When we see disasters such as the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, we automatically ask ourselves if we are prepared for such disasters. For example, I have stocked a supply of drinking water and food, and I have a plan for temporary shelter if my home becomes unlivable. With natural disasters, we never know if we will experience one, but we prepare just in case.
For Christians, there is no question of whether Christ will return. It's not a matter of "if" but "when." And just as with a natural disaster, the question is, are we prepared? And having asked that question, the next question has to be, "What does being prepared mean?" The following list provides starting points for Christians to prepare for Christ's return.
What Does Being Prepared Mean?
- Know the Word of God. Be able to quote Scripture when you come against the evil one. He will try to trick and deceive followers of Christ. Answer with the Scripture, just as Christ did in the wilderness temptation (Matthew 4:1-11), and as He did when many questioned him during his time on earth. Know both the promises and the commands of God by heart.
- Prepare your heart. It is easy to follow Christ when there are no trials in our lives, but He has called us to stand strong in trials, and there will be trials for Christians even in Western countries. Be prepared to stand firm in the faith and in His words.
- Expect trials. Many Christians are asleep, unaware of growing evil, unaware of the growing threats to our Western freedoms, and unaware of how insidious changes are happening every day. In thinking about trials, I think about what the saints of the first-century church did when they were brought before government courts, and what they did when they were thrown into jail. I also think about what Jesus did under persecution. Ask yourself what you would do if everything you have was taken away, and you faced a group of armed, hostile kidnappers? Imagining these scenarios may seem foreign to Western Christians, but they are every day experiences for Christians in the Middle East, China, India, and parts of South America and Africa. Be prepared.
- Expect the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. His coming will be soon--sooner than you think. As Jesus says in Matthew 24:35-37 (NIV), "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angles in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man." in Mark 13:33, Jesus adds, "Be on guard. Be alert. You do not know when that time will come." (Some manuscripts say be "alert and pray.")
- Prepare for His coming. As Jesus said in John 4:34-36 (NIV): "My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish His work. Don't you have a saying, 'It is still four months until harvest?' I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together." In all harvests, the Holy Spirit prepares the way. Follow the Spirit's urging. Tell your story to others. The time is short. Of those you love, who will be left behind at the trumpet call? Have you shared your story with those people?
- Test the spirits. As John says in I John 4:1-3, "Dear friends, do no believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world." The Message puts verse 1 this way, "My dear friends, don't believe everything you hear. Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you. Not everyone who talks about God comes from God. There are a lot of lying preachers loose in the world."