“There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” (Luke 21:25-26).
The signs are too glaring to ignore. Just last week world witnessed the last Blood Moon, which students of prophecy believe to be a fulfillment of Joel 2:20. Another significant event was that Pope Francis addressed the US joint sessions and the United Nations General Assembly. His mission, among others, is one world government. In our days the one world government agenda kicked off. Indeed, Jesus is coming soon
The message of the soon return of Jesus Christ is meant to bring encouragement and hope to believers, but in reality the opposite seems the case. Many believers deliberately ignore such wake up calls, not that the sign posts are not glaring and convincing enough, but rather because inwardly they feel unprepared, unworthy of the Saviour, and not ready to face the reality of end of time. When we are in this spiritual state, it is an indication that we need to grow in our knowledge of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. The other side of the coin are those who are not even affected by any form of alerts about the return of Jesus Christ. This later group have got their hearts hardened, made themselves insensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and the rebuke of God’s Word. It is possible that they have fallen away while standing in the Church.
The response of fear and feelings of inadequacy at the thought of the return of Jesus Christ is a positive indication that the Holy Ghost is still working in you. You might not have got to that spiritual growth you long for, but through the Holy Spirit you can get there. Apostle Peter exhorted the saints, “May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.” 2Pet.1:2.
Another translation renders it this way, “Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”
Many times we read the Bible but what we get is the wrong interpretation or wrong understanding. We go through life experiences and come off with the wrong lessons and conclusions. In other words, what we get often is inaccurate knowledge. Our inaccurate knowledge gives us a misrepresentation of God’s thoughts towards us. But, there is the kind of knowledge that is so comprehensive and accurate.
In 2Pet.2:2 Apostle Peter used a Greek word that expressed the kind of knowledge that is both accurate and experiential, “epignosis”. It is a combination of two words, namely, epi (meaning, fitting) and gnosis (meaning, experiential, first-hand knowledge).
If I were to rephrase the expression of Peter in that verse it would read, “Grace and peace be yours in abundance through (the) your accurate, first-hand, experiential, relational understanding (knowledge) of God and of Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Apostle Paul made mention of people who are always learning (studying) but never able to come to the knowledge of the Truth (2Tim.3:7-8). The same Greek word, epignosis, was used in this verse. The connotation is that, some people possess long years of study or certificates to prove their wealth of knowledge of God’s Word, but they are ignorantly opposing the true gospel and teach errors because they do not possess accurate, experiential understanding of the Word of God; that experience which comes through intimate relationship and obedience to God. Accurate and experiential knowledge of God and His Word is administered by the Holy Ghost and it is irrespective of your status in Christendom. That is why Apostle Paul prayed for the saints at Ephesus that God might illuminate their understanding (Eph.1:16-19).
The proof that a believer has been properly taught is the multiplicity of grace and the establishment of her heart in peace. Accurate knowledge of God’s Word produces in the saint grace and peace.
Grace was translated from the word, “Charis.” Grace is simply, free gift, favour or kindness. But it is more than that. The grace of God is the free gift of God which grants the receiver the ability to live for and do the will of God. It is the Divine ability to do. The Bible says we have this treasure in earthen vessel (jars of clay), which connotes constraints, weaknesses, failures, and inability to reflect the character and faculties of God in this earthly sphere, although we have it on our inside.
“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.” (2Cor.4:7).
That is grace! Grace is the ability to manifest Divine character and abilities irrespective of human constraints and weaknesses. Grace is that energy of God inside a believer that makes her not only willing but also able to do the will of God even when it hurts (Phil.2:13). Grace is manifest when believers enjoy spiritual exercises which are ordinarily tasking and discomforting to the human flesh, for instance, sacrificial giving, praying with fasting, long hours in prayer, church service, etc. without grumbling; enduring chastisement, showing remorse and repentance instead of arguments, when rebuked by the Word of God; etc. The ability to live for God and give up earthly pleasures in pursuit of God is Divine; it is a product of grace. To be heavenly minded is an act of grace in the heart of the believer. Grace is like a bridge that takes us from our weak and helpless position to the standard that God requires. Grace is a motion; when we possess grace it moves us in the direction of God’s will and pleasure. Our human body is animated in response to personal, first-hand knowledge of God.
Peace does not connote absence of troubles; rather it means our hearts are at rest irrespective of what happens externally. Jesus Christ said, in the world you would have troubles but in me you would have peace.
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).
We see that trials, sorrows and peace can co-exist. The believer is troubled on the external, but possesses peace on the inside. This inner peace drives away fear, anxiety, worry, tension and impatience. This inner peace becomes a source of strength which enables the believer to endure difficult times and persecutions without giving up. This inner peace, which is administered by the Holy Spirit, springs joy in our hearts even in times of troubles and perplexity. It takes a man who has experienced God to rest on Him when troubles assail.
When we have accurate understanding of God’s Word it produces in the believer grace and peace: grace, as we come to realize our responsibilities in Christ; and peace as we realize that troubles in this life cannot take away from us our possessions in Christ.
Accurate knowledge of God’s Word produces in the believer Heaven consciousness. Apostle Paul had tutored the saints about Heaven and the vanity of earthly life and possessions so much that their hope and comfort rested on their expectation of the appearance of Jesus Christ. They all had high expectations of the return of Jesus Christ. In 1Thes.4:15-18, Paul wrote,
“We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.”
The source of courage was of the expectation that Jesus Christ is coming soon. But today, for most Christians, the message that Jesus Christ is coming soon is a source of discouragement; a fear to fight, a disruption to our laid out plans, and frustration of our ambitions. These are indications that the knowledge that the believer possesses is not accurate. Such a believer cannot have peace in the face of turmoil, and cannot stand fast in faith in the face of persecutions. It is the evidence that the growth of that believer has been in the wrong direction.
According to 2Pet.1:2, grace and peace in times of crises would be ours as we yield our hearts to the accurate, experiential, and relational knowledge and understanding of God and His Word, and keep growing in that accurate knowledge and understanding.
One of the popular hymns reads,
"Hold the fort for I am coming, Jesus signal still,
Wave the answer back to Heaven, by Thy grace we will."
When Jesus says, “I am coming,” it takes the grace of God in the heart of a believer for her to respond with enthusiasm, joy and encouragement and say, “Yes, by Your grace I will.” That grace is administered through the accurate knowledge of the Word of God and consistent growth in that accurate knowledge.
The gospel that makes believers grossly earthly minded is anti-Scripture. Accurate understanding makes a believer Heaven conscious. This Heaven consciousness influences our every other endeavour on earth. We live like strangers and pilgrims on earth, managing the material things of this world without getting engrossed in them. Apostle Paul admonished the saints in Colossi and said,
“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.” Col.3:1-4.
A person who lives like this would not be threatened by the message that Jesus is coming soon. If we have been passionate for Heavenly affairs, that Jesus Christ is coming soon would become a big relief and a source of comfort.
Believers will need this source of comfort in the days ahead. Yes, the world is inevitably headed for deeper crises, but if we do not mind earthly things our hearts are not supposed to fail as we see the signs of impending doom that would befall the earth; we are rather supposed to be joyful that our salvation is drawing nearer. Let us refocus our priorities; re-examine our understanding; and ensure we have not believed another gospel.
May grace and peace be multiplied to all who read this, in the name of Jesus Christ.