A Call to Consider that the End is Near
Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does. 7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.
Peter says, The end of all things is at hand
Is this a thought that has you captivated? Is this a thought that looms large in your thoughts – when you wake up, when you move throughout your day, when you lay down to sleep? The end of all things is at hand.
It is an incredible thing to think about. This world and all that exists in the universe has been created by God of one grand purpose. Contrary to the prevailing scientific community there is purpose to all things. This is not random, meaningless, directionless chaos. God created the heavens and the earth and we are told in Romans 11:36 that, For Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen.
All things are for Him all things are through Him and all things are to Him. God has been working from before the foundations of the world until now. He has been working for the glory of His name. He has been making known that He is holy, holy, holy and the great justifier of underserving rebels to their everlasting joy and the shame of every power that would raise its hand or voice against the honor of His name – and all of this has been accomplished finally in Christ Jesus the Righteous One, the Savior, the Prophet, the Priest, the King, the Lion, and the Lamb.
We are living in an incredibly privileged time. We are those upon whom the end of the ages has come (1 Corinthians 10:11; 1 John 2:18). We live in the age of fulfillment and as Peter says here, the end of all things is at hand. It is at the very door.
Jesus warned us to be ready for His coming would come at a time when people least expect it. But we are to be awake and ready for His coming. The New Testament is filled with the call to the expectant hope of Christs soon return and the consummation of all things ( Romans 13:11-12; Philippians 4:5; Hebrews 10:23-25; James 5:7-8; Revelation 1:3; 22:10). Do we live our short lives here with this in mind?
How then shall we live?
Some have made the claim that those who are too heavenly minded are of no earthly good. That can only be true if heavenly mindedness means earthly blindness and spiritual numbness. There are some who think that the thought that Christ may return today could create an inactive people who care nothing for the affairs of this world.
But Peter here calls us to be eagerly expectant. We are to keep the end in view, to have glory in our hearts. But this eager expectation and realization that the end may come today should not, according to Peter, result in inactivity or uselessness or indifference.
Peter, in fact, is telling us that the end of all things is at hand in order to spur us to action in this world. After he says that the end of all things is at hand he then lists actions that should flow out of that knowledge. This time and next we will look at these actions which ought to flow from the fact that the end is at the door.
The knowledge that the end of all things is at hand ought to stimulate
self-control and sober-minds for the sake of prayer.
earnest love for one another.
hospitality without grumbling.
service toward one another.
a desire to see God glorified through Jesus Christ in all that we do.
We will consider the first of this list this morning.
1. Self-Controlled and Sober-Minded for the Sake of Prayer
The fact that Christ will any moment split the sky and appear with great power and glory and bring eternal punishment and reward with Him should stimulate, first of all a devotion to a life of effective prayer.
Verse 7: The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.
Peters train of thought is this: Because the end of all things is at hand, care about your prayers and do what is needed to guard and strengthen your prayers.
Why would a clear and present belief that the end of all things is near stimulate devotion to a life of effective prayer?
Well, I think that a proper apprehension of the Day of the Lord – what it will be like to see the Lord of Glory coming in power – should drive us to take life seriously – to take our eternal soul seriously – to take seriously how we conduct ourselves here – and it is when we realize that living in this world is serious business that we will be driven to our knees plead for God to help us and to keep us faithful and believing and growing and eagerly looking to Christ.
There is a dangerous unbiblical doctrine taught by some that says once you make a profession of faith the life you then live does not matter at all. You prayed the prayer and you are good. Wrong.
This is a logical deduction from a wrong understanding of Paul’s teaching that salvation is by faith alone. Salvation is by faith alone. But salvation is not a stamp on a certificate; salvation is rebirth, a new life, a rising from the dead. To be in Christ is to participate in the Spirit of Christ, to have Him in you leading you to make war against the flesh (Romans 8).
So instead of teaching that it matters not how we conduct ourselves in this world after having come to Christ, the New Testament is replete with calls to persevere, to go on, to not abandon, to fight against sin, to look, to cling to Christ.
And there are devastating examples of people who once seemed to be one of Gods people, but who walked away and proved that they had not been raised to life and union with Christ.
1 John 2:19
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.
2 Timothy 4:10
Demas [a man who had ministered with Paul (Colossians 4:14; Philemon 1:24).] in love with this present world, has deserted me
Care About the Perishing: Pray!
Oh, how the end of all things ought to stimulate us to fall on our knees and plead with the Lord to keep us, to keep our brothers and sisters, to persevere in the faith and grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, that we wouldnt coast and drift away from the Lord and into the flood of condemnation.
Oh, that we would care, not only for our own souls safety, but for the ultimate salvation of each one in this room. Are we praying for one another? Oh, that we would care about the salvation of our neighbors and the children in our own homes and in our town and those in the prime of life moving along without a thought for the end of all things, and those aging and dying having not yet turned to the Lord.
Oh, That we would care about the salvation of the perishing in Windham, Salem, Pelham, Hudson, Londonderry, Derry, Nashua, Litchfield, Manchester, Auburn, Candia, Chester, Raymond, Femont, Danville, Sandown, Hampstead, Atkinson, Plaistow, Kingston, Newton, Pepperell, Dunstable, Tyngsborough, Dracut, Lowell, Chelmsford, Methuen, Andover, Haverhill, and in our workplaces, and shopping places, and workout places, and recreation places – people need the Lord in this place! Are we praying for God to raise the dead in these places? Are we praying?!? The end of all things is at hand.
Let us give ourselves to be intercessors. Let us cry with importunity (persistence to the point of annoyance) to God when we see people who need help, when the spirit of compassion stirs within us, when we feel our own powerlessness to help, or when we see obstacles in the way of our getting an answer. God alone can help. And in answer to our prayers, He will help. (Taken from the book The Ministry of Intercession by Andrew Murray 1828-1917)
Self-Controlled and Sober-Minded
If we are to be the diligent praying people God has called us to be we Peter says we must be self-controlled and sober-minded in these last days. Apparently, self-control and a sober-mind is needed to pray – at least the way Peter has in mind here. These two words seem to function together to call us to think and to live with a command over our passions and sobriety in our thinking.
Oh it is all too easy to let our minds be drunk with the Cool-Aid of our day. Peter is not simply calling us to avoid being drunk with alcohol or stoned out of our minds with drugs – though that is a necessary start. Peter is calling to clear our minds of the garbage that is being pushed at us by every conceivable device and medium.
Technologies wield great power – power to amplify both good and evil. Do not think that the books and magazines, radios, televisions, computers, laptops, cell phones, smart phones, iPods, iPads, etc. are not dangerous. And every new app to make your life easier comes with power – power to amplify both good and evil. Are you sober and careful and self-controlled as you engage in the use of these technologies?
Are you a sober, critical thinker as you expose yourself to the subtle and not so subtle agendas of the world? Do you spend more time renewing your mind with Gods Word or clouding your mind with mans words and images and agendas?
Lusts of the Flesh
The knowledge that the end of all things is at hand ought to stimulate us to have a sober-mind and self-control.
Im not sure if you are familiar with the Ashely Madison leak. The Ashley Madison Company is a website designed to help you have an affair. Their slogan is, Life is short. Have an affair. And they are (were?) a booming success with 37 million users? And among these uses, come to find out after the user information was leaked in July, are many Christian leaders and pastors!
Why? Why are we drawn to seek to gratify the lusts of our flesh? Why are so many caught in the trap of a site like Ashely Madison or caught in the snare of pornography?
Well, it is because we are out of our minds. We are out of our minds when the slogan Life is short. Have an affair rings true to us. When you hear that life is short (and make no mistake this life is short and the end is at hand) are you assuming that this life is all there is? Is this life the place you think you must secure fulfillment and satisfaction because this is all there is? When we are tempted to gratify the flesh with sinful pleasure we are drunk with the Cool-Aid of this world. Unbelievers beat the drum that this life is all there is. Are we alert and sober and considering triumphant king Jesus or are we believing the lies of the world?
Yes, your flesh craves what it ought not. But we are followers of Jesus Christ, called to deny our flesh, called to suffer while in the flesh like Jesus did, called to be sober-minded and self-controlled so that we remain constant and diligent in our dependence upon God in prayer because this life is short and the end of all things in at hand and it is those who are clinging to Christ who will be saved.
This life is not all there is, but all this will very soon come to an end. Are we sober and self-controlled for the sake of our prayers?
Old and Young
I give a plea to those who consider themselves old and to those who consider themselves young: all of us are but newly born into God’s family.
I dont care if you are 100 year old and you have been a Christian for 50, 60, 70 years, you are newly born. You have only begun the eternal life that is now yours in Christ. Soon you will be further clothed with a glorious body and forever be with the desire of your heart. Those who consider themselves old, consider that the end of all this is at hand and be sober-minded and self-controlled for the sake of your prayers until Christ appears.
If you are a child, it could be that you have been a Christian only moments (perhaps the Lord was pleased to open your heart to Christ even this morning), what you have come to be is a treasured possession and a citizen of eternal glory. You have left the realm of sin and death and condemnation and entered the realm of life and peace and joy. And if you should live another 100 years in this world those years are but an instant when compared to the endless ages of the eternal blessedness prepared for us in Christ Jesus.
Brothers and sisters we are forgiven, born again, heirs of glory, aliens here and citizens of glory, beloved children of God, and our Redeemer and Savior has conquered all of His and our enemies, triumphing over sin and death at His resurrection and is coming soon and will not let a hair fall from our head, but for a good and glorious purpose unto your everlasting Joy! Oh, brothers and sisters, let us now arm ourselves with the mind of Christ: to live in this world, no longer for human passions but for the will of God!
We can only do this as we are believing the gospel of the glory of Christ. We will only be able to deny our flesh and suffer in this world and care about the perishing as we are setting our hope fully upon the grace to be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ. And so let be sober-minded and self-controlled for the sake of our prayers.