“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers” (I Peter 4:7).
Peter is making reference to the final consummation of Christ’s kingdom at His return. Peter is saying that the end of the world as we presently know it is at hand or is fast approaching. This means that the return of Christ is drawing near or is imminent (James 5:8; Romans 13:11-12; Philippians 4:5; Hebrews 10:25, 37). This doctrine is referred to as the “last times,” or the “latter days” (I Peter 1:20; Acts 2:17; I Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 3:1). In effect, the church of Jesus Christ has always existed in the latter days immediately prior of the return of Christ.
Regarding the soon return of Christ, Jesus explicitly instructed His disciples that no one would know exactly when He would return. He said as such in Matthew 24:36-37: “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”
How are believers in Christ to prepare for His return? Especially when we do not know when it will be? A friend of mine, who is now with the Lord, was a man totally obsessed with the Second Coming of Christ. Little else dominated his thinking like this doctrine: often to the detriment of his other responsibilities. Is this how we are to prepare for the Lord’s coming? Does God call us to sit on a mountain, or sell all our possessions and wait in eager anticipation for Jesus to appear in the eastern sky?
Not at all! God instructs us through the Apostle Peter that we are not to abdicate our human responsibilities here on earth while we eagerly anticipate Jesus’ return to earth from heaven. What does God want us then to do in preparation for this certain event?
Peter says that God commands believers to be completely self-controlled and sober-minded. To be self-controlled (σωφρονέω; sophroneo) means to have sound-judgment, to use good sense, and to be sensible. To be sober-minded (νήφω; nepho) means to be well-composed and restrained in your mind or thinking. While these two behaviors are applicable to all areas of life and living, they are especially pertinent to how one thinks and acts regarding the return of Christ. To sell all your possessions and to hunker down in a bunker, or to party on a rooftop while awaiting the return of Jesus evidences neither self-control nor a sober-mind. Neither does becoming so obsessed with the return of Christ that you fail to fulfill your responsibilities as a Christian, a husband, a father, a worker and a friend.
We follow these two commands from God for the sake of our prayer life. Prayer, especially when one is persecuted for their faith in Christ, is to be done with self-control and a sober-mind. Prayer, as one anticipates Christ’s return, is to also be done with self-control and a sober-mind.
The return of Jesus Christ is near. It is at hand. I Peter 4:7 says so. With this in mind, we go to work today and give our best knowing that Jesus may return today. We go to school and give our best knowing that Jesus may return today. We raise our families, do our grocery shopping, pay our bills, and do a hundred other things this week all the while doing so with the understanding that Jesus may return any day.
Are you ready for His return? When He comes, will He be your judge or your Savior? There are no other alternatives. No other options. No other choices.
Repent of your sin and receive Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord this very moment (John 1:12-13). Then you will be able to say with me, “Our Lord, come!” (I Corinthians 15:22).
Soli deo Gloria!