How Should We Live Since the End is Near?
What comes to your mind when you think of the end times? What does the Bible say?
1 Peter 4, starting at verse 7 says, "The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers." Notice these words do not say, "The end of all things is at some distant point in the future," but, "The end of all things is at hand." They do not say, "Worry and fret because the end is near," or "Build an end times bunker to hunker down in," or "Purchase gold or guns to survive the apocalypse." Instead, the Bible says, "Be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers." In these days, and in every age, believers live by faith in Jesus.
Consider Jeremiah, the faithful prophet of old. In his day the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the people of Judah had turned their hearts away from the Lord. Wickedness was rampant. Judgment and the Babylonian exile were at hand. In those days Jeremiah called for repentance and faith in God. He declared God's righteous judgment against sin and pointed to God's salvation. Isaiah the prophet did the same in his time. And so today we are to live by faith - not faith in ourselves, or our nation, or our wealth, or our strategies, or our power, or our cleverness, but in Jesus. As the Bible says, "The righteous shall live by faith" (Habakkuk 2:4).
1 Peter 4 continues, "Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace...in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus." Thoughts and discussions of the end times are often dominated by fear and speculation. The Bible points us instead to loving our neighbor, showing hospitality, and using our gifts in faith so that God may be glorified through Jesus. The Bible does not point us to fear and speculation. The Bible calls us to love our neighbor and to live by faith. This faith eagerly awaits the joyful day when Jesus will come for His people.
When Jesus' disciples asked about the end, Jesus warned them about false christs and false prophets. Many people are preaching today. When you hear a preacher preach you should ask, "Is this person telling me to repent of sins and to trust in Jesus for forgiveness, life and salvation? Or is he/she calling me to do something else and promising something else in God's name?" Those who do the former are preaching faithfully in God's name. Those who do the latter are false prophets/teachers. Examples of false promises in God's name include but are not limited to: promises of wealth, sudden blessings due to your seed gift, attitude change, mood of expectation, or grandiose promises that you will change the world by following their easy three step process.
There are many false teachers speaking in the name of God. Jesus warns us against them. He says, in Matthew 24, "Many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. Because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the Kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."
Though false teachers fill the land with lies, hear again the promise of Jesus, "The one who endures to the end will be saved." Therefore, in these days let us be attentive to what God has said and continues to say to us in the Scriptures. What God has said and says today are the same. God's Word does not change. In the midst of the turmoil let us trust in Jesus. Let us listen to His Word. Let us throw off the sin that so easily entangles us (Hebrews 12). In closing, Jesus says, "When these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near" (Luke 21:28).
Jesus is coming! Let God's people say, "Hallelujah. Praise the Lord. Amen."