Greg and Susan Williams

What does it mean for a believer to be alert and prepared in anticipation of the second coming of Jesus? That question could get all kinds of different answers from many people, but what does scripture tell us?

The book of Revelation represents God’s people as the “bride” to be joined to Christ, the “bridegroom.” The apostle John wrote, “his bride has made herself ready” with “fine linen, bright and clean,” which is “the righteous acts of God’s holy people” (Rev. 19:7–8). So, we see that the bride—the church—continues to grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus until his appearing. The bride is in a state of readiness.

In 1 John we see a further connection between eschatological hope and ongoing spiritual purification: “But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure” (1 John 3:2–3). Peter also wrote about this in light of the world’s coming dissolution. He says, “You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming” (2 Peter 3:11–12). And Paul’s letter to Titus connects our “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13) with a summons “to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:12). The New Testament paints a progressive picture of believers actively participating in the Spirit’s transforming work and growing up into the stature and fullness of Jesus. In other words, it shows believers being in a state of readiness.

From a pastoral standpoint, these passages suggest we evaluate eschatological teachings in terms of their practical effects. Do our lives reflect a state of readiness in our anticipation of Jesus’ return? I’d suggest it is exceedingly difficult to see how the biblical call to self-denial and godly living—being in a state of readiness—can flourish in the realm of universalist theology. Who would need to focus on cooperating with the Spirit’s work in their personal life, or be watchful and alert to the Lord’s second coming if a universalist outcome were already known in advance? Some Christian universalists, including Origen, acknowledged this problem and suggested that universalism should be kept secret from the masses and disseminated among only a select few. A novel approach, and I would add that the scripture clearly acknowledges that Jesus knows who belongs to him and none will be snatched from his sure hands (John 10:27-29). Thankfully, we don’t have to bridge the problem stated by Origen. We don’t judge the readiness of others; we point them to Jesus. We can let Jesus be the final judge of humanity and rest assured that he will sort it out perfectly.

In Matthew 24, Jesus answers the disciple’s questions about end-time events and what to expect in their future. While Jesus primarily responded to the pending destruction of the temple in 70 A.D., he also shared certain principles that apply to his followers throughout the ages. We are to watch and continue as faithful servants – in essence, to continue Living and Sharing the Gospel (GCI’s mission statement). “Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he comes shall find so doing” (Matthew 24:46).

Readiness is not being hunkered down in a Y2K fashion. We aren’t in the drama “The Walking Dead” fighting for survival. We are in a state of readiness—continually fulfilling our God-given mission of Living and Sharing the Gospel; as we live peaceable lives, caring for our families, active in the ministry of our church, and sharing the love of Christ where and when we can. Always praying come, Lord Jesus, come.

In readiness for his return,
Greg Williams

10 thoughts on “Readiness”

  1. Greg this was informative. I didn’t know that Origen struggled with the impracticalities of Universalism. For me, the tragedy of Universalism is its denial of personhood. Without the capacity to say “yes” we are deprived of genuine love and likewise if we cannot say “no”. The Father, Son, and Spirit have created us as unique persons and from the Garden, and before, have guarded our freedom to say “yes” or “no”. However, it is only in saying “yes” to Jesus’ “yes” on our behalf that we ever experience true freedom and love. So we walk in Kingdom power and do Kingdom work as we anticipate the fullness of his Kingdom to come.

  2. Greg,

    Thanks much for reminding us to “keep first things first“ and for helping us maintain the right focus as we participate in Jesus and by the Spirit in our Christian calling and discipleship.

    In Him,

  3. True indeed. Being embraced in God’s grace, is one of those privileges we cannot afford to take for granted. There is, therefore, a need to be introspective at all times, and seeking to be guided by His word, in conformity with His grace.

  4. Thanks for enlightening us in this area of Universalist theology. Thankfully we don’t have to judge another’s Readiness and that Jesus is the Judge. We can just focus on our God given mission of “Living and Sharing the Gospel” as He grants us opportunity and point others to Him.

  5. We all are at different levels of readiness. That is why it is so important that we meet others where they are, encouraging them, teaching them, and guiding them into the full understanding of the grace of God. A teachable moment for us all.

    1. We truly are to meet people right where they are. Jesus set that example for us and was criticized for doing so…..”doesn’t He know who those people are”? I’m reminded of how He, often, answered a question with a question…..patience & causing them to think.

  6. Thanks Greg for reminding us to be in a state of readiness. We need to draw close to God James 4:8 & not neglect our salvation Heb 2:3 Daily being renewed in the NEW LIFE found in our savior Jesus Christ & in Him we are preserved Jude 1 & 24-25

  7. Thank you for emphasizing the need to be ready through life transformation by Jesus. I pray that we as leaders will walk in readiness daily by the Holy Spirit that we and those we guide may one day ” see Him as He is”. Thank you for trusting Jesus as the Faithful and True Judge of humanity. Amen!

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