Lesson 47

The Epistle to the Romans

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

13:11 This, knowing the time, that it is already time for you to awake out of sleep, for salvation is now nearer to us than when we first believed. 13:12 The night is far gone, and the day is near. Let’s therefore throw off the works of darkness, and let’s put on the armor of light. 13:13 Let us walk properly, as in the day; not in reveling and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and lustful acts, and not in strife and jealousy. 13:14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, for its lusts.  

Today's Lesson 

The time, Paul tells us, is running short. Our "salvation is now nearer to us than when we first believed." Although Paul wrote these words over nineteen centuries ago, the same truth speaks to our own generation as well. For each one of us the end of this life is drawing closer. The time to waken from our sleep is today.


The writer of Hebrews uses this same concept in the third chapter of that epistle. He quoted from Psalm 95, "Today if you hear his voice do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked me." He used the illustration of the wandering people in the desert to remind his readers that while it is still "today" there is hope. Paul is telling his readers that the time is short. We must live lives that are aware of how brief life may be.


Not only is our own time brief, but the end of this age is near as well. We do not know the day or the hour when Christ will return, but we are to live in expectation of His imminent return. It is fashionable in some circles to rationalize that since the return of Christ was not as immediate as Paul and the first century church thought it to be that Christ may never return. Perhaps the world goes on forever and Jesus was either mistaken or was spiritualizing a message about the ends of the age (as some might say).


I would think that such a position would be difficult to reconcile with an understanding of the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth. If Christ either did not understand or was wrong about such an important doctrine, then the claims to His divinity are suspect. And, if Christ is divine, then He will return, as He and His followers believed that He would.


For my part, I believe Jesus of Nazareth to be God; a divine being who is a person of the Triune God. I believe that He will return and that this world and this reality will be radically altered by that event. I believe that God wants us to be waiting for, and to be anticipating, His return. We should not abandon our lives and wait on hilltops, but we should live our lives in a state of expectation. God may return tomorrow or He may return a million tomorrow's from now.


In any case, our own lives, whether they end naturally or whether they are divinely shortened, are tragically brief. When I was young, life seemed endless and death was a fuzzy concept. As I age, the end of things comes into sharper focus and death is no longer a concept but a grim reality. The end is nearer than any of us care to face.


We should live our lives from the perspective that we are only moments away from being face to face with God for the first and last time. The end of mortal life is right around the corner. Eternity will be here before you know it. Each day we sin sins of convenience. It is easier to lie just a little than to tell the complete truth. It is easy to become entangled by the way of this world. We are caught up in this life like watching a really bad television show. We know that there are better things that we should be doing, but it is so much easier to watch mindlessly until, before we know it, the hours have flown past with nothing to show for them.


The light is near. Let us throw off the works of the darkness. Let us prepare our hearts and our minds for the new reality. Soon we will be with Christ. Let us begin today to live in His presence. Because the reality is that we already do live in His presence. God is with us. Each moment is a moment we spend before God. God is with you right now and He tells you through the words of Paul, "the day is near." "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ." Live this day as though there were no tomorrow.


Did you live today as though the end was near? Are you prepared for a finally reckoning before God?


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