“Today the signs of the times declare that we are standing on the threshold of great and solemn events. Everything in our world is in agitation. Before our eyes is fulfilling the Saviour’s prophecy of the events to precede His coming: “Ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars. . . . Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places” (, ).
“The present is a time of overwhelming interest to all living. Rulers and statesmen, men who occupy positions of trust and authority, thinking men and women of all classes, have their attention fixed upon the events taking place about us. They are watching the relations that exist among the nations. They observe the intensity that is taking possession of every earthly element, and they recognize that something great and decisive is about to take place—that the world is on the verge of a stupendous crisis.
“The Bible, and the Bible only, gives a correct view of these things. Here are revealed the great final scenes in the history of our world, events that already are casting their shadows before, the sound of their approach causing the earth to tremble and men’s hearts to fail them for fear.”1
Humanity is fearful about the end of the world. In various nations and cultures there are ideas defining the moment in history when the old system would be destroyed and an age of prosperity and abundance would begin—or, on the contrary, the destruction of all the living and the desolation of planet Earth would occur.
A secure seed bank in Spitsbergen, artificial intelligence, underground bunkers around the world—these are a few of the means that many suppose are necessary in order to save humanity (or some of its representatives) from the end of the world. Fortunately, believers in Christ have the Word of God, and that’s why all the preparations for the last, final events for the people awaiting His return do not include underground cities, building of an ark or some other material means for salvation. Thanks to the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy we understand that in the last crisis, no such material things can endure.
How can we pass these trials? How do we stand fast when “the end of the world” comes? What is the responsibility of the last generation on the earth? Undoubtedly, having found the answers to these questions, every sincere Christian will not reduce his vigilance. (See, .) On the contrary, the warning, “take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is” ( ) always resounds in his mind and influences his life and actions!
These are not just declarations, loud boastings sounding from our pulpits, or appeals at spiritual meetings—no, the pen of Inspiration explains:
“In order to confess Christ, we must have Him to confess. No one can truly confess Christ unless the mind and spirit of Christ are in him. If a form of godliness, or an acknowledgment of the truth, were always a confession of Christ, we might say: Broad is the way that leadeth unto life, and many there be that find it. We must understand what it is to confess Christ and wherein we deny Him. It is possible with our lips to confess Christ yet in our works deny Him. The fruits of the Spirit manifested in the life are a confession of Him. If we have forsaken all for Christ, our lives will be humble, our conversation heavenly, our conduct blameless. The powerful, purifying influence of truth in the soul, and the character of Christ exemplified in the life, are a confession of Him. If the words of eternal life are sown in our hearts, the fruit is righteousness and peace. We may deny Christ in our life by indulging love of ease or love of self, by jesting and joking, and by seeking the honor of the world. We may deny Him in our outward appearance by conformity to the world, by a proud look or costly apparel. Only by constant watchfulness and persevering, and almost unceasing prayer shall we be able to exhibit in our life the character of Christ or the sanctifying influence of the truth. Many drive Christ from their families by an impatient, passionate spirit. Such have something to overcome in this respect.”2
This is the only thing that remains with a person even when he dies: “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them” ().
“Those who have sought for the development and perfection of Christian character by exercising their faculties in good works, will, in the world to come, reap that which they have sown.”3
“It is moral worth that God values. A Christian character unblotted with avarice, possessing quietness, meekness, and humility, is more precious in His sight than the most fine gold, even the golden wedge of Ophir.”4
There is an entire arsenal of means that the enemy of souls uses to make the work of our character formation to fail. The Word of God reveals them to us: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (). There is also a list of works of the flesh listed in as well as many habits, inclinations and affections that are dangerous for our spirituality. Unfortunately, we as Christians cannot boast of great success in this struggle. . . .
“Let no one deceive his own soul in this matter. If you harbor pride, self-esteem, a love for the supremacy, vainglory, unholy ambition, murmuring, discontent, bitterness, evil speaking, lying, deception, slandering, you have not Christ abiding in your heart, and the evidence shows that you have the mind and character of Satan, not of Jesus Christ, who was meek and lowly of heart. You must have a Christian character that will stand.”5
A small fishing boat was once caught in a storm. Typically, a storm begins unexpectedly and so it was this time. A strong wind and huge waves were beating into the ship. Those inside the ship were wrestling for their lives, but their attempts were ineffective. Nothing could help them until they remembered about Jesus, sleeping at the stern. “Master, we’re perishing!”—they cried stridently, trying to shout down the storm—“Save us!” Christ never turns away those who plead with Him for salvation. But did the disciples understand what Christ’s presence meant? Did they understand it was impossible to perish with Him on board? The only problem was that their attention was focused on the storm, not on Christ. All that Jesus had to do to stop the storm was: “He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm” ().
In reality, none of us is ready for the future storm. And no one knows what it will be like. Even the most prepared saints cannot imagine what they will need in order to endure it! And just as the disciples could not calm the storm on the Sea of Galilee, so God’s children will not be able to quiet the storm soon to engulf our planet. Only Christ is able to do this! Christ is in the boat with us if we don’t forget Him. In His presence everything is different. We would perish without Him, but He can calm the tempest and dispel the fear. Let us look to the Saviour instead of looking at the storm!
These actions that are opposite in their meaning often are simultaneously present in our life. Everyone is in a hurry in our world today. . . . We push to do everything faster, we rush around to visit many places; we hastily try to solve many problems. People eat quickly, marry quickly, live quickly and die quickly. . . . Even the funerals are shorter with every passing year!
“Work and hurry and drive are the order of the day, and their intense worldliness has had its molding influence upon their children, upon the church, and upon the world. It is the example of those who hold the truth in righteousness which will condemn the world.”6
People rushing forward without thinking where they’re going are like the person that gets into a taxi and doesn’t tell the driver the address, but instead shouts “onward” and the car whirls along. But where? The address is unknown to all! To where is the world hurrying? Why are we rushing so fast? The prophet Zephaniah says: “The great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the Lord” ().
“God’s people must take warning and discern the signs of the times. The signs of Christ’s coming are too plain to be doubted, and in view of these things everyone who professes the truth should be a living preacher. God calls upon all, both preachers and people, to awake. All heaven is astir. The scenes of earth’s history are fast closing. We are amid the perils of the last days. Greater perils are before us, and yet we are not awake. This lack of activity and earnestness in the cause of God is dreadful.”7
Please, pay attention to the last sentence of that paragraph: We are always in a hurry, yet in the work of our soul’s salvation there is a lack of activity and earnestness! It’s a striking contrast! In the things of this world, there is zeal, speed, flash-like reaction, but in spiritual life, the condition is as if we would have seven more lives and nowhere to go in such a hurry! The scriptures warn that we don’t have time to tarry as Lot did in Sodom, to delay rather than haste from our perdition.
“Beware of procrastination. Do not put off the work of forsaking your sins and seeking purity of heart through Jesus. Here is where thousands upon thousands have erred to their eternal loss. I will not here dwell upon the shortness and uncertainty of life; but there is a terrible danger—a danger not sufficiently understood—in delaying to yield to the pleading voice of God’s Holy Spirit, in choosing to live in sin; for such this delay really is. Sin, however small it may be esteemed, can be indulged in only at the peril of infinite loss. What we do not overcome, will overcome us and work out our destruction.”8
Our personal relationship with the Lord, sincere repentance, open-hearted confession of our sins—unless we are active in these matters, we will be unprepared to meet Jesus at His coming.
The important factor that defines the readiness of the church and its individual members for the final solemn events is the ability or the desire to unite.
“Dear Brethren: As all the different members of the human system unite to form the entire body, and each performs its office in obedience to the intelligence that governs the whole, so the members of the church of Christ should be united in one symmetrical body, subject to the sanctified intelligence of the whole.”9 But why? Many Christians consider that this is not necessary as they have their personal relationship with God and they don’t need anything else! Can a man be saved independent of others? In exceptional cases—yes, but at all times Jesus has had an organized church on the Earth.
Once when visiting a quarry, I noticed neatly piled up stones with rounded corners and wondered how the quarrymen make such beautiful rounding; how do these stones become oval? The worker explained to me the process: it turned out to be very simple, they take rectangular stones, put them into a big barrel and with a help of special machinery they rotate it all day long. As a result of friction, the corners rub off and the stones take on a beautiful form. The pen of Inspiration writes: “We are now in God’s workshop. Many of us are rough stones from the quarry. But as we lay hold upon the truth of God, its influence affects us. It elevates us and removes from us every imperfection and sin, of whatever nature. Thus we are prepared to see the King in His beauty and finally to unite with the pure and heavenly angels in the kingdom of glory. It is here that this work is to be accomplished for us, here that our bodies and spirits are to be fitted for immortality.”10
In, Christ uttered a poignant prayer to His Father for unity among His disciples. How is this to come to fruition in our day? The Lord’s messenger explains:
“I saw a company who stood well guarded and firm, giving no countenance to those who would unsettle the established faith of the body. God looked upon them with approbation. I was shown three steps—the first, second, and third angels’ messages. Said my accompanying angel, ‘Woe to him who shall move a block or stir a pin of these messages. The true understanding of these messages is of vital importance. The destiny of souls hangs upon the manner in which they are received.’
“I was again brought down through these messages, and saw how dearly the people of God had purchased their experience. It had been obtained through much suffering and severe conflict. God had led them along step by step, until He had placed them upon a solid immovable platform. I saw individuals approach the platform and examine the foundation. Some with rejoicing immediately stepped upon it. Others commenced to find fault with the foundation. They wished improvements made, and then the platform would be more perfect and the people much happier.
“Some stepped off the platform to examine it, and declared it to be laid wrong. But I saw that nearly all stood firm upon the platform and exhorted those who had stepped off to cease their complaints; for God was the Master Builder, and they were fighting against Him. They recounted the wonderful work of God, which had led them to the firm platform, and in union raised their eyes to heaven and with a loud voice glorified God. This affected some of those who had complained and left the platform, and they with humble look again stepped upon it.”11
“The value of the Sabbath as a means of education is beyond estimate. Whatever of ours God claims from us, He returns again, enriched, transfigured, with His own glory. . . .
“The Sabbath and the family were alike instituted in Eden, and in God’s purpose they are indissolubly linked together. On this day more than on any other, it is possible for us to live the life of Eden. It was God’s plan for the members of the family to be associated in work and study, in worship and recreation, the father as priest of his household, and both father and mother as teachers and companions of their children. But the results of sin, having changed the conditions of life, to a great degree prevent this association. Often the father hardly sees the faces of his children throughout the week. He is almost wholly deprived of opportunity for companionship or instruction. But God’s love has set a limit to the demands of toil. Over the Sabbath He places His merciful hand. In His own day He preserves for the family opportunity for communion with Him, with nature, and with one another.”12
In the book of Nehemiah, there is a description of a wonderful colaboration in God’s work. Today, we have something to learn from the displaced Jews.
1. A goal unites. Nehemiah appealed: “Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach” (). Besides intermediate goals (such as building of churches, organization of different establishments) God’s people today have a general goal—to get ready to meet Jesus! This is the thing that, first of all, has to unite all those who await His coming.
2. Various kinds of people have united to attain the goal. In Nehemiah chapter 13it is written that in the restoration of the wall, there were priests, rulers, Levites, merchants, goldsmiths and keepers of the gates—that means people of different social and spiritual positions. It is similar today. “It is not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is done, the motive underlying the action, that determines its worth.”
3. When there is a goal and a unification, there will be some that will be against it. “And next unto them the Tekoites repaired; but their nobles put not their necks to the work of their Lord.” (). There will be those around to mock, just as Sanballat did against the builders of the wall—taunting that their work for God was in vain. (See .)
4. The highest goal is spirituality. Nehemiah chapteris a wonderful story about the sanctifying influence of the reading of the book of the law upon Israel. Truth upon truth has been revealing now to Israel, “And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law” ( ). [Emphasis added.]
Dear brothers and sisters, can the people of God today follow this same path? Understanding our mission, uniting and reforming in humility and repentance with communication and forgiveness. May the Lord give us the possibility and desire to unite and work together while the day lasts!