be with Christ in eternity. We see people like this all the time. They spend their time in sinful pleasures while at the same time hoping to repent right before Christ returns. But Jesus’ warns us that his delay will reveal who has true and lasting faith. If we persevere in waiting, we were his. If we think of his judgment as a long way off, we were never his (c.f., 1 John 2:19). Therefore, live with an ever-present faith in Christ’s return so you will be ready.
5. The Sign of Christ’s Return is Christ Himself
Sometimes we hope for a heads-up concerning Christ’s return. But Jesus never gives us a heads-up warning sign. Instead, he says that the sign of his return is Him returning. When you see Him Coming, that’s the sign that He’s coming. This is why Jesus repeats, “The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know” (24:50), and “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (25:13). Therefore, be living as if Christ might come at any moment.
The study of the End Times should provoke us to emphasize what Scripture emphasizes. What does it emphasize about the End Times? It emphasizes application: pursue holiness, seek godliness, be urgent in Gospel proclamation, be faithful caretakers, persevere in righteousness, and be ready. Christ might come at any moment.
Greg Thornberg is pastor at Redemption Bible Church in Coolidge, AZ.