Droughts, wildfires, dust storms, hurricanes, floods, derechos, earthquakes, tsunamis; frightening outbreaks of West Nile virus and Hantavirus put large sections of the country on edge; the economic and political arenas are filled with uncertainty and conflicting messages. Today’s world would be alien to those who lived even a few decades ago and completely unimaginable to those who lived a century ago. Even those with little or no knowledge or interest in religion and eschatology have noticed that something odd is happening to the world. For the believers who are paying attention, we see in these natural and man-made events signs of the soon return of our Lord Jesus Christ. Like children anxiously anticipating the long-awaited arrival of the final destination, we look around at the world and ask: “Are we there yet? How much longer?”
My question, to all those who profess Christ as our Lord and Savior, is: “Are we ready?”
All around us are the signs of the nearness of the Lord’s return. We are living in the prophetic time of the third angel’s message (Revelation 14:9-12). The beast’s deadly wound has been healed (Revelation 13:3), and there is an ever present danger of being deceived by the great miracles performed through Satanic power (Revelation 13:3, 13). The solemn warning of the third angel could not be more applicable yet many who profess to be followers of Christ have grown complacent in their faith and indifferent to the warning signs. We do not know the exact day or hour of Christ’s coming (Matthew 25:13). While we wait, the Lord has entrusted His people with the privilege of sharing His message of love and salvation to the world. Are we seriously fulfilling our duties as followers of Christ? Are we prepared to meet our Lord? Are we preparing others?
My friends, right now hundreds—no, thousands and possibly millions—of precious souls are perishing for the lack of the truth while those of us with the truth are standing by idly. The people of God need to forsake worldly things, shake off their indifference, and focus on the task that the Lord has entrusted to them. They desperately need to straighten out their priorities, making the conscious decision to study God’s Word, spend time in communion with the Lord through earnest prayer, and boldly share the good news of Christ’s sacrifice in their place and gift of eternal life to those the Holy Spirit guides them to. This is the privilege and responsibility of a child of God.
However, a word of caution: one of the most grievous and deadly afflictions to fall upon the people of the Lord at this time in the prophetic landscape is pride. The word pride can be defined as “having an excessively high opinion of oneself or one’s importance.” Pride is selfishness: focusing inwardly on oneself rather than outwardly on the Lord and others. Psalm 10:4 gives a solemn warning: “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.” Pride ruins our relationships with others and causes us to think, behave, and say things that are not in harmony with the Holy Spirit. At the same time, we are self-deceived into thinking we are accomplishing the Lord’s work.
Pride gets in the way of our relationship with the Lord, turns our priorities upside down, and severely hinders the work of the Lord. Think about it: the Lord cannot work with or through a proud heart. There is simply no room for Him, and the proud are not willing to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. “Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:5b-6).
Through humbling ourselves before the Lord, we allow Him to work through us to feed the spiritually hungry and provide living water to the spiritually thirsty. In Testimonies of the Church, Volume 9, Ellen White counsels: “If we would humble ourselves before God, and be kind and courteous and tenderhearted and pitiful, there would be one hundred conversions to the truth where now there is only one” (9T 189.4).
The followers of Christ—true believers—will forsake pride and, through the transforming power of the Lord, display the fruit of the Spirit in every aspect of their lives. In a parable, Christ declared: “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them (Matthew 7:18-20). We know from Galatians 5:21-23 that “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
As we travel down the road of history and see the signs all around us foretelling the soon coming of our Lord, we should not be asking: “Are we there yet?” but “Am I doing everything I can, through the power of Christ, so that no one will perish because I failed to do the simple task the Lord has entrusted to me?” 1 Corinthians 6:20 brings everything into perspective: “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” You and I, we belong to God, and if we truly love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind, then how can we not be compelled to share His love and mercy with others? Do we not want every loved one, every friend and acquaintance, every neighbor and co-worker, and every man, woman, and child on this planet to know the joy of salvation in Christ and be with us in New Jerusalem? Brothers and sisters, we owe it to Christ, the one who risked everything to save us from our sins. If we do not have any compassion for those who do not yet know our Lord, then the spirit that is within us is not the Holy Spirit and our own salvation is called into question.
In Testimonies for the Church, Volume 1, we are given a saddening and solemn picture: “In concluding this narrative, I would say that we are living in a most solemn time. In the last vision given me, I was shown the startling fact that but a small portion of those who now profess the truth will be sanctified by it and be saved. Many will get above the simplicity of the work. They will conform to the world, cherish idols, and become spiritually dead. The humble, self-sacrificing followers of Jesus will pass on to perfection, leaving behind the indifferent and lovers of the world” (1T 608.3). Beloved, we desperately need to humble ourselves for time is short, and we are not ready for our Lord’s return.