It was wonderful for us to be able to open the doors of our church building once again on Sunday for public worship, but of course before we could do that, a risk assessment had to carried out, which helped us to understand what preparations needed to be done, in order to make sure that our building was COVID secure, not only for worshippers, but for our employees too. But as has often happened during this period of lockdown, I found myself being challenged once again spiritually, because I began to think about a far greater return that I needed to be prepared for - the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to earth for a second time. And so, I decided to carry out my own personal ‘return of Christ’ risk assessment, and thankfully, the Bible provided me with SIX very clear guidelines.
1. In order to be ready for Christ’s second coming, I had to live as if Christ’s FIRST coming mattered. In other words, I had to understand and believe and accept that Jesus came into the world the first time to pay the ransom for my sins, so that I could be made right with God and enter His heaven. After all, didn’t Jesus tell Nicodemus that, “unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)
2. In order to be ready for Christ’s second coming, I had to walk the walk and not be living in ways that contradict God’s standards. In other words, the world should clearly see that Christ lives in me, because in Titus 2:12-13 we read, “.. denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ ……”
3. In order to be ready for Christ’s second coming, I needed to be alert and watchful. No one knows when Christ will return. In fact, Jesus said that he didn’t even know the date Himself – only the Father knows it. But we do know that we will not get a text message in advance, and therefore we are not to be sleeping saints, but we should be living life as if Jesus could return TODAY, because Jesus Himself said in Matthew 24:42, “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.” In other words, we should be like lovers who cannot wait for another glimpse of the one we love.
4. In order to be ready for Christ’s second coming though, I shouldn’t just be sitting around unproductively, but according to Jesus’ parable in Matthew 25 about the ‘talents,’ Jesus expects to find me busily applying myself to the tasks He has allotted to me, and He expects to find me faithfully carrying out the responsibilities He has given to me during His absence. No matter how long the delay which precedes Jesus’ second coming, the Master expects me to use my gifts and resources efficiently and effectively.
5. In order to be ready for Christ’s second coming, I really need to be discerning, because according to 1 Timothy 4:1, certain dangers will mark the days leading up to Christ’s return. There will be the danger of apostacy (some will depart from the faith), there will be the danger of deception (giving heed to deceiving spirits), and there will be the danger of false teaching (doctrines of demons). Increasingly as the return of Christ approaches, we are going to see the truth of God’s Word being boldly tampered with. Increasingly as the return of Christ approaches, we are going to see a message being peddled, which will lead people astray. Increasingly as the return of Christ approaches, we are going to see preachers giving people what they want to hear and preaching a partial gospel which is no gospel at all. In fact, Satan’s greatest ambassadors at the end of time, are not going to be those we might think of, but they are going to be false prophets who will come in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
6. And finally, in order to be ready for Christ’s second coming, I should be involved in an on-going ministry of encouragement. Hebrews 10:25 says, “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” We know that we are living in very challenging days when it is becoming more and more difficult to tell the difference between good and bad, right and wrong, and truth and error. In fact, Christ’s return may be nearer than we think, and that is why according to the writer to the Hebrews, it is so important that we gather together to encourage each other in our Christian lives, and hold each other accountable.
C.H. Spurgeon used the analogy of his dogs to show how we should be ready and waiting for the Lord’s return. He said that even as he was preaching, his dogs were siting inside his front door, awaiting his return, and at the first sound of his carriage wheels, they would ‘lift up their voices with delight because their master was coming home.’ And then he added, ‘Oh, if we loved our Lord as dogs love their masters, how we should catch the first sound of His coming, and be waiting, always waiting, and never happy until at last we should see him.”
I have shared with you, the personal risk assessment I have carried out, as I think about the return of Christ, and I would encourage you to ask yourself, “Will the Master find me ready when He comes?”