What Does it Matter?
A review of Bible prophecy does indicate that there will be an end of an age or a system of things, though it is not clear how that will actually occur. But, as mentioned above, to a baptized Christian, the end of the age or the end of the system of things has little importance because he has already given up his earthly life.
We know that when we are called to lay down our life struggle and pass through the portal of death, we will thereafter stand in the immediate presence of judgment and be face to face with the facts of a new dispensation of service in the heavens. What the whole world must face as a literal fact at the some time end of an age, we, as individuals, will most certainly face as a personal experience when we reach the end of our natural life.
The downfall of nations, the crash of empires, the end of an age, even the end of the world, have little to do with one who believes in the gospel of the kingdom that we are all sons of God who have hidden our lives in the surety of the eternal kingdom. All who are God-knowing and gospel-believing have already received the assurances of eternal life. Since our lives are being lived in the spirit and for the Father, nothing can be of serious concern to us. The Father’s kingdom cannot be disturbed or distorted by earthly upheavals or planetary cataclysms. As Jesus said:
“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”
– Matthew 6:20
Each of us should carry on our work in view of the possible return of the Son of Man exactly as each of us carries forth our lifework in view of the inevitable and ever-impending natural death. When we have by faith once established ourselves as a son of God, nothing else matters as regard the surety of survival. However, we must ever keep in mind that having once accepted our sonship will not save us in the face of the knowing and persistent rejection of those same truths which have to do with progressively bearing spiritual fruit. At any time, we can desert the Father and our ministry if we so choose. Therefore, it is important for us to consider Peter’s words:
“Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.”
– 2 Peter 3:11-12
The focus should be on our ‘holy acts of conduct’ and our ‘deeds of godly devotion,’ matters that are the crux of the plain and open teachings of Jesus. We should be working toward the mandate:
“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
– Matthew 5:48
Holy acts of conduct are the things we do that honor the Father and our relationship with Him and our brothers. They can be ministry-related like teaching the plain and open teachings, or they can be secular-related like showing kindness to a stranger. (Luke 10:30-37) Note Jesus’ words:
“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
– Luke 6:31
“Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.”
– Mark 9:41
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
– Matthew 7:1-2
“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
– Matthew 18:21-22
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
– Matthew 25:35-40
These are the types of things that demonstrate how far we have come in our appreciation of the plain and open teachings. And the more we spread the Father’s good will through our words and conduct, the more enemies we turn into friends, and consequently, the fewer souls to be lost in an end time adjudication.
Prophetic interpretations as they are currently presented serve to divide us in fear; whereas the plain and open teachings unite us in faith. Prophetic interpretations puff one up with self-importance; whereas the plain and open teachings build one another up in love. Prophetic interpretations emphasize calamity; whereas the plain and open teachings highlight peace. Prophetic interpretations presumptiously judge the world; whereas the plain and open teachings can save the world.
So really, what is better – presuming to know the interpretations of prophecy, or knowing the plain and open teachings of Jesus? Which one will make a positive difference in your life and the lives of others? Which one leads to your eternal salvation?
When we live our physical lives by faith in the life and ministry of Jesus and in loving service for one another, we can confidently look forward to the next step in the eternal career with the same survival faith that carried us through our first earthly adventure in sonship with God.
No, we have no idea when Jesus will fulfill his promise to return or when we will be faced with the end of an age. Jesus may appear on earth any day, and he may not come until age after age has passed. But no matter. Each one of us is destined to see him and it is of no serious concern whether we go to him or he chances first to come to us. Whatever the world conditions, we should be ever ready to welcome him on earth as he stands ready to welcome us in heaven.