Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

Discernment 9


By Rayola Kelley

       Last month I talked about whether believers are ready or not for Jesus’ coming. The Jewish people were looking for Jesus’ first coming, but many of the religious leaders failed to acknowledge or recognize Him. He was ultimately rejected by His own people and crucified by the Romans. All of this was done in accordance to God’s plan to bring forth redemption. As a result of this event, Jesus and the cross became a crossroad, a pivotal point in history where man must personally consider what he is going to do with Jesus and the salvation He provides.

       Today the Jewish people are still looking for His first coming, while believers are looking for His second coming. The question is will those who claim they belong to members of the Body, the church of today, truly recognize Him, and when He comes will He recognize them? Jesus said many would call Him Lord, but He would not recognize them as His servants (Matthew 7:21-23).

       Here is the question for today: is our challenge the same as the Jews? It is true we must recognize the real Jesus among the counterfeits, love His truth, walk by faith in light of who He is, obey His Word, and seek out the life He has for us. However, when He comes the second time we are told in Revelation 1:7, “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.”

       When Jesus comes the second time, there will be no doubt as to who He is. People will recognize Him, but how many of the last generation will fail to know Him for themselves because of unbelief and rebellion; therefore, will be void of the oil of the Spirit and the light of His life that will prepare them to enter through the door of saving grace (Matthew 25:1-13)? Many people speak the name of Christ, some call Him Lord and others appear to be in love with their idea or concept of Him. Since there is nothing relative, true or binding according to this world, these individuals often believe as long as they do what is right in their own eyes, use His name, are associated or affiliated with religion or some church in some way, and talk about Him in religious groups that He will recognize them when He comes. The question for these individuals to answer is have they been truly “born again” of the Spirit of God (John 3:3, 5)? The Apostle Paul talked about those who love His appearing (2 Timothy 4:8). As we will see, when it comes to the end days, it is also about godly conduct that is inspired by true faith, a love for God, and a desire to please Him. The Apostle John made this statement about conduct in 1 John 3:8-9, “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doeth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

       But, we must also come back to the question for today, what is the real challenge the church must address in these days? Each generation must be aware of the age they live in. Although the lies are the same old lies that have plagued each generation, they have been repackaged according to the mood and terminology of that particular age as a means to seduce, indoctrinate, and delude many away from the truth into another reality. For instance, many of the religious matters that have rolled through Christendom found their heights in fads and not according to a real move of God. Since I have been a Christian, I’ve watched many fads roll through Christendom. Countless numbers of them received worldly promotion and took off like a rocket in popularity, but within a few years it seemed like the Christians who chased after them lost their zeal towards their waning popularity as they switched their attention to, and excitedly chased after, the latest popular fad. Truth is not a fad that changes with the latest worldly method or revelation of religious gurus; and, regardless of the compromising world and watered-down Christianity shunning, mocking, and trying to redefine it, truth remains steady and sure. The Bible is clear we should sell all and buy truth for we can do nothing against the truth only for it (Proverbs 23:23; 2 Corinthians 13:8) Ephesians 4:14 warns against such foolishness of fickleness, “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to be deceived.” Clearly, this shows that involvement with such fads has to do with sensationalism and popularity and not the truth. In such arenas human fickleness dictates rather than the Spirit and truths of God.

       Sadly, many ignore Jesus in their worldliness, reject Him in their atheism, tolerate Him in their amoral thinking, adjust Him to New Age concepts, and settle for religious garb to cover up their lean spirits and thirsty souls. As believers we must come back to what the Bible tells us about the last of the end days. It is clear that the target of God’s enemies is always leveled at two aspects of Christianity: truth and faith.

       Jesus warned of great deception in the end days (Matthew 24:4-5, 23-24). The Apostle Paul in reference to the one who is coming with power from Satan, deceiving with signs and lying wonders made this statement in 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12, “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” People assumed their particular take on God and life is truth, but the Bible warns that in the end days there will be a falling away from the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:3). The compromising environment of the world coming into the church has been conditioning people to develop itching ears that prefer fables over truth causing them to only accept what is tolerable to their thinking, non-abrasive to their feelings, compliant to their liberal philosophy, and acceptable to the seductive spirit of the world (1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 4:3-4).

       As mentioned the second Christian virtue that will be greatly missing in the end days is genuine faith. Jesus put it this way in Luke 18:8, “I tell you that he will avenge them speedily, Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh shall he find faith on the earth?” Jude 3 talks about contending for the faith that was first delivered to the saints and 2 Corinthians 13:5 states, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except you be reprobates?”

       We must be aware of teachings on faith that are erroneous. Faith is not about setting up the right environment to get God to do it our way; rather, faith is trusting God to bring about a matter according to His will, way and plan. Faith trusts God to do all things well and perfect. It rests on His character, trusts His intention to work all matters out for our spiritual benefit and His glory, and comes to rest in His faithfulness to keep His Word. Genuine faith does not put conditions or boundaries on God to bring forth a matter a certain way; rather, faith allows God to bring a matter about according to His righteous ways. It is God who must work out the details of something to ensure the integrity of it.

       Clearly, some of the teachings rolling through Christendom on faith present methods of how to control God in order to avoid walking by faith in Who He is. God will not be controlled by man’s pathetic methods, boxed in by doctrine, and forced to lower Himself to prove that He is God. God is God and He does not have to prove Himself as so, explain Himself to gain a person’s confidence, deny His holiness to prove His love, and adjust to the world to gain support and loyalty. God truths are unchanging, His ways perfect, His plan righteous, His intentions pure, and His call to us is to choose the excellent way of living and not the base ways of the flesh, the world, and the devil.

       The next ingredient that must be present in these days is that a believer must be ready for Jesus’ coming. People are constantly arguing about the events around His coming, but how many are preparing the church for His coming? The main issue is He is literally coming back just as the Bible says. The Bible is full of Scriptures that clearly talk about Him coming back. But, how many are like the Jews of Jesus’ day? Prophecy after prophecy was carefully laid out in Scripture so that when the Messiah came, the Jewish people would recognize Him and gladly receive Him.

       Today skepticism is growing in the midst of the various debates about what we will see, what we won’t see and what to name our particular take on the matter. No doubt people are weary with the arguments, the false starts, the incorrect interpretation on prophecies, the presentations that prove to be hollow, and putting their money in the coffers of the world to read the latest presentations that may touch man’s logic but is found wanting in the end.

       Clearly, the Jewish people were looking for their Messiah the first time around, but they were not ready to receive Him. The reason for such a state was because they were looking for a conquering Messiah and not a Lamb sent by God to take away their sins. They were looking for a political, military leader and not for a Redeemer. They were looking to be conquerors over the Roman Empire not conquered by sacrificial love and saved by grace. They were ready to be aggressive, not humbled and brought to a place of submission to God’s plan and surrender to His will for them to be saved from the spiritual death sentence brought on by the disease of sin.

       As we approach these final days, the skepticism as to whether the Lord will ever really come back is growing. Some of the skepticism is because much of the debate about the end days is based on pride, the concept of one being right over the other person, and everyone else must agree with them or be considered wrong, foolish, and dumb. Knowledge based on pride only sets up pinnacles for people to fall off of when proven wrong. As Christians we must avoid the pinnacles and keep the real issue centered, and that is Jesus is coming back!

       To add to skepticism, indifference has captured some Christians. There are those who believe He probably will come back, but there is no need to get excited because the saints have been crying “wolf” for over 2,000 years. However, Jesus’ coming back is not a false cry, but the basic fundamental belief of the Christian faith that needed to be taught to each generation as a means to prepare believers to meet the Lord, whether it is in the air as described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 or whether by way of the door of death as described by 2 Corinthians 5:8, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”

       Let me pose this challenge. How many of us believe that since we have not died today that we will not die, and that all declarations of our future demise is like crying “wolf?” We all know that unless Jesus comes the end of our physical life is death. We are not crying “wolf” when we talk about the reality of our physical demise and likewise we are not crying “wolf” when we declare the Lord is coming back. Just like the fact that many of us do not know the day or time we are going to die, we do not know the exact day and time when Jesus is coming back. But, like physical death it is inevitable that it is going to happen and we must be ready to meet Him, as well as be prepared to embrace the dawning of a new dispensation.

       This brings us to what it means to be ready. The Jews’ rejection of Jesus the first time teaches us it is not enough to be looking for Jesus; we must be ready to recognize Him when He comes for us. Jesus’ discourse on the end days have some very clear exhortations about being ready for His intrusion into our world, whether in our personal life or at the end of the present age. The instructions that are clearly presented are practical whether considering our physical demise or His literal coming.

       The first warning that came from Jesus was to take heed that no man deceived us, “for many shall come in His name, saying, I am Christ and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:4-5). He went on to warn, “Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not, For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:23-24). Some of you might be saying, I already know this, but how many believe it and tremble before God’s Word and shudder for others because deception will be prevalent in the last days? I know I can be deceived and only by the grace of God will He keep me in the narrow truth as I cry out to Him to have mercy on me.

       However, I must consider what I believe about Jesus. What are we, as believers, looking for when Jesus comes the second time? Are we looking for a humble Savior who is all love or are we looking for a Judge who will judge all iniquity with the sharp sword of His Word? Are we looking for someone who will accept our various compromises and profane agreements in the name of tolerance, or are we looking for a conquering King who will rule with a rod over the whole earth to ensure justice, righteousness, and peace in His kingdom? I could go on but the point I am making is that due to the watered-down, syrupy, and often vague unscriptural Christianity that is being presented today, it seems like many in the Christian realm are looking for Jesus to come back as a meek man who is going to bring love and peace to the world. It appears to me that while the Jews were looking for the Christ of the second coming, many in the visible church appear to be looking for the Christ of the first coming. Jesus came the first time to save the world, but He is coming the second time to judge it and set it right. The description that reveals how He will come the second time is found in Revelation 1:10-18. Keep in mind that upon receiving this revelation about Jesus, the Apostle John fell at His feet as dead out of fear.

       It is vital to remember that as believers, in death we will meet Him in His glory; but in His second coming, those left behind will meet Him in His righteousness. We must be prepared to walk into glory and ready to always meet our Lord as Judge and Victor.

       Another matter that must be scripturally considered is how will Jesus come back? Our attitude towards Jesus is determined by what we believe or perceive about Him, but our conduct is often determined by how we regard what He says about a matter. Do we believe it because we believe Jesus is the essence and end of all truth or do we ignore, adjust it, mock it, or discard it because we do not want to believe it? After all, it might not fit into our narrative or fragile reality.

       Jesus stated in Matthew 24:25-26, “Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth; behold, he is in the secret chambers, believe it not.” Jesus left by way of the sky in Acts 1:9-11 and He is coming back by way of the eastern sky according to His own words in Matthew 24:27.  

       Today unbelief is running rampant towards the blessed event, not only about whether Jesus is coming back but how is He coming back. Some believe He is going to come back in the form of a “Christ-consciousness,” even though the Bible is clear that His return will be seen by the naked eye. Some believe He will not come back until man first sets up His kingdom for Him, but it is clear there will be few left and that if He did not come, there would be no flesh saved alive (Matthew 24:22). It is clear man cannot save mankind or himself.

       The religious people of Jesus’ day should have recognized their Messiah, but refused to because it did not promote their religious kingdom. There was no excuse for their unbelief and likewise there will be no excuse for the unbelief that plagues the present age.

       This article only allowed me space to address our belief and attitude towards Jesus, but next month I will delve into the subject of being ready in relationship to our conduct. Meanwhile what do you know about Jesus, what do you believe to be true in His Word, and what is your understanding as to His second coming? Whether we see Jesus coming in our lifetime is not the real issue. The real crux of the matter is whether we are ready to meet Him when the flesh goes to the wayside and the door of eternity stands open before us to receive our redeemed souls.