Updated: Apr 7, 2020
Hurricane Florence visited our area in 2018 and left southeastern North Carolina devastated. Many people, for whom we continue to pray, are still struggling to recover. For Sunset Park Baptist Church we also have had our struggles. We were displaced by wind damage outside and water damage inside. We are grateful to our Lord Jesus that we have just moved past the restoration period and have moved into a period of reclaiming the buildings which we moved out of after the hurricane. It has been a long process but we are finding closure to this time in the life of the church.
Just as the wake of Florence is beginning to die down another wave of unforeseen disaster has arrived spreading fear and panic. We have been locked into a viral invasion on a worldwide scale. Being no authority I really do not know if it is actually a pandemic or not. But it is affecting every country around the globe. If not physically we can be assured of the financial, emotional, and social effects it is having on people worldwide. There is a lot of uncertainty and misinformation surrounding this invasion which can breed confusion and desperation among people. Our world is ripe for something global to happen.
Born-again believers, who study the Bible and believe what it says have discussed and taught about this time in history for centuries. Jesus upon his departure, returning to heaven, comforted His disciples with the promise that He would return and take them to be with Him [John 14:1-3]. This is explained further by Paul in his letters to the early churches of the New Testament era. He informs born-again believers that they will be changed and given eternally incorruptible bodies [1 Corinthians 15:50-58]. He comforts born-again believers with assurance that upon His return that fellow believers who have preceded them in death will be raised and all born-again believers will in an instant be transformed and translated to be with Jesus [1 Thessalonians 4:13-18]. This time is called the rapture, when born-again believers are transported into Jesus’ presence.
The where’s, when’s and how’s of the return of Jesus are debatable and unclear. But with patience and guidance from the Holy Spirit believers who study the Bible realize that we are warned to be alert and ready for this time in history [Matthew 24:44]. In Matthew chapter 24 Jesus Himself explains to His disciples the coming events which will herald His return. He says that when we notice things like this viral pandemic on a world stage that the time for His return is drawing near and that we should begin to prepare and look for His return [Matthew 24:33]. Yahweh is working His will in history and we are blessed to live in such an awesome time where we might actually see and experience the second advent of Jesus our Lord and Savior [Revelation 22:20-21].
I always hear from people, even church members, “I sure hope I am going.” John the disciple, wrote the book of First John so that people might know for sure if they were saved or not. To be saved and ready when Jesus returns, a person must first know their need to be saved [Romans 3:23]. They must realize their sin [Romans 3:10] and Yahweh’s right to punish them for their disbelief and disobedience [Romans 1:18]. Second, a person must acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ. He is Yahweh’s Son, who came to earth in order that He might live a sinless life and die innocently on the cross of Calvary bearing the sins of the world and the punishment for those sins [Romans 6:23]. He was every person’s substitute, absorbing Yahweh’s wrath toward sin. Jesus arose from the grave and ascended back into heaven [Romans 5:8]. Next a person must decide to place their life, through faith, in the finished atoning work of Jesus, believing and confessing Jesus as Lord and Savior of their life [Romans 10:9-10]. This believing and confessing Jesus as Lord and Savior requires a repenting of their former way of life [Romans 2:4]. A change is involved in a person’s salvation, ushering in a life of Christlikeness born by the work of Yahweh’s Spirit in their lives [2 Corinthians 5:17]. Through faith the old life is gone and the new life in Jesus has begun [Romans 8:16]. If this is your testimony, then we praise Jesus. If it is not, then I encourage you to read the book of John in the Bible and consider the claims of Jesus and Yahweh on your life. May Yahweh lead you to Himself during this period in your life journey.