On a bright and sunny day in April, 1975, I went forward at Calvary Chapel in Southern California to receive Jesus as my Savior. I was just 19, had hair down to the middle of my back and was touring with a Rock band in small venue’s around Arizona. My life was full of activity but my heart was empty. I knew that there had to be more than what I had experienced so far, I just didn’t know where to find it. That all changed the morning that I trusted in Jesus. From that moment, I began to study the Bible intently and learned about the promise of Jesus to return for those who love Him.
During the Jesus People Movement of that day, there was great excitement over the expectation that Jesus could come for us at any moment. We were constantly talking about the Lord’s return and we were trying to live our lives like people who really believed our Lord could come for us before we drew our next breath.
Over the years, I have watched young people as I pass them on the street, who have the same emptiness in their eyes that I once had. I know that there are many teens and young adults today who are not satisfied with their life. They also feel like something is missing, although they cannot figure out what it is.
In the early 90’s I was teaching a Bible study in our home and people were also very excited about Jesus’ return. The subject of the Rapture was a frequent one that a great number of people had many questions about.
I will be 60 in two days and I am struck by the callous disregard that so many people that I know today, have so little interest in Jesus’ Return. In times past, if you wrote an article or taught a Bible study about the last days, the Rapture, or the Tribulation period, many people would come just to hear and learn what it was all about. Today, is seems that this excitement has vanished as many people are just not that interested in these subjects any longer.
The Bible describes a time in history when people will lose their expectation of Jesus return and begin to say: “Where is the promise of His coming?”
“knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming?” —2 Peter 3:3-4
The idea here is that after so many years that have passed, people will begin to lose interest in the idea of the Rapture. They will have heard about it so many times, that they will no longer take much interest in the event. Not that they don’t care about Jesus or His return, but simply that it hasn’t happened yet, and they are not sure that it will happen in their life time.
I understand this thought, and sometimes I also wonder why it has taken so long. Then I read that the reason the Lord has delayed His return, is because He loves people so much, He is waiting for those who will make a decision for Him. Jesus came and died for everyone; He wants every person to be saved. For this reason, He waits to come for His church to take us back to heaven, because He wants more people to find Him.
The facts is, He will not wait forever. He has appointed a time when He will return. He decided that when the world increases in lawlessness, a lack of desire for Him, and are busy with their own lives, that he will come suddenly, when people least expect Him.
In the 41 years that I have been studying and teaching the events of the Last Days, there has never been a better time for Jesus’ return than the days in which we live, right now.
Jesus said that if He comes and finds people who claim to love Him, but are not looking for His return, that He will come and catch them unaware. Some of these people will have gone back into their old lives and will have begun to live like the rest of the world. Regardless of what a person might claim to believe, Jesus said that these persons will find that He will say to them “I don’t know You.”
And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 44 Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has. 45 But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. —Luke 12:42-46
In other words, those who forget about the Lord’s return and begin to go back and live their lives without much thought of Jesus, may find that He will come on a day when they do not expect Him. Jesus will appoint these persons a place with the unbelievers. Pretty harsh remarks from a Lord of such Grace. Jesus is trying to get our attention here and encourage us to get back to a place of constant expectation for His return.
When we live like we expect Jesus to come for us at any moment, it has a profound effect upon the way that we live. We will not be doing or saying certain things, because we believe our Lord may come at any moment. We will be doing and saying certain other things because we want to be busy about our Father’s business when our Lord comes for us. Those who lose interest in Jesus’ return. become weighed down by the worries, problems, hurts, and concerns of this world. As a result, they are not ready for Jesus to come for them.
Jesus illustrated the heart of those who allow their problems, worries, and concerns to rob them of their expectation of His return, in the Parable of the Sower:
“Hear all of you, the parable of the sower. 19 When any one hears the words of the kingdom, and does not understand, then comes the wicked one, and catches away that which was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the way side. 20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that hears the word, and soon with joy, receives it; 21 Yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while: for when tribulation or persecution arises, because of the word, as time goes by, he is offended. 22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that hears the word; but the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. 23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that hears the word, and understands it; and also bears fruit, and brings forth fruit, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
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13 And he said to them, “do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand all parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, satan comes immediately, and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. 16 And then there are those which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 17 but they have no root in themselves, and so they can only endure for a time: and afterward, when affliction or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended. 18 And then there are those which are sown among thorns; these hear the word, 19 but the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 20 And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”
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11 Now the parable is this: “The seed is the word of God. 12 Those by the way side are they that hear; but then comes the devil, and takes away the word out of their hearts, so that they cannot believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; but these have no root, and so only for a while can they believe, and in time of temptation, they fall away. 14 And the seed which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with the cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. 15 But the seed that falls on the good ground are they, which have an honest and good heart, having heard the word, they keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.”
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The words of the kingdom of God and how they are heard, perceived, and received; rely upon the condition of the human heart. The heart is the soil; the seed is the word of God. Depending on the condition of the soil (heart), the word of God can either be greatly hindered or obstructed altogether.
The Sower is the Holy Spirit who declares the truth of Jesus to the hearts of all people.
1. The Wayside: Is a path that has been compacted. The heart of this person has been hardened by various circumstances of his life. The Seed is the good news about Jesus. When this person hears that he can be saved through repentance and by turning to Jesus as his Savior, he doesn’t understand. Because of the hardness of his heart and his inability to receive the truth of what Jesus has accomplished, he is not able to receive the Lord and be saved. The devil comes soon after and takes away the seed of truth about Jesus.
2. The Stony Places: This person receives the good news about Jesus when it is presented to him. But because he has yet to be rooted in the word of God, he is easily overcome by the trials and difficulties of life. This prevents this person from continuing with Jesus, and he falls away.
3. The Thorns: Represents the worries and concerns of this life and the pursuit of things in the world: career, making money, buying and selling, pleasure, and personal relationships. All these things can choke out the presence of Jesus in a person’s life and prevent him from growing. Eventually, this individual may fall away from the Lord and no longer walk with Him.
4. The Good Ground: A heart prepared. This person hears the good news about Jesus; receives Him as his Savior; and avoids the pitfalls of allowing his heart to become hardened, discouragement by trials, and being overcome by the pursuits and pleasures of this world. This individual goes on to live a fruitful and productive life for Jesus and leads others to the Lord.
These realities of the human heart are the conditions which ultimately allow a person to receive Jesus as their Savior, or miss Him altogether.
Jesus implies that the first three conditions of the heart, can be changed—if the person becomes aware of these hindrances, and takes steps to eliminate these barriers to faith. If however, the hard heart, trials and difficulties, and cares of this world—are not properly dealt with; a continued relationship with Jesus is impossible.
Ultimately, it is the word of God and the Holy Spirit—working together, which will either soften the heart and prepare it to receive Jesus, or harden the heart and confirm an unwillingness to receive Jesus. These same principles apply to a person in keeping their relationship with Jesus fresh and current.
We should note that none of these conditions of the heart that case people to fall away are the fault of God. In each example, it was the person who allowed these circumstances in their life—which prevented them from going forward with Jesus. God is always willing to save anyone who will humble themselves and turn to Jesus for their salvation.
If we use the statistics given by Jesus in this Parable, then only one person in four, who hears the good news about Jesus, will continue with Him and be saved. It is not enough to simply believe in Jesus; we must persist with Him throughout our life, no matter what else comes along. Jesus said:
“He that endures to the end will be saved.” – Matthew 24:13
Jesus is coming soon; the signs of His return are all around us. I hope to meet you when He calls us by name and we meet Him in the air at the Rapture. Live for Him today and be in expectation of His return during every moment of your life.
The preceding is from the new book: One Gospel,” by Robert Clifton Robinson