Reality Check: Ready or Not, Here He Comes
By: The John Ankerberg Show
We are continuing our series on 1 John called Reality Check.
Did you know that there is a difference between these terms waiting for Christ and watching for Christ? Let me illustrate this with the story of a fishing vessel returning home after many days at sea. As the crew neared the shore, the sailors gazed eagerly toward the dock where a group of their loved ones had gathered. The skipper looked through his binoculars began identifying some of them: “I see Bill’s wife Mary, and there is Tom’s wife Margaret and David’s wife Anne. Mike became concerned because his wife was not there. After gathering his belonging, he left the boat with a heavy heart and hurried home. As he opened the door, his wife ran to meet him, saying, “I have been waiting for you!” He replied with a gentle rebuke, “yes, but the other men’s wives were watching for them!”
It’s one thing to know that Christ is coming back. It’s another thing to watch for His coming. I want to show what we as believers need to be doing until Christ comes back. We must abide in Christ so that you will have confidence when He returns.
Remain in Christ
1 John 2:28, “and now, little children, abide in Him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from Him in shame at his coming.”
The words “and now” mark the beginning of a new section. Remember that John uses the word children to refer to disciples of Christ. John commands the believers to abide in Christ.
Abide is the word for remain, rest, or reside. What does abiding look like? Jesus explained in John 14:4, “abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
Abiding requires us to slow down and depend upon Christ. Abiding is not only a matter of correct belief but correct behavior.
Be unashamed of your devotion to him.
John offers us an incentive for abiding in Christ. The world is full of incentives:
Moral incentives to do the right thing because it’s right.
Natural incentives such as fear or pain.
Financial incentives to receive a reward for completing a task.
We bribe our children with incentives to do things. If you do this_____, I will get you a new toy, app, game, etc. John gives an eternal incentive.
The word confidence is found 4 times in 1 John and refers to confidence at Christ’s coming and confidence in prayer.
1 John 4:17 is a perfect example of this: “by this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as He is so also are we in this world.”
Believers can have confidence on the day of judgment if they abide.
This is a sobering reminder of Jesus’ coming. When was the last time you thought of Christ’s return? The apostles lived with anticipation that Jesus could come any minute. Don’t let the gap of time from his death overshadow the importance of his return.
Matt. 24:42, “ therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.”
1 Thess. 4:15, “for this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 for the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the lord. 18 therefore encourage one another with these words.
5:1, now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. 2 for you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 while people are saying, “there is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 but you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief.”
Jesus came the first time as a baby in a manger; he is coming the second time as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. His first coming was signaled by a star in the east; his second coming will be as bright and morning star. His splendor will envelope us all. He came the first time riding on a donkey into Jerusalem; he will come the second time riding a white horse on the clouds.
Are you ready?
When we were younger, my mom didn’t like answering the door with two small kids in the house while my dad was at work. Whether it was a kirby vacuum salesman, 2 mormons, or girl scouts selling cookies, we hid. My mom would see them coming and yell no one move. Turn out the lights. Ok. We answered the door for the girl scouts. Who could pass up the thin mints, samoas, or tagalongs.
Nothing catches us off guard more than unexpected guests when you least expect them. It’s 9:00 at night, you have a t-shirt, shorts, and house slippers on. Your hair is a mess, you’ve already taken your makeup off, and the house is a wreck. It’s easy to shrink back from the door and hide. But there will be a knock that you must answer whether you want to or not.
When Christ rings the doorbell, it will be an inopportune time. He will catch you off guard. Here’s the question: if he comes now, would you be ready to meet him?
Prepare now for his arrival by being unashamed of your devotion to him and be unwavering in your relationship with him.
Verse 29 “if you know that He is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.”
John distinguishes between believers and unbelievers. Since God is righteous, everyone whom is born of him does right. This is the first of 10 times that John uses the verb “born” or “birth.”
What does it mean to be born of God?
John gives us 2 clues in his gospel.
- John 1:12–13, “but to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
- In John 3, Jesus explains to nicodemus the necessity of being “born again.” The new birth of the spirit was different than natural birth.
John makes it clear that no one can live a righteous life unless he or she is born again. Notice he doesn’t say, “everyone who is born again practices righteousness.” He says, “everyone who practices righteousness has been born again.”
Right living is the outflow of rebirth
“Practices” is the word for manner of life. They only way this is possible is through life. Anyone can read the sermon on the mount and think, “wow. This is a great guidebook to live. I want to be like that. This is a model for our society today.”
However, if you read the Sermon on the Mount and say, “I’m already living like this,” you’re a liar. The standard for righteousness is so high. Jesus is saying, “be like me.” So our only response to the sermon on the mount is “I need to be born again.” In my flesh, I am unable to do any of this. Without Christ, I can’t practice righteousness.
Normally, when a person is asked about their salvation, most often they share their conversion story. They retell a past dramatic event in their life for proof of their regenerate state. For fundamentalist, this may be simple experience. For charismatics, it may be an emotional experience through speaking in tongues or a healing.
I am not minimizing your born again experience nor denying the importance of it. But I want to caution you against basing your salvation on the recitation of a prayer or sorrow over sin as powerful and transforming that experience was for you. Don’t anchor your faith on past feelings because your feelings fluctuate with your mood. John forces us to measure our born again experience not by feelings but by actions. The impulse you have to obey God’s word, or live an ethical life, or love your enemies, or do the right thing is proof of your regeneration.
Your practice of righteousness is proof of your salvation
James 1:22, “but be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”
If we remove the 1 time prayer that was prayed many years ago, can we find fruit?
Can you point to your life as proof of your salvation?
Don’t be ashamed brother or sister when Christ returns.
Don’t shrink back from following him. Be sure and secure in your salvation. Repent of your sins and put your full trust in him.
Remember Christ’s love
Verse 3:1, “see what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
The word see is the word remember. It’s an imperative. We are prone to forget the love of God.
John, including himself in this, says, “can you believe the love that God has showered upon us?” How great the Father’s love for us?
This love is not just shown to us but imparted to us. You are able to love others because the love of God is within you. One of the reasons, a believer should not marry an unbeliever is because the unbeliever is unable to love you the way you should be loved.
1 John 4:19, “we love because He first loved us.” This love leads to our adoption as sons and daughters.
We have families in our church who have adopted children and are in the process of adopting. There is no better picture of the gospel than adoption. After filling out the endless amounts of paperwork, homes studies, years of waiting, and long nights of praying, a family is allowed to go visit their future son or daughter.
Even the choosing of a child is both a picture of election and grace. The child had nothing to do with the adoption. They didn’t choose mom and dad. They didn’t work to be rescued or put up any money. They simply responded to their name being called.
After coming back to the country, there is one more step before the process is finalized. The family enters the courtroom where a judge slams down a gavel forever changing the last name of the child.
John has this picture in mind when he speaks of our status as God’s children. When we are adopted into the family of God, nothing or no one can separate us from him. Since the adoption was based on unconditional love and an unmerited choice, we are the lord’s possession.
Our security rests in his sovereign power, not our fluctuating feelings. Our confidence is in him. He will never un-adopt us. We may leave the home like the prodigal son, and squander our father’s money, but we can never cease being his son and daughter.
Some days you may not like a child of God or may not demonstrate emotions that validate your status as his child. That makes no difference. The divine gavel has come down. Once you are adopted into His family, you are his. No matter what others have told you or how you feel, God loves you.
Somebody needs to hear that: God loves you.
John goes on: “the reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.”
The word world is used 23 times in 1 John. There are 3 options to interpret it:
1. The physical world we live in
2. The corrupt system of the world
3. The people who oppose God
It’s the 3rd option. Worldly people are under the power of satan and are hostile toward God.
The things of God are foolishness to him. If you do not have respect from people in the world, it shouldn’t surprise you. The world rejected Christ when he came. So how should we prepare?
Be ready for Christ’s return
Verse 2, “beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 and everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
Some people have wrongly viewed the doctrine of the 2nd coming of Christ as an excuse to write off the harsh realities of this world. “the world is corrupt, people are Godless, and hunger and poverty are rampant, but Jesus is coming one day so nothing really matters.” Yes, the world is corrupt, but that doesn’t give us a license to live like it. We must be ready for his return. Because when he comes, He will purify us as he is pure himself. The hope that we will be pure like Him in the future, motivates us to live today.
This is not something passive. The pursuit of purity requires a response on our part to the grace given to us by God. James 4:8 says, ‘purify your hearts, you who are double minded,”
1 Peter 1:22, ‘having purified yourselves by obeying the truth.’
We will have a glorified resurrected body when he returns. Some will be taller, some will be skinnier, others will have hair. Others will never need glasses again. No contacts. No hair dye. No wrinkle cream. No flex-all, Ben-gay, or preparation H. I don’t know if that will be the case, but we will have a resurrected body that is not bound by space, time, and matter.
Before his death, Jesus pulled back the veil of reality and allowed John to peer into the future. Rev 21:3–4, “and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
When Christ returns, there will be no sorrow or crying for believers. No divorce or broken families. No breakups or disappointments. There will be no more tears. There will be no more pain. Handicap parking spots are eliminate, doctors offices are no longer needed because there will be only 1 physician. We will experience unspeakable joy in the presence of Jesus.
Most importantly, we will finally hear his voice. Imagine what it will be like when he calls your name: Robby, Joe, Nancy, Stephanie, Kim, Lori, Michael, Kandi come here.
Every parent remembers the day their children were born. Everyone gathers at the hospital around the newborn miracle of God. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, and sisters show up. What was the topic of conversation? It’s the baby and his or her family resemblance. “look, he has uncle Johnny’s eyes!” “she has a full head of black hair like granny!” “did you notice how he has Poppy’s ears?” This is what John is saying. When Christ returns, we should look like Him. In fact, we want to look like Him. I am thankful for my family. But what I’m more thankful for is being in God’s family. I grateful that He calls me his son.
Listen to this great old hymn:
My Father is rich in houses and lands; he holds the wealth of the world in his hands! Of rubies and diamonds, of silver and gold, his coffers are full— he has riches untold.
I once was an outcast stranger on earth, a sinner by choice and an alien by birth; But i’ve been adopted; my name’s written down— an heir to a mansion, a robe, and a crown.
A tent or a cottage, why should I care? They’re building a palace for me over there! Though exiled from home, yet still I may sing: all glory to God, i’m a child of the king.
I’m a child of the King, a child of the King! With Jesus my Savior, I’m a child of the King!