I’ve been studying a bit about eschatology/end times stuff lately. I’m finishing up a couple of years preaching through Luke’s Gospel and we’ve come to that point where Jesus speaks of the end, the coming of the Son of Man, and so on.
The subject of Christ’s return sure has a way of getting folks stirred up. Timothy Paul Jones points out in the Rose Guide to End Times Prophecy that “Studying the end times is a dangerous business. Once you begin exploring this subject, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
He says, “A well-intended overemphasis on the end times has been known to drive people to sport prophetic placards on street corners, to stare at bar codes in search of that mysterious mark of the beast, to publish faulty predictions of the world’s end, and to engage in a host of other behaviors that are likely to result in lots of blank spaces in social calendars.”
Well, I don’t want to delve into all those controversial issues or predict any certain dates. What my study of the subject has done is raise this question: If we truly believe Christ is returning, whenever that might be, how concerned are we that others are prepared? Obviously, the first issue is to be sure of our own readiness, to be sure that our own salvation is secure in Christ. But beyond that, do we really care who is going?
Now, of course we say we care. We say we want our friends and family and neighbors to join us in heaven, or at least most of them, anyway. (It’s a joke, people!) But do our lives match up to our mouths? If we really care about whether folks are heaven bound, what are we doing about it?
We have so many people in our churches expending a great deal of energy fighting over this or that issue, worrying about this or that in-house church matter, etc. We fight about music styles, and young vs. old, and dress codes, and who gets to do this or that job, and who gets credit for this and that, and on and on. Meanwhile, our community continues in its sin, and if Christ were to come today (which I truly believe He could), the great majority of them would go to hell. What if all our energies were spent in proclaiming the Gospel instead of stirring the pot?
Now I know we can talk all day about God’s sovereignty in all that. I’m a thoroughly reformed Baptist in my theology, and I know that God’s sovereign plan will not leave out any He has ordained to come to Him. But the point is, while God knows, I don’t. And because I don’t, I ought to be about the business of pleading with anyone and everyone to come to Christ, and to come now!
I’ve really been convicted through this study that my focus has been a little off. I spend so much time putting out this and that fire, worrying about making this and that person happy, that I haven’t spent nearly enough time and energy telling others about salvation in Christ. Sure I preach it every week, but what about Monday and Tuesday and so on?
What really got to me was sitting and listening to a little Keith Green in my office. While my musical tastes run a bit “louder” for the most part, I’ve always been particularly moved by Green’s music. It’s so passionate. In fact, Keith Green is responsible for more songs that make me cry than anyone else.
One song in particular is called Song to My Parents, or I Only Want to See You There. It’s a passionate plea to his parents, apologizing for his own weakness in sharing and exampling Christ, acknowledging his imperfections, but reminding them that the reason he keeps after it is because he only wants to see them there. There, meaning heaven, of course.
Is that our passion for our own family and friends? Can we say that we’ve done all we can to preach Christ and Him crucified, to truly call men, women and children to repentance; that we really do passionately want to see them there. Our Lord is indeed coming, today or tomorrow, we don’t know. But He’s coming…who’s going? And do we care?
Here’s the Keith Green song. As you listen, prayerfully think of those to whom God would want you to go and preach Christ.