“The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self controlled so that you can pray.” 1 Peter 4:7
Paul wrote in the thirteenth chapter of his letter to the Romans that…”The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” (Rom.13:11) Now, if that was true for first century believers how much more so for us who are well int the third millennium. Two thousand years have past since Paul gave this exhortation to vigilance in the light of Christ’s return, and we may be tempted to think that He will never come. Peter addresses this kind of mistaken thinking in his second epistle, explaining that the ‘delay’ in Jesus return has to do with God’s kindness and patience in bringing many people to salvation. (see 2 Peter chapter 3) So the exhortation remains relevant. We are to rouse ourselves from spiritual lethargy and lukewarmness and live in the light of Jesus’ certain and imminent return.
The end of all things is near
God the Father has set a time when time and space as we know it will come to an end. “The sky shall recede like a scroll rolling up and every mountain and island removed from its place.” Rev.6:14 There will be the sudden inrush of eternity. Christ’s return will set in motion the consummation of the ages, and everything at long last will submit to his Lordship as the Kingdom fully comes. Christians will be gathered for the marriage supper of the Lamb and receive their eternal rewards. Unbelievers will be judged and suffer everlasting destruction, where their highest consciousness is the relentless reality of God’s wrath.
These are the kinds of thoughts that shaped the Apostle Paul’s prayer life. Eternal realities, including divine judgement and retribution for wicked unbelievers, and the glorification of those who accept the offer of salvation, stimulated and formed the priorities that Paul brought to the throne of grace in prayer. (see 2 Thess.1)
The truth of the Second Coming should shape our ‘world-view’ too. We should acknowledge God’s sovereignty and recognise that he is working to a wonderful plan. Eternal things should also affect the way we live:
- That we might grow in holiness (making ourselves ready). 2 Peter 3:11.
- That we might hasten the day of Christ’s return through seeking to advance the success of the gospel (making others ready). 2 Peter 3:9
But the days preceding the Lord Jesus’ return will not be characterised by ease and comfort but by:
- Rebellion and lawlessness – the activity of Satan. False religion, wickedness and deception. 2 Thess.2:1-12
- Times of stress. Men will be lovers of self, money, prestige and power. They will be abusive, ungrateful, unholy, inhumane, disobedient, haters of good, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. Holding the form of religion but denying the power of it. 2 Tim.3:1-9
- The proliferation of false Christs, false prophets leading many astray. Wars and rumours of wars. Nations rising up against nations. Persecution of Christians. Famines and earthquakes. Etc. etc. But more positively the gospel will spread throughout the world. The words of Jesus in Matthew 24
Whilst the world grows darker the light of gospel testimony grows ever brighter. Amidst all the evil we must seek God for the interventions of his grace in revival power. That he would rend the heavens and come down. (Isa.64:1)
The end of all things is near! Therefore this is how we should be….
Clear minded and self controlled
The days demand that Christians be clear minded. Literally sober minded, able to think clearly. Because of the confusion and chaos all around us, and the escalation of evil and deception that abounds, we are to have a clear understanding of what is true. Here is a clear call for Christians to be people of the Word of God, to know the truth. Disciples of Jesus are characterised by their relationship to the truth (John 8:31,32) and are trained, by constant handling of the truth, to be discerning (Heb.5:14). So gird up your minds!
But the Word must affect our behaviour as well as our thinking. We must pay as much attention to our lives as we do to our doctrine. (1 Tim.4:16)
The nearness of the Day of the Lord, with all its accompanying upheaval, demands that we be self controlled too.
If being clear minded enables us to understand the times correctly, self control will enable us to live in these times successfully. Self control is that quality produced in us by the sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit that enables us to consistently obey God: To do what he wants, and not do what he does not want. If new covenant life means anything it must mean that our lives are transformed from one degree of glory to the next. And one such area that shows that we are ‘possessed’ by the Spirit is that we demonstrate in our lives an ability, albeit falteringly and imperfectly, to do what is right.
The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self controlled.
But Peter is not finished. The above qualities are not ends in themselves. Clear mindedness and self control enable something else, a much higher and richer quality to be developed and used: PRAYER.
That you can pray
Not to be clear minded robs us of the vision of the truth that says we ought always to pray and not give up.
Not to be self controlled robs us of the ability to obey the truth. Hence we give up.
Without seeing the need to pray – we wont pray.
Without being enabled to pray – we can’t pray.
Prayer is perhaps the Christians highest priority. Prayer is what makes all the other necessary commands and duties possible, achievable. Prayer lays hold of God, and calls down his rich supplies of grace that enable us to inherit his promises and engage in fruitful service for him. Prayer lifts us to the heights of his throne. Prayer is totally relational in its dynamic. In prayer we show our self utterly dependent upon God, and he in turn is delighted to glorify himself in the supplying of our needs.
If you doubt the high priority of prayer check out these verses:
Mk.11:15-18 God’s house is supremely a place of prayer.
Rev.5 & 8 speak of the “Prayers of the saints” achieving God’s purposes.
1 Tim.2:1. Paul urges that of first importance PRAYER be offered for everyone.
Rom.10:13-15 reveals a logical progression in the process of salvation: Sending results in preaching; preaching results in hearing; hearing results in believing; and believing results in CALLING ON THE NAME OF THE LORD – PRAYER.
1 Cor.1:2 Sets apart all believers as those who call on the name of the Lord.
Christians are therefore to order their lives in such a way that will make prayer a priority and a practical reality. Even more so in the light of Jesus’ appearing.
So let us pray in the Spirit on all occasions. Eph.6:18
- With confession and repentance – as we get right with God.
- With adoration – as we praise and worship him.
- With intercession – as we stand in the gap for people.
- With supplication and petition – as we plead the promises of God.
- With spiritual warfare – as we resist the strongholds of the enemy.
- With thanksgiving – as we show our indebtedness to our Saviour and provider.
- With groaning – that only the Spirit can interpret.
- And with ‘Spirit-languages’ – as we pray beyond our limited understanding.
So let us draw near to God. Let us find HIM as we seek him with all our hearts.