Return Of The King (Part 2)


Return Of The King (Part 2)


Return Of The King (Part 2)

Matthew 24:36-25:46

Main Idea: Although Christ's delay may be long, His return in judgment will be sudden and irreversible, so we must be prepared by trusting Him now with a persevering faith that bears fruit.

  1. The Sobering Setup That We Need to Feel
    1. His delay will be long.
    2. His return will be sudden.
    3. His judgment will be irreversible.
    4. Our hearts will be exposed.
    5. Our sentence may be surprising.
    6. Our lives will stand alone.
    7. We must be prepared.
  2. The Penetrating Questions That You and I Must Ask
    1. Am I keeping watch for Christ?
    2. Am I faithfully following Christ?
    3. Am I trusting Christ?
    4. Am I serving Christ with what He has given me?
    5. Am I serving Christians whom God has put around me?
  3. Two Eternal Destinations That Await Us All
    1. Either heaven
      1. Unhindered enjoyment of the Father's love
      2. A kingdom filled with delight
      3. Limitless joy
      4. Everlasting satisfaction
    2. Or hell
      1. Total separation from the Father's love
      2. A place prepared for demons
      3. Unquenchable agony
      4. Never-ending suffering

In the previous section, Matthew 24:1-35, Jesus told his disciples that He would come back, and that His second coming would be visible for all to see. He, the Son of Man, would come on "the clouds of heaven326 with power and great glory" (v. 30). On that day—it could be today, tomorrow, or a thousand years from now—the angels will gather Christ's elect from the ends of the earth (v. 31). These are grand and glorious truths to bank our futures on; but what do they mean for our lives now, at this moment? How does the reality of Christ's return affect the way we should think and feel right now? The answer to these questions begins in Matthew 24:36, and it runs all the way through the end of Matthew 25. Jesus tells parables and stories to help us understand how we should live in light of His coming. The second coming, we learn, is an intensely practical doctrine. It's a sobering one, too.

The Sobering Setup That We Need to Feel

In this next section of Matthew's Olivet Discourse, as it is sometimes called, it's helpful to remember the context of Jesus' words. Jesus is in the middle of a conversation with His disciples just days before He would be crucified for the sins of men and women throughout history. And before He died and rose from the grave, He prepared His disciples for His departure, promising them that He would return. How His disciples, both then and now, live in light of this reality is the subject Jesus picks up on beginning in verses 36-42.

Looking and waiting for Christ's return should not lead us to be impatient, though Jesus tells us that His delay will be long. Remarkably, Jesus says in verse 36 that even He doesn't know the day and hour when this will happen; no one knows this, except the Father in heaven. Here we see the genuine humanity of Christ, for He humbly chose to take on the limitations of knowledge that other men have, though He Himself (simultaneously) remained omniscient and fully divine. Jesus' statement is a reminder that no man, regardless of what he claims, knows the timing of the second coming.

This theme of delay shows up several times in chapters 24-25. In Matthew 25:5 Jesus describes a bridegroom who was "delayed" in coming. Likewise in 25:19 He tells of a master who waited "a long time" to settle accounts with his servants. Jesus began this discourse by speaking of tribulation, persecution, and opposition that would come to His disciples, and in the same breath He promised that the gospel would be proclaimed to all nations (vv. 3-14). All of these realities imply a long delay.

The fact that Jesus' return may involve a long delay should not lead to presumption on our part. After all, the delay may seem particularly327 long to us, but we need to consider these things from the Lord's perspective: "With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day" (2 Pet 3:8). Christ's delay may feel like it's long in coming, but His return will be sudden. To make His point, Jesus refers to the days of Noah prior to the flood, when people were eating and drinking and marrying; in other words, everything was normal—that is, until all of a sudden a flood came and swept them away (Gen 6-8). That's how it's going to be at Christ's second coming: people will be eating lunch, enjoying company, going through their routine, and to their surprise, Christ will return in judgment. Beware of thinking that the day-to-day "stuff" of your life in this world will last. One day it's all going to be turned upside down—instantaneously.

Once Jesus returns, it will be too late to rethink your life and your priorities. His judgment will be irreversible, and there will be no second chance to repent. The stories Jesus tells in the remainder of chapters 24-25 illustrate this point. There are servants who are not ready when their master returns, so they are cast out into darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (24:45-51). Bridesmaids (called "virgins") are locked out of a marriage feast, and the door is shut, never to open for them (25:1-13). Notice that punishment for such individuals is described as everlasting, as there is absolutely no hint here or anywhere else in the Bible that there will be a second chance for anyone to be saved on the day of Christ's return.

On the day that Jesus returns, our hearts will be exposed. The true nature of who we are before God will come to light. Nothing will be hidden; everything will be revealed (Matt 10:26). All the things we like and presume to cover up will be made known. There will be things that, in our pride, we didn't even realize were wrong; these too will be exposed. This heart-penetrating truth leads to the sobering conclusion that our sentence may be surprising. In each case, people are surprised when the master casts them out or turns aside from them. This fits what Jesus said near the conclusion of His most famous sermon, when many called Him "Lord" and recounted the things they had done in His name (Matt 7:22). Jesus' response surely came as a terrible surprise: "Then I will announce to them, 'I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!'" (v. 23). Many people will be shocked on the last day to find out that the road they have been on, a road they thought was the narrow road leading to heaven, was actually the broad road that leads to hell (7:13-14).328

Matthew 7:21-23 is one of the most frightening passages in all of Scripture for me as a pastor, and the truths it contains fit with what we see here in chapters 24-25. There may be many people, even in my own church, who think that they are eternally safe when in fact they do not know Jesus. I think of one brother in our faith family, Tom, who came to us having spent his entire life in church. He had served on just about every committee that any church had ever created, and he had served well. One of the pastors from Tom's former church called one of our pastors to tell us what a great man Tom was and how helpful Tom would be as a member of our church. The only problem is that Tom did not know Jesus. He had checked off every box—he had prayed the prayer, been baptized, signed up, served, taught, and led—yet he had never come to saving faith in Christ. When he was baptized, he shared, "For all those years, I sat in the seats of a church thinking I knew Christ when I did not."

Jordan, a college student in our church, shared a similar story during her baptism testimony:

I prayed to ask Jesus into my heart when I was younger, yet as I grew older, I knew that I had done that—and was doing all kinds of other activities in the church—in order to earn the favor of God. Until one day, I was finally confronted with the extreme tension that exists between my sinful self and God's holy nature. I realized that only Christ's work was sufficient for the favor of God, and I fell on my knees in fear and trembling and adoration and confessed my need for Jesus. Now I know that I am crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.

Sadly, I don't think the stories of Tom and Jordan are unique. They represent a pandemic problem across contemporary Christianity. Many people have made decisions, prayed prayers, signed cards, been baptized, but they don't truly know Christ. It is little wonder that Jesus speaks in this passage of the surprising sentence that will be passed over the lives of many who profess to be His followers.

In the end, He's saying that our lives will stand alone. In verse 40 of chapter 24 He speaks of two men in the field: one is taken and one left. Verse 41 refers to two women grinding at the mill: one taken, one left. It doesn't matter who you're around on that day, as homes, neighborhoods, communities, and nations will be divided among two groups: those who truly know Christ and those who do not know Christ. On that329 final day, it won't matter what home you're in, whom you're married to, or what your parents believed; your life will stand alone.

So far we've considered the following realities in Matthew 24-25: Jesus' delay will be long, His return will be sudden, His judgment will be irreversible, our hearts will be exposed, our sentence may be surprising, and our lives will stand alone. There is only one way to respond to these truths: We must be prepared. That's the point of Matthew 24:36-25:46 in a nutshell. We must be prepared because our lives and our eternities are at stake. As strange as it may sound, this text prepares you for your future ten billion years from now. What could be more important than that?

Based on these five different stories told by Jesus, I want to offer five questions aimed at helping you discern whether or not you are prepared for Christ's coming.

The Penetrating Questions That You And I Must Ask

For the first question, Am I keeping watch for Christ? we need to consider the unexpected nature of Jesus' return. In a rather startling illustration in verses 42-44, Jesus describes His coming as being like a thief in the night. The rest of the New Testament uses this same imagery as a description of Christ's coming, also referred to as the Day of the Lord57 (1 Thess 5:2; 2 Pet 3:10; Rev 3:3; 16:15). The point of this imagery is clear: if you know a thief is coming to your house, then you stay awake and keep watch. Likewise followers of Christ are to keep watch for their Lord, and their lives should be evidence of this reality. So what does this look like practically? What does it mean to watch for Christ? A real-life illustration may help.

When my wife was pregnant with our last child, the doctors gave us the usual expected due date. They expected my son to come around December 7, which meant for us that right around mid-November we would be on "high alert." From that point, through the waning days of the month, and right up to the due date, we were watching and waiting.330 I repeatedly asked Heather, "Babe, how do you feel?" Every moment I was at the office, I had my phone with me, looking and waiting for her to call.

Periodically, I would check in just to make sure I hadn't missed anything. It affected when and where I went, how I traveled, and what I did. I didn't necessarily put my whole life on hold, but I did live with a constant expectation that that particular day could be the day when my child arrived. I couldn't wait to see this person that I already had so much love and affection for. I was watching for him. This kind of anticipation captures something of the essence of what it means to watch for Christ. So do you think about the coming of Christ like that?

Christ's second coming should be on our minds and in our hearts, not in such a way that we stop everything we're doing and sit still, but in such a way that it affects everything we're doing. Our thinking about Him is not forced; it's a result of love. When Christ is on your mind, you can't wait to see Him. If this is not the case, consider what this might say about your heart and what this might mean about where your priorities and passions lie. These are questions we need to ask.

The second question comes from Matthew 24:45-51 and Jesus' description of the faithful and wicked slaves. The contrasting descriptions of the faithful slave and the wicked slave should lead you to ask, "Am I faithfully following Christ?" There are some details in these stories that we don't need to press too far, but we should be compelled to ask who the "faithful" slave is. One slave faithfully honors his master until he comes, while the other virtually forgets that his master is coming back. This latter, "wicked" slave dishonors his master and is thus surprised by His return. I'm reminded at this point of Jonathan Edwards' resolutions, particularly those relating to time management. His goal was to rehearse these resolutions to himself once a week for his entire life:

  • Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.
  • Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.
  • Resolved, to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent, what sin I have committed, and wherein I have denied myself: also at the end of every week, month and year.
  • Resolved, to ask myself at the end of every day, week, month and year, wherein I could possibly in any respect have done better.331
  • Resolved, I will act so as I think I shall judge would have been best, and most prudent, when I come into the future world.
  • Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, if I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments. (Edwards, "Resolutions," xx-xxii)

How about you? How would you live differently today if you knew Jesus was coming back tonight? Will you be found walking in obedience to Him when He returns, or will you be found wandering in disobedience? Will you be found loving your neighbor or ignoring your neighbor? Will you be found passionately devoted to your spouse or practically negligent of your spouse? Will you be found hating sin or holding on to sin? Are you involved in actions, thoughts, and attitudes that would not make sense if it were the last hour of your life?

The consequences of our unfaithfulness are deadly serious. We need to see the horror of Jesus' words in verse 51: "He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." The stakes are high, which leads us to the next question: Am I trusting Christ?

Again, we shouldn't get caught up in some of the details of this story of foolish and wise virgins (25:1-13). The virgins are essentially bridesmaids in a wedding. We don't know all the details behind this wedding ritual, but clearly there was a party awaiting the coming of the groom. The bride isn't even mentioned, only bridesmaids who were waiting for the groom in order to go with him into the wedding feast. The only thing that separates one group of bridesmaids from the other is that five of them were prepared with oil in their lamps when the groom came, while the other five were unprepared. The five who were not prepared were left out of the wedding feast altogether. The groom denied them entrance, saying, "I assure you: I do not know you!" (v. 12).

This parable speaks poignantly to people who are not prepared to persevere until Jesus comes back. They have enough oil to burn lights for a bit, but they do not have enough to persevere through the night until the coming of the groom. We can't help but think of Jesus' earlier teaching about the seed that fell on the rocky ground in the parable of the Sower in Matthew 13:5-6, 20-21 (Blomberg, Matthew, 371). The seed immediately sprang up, but since it had no depth of soil, it was scorched when the sun came up. In a similar way, these bridesmaids were not prepared to persevere until the groom came back.332

It's clear, then, that the kingdom of heaven is not for those who simply respond to an invitation. All of these bridesmaids had done that, so to speak. Similarly, the kingdom of heaven is not for those who simply make a confession. Each of these bridesmaids would have said they were a part of the bridal party. Their cry in verse 11 as they stand outside the wedding feast sounds eerily similar to the cry of the damned in Matthew 7: "Lord, Lord!" We also need to keep in mind that these bridesmaids were not indifferent to the bridegroom. This was a happy occasion that they were glad to be a part of, but the kingdom of heaven is not for those who merely express some affection. Positive sentiments toward Jesus won't be enough on the last day.

At this point, you may be left wondering who is fit for the kingdom of heaven. These chapters speak to this as well. The kingdom of heaven is only for those who endure in salvation. Earlier, in Matthew 24, Jesus warned the disciples about the danger of falling away. Speaking of those who looked like and claimed to be disciples, Jesus says,

Then they will hand you over for persecution, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of My name. Then many will take offense, betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be delivered. (Matt 24:9-13)

Some people will look like followers of Jesus—they may have responded to an invitation, made a confession, and expressed some affection toward Christ—but they will not endure to the end. This is prevalent in our day, as many would call themselves Christians because of something that happened in the past, but their hearts are now far from God. They aren't trusting in Christ today. The issue is not what you did a long time ago, but right now, in your heart, amid the difficulties and inevitable trials that are sure to test you, are you trusting Christ in the present? Ligon Duncan has said of the foolish virgins,

They have a form of piety, but they deny its power. And unprepared, they travel on to meet the judge. None of us, none of us may presume to be prepared. All of us must be watchful of our hearts. We must examine ourselves to see if we are trusting in Him, lest we unprepared travel on. (Duncan, "The Ten Virgins")333

So are you trusting in Christ today? The question is not whether we've responded to an invitation to Christ or expressed some affection toward Him in the past, but whether we are trusting in Christ at this moment for our salvation. This is how we prepare for Jesus' coming, by persevering in faith and trusting Him at all times.

The fourth major question in this section comes in verses 14-30 of Matthew 25. The parable of the Talents should prompt the question, Am I serving Christ with what He has given me? This story is unique because it goes beyond simply watching and waiting for Jesus to return and focuses primarily on working until Jesus comes back. D. A. Carson has put it this way:

It is not enough for Jesus' followers to "hang in there" and wait for the end. They must see themselves [as] servants... who improve what [their Master] entrusts to them. Failure to do so proves they cannot really be valued [as] disciples at all. (Carson, God with Us, 149)

Jesus speaks of servants entrusted with varying amounts of talents. To feel the force of the illustration, realize that a talent could be, according to some, worth several hundred thousand dollars in terms of today's money. And the overall parallel is clear: Jesus is our Master who has given us much. We are His stewards, responsible for that which has been entrusted to us. We are to work diligently, and so honor our Master by maximizing His resources.

Key to understanding Jesus' point in this parable is the realization that this is not simply about an employee-employer relationship that is cold, hard, and focused on the bottom line. See, for example, the joy in the relationship between these first two servants and their master. Hear the excitement in the first servant's voice: "Look, I've earned five more talents" (v. 20). One commentator imagined the scene this way, "The man's eyes are sparkling. He is bubbling over with enthusiasm, is thoroughly thrilled, and, as it were, invites his master to start counting" (Hendriksen, Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew, 881). And then his master says to him, "Well done, good and faithful slave!... Share your master's joy!" (v. 23). There is intimacy between the master and the servant, and this is God's design for us as well. The question becomes, Will you be commended for your love? Do you keep watch for Christ in such a way that love is the overflow of your waiting for Him?334

When my wife goes out of town, I don't become so preoccupied with other things that I forget about her. I can't wait for her to come back! I love her so much that I talk to her about when she's coming back. This is the kind of anticipation we ought to have for Christ, our Master. This is what Jesus is getting at in John 15:10-11: "If you keep My commands you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commands and remain in His love. I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete." Are you trusting in and serving Him because you love Him? Or is your service mere routine and loveless duty?

Unlike the first two slaves, the third slave was not commended by the master. This slave was not condemned for what he did, but for what he didn't do; he was lazy. When we apply this part of the parable, the question becomes, Will you be condemned in your laziness? Don't miss the reason the third slave gives for his inaction. In verse 24 he refers to the master as a "difficult man" who unjustly expects to gather where he hasn't sown. Do you see the lack of joy and intimacy? He blamed the master for his own lack of responsibility. In the end, he was condemned, and his relationship with the master was severed. As a steward, a failure to serve and honor the master with the mercy he has entrusted to you indicates a lack of love and desire for the master. This truth is at the heart of what it means to be Jesus' disciple.

So, what are you doing with what God has entrusted to you? To be sure, this is not an attempt to "earn your keep" before Jesus returns; rather, this is a demonstration of your love for Christ and your gratitude for what He has given you. Will you be commended for your love, or condemned for your laziness?

The fifth and final question from Jesus' discourse in chapters 24-25 is this: Am I serving Christians whom God has put around me? Many people are confused about this passage (25:31-46), taking the point to be that whenever we do something good for someone, it's the same as doing it for Jesus. That line of thinking misses part of Jesus' point. Verse 40 helps us to understand this passage rightly, as Jesus says, "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me" (emphasis added). The point is that Jesus is identifying Himself with His followers, His brothers, those who have trusted in Him. There are other examples in the New Testament where we see Jesus identify Himself in the closest possible terms with Christians. For instance, when Paul was blinded on the road to Damascus in Acts 9, Jesus appeared to this335 persecutor of Christians and said, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" (v. 4; emphasis added). In other words, Jesus says, "You mess with them, and you're messing with Me." Similarly, in Matthew 25:40 Jesus counts service to His followers as service to Him.

It would be wrong to think that Jesus' close identification with His followers means that we should not help people who aren't Christians. Throughout Scripture we're encouraged to love and serve non-Christians;58 Jesus has even told us to love our enemies (Matt 5:43-48). However, that's not the specific point of this passage. This passage calls us to examine whether we are serving Christians in need whom God has put around us.

There's another misunderstanding of this passage that we need to avoid. You serve Christians God has put around you not because you want to get to heaven, as if you could earn your right standing before God. These saints who are welcomed into heaven in this passage are surprised at what Jesus says: "Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink?" (v. 37). Clearly, their acts of service—giving away food and clothes, welcoming strangers, visiting the sick and the imprisoned—were not done in order to get to heaven, for they were shocked to hear that these works had been noticed. You serve Christians whom God has put around you not because you want to get to heaven, but because Jesus has changed your heart.

Our love for other believers is constantly held out in Scripture as a mark that God has made us His own. In John 15:12, Jesus told His disciples, "Love one another as I have loved you." Likewise, the book of 1 John is all about love—love for God and love for the children of God. Consider several passages in John's epistle that speak to the love Jesus calls for in Matthew 25:

Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)

We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother he has seen cannot love the God he has not seen. And we have this command from Him: The one who loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:19-21)336

This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has this world's goods and sees his brother in need but closes his eyes to his need—how can God's love reside in him? (1 John 3:16-18)

These are much-needed reminders for people (like us) who have so much of the world's goods. We are surrounded by brothers and sisters in Christ who are in need, so let us not close our hearts to them. Rather, let us give extravagantly to them, and in the process, show extravagant love to Him! We should make sacrifices in ministries and comforts here in our church culture so that our brothers and sisters who are starving can live over there. This is the fruit of a heart that's been changed by Christ, and it's a fundamental way we prepare for the coming of Christ. We serve Christians that God has put around us. Again, we do this knowing that sacrificial service is not a means of earning salvation. We don't serve other people, specifically our brothers and sisters in Christ, in order to gain enough favor from God so that we can enter heaven. Instead, sacrificial service is necessary evidence of salvation. A heart that has truly trusted in Christ and a life that is truly longing for Christ will be consumed with serving men and women who are in Christ.

Two Eternal Destinations That Await Us All

What is obvious from every one of these stories in Matthew 24-25 is that when we die, or when Jesus comes back (whichever comes first), all of us will be divided between two destinations. Every individual ever created will stand alone before God at the judgment.

For some of us, heaven will be our destination, a place where people will experience unhindered enjoyment of the Father's love. This is what we read about in Matthew 25:34: "Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.'" These will enter a kingdom filled with delight, limitless joy, and everlasting satisfaction. That's the beautiful imagery we've seen all over these stories—a blessed slave (24:45-46), a wedding feast (25:10), servants entering into the joy of their master (25:21, 23), and now the righteous entering into eternal life (25:46). Why would we not long for this day? Oh, how we should keep watch for Christ, faithfully following Him until He returns! Let's trust Him, serve Him, and serve those children of His who are in need337 around us. It won't be long until we're together in the Father's kingdom enjoying the Son's reward.

Every person will either experience this glorious reward in heaven, or hell will be their destination. Hell is the polar opposite of the rewards mentioned in this passage. Those who have not trusted in Christ and are not prepared for His coming will hear the words, "Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels!" (25:41). Jesus speaks of total separation from the Father's love, and this will be in a place prepared for demons. Hell is not a place where the Devil torments sinners; hell is a place where he is tormented alongside sinners. One writer said, "What a destiny! To spend eternity shoulder to shoulder with an evil being whose one goal has been to defy God and bring others to share in suffering forever." Hell is a place of unquenchable agony. Consider the imagery Jesus uses for the fate of unbelievers: "cut him to pieces... weeping and gnashing of teeth" (24:51), "outer darkness" (25:30), and "eternal fire" (25:41).

People have wondered, based on these images, how hell can be darkness and have fire at the same time? But this misses the point: these are words and images to depict agony and misery that will mark all who are destined for this place. In one writer's words, "The purpose of imagery is to point beyond what literal language can convey. If a literal burning by fire is bad, the reality of hell's suffering must be immeasurably and inexpressibly worse." Worst of all, hell is a place of never-ending suffering. The same word—"eternal"—that is used to describe life with God in heaven is now used to describe the horror of punishment from God in hell (25:46).

If we're honest, these truths about heaven and hell are a little overwhelming. Thinking about such weighty topics goes against the grain of what we're used to. We wonder, "Is this really true?" Of course, if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then we don't have to worry about believing such difficult truths. However, if Jesus was who He said He was, and if He did conquer death, then we must embrace everything He said. He is our Lord and we gladly submit.

In light of the authority of Jesus and the truth of His Word, we need to ask ourselves, "Am I ready for His return?" Even if Jesus doesn't return today, we may take our last breath in the coming hours. We must, therefore, be prepared to meet God. And how do we do that? By clinging to Christ today. By repenting of sin and trusting in the gospel. Jesus died on a cross to pay the price for your sins, and He has risen from the grave in victory over death. All who repent and believe in Him338 will be reconciled to God (John 3:16). The words of John Owen serve as a fitting conclusion:

This is somewhat of the word which he now speaks unto you: Why will ye die? Why will ye perish? Why will ye not have compassion on your own souls? Can your hearts endure, or can your hands be strong, in the day of wrath that is approaching?... Look unto me, and be saved; come unto me, and I will ease you of all sins, sorrows, fears, burdens, and give rest to your souls. Come, I entreat you; lay aside all procrastinations, all delays; put me off no more; eternity lies at the door... do not so hate me as that you will rather perish than accept of deliverance by me. (As cited in Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, 102)

Reflect and Discuss

  1. Do you ever doubt that Christ's second coming will actually happen? What are some factors that lead you to question whether this promise will actually be fulfilled?
  2. Discuss the parallels between Christ's second coming and the account of the flood in the days of Noah (Genesis 6-9).
  3. How would you reply to the supposition that individuals will receive a chance to respond to the gospel either as Christ returns or after His return? How might this passage inform your reply?
  4. Describe the difference between the faithful slave and the wicked slave in Matthew 24:45-51.
  5. In your own words, what does it mean to keep watch for Christ, and how is this mind-set different from inactivity?
  6. How are endurance and faithfulness—marks of true, saving faith—different from attempting to earn a right standing before God?
  7. How would you reply to someone who asked the following questions? "What does the Bible say about the destiny of those who are genuinely followers of Christ? What is the fate of those who persist in unbelief?"
  8. Practically speaking, how does the reality of eternal punishment affect how you live day to day?
  9. How does this passage speak to the glory of Jesus Christ?
  10. What are some evidences that we are true followers of Christ? Do you see these evidences (even if not perfectly) in your own life?

The Day of the Lord is an expression used in both the Old and New Testaments that often refers to the time when God's judgment is finally poured out on unbelievers. This expression can also be used in reference to God's previous judgments in history, which often prefigure His final day of reckoning. For the righteous (those in Christ), the Day of the Lord will be a day of salvation and vindication. See for example: Isa 13:6; Jer 46:10; Joel 1:15; 1 Cor 5:5; 2 Thess 2:2.


See for example the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37.