The signs of the end times are increasing in frequency and intensity, just as Jesus prophesied. Our Lord is indeed standing at the very precipice of Heaven, ready to return and snatch away the Church in — the Rapture. That also means the superstorm of the Tribulation will quickly follow.
To help us understand these important end times, Jeff Kinley, noted author and preacher, continues to bring us his special message about the urgency of Bible prophecy in our day.
The Lord Jesus Christ’s return is imminent. I’ve been studying the Bible since I was 18 years old. I’ve been to four years of seminary. I served over 30 years as a pastor. I’ve read my Bible cover to cover. I’ve even taught it cover to cover. And, I want you to know that I cannot find a single verse in the New Testament that says that the return of Jesus Christ is imminent and that we should… well, maybe not. I kid. There are dozens of verses! Therefore, it seems as if God wants us to be ready. It seems as if we should have a burning within us eager anticipation and purposeful urgency about our lives. Why? Because the Lord is coming back!
In fact, the Early Church invented a term that expressed this — Maranatha. It’s an Aramaic term that means “may the Lord come.”
Can you imagine going to church next Sunday and instead of asking where’s the coffee bar or how’s it going, or commenting on a nice dress, or wondering what the pastor will be preaching on today, that every believer who walked through the church doors turned to another believer and said, “Maranatha, maybe it’s going to be today!” Wouldn’t it be great if it was today? There’d be fist bumping and high fives and hugging going on. It could be today — quite suddenly — it could be today!
Living in Expectation
So, you ask, “Jeff, what do I do then? How do I wrap this life here up?” I’ll leave a couple of quick thoughts.
Number one: we warn the lost, wake the slumbering, and encourage the seeking. Hebrews 10:25 encourages Christians to gather with one another as we see the day of Christ’s return approaching. In other words, we dial up our encouragement. Whatever spiritual level you’re at, encourage others in terms of their walk with Jesus. Turn it up! Warn the lost. Be about the business of Christ.
Number two: fight for what is good and decent. Why? Because if God wanted you in Heaven, you’d be there already. Therefore, not a single person who is here on this Earth right now is supposed to instead be in Heaven. Rather, you are supposed to be right here on planet Earth. Jesus is saying: “I put you here. I put you in that city. I put you in that church. I put you in that neighborhood. I put you in that family. Because that’s where I want you.”
And so, Christ desires us to fight for what is good. That means out in the community, so I also mean we also fight politically for what is good. Fight at the school board meetings. Get out there and be a soldier for Jesus. Fight our society for what is good and moral and decent. Don’t let people tell you that men can have babies. That’s insane! Fight for what is good.
Number three: redeem the time because we’re all on a budget. What do I mean by a budget? We’re all on a time budget.
I remember going to the state fair when I was a boy. My dad gave me eleven $1 bills. He said, “Don’t spend that all in one place?” And so, I just carefully doled out those bills because I was on a budget. So, guess what? We’re all on a budget. We’re on a budget in two ways. Firstly, we don’t know when the Lord is going to come back, so we are living on that budget.
Secondly, we’re all living on borrowed time. Tomorrow could be the day when the Lord, at last, says, “You’re finished your mission, Jeff, so let’s go home.” That’s okay with me. I’d rather wait for the Rapture, but do you know what, it really doesn’t matter because on eternity’s timeline for those of you who get to live to be a hundred, you’re life is still just a dot.
Do you see what I’m saying? Use the time wisely that you have left. Those of us who are a little bit older understand a little bit more about our mortality. I know I don’t have 50 years left. I might not have 30, 20, or even 10. I don’t know; that’s the point. But, however long I have breath in my lungs, I’m going to tell people about Jesus Christ. I’m going to live for Him. Seriously, fight to the finish! Go all the way. Die on the battlefield. That’s the way to go. Redeem the time because we’re all on a time budget.
Number four: live your life, love your family, and enjoy your Lord.
I have young couples walk up to me and ask, “Jeff, if the return of Christ is imminent, what am I supposed to do?” I answer, “Have some more babies, stay busy, go on a vacation, and do whatever God’s called you to do.” Martin Luther once said, “If I knew Jesus was coming back tomorrow, I’d plant a tree today.” Why? Because I live expecting to see that tree grow.
I’m going to do what God’s calling me to do today. Right now! We don’t hold up on a mountain in our pajamas with a candle singing, “Give me more oil in my lamp, keep me burning, burning, burning.” No! Get out there and live for Jesus. Do what you’re supposed to do. Go to work. Do the dailies. Because, in the end, do you know what God is going to judge us on? Not brilliance, not the number of people in our ministry, but rather faithfulness. That’s what God is looking for. He’s looking for faithfulness. Now’s the time of urgency!
The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere
Many know the story of Paul Revere. He’s one of the most famous men in American history. He’s been made immortal by the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow about the midnight ride of Paul Revere. It’s just 11 verses published back in 1861. Among these words, Longfellow writes: “So through the night, rode Paul Revere. So through the night, when his cry of alarm to every Middlesex village and farm, a cry of defiance and not a fear, a voice in the darkness, a knock at the door, and a word that shall echo forevermore.”
Everybody knows about Paul Revere, but they may not have heard of Israel Bissell. Israel Bissell and other riders like him are the men whom some historians think are the composite that became the Paul Revere of that famous midnight ride. Israel Bissell was a 23-year-old postal rider who when the war broke out on April 19, 1775, was commissioned by the Massachusetts militia to take a document to General Joseph Palmer.
Bissell read a note in this document which said:
“To all friends of American Liberty, be it known that this morning, before the break of day, a brigade consisting of 1,000 or 1,200 men marched to Lexington, where they found a company of our colonial militia and arms upon whom they fired without any provocation, and killed six men and wounded four others. By an express from Boston, we find that another brigade is now upon their march from Boston, supposedly at 1,000.”
Israel Bissell’s letter also ordered the militias to furnish him with fresh horses as needed. And so, Israel Bissell took off on his ride with that document, riding from hamlet to hamlet and from town to town. Every time he arrived in a new town, the townsfolk would copy the letter again, and they would put it in his hands, and he would get on another horse and ride to the next town. He rode so fast and so furiously — so urgent was his mission — that the first horse he rode died underneath him because he had ridden it so hard. After all, it was a 345-mile journey from Boston’s western edge to Philadelphia.
Some 24 to 48 hours later, Bissell finally reached Philadelphia. Upon hearing the pealing of what eventually would become known as the Liberty Bell, a crowd of 8,000 people who had learned that war had just begun drew together. By that copy, the portion of the document bearing Bissell’s name had become inaccurately listed. His first name was mistaken as “Trail” instead of “Israel” because his name had been miscopied. That very document resides today in Philadelphia in the American manuscript section of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
Israel Bissell had a sense of urgency about his life. The British are coming! And, as he charged into each town, he proclaimed: Two arms! Two arms! The British are coming.
My friend, now is the time not to be alarming, but to sound the alarm. Now is not the time to panic, but to persist in the mission that God has given each one of us. Part of that mission is to tell everyone possible that the King is coming and that we must get ready.
So, ask yourself, “Am I ready?” Are you ready for the returning Bridegroom? Are you helping other people in this world become ready for the coming King?
Christians have a mission of urgency. May each one of us be discerning before God. May we be diligent in proclaiming to a desperate populace the urgent message that Jesus still saves.