by Mike Ratliff
42 “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. (Matthew 24:42 NASB)
I know that I am a finite person who is incapable of knowing everything. I know this very well. I also know that it is impossible for any finite individual to possess the knowledge with certainty of future events. I am fully aware of this so I am not making predictions here or saying that I know for certain that eschatological events are going to happen any day now. No, I am not saying that. No, but what I am saying, and have been saying for quite some time, is that unless God grants us a revival, the Church will continue with its tailspin into apostasy and we will be in for a very rough period of spiritual darkness and possible persecution. The move from Christian orthodoxy into the many forms of apostasy we are seeing is not just an American phenomenon, but is worldwide. Religious tolerance is very close to becoming a requirement nearly everywhere. When this happens, there will be no room for the exclusivity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, there will still be the Church and there will still be Christians, but real Christians will be persecuted, underground, and second-class citizens everywhere. This is the reality of enforced religious tolerance.
What does this tell us? I believe that this could be either another period in history in which the church must go underground for cleansing by the Lord or it could be what must happen that leads up to our Lord’s return. In any case, our Lord gave us instructions.
35 “ Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit. 36 Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them. 38 Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.
39 “ But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into. 40 You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.” (Luke 12:35-40 NASB)
The verbiage and structure of v35 speaks of preparedness. Christians who are prepared for their Lord’s return are not encumbered by the things that inhibits their freedom from working (cf. Exodus 12:11; 1 Peter 1:13). Not only that, but our Lord tells us that His servants are responsible to meet Him with burning torches when He returns. Of course, this is simply an analogy of the preparedness of those truly working in the Kingdom to make the way ready for their master’s return. Of course, in this analogy, they do not know when He will return. They must wait for the “knock at the door.” We must also wait. We must wait for that trumpet and shout, but still, until then, what are we to be doing? We are to be living with our eyes fixed on what is above where our Master is. We are to be living according to what concerns Him, not according to the ways and means of the world. Does this make sense? This is the essence of Colossians 3:1-4.
1 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4 NASB)
I know that what I about to say will probably mark me as a bit of an idealist and perhaps one who is a bit “off.” Well, I no longer care. There comes a time when we have to choose whom we will serve. Are we serving self or the Lord? If we are serving self then we will even attempt to serve Him in such a way that makes us look good in the eyes of others. I know this because I have done that. I serve my Lord Jesus Christ, not that idol to self. Therefore, I pull no punches. It is time to stop the nonsense of trying to be a good Christian and still live in the world to feed our flesh. I have done that one too. God has taken me through some tests, trials, and humblings and has burned away those parts that used to desire the things of this world. In any case, to be that bondservant that our Lord talks about in these passages means that we are to be the ones who are living our lives patterned after Colossians 3:1-4. Yes, that narrows the way to heaven very much. I know this. This means that you must examine yourself. Are you doing this? Are you on this narrow path? Are you ready for our Lord’s return for He is returning at an hour you do not expect?
41 Peter said, “Lord, are You addressing this parable to us, or to everyone else as well?” 42 And the Lord said, “ Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. 44 Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 45 But if that slave says in his heart, ‘My master will be a long time in coming,’ and begins to beat the slaves, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk; 46 the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and assign him a place with the unbelievers. 47 And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, 48 but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more. (Luke 12:41-48 NASB)
Here we have the example of a false Christian leader. This is someone who is responsible for leadership of a church or whatever, but is an unbeliever and shows it by his evil actions. Now, think of all those so-called Christian leaders in our time who are preaching their easy-believism or watered-down or emergent or some other false gospel, leading their people into believing they are Christians through works-righteousness, et cetera. Do you think our Lord is unaware of what is going on? In vv47,48 we have a discussion of degrees of punishment. Our Lord reveals that these degrees of punishment are commensurate with the extent to which the unfaithful behavior was willful. Ignorance is no excuse.
In which group are you? Are you ready?
Soli Deo Gloria!