What Does It Take To
From the Message of
Bread Upon The Waters Ministry
Note: This is just a brief summary of this topic.
For a much more complete exposition,
see the "Strangers and Pilgrims on the Earth" pages.
Who Has To Be Ready?
When Jesus talked about being ready, in almost every case, study of the context reveals that He addressed His statements exclusively to His Disciples, His closest followers. He was telling them that they had to make a conscious effort to be ready. See Matthew 24:44 and Luke 21:34-36. If they had to do so, how much more do we? The obvious implication of this is that just being a Christian doesn't necessarily make you ready. Christians have become red-in-the-face angry at hearing this idea, but it is the obvious intent of the Scriptures. A person who isn't saved isn't even in the race as far as being ready is concerned. These warnings simply are not addressed to the unsaved. It is the Christians who have to make a conscious effort to be ready.
So the question becomes: What do we have to do to be ready?
There are three basic requirements that can be discerned from Scripture; two "should's" and one "must":
- We should really expect the Second Coming.
- We should have a Biblically accurate idea of what really is going to happen.
- We must be prepared spiritually. Only this is guaranteed to help. You may get away without meeting the first two requirements, but you absolutely won't get away with not meeting this one.
So, what do we have to do to be prepared spiritually?
Jesus did not leave us without answers to this. In fact, there are two distinct passages in which He presented teachings on this issue. The first actually begins in Matthew 24:45, right after His final admonition to be ready. We can conclude from this that the following Parables are about being ready. This is further shown by the fact that each ends in something that is a figure of the Second Coming and/or Judgment Day.
The second is in the Book of Revelation, chapter 3:18-20, and especially verse 18. This passage is addressed to the Church of Laodicea. It is the position of this ministry, and many other Christians, that the Seven Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 are seven ages in the history of the Church. If that is the case, and the Second Coming is indeed near, then we have to be in the age of the Church of Laodicea. Therefore, what Jesus told them to do about their spiritual problems is what we have to do to be ready.
The Seven Churches
Again, it is widely held that the Seven Churches of Revelation are seven ages in the history of the Church. They may also represent seven spiritual conditions that an individual congregation may be in at any particular time. It is also true that they refer to seven literal Churches that existed at the time the the Book of Revelation was written. But it can be shown from "marker events" - turning points in Church and World History - when each historical age began and ended. There is concrete historical and Biblical reason to believe that the age of the Church of Laodicea began with the American Revolution*.
The Problems of the Church of Laodicea
The Church of Laodicea is described as being in very bad shape spiritually. In fact, it is one of the two worst of the seven, the other being the Church of Sardis. (Sardis was the Roman Catholic Church of the Renaissance, prior to the Reformation.) The Laodicean Christians believe that they are spiritually rich when in fact they are in fact spiritually poor - which is to say, in deep trouble. We could paraphrase Jesus' description of their problems by saying that they are proud and deceived. Having told them all that was (read "is") wrong with them (read "us"), He proceeded to tell them what they had (read "we have") to do.
The Prescription for the Church of Laodicea
In verse 18, Jesus advised them to buy three things from Him. The fact that they had to "buy" the things they needed stands out in sharp contrast to other New Testament passages that tell us to simply ask the Lord for things we need. Jesus was telling us, with the word "buy", that being ready is going to cost us something. No "cheap grace" here. Jesus used highly figurative language to describe the things that must be bought. But with some serious study of these verses and related passages, it is possible to discern what He meant. Without going into the reasons why, we will now list what they are:
"Gold tried in fire" is prayer and fasting. The fasting is not an option, as has often been erroneously taught. In fact, other passages show that Jesus expected His followers to fast. More than that, there is Biblical reason to believe that a Christian cannot have full power in prayer if he doesn't fast or do something equivalent regularly. Few Christians do. More than that, it has been shown by a Gallup Poll survey that most present day Christians don't really pray anywhere near the way they should. All the talk about prayer is often just that, talk, and nothing more. Christians must get into prayer and fasting and be diligent about it.
"White garments" are symbolic of repentance - real repentance! This must be repentance that is characterized by overtly righteous acts, really being separate from the world, and renunciation of all sin. Christians must be so overtly righteous that they will be called "legalists" if they preach what they practice. See Matthew 5:20.
The "eye salve to anoint your eyes" - literally, "to rub into your eyes" - is the Scriptures. We must fill our eyes, and thereby our minds, with the Word of God to the exclusion of anything we don't have to read. We must "breath, sleep and eat it". And again, we must be diligent about it.
These things are actually nothing more than what should be considered basic disciplines of Christian living. They are things that every Christian should be diligently doing anyway. To deny that we should do these things is lawlessness and apostasy. A Christian who doesn't do these things doesn't have a prayer - literally - of being ready. Most Christians will not have been doing these things the way they should in the time just before the Tribulation starts. That is why Jesus will vomit the Church of Laodicea out of His mouth - which is to say, He will violently reject Laodicea - type Christians!
The Parables in Matthew 25 are all well known among Christians, especially the ones who are really Bible-literate. Yet it isn't so widely recognized that they are about being ready for the Second Coming, although this is clearly shown from both their content and context. Whereas the admonitions of Revelation 3:18 are basic spiritual disciplines, these are about overt Christian behavior, particularly in regard to ministry. This is behavior that often directly effects other people, and that may make the difference between being ready and being rejected for many Christians.
It must be understood that in all these Parables, it is only Christians who are being addressed. There is no reference to the unsaved here. All of these people either really are Christians or at least consider themselves such. Yet, as Jesus showed, some will be ready and rewarded, while others will be rejected and punished. As these requirements apply to the Tribulation, a Christian who doesn't meet them will be rejected along with the majority of the Church of Laodicea. For those who die, or enter the Tribulation, without having met them, they will be saved "so as through fire" (I Corinthians 3:15).
Therefore, it is of critical importance to Christians to meet the requirements of these Parables. This further requires us to really understand them. Unfortunately, they have been widely misunderstood. This ministry is communicating what this writer believes is the correct understanding of these Parables.
- The requirements actually begin with the Parable of the Faithful and Unfaithful Servants, Matthew 24:45-51. Jesus actually identifies three things that a Christian must do to be ready:
- A Christian should live his Christian life in real expectation of the Second Coming. He is likely to get careless about his Christian walk if he doesn't really expect it. This will result in his not being ready.
- A Christian must be diligent about being obedient
- The most important aspect of this obedience is being a servant to his fellow Christians. More about this below.
- The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins has two main points:
- A Christian must be continually filled with the Holy Spirit. This is actually more important than really expecting the Second Coming.
- More than that, you can't wait until the last minute to do it. You may never get the chance. Note that it is not the Marriage Feast of the Lamb (Revelation 19) that the Foolish Virgins are locked out of. It is divine protection during the Tribulation. Otherwise, they wouldn't be able to go out and buy the oil when it was already too late.
- The Parable of the Talents has one major point, with a second critical point underlying it.
- The major point, as is well understood, is that we must use our "talents" for the Lord's service, or risk loosing everything!
- The critical underlying point is the proper definition of the word "talents". Most people think of it as meaning "natural aptitudes". But in the context of the Parable, the "talents" are something given in the knowledge of, and in addition to, natural aptitudes. "Talents", in the context of the Parable, are spiritual gifts, as in Romans 12:6-8 and Ephesians 4:11. We must learn what our spiritual service gifts are and use them in ministry to our fellow Christians.
- In the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, the critical issue is how we define the term, "My brethren". In the thinking of unsaved people who are familiar with the Parable, and to too many Christians who should know better, it means "all mankind". But Jesus Himself defined the term in Matthew 12:48-50. By the context, His brethren are our fellow Christians, and no one else!!! Those who reject Christ are not His brethren. See John 8:44. Jesus was telling us again to be diligent about being servants to our fellow Christians. The words "the least of these" tell us that we can't discriminate about which Christians we will be servants to. This Parable is an admonition to obey the New Commandment of John 13:34 & 35 - with action!
Again, you must put all these principles into practice in your life or you cannot be sure of being ready. Furthermore, you can't wait until the last minute to do it. You must get ready and stay ready, or you may never get the chance.
There are overwhelming reasons to believe that the Tribulation will begin soon, that is too say, within the lifetimes of the majority of the people now living. These reasons are discussed in the "BABEL RISING!" pages that follow this section. If you don't really expect the Second Coming, read them.
It will also help to know what to expect. There has been so much difference of opinion about what will really happen that most of it has to be wrong. You are advised to read the "The Great Tribulation" pages, but don't make what those pages say, nor any other before-the-fulfillment interpretation of Prophecy, a matter of faith. Just be well informed on the subject and keep an open mind. That way, you won't set yourself up for a nasty surprise.
Finally, there is much more information on being prepared spiritually in the "Strangers and Pilgrims on the Earth" section. You should make what is taught there a matter of faith - and practice!!!
For a quick self-evaluation as to your own spiritual readiness, see the
Being Ready Checklist
Never Assume You Are Ready
The Main Message continues with..
Contact Author, William D. Brehm, firstname.lastname@example.org