We’ve all seen the cartoons, usually mocking biblical Christianity in some way, in which a bedraggled derelict is pacing up and down the street holding a sign which reads, “The End is Near!” It may also urge whomever reads it to repent. Usually, the main character in the cartoon has something humorous, if not slanderous, to say about it. The sign is included for its comic value. In reality, however, for us this is no laughing matter, for the Bible tells us that the end really is near.
It’s found in 1 Peter 4:7: “The end of all things is near,” or (lit.,) “has come near.” This is not alarmist rhetoric, but a statement of biblical fact. In every generation, the end of the age has drawn just that much closer. The informed student of Scripture knows that the end of this age will be one of cataclysmic judgment on the earth. Although the church will be removed first, the urgency for believers is to be ready, and to be about the business of rescuing those who are not prepared for the end. As we watch our culture here in America, and conditions throughout the world, rapidly deteriorating, we cannot but believe that the end of this age is in the not too distant future. So what should we be doing? Peter gives us several instructions.
First, we should be engaged in prayer . . . prayer for the nations, world leaders, the church, pastors and missionaries, and especially believers who are suffering persecution. Here’s how the Apostle puts it: “therefore be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer” (v. 7). These terms refer to good sense, self-control, and seriousness. We should avoid all foolishness and frivolity as we live under the burden of the urgency of the times. This will put us in the proper attitude for passionate prayer as we plead for the mercy and grace of a holy God on our unholy generation.
Second, Peter writes, “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins” (v. 8). The Lord Jesus told His disciples to love each other: “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you” (Jn 15:12). He also said that this love would be a powerful testimony to the world: “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35). But Peter adds one more qualifier. Our love for one another is to be fervent—full of zeal . . . passionate in the right sort of way. Why? Because when we love fervently we will forgive quickly and sincerely. And in these last days, the church needs to present the unbelieving world with a united front, loving where the ungodly have only anger, hatred, resentment, and bitterness.
Third, Peter says, “Be hospitable to one another without complaint” (v. 9). In New Testament times, this meant providing room and board to travelling Christians—especially itinerant teachers. But even today, a church that practices fervent love will be a church where the membership is exercising hospitality. That means close fellowship, often over a meal. A church where the members are isolated from each other will not be a church marked by fervent love!
And finally, Peter instructs the believers that in light of the approaching end of the age, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (v. 10). And although the spiritual gifts have now ceased, as believers, we should each one want to use our God-given talents, skills, experience, and interests for the good of others, both encouraging our brethren and, with them, reaching out to the community around us that does not know Christ.
So yes, the end has come near. We don’t know when we shall hear the trumpet sound and be caught up to be with Christ forever, but the lateness of the hour and the greatness of the need should convince you and me to be busy doing the Lord’s work. Are you living—and loving—in the light of His coming?