The New Testament is consistent in its anticipation that the return of Christ might occur at any moment. That pervading perspective of imminence prompts three questions. The first question pertains to whether the Tribulation will precede Christ’s coming for the church. The answer to that question is that it will not because the church is never asked to look forward to the tribulation, but they are asked to look forward to Christ’s coming.
The second question revolves around how the return of Christ could have been imminent in the early church. The answer here is that no one but the Father knows when the coming will occur, so that Christians including the early church must always be ready.
The third question asks why Christ’s imminent return is so important. This answer relates to the motivation it supplies for believers to purify their lives and thereby progress toward the goal of sanctification and Christlikeness. The threefold call of the imminence doctrine is to wake up and obey right now, to throw off the works of darkness, and to put on the garments of holy living. ~John MacArthur, Is Christ's Return Imminent?1. Wake up and obey
2. Throw off the works of darkness
3. Put on the garments of holy living
Could be good New Year's Resolutions, couldn't they! They could be resolutions for each of us, every year.
Our faith is one that knows it's a body, with Christ as Head. He is the Head of the church and our membership means we individually have been uniquely placed within the body for the purpose of edifying other members and for worshiping the Head. The Doctrine of Imminence demands we retain a fervency and urgency in our walk and our witness. One way to retain that fervency is to live with the very present knowledge that whatever we are doing this moment could be completed in heaven the next. I could be facing Jesus any second. How can I honor him and His blood He shed? By living with Him and for Him, rousingly.
Moreover, I NEED the Doctrine of Imminence. I am a sinful woman. It would be easy for me to slip back to sinful ways I'd lived for four decades before salvation. In the daily and weekly grind of living, ministry can become tame, dull, routine. Though the word "fresh" is often misused these days, the fact is, living as a Christian can become a dull rut. Ministry can become a drudge. Being vigilant to stand guard against the enemy can become wearying. Diligence in spiritual disciplines can wane. I could click on auto-pilot very easily because that is what my flesh wants. And once on autopilot, I could then drift to peeking over the fortress wall to the sinful side, then soon enough I'm walking there. No! Let it not be so! Therefore I need to keep the Lord present in my mind and His soon appearing as a glorious promise and a dread threat. Though Christians are not under wrath or judgment, I would be devastated to disappoint Him and wind up throwing away any glory that could have been gained for Him just because I slacked off.
So, I keep the Doctrine of Imminence fresh and the knowledge that my Savior will come to get me any second in the forefront of my mind as both a heavenly hope and a sin-slowing brake.
In practical terms, as the New Year and a fresh start awaits, HOW can we retain that diligence, vigilance and purpose for the glory of Christ? By also remembering we are part of a BODY. My friend Pastor James Bell wrote,
The New Testament teaches us that Christ is THE HEAD of the church and we are members in vital union with vital ministry to each other-- 1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4:11-16. But reading something in the Bible does not mean "experiencing" it. For the most part, churches today do not function as bodies in which all the members are connected to the Head and to one another in vital union and ministry. Frankly, I'm glad my own PHYSICAL body is not in the shape many churches are in— if it were: My mouth might start talking against my ears. My feet might stop listening to my head, My hands might run off and 'join' another body, etc! ~James BellI liked that phrase, "vital union". The Lord may return any moment, but until then, we are in a vital union with other true members of the Body. How can I do my part? Here, Jack Graham wrote this devotional:
How to maximize your Kingdom impact in 2016December 30, 2015
But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. (1 Corinthians 12:18-20).
Several years ago, I got suckered into buying one of those pocket knives that has everything on it you could imagine. It has a can opener, about five different sized blades, tweezers, a toothpick, a nail file, and screwdriver heads. If there was something you could use a pocket knife for, this one claimed it could do the job.
But here was the problem: none of the tools on the knife worked very well. The blades were dull, the tweezers and toothpick fell out and got lost, and the screwdriver heads were so small that I couldn’t use them to turn a screw.
The tool was so versatile, but didn’t do anything well. And as I look at a lot of Christians today, they’re a lot like that knife. So many are multi-talented and well-rounded, but they rarely commit to doing one thing really well. They’re spread so thin that their impact is minimized.
As you step into 2016 this week, put your focus on one thing you want to do well in the coming year. Resolve to make a deep impact in one place. Do what you do well, and you’ll make a tremendous difference for the Kingdom in the coming year!
CONCENTRATE ON ONE AREA OF KINGDOM IMPACT IN THE COMING YEAR AND WATCH GOD WORK THROUGH YOU IN A POWERFUL WAY!God makes it known what your gifts are and what ministries He wants you in. It's not a secret and you don't need a decoder ring to find out. Where does your mind drift when you think about serving? To the children? To the music? To the facility maintenance? To the women? To the homeless? To deaconship or teaching?
- Jack Graham
What have other people said to you? "You have a heart for the little ones, all right." "You seem to connect with the youth very well." "The church looks fantastic, thanks for cleaning/mowing." Just as men anoint the leaders, by having observed and can see what perhaps it takes our own selves longer to see, others will guide you, prompt you, and tell you where your gifts are and suggest ministry & service opportunities.
What are your God-given talents? Not spiritual gifts, talents, you've had all your life? Mine is writing. It was natural that once I was saved He would include me in ministries that involved research, promotional writing, web maintenance, exhortation in print, blogging, discernment papers answering questions the ladies ask, outlines, etc. I've been able to write all my life, now in ministry it was a no-brainer to use the talent as the foundation for the gifts of teaching, discernment, and encouragement.
Finally, though don't do this last do it first, pray. Open your heart and mind in obedience to want to be used. Ask the Holy Spirit to place you. He will. He WILL, I promise, because He promised! (1 Corinthians 12:7-11).
Happy New Year of the Rapture to you all! He is coming soon!