One of the great truths of scripture is that we must prepare ourselves while there is time to get ready. Unfortunately, the church has lost its end times urgency. The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus Christ will return! First will be the rapture of the church, and then at the end of this age, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ in his glorious appearing. It is important that the church maintains a sense of urgency- in particular, end times urgency coming from an understanding of the times and seasons.
While on a South Pole expedition, British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton left a few men on Elephant Island, promising that he would return. Later, when he tried to go back, huge icebergs blocked the way. If everything froze before he returned, it would mean hardship and possibly death for those left behind. But suddenly, as if by a miracle, an avenue opened in the ice and Shackleton was able to get through. His men were ready and waiting and they quickly scrambled aboard. They immediately headed for open seas. No sooner had the ship cleared the island than the ice crashed together behind them. Literally, a couple of minutes of further waiting, had they not been ready, would have caused them to be trapped or crushed. Contemplating their narrow escape, the explorer said to his men, “It was fortunate you were all packed and ready to go!” They replied, “We never gave up hope. Whenever the sea was clear of ice, we rolled up our sleeping bags and reminded each other, ’The boss may come today.’”
As believers we must be watching, waiting, prepared, ready, busy about the work that God has called us to do. Why? The boss is coming! Jesus is coming! It is easy for us as believers in modern America to get caught up, distracted, doing other things, buying things, just living life as normal, and we can lose the sense of end times urgency that we should have as believers.
The end times urgency is motivated by the fact that we can only work until Jesus comes. Robert Moffat the great missionary wrote: We’ll have all eternity to celebrate our victories, but only one short hour before sunset to win them.
I have had even wonderful Christians tell me, I don’t like to hear about the coming of Jesus. I have heard it all my life…Jesus is coming! I get so tired of it. I have heard that all my life as well. But I don’t get tired of it, I get motivated because of it. The rapture is going to take place! We will be caught away and meet the Lord in the clouds.
Even Jesus wanted us to have end times urgency! Do you know what are the last known and recorded words of the Lord Jesus Christ? It is the promise that he will return. The book of Revelation 22:20 says, “He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”
I wonder are you ready for His coming? Do you sense an urgency about the work of God? Is this an end times urgency that comes from understanding what the Bible says about the end of the age? Jesus is coming! The same Jesus that the disciples watched ascend into heaven on a cloud, will one day return in the same way. The next big event that will occur in biblical prophecy is known as the rapture of the church. That the rapture of the church is immanent. We call the rapture our Blessed Hope. That means that it could occur at any moment. Nothing else must happen for the rapture to occur. He could return this moment.
The rapture is spoken of in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”
Those who oppose the rapture will tell you that the Word rapture isn’t in the bible. If you were to read this verse in Latin, where it says caught up you would find the Latin word from which we get the English word rapture. It means exactly what it says in English. It means “caught up.” So, one day soon, Jesus will return to planet earth in the rapture of the church. Every person who is a true Christian will meet the Lord in the air. Jesus will not return all the way to the earth during the rapture. But rather, he will come and catch away those who have trusted in him and have fully given their lives to him.
I know it sound fanatical. I know it sound almost impossible. But one day, the dead in Christ, those who have died in the faith, their bodies are going to come up out of the grave and are going to reunite with their spirits. And you and I who are alive and remain are going to be raptured. The headlines will read, millions missing. The world will change in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.
All will be different on planet earth for those who are left behind. For those who remain on planet earth. It will be a terrible time. That is why the church cannot be spiritually asleep. May a sense of end times urgency propel us to our knees in prayer and to the harvest field to labor! Following the rapture there is coming a period of seven years on the planet that theologians call the Tribulation period. It is a period of great distress. 21 different divine judgments under the complete control of a sovereign God will be seen on earth. The Antichrist will reign. Men’s hearts will completely go to the dark side. The mark of the beast will take place. Way over half of the remaining population of the earth will be killed.
At the end of that seven-year period known as the Tribulation period, the Lord Jesus Christ will return all the way to planet earth. This is known as the Glorious Appearing. He will come riding a white horse. He is not coming as the suffering Servant that we read about in Isaiah 53. But rather, He is coming as a conquering king. His vesture, his clothes will be dipped in blood. And with just a word from his mouth, all his enemies will be destroyed. He will put his feet down on the Mount of Olives. The power will be so great that it will absolutely split in two parts. The king of Kings and the lord of Lords will march right up to the Temple Mount and take his rightful place. That will usher in what is known as the Millennial Reign of Christ. Satan will be bound for 1000 years. A kingdom that will last for 1000 years of peace and prosperity. A New Age will begin.
You and I are fortunate enough to live our lives in the last days of the end of this age. Since we live at the end of the age we must have an end times urgency. Bible prophecy is being fulfilled all around us:
Israel is a nation once again
Wars and rumors of war
Strange weather patterns
The breakdown of the family unit
The falling away of many believers into apostasy.
Matthew 24 calls many of these signs “the beginning of sorrows”. Jesus also compared these things to “birth pangs.” That tells us that these things will increase in frequency and intensity as we approach these days. Now is not a moment to be asleep spiritually. Where is your end times urgency about the things of God? If anything, understanding what is going on should give us a sense of destiny and urgency about our lives.
WE MUST HAVE AN END TIMES URGENCY BY
- BEING SPIRITUALLY PREPARED FOR HIS COMING
There is a powerful parable in Matthew 25. It tells us of five wise virgins and five foolish virgins. It is interesting that as far as we know, Jesus never told this parable to the public. It was told to his disciples. As I think about that, I think that this parable should be especially looked at by those who claim to be a part of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Not everyone who attends every church is a true Christian. The Bible says it. Some are wheat, some are tares. Some are possessors, and some are only professors. There are some who are only religious. There are some who go through all the motions, say all the right words, but are not truly right with God. This parable brings that out. 2 Corinthians 13:5 tells us to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. Why would Paul write that to Christians? Because not everyone who says they are believers actually are believers. This parable tells us that spiritual preparation is necessary.
The primary meaning of this parable is that one must prepare spiritually for his coming. Matthew 25:1-13 “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.” Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.
In this parable the bridegroom is obviously Jesus Christ. It is talking about the situation that will occur when Jesus returns. There are a lot of things that are obvious now today in 2019 that were not so obvious in Jesus day. How many of you realize that the coming of Christ has been delayed? (or so it seems to us) Two thousand years have passed. We know the reason, God wants men to have opportunity to get right with Him and so his longsuffering and mercy have caused a seeming delay.
And so, when I read this parable, I see the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. I see those who are gathering. I see those who say, yes, he is coming. But I have to realize that five are wise and five are foolish.
6 “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ 7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.
The question becomes: What made the five virgins wise, and what caused the five virgins to be considered foolish? Three things I see in this parable:
- The wise made preparation, the foolish did not.
I have a recurring dream. I dream that I am asked to preach and I haven’t prepared. Anyone who knows me, gets that I faithfully prepare to teach and minister God’s word. This is not off the cuff so to speak. I wake up in a sweat. I don’t know about you, but I do not want to wind up unprepared. I don’t want to be as one of the foolish. The foolish don’t prepare. The wise person prepares.
In those days, a young woman, a virgin, would remain in her parent’s house until the bridegroom came. The bridegroom would maybe live in another village and he would prepare a place for her. He would build her a house, and many times as it is with construction, things would be delayed, it took more time than originally thought. But the young woman had to be ready and preparing herself as well, because she didn’t know when the bridegroom would come and so it was her job to be ready.
Usually, it was at night that the bridegroom came. And all those who would go to the wedding feast had to have a lamp ready, to be able to make the journey. And so, the point of the parable is that if you are going to be ready to go in the rapture of the church, when the bridegroom comes you must prepare yourself. It is not enough to simply be with those who gather. It is not enough to simply have all the outward things together. You had to make preparation.
Very soon, Jesus Christ is going to return for the true church. He will return for the ones who have made spiritual preparation. He is taking them on a journey. We will meet in the clouds. We will go to the home he has prepared for us. He said, In my Fathers house are many mansion, if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you! If you have made spiritual preparation, you will see that heavenly home. We will go to the Marriage supper of the lamb, and what a rejoicing that will be.
I want to tell you that making spiritual preparation for the coming of the bridegroom is more important than the job you have on this earth. It is more important than getting your taxes done so you can get your return back. It’s more important than getting a last will and testament done. It is more important than any aspect of your life. Because what does it profit a man or a woman if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? You have to get ready!
Don’t be one of the foolish who are going to be left behind. I can assure you there will be foolish ones. The day after the rapture there will be those who gather here in this church and in churches around the world. They will say “I went to church. I gathered with the others who went. I sang the songs. I did all those outward things.” And they will realize that they failed to make proper preparation of their heart and soul.
What do I have to do to make that preparation? The scripture is plain:
- You must be born again.
- You must ask for forgiveness.
- You have to accept Jesus Christ into your life.
- You receive him as Savior.
- And you receive Him as the director of your life.
It is more than simply saying a little prayer with a preacher, shaking his hand, and thinking it is all right. To be right with God requires repentance. That means that you turn from sin. That means that you have had a change of mind, that leads to a change of life. It is the goodness of God that leads a person to turn from sin. There is a moment my friend when the Spirit of God bears witness with your spirit that you are a son or daughter of God. I believe that you can know that you know that you know. But preparation has to be made.
An end times urgency will drive you to the foot of the cross to get your life right with Christ. And it will cause you to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord. 1 John 3:3 “And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”
My wife and I were very concerned when we heard someone say, I would like to have three days of preparation time before I die. You shouldn’t wait until the doctor says you have three days. Get right today. We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. We don’t know when he is coming. The next thing I see is that:
- The wise had oil, the foolish did not.
Oil in the scripture is representative of the Holy Spirit. Your spiritual lamp isn’t going to burn very bright or even burn at all without the Holy Spirit. The minute you are born again, you are sealed with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the one who is called alongside you to help you.
And what is interesting is that foolish asked the wise to give them oil. In the parable it almost looks as if they are selfish. But how many of you realize you have to personally have a relationship with Jesus. I can’t cause you to be born of the spirit. That is the work of God when we turn to Him. I can point the way for you. I can show you the Word, but each person must have a real relationship with God for themselves. Some will say, “But my daddy was a preacher.” Sorry, that won’t get you in. “But all my family knows the Lord.” That won’t do it. Do you know the Lord? Have you allowed the Holy Spirit to do his regenerating work in You?
- The wise were known by the Lord, the foolish were not.
“Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’
There will be a lot of “Lord, Lord’s” on that day. In fact, Jesus predicted this:
Matthew 7:21-23 says “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
Jesus will say, “depart from me, I never knew you.” That is the scariest sentence in the English language. Do you know Jesus? Does he know you?
We must have an end times urgency by
- HAVING A WATCHFUL CARE OF OUR LIFE
Luke 21:34-36 “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
In Celebrate Recovery we talk about doing a daily inventory of our life. How well am I doing? Am I living out what I believe? Have I allowed the world and its compromises to sneak in around me? Am I walking worthy of the calling that I have been given? Would I be ashamed at any moment in time if Jesus came and found me doing….whatever. This is so important for believers. If you believe Jesus is coming in the rapture, it will create an end times urgency that will drive you to a pure life with Christ.
Remember that “Without holiness no man will see the Lord!” That is the holiness that is both imputed to us by Christ, and the holiness that we live out and walk out and work out in our lives.
We must have an end times urgency in
- SHARING OUR FAITH
Oh my friends. How can it be that the church often spend more time praying for each other’s sicknesses than they do for lost people’s salvation? I believe in healing. But my passion is souls. The truth is that multiplied millions will be left behind on that day.
Years ago, a farmer in Asia stood outside his hut and was looking down the huge hill he lives on toward the sea. There in the distance he saw a wave that seemed to be larger than usual, headed his way. As he watched, the wave grew and grew in height. He realized that it was a Tsunami. Looking around, he saw his neighbors and the rest of the villagers farming in the fields below, unable to see the wave headed their way. In just a few minutes, the wave would overtake them and they would all be lost.
Thinking quickly, he grabbed a torch and set his hut on fire, with all of the rice he had already gathered for the coming winter. After lighting the fire, he began to ring the village bell and his neighbors, looking up and seeing the fire, immediately left their fields and ran up the hill to help him, and they all got to high ground just as the Tsunami crashed around them. He gave everything to save his friends.
Can we do any less? Did that man regret that he had set his rice on fire? No! And we will not regret any time spent in prayer or sharing our faith so others can know Christ. It is the most important work in the entire world. We have lost a sense of end times urgency. 2 Corinthians 5:11 “Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men;” We know that during the Tribulation the wrath of God will be poured out upon mankind. The last three and one half years are called the Great Tribulation. How can we not warn people?
I thought God was love. He is love but he is also just. It is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment. There is a real place called the lake of fire. Love speaks the truth. Love warns. Love pleads. George Whitfield often had to stop preaching because he broke into tears. When someone suggested that he should control himself more he said, ’How can I help weeping for people when they won’t weep from themselves? Every time I preach I wonder if someone is hearing the gospel for the last time.” I wish that God would put in every believer an end times urgency to share their faith!
2 Corinthians 5:14 “for the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;” Of course, it is love for our fellow man that compels us as well.
The story of told of three apprentice devils being trained by Satan. ‘What are you going to try today?’ asks the leader. The first apprentice replies, ‘I’m going to tell them there is no God.’ ‘Well,’ says Satan, ‘you can try. A few fools will believe you. But the universe shouts the existence of God. There is evidence all around and you’ll not do very well. Indeed, even in the secular twenty-first century you may find your self witnessing the slow death of atheism. Any other ideas?’ The second apprentice tries this: ‘I’m going to tell them there’s no judgment.’ ‘That’s a better idea,’ says Satan. ‘You will persuade more people of that, especially some of the clergy. But human beings have a gut sense of accountability, that actions have consequences. They know what it is to feel guilty even when there therapists tell them not to. So I think you’ll find it an uphill struggle. Anyone else have an idea?’ The third apprentice pipes up, ‘I’m going to tell them there’s no hurry.’ ‘Brilliant,’ says Satan. ‘That is just what you want to say. You will have great success. Let them listen to the word of God and whisper in their ears, “This is good stuff. One day you ought to do something about this. But tomorrow will do.”
I think that Satan uses the same strategy against Christians. Remove the urgency and you remove our passion. My prayer today is that God will give us an end times urgency that the harvest will be brought in. In Jesus name, Amen!