Today Pastor Choi continues his series on Jesus’ Second coming: how to live W.E.L.L. in end times. He focuses on Watch and Pray, Encourage each other to assemble, Lay aside the deeds of darkness, and Love fervently. Those who daily live these principles will be ready for His coming without fear.
Following is a summary of the sermon:
How to Live W.E.L.L. in End Times
2 Peter 3:10-18 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
A New Heaven and Earth
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.
11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.
14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
In the past few months, I have been praying and pondering on Christ’s coming. I asked the Lord to help me to prepare for what’s coming. Over time, my study of God’s Word and answers to my prayers began to crystalize in my thoughts on how to live in end times. The discoveries I have made and the insights the Lord gave me is what I shared with you last Sunday and I will continue so this morning.
Last Sunday I talked about three things we must be aware of concerning Christ’s second coming: Why He comes again (to judge the ungodly), How He comes again (in the clouds with a trumpet sound), and When it is going to be (no one knows but God).
Today, we are going to think about how we the people of God ought to live our lives as we await His coming. In fact, I want all of us well prepared as we go through difficult times. I want all of us to live W.E.L.L. in the end times. W.E.L.L. stands for Watch, Encourage, Lay Aside, and Love. When we live out these four principles, we will be ready for His coming without fear.
As far as the first component of living well, that is watch, I pretty much covered it last Sunday, so I won’t repeat the whole thing again. However, for those folks who missed the sermon, and for all of us to refresh our memory, I would like to briefly mention it.
Out of so many things we can possibly do to prepare for His coming, Christ commands us, first and foremost, to be on the alert and be on our guard. Simply put, watch and pray. If God wants us to pray without ceasing in ordinary times (I Thessalonians 5:17), how much more urgent it is for us to watch and pray in difficult times? Therefore, I urge everyone to increase your time of prayer. Remember: no matter how godly we may think we are, if we don’t spend time in prayer, we are asleep and we will find ourselves unprepared for Christ’s coming. May the Lord find us on the alert at His coming.
Now, I am going to focus on the other three elements of living well in the end times: (Watch), Encourage, Lay Aside, and Love.
A. Encourage one another to gather in Christ’s name (Hebrews 10:24-25).
God’s Word commands us to encourage each other to get together in the name of our Lord as we see the day draw near. Listen to the Word of God in Hebrews 10:24-25: 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
Reality check: today in America, many Christians get into the bad habit of not going to church. 92 % of Americans believe in God (http://www.gallup.com/poll/147887/Americans-Continue-Believe-God.aspx). Only 37% of Christians attend worship services weekly and 29 % of Christians seldom or never attend church (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/09/13/what-surveys-say-about-worship-attendance-and-why-some-stay-home/). The average worship attendance of Methodists is once a month and it is not getting better. I am grateful and proud of my congregation, though, because you are faithful worshippers. Some of you even drive more than 10 miles one way each week. Worship on Sunday morning is well ingrained in our spiritual DNA and we worship the Lord every Sunday. Please keep up the good work.
Now, let’s think about why the Lord commands us to keep up this great practice of gathering together. The answer is found in verse 24: so that we may stimulate one another to love and good deeds. When we get together in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, first we worship the Lord; next, we also stimulate each other to love and good deeds. We need each other’s encouragement and stimulation. In God’s kingdom, “no one is an island” (John Donne). E.g. Church is like a fire-place. We are like firewood. Like the logs are put together for fire going strong, so are we for our faith going strong. Like the logs are separated and the flame dies out, so does our faith and practice when we are not together. E.g. the other day I heard a story about one member who was exhausted with her week and almost didn’t come to church that morning. But, when she did, her tired spirit was refreshed during the service by the children’s sermon.
Even though our technology-driven society keeps us more isolated than before, and some of us love the virtual reality through social media, let us not neglect our physical gathering together in the name of our Lord. We need each other.
B. Lay aside the deeds of darkness (Romans 13:11-14)
The next key to living well in end times is to lay aside the deeds of darkness and conduct a holy life. Listen again to the Word of God in Romans 13:11-14. 11 Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy.14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.
In the Scripture, the Day of the Lord is compared to the wedding day in Heaven: Christ is the groom and the church (that is, body of Christ) is the bride. Imagine the day of the wedding. Both the groom and the bride make sure that they are pure and clean. For instance, they take a shower/bath and put on the best clothes. The same idea applies to our Heavenly wedding: we the church of God, the bride of Christ, must prepare ourselves with the cloth that is pure and clean; acceptable to God and to Christ our groom. The Bible puts it this way: put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Put on the armor of light (Romans 13:14, 12). Why do we put on Christ? Why do we need the armor of light? So that we may not give any provision for the flesh; so that we may not succumb to the sin and lusts that defile our souls such as carousing, drunkenness, sexual promiscuity, sensuality, strife or jealousy (Romans 13:13).
The armor of light is also called the armor of God. To partake in the Heavenly wedding, we need to put on the armor of God such as truth, righteousness, gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the Word of God so that we may endure the difficult times and stand firm before God. Listen to Ephesians 6:10-17:
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Be sure to wear the armor of God for yourself in the end times. You need it for your defense.
C. Love fervently (1 Peter 4:8)
Lastly, we can live well in the end times with love. Peter the apostle emphatically says to us to love fervently. I am sure all of us have been doing that. But, let’s listen to him one more time in 1 Peter 4:7-8: 7 The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. 8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.
Please notice here the context of Peter’s exhortation of fervent love: the end times. In verse 7, he says, “The end of all things is near therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.” Then, he goes onto verse 8 saying, “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love coves a multitude of sins.”
Let’s think about it for a moment. Have you ever loved someone to the point where your deeds of love actually cover the multitude of sins of the person who received your love? Few of us have such experiences. However, Christ did. He loved us so much that He laid down His life for us. Ultimately His death on the cross covers a multitude of our sins.
Folks, we have a job to do. From today until the Day of the Lord, let us imitate Christ and keep ourselves fervent in loving each other until our love covers the multitude of sins of others.
As for closing, I would repeat what Peter the apostle said in verse 14: 14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless. How do we do it? By living W.E.L.L.: watch and pray, encourage one another to get together, lay aside the deeds of darkness, and love fervently.
Let us pray.