How do you know if you are ready for Jesus to return? Different people give different answers. Some say I am an American; while others believe they are ready because they walked an aisle, raised a hand, and said a prayer; still others believe they are ready because they have lived a good life, helping lots of people.
What, however, does the Bible? To be sure, it does not answer in the way most would.
What does the Bible Say?
The Bible tells us that we can know we are ready for Jesus’ return by continually living according to Jesus’ will. The parable of the faithful and unfaithful servant exemplify this idea (Matthew 24:45-51).
In the parable, the faithful servant remained true to his master’s wishes the entire time he was gone, while the unfaithful servant didn’t. Instead of following his master’s will, he followed his own.
So we can know that we are ready for Jesus’ return if we are continually living according to His will.
Why is that so?
Because that is what Jesus’ judgment is based on. You see, Jesus’ judgment isn’t based on some decision we made in the past. Rather it is based on how we are currently living. It is based on our faithfulness.
If we prove ourselves to be faithful to Him at His return by continually living according to His will, then we will experience a joyous reward. If, however, we prove ourselves to be unfaithful to Him at His return by living according to our own will, we will experience eternal torment.
So we show that we are ready for Jesus’ return by continually living according to His will, by continually living as a faithful servant.
Clarification – Not a Works Based Salvation
Now, when I say we are judged according to our faithfulness, I am not advocating a works based salvation. Instead what I am saying is that our works reveal our true nature. The way we live reveals our heart as it really is, which means we can’t just rest in a decision we have made in the past. Instead, we must rest in how we are living for Jesus now.
And so, if you are not living as a faithful servant, if you are not living according to God’s will, if you are not continually growing in your Christian walk and becoming more like Christ, if these things are not taking place in your life, then you are not a faithful servant no matter what decision you made in the past.
It is not about what we “have done” rather it is about what we “are doing.”
I bring this up because a lot of people think they are going to heaven based of some decision they made years ago. While there is a time when our heart is given to Christ, we can’t base our eternal destiny on a decision alone, especially if that decision hasn’t affected the way we live.
Those whose hearts are given to Christ, those who “decide for Christ”, change. They change to become a faithful servant – someone continually living according to Jesus’ will. If that has not happened in your life, then you haven’t given your heart to Jesus. You are not going to experience eternal life because you aren’t a follower of Jesus.
Jesus is looking for followers not just deciders
Sure, you might have changed for a short time, but if you are not living as a Christian now, if you aren’t living as a faithful servant now, then when Jesus returns, you are not going to be rewarded, rather you are going to be punished.
Faithful servants of God are prepared for Jesus’ return, and they show they are prepared by continually living according to Jesus’ will.
Question for Reflection
- Do you see a continual change in your life, or are you just resting in a decision you made in the past?
Adapted from my sermon: What does it look like to be a faithful servant of God?