Ready or Not, Here I Come! (Part 1)

Are Believers in Christ Already Heaven-Ready ... or Not?

The title of today’s post may remind you of hide and seek, a childhood game you used to play. As soon as the seeker finishes counting, he or she yells, “Ready or not, here I come!” and begins searching for everyone who is hiding. The first one found is the loser and he or she has to be the seeker in the next round.

My grandchildren, Logan and Sidney, love this game. The thrill of finding those who are hidden trumps most of the other games they enjoy playing.

Sadly, though, some well-meaning Bible teachers use this post title as a scare tactic to motivate believers in Christ to get their act together because, “Ready or not, Christ is coming back, and if He finds His bride not performing well, the consequences could be severe.”

I agree that there are real earthly consequences to the sinful choices we make, and I assure you, I am not making light of ungodly behavior. Behavior matters. I love the following passage in Paul’s epistle which clearly instructs Christians to “deny ungodliness”:

The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus (Titus 2:11-13 NASB).

But what I don’t agree with is when influential Bible teachers use fear-based methods in order to influence Christians to act better … or else.

In 2006, Steven and I founded a ministry called His Heart’s Desire Ministries. Our tagline was “Preparing the Bride of Christ for His Soon Return.” At that time, because of what I had been studying and listening to, the ministry’s mission was to help the church, Christ’s bride, get ready for His return (or physical death, whichever comes first).

How? you might ask. By telling her how much He loves her, who He is in her, and who she is in Him. By teaching her how to allow Christ to live His life through hers, she would be getting herself ready for His return. (Guys, please don’t let the feminine pronouns throw you. If you are a believer in Christ, you are just as much His bride as your believing wife, mother, sister, friend, or coworker.)

Makes complete sense, right? It did to me for the longest time. Until. Until nagging questions began to creep into my mind. Thoughts like, How much is enough to be prepared? How will I know when I am ready for His return? I even asked a long-time spiritual mentor who was teaching on this subject, “If Christ’s bride isn’t ready right now, then what will it take for her to get ready?” An honest question to which I did not receive a clear answer.

While some of these questions may seem unimportant (or even a little OCD) to you, they were significant to me. (I sometimes have a tendency to lean toward the analytical, serious side.)

After much unsettled searching, I realized something (I believe that Christ’s Spirit was influential in my realization). Every one of these questions had to do with what I was doing to make myself ready … my performance … my obedience … my track record. Didn’t Christ die for my sins and make me a brand-new creation in Him so that my life would no longer be about my track record, but His (which, by the way, was perfect)? Wasn’t I saved by grace through faith, and not by anything I did, but through the gift of God, so that I couldn’t boast about my own salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9)?

One of the answers I got to these questions was, “Yeah, we are saved by grace and can’t do anything to lose our salvation, but if we don’t __________, __________,  and __________ (you can fill in the blanks), we will miss out on the rewards in His coming kingdom.”

Okay, so let me get this straight. The bride of Christ needs to make herself ready today so that she can enjoy future rewards in Heaven? Do we really have to wait until we hit Heaven to enjoy the rewards of being in Christ? What could be a greater reward than enjoying Christ’s love and life right here, right now?

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not trying to downplay how wonderful Heaven will be for those of us who are in Christ. I believe we should look forward to that glorious day when we will receive glorified bodies unstained by sin that will never feel pain or age. What I am trying to do is emphasize how much we can  enjoy our relationship with Christ today, simply because we are His.

Christian, something else I would like you to consider while making up your mind about whether or not you are currently Heaven-ready is this: Jesus told the thief on the cross who believed in Him before he died, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43 NASB). The thief was promised that he would be with Jesus in Paradise that very day. And he didn’t have to do one thing to get ready, except believe in Jesus before he died.

Is it possible that the only thing Christ’s bride has to do to be ready for His return (or physical death, whichever comes first) is something she’s already done, which is to believe in (into) Him? The very act that made her His bride? Could it really be that simple? I believe the answer to every one of those questions is a resounding Yes!!!

I’m sorry, but I’m no longer buying the message that some well-meaning Bible teachers and authors are selling: Here is a list of what Christ’s bride needs to be doing to get ready for His return … I believe it is vital to question long-held assumptions and beliefs, testing them against what the Bible says and asking our internal Teacher, Christ’s Spirit, to give us revelation.

In next Wednesday’s post, “Ready or Not, Here I Come! Part 2,” we will take a closer look at what Scripture says about Christ’s bride making herself ready for His return.

Dear reader, I would like to close by asking you a few questions:

  1. Have you been wondering if you were ready for Christ’s return?
  2. If yes, has today’s post content given you clarification?
  3. If no, have you given much thought to how end-time events will play out?

Until next time,

 

 

P.S.  If you enjoyed this post and want to know more about me and the types of content I will be posting, please visit my About Page.

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Kim K. Francis
P.O. Box 357
Perryton, TX 79070
806.435.5575

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