10 ways of life before the return of Jesus
In the previous chapters, we have studied Bible verses about the Rapture. The Rapture happens suddenly, and according to the Lord Jesus, He is coming soon. That is a beautiful prospect! But how should we live today? Using the Bible as our guide, we will explore what we should do in preparation for the Rapture. This chapter provides an overview, as each topic requires its own chapter.
Live in Expectation
God calls us to expect the Lord Jesus. According to the dictionary, to expect means to anticipate the arrival of something or consider it likely to happen. Living in expectation is not unfamiliar to expectant parents. Before a child is born, parents live in expectation. When a pregnancy test reveals that a woman is expecting, she shares this good news with her husband. At that moment, the husband and wife are expecting a child. They know and realize that in a few months, a child will be born. Consequently, they decide to prepare a nursery and buy necessary items to care for the child. As the months pass, the parents can see more and more of the child. Ultrasound images become clearer, and (if the parents choose) the gender can be determined. The awareness of the impending birth of a child grows, leading the parents to choose a name and imagine what life with the child will be like. The child also becomes more tangible and larger. The woman feels the child move in her womb, and her belly grows. The doctor provides an estimated due date for the baby's birth, though the actual birth could occur a few weeks before or after that date. When the baby is born, the expectation ends, and the parents enter the reality of caring for their baby. This is similar to our expectation of the Lord Jesus. Jesus has told us about the time when He will come to take us. Today, we live in a time when the Rapture of the Church could happen, but no one knows the exact day. Nevertheless, we may live in expectation every day, just as in the birth of a baby. It would be odd if expectant parents said, "It could be days before the baby arrives; we'll see when it happens. We won't prepare yet; we'll set up the nursery when the baby comes." Family and friends would likely say, "It's just a few days away. The baby is coming soon, and you haven't prepared. You'll be too late, and you won't be able to care for the baby properly." Similarly, it's strange for someone to say, "The Lord Jesus might come in decades. I'll see when He comes, and then I'll prepare." It is crucial to live in expectation today and anticipate His coming.
"For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself." (Philippians 3:20-21)
Instead of expecting a baby, we expect our Savior. The term “Savior” means a redeemer, a deliverer, or a bringer of salvation. We live in expectation of our Savior, who rescues us from the Great Tribulation and the wrath of God. We anticipate our Savior's coming from heaven, where we hold our citizenship. When He comes, He will transform our bodies to be like His glorious body.
"And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him, He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation." (Hebrews 9:27-28)
Seeing their baby for the first time is a remarkable moment for parents. It is the most beautiful sight they have ever seen. Similarly, with the coming of the Lord Jesus, we eagerly await Him and witness His glory and love. We see that He is without sin, and He is the most beautiful sight we will ever see.
"So that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 1:7-8)
Until this revelation occurs, and we see the Lord Jesus face to face, we lack no spiritual gift from the Holy Spirit. Until the meeting takes place, we are called to serve one another and the world in love, bearing witness to the Lord Jesus. Additionally, we need not fear the impending wrath, the Great Tribulation. We anticipate the Lord Jesus, who will deliver us from this dreadful period.
"And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come." (1 Thessalonians 1:10)
At the same time, we must not be deceived. Many will claim to be the Messiah, but they are not.
"And Jesus answered and said to them: 'Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many.'" (Matthew 24:4-5)
"Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." (Matthew 24:42-44)
The Lord Jesus calls us to be watchful. I have seen the movie "The Letter for the King." In this film, there are citizens who aspire to become knights and serve in the army. Before this can happen, they must practice and learn how to fight. Eventually, the examination takes place, and they must complete various tasks. The final task involves "being watchful." Some of the knights find themselves in a small room in the middle of the night, where they must stay awake the whole night. They are not allowed to play games, talk to each other, open the door, or sleep. The only thing they can do is watch a candle, and they must remain vigilant. Similarly, we should be watchful in our spirits. When the Lord Jesus said we should watch, it doesn't mean we should never sleep. The body may sleep, but our spirit must not sleep or become sluggish. We must always be watchful and ensure that the devil finds no entrance into our lives. It's said, "The devil never takes a vacation, so your spirit can't either." We must remain vigilant at all times, just as the knights watched the "candlelight." By candlelight, I mean the light of the Lord Jesus. Let our eyes remain fixed on Him, and let us wear our armor so that we are not caught off guard by the attacks and temptations of the devil.
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." (1 Peter 5:8)
Peter urges us always to be sober and vigilant. If we do this and do not slacken, the devil will never devour us, and we will always have victory in Christ. This is how we should remain watchful until the Rapture of the Church.
"Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming." (Matthew 25:13)
Additionally, we must be watchful for the Lord Jesus and ensure that our spirits do not fall asleep. The Lord Jesus is coming back, and He wants to see watchful servants.
"Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning—lest, coming suddenly, he finds you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!" (Mark 13:33-37)
The Lord Jesus says to everyone, "Watch!" He says this not only to the prophets but also to the shepherds, Bible teachers, and every individual believer. It is essential for everyone to watch, for He is coming suddenly. Some may say, "I'll see when He comes. I'm not concerned about it, and I'll see whether He comes before or after the Great Tribulation." That is not being watchful. Besides, if Jesus comes after the Great Tribulation, we don't need to be watchful today. The temple in Israel has not been built yet, temple services are not happening, the antichrist has not arisen, and the judgments in Revelation are not taking place.
The Lord Jesus may not come today. You can only be watchful if you expect Jesus to come today. How should you be watchful then? I believe the following points can help us:
- Read the Bible and take it seriously (Revelation 22:6-21).
- Study the times we live in and compare them to the Bible.
- Do not be deceived by false prophets with false rapture dates. This can cause us to lose our watchfulness during the interim.
- Let yourself be led by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit points us to Jesus and reveals God's plans to us. No one knows the Rapture date, but the Spirit says that Jesus must come (Revelation 22:17).
- Do not grow slack, and do not be distracted by worldly pleasures. Do this by putting on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:11).
- Pray continually and build a living relationship with God.
- Warn others and attend gatherings of believers.
"Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning. And you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks, they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them. And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." (Luke 12:35-40).
"Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober (...) whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him." (1 Thessalonians 5:6-10)
Do Not Be Anxious
The time we live in is causing a lot of fear. Infectious diseases, wars, and threats of war, famines, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, terrorism, and persecutions are familiar to us. Fear flows into our living rooms from the television, and many wonder, "Will things ever get better?" What does the Lord Jesus say about this time?
"And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet." (Matthew 24:6)
The Lord Jesus doesn't deny the terrible events of our time. He says that these things must happen, but that we do not need to be afraid. Do not be terrified! Do not be afraid!
"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." (Luke 21:34-36)
Jesus calls us to not let our hearts be weighed down by the cares of everyday life. We don't need to be afraid of anything; the Lord Jesus takes care of us. We don't even need to fear death because Jesus is with us. If a believer dies, from that moment on, they spend eternity with the Lord Jesus. If we worry about the cares of everyday life, we may miss the day of the Lord and the Rapture of the Church.
"And we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand." (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2, KJV)
Finally, we do not need to waver or be afraid due to a manifestation of the spirit, a word, or a letter claiming that the Rapture of the Church has already occurred or that Jesus has already returned. If someone makes such a claim, do not be afraid, but hold fast to the Word of God. If Jesus had returned, we would see Him, and we would witness the restoration of creation. If the Rapture had taken place, we would know that millions of people have suddenly disappeared. Fear not!
We are to live in expectation and be watchful for the coming of the Lord Jesus. However, this does not mean we should be idle on Earth. It's essential to be active until the moment of the Rapture. First and foremost, it's good to work in the world and earn a living. Secondly, it's important to work for God's kingdom and do what God has specifically called you to do. Working for God's kingdom doesn't mean that everyone has a public ministry. Not everyone is called by God to speak before thousands or millions of people. God has given each person a unique ministry, and everyone is essential for the proper functioning of the Church. We cannot say that one ministry is more important than another. Paul compares it to a body, and we need every part to function well (1 Corinthians 12:12-31).
"Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods." (Matthew 24:45-47)
Blessed are those who do what the Lord has assigned to His servants. What could be more beautiful than being caught up in the air while actively engaged in His kingdom? At the moment when we are faithful and do what He asks of us? The Lord Jesus says that He rewards those who are active and will make them rulers over His possessions. We read this in Matthew 25.
"His lord said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.”" (Matthew 25:21)
This verse speaks of a servant who received five talents (a weight measurement) from his master. While the master was away, the servant ensured that these five talents became ten talents. The servant worked diligently and now receives honor from the master. Not only that, but the servant is rewarded. The master says, 'you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.' The servant receives a high position from the master. The same applies to us. Let us be active, and let the Lord Jesus say to us, 'Well done, good and faithful servant.' In this story, we also read about a wicked servant who was not active. He received one talent and buried it. When the master returned, he retrieved his talent and handed it back to the master. The master became furious with him because he was lazy, and he was cast into darkness.
We are the bride of Christ. This means we are given to one Man, and the wedding day is approaching. God designed earthly marriage as a covenant between one man and one woman. The man and the woman wait until they are married to come together physically. Until then, they have no physical intimacy with each other or with other men or women. This is God's intention and desire for the husband and wife to remain pure and not engage in fornication. The same applies to our relationship with the Lord Jesus.
"For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." (2 Corinthians 11:2)
It is our responsibility to remain pure and be presented as chaste virgins. This means we are pure and innocent. We do not engage in sin but live a holy life before God.
"(…) Do not share in other people’s sins; keep yourself pure." (1 Timothy 5:22)
We cannot achieve this on our own. We need the help of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit desires to transform us so that we become conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus. Through this, we become pure virgins. If we do sin, we have the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, and by His blood, we are (again) made pure (1 John 1).
"I thank my God always concerning you, for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 1:4-8)
God will confirm us until the end, so that we may be blameless on the day of Christ. This verse is not a call to sanctification but a promise of sanctification. Blameless means without accusation. On the day of the Lord, we will stand without accusation due to the grace and righteousness we receive from God. In the rest of the book of Corinthians, we are called to live a holy and pure life before God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, 9:24-27, or 11:1).
"so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints." (1 Thessalonians 3:13)
The word 'blameless' in 1 Thessalonians means that there can be no fault found in or against us. It's a collaboration between God on one side and us on the other. We must strive to be blameless and holy, and God gives us the strength to do so.
"Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thessalonians 5:23)
"If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Therefore, put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things, the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience." (Colossians 3:1-6)
In the book of Colossians, Paul urges us to seek the things that are above, where the Lord Jesus is. Moreover, we are to put to death the earthly things within us. In other words, we are to sanctify and purify ourselves for the Lord Jesus, as failure to do so may lead to experiencing God's wrath, which is reserved for the disobedient.
The following passage is found in 2 Peter. Peter speaks about the destruction of the current heaven and earth and the promise of a new heaven and earth. Many long for this promise, but Peter emphasizes the following:
"Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless." (2 Peter 3:11-14)
According to Peter, we are to be diligent in order to be found without spot or blameless. Being diligent implies making an effort. We must strive to be blameless and avoid sin.
"But he who endures to the end shall be saved." (Matthew 24:13)
"Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth." (Revelation 3:10)
The Lord Jesus calls us to persevere, and if we endure, we will be saved, and we will be kept from the hour of trial. It is crucial to persevere. Perseverance means steadfastly continuing in what we have started. When we come to faith, we begin a new life in Christ. Jesus says that we must maintain this new way of life, regardless of what challenges we face. It's sometimes akin to a five-kilometer route through the mountains. The first kilometer is easy, as it's a paved, flat road. The second kilometer becomes more challenging, as it's a steep, paved road uphill. The third kilometer is even more challenging, as the paved road ends, and we walk on rough terrain. The fourth and fifth kilometers become easier as we reach the summit and descend slowly on a paved road. Perseverance means not giving up and completing what we've started, which is the mountain hike. The Lord Jesus says this applies to our spiritual life, and we must always persevere, especially when life is tough.
"Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful." (James 5:11).
Job knows how difficult life can be. Yet, despite all his hardships and the disasters that befell him, he persevered, and God rewarded him. God also rewards us when we persevere. Firstly, we are saved, and secondly, we escape the Great Tribulation.
"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Comfort Each Other
"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. Therefore comfort one another with these words." (1 Thessalonians 4:17-18)
Life can be challenging at times, and one of life's harsh aspects is the passing of loved ones. Paul urges us to find comfort in the Rapture of the Church and our reunion with the Lord Jesus and our loved ones. Farewell to a believer is temporary. In due time, we will be reunited with those who have gone before us.
"Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing." (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Paul calls for mutual encouragement. The reason for this encouragement can be found a few verses earlier.
"For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him." (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10)
Comfort one another because we are not appointed to wrath, and we will live together with Him. By God's grace, we will not experience the wrath poured out on the wicked during the Great Tribulation and in eternity in hell.
Other Ways of Living
Attend the Gatherings
"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10:25)
We must not neglect the gathering of believers. Paul is referring to gatherings of believers, such as church services, Bible studies, or prayer meetings. Let us encourage one another to attend church to worship God and receive instruction, especially as we see the approach of the great day, the Rapture of the Church, and the onset of the Great Tribulation.
"Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand." (James 5:7-8)
Patience is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) and is important to have. We must be patient and wait for Him until the coming of the Lord. Just as a farmer waits patiently for his harvest, we wait patiently for the Lord Jesus.
"When I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand." (Ezekiel 3:18)
It's crucial to warn those who do not know God and His plans. We do this not out of fear but out of love. We love the people around us, and therefore, we want to tell them about God and His grace. God desires that people choose Him. God takes no pleasure in the lost perishing; He wants the wicked to repent. We have the privilege of being part of God's plan and reaching out to people to tell them they can become children of God.
When the Lord Jesus returns, He wants to see servants who do what He commands. Until the Rapture of the Church takes place, the Lord Jesus instructs us to:
- Live in expectation
- Remain watchful
- Do not be anxious
- Stay active
- Remain pure
- Comfort one another
- Attend gatherings
- Be patient
- Warn others
This study on the Rapture of the Church should not make us passive, merely waiting for the Lord's coming. It should motivate us to recognize the need to testify about the Lord Jesus to the people around us, so they may experience the Rapture and not fall under the judgment and wrath of the Great Tribulation.
This chapter is in the book A Revelation of the End Times. Read this book right now, so that you don't miss anything about the end times, live in expectation and your faith is increased. The rapture of the church is a special prophecy from the Word of God. Due to the many theories and ideas about this event, many no longer know what is and what is not Biblical. Timo Groot takes you through the Biblical data about the rapture and why the rapture is more relevant today than ever before. The rapture is the hope of escaping the terrible things that are going to happen on earth and is the moment when the church will see the Lord Jesus face to face in the father's house of God.