End Time Living

“But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging.  As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” – 1 Peter 4:7-11

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There is a lot being said today about the end times. We are certainly living in the end times and with every second that ticks off the clock we are that much closer to the return of Christ. However, we must remind ourselves that the ‘end times’ began all the way back at the birth of the church in Acts chapter two. Therefore, the same instructions concerning the end times that were given in Peter’s day is also applicable to us today. As Christians we should be aware of what is going on in the world and the signs of the times in order that we may warn others of what is to come and give them hope for the future found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. At the same time, we should not overly concern ourselves with matters of end time prophecies and current events. Instead of concerning ourselves with end time prophecies, we should be more concerned with how we live in these final days. As Peter said, the end of all things is at hand, so let us live accordingly. In this passage, we see eight principles for end time living.

Be sober. To be sober is to be in the right frame of mind. It is to have good judgement and discernment. The opposite of a sober mind is to be in a frenzy. Warren Wiersbe writes, “If we are sober-minded, we will be intellectually sound and not off on a tangent because of some “new” interpretation of the Scriptures. We will also face things realistically and be free from delusions. The sober-minded saint will have a purposeful life and not be drifting, and he will exercise restraint and not be impulsive. He will have “sound judgment” not only about doctrinal matters, but also about the practical affairs of life.”[1] When we see things happening in our world that point to the soon return of Christ, we should be aware, we should be excited, but we must not lose control. We must restrain ourselves from going off on some wild tangent of end time prophecies. Instead, we are to make note of the signs of the times, and allow such things to motivate us to greater holiness. We must also guard ourselves from the temptation to go outside of scriptures and/or to read between the lines of scripture, trying to come up with some new exciting interpretation. The only way to have such a sober mind is to be a careful student of the Bible and to be sensitive to the work of the Holy Spirit in your life. We should look to the scriptures first and not allow current events to persuade our interpretation of the Word.

Be prayerful. Notice Peter says that we are to ‘watch unto prayer.’ As we watch and wait for the return of Christ, we are to do so in prayer. I believe that prayer is an untapped resource in the arsenal of the believer. If we could just learn how to pray, we could see God do things that are beyond anything we could ever imagine. Sometimes, I am afraid, that we do not pray for miracles because we do not truly believe that God can do the miraculous. We do not pray fervently for the lost, because we fail to believe that God can save anyone. As Christians, living in such days, we need to learn to pray. When is the last time that we really poured out our hearts before God? When is the last time we went to war on our knees? End time living requires that we are prayer warriors.

Exercise love. As Christians living in the end times, we need to make sure that we live in love toward one another. “Indeed, Jesus himself warned that love is apt to grow cold at the end of the age (Matt 24:12). Hence, the need is to continue to stoke the fires of love, so that it is displayed to others.[2]” Verse eight mentions that love covers a multitude of sins. We must take careful consideration when it comes to the meaning of the idea that love covers a multitude of sins. Peter is not saying that love for one another somehow atones for our sin. Our sin is paid for only by the blood of Jesus. What Peter has in mind here is what we find recorded in Proverbs 10:12. “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.” Those who exercise love will not use the wrong of others as an excuse to attack them. Instead, they will continue to love others even when they do wrong. Here we see the principle of forgiveness and restoration. When you truly love someone, you will forgive them of their wrong and will work to restore them to a right relationship with God and with the church. In doing so, your love for them is covering their sin. “When believers contemplate how to spend their lives in light of the Lord’s coming, in their few days as sojourners, they should remind themselves of the priority of love.”[3]

Show hospitality. As we approach the soon return of Christ, we must remind ourselves of the importance to show hospitality toward one another. In considering verse 9, we should consider the culture of the Christian community in Peter’s day. The early church was accustomed to meeting in homes for worship. They also opened their homes to one another as fellow believers travelled about. They also opened their homes to those who were traveling on a mission to spread the Gospel around the world. The early church was encouraged to show hospitality toward one another by providing a bed and food to those who came by and needing such assistance. Naturally, when one is overwhelmed with house guests, showing hospitality can become wearisome. Peter, therefore, encouraged the believers to continue to show hospitality without complaining and to do so lovingly. Our culture is somewhat different today. We do not typically have people just stopping by needing a place to stay as they travel. The house church has given way to larger meeting places, though, many churches are working to revive such home meetings in order to provide greater fellowship amongst believers. However, there are many ways in which we can show hospitality other than opening our homes. We could send an encouraging card or email. We could take a meal to someone who is going through a difficult time. Such displays of hospitality is common amongst God’s people. The encouragement here though is that we do not grow weary of our giving of hospitality. We must commit ourselves to showing hospitality toward each other even in those times when do not feel like.

Use your gifts to minister to others. Verse 10 reminds us that we all have received a gift and we are to use that gift to minister to others. This is a reference to spiritual gifts given to all believers by the Holy Spirit. It always amazes me how God places into the local church different people with different areas of giftedness. We are not all the same. We all have something that we can contribute to the body of Christ. As we live in the end times, we must be involved in the local church by actively using our gifts for the building up of others.

Be good stewards of God’s grace. A steward is one who takes care of someone else’s property. The gifts that we are given come to us by God’s grace. Therefore, we should be good stewards of those gifts and use those gifts for God’s glory. We should also be dispensers of grace as God has given grace to us. We all have received the gift of God’s grace, now we are to be good stewards of that grace by sharing it with others.

Serve in the power of God. Verse 11 continues the thought of being a good steward of the gifts that God has given you. As we minister to one another, we must do so in the power of God. Too often we attempt to serve others and serve God in our own power. When we attempt to serve in our own power, we fail miserably. However, when we rely on and trust in the power of God, then we are able to serve more effectively. There are many great churches across our land that is powerless. They do a lot of good things but they are ineffective because they rely on their own giftedness and resources rather than relying on God. We must learn to trust God completely and rely on His power in order to serve Him effectively.

Serve for the glory of God. The ultimate reason for serving the Lord in these last days is to bring glory to God. We are to practice end time living in order that God may be glorified and that the world may know that Jesus is the only way. Living in the last days should prick our hearts with a greater desire to glorify God and to finish our time on earth well.

A football coach will often drive into his players a fourth quarter mentality. The team is to play hard until the very end, knowing that the end is near. The fourth quarter can be difficult. You become weak and tired, but you must push yourself to keep going. As believers, living in the end times, we must have a fourth quarter mentality. We must remind ourselves that the end is near. Knowing that our time in this age is coming to an end, we must not grow weary and become lazy. We must stay focused. We must stay faithful.

[1] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 421). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[2] Schreiner, T. R. (2003). 1, 2 Peter, Jude (Vol. 37, p. 212). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[3] Schreiner, T. R. (2003). 1, 2 Peter, Jude (Vol. 37, p. 212). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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