How Christians Should Discern the Signs of the Times

Episode 60 Show Notes 

How Christians Should Discern the Signs of the Times

From the Show

How should we balance reading the signs of the times and knowing that Jesus will come when we least expect it?

Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 4 that the best way to prepare for the Lord's return is “to aspire to live quietly,” to mind your own business, “and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, then you will behave properly toward outsiders without being dependent on anyone. Brothers, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you will not grieve like the rest who are without hope."

The Thessalonians had a reputation for being lazy. A lot of them had sort of stopped working, left their jobs and everything because they were expecting Jesus to return next Thursday. Paul says, "No, don't waste your time trying to correlate the daily news with biblical prophecy. Instead, share the gospel and share with your non-Christian neighbors in your daily callings. Work well with your hands, not so you can anchor your hope in this world, but so you can win the respect of outsiders and have something to give to your neighbors."

It sounds pretty ordinary, I know. Someone reportedly asked Martin Luther, it's probably something he never said, but it's something that he would likely have said: "What would you do if you knew Jesus was returning tomorrow?"

"I would plant a tree."

That doesn't sound very spectacular, I know, but his point was, when Jesus returns, let him find you at your calling. Let him find you at the auto shop where you're fixing a car, let him find you in the hospital where you're attending a patient, let him find you on the battlefield defending your country, let him find you in your home caring for your child. [That] doesn't sound very exciting, very glorious, but that's what we're called to. We're not called to transform the world, we're called to survive it until Jesus returns.— Michael Horton

Questions in this Episode

1.  1 Thessalonians 5:2 says that the day of the Lord, that is, the day when Jesus returns to judge the nations and gather his people will come like a thief in the night. Yet, people are always reading the signs of the times, as Jesus said we should, and coming to conclusions that Jesus should return soon. How should we balance reading the signs of the times and knowing that Jesus will come when we least expect it?

2.  In Luke 4 Jesus says that he came to liberate the captives and preach good news to the poor and perform miracles. This sounds like a passage about salvation but I’m not sure what miracles and liberation have to do with salvation.

3. Can you explain 1 Thessalonians 4:13 where it says, “we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope”? What is the difference between grieving with hope and grieving without hope?

4. What do you think about prayer journals? Do they help? What do you use to keep up with morning devotions? What would you recommend?

5. Romans 3 teaches that no one seeks God and that no one is righteous, but don’t people seek out God all the time and don’t unbelievers do all sorts of good things like love their children and not murder all the time?

6. Mark 14 says that in the garden of Gethsemane, on the night Jesus would be captured by the Romans, "Jesus’ soul was sorrowful even to the point of death." Why would Jesus feel this way if he was God and knew that he would suffer and die?


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