AS THE WORLD seems to be falling apart at the seams, hurtling toward oblivion, new religious groups are blossoming everywhere. Many of them profess to be Christian, others blend Eastern mysticism with Western psychology and certain "Christian" tenets. Gurus, prophets and priests are preaching their various doctrines dealing with salvation, grace, and — sometimes — heralding the "coming of the Messiah." But how many people do you know who LITERALLY believe that Jesus Christ — the Christ of YOUR BIBLE — is actually going to come to this earth again, this time not as a lowly carpenter of Nazareth, but as the resplendent, glorious, powerful KING OF KINGS? Countless Biblical prophecies foretell this wonderful event. It is all through your Bible. But how does this scriptural fact affect YOU? What are you presently DOING about it? What should YOU be doing "till the Messiah comes"? Should you go out, sit on a hilltop, and meditate? Should you simply ignore the possibility, and go out and "live for today, for tomorrow we die"? Should you become a religious recluse, or an acerbated ascetic, living on prune juice and rose hip tea, contemplating deep "spiritual" things? What SHOULD you do?
The "COP-OUT" Attitude
Many people today — especially young people — look at the mess the world is in and become direly pessimistic. They see that global catastrophe seems right around the corner — that we are populating ourselves into oblivion, polluting our human environment, and that the arms race has reached the point of "OVERKILL." They muse: "Since the world is going to destroy itself anyway, what's the use? Why plan for the future? Why study and prepare? Why pursue my education and find a vocation? What's the use of it all, since it's all going up in smoke, anyway?)) And then another thought strikes some: "Christ is coming, and He will solve all this world's problems anyway. So what can I do? What is there for me? What should I do with my life?" What about it? Are you a victim of this attitude of discouragement and hopelessness? Have you been worried about what you should do with your life? The Bible gives us an example of people who felt the very same way 1900 years ago. Some of the Christians in ancient Thessalonica were growing discouraged. They were being influenced by the world around them, and Paul had to exhort them not to give in to the sins which were prevalent in society at that time (I Thes. 4:3-7). Paul had to exhort them not to let down, but to walk WORTHY of God, and to WORK with their own hands (I Thes. 2:12; 4:11) — and not just sit and "wait it out" till Christ comes. Paul wrote and said, "For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing" (II Thes. 3:11-12 ). Do you catch the import of this instruction? God does not want any of us to grow discouraged, to give up, to "cop out," to do nothing. He intends for each one of us to make something of his life — to develop his abilities, to build righteous CHARACTER, so we all can help build a better tomorrow! Don't think that your life is wasted and there is nothing for you to do. Rather, realize that never were the opportunities so GREAT and challenging as they are today! With the world facing a momentous crisis, you should — no matter what your age — strive to understand that crisis and its solution, so YOU can have a part in solving the world's problems! Make no mistake. When Christ returns, He is NOT going to "do it all Himself." The saints — true Christians — are going to help Him clean up this world! Don't give in to this modern generation, and its hopeless, discouraged, negative attitudes. Ask for God's guidance in planning your life. Develop your particular abilities and talents, and then get busy and USE them so you can have a part in the coming World Tomorrow! Christ may come in the next few years. But Bible prophecy doesn't state exactly when He will return. Meanwhile it is God's will for YOU to actively plan and prepare your life, and develop your abilities and your talents, and above all to develop holy, righteous, godly CHARACTER. When Jesus Christ was on this earth, He told His disciples a parable illustrating what they should be doing when He was gone. He said: "A certain nobleman [representing Jesus Christ) went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to RETURN. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, OCCUPY TILL I COME" (Luke 19:12-13). And verse 15: "And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading." Read the rest of this parable. Christ REWARDED His servants, according to how much they PRODUCED in this life; according to how well they employed their abilities and talents to develop character, to overcome sin, and to perform the work God had given them to do. Even so, God expects each of us — no matter what his age or circumstances — to make the most of his opportunities, challenges, and abilities. He expects us to grow spiritually, to overcome human nature, to develop godly CHARACTER so we can be a part of the wonderful World Tomorrow!
Step # 1 — Inform Yourself
Those who are confused, and who don't really know what they should be doing until the Messiah comes, have probably been deceived by the false religious doctrines of this world and its countless imitations of the true Church of God! God's Word is VERY PLAIN as to what each one of us should be doing — right now! What? First, your job is to inform yourself where the true Church of God is today. Investigate. Check up. And PROVE to yourself where God's Work is really being done! The Apostle Paul said of the people in Berea, a city in ancient Greece, "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and SEARCHED THE SCRIPTURES DAILY whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed..." (Acts 17:11-12). What about you? Are you studying the Bible — searching the Scriptures daily — attempting to PROVE who has the truth of God, who is preaching the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, the same Gospel He preached? The Apostle Paul charges us, "STUDY to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (II Tim. 2 : 15). It is your main responsibility, before the Messiah comes, to STUDY the Bible. Pore over it. Learn what it teaches. And then LIVE by it! Jesus Christ said: "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4). Are you striving to LIVE by every word of the Bible — every word of God? But what else should you be doing, before the Messiah comes?
Step #2 — Pray
You need to maintain a vital contact with God. If you are not praying to your heavenly Father every day, then your contact with God is severed — you are cut off from Him. Have you learned how to pray effectively, so that your prayers are answered? Do you pray as Jesus commanded His disciples (Matt. 6:5-8)? Do you exalt God daily in your prayers? Do you pray daily for His Kingdom to come, to be established on this earth soon? Do you pray for forgiveness of your sins, even as you forgive others who sin against you? The Apostle Paul says we should be "PRAYING always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints" (Eph. 6:18). Are you doing this, right now? But even if you are praying and studying, there is still more that you should be doing till the Messiah comes.
Step #3 — WATCH World Conditions
At first glance, this may seem like an unusual requirement for those expecting the coming of Jesus Christ soon. Why watch world conditions? What does this have to do with the coming of Christ? Nineteen hundred years ago Jesus' twelve disciples came to Him and asked Him when He was going to come again — what the signs would be of His coming, and of the end of the present age of man's misrule on the earth (Matt. 24:1-3). Jesus then gave them a step-by-step sequence of events which would occur in the world, leading up to His dramatic second coming! This sequence of prophetic events is listed in Matthew, chapter 24 (as well as Mark 13 and Luke 21). It included world wars, famines, disease epidemics, earthquakes, religious persecution, and great tribulation upon the earth, among the nations (see Matt. 24:6-7, 9-10, 21-22). After this, Christ will come (Matt. 24:27- 31). Jesus then declared: "But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (Matt. 24:37-39). Jesus then added: "WATCH THEREFORE: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also READY: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh" (Matt. 24:42-44). Christ commands His followers to Are you watching? Are you observing world conditions? Do you see the prophecies of Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 being fulfilled right before your eyes in the daily newspaper headlines? Are you vigilantly aware of what is happening in the world around you? Are you alertly watching? Or are you dozing in the doldrums, deliriously deluded that "everything will be all right"? WATCH!
Step #4 — Keep The Commandments
What else should you be doing till the Messiah — Jesus Christ — comes? So many people, today, seem to think that all Christians have to do is "believe on Christ" and they are automatically SAVED. The common concept is that life is a one-way "train ride" destined for hell. But at the moment you "accept Christ," a switch is changed, and your "train" is then rerouted to heaven when you die! According to this concept, all a Christian has to do, then, is "accept Christ," and wait. There are NO WORKS to salvation! There is NOTHING he must then do — except wait at the station with his bags packed, so to speak. What's wrong with this prevalent conception — this common belief? Just this — it is a surefire method to LOSE OUT on the very salvation a person might think he has! Let's read the scripture commonly quoted to support this belief, and then see what the Bible REALLY says! In Ephesians 2, verses 8-9 we read: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the GIFT of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." Clearly, salvation is a GIFT of God. It is not something we earn by our own sweat, labor, toil and tears. But does this necessarily mean there are NO WORKS AT ALL involved in salvation? Why do so many read these two verses and then stop right there? Why don't they go on and read the very next verse? "For we are his WORKMANSHIP, created in Christ Jesus UNTO GOOD WORKS, WHICH GOD HATH BEFORE ORDAINED THAT WE SHOULD WALK IN THEM" (Eph. 2 : lo). There it is! We are created for the purpose of performing GOOD WORKS. God intends for us to WALK in GOOD WORKS! Salvation, then, involves not only accepting Christ, but also demonstrating that acceptance by the way we live afterwards. It involves performing GOOD WORKS, thereby proving we really endorse Christ's teachings and His way of life! All our good works, of course, will never in a million years EARN us our salvation. Rather, salvation is a gift which God will bestow upon us because we have accepted Christ's sacrifice for payment of the penalty of our sins. But God does require that we live according to His way of life, the way set forth by His commandments — the way of love for God and love for our neighbor! When asked by a young rich ruler what he should do to inherit eternal life, Jesus Christ replied: "IF thou wilt enter into life, KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS" (Matt. 19:17). Christ Himself did (John 15:10). And He set us an example that we should follow His steps, and walk as He walked (I Peter 2:21; I John 2:6). We can do it — through the POWER of the indwelling Spirit of God — if we want to (Gal. 2:20; Rom. 8:2, 4).
Step #5 — Your Part in God's Work
You should study the Bible, find out where God's Work is being done today, pray, watch world events, and keep God's commandments. Is there anything else you should do till the Messiah — Christ — comes? There is yet one thing you should do. In the second chapter of Luke, we find that when Jesus was twelve years old, He remained behind in Jerusalem after his parents returned home, thinking He was with them. They finally discovered He was missing, and returned to Jerusalem searching for Him. When they found Him, He told them: "How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?' (Luke 2:49.) Jesus later told His disciples, "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, AND TO FINISH HIS WORK'' (John 4:34). He told them on another occasion, "I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work" (John 9:4). Christ devoted His entire life to DOING the Work of God! He literally GAVE HIMSELF to accomplish that supreme, most important Work! And He says to us, today: "Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh SHALL FIND SO DOING. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods" (Matt. 24:45-47).
What YOU Should Do Till the MESSIAH Comes!
Are YOU busy DOING YOUR PART in the Work of God, on the earth, today? Have you yet Proved to yourself where that Work is? Are you behind it, supporting it, praying for it, sacrificing for it, and making it a big part of your life? Are you busy about your Father's business — His Work? Never in the history of mankind was the need greater for selfless, dedicated individuals to do the Work of God. We of this end-time generation need to have VISION — we need to see the GOAL of God's Kingdom — we need to grasp the bigness of the job ahead of us in tomorrow's world! God is NOT going to do it all Himself. The SAINTS will rule that Kingdom, bringing justice and judgment to the entire earth under Christ (Dan. 7:22, 27). The jobs we will have, in the world tomorrow, will be immense. They will involve remaking, reshaping, remodeling the societies and governments of the entire earth (Acts 3:19-21). In the World Tomorrow there will be a tremendous need for individuals who have developed RIGHTEOUS CHARACTER now to be leaders then! Are you making right decisions — the foundation of character — in this life, now? The example you set, your moral standards, your closeness to God, your vigilance in watching and your constancy in prayer, your diligence in Bible study, your dedication to the WORK of God, today — these things will determine your usefulness in TOMORROW'S WORLD. Now is the time to prove where God's Work is being done, and then to get behind God's Work and do your part so that the Gospel will be preached to the world as a witness (Matt. 24:14). This is not the time to sit nonchalantly, watching the world go berserk, thinking hopeless, helpless thoughts. Now is not the time to think, plan and live selfishly, seeking the so-called "good life." Now is the time to GET BUSY in Bible study, prayer, watching world events, overcoming human nature, keeping God's commandments, developing righteous character. Now is the time to GET BUSY doing God's Work in anticipation of the Kingdom of God and the coming of the Messiah! What are you doing about it?