As Christians, our lives have been purchased for a price, and we now belong to God. The price was the blood of Jesus Christ, which He shed on the cross. Just as Israelites in the Old Testament belonged to God through covenant, Christians belong to God through the salvation we have experienced. We are God’s people now. We belong to Him—rescued out of the clutches of sin, guilt and condemnation, and adopted into His family. In this case, being bought and owned by someone isn’t a negative thing; it’s a beautiful thing.
God saved us for the purpose of making us human temples, inhabited by His Spirit. During Old Testament days, God dwelt within the inner room of the temple—a place called the Holy of Holies. That’s where He made His home. When Paul said Christians were the “temples of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19), the word he used for “temple” was not the word used for the outer rooms of the Old Testament temple. It was naos, which referred to the inner sanctum, the place where there was a visible manifestation of the shekinah glory of God.
That indwelling of God through the Holy Spirit makes Christianity different from any other religion on earth. Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism—none of these religions claim that their god inhabits their followers. The leaders of those belief systems may try to proselytize with their doctrine, but the gospel of Jesus Christ is different. Faith in Jesus makes us walking miracles who have been changed through the personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
God’s plan in redemption was that we should live life full of the Holy Spirit. “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). The metaphor here is that we might be filled with the Spirit to the point where He overflows—spilling out unto others with love and grace.
Jim Cymbala began the Brooklyn Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn, he is a longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson.
Are you looking and yearning for His coming?
I would never do anything to cause a fellow believer to doubt his or her readiness. Most people reading this message can probably say, “Yes, I’m ready. I’ve repented and confessed my sins, and I’m forgiven. I have put my trust in Jesus’ righteousness and if He comes right now, I know there will be no condemnation toward me. I know in whom I have believed. I’m sure I am His.” I would say the same things about myself.
Yet, in re-reading Christ’s warnings, I came across something I can’t shake off. Jesus commands, “Watch therefore” (Matthew 24:42). Then He says, “But know this” (24:43). In other words: “If you’re going to be ready—if you’re to be watchful, as I would have you be—there’s something you must know.”
Jesus then describes a man who thought he was prepared but wasn’t. This man’s house was “broken up” (24:43). Next, Jesus describes a person who was truly prepared (24:45–47). Finally, He gives an awful warning about evil servants who will be cast into a hypocrite’s hell (24:48–51).
The servant who is truly prepared is likened to the head of a household who provides meat for those under his rule. “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season” (24:45). Jesus tells us this servant’s reward is to be made a ruler over his master’s goods (see 24:47). Evidently, the servant’s “giving of meat in due season” is of great importance.
Who are the rulers over households that Jesus refers to here? This speaks of parents. It also includes pastors, who rule over “the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). So, how does a parent offer “meat in due season”? In biblical terms, meat represents God’s Word. The Greek meaning here also suggests nourishment, from a root word meaning “to bring up.” Next, the phrase in due season means “at the right time.” Christ is saying, “Blessed are those parents who nourish their children with God’s Word. They raise them with biblical admonition, while there is time, before it’s too late.”
Jesus spoke of a great and sudden disappearance of people from the earth. “In that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left” (Luke 17:34–36). Jesus’ disciples asked, “Where will these people be taken?” He answered, “Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together” (17:37). He was saying, “I am the Head of the Body and the Head is going to be united with the Body.”
Some scholars say the people taken up are sinners being swept away to judgment. But Scripture suggests otherwise. Isaiah speaks of eagles in reference to the Church: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). Also, God said to Israel, “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself” (Exodus 19:4).
In Matthew, Jesus speaks of the elect being taken up by God: “He shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:31). Paul makes this clear, stating: “The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16–18).
As dramatic as this great event will be, Jesus’ point was that it will happen on an ordinary day. It will be like those past days of judgment, in Noah’s and Lot’s societies. Men and women will be at their jobs, going about their day as usual. Then everything will happen suddenly, in a mere moment. Paul says: “We shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51–52).
It will be a day like any other. All of humankind will be unaware, but then, in a single moment, Christ will gather His Bride.
Jesus tells us that immediately prior to His coming back, society will be just as it was in the days of Noah (see Matthew 24:38-39). Notice that Jesus doesn’t mention a single sin in this description. We all know it’s not a sin to eat or drink proper beverages, or to get engaged or be married. Nor is it a sin to buy, sell, plant or build. There’s nothing wrong with any of these things and Jesus isn’t condemning these activities. Rather, He’s showing us these everyday happenings, as if to say, “That’s what life will be like when I return. It will be like any other ordinary day, when people aren’t expecting something to happen.”
So, what is Jesus saying about these ordinary scenes? Simply put, He is describing people who had determined to reject God’s warnings of judgment. Remember, Noah prophesied to his society for a hundred and twenty years, warning that total destruction was coming. But, as Scripture says, “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” (Ecclesiastes 8:11).
This is exactly what is happening today. There has been a frenzy of buying and selling, eating and drinking, planting and building. Multitudes are obsessed with personal gain, and they turn off any negative message that might hinder their pursuits.
A godly woman wrote to me about a conversation she had with an elderly Jewish woman. This Holocaust survivor told her, “What is happening in America today reminds me of what happened in Germany during Hitler’s rise to power. All the warnings were ignored. I was only a child, but I still remember the huge parties that continued into the night even after Hitler started jailing Jews and shipping them off to the gas chambers.
“I remember the older Jews saying, ‘It can’t happen here, not in an educated, civilized society like Germany.’ Just a few weeks later, those same people were being pushed like cattle into rail cars headed for the concentration camps. They had thought the good times and prosperity would last forever.”
The warning cry has once again gone out to the Lord’s Church: “Jesus is coming! The Bridegroom is on His way. Adorn yourself, and be ready to go out to meet Him. Look up, for redemption is nigh!” Yet, even so, Jesus warns that people will ignore the call. They will be going about their business, giving no thought to His coming, ignoring all the prophetic signs. This premeditated apathy will be the very sign that He is coming!
We can be sure God is going to judge the wicked—without question a payday is coming. When that time arrives, all mockers, God-haters and wicked people will be called to give an account. The books will be opened and every vile deed will be made manifest, revealing all that these evil ones did against God’s authority. Their deeds will be judged severely, and the wicked will be cast out of God’s presence eternally.
Jesus assured His disciples, “Shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?” (Luke 18:7). He was saying, “Yes, God will one day deal with those who have mocked, persecuted, jailed and killed His people. The cry of the persecuted church has been heard and He will avenge them speedily.” Yet, Jesus then asks in the next sentence, “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (18:8).
Christ’s question at the end of this passage signals His greatest concern. He is saying, “When I come back, I’ll be looking for a people who have believed My promise to return for them. The question is whether those people will be ready and waiting for Me. Will they be weaned from this world, yearning for Me to take them home as My Bride? Will they be spotless, or soiled with the spirit of the age? Will I arrive to find them crying, ‘Come, Lord Jesus’?”
“Of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36).
Jesus did not give us the date of His coming, but He did tell us what society would be like then. He goes on to describe what the prevailing conduct of humankind will be like when He returns.
“As in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (24:38–39).