If Jesus told you exactly when He would return, what, if anything, would change in your life? Listen to Timothy “TA” Ateek walk through 1 Peter 4 and give five keys to living like the end is near.
When Life Is H.A.R.D. | 1 Peter 5:6-14
Who’s in Charge at Watermark? | 1 Peter 5:1-5
Trusting in the Suffering | 1 Peter 4:12-19
The End Is Near | 1 Peter 4:1-11
What Christ Accomplished Through His Death, Burial, and Resurrection | 1 Peter 3:18-22
Hope in Jesus on Display | 1 Peter 3:8-17
The Key to a Better Marriage | 1 Peter 3:1-7
God’s Identity, Calling, and Example for You | 1 Peter 2:13-25
How To Find The Right Church | 1 Peter 2:4-12
3 Indicators of Spiritual Growth | 1 Peter 1:22-2:3
Battling Spiritual Amnesia | 1 Peter 1:13-21
Praise in Present Suffering | 1 Peter 1:3-12
Remember Who You Are | 1 Peter 1:1-2
While we do not know specifically when Jesus is coming back, we must live as if it is imminent. 1 Peter 4 gives clear instruction to the church on how to be intentional in these last days. Are you all in with Jesus, or will you be caught off guard when He returns?
Good morning, Watermark. How are we doing today? It's good to see you. If this is your first time here, welcome. My name is Timothy Ateek. I'm one of the teaching pastors here, and it's a joy to get to be with you. I want to start by putting a thought in your mind. I want you to think about this. Imagine that door right there at the back opened and in walked Jesus Christ. Just imagine if today, this Sunday, Jesus Christ were to walk through that door. Yeah, that would be amazing. We're already applauding. That's great. I haven't even made my point yet, but that's good. I like it. Good energy, people. Keep it up.
I want you to imagine if he walked through that door. We're going to give him a microphone because he's Jesus and he deserves it. I don't need it if he's here. Just imagine this. What if Jesus walked in the room, we gave him a microphone, and he said this: "Hey, mark the calendar. One year from today, I'm coming back." Just imagine if he were to say, "Mark the calendar. April 2, 2024…you can count on it…365 days from now…8,760 hours from this moment…I'm coming back."
What do you think you would do? What would change? What would you start doing? What would you stop doing? What would rise to the top of your priority list? What would inevitably become inconsequential to you? What would change? I wonder if, for some of us, everything would change. I wonder if some of you would finally go all in with Jesus or you'd finally reconcile that broken relationship or you would finally begin to take steps toward freedom from sin or you would share your faith with that person who does not know the Lord.
I would imagine that, for many of us, so much would change. But if you look at the way we live now, we live as if Jesus is coming back someday, but it definitely won't be today. We live with the assumption, "He is coming back, but it's going to be someday far away. It certainly won't be today." Here's the reality: we have no clue when Jesus is coming back. The Scriptures are clear that we don't know the time or the hour.
Yet as we step back into the book of 1 Peter today, Peter's message to us is going to be "Live like the end is near." That's what his point is: live as if Jesus is coming back soon, because when you live like the end is near, it changes things. I mean, if you're a parent, isn't that your message to your kids right now? Spring break has passed. Spring fever has set in. So what's your message? "Hey, summer is coming. Hang on. You are going to make it."
I've already had those conversations with my kids. "Summer will be here before you know it." What is my message? "The end is near. Live with the end in mind." That's Peter's message to us today. We want to be a people here at Watermark who live with urgency, who live with a sense that Jesus is coming back someday, but it might not be a day far away; it could be today. So we want to live with the end in mind. We want to live as if the end is near.
If you have a Bible, turn with me to 1 Peter, chapter 4. This isn't a message about getting out your charts and timelines and analyzing everything going on in the world. It's not a message about going into hibernation or getting your apocalypse kit together. That's not what this message is about. This is a message about, when Jesus comes back, you being found faithful. Listen to what Peter says in chapter 4, verses 1-11.
"Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.
With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.
The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."
As we look at the text, we're going to observe five ways to live as if the end is near.
That's why I'm telling you to treasure God's will. You have to understand Peter is writing to a bunch of Christians who are being canceled in their culture because they're no longer willing to do what everyone else in society is doing. They're no longer going to the parties. They're no longer mixing drink with all sorts of sexually deviant behavior. Because of it, they are getting canceled. Peter is saying, "Look, guys. Jesus Christ is your example."
When Jesus Christ stepped onto earth, what was he bent on? Jesus Christ was bent on accomplishing the will of the Father. That's why we find Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane… On the night he is betrayed and arrested, what is he praying? Luke 22:42: "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done." Jesus Christ came to accomplish the will of the Father.
What was the Father's will? Isaiah 53 tells us it was the will of God to crush the Son.So, Jesus Christ, when he went to the cross, was enduring the wrath of God. He was making the impossible possible. He was making a way when there was no way for sinful, unrighteous, unholy, imperfect people, such as you and me, to be made right and be made into people who will spend all of eternity with a perfect, sinless, holy, righteous God. That is what Jesus was accomplishing. He was accomplishing the will of the Father, but it came through suffering.
Peter's point to his friends is "Arm yourselves." That's the wording he uses. He says, "Arm yourselves." That's military terminology. He's saying, "Hey, go to battle. Arm yourselves. Make a decision. Draw a line in the sand, even if it's going to mean suffering, even if people are going to look at you and cancel you for not doing what they do. Make a decision that today, and the rest of your life, you will live a 'Not my will but your will be done' life." That's the encouragement.
Do you want to live like the end is near? Then begin to resolve… Every day, draw a line in the sand and say, "God, today will be a 'Not my will but your will be done' day." I think Peter's wording in verse 3 is really important. He says, "For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry."
What's his point? He's saying, "Hey, you've given it enough time. It has been more than enough time that you have lived according to the will of the world. Put that behind you. Make a decision. Put sin to death. Let's no longer do the 'one foot in the world, one foot in with God.' Let's not straddle the fence. Let's not live in the gray areas. Let's go all in with Jesus." That's Peter's point. It has been long enough. One day outside of the will of God is one day too long.
He's saying, "Make a decision." Put sin to death, because you can't be intimate with sin and intimate with Jesus at the same time. You can't run toward sin and run toward Jesus, because they go in opposite directions. A.W. Tozer, a pastor and author in the early- to mid-1900s, said, "The first step for any Christian who is seeking spiritual power is to accept his unique position as a son of heaven temporarily detained on the earth, and to begin to live as becometh a saint."
He's saying you have to resolve in your mind that this isn't your home. You belong to heaven, but you're detained here for a period of time. So, spend your days living in "Not my will but your will be done." Do what is fitting for a saint. Let me give you a picture of what I'm talking about. Several years ago, we lived in Austin. I was a student pastor there, and one of my closest friends (his name is Jordan) had a Golden Retriever named Boone. He had basically programmed Boone to be a robot. This was the most well-behaved dog I had ever met in my life.
I asked Jordan to bring Boone to church to the high school ministry I was leading. Here's what I asked Jordan. There was a room of about 150 high school students. I said, "Jordan, do you think you could put Boone at the back of the room, tell him to stay, and then you go up onstage and tell him to come to you? But the catch is I am going to tell all 150 high school students to call for Boone and try to entice Boone to come to them. The only rule will be that they can't grab Boone or touch him." I was like, "Do you think he'll do it?" Jordan was like, "Yeah. I think he'll do it." I was like, "We'll see about that."
So, Jordan takes Boone to the back of the room. He's like, "Boone, stay." The fact that the dog just sat there… If you ever met the dog we used to have, you'd know TA can't do that. Anyway, Jordan goes up onstage, and I give the cue to all 150 high school students. I say, "Okay, go." So, 150 high school students are like, "Come here, Boone. Come here. Come here, Boone." People's voices go crazy when they're talking to animals. Who are we?
They're just… "Come here, Boone. Come here, Boone." Boone is just sitting there, looking at Jordan. Then Jordan goes, "Boone, come." And this is what Boone does. I kid you not. Boone gets down and starts creeping toward Jordan down the aisle. As Boone passes every single high school student going, "Come here, Boone," he's just creeping toward Jordan. Why? He has set his mind to accomplishing the will of his master.
What does Peter say happens when you do that? He says you have ceased from sin. Does that mean you live a perfect life? No. It just means that when you're committed to suffering in this world…meaning, you're willing to be ostracized for not doing what the rest of the world is doing…you have made a commitment to God that is far stronger than any commitment you could ever make to sin. The result is a holy life. So, if you want to live like the end is near, then first begin to treasure God's will. Live a "Not my will but your will be done" life.
People won't understand why you won't overpromise to potential clients just to win their business. People won't understand why you won't make promises you can't keep in order to get what you need. People won't understand why you refuse to gossip about other people. Peter speaks to that in verse 4. He says, "With respect to this…" With respect to what? With respect to not engaging in the sinful activity of the rest of the world.
"With respect to this they…" It's an unbelieving world. "…are surprised when you do not join them…" That word surprised means to think it's strange. That's interesting. People will think you are strange. "…when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you…" To malign means to heap abuse on a person. So, Peter is just speaking into these readers' lives, because they were wildly misunderstood.
Tacitus, who was an unbelieving Roman historian and politician… Here's how he described Christians. Remember, this is an unbelieving Roman politician and historian. He described Christians as having a hatred of the human race. Why? Because Christians were unwilling to do what the rest of humanity was doing. What was the rest of humanity doing? They were giving themselves to sensuality. They were getting drunk. They were engaging in all types of deviant sexual behavior. Not only that. There was a massive amount of idolatry.
They would deify the emperor. Revering the emperor as a deity at festivals was commonplace. When Christians wouldn't do that, Tacitus looked at them and said, "You have a hatred for the world." They were misunderstood. You will be misunderstood if you choose to go all in with Jesus. Peter speaks to it in verse 5. Just in case you're tempted to go back to the way things were before Christ, if you're tempted to have one foot in the world and one foot in with Jesus…
Peter says in verse 5, "…but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead." What's his point? Peter is saying to Christians, "You might feel like you're on the outside of society because you're being ostracized for your faith, but just remember that the people who feel like they're on the inside of society now will one day stand before Jesus, and they will have to give an account to Jesus."
The text says he's ready to judge the living and the dead. It continues to point us toward that thought that the end is near. We don't know when it is, but it is good and right to live like a day is coming where those who do not know Jesus will stand in God's courtroom and have to give an account. That's judicial terminology. The end is near. When they do stand before Jesus, when they see Jesus for who he truly is… Here's what we have to remember as Christians.
The lives we lived that unbelievers looked at as strange, in that moment, will seem like the sanest things in the world. Our lives will look like the sanest thing to an unbeliever who, during their time on earth, thought our activity was strange. When they see Jesus Christ, it will make perfect sense. Short-term gratification will one day lead to eternal shame and regret, so it's not worth it. Stay strong. Endure opposition when people don't understand why you do the things you do.
In verse 6, Peter goes on and says, "For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead…" Now, that's an interesting thing to say. How is the gospel preached to dead people? Peter is referring to Christians who had believed the gospel but had died. The reason he's speaking to this is unbelievers would look at the fact that Christians had died and say, "See? That's why there's no benefit to Christianity. Christians die just like everyone else. They experience judgment just like everyone else. Clearly, if they weren't experiencing judgment, then they wouldn't die."
Peter's point is this: though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does. Peter is saying, "Guys, take heart. Endure opposition. Don't lose hope. Make a decision. Draw a line in the sand. Set your gaze on Jesus. Live according to his will." Why? Because we all will die one day, but for those who know Jesus, death is the beginning of the life we have been longing for. Death is the gateway to paradise. It's the doorway to eternal life with God, beholding his glory and experiencing fullness of joy in his presence.
Let me explain it like this. When heaven is waiting, life on earth is a taste of hell, but when hell is waiting, life on earth is a taste of heaven. As believers, we can endure a taste of hell, knowing that we will feast for all of eternity on the beauty, the glory, and the goodness of Jesus Christ. But if hell is waiting, then you have to squeeze every drop of heaven you can during this life on earth, because this is the best it's going to get.
So, if you don't know Jesus, the invitation today is to come to him, to taste and see that he is good, to surrender your life to him, to turn from your life of sin, to turn toward him, to experience complete forgiveness, and to walk in newness of life. If you do already know him, the message to you is "Endure," because when death comes, we will all experience a monumental trade-up.
Peter's point is "Hey, sober up. See reality clearly. The end is near. Jesus will come back. He will come back. Because he will come back, live with crystal clarity. Allow that reality that Jesus will come back to shape what you do." If you know Jesus is coming back soon, you pray. A couple of weeks ago, someone asked this question, which I thought was a convicting question.
I'm going to ask you two questions right now. The first one is this: If somehow God were to send you a notification right now, if he were to send you a text or somehow let you know, "Hey, I've decided to answer every prayer you prayed over the last week," what would change? What would be impacted? That might be a convicting question. It's a clarifying question at best. It helps you see what priority prayer plays in your life.
If God were to say, "Hey, every prayer you prayed last week I'm going to answer," would there be any prayers to answer? If there were, are they the prayers that, now that you have clarity, you really wanted to be praying? It just helps you understand what role prayer plays in your life. But the question I really want you to think about is this: If you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus was coming back in a year, what prayers would you pray?
I think if we knew Jesus was coming back in 8,760 hours, prayer would become our top priority because we would want to be completely synced up with his heart. We would beg God for things. Just think about that really quickly. Even take a moment and write it down. I want to encourage you to do that. What is one prayer you would pray every day if you knew Jesus was coming back? Write it down. What would it be?
If that's what you would pray, why not pray it every day, because we don't know when Jesus is coming back. I know, for me, here's what I wrote down. I said I would beg God every day to save specific friends and family members. I would beg God to reveal himself to the unreached people groups in the world who have yet to hear the name of Jesus. I would beg God every day for revival in our city and to move through every church that proclaims the gospel.
I said I would beg God to hold me close, to destroy any idols in my heart that would seem horrific in his presence. I would beg him to keep sin far from me and to strip away any desires, values, or priorities that would seem so out of place in heaven. You might hear that and be like, "You're a pastor. You don't pray those things already?" I do. I just don't pray them with the urgency that I would if I knew Jesus was coming back. I don't pray them with daily urgency. I don't pray them with the consistency that I would if I knew Jesus was coming back, and that's convicting.
I don't know when Jesus is coming back. I'm living like Jesus is coming back someday, but it certainly won't be this day. So, I just encourage you. What would you pray? Why don't you start praying it? Martin Luther says, "As it is the business of tailors to make clothes and [the business] of cobblers to mend shoes, so it is the business of Christians to pray." That's our business. That's what we do. Christians pray. That is our work. If you want to know what the work of a Christian is, pray. Pray like the end is near.
"Above all…" He's circling, highlighting, underlining, asterisking. "This is what comes above everything else: love one another earnestly." But he clarifies what type of love he's talking about. He says, "Love one another earnestly, since love…" The love he's talking about is a love that covers over a multitude of sins. The love he's talking about is a love that endures wrongs. It's a love that doesn't give up when you're sinned against or when you're wronged. It's a love that can move right through that. It can forgive. It can pursue reconciliation.
So, love like the end is near. Here's what I want to ask you to do. You don't have to, but I want to invite you to close your eyes, because I want you to picture something. Closing your eyes might be the most helpful way to do that. I want you to picture standing in heaven before the throne of God, seeing God in all his glory, and you're surrounded by a countless number of people who are all worshiping God before his throne.
Just imagine this. Imagine experiencing fullness of joy. Your soul is satisfied in the presence of God like it never has before. You look to your right or your left, and there are those friends and family members who know Jesus, and they're worshiping God just like you are. So there's the enjoyment of being together, but your greatest satisfaction is beholding the glory of God together.
Now, here's what I want you to imagine. I want you to imagine looking around and seeing somebody and realizing, "Not everything is right between that person and me." Imagine feeling this abrupt halt to your worship, this awkwardness inside of you, like there was unresolved tension, like y'all had shut each other out of your lives.
Imagine how out of place that tension, that awkwardness, would feel between you and a brother or sister in Christ as you stand before the throne of God. God would never allow that into his presence. So I encourage you. Open your eyes. If there's anyone who comes to mind, if there's anyone in your life who you will struggle to stand next to and worship Jesus for all of eternity because there's unresolved conflict, deal with it now. Love like the end is near. Don't wait for heaven to resolve something between you and another brother or sister in Christ.
Paul puts it this way in Romans 12:18: "If possible…" That implies there are times where it's not possible. "If possible, so far as it depends on you…" Meaning, you do everything in your power. You can't control how the other person responds. You can only control what you do. "…live peaceably with all." Love like the end is near.
Verse 10: "As each has received a gift…" What is he talking about here when he says that every Christian has received a gift? He's talking about the concept of spiritual gifts. A spiritual gift is a gift God gives you when you trust in him. We're not talking about natural gifts or natural talents. We are actually talking about supernatural gifts or talents.
The reason I say they're supernatural is because you weren't born with them, and they're not something you just naturally developed. They became possible only when you put your trust in Jesus, because when you put your trust in Jesus, Jesus put his Spirit inside of you. So, God now lives in you by the presence of his Spirit, and the Spirit of God has given every single Christian at least one spiritual gift.
He says, "As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another…" This is clarifying. The Spirit of God has given you a gift, but that gift is not for you to be used for you. That gift was given to you to serve others. So, Peter's encouragement is this: "…as good stewards of God's varied grace…" You're a steward. It's not yours. You don't own the gift. You steward the gift. God cares what you do with the gift he has given you. You have a responsibility to fulfill.
Peter says in verse 11, "…whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God…" Peter says there are some gifts that involve speaking. Speak as if you're speaking the words of God. "…whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies…" Here's Peter's point: inside of you right now is a gift that has been given to build up and serve the church, so do not 2 percent the church, and do not 2 percent your gift.
You're like, "What are you talking about?" Well, I'm an Aggie. I went to Texas A&M University. We have terminology at A&M where we refer to Aggies who are not all in as Aggies as "2 percenting." So, if you never go to the football games, or you do go to the games, but you sit down instead of standing for the whole game, or if you leave early instead of seeing it all the way through, you are a 2 percenter. You don't buy the ring. You don't know the yells.
If you don't go all in, you're a 2 percenter. If you don't bleed maroon, which I guess we all do, but if you don't wear maroon, if you don't strongly consider maroon when you're choosing your next car, you're a 2 percenter. Peter's point is "Hey, now is not the time to 2 percent the church." This isn't some place that you just check in and out of maybe once or twice a month. This is a place to invest. God cares deeply about what we do when we come together, and he has given you a gift that this body needs.
God has given you a stewardship, and you have a responsibility to identify what your gift is. If you don't know what your spiritual gift is, go to watermark.org/spiritualgifts, and we will help you identify it. Go identify your gift, and then figure out how to use your gift to the fullest extent. That's why we want our members here at Watermark to serve. Not so you can check a box. It's so you can steward what God has given you.
Here's the ultimate goal. Look at how Peter finishes. "…in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ." That is why Watermark Community Church exists. It exists for the glory of God through Jesus Christ. It does not exist for us to feel really great about ourselves. It doesn't exist for people to be like, "Hey, have you been to Watermark Community Church? I really like their music. And have you seen their worship center? Man, I really like how they do this." No. Watermark exists for people to leave here and say, "Have you met Jesus Christ? Because there is no one like him. Come and behold the beauty of Jesus Christ."
That's why every Sunday morning exists: so we can put Jesus Christ on display and you can see him and surrender fully to life with him. Peter closes by saying, "To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." That's who glory belongs to. All of the praise belongs to Jesus. To him belongs dominion, which means he has the right to rule. That's our hope here at Watermark: that, today, Jesus Christ would get all the praise and would rule and reign in this place.
The concerning thing is that many of you are going to leave here and get in the car, and do you know what question you're going to ask your spouse or the person you came with? "What did you think?" That's a consumeristic question. "What did you think?" What are you implying? "Hey, did you get anything out of today? Did you like the music? Did you like the message?" That's the wrong question to be asking.
The right question for you to ask of yourself is "Did Jesus get the glory and dominion in my life today? When I came to church, did Jesus get all the praise? Did Jesus Christ rule and reign in my heart as I worshiped today?" Then you should ask the question of the church collectively. "Did Jesus Christ get the praise? Did Jesus Christ rule and reign at Watermark Community Church today?" That is why we exist. Now is not the time for us to 2 percent the church.
Serve the church as if the end is near. Treasure God's will. Endure opposition. Pray, love, and serve the church like the end is near. The reality is we don't have the luxury of Jesus Christ walking through those doors and saying, "Hey, mark the calendar. April 2, 2024, I am coming back." He is coming back one day, but as I've already said, our tendency is to believe he's coming back one day and that day is a long way away.
But someday, it's going to become today. Some generation is going to be wrong. Every generation has said, "One day he's coming back," but some generation has to be wrong, and ultimately, a day is coming where it will be a true statement. "Today is the day Christ is coming back." May we not be the generation that is wrong. May we live today and every day as if the end is near.
If you're here this morning, and you don't have a relationship with Jesus Christ, I just want you to hear the words of Augustine. He said, "They, then, who are destined to die need not be careful to inquire what death they are to die but into what place death will usher them." Do you have a relationship with Jesus Christ?
Have you come to a place where you have realized that when Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross, he was being punished for all of your sins, and when he rose from the dead, it was a declaration that his payment for your sins was sufficient, so that when you turn from your sin and turn to Jesus Christ in faith, you are made right with God now and for all of eternity? If you don't know him, the invitation to you now is to trust in him, to know him. Don't wait for "one day" to figure it out. Today is the day of salvation. Today is the best day to begin walking with Jesus Christ. Let's pray together.
Lord Jesus, I thank you that a day is coming where you will come back. We don't know the day or the time. We don't know the hour of that day, but I pray that we would live like it'll be soon. Even if it's hundreds of years from today, I pray that we would live like it's soon. May there be an urgency in our bones to draw a line in the sand, to go all in with you, to treasure your will above any other will. God, would you help us to endure opposition when people don't understand the lives we live? I pray that we would pray. Teach us how to pray, Lord God.
Help us to love one another. If there are any broken relationships between brothers or sisters in Christ in this room, I pray that healing would come today, Lord God. I pray that we would be all in with the church. I pray that Watermark would be a place where people identify their God-given gifts and use them to build up the body. Guard us from making church about us. Our gifting in this church is about your glory and your dominion, God. So, Jesus, would you rule and reign in our hearts and minds today and every day? We need you. We love you. In Jesus' name, amen.