1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”
We see a word concerning the future that should be a powerful motivator for us in this matter of sanctification. If I were to ask what your concerns are regarding the future, what would you say? Would you talk about the state of the economy, or would you mention a health concern? Would you talk about world events and the threat of war? Would you speak of your family and the future of your children and grandchildren? Would you express concern about the crime rate or the future of the environment? According to a recent survey these are the main concerns of adult Americans.
The return of the Lord is sure to happen. Do you see a future event that is certainly missing from that list? I’m talking about the day when our Lord returns to this earth. This is not a possibility; it is something that is sure to happen. Knowing that one day He will return should impact the way we live and our commitment in this matter of sanctification. God does not intend for us to live only horizontally—focused on the temporal things of this world. Instead He intends for our primary focus to be vertical—caring about the things that are eternal. The fact that Jesus Christ is coming back again is motivation for you and me to abandon our own plans, dreams, and futures, and yield ourselves unreservedly unto the Lord Jesus Christ.
We don’t know exactly when it will happen, but we know it will happen. When I talk about being focused on the future, I don’t mean the future of our lives or the future of our country but rather the day when Jesus returns. I don’t know what the future holds between now and then. I can see the path that our nation is on, and I know that every time in history a nation has behaved as we are behaving, judgment has come. I also know that God is more than able to send a revival and turn our hearts back to Him. But whatever happens, whether it is days or years or decades or even centuries before the Lord comes back, we know this future event is settled. We don’t know when it will happen, but we do know that it will.
The most important news has to do with the work of the Lord. I read the newspaper and watch a little of the television news to keep up current news, but I am far more concerned with what is happening in our churches than I am with what is happening in our capital cities. The future of the world is not determined by the decisions of men but by the will of God. And though, collectively, our spiritual condition right now is not good, I believe God can bring a great revival that will change our age. Every great work of God began as something small—one individual, one small group of people, one church committed to sanctification and holiness.
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1Thessalonians 4:13-18).
The return of the Lord is a primary motivation for our sanctification. In First Thessalonians 3:13 we read, “To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.” Remember that even when the future of our nation is perplexing and uncertain, the return of the Lord is established and sure. Knowing that one day we will stand before God and give an account of our lives and service to Him should cause us to seriously reflect upon our lives and our lifestyles as the sons and daughters of God; as soldiers and servants of the Lord Jesus Christ.
When the disciples asked the Lord when He was going to set up His kingdom He said, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:7-8). Instead of sitting around trying to decode the horns on the beast and the toenails on the dragon, just go out and win somebody to the Lord! Are we now living in prophetic days? Well, it surely seems as though we are. When we read what the Bible prophets said about various nations coming together in alliances against Israel and we read about that happening in the news, it makes us think. These are incredible days to be alive, and God chose us to be alive in these days. We have plenty of reasons to be sanctified in spirit, soul, and body, but the Lord’s return should be at the forefront of our minds.