Monthly Archives: February 2017
The second condition that will result in the Christian’s worthiness to be included in the Rapture is that of watchfulness. The Apostle Paul said:
“Let us WATCH” (I Thess. 5:6).
There are four words used in the New Testament for “watch” that are used in relation to Christ’s return. Incidentally, these four words are used also in Passages dealing with moral and ethical conduct.
Two of these words—gregoreo and agrupneo—mean “to be on the alert, to be wide awake spiritually.” The force of these words is to point up the urgency of the situation.
If we do not set an eternal vigilance on the Return of Christ, we are in danger of missing out. The Apostle Peter’s thinking went along the same lines as the Apostle Paul’s when he warned:
“Be sober, be VIGILANT [gregoreo]; because your adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Pet. 5:8).
Let us turn to the Gospel of Mark to illustrate the use of these two most significant words of warning to the Christians concerning watchfulness.
“But of that day and that hour knows no man, no, not the Angels which are in Heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
“TAKE YOU HEED, WATCH AND PRAY: FOR YOU KNOW NOT WHEN THE TIME IS.
“For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, Who left His House, and gave authority to His Servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to WATCH.
“WATCH you therefore: for you know not when the Master of the house comes, at evening, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:
“LEST COMING SUDDENLY HE FIND YOU SLEEPING.
“And what I say unto you I say unto all, WATCH” (Mk. 13:32-37).
This Parable illustrates the necessity of watchfulness. The word “watch” is used in this Parable four times. Let us look at each use of this word “watch.”
In Verse 33 Jesus said:
“Take you heed, WATCH.”
The word here means “to chase sleep, to be sleepless,” and expresses not mere wakefulness but a watchfulness of those who are intent upon doing anything.
Verse 35 begins with “watch” and again the urgency of watching is emphasized.
“You know not when the Master of the house comes”
… so be watching. Again, the warning in Verse 36:
“Lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping.”
In Verse 37 the last use of the word is capitalized emphasizing the force of the word—the urgency of the hour.
“For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, Who left His House” (Vs. 34)
… and does not say when He will return. But He said, considering the urgency of it:
“What I say unto you I say unto all, WATCH.”
When a person is going on a long-sought-after vacation, he usually spends a restless, uncomfortable night in anticipation of the upcoming departure. For the true Christian it is hard to rest comfortably in the world when he is anticipating something so much better.
We have often seen the picture of the restless, sleepless mother and father, looking down the trail waiting for the long-lost prodigal to return.
The helmsman of a ship fights back sleep to maintain his bearing, knowing that the mightiest wave will slide under the heel if the prow of the ship meets it head-on. Our Captain says, “Take heed, be watchful,” just as a sea captain says, “Mind your helm.”
Notice again in the Parable that the Son of Man …
“commanded the porter to WATCH” (Vs. 34).
Here, as in Verse 35, the Apostles are compared to doorkeepers (porters); as the captain of the guard made his rounds at night through the Temple, the guards were to rise and salute him. Any guard found asleep on duty was beaten or his garments set on fire.
It is self-evident that under that severe penalty not many guards would drowse off to sleep. This use of the word was mentioned again by Jesus as He spoke to the Apostle John:
“Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he who WATCHES, and KEEPS HIS GARMENTS, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame” (Rev 16:15).
What a warning! What an incentive to alertness!
One lexicon says that the word gregoreo comes from a root word meaning “collecting our faculties.” In the light of the soon Return of the Lord Jesus Christ, we should be “collecting our faculties,” lest we lose our garments and “walk naked” and ashamed.
The Christian who drowses away at his Christianity is imperiling his Salvation. All too many Christians count on God to keep them alert. They feel it is God’s duty to warn them as each new wave approaches. Unfortunately, it is not the duty of the captain of the ship to stand the wheel watch; it is the person at the helm who must maintain constant vigilance if he is to see the voyage to a successful conclusion. The helmsman who falls asleep and endangers the ship is eligible for grave and disciplinary action. Christians who fail to maintain their vigilance can expect no better. There are consequences for our every action. Spiritual consequences are no less real than worldly ones.
This is the reason the Apostle Paul said:
“I die daily” (I Cor. 15:31).
The great Apostle of Christ brought his body …
… every waking day …
“lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (I Cor. 9:27).
And if such a magnificent man of God found it necessary to remain ever vigilant (lest he fall by the wayside), who are we to become overconfident?
Yet Christians are becoming smug. Christian attention is wandering. Clergy and laity are becoming immersed in this world. It is a new day in which we live. The old Scriptures no longer count. Practices that would have been denounced a short time ago are accepted now. Everyone is doing it. It is a new day.…
But is it?
King Solomon wrote:
“There is no new thing under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9).
Satan knows there is nothing new under the sun. The modern morals and the new permissiveness are nothing new to him. He has promoted the same things in Greece, in Rome, in Sodom and Gomorrah, and in Babylon.
“Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it has been already of old time, which was before us” (Eccl. 1:10).
The new morality is new to us only because we were not alive in ancient days to see the old morality. And if we fall for the new morality now, the same consequences that befell Greece, Rome, Sodom and Gomorrah, and Babylon will befall our civilization.
Satan is breaking through the doors of our once moral and Spiritual Strongholds. Today he is bombarding our mind through pornographic movies which come right into our living rooms, billboards, magazines, indecent dress, public scenes that once would have caused people to blush. Many Christians sit through these movies, laugh at the openly obscene jokes, and then wonder why their relationship with God is not what it used to be.
These Christians have been lulled to sleep. They have been put under a hypnotic trance by Satan because they have not watched. They do not WATCH what they see, where they go, and what they say—and all of this despite the fact that the Holy Spirit has enjoined them to WATCH. Not to watch and pray is to prove oneself unworthy to be included in the Rapture.
Sometime after the rise of Adolf Hitler to power in Germany, many Germans perceived the real intent of Hitler that was hidden behind his rhetoric to put a Volkswagen in every German carport. After organizing a door-to-door campaign to warn the German people of what lay ahead, they were met by a complacent, self-satisfied public that slammed the door on them for disturbing their peace.
It is with this in mind that we study the Apostle Paul’s warning to the Thessalonians that professing Christians, who are asleep spiritually, are living in danger of missing the Rapture.
The Greek word that the Apostle Paul used for “sleep” (I Thess. 5:6) is the Greek word katheudo, and means “to repose oneself in sleep.” The same Greek word is used in Matthew 25:5 to describe the faithless, careless, indifferent virgins.
However, context determines the Biblical meaning that the Holy Spirit intends. In I Thessalonians 5:6, therefore, katheudo is used metaphorically as “carnal insensibility to Divine things involving conformity to the world.” The Apostle Paul contrasted spiritual sleep (Vs. 6) with the natural sleep that comes at night and with the drunkenness that dulls a person’s senses (Vs. 7).
Another Greek word for “sleep” may be mentioned here that carries the same connotation as katheudo, but with a little different slant. This word is found in Romans 13:11.
“And that, knowing the time, and now it is high time to AWAKE out of SLEEP: for now is our Salvation nearer than when we believed.
“The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
“Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
“But put you on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Rom. 13:11-14).
The Greek word for “sleep” that we are exhorted to “awake out of” is hypnou, from the root word hypnos. It is the same word from which our word “hypnosis” is derived. “Hypnosis” is a “state that resembles sleep, but is induced by a person whose suggestions are readily accepted by the subject.”
Think of that! What better definition could we have of Spiritual Sleep than that of listening to the voice of the Devil (induced by a person) who suggests that we turn our eyes from the Lord and toward those things that direct our attention to the world?
Paul’s warning in the light of the imminent Return of the Lord Jesus Christ is to awake us out of our Spiritual Conformity to the world and to “put on Christ”; that is, our sole interest in life must be the same as that of our Lord to enter into His Views, His Thinking, and to imitate Him in all things. Why? Because, as the Apostle Peter said:
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Pet. 5:8).
No sooner had the Children of God come out of Egyptian bondage than they became disenchanted and disillusioned and began to turn back to the beggarly elements of the world. The Christian experience is similar. When people are first Saved and begin their Christian walk, they are usually on a mountaintop high. For a time they continue bouncing from mountaintop to mountaintop, or, as King Solomon described it …
“leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills” (Song of Sol. 2:8).
But sooner or later the season wears on. The petals fall in the rose garden until the thorns begin to show. The cherry bowl begins to display more pits than cherries.…
Unfortunately, most Christians believe their Christian gardens will never become invaded by weeds. They are taught by overzealous teachers and misguided preachers that a Christian’s walk should never come down from the mountaintops, but it always does. Why? Because it is only during these periods that we are able to stand back, evaluate our Christian Growth, and recognize the areas where we need more work.
Faith that has never been tested is a Faith that can never be quite certain. That is the reason that our reactions during these periods of “valley” Christianity determine the outcome of our Christian walk. Every moon walk has its reentry, and every spiritual high has its return to Earth. A solid enduring relationship with God is something to be arrived at only with hard work, sweat, and tears.
Too many Christians become indifferent with the passage of time. Living for Christ, in Christ, and like Christ becomes a bore. Attending church can become an inconvenience. If we fail to work at it and fail continually to renew our commitment and review our Blessings, it is possible for us to fall by the wayside.
It is always more fun to talk about the Blessings and the highs and the glory and the grandeur. But a farm would soon fall into disrepair and ruin if the chores were not done every day. If the cows were not milked twice a day, they would soon stop giving milk. If they were not fed daily and their stalls cleaned, they would soon sicken and die.
Chores keep the world turning. And if we neglect our Spiritual Chores, our eternal farm is going to wreck and ruin. We should spend more time on the chores of our Spiritual Walk rather than spending so much time lifting our eyes to the glories above.
We like to gather a crowd on a hill and point out the absolute beauty of the well-tended farm spread out below us. But, unfortunately, we do not give equal time to the cultivation that produced those tended fields.
A Christian has to make a conscious decision to walk in the Ways of God. Our human, carnal nature is such that we crave constant stimulation. We are easily drawn off into the world. But excitement and stimulation can come from the enemy. A Christian who wishes to be truly “in Christ”—to be an overcomer—must decide first whether he is willing to dedicate himself to this and every waking moment of his life.
We must constantly decide we are going to do these things necessary to grow as Christians—things that require energy and effort. Jesus said:
“He who is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much” (Lk. 16:10).
These daily chores are the basis of the Christian life. Let us never lose sight of one fact: we do not do these things to earn Salvation or to win favor with God. No one earns anything from God. Everything we have from God comes to us by Grace. We are the ones who need the maturity that is the outgrowth of a daily consistent Christian walk. God can get along with or without our “works”; we cannot.
Just as a dedicated farmer does not fall asleep as he rushes from one chore to another, the Christian who spends each day exercising his Spiritual Gifts is neither blind nor prey to Satan’s devices. The problem comes when the Christian decides to take a break. He becomes bored, takes a few days off to refresh himself with an excursion into the world. Then, he becomes vulnerable to Satan’s serene song and soon falls prey to his hypnotic lures.
How many times have you been present among gatherings of “Christians,” where you mentioned revival, and no one perked up? You tried to get a conversation going about some Bible Passage, and then someone brought up the Super Bowl or the latest movie. What happened? Everyone was suddenly interested. These are Christians who are asleep in Christ and awake to the things of the world.
What elicits responses in your own heart? What excites you? What gets you out of your chair and heading for some activity?
The true answer may come as a shock to you. It is almost as though the world has taken a spiritual sedative. We are asleep at the wheel. Church services are a bore. Living for God has become a bore. God’s Word just is not as exciting as it used to be.
Or is it? Are we the ones who are out of step? A great percentage of the Christian segment of the world’s population has been lulled to sleep by Satan’s hypnotic lures. We believe when the Holy Spirit gave the words to the Apostle Paul, He was putting them there for Christians in this day as well.
Wake up, Christian world! Sleeping Christians are not going to have an alarm clock just before the Rapture.