This article assumes the fact that Jesus is coming again. And it also assumes the absolute necessity, by Jesus' own words in two of His parables, to work and to watch until He comes. If fictional special agents on television and real-life government agents can work and watch for things that "might" happen, how much more should we be working and watching for something that we know is going to happen.
How to work until Jesus returns
The first parable, the one about our responsibility to be at work until He returns, is in Matthew 25:14-30 -- the parable of the talents. The theme of this well-known parable is "Do business until I come." It's a parable about the big picture of stewardship: Stewards are to accomplish the master's work in his absence. Therefore, every Christian should be able to answer this question: "What business am I to accomplish for my Master until He comes again?"
The New Testament lists a number of specific responsibilities we have as followers of Jesus. I have summarized them under four headings and ask you to consider your life with regard to each one.
First, publicize the Gospel. Our Master's marching orders when He left earth are very clear: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). We need to be involved in faithfully sharing the Gospel at home and around the world.
Second, promote the health of the church. Spiritual gifts are given in the body of Christ to enable individual Christians to build up the church (Ephesians 4:12-13). Are you using your spiritual gift(s) to build up the church toward maturity? The church's only hands of service are those attached to the arms of its members.
Third, prioritize your life. Just as the servants in Jesus' parable stood before their master to give an account of their work, you and I will stand before Jesus Christ one day to do the same thing (2 Corinthians 5:10). At that moment, the good and better in our lives will be separated from the best in terms of how we contributed to the Master's goals.
Fourth, pursue your work with hope. The servant in the parable who did no work (and lost his reward) lived in fear, not in hope. If you truly believe what Jesus Christ said, and what the Bible teaches, you will live with more certainty about the return of Christ than about anything else in your life.
How to watch until Jesus returns
The second parable Jesus told is in Matthew 25:1-13 -- the parable of the 10 virgins. The five wise virgins were ready to receive the bridegroom when he appeared, while the five foolish virgins were not. When they went and made preparations and returned, the door to the celebration had closed. We need to be ready when He comes.
Peter wrote about scoffers who continually ask, "Where is the promise of His coming?" (2 Peter 3:4). Yes, it has been 2,000 years since His promise was made. And since we do not know the hour of His return, we must know how to watch until that day.
First, do not be deceived by anything (Matthew 24:4-5). You and I must be vigilant, keeping our eyes focused on the one true Savior and returning King.
Second, do not be troubled by anything (John 14:1, 27). Our hope and confidence is in Jesus Christ -- His peace is sufficient for every trial and difficulty.
Third, do not be confused by anything. There is only one focal point in life -- Jesus Himself. Fix your eyes on Him alone (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Fourth, do not be tempted by anything. Like a child who gets caught doing something wrong when his parents arrive home unexpectedly, Jesus is going to return at an hour you least expect (Matthew 24:42-44).
Faithfully work and watch for His coming -- be a special agent for Christ.
David Jeremiah is the founder and host of Turning Point for God and pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, Calif. For more information on Turning Point, visit www.DavidJeremiah.org. This column has been approved by Turning Point for redistribution in Baptist state newspapers; for other reprint requests, contact Myrna Davis at email@example.com.
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