Here are some Tier 1 applications. Two are public applications (how we treat others) and two are personal (how we prepare ourselves to meet the coming Christ).
1) The Importance of Evangelism and Missions
14 This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all nations. And then the end will come.
Jesus left us with the Great Commission and he expects us to go to all nations preaching the good news of the kingdom. And it sounds almost like, once every nation has heard the good news, then the end will come. The question is, how many people groups are left who have never heard the gospel? If you define people groups to be ethnic, linguistic peoples without reference to country boundaries, then there’s about 10,000 remaining. If all Christians and all churches got serious about the Great Commission, we could reach every last group in our lifetime. In light of the imminent day of the Lord, we at the Hill have to do our part to reach those who haven’t been reached.
This relates to our next public application–
2) Faithful Service
45 “Who then is a faithful and sensible slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give them food at the proper time? 46 That slave whose master finds him working when he comes will be rewarded. 47 I assure you: He will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked slave says in his heart, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49 and starts to beat his fellow slaves, and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 that slave’s master will come on a day he does not expect and at an hour he does not know. 51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
A wicked slave thinks, my master is delayed. He won’t be back for a while. It’s like at work, your boss is out of the office so you relax a bit. This wicked slave relaxes a bit too much. Not only does he eat and drink with drunkards, he just wants to enjoy life and have a good time, but also, this wicked slave mistreats and even beats the other slaves.
Then, the master suddenly appears at the door. He sees the drunkenness and he sees the pain inflicted on the other slaves and the master takes the slave whom he entrusted and throws him into a place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. In light of the imminent day of the Lord, let’s serve our master faithfully and treat each other lovingly.
Now we get to the personal applications.
3) The Importance of Perseverance
Tribulation is a general term referring to the hardships and sufferings that God’s people will always have to pass through. Tribulation is a rite of passage for the believer.
21 For at that time there will be great tribulation, the kind that hasn’t taken place from the beginning of the world until now and never will again! 22 Unless those days were limited, no one would survive. But those days will be limited because of the elect.
22 …“It is necessary to pass through many troubles (or tribulations) on our way into the kingdom of God.”
2 Thess 1
3 We must always thank God for you, brothers. This is right, since your faith is flourishing and the love each one of you has for one another is increasing. 4 Therefore, we ourselves boast about you among God’s churches—about your endurance and faith in all the persecutions and afflictions you endure. 5 It is a clear evidence of God’s righteous judgment that you will be counted worthy of God’s kingdom, for which you also are suffering, 6 since it is righteous for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you 7 and to reward with rest you who are afflicted, along with us. This will take place at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His powerful angels, 8 taking vengeance with flaming fire on those who don’t know God and on those who don’t obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
Tribulation is necessary for us to fellowship with Christ in his sufferings and tribulation is necessary for our personal sanctification. And it is expected that true believers will survive whatever tribulations come our way and endure to the end.
13 But the one who endures to the end will be delivered.
Examine your life. What trips you up? What derails your faith? Not sleeping enough. Getting a bad grade. Getting yelled at by your boss. Having indigestion? What trips you up? We need to toughen up because harder times are coming and if little things trip us up now, we won’t make it when difficult tribulation comes.
4) Watchful Readiness
I want to end with a story. When I was a kid, I loved it when my parents went to Bible study. No, it wasn’t because I was concerned about their spiritual lives. It was because my brother and I stayed home alone. My parents expected that we would be studying I guess for the entire evening but when the cat is away, the mice come out to play. We watched TV several hours straight. It was the 80s and back then, we had one of those gargantuan Zenith TV boxes which weigh about 100 pounds and the screen was like 20 inches. Not only was the TV huge, but it got really hot.
So around 11pm to midnight, I’d be watching but I’d have one ear listening for the car door slam. When I heard it, I knew I had roughly 15 seconds to wipe down the TV with a damp cloth to cool it off. I was watchful and ready.
The whole point of my watchfulness was to avoid punishment. And there is a sense in which we are watchful for the Lord’s coming because we don’t want to get into trouble, but it’s more than that. Even being watchful in order to avoid punishment as a motivation is better than nothing. Most people are not watchful at all because hey, nobody can predict when Jesus will return so why bother? We are not watchful. Quite the opposite, we live carelessly.
For the true believer, we are watchful and responsible and faithful in our service in part because we don’t want to get in trouble in the same way that an employee might have relaxed at work for a few days while the boss was away but the day before the boss returns, you better get everything in order.
Avoidance of punishment is not the sole motivator for our watchfulness. We are watchful because we are waiting for him.
27 And just as it is appointed for people to die once—and after this, judgment— 28 so also the Messiah, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.
Are you waiting for Jesus? Do you long for his appearing? If so, you will be watchful and ready, no matter when he comes.