In Consideration of the Future

Unless I have miscalculated, there seem to be three possibilities about the future: (A). The future will continue in much the same vein as the present. (B) The future of the earth and universe as we know it will end with the second coming of Christ. (C). The future will be significantly unlike what is going on presently.

That about covers it, doesn't it? And whichever statement is true about the future, God's Word already has it covered.

What if the future is going to continue in the same direction as the present? This is what the people in Thessalonica faced. They had erred in their estimation, thinking that Christ was coming again very soon, and had fallen into laziness and sin. After admonishing the Christians in Thessalonica to not get caught in the immorality that can overtake people who don't have enough to do, Paul told them in 1Th 4:9-12 "Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one." Here and in 2 Thessalonians 3: 10 he admonished them to go back to work and be productive.

If life continues in the same direction as it is now going, "Let our bretheren learn to maintain good works for necessary purposes, that they not be unfruitful" (Titus 3: 14). Let us show people who Christ is by modeling Him every day. Being baptized in Christ, let us truly put on Christ by living the loving life that He lived while He was upon the earth.

If Christ comes again in our lifetimes, this will be the simplest future of the three for us to prepare for. When Jesus comes there will be no more mortgage payments to make. It won't matter if you made a new quilt for your child or if you got to go deer hunting this past season, or what some starlet did in her personal moments (apparently the present pre-occupation of too many Americans). 1Th 4:13-18 " But 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. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words."

Paul describes that reality in I Corinthians 15 in slightly different words: 1Co 15:50 "I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." "O death, where is your victory? . . . Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." That's the answer: Steadfast, unmoveable. Keep living faithfully. To the extent of your ability, teach others.

The third possibility, that of a future that is different from the present but which does not include the immediate second coming of Christ, is the most difficult one for humans to anticipate. Because of the difficulty of anticipating all possible futures, we are admonished to not worry too much about it (Matthew 6: 25-33). Christ told His disciples to exercise their good judgement about nature to also make reasonable predictions about the social/political world about them (Matthew 16: 1-11; Matthew 10: 16). It is not wrong to be skilfull observers of the political world about us--Jesus used His understanding of people and how they think to cloak Himself from the Jews until He was ready to be captured (John 12: 36, one of about five or six such instances). We can used the good sense that God gave us to prolong life and live in service to Him until God, not man, decides to take us home.

Providence favors the prepared. Today's news warns of food shortages to come because of the droughts in California, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and parts of other food-producing states. So buy ahead! and raise a garden! God warned Noah, but Noah still had to build the ark. God warned Joseph, but Joseph still had to lead the charge in putting up food for the seven years of famine (Genesis). God told Moses that He would deliver His people, but Moses still had to go before Pharoah with God's message. It is a a misapplication of faith to refuse to see the plain warnings about us and not avail ourselves of opportunities to avoid disasters that plainly loom ahead. That is part of the challenge of living with the possibility of an uncertain future.

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