22 – Character Preparation

22 – Character Preparation2017-07-10T01:23:34+00:00

Sabbath, November 25, 2017

“Especially important to the church in our time are the teachings of the apostle upon this point. To those living so near the great consummation, the words of Paul should come with telling force: ‘Let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.” –The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 260, 261.

The blessed hope 

1. For the faithful believers, is the return of Christ just a doctrine, or a cherished event in the near future? What did the apostle Paul call this?

2 Timothy 4:8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. 

Titus 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.

“ ‘The thoughts of the coming of the Lord,’ said Baxter, ‘are most sweet and joyful to me.’ –Richard Baxter, Works, vol. 17, p. 555. ‘It is the work of faith and the character of His saints to love His appearing and to look for that blessed hope.’… ‘This is the day that all believers should long, and hope, and wait for, as being the accomplishment of all the work of their redemption, and all the desires and endeavors of their souls.’ ‘Hasten, O Lord, this blessed day!’ –Ibid., vol. 17, pp. 182, 183. Such was the hope of the apostolic church, of the ‘church in the wilderness,’ and of the Reformers.” –The Great Controversy, pp. 303, 304.

“We are pilgrims and strangers who are waiting, hoping, and praying for that blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. If we believe this and bring it into our practical life, what vigorous action would this faith and hope inspire; what fervent love one for another; what careful holy living for the glory of God; and in our respect for the recompense of the reward, what distinct lines of demarcation would be evidenced between us and the world.”
Evangelism, p. 220. 

Few prepared

2. Although Noah warned the world about the coming flood, how many in his days were prepared for that event? Why were there so few? 

2 Peter 2:5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly. 

Matthew 24:37-39 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 

“The Bible declares that in the last days men will be absorbed in worldly pursuits, in pleasure and money-getting. They will be blind to eternal realities….

“So it is today. Men are rushing on in the chase for gain and selfish indulgence as if there were no God, no heaven, and no hereafter. In Noah’s day the warning of the flood was sent to startle men in their wickedness and call them to repentance. So the message of Christ’s soon coming is designed to arouse men from their absorption in worldly things. It is intended to awaken them to a sense of eternal realities, that they may give heed to the invitation to the Lord’s table.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 228. 

Always prepared

3. With the great day of the Lord approaching and knowing the experience of Noah’s generation, what appeal does the Lord make?

Matthew 24:42-44 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 43But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. 44Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

“We know not the exact time of our Lord’s coming. But whether it be this year, or next year, or in several years, Christ has told us that He will come as a thief in the night. He says unto all, ‘Watch.’ To very, very many, He will come in such an hour as they think not. At the time of His coming, men will be asking, ‘Where is the promise of His coming?’… 

“If ever God’s watchmen needed to be on their guard, it is now…. The trumpet must give a certain sound. There will be a general proclamation of truth, the whole earth will be enlightened with the glory of God, but those only will recognize the light who have sought to know the difference between holiness and sin.” –The Upward Look, p. 365.

4. In the parable of the ten virgins, they were all expecting the bridegroom to come for the feast, but what happened to half of them? Therefore, what is the Lord’s warning for today?

Matthew 25:6, 7, 10-13 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. 7Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps…. 10And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. 11Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. 12But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. 13Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. 

Luke 12:40 Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not. 

Mark 13:37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch. 

“Let none follow the example of the foolish virgins and think that it will be safe to wait until the crisis comes before gaining a preparation of character to stand in that time. It will be too late to seek for the righteousness of Christ when the guests are called in and examined. Now is the time to put on the righteousness of Christ–the wedding garment that will fit you to enter into the marriage supper of the Lamb. In the parable, the foolish virgins are represented as begging for oil and failing to receive it at their request. This is symbolic of those who have not prepared themselves by developing a character to stand in a time of crisis…. Character is not transferable. It is not to be bought or sold; it is to be acquired. The Lord has given to every individual an opportunity to obtain a righteous character…, but He has not provided a way by which one human agent may impart to another the character which he has developed….” –That I May Know Him, p. 350. 

Joy at His appearing

5. How will the faithful believers rejoice in the day of Jesus’ coming? With what wonderful words will they greet Him? 

Isaiah 25:9 And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation. 

“Jesus is coming! But not to listen to the woes of mankind, and to hear the guilty sinner confess his sins, and to speak pardon to Him; for everyone’s case will then be decided for life or death. Those who have lived in sin will remain sinners forever. Those who have confessed their sins to Jesus in the sanctuary, have made Him their friend, and have loved His appearing will have pardon written for all their sins, and they, having purified their souls ‘in obeying the truth,’ will remain pure and holy forever. 

“Seek a thorough preparation to meet Jesus, that when He appears you may exclaim with joy, ‘Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us.’ Eternal life will then be yours, and you will be a partaker with Christ of His glory, ever to hear His glorious approving voice, and behold His lovely person.” –Lift Him Up, p. 379.

6. What did Jesus say would happen to those who are ready for His coming and actively carrying out the responsibilities entrusted to them?

Matthew 24:46, 47 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 47Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. 

“How many will mourn for lost opportunities when it is eternally too late! Today we have talent and opportunity, but we know not how long these may be ours. Then let us work while it is day; for the night cometh, in which no man can work.” –Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 167. 

“We are to be vigilant, watching for the coming of the Son of man; and we must also be diligent; working as well as waiting is required; there must be a union of the two. This will balance the Christian character, making it well developed, symmetrical. We should not feel that we are to neglect everything else, and give ourselves up to meditation, study, or prayer; neither are we to be full of bustle and hurry and work, to the neglect of personal piety. Waiting and watching and working are to be blended. ‘Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.’ ” –The Adventist Home, p. 23. 

7. With what invitation and welcome will the Lord greet the redeemed of all ages?

Matthew 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

“Thus will be fulfilled Christ’s promise to His disciples, ‘I will come again, and receive you unto Myself.’ John 14:3. Those who have loved Him and waited for Him, He will crown with glory and honor and immortality. The righteous dead will come forth from their graves, and those who are alive will be caught up with them to meet the Lord in the air. They will hear the voice of Jesus,… ‘Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’ Matthew 25:34.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 34.

“Before the ransomed throng is the Holy City. Jesus opens wide the pearly gates, and the nations that have kept the truth enter in. There they behold the Paradise of God, the home of Adam in his innocency. Then that voice, richer than any music that ever fell on mortal ear, is heard, saying: ‘Your conflict is ended.’ ‘Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’ ” –The Great Controversy, p. 646. 

For additional study

“None who truly love Jesus will be sorry that He is coming again. And as they approach nearer to the coming of the Son of man, the true lovers of Jesus will look forward with joyous hope, and will seek to get all ready to behold Him whom their souls loveth, who died to redeem them.” –Lift Him Up, p. 379.

“The day is coming, and it is close upon us, when every phase of character will be revealed by special temptation. Those who remain true to principle, who exercise faith to the end, will be those who have proved true under test and trial during the previous hours of their probation, and have formed characters after the likeness of Christ. It will be those who have cultivated close acquaintance with Christ who, through His wisdom and grace, are partakers of the divine nature. But no human being can give to another, heart devotion and noble qualities of mind, and supply his deficiencies with moral power.” –That I May Know Him, p. 350.