Sunday, March 15, 2020

“The End of All Things Is Near” [Matt's Messages]

“The End of All Things Is Near”
March 15, 2020 :: 1 Peter 4:7-11

We’re going to take a very short break from our study of the Gospel of Matthew.

I hate to do that because we’re basically leaving Jesus on the Cross there, but I felt led to preach on something different in light of the national health emergency and global pandemic which is COVID-19 or the coronavirus.

And there are a lot of things we could say about that.

And we’ve said a number of them and sung a number of them and prayed a number of them already this morning. So many truths to draw from God’s Word.

But this is the passage that I was drawn to as I searched my Bible for a word from the Word for you today.

And this is the sentence that caught my eye. 1 Peter 4:7

“The end of all things is near.” 

The Apostle Peter says, “The end of all things is near.”

And most of the time, you know, it doesn’t feel like it.

Most of the time, when you hear someone say, “It’s the end of the world as we know it,” they are either singing a song by REM or they are a fruitcake wearing a signboard and yelling at people on the sidewalk.

But sometimes it does seem like it.

Sometimes events in the world are moving at such a fast pace and there such scary headlines, that you begin to wonder, “Is this it?”

Let me very clear: I am not saying that this is it.

I’m actually thinking that in a few months, we’ll all be worrying about something else than this novel coronavirus. We will have, Lord-willing, moved on. I hope.

But Peter says right here in the Bible, “The end of all things is near.”

And he wrote that almost 2,000 years ago.

So it was true 2,000 years ago.

And if it was true then, then it’s got to be even more true now.

It's true. all. the. time.

We are closer than we’ve ever been to the end of all things.

History is headed towards its conclusion.

And Peter says it’s at hand.

What does Peter mean? And how should we then live?

Be warned: time is limited. Time is short. Human history is a finite line. It had a beginning point. And it will have an ending point. And the end is near.

Peter knew that the end of history is imminent, impending, ready to unfold, close at hand.

The next great event on the calendar of God is the consummation of history and the triumphant return of Jesus Christ!

“The end of all things is near.”

Do you believe that this morning?

Very often, Christians like you and I make the major mistake of living as though this world and our lives were going to go on and on just like they are (now) forever.

But Peter says that is not true. And that is not the right way to live.

“Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King.”

Up a couple of verses, in verse 5, Peters says that the judge of the living and the dead is “ready.” He’s set. He’s prepared. He’s ready. Like we talked about during the Advent Season, God is only waiting in His patient, perfect timing to tie up the loose ends of history and send the Son of Man on His return.

Now, notice, Peter didn’t set a date. He didn’t set a time.

Peter was there when our Lord said, “Nobody knows. Not even the Son.” Remember that. Nobody knows. You and I don’t know when Jesus is coming back.

Might be sooner than we expect.
Might be later than we expect.
We don’t know.

But Peter also knew and taught that the Lord Jesus will certainly return and usher in the end of history at any time.

“The end of all things is near.” Or some of your versions say, “At hand.”

Do you believe that? Do you live like that is true?

What if you knew that the end of your life was near? Today for example.

Many people in the world are grappling with that right now.

But let’s say you knew on the authority of God’s Word that by 6:30 this evening you would be dead.

What would you do? How would you live? What would your priorities be if you knew that you would soon be seeing the Judge of all the Earth?

Peter says, not only is the end of your life near, the end of all things is near.

We are living in the last days, and the last of the last days is coming at some point which Peter calls “soon.” And knowing that, you and I should live with a certain set of priorities.

However...we might be surprised at what those priorities are supposed to be. What should we being doing if the end of all things is near? (And it is.)

Peter gives us four different but complementary priorities:

“The End of All Things Is Near.” Therefore,


“The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.”

Peter says that the end of all things is near, so therefore keep your head. Keep your wits about you. Don’t get frantic or manic or out of control.

Now, I don’t know about you, but instinctively I get a little nervous when people talk about the world ending! If I think things are serious, my first reaction is to panic. 

Chicken Little, “The sky is falling, the sky is falling!” My first reaction is to lose my cool. My first reaction is to think about all of the wrong things.

That happened to me a number of times this week reading the headlines.

I think it’s happened to a lot of people in our culture.

Look at the lines at the grocery store.

The end of all things is near. Therefore, be clear-minded and self-controlled. Get a hold of yourself. Don’t go off the deep end. Focus. Focus on what is important.

Why? V.7 “So that you can pray.”

If the world is ending, if you are going to see the King, then you better get close to Him now. Talk with Him. Trust Him with all things. The important thing is to remain close to the One who is coming soon.

Keep Your Head so that You Can Pray.

It’s a focus issue. Too often, we get caught up in focusing on this world and not the world that is going to break in on us soon.

It had happened to Peter personally. Remember in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus told Peter, James, and John to keep watch and pray? What did Peter do? He started sawing logs! He lost his focus and got a muddied-mind and lost self-control and slept. He lost his head and didn’t pray. I think he probably remembered that night and that’s one of the reasons why he cautions us against living like that.

Yesterday, the elders were meeting and trying to come up with our plan for leading this week and I was trying to write this message, and I just lost my head and snapped at my wife.

I’m sorry, Heather Joy.

It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by things, and Peter knows that, so he reminds us, “Be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.”

What’s got your attention right now?  Are you being clear-minded and self-controlled and prayerful?  Or are you manically chasing after this world?

The King James says, “[B]e ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.”

That doesn’t mean be long in the face and watch people praying.

It means: calm down and pray.

The end of all things is near so keep your head about you and pray.


“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

Peter prioritizes this one at the top, “Above all,” he says, “love each other deeply.”

That word “deeply” could also be translated, “fervently, earnestly, intensely.” It comes from a Greek word that means to stretch something to its fullest length. Like a rope. The word was often used to describe an athlete or a horse running and straining at full stretch.

“Go all out in love” is what Peter is saying. Don’t just play at love. Don’t just go part way. Go the distance in love!

Stretch yourself. Stretch your love.

Stretch your love with people who are hard to love. Peter says, “love covers over a  multitude of sins.”

That doesn’t mean “Condone sin.” It means love someone through their sin.  Cover sin with ready forgiveness. Forgive 70 times 7. Cover over sin by sheltering someone from the exposure and condemnation that their sin would normally yield. If you can, cover sin by overlooking faults and offenses.

Go the extra mile in loving someone who has sinned against you.

Stretch your love for those who sin against you.

The end of all things is near, so ratchet up your love! There is no time to focus on quarreling. The body of Christ needs to be exercising deep love because time is short.

Now, I wouldn’t have thought of this one. I would have thought of preaching the Gospel because time is short, but I would have thought that loving each other would be a lower priority.

I would have been wrong.

God puts a premium on love for one another.

Especially love when it’s hard.

Are there people in your life right now that are hard to love?

Time is short.

“As much as it depends on you, live at peace with all men.”

Time is short. Get things right.

Living in light of eternity means stretching our love for each other right now.

Someone has wisely said, “To live above with saints above, that will indeed be glory, to live below with the saints we know, now, that’s another story!”

But we need to. We need to love as Christ loved us.

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

Stretch your love. Stretch it–even to strangers and those who need a meal or lodging or some other kind of material assistance. V.9

“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.”

Now, in an time of social distancing that might have to look differently than in a time when an invisible viral army is not running rampant.

But this is a command for all Christians in all times so we don’t get to duck it.

Perhaps hospitality in our current cultural situation is leaving some toilet paper for someone else to buy.

Or maybe it’s making a meal for someone who is shut in.

Or an underfed child that is home from school where they normally get a hot lunch.

Or maybe it’s your family taking the time this week at home to draw pictures and send notes and cards into nursing homes and hospitals where they aren’t going to get many visits in the next few weeks.

However you do it, Peter calls us to stretch our love in hospitality.

Which means using our homes and our resources to bless others, especially strangers.

And we aren’t allowed to do it grudgingly or with complaint. V.9 “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.”

That’s a stretch of love. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by people.

But remember, the end of all things is near. There is no time for whining about a little discomfort! We need to stretch our love.

#3.  USE YOUR GIFT. V.10

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”

Notice that it doesn’t say, “If God has given you a gift, use it.” It says, “Use whatever gift you have received.”

That means that everyone here who is a Christian has a least one grace-gift from the Lord to use in service to others “within and without” the body of Christ.

It’s not just our musicians who are gifted.

It’s not just pastors who are gifted! Everyone is! You are!

Yes, you!

The question is not do you have a gift. You do.

The question is are you using it to serve others?

Would you ever have thought that this would be an End-Times priority?

It is. The end of all things is near so use your gift in service to others.

Use Your Gift.

I have a pastor friend that loves to say, “Life is short; live for God.”

Use your gift in service to others. Use it faithfully, as a steward (a manager). God has given you some grace (Peter calls it grace in various forms). God has given you some measure of grace (not to hold onto but) to pass on to others.Don’t bury it; put it into practice.

“Life is short; live for God.”

Or like we said around Christmas:

What do you want to be found doing when the Lord Jesus returns?

Some people have made the mistake of setting a date and then putting on robes and hanging out on rooftops waiting with arms outstretched for Christ to come for them.

That’s not what God has asked us to do in the last days! He has asked us to be busy using our grace-gifts in ministry so that he find us living for Him when He comes back for us.

That’s what I want to be doing when Christ returns. Heart longing for Him, hands and feet active for Him. I would love to be preaching when Jesus comes back!

But I better do it God’s way. Not my own. V.11.

“If anyone speaks [like I am doing now, speaking in ministry to others], he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.”

Brothers and Sisters, time is short. There is no time for messing around with God’s Word. My job (and anyone’s job who is gifted in speaking in ministry) is to speak God’s words after Him. Words that fit with the Scriptures. Words that accord with sound doctrine. Words that are Cross-Centered and communicate the Gospel.  Words that God can use in people’s lives as if they were His very own.

And of course, not everyone is a teacher. Many labor behind the scenes. Unsung heroes. Those gifts and ministries are just as important and must be done God’s way, as well. V.11 again.

“If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength that God provides...” Stop there for a second.

This is the way to avoid burn-out in ministry.

If God is the One burning in the bush, it is not consumed.  If God is the One burning in the servant, the Servant will not burn-out.

God’s strength for ministry. Not our own.

Use your gift, but use the Holy Spirit empowerment that comes with the gift to do ministry. Anything else will be virtually worthless. And you will suffer for it, too.

I have many times made the mistake of trying to do ministry in the strength that Matt Mitchell provides. Ugh. Don’t go there.

Answer: “If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides...”

How about you?

Are you using your gifts in ministry right now? Time is short, and Church is not a spectator sport. Everyone needs to get off the bench and use the grace that God has given us to serve others.

Right now, strangely enough, we need to be careful of being around each other.

But there are lots of ways to use our gifts in ministry that don’t require personal contact.

The point is that

Time is short. Live for God. The end of all things is near. So use your gift.


#4.  To MAGNIFY YOUR GOD.  V.11 again.

“[Use the strength God provides], so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

If we use God’s power for ministry, God will get the glory!  God will be praised if we use the gifts He gives with the energy He provides.

And that praise, glory, and dominion are the bottom line in life.

We exist for God’s glory.
We should live for God’s glory.
The end of all things is near so we should magnify the Glory of God!

This strange day that we live in is no different than the day Peter wrote this in this one thing, our ultimate aim should be to magnify the glory of God.

As the end draws near (and it is 2000 years nearer now than when Peter penned these words!), we should position our lives to maximize the magnification of God through Jesus Christ!

“Rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”

 “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Colossians 3:17:

 “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Cor 10:31

“So that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.  To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

Those are not just religious words! Those are words that describe ultimate reality.

God wants us to magnify His glory. Not like a microscope. Not making something small bigger. But like a telescope, making something unimaginably huge visible to the fallen human eye.

Are you living for the magnitude of God?

If God wants anything from you and me, that’s what He wants.

The chief goal of mankind is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.

Is your life a telescope of the glory of God?

So that He gets the praise, He gets the glory, He gets the power?

I have no idea where this virus will take us.

God only knows.

But He knows everything and is completely trustworthy.

What I do know is that no matter what time is short. The end of all things is near. It has been for 2,000 years.

But the glory of God through Jesus Christ lasts (v.11) “forever and ever. Amen.”