Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
August 7, 1999
Last Updated :
February 17, 2012
Backslidden Peter And The Lord's Rebuke, Not Slothful In the Lord's Business, First Century Apostasy And Early Church Compromise, Balance Scripture With Scripture, Does Jesus Know?, Weakness Of Holy Trinity, Parables For The Ignorant, Revealer Of Secrets, Endtime Apostasy, Closing Remarks
In thinking about all of this, it has occurred to me that perhaps there might be yet another reason why Jesus was so secretive concerning His Second Coming. Think about this: How would Jesus' first Disciples have felt had they known that He wasn't going to return in their lifetimes? Would it have encouraged their faith very much? Of course not. As it was, even after everything had transpired, even after Jesus had been raised from the dead and appeared before the Disciples on two occasions, they were still slow to believe. In fact, in the beginning of John chapter twenty-one, we already find them in a spiritually backslidden state. Jesus is gone; they haven't received the Holy Spirit yet; and the Jews are persecuting them; so they don't know what else to do except to return to their old jobs as fishermen:
"Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing."
John 21:3, KJV
Peter, the leader of the group, backslid, and everyone else followed his poor example. In fact, the Disciples were so backslidden in their hearts, that the Lord didn't even bless their fishing trip all that night; at least not until Jesus arrived on the scene the following morning. Then we are told that they caught one hundred and fifty-three fish, and yet the net was not broken:
"But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes. As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken."
John 21:4-11, KJV
Perhaps there was a clear lesson to be learned here; and that is that He had called them to be fishers of men, and not fishers of fish. Perhaps the Lord chose to emphasize this point for them by having a fire ready, and fish already cooking, along with some bread, when they arrived on shore, thus highlighting the futility of their all-night labor. It appears that Peter may have been so embarrassed because of the fact that he had led the other Disciples astray, that he immediately jumped into the water. You may recall that Jesus had personally appointed Peter as the leader of the clan; and had even told him that his backsliding would serve to strengthen his faith; and I would add, to make him a more humble, obedient servant of the Lord, who depended upon God's strength and wisdom, and not upon his own:
"And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me."
Luke 22:31-34, KJV
While some people have suggested that Peter jumped into the water because he was so excited, and ran, or swam, to go see the Lord, read together, the above verses seem to tell a different story in my mind. Remember, Peter had only denied the Lord a few days earlier; and here he was caught in the very act of leading everyone astray. I believe that this may also be why the Lord tested Peter after they had dined. As you may recall, just as Peter had denied knowing the Lord three times, Jesus now questioned him three times as to whether or not he loved Him:
"So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me."
John 21:15-19, KJV
Returning to our main theme, it seems to me that by being somewhat secretive about His Second Coming, that is, by not revealing to His followers that He would not be returning in their lifetimes, and by emphasizing their need to always be watchful, and to always be prepared, the Lord was in fact giving the Early Church the impetus that it needed, in order to fulfill the mission that He had given it to do. To help you to understand this concept a little better, consider a situation in our modern day where a wise boss never lets his employees know when he might walk into the office or work area, in order to see how the work is progressing. Under such conditions, the employees will always be on the alert, and will make sure that they are properly doing what they are supposed to be doing, and not wasting time, or the boss' money, by being slothful in business. The Apostle Paul taught the very same concept to the First Century Christians when he wrote:
"Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;"
Romans 12:11, KJV
Lest you misunderstand this verse, Paul was not talking about worldly businesses or secular jobs; he was talking about faithfully serving the Lord, as the end of the verse clearly states. I also discuss this same topic in such articles as "Money-Making Bible Hucksters and Mammon". Despite this wise tactic employed by the Lord, as we know from the Bible, as well as from secular history, the First Century hadn't even ended yet before the Early Church had already begun to cool off and lose the Heavenly Vision, and the Spiritual Fire which had been poured out on the Day Of Pentecost some fifty or sixty years before. If one reads the first few chapters of the Book of Revelation, it is easy to see the Lord's warnings to the various Churches which were in existence in Asia Minor, or modern-day Turkey, at that time; some of which had been founded by the Apostle Paul and his fellow companions in travel. Consider these revelatory verses which clearly demonstrate the rampant apostasy which had already taken root in the Church during that time:
"Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent."
Revelation 2:4-5, KJV
"But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth."
Revelation 2:14-16, KJV
"Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works."
Revelation 2:20-23, KJV
"And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee."
Revelation 3:1-3, KJV
"I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent."
Revelation 3:15-19, KJV
Eventually, the Early Church compromised to such a degree in the doctrines of the faith, that it moved out of the Roman coliseums, where the Christians had been torn apart by lions because of their faith, and into the grandstands; where it became a spectator religion, when it was assimilated into the Roman Empire during the reign of Emperor Constantine. Thus began the history of the modern Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church some three hundred years after Christ's Resurrection. It was also at that time that the Scriptures fell under the control of these compromising religionists, and their interpretation of the same.
What I would like to emphasize here again, is that if one just takes one, or even a few verses I have quoted in this article, while ignoring the rest, he will be left with the erroneous idea that we are not to know when the Lord will be returning. As I explain in the article "Rightly Divide the Word of Truth", this is the problem with those people who don't follow the Apostle Paul's advice, by failing to properly balance the Word of Truth, by comparing Scripture with Scripture. Such people take just a few verses which support their ideas, and make a doctrine out of it. This is wrong, wrong, wrong! We must consider the full counsel of God's Word in order to arrive at Spirit-led conclusions. As Paul wrote:
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
2 Timothy 2:15, KJV
To reiterate then, if we consider all of the verses I have shared in this article thus far, we begin to acquire a completely different picture. We see that Jesus will only arrive as a thief in the night for those people of the Endtime who are not watching for the signs; either due to their unbelief, or possibly because of their slothfulness, or perhaps due to their ignorance of the Holy Scriptures. In any case, they are not in a state of preparedness. Some people have even gone so far as to suggest that perhaps Jesus Himself did not, or does not, know the Day of His own Second Coming. While He may not have known at that time, being as perhaps the Father hadn't told Him yet, due to His unique status with the Father, I would think that He knows now, since the time is evidently drawing very near. Many Christians the world over have sensed this in the Spirit. Consider these verses:
"But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch."
Mark 13:32-37, KJV
"All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him."
Matthew 11:27, KJV
The above verses from Mark are also useful for refuting the belief held by those people who insist that the so-called "Holy Trinity" is three beings wrapped up in one. If this is indeed the case, which I do not accept, how then can the Father know of His Son's appointed Day of Return, while the Son does not? In other words, if they are one being as these people suggest, how can He possibly hide something from Himself? For this and other reasons, in my mind, there is simply too much confusion in the trinity doctrine; at least as it is taught by some churches like the Roman Catholic Church.
The previous verse from the Gospel of Matthew is also quite interesting when we apply it to the Lord's Second Coming. Just as Jesus hid the true meanings of His Parables from His enemies but revealed them to His Disciples, might it not also be that He will reveal the Day of His Second Coming to us, the believers, through the many prophecies found in the Bible, as well as through the signs we see being fulfilled before us? While the world at large will be in spiritual darkness and caught off guard due to disbelief, could it be that the Lord will reveal more and more to us as that Great Day of His Arrival approaches? Consider these verses:
"And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand."
Matthew 13:10-13, KJV
"Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets."
Amos 3:7, KJV
While technically-speaking we are not Prophets, we are His children; we are of the Light; and thus I feel that we can apply the previous verse to ourselves. Considering this, and the many other verses I have shared in this article, I find it difficult to believe that we, God's Endtime children, upon whom the ends of the world are come, are not meant to know the Day of the Lord's Second Coming. If anything, as the days grow darker and darker ahead, I believe that the Lord will want to encourage our faith, and to motivate us to keep holding on a little longer, through revealing more and more truth to us. While we may not know the exact day now, and much less the hour of our Lord's triumphant Return, this does not mean that we will not know sometime in the near future when the final Endtime events begin to be fulfilled in the Middle East. I remain convinced that only those who have rejected God's truth as it is revealed in the Bible, will be caught off guard, and will not be expecting the Lord's Return. As the Apostle Paul tells us in his second Epistle to the Thessalonians:
"Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;"
2 Thessalonians 2:3, KJV
This "falling away" is the Apostasy I referred to earlier in this article. To any honest Christian, it is clearly the time in which we are now living; and it will only get worse as man continues to put more faith in his science, in his own wisdom, in his own forms of government, in his own abilities to solve his problems, and less faith in God his Creator. Let me remind you again that both Jesus and Peter hinted at how bad the situation will be just prior to the Lord's Arrival when they said:
". . . Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?"
Luke 18:8b, KJV
"Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation."
2 Peter 3:3-4, KJV
In conclusion, it is to these scoffers and unbelievers to whom Jesus will suddenly appear as a thief in the night, and not to those of us who have been soberly and carefully counting off the days according to the prophecies of Daniel and the Book of Revelation. It is these unbelievers who will experience sudden destruction as predicted by Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians. In His Divine Mercy, the Lord has seen fit to provide us with many, many signs so that we would know when He was about to return. The Bible is full of them. If anyone is ignorant of these signs, it is either because he wants to be, or else because he has not yet been fully instructed in the Word of God.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ has been preached for several thousands of years now, and it continues to be preached in many different forms and by many different methods. Everyone will be given a chance to hear and know the truth. It is those who reject it through rebellion and unbelief, who will be caught by surprise at the Lord's Return. They will be cast into outer darkness, and there will be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. What about you? Are you ready? You are if you have accepted the Lord into your life, and are busy serving Him faithfully. He's coming soon; so:
". . . be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."
Revelation 2:10b, KJV
I trust that this article has been a blessing, and an inspiration in your life. Keep your eyes on Jesus; it won't be long; and remember:
"But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief."
1 Thessalonians 5:4, KJV