The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Be-Ready Attitudes

Throughout the New Testament we are exhorted to be ready for the return of Jesus Christ or the Second Coming. The Second Coming takes place in two phases. The first phase involves Jesus coming in the clouds for His church to rapture them (1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11). This first phase takes place before the seven year period of Tribulation predicted for the future (Daniel 9:24-27; Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; Revelation 6-18). During this Tribulation period God pours out His wrath on a Christ rejecting world (Revelation 6:16, 17; 11:18; 14:10, 19; 15:1, 7; 16:1, 19; 19:15). The rapture of the church saves believers from God’s wrath (Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9; Revelation 3:10). At the end of the Tribulation Jesus will return to earth with His saints to save Israel and establish His thousand year reign on earth (Revelation 19-20).

While true believers will be raptured before the seven year period of Tribulation signs and deception will increase leading up to this time. Christians are exhorted to be ready for this. In God’s sovereign determination you and I have been birthed for such a time as this. We need to be ready. Below are seven be ready attitudes to help us prepare so we can be safe and a productive instrument in the hands of God during this time. What are these Be-Ready Attitudes?

First, Have A Simple Attitude. Something can be simple without being simplistic. The Gospel laid out in scripture is simple but profound. Paul specifically mentioned and warned against getting away from “the simplicity of Christ,” saying: “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!” (2 Cor. 11:3-4). Paul mentions “another Jesus,” “a different spirit,” and “a different gospel.” Alternatives to the simplicity of scriptural salvation by grace through faith in Christ are from “the serpent.” Those who depart from the simple gospel of Christ are anathematized according to God’s word (Gal. 1:3-8).

When the plain sense of scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense. Beware of complex eisegetical interpretations of God’s word or new revelations that deductively manipulate scriptures to support doctrinal preferences. A scripture out of context is a pretext. Instead be inductive; let the scripture form your doctrine. Verify everything based on the whole counsel of God’s word (i.e. the 66 Books of the Canon). The gospel has been made simple so that as many as possible can understand it and be saved. When we complicate the gospel it creates a barrier between God and those He is seeking to save.

Second, Have an Assessing Attitude. There will be pseudo Christians, lying signs and wonders in the church during this time (Mat. 13:24-30; 1 John 2:19). Paul states to the Thessalonians church: “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. . . . The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, [See John 17:17] that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie,” (2 Thess. 2:3-4, 9-11). We need to have an assessing attitude.

The believer will be raptured to Christ before the revealing of antichrist, but we will likely see some of the signs that precede him. There will be apostasy in the church and a departure from Biblically based doctrine. People will begin to focus on and obsess over signs, wonders and experiential based religion rather than a doctrinally sound faith based on the truth of God’s word. Those who do “not receive the love of the truth” will suffer a, “strong delusion that they should believe the lie.” “The lie” refers to the serpent’s lie to Eve in Eden, that God is not faithful, His word is not dependable, He doesn’t have your best interests at heart and you don’t need Him anyway, you can be “like God” (cf. Genesis 3). Beware of such lies. Assess everything by God’s word (1 Thess. 5:21).

Third, Have a Self Appraising Attitude. “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Cor. 13:5). Not everyone who uses the word “Lord” is necessarily saved (Mt. 7:21-24). Some trust in themselves, others trust in tradition for their eternal destiny. But God’s word gives the only true reflection of our status with Him (Ps. 139; Hebrews 4:12; James 1:22-25). Take the plank out of your own eye before you go fiddling with the speck in someone else’s (Mat. 7:3-5).

Jesus also said: “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.35 “For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.36 “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” (Lk. 21:34-36). Jesus tells us to be alert and avoid being weighed down with things in this world. He wants us to be, “counted worthy to escape all these things.” Will you be ready when He calls?

Fourth, Have a Soldier’s Attitude. We are in a spiritual war! Both Paul (Eph. 6:10-18) and Peter (1 Pet. 2:11; 5:8-9) warned believers against the tactics and strategies of Satan who is relentless in his pursuit to destroy believers. Be aware of your enemy and his desire to defeat you. That problem you have with that other person or situation is not simply an issue with them, it is likely fueled and backed by a strategy of Satan to get at you in some way. Beware of Satan and keep things in spiritual perspective.

Fifth, Have a Prayerful Attitude. Jesus exhorted His followers to pray and never give up (Luke 18:1-8). There will be many anxiety producing events in these last days. But rather than worry and stress out, we ought to take it to the Lord in prayer (Phil. 4:6-7). Prayer has been referred to as the long range artillery of spiritual warfare. Make sure you soften the beach head with prayer before you try to storm it. Your progress is prepared for through prayer.

Sixth, Have a Contentious Attitude. This doesn’t mean we should be ornery or aggravating. We shouldn’t be like porcupines that have so many points no one can get close to us. But we are called to contend for the faith! (Jude 3-4). The “prevent defense” in football is a tactic where one team spreads itself out on the field in order to protect their lead. They lay back and wait for their opponent’s attack. Many have found that spreading yourself out too thin and waiting for the attack only leads to a loss. We need to go on the offensive against the enemy. We are fighting a ruthless sin promoting foe; we need to be ruthless with sin (Mt. 5:29-30). We don’t have much time left. We shouldn’t be hiding in our homes, or running for cover. We should be out contending earnestly for the truth of God. That is our calling and responsibility (Ezek. 3:17-19). We will be held accountable for that some day (2 Tim. 2:15, 24-26; 3:16-17). The word of God is the sword of the Spirit, let’s use it! Let’s go on the attack, defeat the enemy and liberate as many people from their sin as we can.

Seventh, Have a Loving Attitude. There was once a disciple of Jesus who drew his sword and chopped off the ear of one who came against Jesus (Mat. 26:50-56). Jesus told him to put his sword away and healed the one who was struck. We are not to hack away at people with the sword of the Spirit (i.e. the word of God - Eph. 6:17). Instead we are to speak God’s truth in love (Eph. 4:11-15). Love never fails (1 Cor. 13:8). The Spirit fills the believer with God’s love (Rom. 5:5). If we want to be victorious and effective, all that we do should be fueled by God’s love (2 Cor. 5:14-16).

These are the seven Be-Ready Attitudes. We can only obtain them through the Spirit (Acts 1:8; 1 Cor. 12:11). Are you ready to be used by the Lord? Do you have the right attitude? Why not take some time to prayerfully ask the Lord to search your attitudes and give you the Be-Ready Attitudes. He’s coming back; soon and very soon. What attitude will he find in you when he returns?

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