"Dedicated to strengthening and encouraging the Body of Christ."

Be On Guard!

By Dr. F. A. Tatford

    The Lord’s coming is the subject above all others which has a relevance to practical life and conduct. In the New Testament, the teaching regarding Christ’s return is consistently associated with the individual’s life.

    Our Lord indicated quite clearly that the effect of the hope of His return should be watchfulness. The watchful servant does not indulge in the delights and pleasures of the world, nor does he do harm to fellow believers (Matt. 24:42-51).

    Yet how often Christians give a pious and sanctimonious assent to expressions regarding the hope – and immediately afterwards occupy themselves with the mundane and material as though these things demanded all their time and energy. They refer to the signs of the times and rejoice that they indicate the imminence of the Lord’s return – and then go out to spend lavishly on nonessentials. The hope of Christ’s coming does not stop them abusing their fellow servants – not merely by physical assaults, but possibly by attacks upon character and reputation.

    The "blessed hope" (Titus 2:13) does not restrain them from despicable actions, abusive language, deception or lying. Our Lord’s own words and illustrations are totally ignored. "Take heed," said the Master, and then referred to the possibility of self-indulgence and obsession with the "cares of this life" (Luke 21:34). He might well have been talking about some who are loud in expressing their belief in the imminence of His return.

    The apostle Paul concluded that memorable passage to the Corinthian church with the injunction to be steadfast and to abound in the Lord’s work (1 Cor. 15:51-58). However, instead of the hope providing the strongest possible incentive to Christian endeavor, it is seldom remembered. "Abide in Him," enjoined the aged apostle, so that you may "not be ashamed before Him at His Coming" (1 John 2:28). But some expect to have time to put things right before He comes. There is no need to be over-careful at the moment, say the indifferent.

    In the context of 1 John 3, was not the apostle referring to the Lord’s coming when He enjoined practical sanctification (1 John 3:3)? But among Christians, is there a constant scrutiny of self to ensure that there is nothing out of conformity to His will? Do we ever bother to think seriously about it?

    If the Lord’s coming has no effects upon our lives and conduct, how can we expect others to believe what we say? They will follow our example. Our preaching won’t make any difference.

    – From Prophetic Witness.