We Have Work To Do
There is still much work that needs to be done:
Here is my question: why does the Lord not return sooner? Many of us are so very much longing for the Lord’s return and praying for it. After all, it is referred to as “our blessed hope” (Titus 2:13). Yet Christians for 2000 years now have been looking forward to his return, and it still remains a future reality.
What follows is my somewhat roundabout way of seeking to answer that question, in part by speaking about some dreams I sometimes have. But let me preface this a bit further by saying that we should not put too much stock in dreams – at least in terms of any sort of infallible divine counsel.
Yes, God certainly has spoken to his people in the past through dreams. Scripture records many cases of this. So while I am not making any claim whatsoever that the dreams I have are any sort of divine word, I do usually take note of certain dreams I have had – especially recurring ones – asking God if there is anything I should take heed about.
Let me speak to one sort of dream I have now and then, and look at a few possible spiritual lessons that can be drawn from it. I sometimes dream that a house we have been painting (and yes, I used to be a house painter), is nearly finished, but a room or two remains to be done.
Sometimes in the dream it is a rather large building, or has many rooms in it, and it has been quite some time that we have been working on it, yet it is not yet fully finished. I see the need to complete the job, and seek to get it done – either by myself or with others.
That’s it: a short and simple dream. But what might it mean? As I think and pray about it, one clear answer seems to emerge, and it has two aspects. First, I personally may yet have more work to do before Christ calls me home, or until he comes again. I may be getting real sick of this sinful world, and I may pray daily that the Lord comes quickly, but if God still has tasks for me to perform, then I best get busy in doing them.
As evil seems to be coming in like a flood, I so often am asking Jesus to come quickly. That is a biblical prayer to pray, and many others are doing the same. See more on this here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2016/05/22/come-quickly-lord-jesus/
But we can pray for this while we also keep going in what we must do. And so a second way to look at this dream is that it can equally apply to the whole church of God. The message of my dream may apply to the entire Body of Christ as well. Christ knows when he is coming back, but we may collectively have more work to do until then. Thus we must keep on keeping on.
Our work and the endtimes
In a certain parable Jesus said that we are to ‘occupy till he comes’ (Luke 19:13 KJV). We are to be busy doing the things God has called us to do until he does return. We are not to pack our bags, sit back with our feet put up, and just wait around until the Parousia takes place. We are to be busy with Kingdom work now and right up to his coming.
Regardless of our particular eschatology and our view of the endtimes, we have a job to do, and we best be doing it. I have written on this often before, eg.: https://billmuehlenberg.com/1999/04/08/end-times-and-christian-responsibility/
Jesus made it clear that no one knows when exactly he will return. But there are various passages that seem to suggest that we have at least some role to play here. The most well-known passage on this is Matthew 24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
So that seems to be a bit of a qualification as to his coming. If so, there remains a lot of work to be done. Plenty of people have NOT heard the gospel yet. As but one possible application of this, we can consider the issue of Bible translation. Many people groups still do not have the Scriptures in their own language. One recent report on this put it this way:
Efforts to translate the Bible into more languages across the world are accelerating, despite the pandemic. Wycliffe Bible Translators says 717 languages now have a full Bible translation – almost ten percent of the number of languages spoken in the world. That’s an increase of 13 languages on the previous year. While one in five people are still waiting for the Bible in their own language, Wycliffe says that one new translation was launched every week during the pandemic. https://premierchristian.news/en/news/article/bible-translated-into-more-languages-than-ever-before-despite-the-pandemic
We cannot say with any certainty that all peoples must have the Bible in their own tongue before Christ returns. But at the very least, much work remains for all Christians. As Joshua 13:1 famously states, “there remains yet very much land to be possessed”.
As stated, one cannot put too much weight on dreams, yet God can speak to us through them. And if my recurring dream is even somewhat from God, that means I and the church have more work to do. So the question we must ask ourselves is this: Are we doing all that God has called us to do?
Sure, I keep praying daily that Christ returns – and soon. But I must also pray that I am found faithful when he does return. So no slacking off now – we must work while the day is still light (John 9:4). Regardless of how evil the times seem to be, let us press ahead and complete the task. Or to use my dream imagery, let’s keep painting until the entire house is completed.
A quick comment on an objection that some Christians might raise here. Some might say if Christ comes real soon, what about all those who have not heard the gospel? Should we not then stop praying for a speedy return? Two quick replies come to mind.
One, yes it is true that every day that the Lord does not return is another day of grace – another day for people to come to Christ. And 2 Peter 3:9-10 does speak to this: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.”
Two, this cuts both ways. Every day that the Lord does not return, some folks will die in their sins. We do not know how the numbers work, but let’s say that Christ will return in 25 years. In that time countless folks will be born, and x number of them will come to Christ.
However it is also true that in those 25 years countless folks will be born and x number of them will NOT come to Christ. How many of each we do not know. But to say that the longer the Lord tarries, the more people will get saved is only half the story. It is also the case that the longer the Lord tarries, the more people will not get saved!
Regardless of that hypothetical, we all should be sharing the gospel with others, regardless of whether Christ comes back tomorrow or next century.
10 Replies to “We Have Work To Do”
I know this won’t be popular, and im not here to argue this point, but re the bibles teaching on election, would it be possible that Christ will return when the complete number of the chosen has been redeemed?
Sounds OK to me George.
Thank you…I am reminded of an order given to an English officer who was assigned to capture a vital bridge in Normandy on D-Day. Once the bridge was secured, he was told to “hold until relieved” – so I guess that is our task – to be ready and sober with faith in our Lord Jesus Christ until that great day arrives…
Thanks for that Edgar.
As far as dreams are considered, I think that they are to be considered as long as they agree with scripture. Regarding Matthew 24;14, I don’t have an answer about how that will play out. Like several,(many) things in God’s revealed word, I have to accept that I will only know as much as God has allowed me to know.-“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). Maybe I take a simplistic view but I just go with the marching orders that God has given us, the last directive that Jesus gave before he ascended into Heaven, Matthew 28:19-20 -19. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Bill, your recurring dream about the painting of your house reminded me of a similar dream of mine.
Many times over the last few years my recurring dream consists of me trying to get to the airport to catch a plane.
There were always incidents that forced me to miss my flight every time. Mainly to do with the packing of my suitcase. Searching for something I wanted to take that I couldn’t find (which turned into what seemed like hours), or holdups in traffic etc. ultimately causing me to miss my flight.
Just last night I had the dream once again, but this time I was actually on the plane! Sitting in my seat, but waiting for take-off. The Captain announced the flight would only take 3hrs now due to this particular aircraft. As I read about your dream I thought about a word the Lord revealed to me yesterday whilst praying for Premier Andrews and his diabolical Bill being passed.
Part of the word revealed: “The day of the Lord is at hand and nearer than you think. Prepare hearts in readiness. To look to Him. To not concentrate on what’s going on around you but to spend more time in His presence interceding for the lost.”
Actually being on the plane and the travel time reduced, reveals to me that His coming could be nearer than we think! That’s why it is so important “To be about our Father’s business”
(Luke 2:49) and of course the Great Commission Matt.28:19 as another person mentioned. But also confirms your blog title “WE HAVE WORK TO DO. There is still much work that needs to be done!”
God bless you Bill and thank you for your continued teachings and relevant information in today’s evil world.
Many thanks Carolyn. Yes I have had dreams about rushing to get to the airport, or missing a flight, etc. And keep praying for this satanic bill which is still being debated in parliament after a mammoth all-nighter!
Dreams can mean funny things. Skinny cows eating fat ones ??? (Gen 41:4)
The dream could mean you have work to do in the world or it could mean you have work to do on your own house or it could mean something completely different. It could even mean that back room you never managed to get to could really do with a coat.
I don’t believe you can trust sources that claim this thing in a dream means such and such. I believe, if we think a dream has significance, the only way to know for sure is to seek the Lord and my experience is that He then directs you to scripture, which we all in the West now have good access to. You may find He opens up scripture in a way you haven’t seen before. I think The Holy Spirit enjoys doing this.
As to those who have not heard; the Thessalonians had a similar issue with their ancestors who had not had a chance to hear the Gospel. Paul addresses this issue in 1 Thes 4:15 but, personally, I think most translations somewhat miss the point. When translations say “will not preceed” or “will not prevent” they miss the implication that the Greek word “phthasomen” is literally referring to “preceeding” in a similar way to our English term “priority”. We naturally understand that giving priority to someone does not necessarily relate to a time sequence even though this is the origin of the term – prior means “before” but priority means “given preference.”
I believe Paul is essentially referring to the concept of how we sometimes treat some people with greater importance than others and what Paul was reassuring the Thessalonians with was the understanding that God is just and does not give priority or precedence or preference to certain people and not to others.
The “HELPS Word-studies” section actually refers to the “priority” aspect of the term.
Yes the term literally means “preceed” but the figuritive implication is people preceed because they are considered more important but Paul is saying, with God, this is not the case. I believe it may perhaps have been better translated as “…those of us who remain will not have priority over those who have gone before” but clearly it is one of those scriptures we have had difficulty translating perfectly.
Thanks Edgar. I often think similarly. I have never been a soldier but I imagine a good soldier, one who has been in several engagements, knows when a battle is lost yet he continues to fight till his commander, Sgt or officer, tell him to retreat. We are in the same position in that we can see how this particular battle, the battle for the West, is going but we must fight till OUR commander, Jesus, calls us away.
It’s easy to fight when your side is winning the battle and has superior force on the ground what is hard is fighting when you are losing the battle and have fewer troops on the ground. (we may OVERALL have larger numbers but most are NOT on the ground right now.) SILENT majorities are minorities! I’ve waited nearly 30 years I can wait, and fight, more.