“A Holy People”
What would you change about the way you live if you thought Christ would return within, say, the next month or two? At 29, I didn’t know Jesus was coming back to rule over the earth. I wonder if such knowledge would have changed the way I lived. Would it have caused me to persevere in a difficult marriage? Kept me moral? The thought of seeing Jesus face to face and being like Him was a purifying hope (1 John 3:203). I certainly needed purifying—I was a mother of two, divorced and immoral, yet longing for unconditional love.
Then it happened. I was saved through faith in Jesus. And because I loved Jesus, God brought me to the point of His will, not mine. I told Him I would go back to my husband. However, before I could act on it, my husband committed suicide at 31. But God sustained me even in that circumstance.
From that day of salvation, I dove into the Bible, and discovered it was the Word of God. Not man’s words, but God’s. I couldn’t get enough. As I read the New Testament, I kept coming across passages about Jesus returning and setting up His Kingdom—here on Earth! Although raised in the church, I had never heard this before. The thought of Jesus ruling over the earth was fascinating.
At 30, I became a Bible school student at Tennessee Temple in Chattanooga, Tenn. One day in chapel, the speaker said, “Every believer is going to stand at the judgment seat of Christ and give an account for the way they lived as a Christian.” I thought, Surely, that’s not right. We’re saved by grace, not works. Heaven is Heaven. Jesus obtained it for us! Why would I be accountable?
Then I saw it myself in 2 Corinthians 5:10: “For we (Paul includes himself) must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” I saw it again in Romans 14:10.
Jesus was coming, and I would be held accountable for how I lived as His child! Then came Revelation 22:12: “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.” God is just—even with His own! Consecration merits reward.
The way we view life changes when we know that we are accountable. Thus, this is the first of five truths that ought to shape how we live with respect to His coming: Although God has not revealed when Jesus is coming, He puts us on alert, and in doing so, He reminds us of who we are—slaves.
Do you understand than, beloved? He is the Master! We are saved to do God’s bidding, not so God can do ours. Surely, we want to hear our Master say, “Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21). Knowing this fact will shape my values and the way I spend my time, talents, money and energy. It will cause me to live in expectancy. Jesus said, “You also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will” (Matthew 24:44).
Second, I need to abstain from fleshly lusts that wage war against my soul. I must keep my behavior excellent among the Gentiles—people who don’t know Jesus (1 Peter 2:11-12). I’m His witness and His light, so that those wanting a way out of the darkness can find it.
Does your heart ache when you read the latest polls and find that the church’s beliefs and behavior are just a few percentage points different from the world’s decadent and indulgent culture? What difference does Christianity make?
What do you allow your eyes to see, your mind to think, your body to do? Women dress seductively and think nothing of it. Men surrender their souls in the battle for their eyes. Sex outside of marriage is assumed. The words restraint and constraint are not in our vocabulary. Do we forget we were called to a cross? Do we love our sin more than we love God? We need to deal with these questions if we are going to be prepared to see Jesus face to face.
Third, I need not only abstain from wrong behavior, but I need to live a holy life—to passionately pursue godliness. After mentioning the Lord’s delay in coming (2 Peter 3:3-9), Peter speaks of the coming day when God will destroy the earth and its works and create new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness will dwell. He then says, “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God?” (2 Peter 3:11-12).
This seems to indicate that we can hasten His coming—literally speed it up—by pursuing a holy lifestyle and god-like-ness.
Ask yourself if you are becoming more and more like Jesus. Are you living righteously? There’s only one way to be absolutely sure, and that is through His Word. This is the greatest and most fundamental weakness of the church in America. We do not know truth for ourselves. Jesus said we are made clean through the Word. God gave us 66 books and He wants us to know them all. This is the consuming passion of my life and ministry, Precept Ministries International—to give people a way to keep on growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ so that they “are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit”
(2 Corinthians 3:18).
Fourth, I must be “diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless” (2 Peter 3:14). That means I keep short accounts with God and with man. I confess my sins and name them for what they are. Then God will forgive them (1 John 1:9). I am to walk in love toward others as Jesus did. Read Ephesians 4:25-5:14.
Fifth, when we know God as we should and are living in the light of His coming, the Gospel will flow from us. God wants His sheep to hear His voice and follow Him. You are His representative, carrying on the family business by seeking His sheep. We offer the world a Savior and eternal life, which leads to salvation from sin and its power, from the deceit and darkness of Satan’s kingdom, from hell and the lake of fire.
But why hasn’t Jesus come yet? Second Peter 3:9 tells us it’s because “God is not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” We are to “regard the patience of the Lord as salvation”
(2 Peter 3:15). When one of us leads the final sinner to salvation—we are out of here! The trumpet will sound, heralding His coming (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Be ready!
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Kay ArthurHost, Precepts For Life