What if a Christian soaks in the idea, “Peace and safety”? He is not worthy to be called a true Christian even though he acts outwardly as a Christian. Some have fervent faith in the face of persecution and hardship, but in favorable situations they lose their faith in God.
The Bible is a book written by God who created us, the human beings, and it clearly describes our heart and mind. As our God knows our hearts, He wrote down in the 66 books of the Bible all the teachings and warnings so that we might not be led astray by Satan’s tricks but led to salvation. God’s words sometimes rebuke us, and sometimes awaken us not to indulge in idleness.
When we read God’s words, what is important is our thoughts. Thought determines action. The prophet Jeremiah teaches us that we may receive blessing or disaster according to our thoughts.
“I appointed watchmen over you and said, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’ But you said, ‘We will not listen.’ Therefore hear, O nations; observe, O witnesses, what will happen to them. Hear, O earth: I am bringing disaster on this people, the fruit of their schemes, because they have not listened to my words and have rejected my law.” Jer 6:17-19
God says that everything is the fruit of our thoughts. We need to check what thoughts we have, don’t we? He who receives a blessing has a thought worthy of the blessing, and he who suffers a disaster has a thought deserving of the disaster. If our thoughts are always in accord with God’s will, we will get His blessing, the fruit of our thoughts.
We are now in the period of prophecy when the bridegroom delays his coming. I fear that there may be some who are nervous in the thought that the bridegroom might come too late or some who live arbitrarily in the thought that there will be no tomorrow. God told us over and over to receive the glorious day, progressing what we are to do. Whether Christ comes after one year, or two years later, or tomorrow or another day, we should work with the thought that He may come today. This is God’s teaching and the attitude which we should take.
The thought that He may come late destroys our faith and hope. It’s like a sleeping drug that makes our souls sleep. It’s a very dangerous thought. Then, let’s study through the Bible what it means to “keep watch” spiritually, and make ourselves ready to receive God who comes on a day when we do not expect Him.
“But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Mt 24:48-51
The Bible says that the Master comes on a day when the servant does not expect Him and at an hour he does not know. The wicked servant’s weeping and gnashing of teeth at that time is the fruit of his thought.
Some try to get ready to receive Christ, whether He comes two years later, or one year later, or tomorrow or right now. For such people, God has prepared a blessing, the fruit of their thought.
On the contrary, some think that He will take a long time in coming, and they neglect their duties and put off things worthy of blessing. When Christ comes, the prophecy about such servants will be ful-filled-“The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
The above things will happen on the last day when the Christ comes. Jesus shows us them in advance, explaining the sign of the end of the age (Mt 24:3). These words are not for the Early Church’s saints, not for the ancients of the Old Testament times. These are for us who live in the end time.
There must be those who have the same thought that the wicked servant had. Their faces do not show their thinking. Because they think that ‘He will take a long time in coming,’ they come to indulge in private pleasure and eat and drink with drunkards. They come to forget their duties as Christians, and finally they will be punished by the Master who comes on a day when they do not expect Him.
“Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Therefore keep watch, …” Mt 24:40-42
“So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Mt 24:44
The Bible constantly tells us, “Keep watch!” “You must be ready.” It’s because the Son of Man comes at an hour when we do not expect Him. Then, what does it mean to keep watch?
“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.” Mt 24:45-47
In Jesus’ words, it doesn’t seem to be difficult to keep watch and get ready. “Giving them their food at the proper time” means preaching eagerly, praying earnestly, keeping God’s commands diligently, and serving one another in love.
Through the parable of the faithful servant and the wicked one, we can understand that different thoughts bring different results: One worked hard in season and out of season, and the other worked only when the master seemed to come soon. His concern was the time, not the work.
The servant who keeps watch and gets ready differs fundamentally from the wicked one in thinking. The servant who keeps watch and gets ready thinks, ‘This is my Father’s work, and my mission. Then, how can I wait for the time? As long as my life is spared, I will do my best for this work until that day.’ He works steadily and endures to the end in the thought, ‘The gospel is my Father’s work, and my Mother’s work, and my work.’ Meanwhile, the wicked servant pretends to work for a little while within a certain period of time because of some atmosphere, when a man says that Christ’s coming is drawing near. However, he becomes tired soon and stops at last.
Through this parable, our God, who searches our thoughts and attitudes of our hearts, clearly describes the mental state of us who are participating in the gospel work in the last days. Then, what kind of thought should we have, and what kind of fruit should we obtain?
Our Father walked the path of sacrifice in the flesh for 37 years, preaching the gospel. If we do not walk the path and begin to stagger, how can we completely follow in our Father’s footsteps?
As for those who have not yet received the truth, they can participate in the gospel work after receiving the truth. What about those who have been doing the work in the truth? They need to run all the more with all their strength to the end.
Sometimes the devil drives us to the extreme situation to test us, like Job’s case. Sometimes we should have a secular job in needy circumstances. Whatever the situation, if we preach eagerly in our place, God will make our situation better for the gospel. Finally, the devil surrendered before Job’s unfailing faith and God blessed Job with twice as much as he had before.
“After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before. All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. … The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys.” Job 42:10-12
“Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. …” Rev 3:10-12
We are weak and frail human beings. If we continually focus our minds on God, God will open the way of the gospel even when our circumstances seem impossible and hopeless.
Let’s look at ourselves, thinking that God may come on a day when we do not expect Him and at an hour we do now know: ‘If Christ comes today, what should I do? If tomorrow, how shall I receive Him? Am I fully ready now? Am I obeying everything God has commanded? Am I following God wherever He goes? Am I diligently preaching the gospel? Am I keeping God’s commandments with all my heart, mind and soul?’
Thinking that ‘He may come today,’ let’s consider what we must do to keep watch. Then God will give us wisdom and open the way for us to preach the gospel.
The world and everything in it are in God’s hands. Outwardly men seem to control things, but inwardly God controls all. Everything is in accordance with God’s will. Sometimes we are persecuted by others around us. However, they too are allowed by God who knows that if there is no persecution or difficulty, we will become idle and complacent. So, God tells us to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Th 5:16-18).
Since God knows that we will indulge in the thoughts of the flesh if we are in good surroundings, He allows us to have difficulties. Whatever our circumstances, if we only try to preach the gospel, God will open a good way for us and help us overcome all those difficulties.
One of our sisters took care of her baby in the hospital. At the hospital she met other mothers and led some of them to the truth. In our thought, a hospital doesn’t seem to be a good place to preach. But the sister said, “Hospital was also a good place to deliver God’s word.”
While the baby was asleep, she told them about the new covenant which God established to lead us to heaven, where there is no pain, no suffering, and no sorrow. Then one of them was very surprised and asked, “Is it really in the Bible?” and she ascertained the truth through the Bible. Then she said, “It’s very mysterious and graceful,” and became more concerned with studying the truth than leaving the hospital.
Though she was in an unfavorable situation, she preached to them with an earnest and fervent heart-‘How can I lead them to salvation?’ so that she could bear good fruit in her spare time, not neglecting her duties as a mother.
When we preach just out of a sense of duty-‘I have to preach because they press me …,’ we become worried about what others’ reaction will be-‘What will they think of me?’ Then we cannot bear fruit abundantly. However, if we preach to them with a strong feeling of compassion for their souls, thinking, ‘How can I leave them to die? I may never see them again. Now God has allowed me to meet them.
I must take this God-given opportunity to deliver the good news of salvation to them,’ we can come close to them with an open mind to tell them the truth and lead their souls to salvation. Everything depends on our way of thinking.
Our hearts should always be filled with the earnest thought of saving souls without fail. Isn’t it our duty to give them their food at the proper time?
“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.” Mt 24:45-46
We shall preach the gospel with the heart of God who loves all mankind’s souls, in season and out of season. We must not be like the servant who thought that the master would take a long time in coming and said to himself, ‘There would be some other time if I didn’t do it today.’ Indulging in such a thought, he ate and drank with drunkards, and the master came on a day when he didn’t expect him and at an hour he did not know.
Consider the parable of the faithful servant and the wicked servant: The former was completely obedient to Christ’s word, and the latter lived only for his own sensual pleasure.
Once again, let’s remember that Christ will come on a day when we do not expect Him. Everything comes from our thought. Let’s have positive thoughts and good faith that lead to gracious results.
“Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said ‘Open the door for us!’ But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’ Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” Mt 25:11-13
In Mt 24:42 our Father tells us to “keep watch,” and in Mt 25:13 He tells us again to “keep watch.” Repeatedly He says that He will come on a day when we don’t expect Him and at an hour we do now know.
The secure way to keep watch is to work. Can a man work while sleeping? When we work, we can keep on the alert. Those who work diligently do not slumber, even working through the night. What about those who do not work? They are all slumbering ones.
We can see who is the one that keeps watch in the parable of the talents (Mt 25:14-30). The servant who had received five talents worked hard every day in the thought of gaining five more. As a result, he brought five more talents back to his master and was commended, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” The servant with two talents thought that he could gain two more talents. The servant who had received one talent had the thought of fear, and he just returned his one talent.
“He will take a long time in coming. I don’t need to work hard now.” Such a thought brings an unfavorable result. “Everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.” The wicked servant was deprived of even what he had because he had a thought deserving of such a result.
Trade is to make a profit. The master in the parable gave some talents to each servant to trade with them. Here “trade” means “save souls!” God gave us talents to save souls with them. The first two servants knew that their master wanted a profit and did according to his will, but the third servant didn’t do that. God called the third one wicked and lazy servant, and He said, “Take away from him even what he has.”
The one who had received five talents brought five more talents, and the one with two talents brought back four talents, but the one who had been given one talent acquired nothing. What was God’s punishment against him? We ought to know how the fruit of our thoughts will be revealed in the spiritual world.
If we do everything for God’s kingdom and His righteousness, though it is a small thing, we will surely get a good result. If we don’t, we will always get into trouble. Remembering this, let’s work only for the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
“At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people-everyone whose name is found written in the book-will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.” Da 12:1-3
“Those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars for ever and ever.” This word describes the glory of heaven briefly. God sees all we do: How much we endure, how earnestly we pray, and how devotedly we endeavor to save one soul.
It would be very easy for God Almighty to find one hundred and forty-four thousand among seven billion people. However, God has entrusted us with the mission of preaching, through which He refines us and awakens our spirits so that we may draw close to God and understand the heart of our Heavenly Father and Mother.
“God is love.” Those who have not ever preached the gospel cannot fully realize God’s love. When we lead one soul after another to God, we come to understand the love our Father and Mother have bestowed on us. Looking at ourselves, we sometimes fail to understand God’s word and fall into temptation. Now, we can realize how much our Father and Mother love us and we make a resolution to become more obedient to God. Without preaching the gospel, we cannot understand the extent of God’s love for us.
Now, let us pray and look around us. There are many people who are waiting for us to preach to them. They may be our friends or old classmates or neighbors. If we bury them in oblivion, they will remain abandoned. However, if we decide to save them and begin to preach, they will all be saved.
When we preach that way, the gospel work will be graciously accomplished. We shall be awakened and ready to receive our Father, whether He comes tomorrow or even today.
Brothers and sisters! Let us preach the gospel diligently with the thought-‘I will set an example of being watchful.’ Then all our brothers and sisters throughout the world will keep watch and obtain blessed results, so that they may shine like the stars for ever and ever. We, the 144,000, shall always be ready to receive God, no matter when He comes.