Dr. C.S. Lovett
The return of the Lord is drawing quite close now. A lot of things are scheduled to take place prior to His appearing and some of them are not so nice. It could be rough on you and your family, and you want to be in a position to counsel and comfort them before those tough times hit. You also want to prepare as many others as you can.
A better way to calculate the closeness of the Lord’s appearing is by watching for the MAN who occupies center stage in John’s book. Strangely another man, an evil man, gets far more space in the Revelation than Jesus. That man is — the antichrist! The stage is even now being set for the appearance of this evil ruler.
SO WHAT DO WE WATCH FOR?
The most accurate way to time the arrival of this man is to watch the RISE OF EVIL. When things reach the place where the world LOVES EVIL SO MUCH it yearns for an evil man to rule over it, the appearance of antichrist will be at hand. And not far behind him, will be the return of the Lord. While we see plenty of evil and decay around us now, it isn’t anything compared to what’s coming. Imagine what this world will be like when it yearns for a man whose coming “is in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:9).
Our present evil is child’s play compared to the way things will be when antichrist appears. The kind of unrest we presently see in the world supplies an ideal climate for an evil dictator to come to power. What’s more, the Revelation provided us with a scenario we can follow as we watch this man come to power. The apostle John goes into great detail what it will be like for you and me in those days. It’s the only book that does.
You hear much debate about the GREAT TRIBULATION and whether the church will go through the tribulation or be raptured out beforehand. In dealing with the Great Tribulation, the apostle John separates it completely from the WRATH OF GOD. Keep in mind this separation. The Great Tribulation consists of Satan’s wrath. God’s wrath on the other hand, is poured out at His command. It comes from Him, not from man. This distinction is a vital key. It will greatly help you feel comfortable just when the rapture takes place.
While the rapture may be of interest to you, the main thing is being ready no matter when it occurs. Even so the matter should be clear in your own mind. Preparing for what’s ahead is far more urgent.
NO SECOND CHANCE
Many believers think everyone will be EQUAL in heaven. All wearing crowns, all having the same rank and privileges, and all being close to Jesus. Many times I have said, we’ll be no closer to Jesus in heaven than we are right now. In spite of the fact that we’re told “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8 NASB).
Just because people are saved, does not mean they are committed to the Lord. On the contrary, they squander the one opportunity of earthly life, living for themselves and their families. For most Christians, just getting to heaven is settled. What happens after they are there seems less important. But the Bible has plenty to say about it.
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10 ESV).
STANDING BEFORE THE JUDGE
If Christians are all equal in heaven, receiving the SAME REWARD, why a judgment at all? What would be the point? There would be no point. But the Bible is very specific about this,“So then each one of us must give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12). A day is coming when every believer’s life is going to be reviewed by God and, on the basis of that judgment, Christians will be rewarded or penalized.
Being saved does not cancel our appointment. We must all appear — and there’ll be NO EXCEPTIONS! I consider the judgment seat of Christ the most awesome fact of Christianity! Every Christian’s future in heaven is determined by what he does with his one life on earth. That’s what I’m talking about — and there is no second chance. There are no makeup classes in heaven. The decision God makes on Judgment Day will be final — it will stand forever! That’s what prompted Paul to call it the “terror of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:11 KJV).
Well, the apostle said more than that:
“Each man’s work will become evident; for the day (judgement day) will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up (judged worthless), he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:13-15 NASB).
The Lord made it plain the only treasure we’ll have in heaven is that which we lay up for ourselves (Matthew 6:20). Those who don’t bother, will end up in heaven FLAT BROKE. Heavenly treasure has to be earned NOW. There is no automatic cash account awaiting any believer. The only wealth anyone has will be that which he acquires through serving the Lord.
IS SALVATION THE FINAL GOAL?
The great emphasis of modern Christianity is “GET THEM SAVED” as though salvation were the last act of the play. But it just isn’t so. If being saved was all that mattered, God would take us home the moment we decided to trust Jesus. But He leaves us on earth, while He works with us to get us ready for the next life. What we do with our one opportunity, determines what we’ll be like and what we’ll do there. We enter heaven just as we are at the point of death — and NEVER CHANGE.
From the moment a man is BORN AGAIN until he dies, he is obliged to grow daily into the likeness of Christ. He is also required to WORK HARD for a decent position in Christ’s kingdom. That’s what the rewards are all about. A serious-minded believer cannot put sitting for hours in front of a TV or working two jobs to acquire MORE THINGS, ahead of Jesus. He can’t put vacations, or even his loved ones ahead of the Lord. He must be so committed that pleasing Jesus is more important.
PREPARING FOR HIS APPEARING
This is my call — my longing — to help Christians prepare to meet the Lord.
“Behold, I come quickly and my reward is with me, to reward every man according to what his work shall be” (Revelation 22:12 KJV).
When I was a flight instructor in World War II, I watched my students stand before the general on graduation day and receive their wings. I was so proud of them, tears rolled down my cheeks. It is my passion to see you receive the SEAL of your office and know I had a part in helping you pass your final exam.
C. S. Lovett
(edited by Marjorie Lovett)