A Survey on How to Live the Christian Life and Prepare for the Tribulation


The purpose of this examination is to help prepare the believer for the tribulation, the most challenging time that humanity will have ever experienced. Therefore, this work is not a study of the tribulation itself but rather a survey on the preparations and changes the believer will need to make for that most strenuous period ahead.

Luke 21:36 (NASB)

36 But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

1. The Tribulation-What it is

The Greek word for tribulation is θλῖψις, thlipsis, and describes great affliction, persecution, and distress, and that is what this time of great suffering will be. Furthermore, Scripture outlines these seven years as a time of extreme judgment and punishment for unbelievers and a time of discipline and testing for believers.

Matthew 24:21

For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be

Mark 13:19 (NIV)

19 because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again.

Jeremiah 30:5-7 (KJV)

5 For thus saith the Lord; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. 6 Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? 7 Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it.

The book of Revelation gives us the best descriptions we have of the “time of Jacob’s trouble.” Mathew 24 also sheds light on the events to come, so the reader is encouraged to visit Revelation, Matthew, Isaiah, and other Old Testament books. It is very clear from those passages that those days will be the worst that the earth has ever seen, so horrific that not even the word “horrific” is sufficient to describe this awful period. Believers will have to face the most challenging test of their faith they will ever experience. Whether this is in reeling from the after-effects of the trumpet and bowl judgments, the pressures to give up and throw faith away entirely and take the mark of the beast, or the great persecution in which the most horrific spiritual and physical attack on believers will take place. The burdens and hardships will be many, the oppression so great that “had those days not been cut short, no flesh of any believers would have survived.”

Matthew 24:22 (NIV)

22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.

1.1 Reasons for the Tribulation-Unbelievers

So what is the point of there being a tribulation? Why would God allow such a terrible time to occur on the earth that He created? Scripture does answer these questions. The tribulation’s primary purpose is God judging the world for its wickedness by cleansing it of its sinful inhabitants. A similar judgment occurred during the days of Noah when God sent the flood to wipe out the evildoers of that time for the sake of purifying the earth.

Genesis 6:5-8

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

As history has progressed, humanity has become more and more evil, and while the iniquity of the earth increases, so does the wrath and punishment of God. This fact helps to explain why the tribulation will be so disturbing.

1.2 Believers

Why would God allow believers to have to go through the most terrible time the earth will have ever known? We are His children, He loves us, and we are precious in His sight, so why would we not be spared from “that great hour of testing?” If God is judging the earth, why would believers be present and during a time when God is unleashing His wrath like never before? The answer itself has to do with love; for God to put us through such a period is an act of mercy and graciousness on His part. But why put believers through this process? What is the reason, and what do we have to do with all this? Revelation 3:7-10 and 3:14-20 help answer these questions.

Revelation 3:7-13 (NIV)

7 “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. 8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. 10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.

Contrast the passage above with the one below.

Revelation 3:14-20 (NIV)

14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: 15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, 18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.

Though they were physical churches during the apostles’ time, the seven churches mentioned in Revelation represent seven eras of time in our context, specific periods of the church age. Laodicea is our current era, the one we live in now, and the one which also happens to be listed last in the Lord’s messages to the churches. The other church, Philadelphia, is now past, has been for quite some time but was spared from “a great hour of testing.” This “hour” refers to the tribulation. The Lord spared the Philadelphians from that period because of their greater zeal and pursuit of the Lord and His truth despite having fewer resources than our current Laodicean era. They had only a “little strength,” less time, opportunity, and resources to search the Scriptures and minister it to others, and yet despite having less of almost everything, they seem to have accomplished more with what little they had. Not so with Laodicea, though that is not to say there aren’t believers doing what they should be doing today. Instead, the majority of today’s Christians are complacent toward God’s Word, not on fire for it the way they should be, and this is why the Lord commands these believers to “become zealous and repent,” repentance which means a change of mind which results in a change of action.

Unfortunately, most believers aren’t answering the “door,” for our Lord is ever knocking to get our attention to bring us into a closer and more intimate relationship with Him. And so, for the above reasons, the Lord will “vomit us out of His mouth” in that He will not spare us from having to go through that gruesome period known as the tribulation.

1.3 Biblical Proof that Believers will go Through the Tribulation

In addition to Revelation 3:7-13 and 14-20 above, there are verses in the Bible that speak of the timing of the tribulation. One must handle them carefully, as this is not a doctrine one wants to get wrong, especially considering how dangerous it will be for many who have fallen for the false doctrine of the “pre-trib rapture.”

2 Thessalonians 2:1-4

Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, 2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.

Revelation 12:4 (NASB)

4 And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.

Matthew 24:10-13 (ESV)

10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

This terrible falling away mentioned in the passages above refers to the great apostasy where one-third of believers will depart from the faith and take the mark of the beast. The stars of heaven swept away by the beast’s tail represent fallen angels and believers, which means the verse has a dual application. Just as how Satan led one-third of angelic kind into apostasy when he rebelled against God, so too, he will lead astray one-third of those who once belonged to Christ through the faith they once professed.

The “man of lawlessness” is the antichrist, whose revealing occurs at the mid-point in the second half of the tribulation when he breaks his peace pact with Israel, ends the temple rites, and sets up the abomination that causes spiritual desolation in the temple court. Next is the great persecution of believers after his revealing, and it is believers who must be present for persecution to occur.

The phrase “To the effect that the day of the Lord has come” mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:2b, refers to the second advent, the Lord’s second and final coming, also referred to as the “revelation of Jesus Christ,” and it is this revelation that we as believers eagerly await. It is through this same “revelation” that our dear Lord will be revealed to us during His second advent when He comes to destroy the armies of antichrist assembled at Jerusalem at the battle of Armageddon.

1 Corinthians 1:7 (NASB)

7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, it is of utmost importance that all believers heed the Lord’s message to Laodicea to “become zealous and repent” to be ready for those dreadful days ahead. Sadly, most will not do this until the tribulation’s actual commencement, for if they did, then the discipline of the kind that entails the tribulation would not be necessary. Thankfully, most believers will get their act together when they absolutely must, but duty calls now! Because of this reality, most Christians now and in the future that do find themselves in those horrible times will be largely unprepared to face the testing and persecution, which is to come. But for those serious about their walk with Jesus and the truth of His Word, the Bible, its doctrines, and teachings, there are further steps we can take to prepare us for those yet future times. These “aspects of preparation” we will now turn our attention to for the rest of this study.

1.4 Preparing for the Tribulation

Despite most believers being unprepared for the significant testing the Lord will allow them to go through, the majority will endure this challenging period, albeit many with difficulty, and some perhaps just barely by the skin of their teeth. Even that being the case, this was no excuse for them not to have prepared ahead of time. For the journey into the heavenly kingdom through the tribulation would have been much easier had they been more serious about their walk by building up their faith in advance.

Jude 20-21 (NASB)

20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.

Psalm 119:11 (ESV)

11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

We should be storing up our faith like the ant, which stores up food for the brutal winter, just as believers should be storing up faith for the difficult tribulation to come.

Proverbs 6:6-11 (KJV)

6 Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: 7 Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, 8 Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. 9 How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? 10 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: 11 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.

We should be building up our faith, analogous to Noah building the ark to carry him through the flood God sent to punish the unbelieving world. Believers will need a solid built “ark of faith” to take them through the “flood” of the tribulation.

Hebrews 11:7 (ESV)

7 By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

We should be storing up our faith like the wise virgins in Mathew 25:1-13. The above passages make very clear and exhort so strongly the necessity for stored faith at all times. We call this “redeeming the time,” accomplished by committing as much of our time as possible to our relationship with and service to God.

2. Throwing off all that Hinders

Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,

Many things in this world can hinder the believer and prevent them from preparing for the great test that is to come. Time prevents us from examining all the dangers and distractions this world harbors, but the world is only getting worse and will not change until the Lord’s return. But the believer must change! This transformation can only occur in God’s power, for without Him, we could do nothing. God works within us to will and do according to His good pleasure, though our responsibility as believers still requires faith and obedience.

Among the first things that need to change for the believer is their approach to life. Of course, it should be evident to anyone who professes Christ that sin and any hindrance this world presents should be thrown out of their lives in that they no longer live for them, but a big concern that leads to ridding ourselves of this sin is our inner attitude. There are many aspects of a believer’s attitude which may keep them from living a more vibrant life for the Lord, and it is some of these things which we will briefly examine. Under the category of the word “attitude” lies many character qualities that human beings can and do possess; having free will at all times means we can choose to be who the Lord wants us to be at any given moment.

For example, through a zealous attitude for the Lord, we can be humble, loving, kind, zealous, obedient, etc. On the other hand, we can choose to be complacent through a lukewarm attitude, lazy, disinterested, proud, indifferent, etc. It is only by having a non-compromising mentality stemming from a loving heart to the Lord that we can abstain from the things of this world to grow better and prepare us to live the righteous life God wants us to walk.

1 John 2:15-17 (KJV)

15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.

To change and pursue the Lord without turning back, we believers need to have our priorities straight, which means that the Lord comes before everything else.

Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV)

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Revelation 3:14-20 (NIV)

14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: 15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, 18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.

The Greek word for “repent” in the passage above is metanoeo (μετανοέω), which means to change one’s mind. But this “change of mind” must accompany a change of action or course in the believer’s life; otherwise, repentance did not occur. The person in question who is going to God for repentance has to want to change in that their prayer is genuine and without deceit, meaning they have every idea to allow God to turn their life around. They WANT to change, and through true repentance, will do so. That is what believers of this current church age of Laodicea need to do; that is why our Lord strongly encourages it.

3. Our Purpose

God created us for a purpose. But since today’s believers don’t seem interested in pursuing that intent that God has for them, then the Lord will send us into the tribulation as a way to get our attention, and this will divide those who are genuinely committed to Him or not. Thus, two options will remain during those times: apostasy or continued belief, trusting the Lord Jesus for deliverance to the very end, whatever His will for our final years on this earth may be.

Titus 2:11-14 (NIV)

11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

How can a believer “throw off all that hinders” while working for the perishing “food” of this life (John 6:26-29)? How can we “declare the Lord’s praise” when our focus is not even on Him but the world? How can a believer rid themselves of the “sin that so easily entangles” when they allow the “distractions and worries” of this life to choke their faith, faith that is to be stored and built up necessary to grow? How can a believer store up faith for the times ahead if they are storing up earthly treasures? How can they present their bodies as a living sacrifice if they have offered most of their time and efforts to the world?

Matthew 13:22 (NASB)

22 And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

6. The Process of Preparation and How it is Done - Spiritual Growth, Progress, and Production

As we have touched on above, having the right attitude, a mindset of repentance and zeal, and great love for God, is the first step in our continued spiritual journey as believers, the precursor to spiritual progress and production. For without the right attitude, growth, along with the following steps, would be stunted. Developing the right mindset comes first for the believer who desires to grow and please His master to the highest possible degree. Repentance starts with a change of heart and mind.

However, by itself, a proper attitude toward God cannot be implanted without going through the process that shows a person’s change of mind to be genuine. For a right attitude to be godly, it has to manifest itself through obedience, something not possible to do without the process of spiritual growth. The change of attitude comes first through repentance, which results in a shift in action, not an automatic operation without some effort from the believer. Action requires the believer to do something, and that is to exercise faith. We obey through faith, for “without faith, it is impossible to please God.” Just as believers were saved by “grace through faith alone,” only by faith through repentance, that is, a change of mind or attitude that results in a shift in action through obedience, are we able to do anything for the Lord. All this to say that if we as believers want to shake off Laodicea’s lukewarm attitude, we must come to God with a mind ready to change so that we may prepare our minds for action.

1 Peter 1:13-15 (NASB)

13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;

Knowing our status and identity in Christ will help us stay focused on our mission. This mission has not changed, isn’t going anywhere in fact, and will be with us till the day we exit this world and meet our dear savior face to face. Living for Christ does not mean living for ourselves, but rather for our heavenly father, who we claim we love so much (Galatians 2:20).

Ephesians 6:5-8 (KJV)

5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; 6 Not with eyeservice, as men pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; 7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: 8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

But believers have a responsibility for this process of growth, progress, and production to work. Through our God-given free will, we must choose to trust, obey, and follow Christ at all times, a process that requires discipline and dedication through our free will choices. These things will constitute our discussion on the first step in this process, spiritual growth. As for the other two categories mentioned, we will consider them later in their order.

Growth, progress, and production are simple terms (I owe these descriptions and their proper order to Dr.Luginbill of Ichthys.com) to describe what we are discussing here, and these aspects never stop this side of eternity, for they continue as long as we are alive. Therefore, our listing of these processes is not meant to be comprehensive, boxed in definitions.

Let us strive all the more to make our “calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10) by putting our renewed minds into action through dedicated spiritual growth. God called us to righteousness, so we prepare spiritually, not just to be ready for the tribulation, to survive it with faith intact, but mainly to demonstrate our love for God in this life through all our decisions. Christ showed His love for us, so let us as His servants do the same as well.

Romans 5:8 (NASB)

8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

6.1 Spiritual Growth

The way to obedience and righteous living is through spiritual growth, a process accomplished by reading, understanding, believing, and applying the Word of God.

Hebrews 6:1 (NASB)

6 Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,

2 Peter 3:18 (KJV)

18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.

Three things need examining in our brief survey of spiritual growth. These aspects include prayer, bible reading, and good solid Bible teaching.

A. Prayer

Prayer is direct communication with God, and it is the believer’s way of corresponding to Him. Therefore, it is an absolute must in the life of the Christian because it is through this form of communication in which we accomplish the following things:

1. Confessing our sins- We confess our sins to God as a way of restoring our fellowship to Him and getting back under the safety and control of His spirit. That occurs when we err or stumble in our walk.

1 John 1:9 (KJV)

9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

2. Asking to receive- There are many things we as believers could ask from the Lord. They could be anything from deliverance from or through a temptation or through a difficult trial, strength, greater faith, and the list go on and on. Time and space do not permit us to go through all the possibilities; there are very many indeed, but whatever we ask for that is in the Lord’s will for us to have, He will graciously give it to us.

1 John 5:14-15 (KJV)

14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

3. Praising and worshipping God- We can praise the Lord through prayer, as praise and worship are not limited to singing, for there are many ways believers can do this.

Psalm 92:1 (NIV)

It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High,

Whatever the reason for prayer may be, it’s crucial in the Christian’s walk. We often go to God for comfort; during difficult times, we go to Him for strength; in times of joy, we go to Him in praise and worship. We go to Him for forgiveness, requests, and or to talk with our best friend in life. Also remarkable about all this is that we can pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ and others’ salvation.

Regarding what it has to do with our spiritual growth, prayer keeps us walking closer with God. God speaks to us through His Word—we talk to Him through prayer. It keeps us in touch with the Lord, and through this communication, shields us from the dangers that threaten our faith. Through a prayer of faith, we can overcome any obstacles we encounter.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Luke 22:46 (ESV)

46 and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

Ephesians 6:18 (NIV)

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

James 5:13 (NASB)

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises.

Colossians 4:2 (ESV)

2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

Philippians 4:6 (NASB)

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Therefore, one could say that through prayer, we apply God’s truth in our lives, asking Him to make what we read real and valuable to us. It prepares us to understand and believe what we read, but it also aids us when we need to apply it. Bible reading with no prayers of faith will be useless in the end if we do not believe what we are reading and practice it when we need to. Prayer is what helps us to stay connected to the Lord, crying out to Him for whatever we need. And if we trust in Him, believing that He has heard our cry for help and will not fail to deliver us, we will overcome whatever we face.

B. Bible Reading

So crucial and needed in the believer’s life is the absolute necessity to get in God’s Word and read it for oneself. The Bible is the complete written revelation of Jesus Christ, containing all things true, who God is, His plan, His purpose, and His desire. Through His inspired Word, He reveals to us our goal and objective in this world.

In scripture, we see the creation of all that exists. We see how man came about, populated, and spread across the earth, and formed civilizations. We see how sin came into existence, how God planned and then carried out His plan in redeeming humanity from the penalty of sin. In the entire process, He unwraps the extraordinary character and perfection of Himself, revealing His justice, mercy, love, kindness, sovereignty, graciousness, power, eternity, and the list goes on and on. Jesus Christ is everything! His Word has everything believers need. Speaking of believers, why would we not want to avail ourselves to the Bible? The Bible is God’s primary way of communicating to us as believers and growing us toward maturity. Without truth, believers have nothing by which to grow. Therefore, reading the Bible on one’s own is necessary for a servant of Christ to carry out their mission.

Scripture is so important to us as believers on so many levels. One could go on and on about just how critical it is for a Christian to live and function properly. For those recently saved and living under challenging circumstances and parts of the world, the Lord will not fail to provide a way for the believer to access His truth. His Word will be graciously supplied in whatever marvelous, or perhaps, in this case, mysterious way He chooses to bring it about. God will provide all our needs, and what greater need does a believer have to have other than the Bible (Psalm 119:105)! Scripture is the spiritual food by which we live this new life we have been given through our profession of Christ by our faith in the person and work of the Son of God.

Philippians 4:19 (ESV)

19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

If we love God as much as we claim we do, then that love will manifest itself in how we treat and handle the truth. Are we interested in what the Bible has to say, not only in reading it but in applying it and making it into our lifestyle as well? Are we searching it carefully, handling it with accuracy to come to sound conclusions?

2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)

15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Considering our topic, “preparing for the tribulation,” there is no better way to do so than to grow up in the Word unto maturity, heeding its commands, reading all that it has to say, and treasuring it in our hearts.

Psalm 119:11 (NIV)

11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

Our hearts are our spiritual “barn,” and the crop stored in them is the spiritually rich food of God’s Word. Let us not forget what occurred in Egypt during Joseph’s time, how the great seven-year famine, representing the seven-year tribulation, ravaged the land (Genesis 41:28-57).

The time we have before the commencement of the most terrible time ever to occur is so short, which is why we need to store up the food of God’s truth in our hearts. This spiritual food is good for us because it transforms, alerts, empowers and strengthens us. Consider, for example, an individual who has not had much to eat for a long while, how tired, weak, and weary they must feel! We do not want to go into the tribulation spiritually malnourished.

Matthew 4:4 (KJV)

4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

We live by God’s truth, walking in the power of it, made possible through the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it should be our absolute goal to study, seek, and absorb it as much as possible.

Matthew 22:37 (NIV)

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

Isaiah 40:8 (ESV)

8 The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.

God’s Word will abide forever, and we, as His children, will live with Him for all eternity. Therefore, let us strive to let God’s truth, food that will never perish, remain in us. As Christ’s eternal possessions, we have passed from death unto life and shall never pass away. So too, with God’s revelation given to us through the Bible. All the promises of Scripture are true, and we will experience their realities when we share them with Christ in His eternal kingdom forever.

Matthew 24:35 (KJV)

35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

John 6:27 (ESV)

27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”

C. The Importance of Learning and Knowing the Word

There are so many things that Scripture reveals to us. If we want to apply the Word in our lives, having that same truth to use in our hearts is crucial. Understanding God’s Word is critical and necessary for us to know if we will be motivated to obey the Lord and live out His commands. Below is a list, though in no way meant to be comprehensive, of some of the most important things that the Bible reveals to us, things necessary for us to know to prepare ourselves to negotiate through this world safely. The points we will focus on address believers, not unbelievers, since our discussion pertains to spiritual growth. The Bible reveals many things; for the unbeliever, man’s purpose (to choose for or against God through free will), the wages and penalty of sin, the need for a Savior, and the way unto eternal life through God’s plan of salvation. These are things that believers already know and should have accepted in their lives.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (KJV)

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

1. Scripture reveals God’s plan and purpose for the believer, His intent for those who belong to Him.

Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 1:11-12 (ESV)

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

2. Scripture reveals what needs to change in the believer’s life.

2 Peter 3:18 (KJV)

18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.

Hebrews 6:1-2 (NASB)

Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.

1 Peter 2:1-3 (NIV)

2 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Galatians 5:19-25 (ESV)

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.

3. Scripture reveals how we can implement that change in our lives and grow spiritually by winning the spiritual battle against the things that wage war against us (Ephesians 6:10-18).

Galatians 5:16-18 (NKJV)

16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

2 Peter 1:5-8 (NASB)

5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Bible also encourages believers to make the most of their time through the power of motivation. Jesus should be our number one incentive, as our love for Him should spurn us on to continue going about the tasks He wants us to carry out. The prospect of eternal rewards awaiting those who have painstakingly earned them should empower and encourage our spirits to thrust forward in our Christian walk all the more aggressively.

Matthew 5:12 (ESV)

12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

To our current church era, consisting of believers alive today, we have the passages below, which are most applicable when discussing the power of motivation.

Revelation 3:21-22 (NKJV)

21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Revelation 22:12-14 (KJV)

12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. 14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

Worth noting is that though they may have come just short of living a wasted life, all believers will be rewarded with eternal life itself and for all good works of spiritual fruit they produced with their time on earth. Every believer who enters the kingdom will have something to show for their time on earth.

For more information on eternal rewards and the three crowns of reward for believers to win, please see How Believers are Defined - The Worth, Value, and Potential of Every Member of Christ’s Church.

Scripture reveals to us how we can allow change in our lives. It also uses motivation through promised blessings to encourage us to push ahead. The Bible shows us the benefits of continued spiritual growth, progress, and production. It also warns us against the many negatives in failing to grow, the other side of our “coin of motivation.” Scripture so very clearly warns us of the consequences of abusing our salvation. Though many lukewarm believers today will endure and make it safely to the heavenly kingdom, complacency always runs the risk of more serious spiritual damage. This damage may be so severe that its results may produce pre-mature physical death, or even worse than that, apostasy resulting in eternal separation forever and ever. The warning passages below are just a few of the many verses in the Bible that admonish us to continue in the Christian life by warning us of the consequences of falling away.

Hebrews 2:3 (KJV)

3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;

2 Peter 3:17-18 (KJV)

17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

1 Timothy 1:18-20 (NIV)

18 Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, 19 holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith. 20 Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.

4. Finally, in our non-comprehensive list, Scripture reveals to us the things to occur in the future end times, acting as our motivational guide to help us prepare.

Revelation 1:1-8 (ESV)

1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. 4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. 8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

So important is the Word of God in the Believer’s life! All the more imperative is to study it ourselves under the guiding control of the Holy Spirit. But we cannot learn everything on our own. Yes, the Holy Spirit guides and teaches us the things of God. But the Lord also reveals the great treasures of His truth through qualified men prepared to teach it to others, and this is where good solid Bible teaching becomes ever so crucial.

Hebrews 4:12 (KJV)

12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

D. Good Solid Bible Teaching

It is valuable and necessary for believers to read the Bible for themselves and apply it in their everyday lives. Using truth in one’s walk usually entails denying self, sacrificing whatever is necessary to abstain from anything displeasing to the Lord. However, as important as reading the Word on our own is, a big part of our learning should come from qualified men led by the Holy Spirit to teach the Bible. That is what spiritual gifts are for, to help others grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ through our own unique, individual, God-given gifts.

Romans 12:6-8 (ESV)

6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Every believer has received a spiritual gift(s), and the Lord expects us to use them, for God provides for a reason and a purpose, and that is to fulfill His plan for those who love Him. The Lord works through these same individuals to accomplish His will. By submitting ourselves to God, putting ourselves at His disposal, we allow ourselves to be a more crucial part of that plan. Many people have often said how they have wanted to be remembered in history by something extraordinary. How much more should we believers want to be part of the spiritual history, more excellent than all earthly things accomplished and of lasting quality that will stand forever? Only the fruit the believer produces will remain. These are the only things done in this life that will be truly worth it in the end.

1 Corinthians 9:25 (ESV)

25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

1 Peter 1:1-4 (NASB)

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,

With that said, the process of getting to that point of progress and production will require the prior spiritual growth of the believer ahead of time, growing through the Word of God by reading it on their own, and by receiving good teaching from an individual believer prepared and qualified to do so. It is the pastor/teacher who has the highest authority in the church today, and by failing to submit our time and attention to an equipped individual whom the Lord has prepared, we are, in essence, trying to gut spiritual growth out on our own. People like that are trying to march to the beat of their own drum; an approach that will expose them to tremendous error. Without being adequately fed from a reliable source, our faith will suffer spiritual malnutrition.

Acts 2:42 (ESV)

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Eating healthy food is good for our bodies; eating healthy spiritual food is good for our spirits. When we fail to eat healthily, our mind and body suffer; when we fail to receive healthy spiritual food, our spiritual health suffers, resulting in complacency, and just downright indifference to the Bible, its doctrines, teachings, and exhortations. This spiritually unhealthy lifestyle will then show itself in how we live our lives.

1 Peter 2:2 (NASB)

2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,

The Holy Spirit will indeed teach and guide us through His Word, and there is a lot we believers can learn from just a casual reading of Scripture. But there will be more challenging areas of interpretation dealing with crucial teachings and doctrines that the individual needs to know. Getting certain things wrong can lead to terrible dangers depending. Even with basic verses, there is often more than meets the eye regarding what a person can get from just one particular passage alone. If we don’t submit ourselves to solid Bible teaching, then we leave ourselves exposed to the many dangers of misinterpretation, leading to all manner of false teachings. Think of the saying, “you are what you eat.” If a person receives poor instruction, what can they expect but a poor understanding of God’s Word? They are limiting the potential they could have by so much!

For those called to teach, do they love God? Then teach the Word and take it seriously! Do we believers with different spiritual gifts love God? Then heed good teaching! By availing ourselves to sound teaching, we help maximize our growth, progress, and production, which will increase our eternal rewards, all while bringing us closer to our dear Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

John 21:15-17 (NIV)

15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.

The above passage should give us pause, for the Lord exhorts Peter to minister to His flock not once, not twice, but three times! The importance of compassionate care from one believer to another is so important to our Lord. That level of concern will be determined by how well a person teaches or seeks out the truth. If they love God, they should know to take His Word seriously, whether the teacher or the listener, for you cannot separate the two. The teacher needs to express love for God in how He is teaching, and the listener needs to demonstrate love by whom they choose to believe and listen (Ephesians 4:11-16). Prayer is crucial here, and this takes discerning power through the Holy Spirit.

Titus 2:7-8 (NIV)

7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8 and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

Colossians 3:16 (NASB)

16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Romans 15:4 (NIV)

4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

It is sad that in our lukewarm era of Laodicea, the Bible is not being taken seriously or given the due honor, respect, love, and attention it deserves. Most of this is through the mindset and agency of today’s preachers and the lukewarm disinterested attitudes of the listeners comprising most of the church. Yet in our day and age, believers seem to love the world more instead. But our interests should be toward God, our treasures in Heaven, and our joy in that we have an everlasting share with the One who sacrificed Himself for us to have it. Why, then, do we not love the Bible the way we should? Why is it not being taught seriously? And why are those exposed to such poor teaching not seeking out good spiritual food?

E. The Process of Exposing Ourselves to Good Solid Teaching

Finding truth, searching for it by seeking it out no matter the cost, takes commitment, a zealous love for God to put Him first before everything else. Unfortunately, in today’s day and age of Laodicea, such places with good serious Bible teaching are indeed few and far between, but they do exist.

So how do we expose ourselves to such teaching when most churches today are lukewarm? How do we counter the attack of false doctrines? To make a summary statement, how do we counter the lukewarm problem of Laodicea? Of course, it is the individual believers’ job to change, as Laodicea won’t change itself until the tribulation forces it to.

However, for the individual believer who desires to rise above today’s trends and be of most help to his family in Christ, there are things they can do to avoid falling into this trap. The question now remains, how do we do this? How do we find a place where there is good solid teaching, a place where individuals can grow and advance the way they should?

As we have already examined in this paper, a change of attitude is first needed. Once we align our approach to God’s standard, it will only be a matter of time till the person finds out if they are spiritually “hot enough.” It all starts with dedicated Bible reading and prayer, lots of it! Then, the believer should ask the Lord to show them the truth, exposing any false beliefs they may have and leading them to a place where spiritual growth can occur in their lives.

Matthew 7:7-8 (KJV)

7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

This whole process of searching takes considerable discernment, and we should be praying for that as well. Finding answers in a spiritual safe—haven may take time and pain because the process can be gruesome. But what is needed is endurance, the patience to wait on the Lord for Him to bring the answers (Isaiah 40:31, Psalm 27:13-14, Lamentations 3:25).

The Bible also advises on things believers can do searching for answers, a small handful of verses shown below. For one thing, we should stay away from anything that would weaken our resolve. These include things that would distract us, especially false teaching and anything that would thwart our mission. As the believer grows, so will their priorities. The mature believer knows what is more important to them, and they will go out of their way to put the Lord first, even with all the suffering entailed.

2 Timothy 2:4 (NASB)

4 No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.

We can discern good fruit from bad fruit.

Matthew 7:15-20 (ESV)

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

1 John 4:1 (ESV)

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Every person belonging to the Lord can search under the Holy Spirit’s guidance to find the truth.

Acts 17:11 (NASB)

11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.

Galatians 5:16 (KJV)

16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

And suppose we are spirit-led, discerning everything we see and hear. Suppose we are trusting in the Lord with all our hearts. Suppose we have humbled ourselves to the status of an innocent child, seeking with all our strength with patient endurance from an ever-growing love for God and putting the Lord’s opinion before man’s. In that case, the believer who seeks solid truth from a trusted source will find what they are looking for, and God will not fail to deliver. Therefore, let us seek out good solid teaching and good spiritual food so that we may obtain to spiritual healthiness.

F. The Role of the Holy Spirit

Before we leave our discussion on spiritual growth, we must first talk about God’s wondrous gift given to the believer who has put their faith and trust in Him. This gift is the Holy Spirit sent from our Lord Jesus Himself, and without Him, no person would be a part of God’s family, justified, and destined for eternal life. Without the Holy Spirit, the believer would be powerless to live the Christian life and carry out their spiritual gifts.

Romans 8:9 (NIV)

9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV)

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

Romans 8:16 (KJV)

16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

Titus 3:5-6 (ESV)

5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,

Romans 8:14 (KJV)

14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

Therefore, the Holy Spirit is the witness of our salvation, convicting those who hear the gospel and witnessing with our spirits that we belong to Christ the moment upon accepting the truth. There are various ways the Holy Spirit ministers to the believer, and without being under His control at all times, living the Christian life would be impossible.

John 3:5-8 (ESV)

5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

1. The Spirit empowers us to overcome sin and frees us from it.

2 Corinthians 3:17 (ESV)

17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Romans 8:2 (KJV)

2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

2. The Spirit guides and teaches us in all truth

John 14:26 (NIV)

26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

1 Corinthians 2:13 (NIV)

13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.

3. The Spirit convicts the believer. He also intercedes for us, giving us the words to speak when we need them the most.

Romans 8:26-27 (NASB)

26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Luke 12:11-12 (ESV)

11 And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

Romans 8:27 (NIV)

27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

4. The Spirit is our seal and pledge of salvation

Ephesians 1:13 (ESV)

13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (NASB)

21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, 22 who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.

2 Corinthians 5:5 (NASB)

5 Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.

Ephesians 4:30 (NASB)

30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

5. The Spirit empowers righteous living

Ephesians 3:15-19 (NASB)

15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

6. The Spirit gives us our spiritual gifts

1 Corinthians 12:4-11 (NASB)

4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.

All this to say, the Holy Spirit empowers our growth, progress, and production. He undoubtedly accomplishes many more things in the believer’s life, but we have kept our list limited for time and space. In terms of growth, the Holy Spirit convicts us to do what’s right when faced with opposition and makes real to us the truth we have hidden in our hearts. The Spirit then uses that “ammo” of truth to empower us (the believer) to accomplish every good deed. The Spirit also aids in the process of storing truth, not just using it. When we read the Word under the Spirit’s control, He helps us pay attention to what we are reading. From there, He will aid in our understanding of the truth and then enable us to carry it out.

However, we must be cautious, for though the Holy Spirit teaches us, He will not do so through personal Bible reading alone. Part of the Spirit’s ministry is His indirect teaching to us through qualified men prepared to teach the Bible. In following the Holy Spirit through exercising proper discernment and zeal, the Spirit will lead the believer to a good ministry where healthy spiritual food is available.

To sum up, we owe the Holy Spirit the ability to do ALL things, making all three aspects of growth, progress, and production, possible. Everything we do in life, we must do in the power of the Spirit. Therefore, let us strive to be under His control at all times, following His lead and obeying His convictions. The Spirit is our teacher, and we must listen to Him always, no matter the circumstances.

6.2 Spiritual Progress

2 Timothy 3:14 (NIV)

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it,

Hebrews 5:14 (ESV)

But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

Spiritual growth leads to spiritual progress, though these are both things that can be happening at any time during a believer’s life. This part of the believer’s advance comes first by learning the basics, taking in of “spiritual milk,” and eventually maturing to the point of handling “spiritual meat” the more advanced teachings of Scripture. Then, a believer continues in their primary growth, passing the regular tests and temptations destined to come to all believers every day, especially those who are advancing for Him to a greater level. The result of mastering the basics means readiness for the believer to undergo severe and more difficult testing to further refine and demonstrate the actual quality of their faith, preparing the individual, even more, to serve with their spiritual gifts.

In this case, progress would be maturing from basic to more advanced, with the believer becoming ever more ready to minister their spiritual gifts in total capacity when the time comes. The time it takes to occur varies upon the individual, their gifting, and circumstances. Before a person can effectively minister in the mature ministry the Lord has for them, they first have to grow to spiritual maturity, the basics. To further prepare and demonstrate their growth, it needs further refinement by even more intense “training.”

A. Testing

As believers grow, so do the tests that further challenge their walk with the Lord.

1 Peter 1:6-7 (NASB)

6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

God wants us to go the distance. He wants us to run this race as fast as we can. We should never be content to stay put at any level of maturity, no matter how high it may be. Growth, progress, and production never stop until we meet the Lord face to face, and because of this, we must allow our faith to continue growing till the day the Lord takes us home, no matter the cost. It’s not easy, and one may very well think that since the challenges grow, then sooner or later, the tests and trials they will have to face will become so many and so strenuous that they will all be like a balloon about to pop. But we must keep in mind this fact—our level of faith will determine our level of testing. That is to say that the Lord would have never put us in any situation if He knew we wouldn’t be able to handle it. God is in control, and through His Holy Spirit’s restraint on the dark satanic forces of this world, He determines the difficulty of the tests we face, knowing very well what we as individuals can or can’t handle.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)

13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Testing is part of the Christian life. If we want to progress from basic to more advanced, we can expect the trials and difficulties to increase.

2 Timothy 3:12-13 (ESV)

12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

Even as unbelievers “go on from bad to worse,” believers should be “going from good to better,” all made possible thanks to the grace of our Lord sustaining us through difficult times. This help we receive is an act of graciousness on our Lord’s part because in allowing our faith to grow in this way, He ensures our safety against the ever-growing attacks of the evil one. Satan will always oppose advancing believers because they are more of a threat to his plan, with that plan being to drag as many people away from the truth as possible. By the point of major progression, the believer should know how to counter these aggressive attacks. Especially considering they had to have learned spiritual combat through fundamental spiritual growth, acting entirely in faith and understanding that they have everything they need in Christ Jesus to overcome the devil’s ever-advancing threats.

1 Peter 4:1-2 (NASB)

Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

We live for Jesus, which entails pain, tears, trials, tribulations, and difficulties of various kinds (James 1:2-3). But not only do we have the power of the Holy Spirit to endure them, but we also have the fruits produced in us through the Spirit to keep our perspective faculties set and focused on the eternal bliss that is to come. As long as we continue in the faith, there is nothing the believer has to lose (Romans 8:28). Thus, even in the most excruciating times of our lives, we can be joyful during a period in which most people would be miserable. We can be at peace during a period when most people would be afraid. All of this is because we have a definite hope fixed on our future life to come.

1 Peter 4:12-13 (NASB)

12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV)

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

6.3 Spiritual Production

The Lord has given every believer spiritual gifts to use in the specific ministry He has assigned them. How many we have depends on what the Lord has given us. Some people may have one gift, others multiple. Nonetheless, the Lord has a ministry for us in which we have been fully prepared through spiritual growth and progress to function in our particular job. At this point in their walk, the Lord can now use the individual to serve in the primary work He has for them to do, ministry aside from the smaller acts of spiritual work we did on our way up to this point. The Lord always lets us know when our time for further service has come. He will not allow us, apart from disobeying His will, to get ourselves into something that we are not ready for, for, in this, we not only run the risk of harming others but ourselves as well.

And it is God who chooses our spiritual gifts; in that, we have no choice. But this is a good thing, for the Lord knows our abilities, strengths, and weaknesses better than we do. He knows what we can do and what we can’t. He knows how to assign our ministries according to our strengths in ways that allow us to be the most effective for Him. The service God chooses for the believer has in mind the maximum production and reward in eternity. In other words, God is setting us up for ultimate success in giving us whatever gifts we have received at salvation. Whatever we receive from God, we can be rest assured that it is the perfect fit for us.

A. Ministry - Why it is Important

John 15:5-8 (NIV)

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

Alright, so the believer has grown up to maturity and advanced to even greater heights by overcoming the ever-greater spiritual challenges that accompany the believer serious enough to take their spiritual growth to the next level. So now what? Do we just sit around? Of course not. For in growing spiritually, the Lord not only prepared us to overcome the struggles common to all believers, but He has prepared us to serve the body of Christ.

Regarding the tribulation, and ever so applicable to believers today, is the need in God’s family for spiritual unity through the proper ministering of the Word. This point is not only important, but it is our duty as members of God’s household. We have prepared ourselves for the tribulation, and now the question remains, are we ready to help other believers of Laodicea do the same?

By casually reading the passage quoted above in John, we can see just how critical ministry is. The phrase, “ that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples,” strongly indicates this. “Fruit” is the result of our spiritual work, and it is not for no reason that Christ commands us to pursue service. Our production signifies our belonging to Jesus, showing that we have the Holy Spirit living and operating within us.

Now it is true, our Father’s will is for us to bear “much” fruit, and why wouldn’t He want us to reap a bountiful crop? Even one act of ministry accomplished in this life will not fail to go unnoticed by our Lord. The point made here is that genuine saving faith produces at least some fruit in every believer’s life so that when they enter God’s kingdom, they will have something to show for their time on earth. “Faith without works is dead.” Salvation is not of works but faith through grace alone, and it is Christ who empowers our faith to produce anything at all.

James makes a clear distinction between true and false faith when mentioning its relationship to works. Just mental appreciation, an assertion of God if you will, is not enough, for as James also says, “even the demons believe, and yet tremble.” Saving faith is a committed, presently-active belief in Jesus Christ, that He was the son of God (both God and man in the flesh), sent into the world by the Father to pay for the penalty of our sins in dying on the cross.

James 2:14-26 (NKJV)

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!

Getting back to the topic of ministry, God could solve the problem of work and do it all Himself, but that is not how He operates. Our Savior often manifests His truth, not only through creation-natural revelation but through prepared and qualified men—divine revelation. Our duty as believers is to do the Lord’s work He has for us to do, which plays a significant role in demonstrating our love for God before men and angels, allowing our lights to shine in this darkened world. As representatives of Christ Jesus, our goal is to serve others in whatever capacity our Savior has gifted us.

Christ’s body, the church, consists of every believer alive and breathing, and its growth depends on its members building each other up. Therefore, the goal of ministry is to help our brothers and sisters in Christ advance in any possible way by whatever means the Lord gives us, whether through giving, teaching, encouraging, exhorting, serving, etc. In the case of unbelievers, bringing “new sheep into the flock,” we evangelize, for without new members coming in, the body of Christ would shrink in number and eventually disappear.

B. Ministry - Common Misconceptions

The fact that every believer has a spiritual gift(s) tells us that there are many ministries, with each in possession of a unique one or more to use for God’s glory. Ministry is a spiritual service, whether to believers or unbelievers. We don’t want to get into specifics, but all ministry means leading people to the truth and helping them grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus. It does not entail doing things we deem acceptable in our own eyes when they are nothing but wood, hay, and stubble, things that have no bearing on spiritual matters whatsoever. That is the point. One must be careful not to side with any of the two extremes on this matter, where one says “everything counts as a ministry,” and the other that says “nothing counts at all,” “nothing” in the sense of how the church has defined ministry over the years.

For example, many conservative evangelical churches often refer to ministry as limited to missionary work overseas or pastoring a church. But there are many more ministries assigned by our Lord that don’t fit the basic mold of what traditionalists have deemed “ministry.” Where and how we do this is not what matters, as long as it involves the truth. What is so dangerous about having a limited perspective on Christian service is that it misjudges other genuine ministries, construing the meaning of serving God and discouraging those doing the Lord’s work from continuing to serve Him. Nor is it the case that any particular ministry is more important than another, just as no spiritual gift is better than the next one.

It is easy for many Christians to fall into the trap of believing their “work for the Lord” is insufficient compared to others whose work may seem more prevalent, well-spoken of, and noticed. But we need to remember that it’s the Lord’s opinion which matters, not men’s. Christ is the one who judges and rewards our production here on earth, every detail, from its quality to its quantity. Just because some may seem to be more productive; just because something seems a certain way does not make it so. God is perfect, and He notices all the work we do, catching every detail and bit of fruit we produce. Nothing escapes His attention, and only He knows the heart and motivations inside every one of us. He is the perfect judge, so He will never give more to those not worthy of it. Quality is another factor that the Lord will judge perfectly (1 Corinthians 3:11-13).

We shouldn’t be afraid of what men think or by who they praise and popularize. We seek praise from God and not from people, and to further reinforce the encouragement here, a greater love for God means caring about His opinion more than men’s. It may take time and spiritual growth, but we can achieve this correct mentality through the Lord’s strength.

Matthew 19:30 (NIV)

30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

C. Spiritual Gifts

Romans 12:6-8 (NIV)

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. For example, if your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

1 Peter 4:10-11 (ESV)

10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 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.

Every believer receives a spiritual gift at the very moment of salvation for the express purpose of serving Christ’s church and advancing the kingdom. Our sole purpose is to serve the body of Christ, growing it internally, i.e., believers ministering to one another, and expanding it externally, i.e., believers bringing unbelievers into the fold. We are Christ’s representatives, a light shining in a dark world, and how we conduct ourselves as a family will determine how the world sees and views us. We need to have a good witness, under the same authority of Christ, in unity, all with the same purpose of mind. God has left us as stewards with a distinct task to accomplish unique to every one of us.

D. The Spiritual Gifts Themselves

There are so many spiritual gifts that it would be impossible to know close to all of them. For this reason, we will not examine in list form the spiritual gifts mentioned in our passages above, for that would entail an all but impossible task, fundamental understanding of the gifts we have mentioned in Scripture aside. Our study has to do with preparing for the tribulation through spiritual growth, progress, and production, so to avoid drifting afar off, we will discuss this no further.

E. The Spirit’s Role in our Spiritual Gifts and Ministries

Philippians 2:13 (NASB)

For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

John 15:5 (NIV)

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

1 Corinthians 12:4-7 (NASB)

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

Yes, the Holy Spirit plays a huge role in our Christian service. He gives and empowers our spiritual gifts and ministries. Conviction is a big part of the Spirit’s “working effect,” especially in the heart of another individual. When one believer ministers to another, the Holy Spirit convicts that what they hear is true, assuming the teaching is correct. That truth is not something the Spirit forces the Christian to believe, but He does make it real to them, the choice to believe or disbelieve being their responsibility. If they accept this truth, that is, the believer heeds and follows the Holy Spirit’s convictions, then they can use it. Incredible! Amazing to think that while one person ministers, the Holy Spirit is doing the same thing!

Moreover, these convictions are not limited to a specific period. For who knows how long an individual may wrestle with what they have heard from others. Sooner or later, a yes or no decision will come. If yes, through zealous persistence in seeking the truth, the Spirit will not fail to give answers. Those who seek persistently always find. The same applies to the Spirit’s work with unbelievers as well. When a believer shares the Gospel with an unbeliever, He makes the truth about Himself real to the individual through conviction, and then the decision from the person comes sooner or later.

F. Bringing Forth Fruit - Rewards

John 15:16 (NASB)

16 You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.

Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Matthew 9:37 (ESV)

37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;

Production is where spiritual growth leads to serving God by helping others do the same. Only the spiritual fruit will remain of all the things we accomplished in this world, for nothing else will be left when we enter God’s kingdom. Think about it. We only have one life to offer and live for the Lord, and there is nothing we can do to reverse the time and redo everything to the extent to which we wish we could have done it originally. Only our fruit will remain, but everything else will be burnt up and destroyed forever, including works done with bad or wrong motivations.

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 (NASB)

11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

1 John 2:16-18 (ESV)

16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

This spiritual fruit brings forth eternal rewards, treasures meant to motivate us that will last forever. Our Lord wants to express His great and perfect love for us to an even further degree, not that He has to, of course. We know that He loves us; His sacrifice on our behalf is testimony enough, but just as how parents give their children gifts out of love, so too it is with our heavenly Father.

Matthew 7:11 (NKJV)

11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

Why eternal rewards for the fruit we bear? One could also ask why we as humans give gifts to others even if they don’t need them? The answer is love. God WANTS to provide us with good things because He loves us, not because we deserve anything. In acting as a motivation for us as believers to pursue maximum growth, this is also an act of graciousness from our dear Lord Himself that helps the believer compare the earthly to the heavenly to see just how worthless the things of this world are. One could say it’s partially for our spiritual safety, perhaps to keep our eyes focused ahead and not behind on the things of this life so as not to become entangled in them all over again.

We are on this earth for Jesus, and how much we live and produce for Him will show in eternity in the eternal rewards God will give out to those who persevered to the end. One could say these rewards act as a measuring stick to show the level of love and commitment the individual had for God during their stay on earth. As believers, our purpose is to demonstrate before men and angels just how much we love God, revealing that love through the free will choices we make. Therefore, let us strive all the more to live our lives for Jesus, making the most of the time, and glorifying Him with every thought, word, and deed until He returns to rescue us (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)!

2 Corinthians 5:10 (NIV)

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

1 Corinthians 3:8 (ESV)

8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor.

1 Peter 1:17-20 (NASB)

17 If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. 20 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you.


The time is now ever so short, for the darkness of the tribulation is fast approaching. What was peeking over the ridge has now climbed over it and preceded to walk closer to us. The New Testament apostles stressed just how little time remained till the Lord’s return in their day, and that was nearly two thousand years ago! Because of today’s Christians’ half-hearted attitude, we will have to endure the most terrible time that the earth has ever seen, a period that will occur only once and never again. Many believers will fall away, a large number will endure through martyrdom, and the rest will live on to see the Lord’s return at the second advent during the battle of Armageddon. Because of the nearness of time, we believers should dedicate ourselves to spiritual advance. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and this entails keeping God’s commandments through living a zealous lifestyle for Him. It must then be asked of this lukewarm era if they genuinely desire to hear a “well done good and faithful servant” from our Lord. We only have one shot at this life that we will never get to repeat.

Revelation 22:12 (NASB)

12 “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.

1 Corinthians 7:29-31 (NIV)

29 What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; 30 those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; 31 those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.

Jude 21 (ESV)

21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.

Revelation 22:7 (NASB)

7 “And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.”

Ephesians 5:15-17 (ESV)

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Lukewarm believers determined to stay lukewarm will continue in their ways until the tribulation wakes them up from their slumber of complacency. And either they will run away from God right into the Devil’s arms, or they will run toward Him for help in zealous faith, knowing the task at hand. For those committed to following the Lord faithfully to the end, no matter what betides, we must forget what lies behind and strive only toward what is ahead. Looking back will only weaken our resolve to move forward, for nothing is worth hanging onto in this world. Only what we accomplish for Christ will last, so the challenge is what we truly want in this life, and the tribulation will reveal this very clearly. The very point of testing will be to wake the believer from their “sleep” to get them to put their eyes on God and completely surrender themselves to Him. God is gracious for administrating things this way, for faith cannot be proven until tested, and that is the whole point for the believer going through the tribulation.

Philippians 3:13-14 (NASB)

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

1 John 2:15-17 (KJV)

15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.

Romans 12:2 (NASB)

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Therefore, it is utterly selfish on the believer’s part to continue in the usual manner that most walk today, for most would prefer to put themselves before God. When we don’t put God’s truth first in our lives, we prioritize ourselves over Jesus. Unfortunately, so many Christians have misunderstood this issue, and the harm it has done is evident.

We follow Jesus, heeding His still, small voice. People and traditions do not come before God. Denominations and church affiliation do not come before Him, nor does the world and all it contains. Jesus is our true master, for we are not slaves of this world to obey its calling, but servants of Christ. We are not accountable to men, traditions, denominations, or any church group. We answer to God, and having the free will and power of His son Jesus Christ dwelling inside of us means we have the right and ability to accomplish all that He asks us to do. All the believer has to do is decide to give themselves up entirely by crying out to God in faith, seeking His truth, and putting Him first before everything else! There will be pain and difficulties, but victory comes to those who patiently wait for it (Isaiah 40:31).

We Christians are blessed to have adequate information about future events yet to take place (the book of Revelation and all the other passages throughout the Bible that speak of the end times). But despite this, most believers are not taking advantage of this crucial source of insight: the Bible.

For example, revelation guides those reading it, enlightening all who take the time to study its passages carefully. Nothing is entirely sure of the timing, but the likelihood of those currently alive now going through the tribulation is exceptionally high, for there is only a matter of years left at this point. Examining what the Bible has to say about eschatology, the study of the future end times is ever so critical in our preparation for that terrible period and crucial in our service to other believers. When we take Revelation’s words and all other passages of Scripture dealing with these yet future events seriously, we equip ourselves and others with truth to negotiate the times ahead. Think of a race where one runner passes off the baton to another. That is how it should be, believers helping others, giving the truth to the next believer who in turn does the same.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (KJV)

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

We are on earth to make a choice. We can only serve Jesus, not the world, simultaneously. Pursuing this world over the treasures of the kingdom is not only a colossal waste of time, but it’s also a considerable risk as well, for not only do we expose our relationship with God, but we risk our faith in Him through compromise. Therefore, let us resolve all the more to put God first, giving our entire self to Him and Him ALONE, not to this world. And as His ambassadors of light shining in a dark place, we need to be careful how we are using the time we have, for we are being watched by not only our Lord Himself but by men and angels alike. What kind of influence are we trying to have on others? According to Jesus, we are the salt of the earth. But salt with no flavor is useless and thrown out (Matthew 5:13). We are God’s representatives, and our goal is to reflect His character through our own lives as much as possible. Little wonder why the world is unimpressed by the conduct of so many Christians today. If our light doesn’t shine, how can others find the way? How can we be a positive influence on those around us? We need to uncover our lamps and put them in plain sight for all to see.

Hebrews 11:13-16 (ESV)

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

Living the Christian life is not easy, but it is entirely doable through God’s strength, for nothing is impossible with God. Our Lord is just, and because of this fact, He would never allow us to be tempted above what we are able. Nor would He have put us in a situation if He knew we couldn’t handle it. He will never put a burden on us that we can’t carry, and He is the one who sustains us through whatever difficulties we have to face. When we are at our weakest, we are at our strongest. While being in a situation where we feel hopeless, we are at our best as Christians. Why? Because it is in moments like that where we see to the greatest degree just how weak we are without Jesus, and for this reason, we cry out to Him all the more.

Think about it this way—In times of prosperity when life’s difficulties are not pressing on us all that much, we are often easily tempted to slack off and become over-confident in ourselves and our situations. But these can be some of the most dangerous times for the believer, for as soon as we feel we need God less due to a great moment of prosperity, we stumble. Satan is not stupid, for he also observes these things and knows all too well that pride and self-sufficiency lead to complacency. Any time the Christian is not of an alert and sober mind, the dangers of attack and defeat become greater.

On the other hand, if we are in such difficult times, those are often when the believer cries out the most to God in such a strong faith that tells our Lord we are reliant on Him. That is the kind of faith the Lord wants to see from us all the time, the mindset that we cannot do anything apart from Him. That is the humble way, the ONLY way!

1 Corinthians 12:9-10 (ESV)

9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

The Lord has warned the believers of the great days of tribulation ahead. Why would we delay till those dark and terrible times to cry out to Him in faith we should be exercising now? Now is the time!

Luke 21:29-36 (NASB)

29 Then He told them a parable: “Behold the fig tree and all the trees; 30 as soon as they put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is now near. 31 So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. 34 “Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; 35 for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. 36 But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

As Jesus told us in His message to Laodicea, “here I am! Behold I stand at the door and knock, and whoever answers, I will come in and sup with him and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). The tribulation is not here yet, but Jesus is always with us! Let us cry out to Him with the time that we now have! Rest assured, dear believer, that even during the tribulation itself, our Lord will never leave us nor forsake us. Instead of fretting over the horrors we will encounter in those days, let them be a cause of even greater total reliance on Him who will save us during those rough times. The Lord will never leave us, and He will provide for His own. Does this mean there will be no suffering? Of course not, for the tribulation will bring plenty. But even in the most terrible of times, we can be at peace and even joyful. Think about our discussion on the fruits of the Spirit and having the proper mindset in situations like this. These aspects of the Christian life will become all the more attuned and fixated as we continue to grow and progress in our daily walk. The more in-sink we are with God’s plan for our life, the closer we will be to Him. The more intimate we are with God, the greater our peace and joy. The stronger we grow in our faith, the greater our inner self becomes.

Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)

6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

The book of Revelation and all of Scripture should be enough to motivate believers to follow through on God’s plans for their lives. Consider how gracious our God is! He did not have to create the angels or us, yet He made us for Himself to share in His eternal Kingdom forever. Our Savior died for our sins by giving Himself for us on the cross, suffering all the pain and difficulty in the process, a sacrificial death so great that no others in the history of humanity could ever compare to it. There is so much He has done for us that it is hard to even begin a discussion about it, and the truth of the matter is that no person will ever be able to contemplate all that God has done. Yet how could we not want to live for Him? Is suffering all that much compared to eternity and all that Christ has done for us to have it? How can we neglect so great a salvation or, worse yet, throw it away? Our Lord Jesus wants to give us eternal treasures, so why would we desire to exchange them for temporary things? Nothing in this world is worth hanging onto, for only our faith in Jesus Christ is of any value worth holding fast.

1 John 3:1 (KJV)

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

Romans 11:22 (NASB)

22 Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.

Letting go of this world and all it contains can be difficult, for spiritual growth is never easy. It takes time and dedication to straighten our priorities. Only a heart set on God will help us do this properly, and there can be absolutely no compromise. Putting our faith into practice and living it out is not automatic, but rest assured, our Lord will help us to do our very best in so doing. As hard as it is, and an even more difficult time it will be during the tribulation just to endure with faith intact, we need to remember that our Lord will empower us to do anything He calls us to do.

The idea of feeling abandoned by God, that He is somehow not listening to us when we talk to Him, is a common issue that bothers many believers. As the Psalms testify, that is how many believers will feel during the tribulation. For so terrible and dark those times will be, so great the suffering and persecution (antichrist along with all unbelievers persecuting believers) that many if not all of us among God’s family will feel as if He has forsaken us. But we know that that will never be the case. We must never, in these instances, attempt to judge the truth of the matter based on the circumstances surrounding us. Nor should we trust or follow our feelings and emotions, for they will only lead us astray, primarily since they often work with the flesh, making it all too easy for Satan to take advantage of the situation. The Exodus generation often became unfaithful toward God because they fell into this same trap, thinking that God had led them out into the wilderness to die because of their present circumstances. The reality was that He was leading them to the promised land! Our Lord will be leading His own, not to damnation, but to beautiful Zion, which lies on the other side of the dark and dreary storm we will be traversing. Eternal life awaits all believers who patiently wait for it.

Before the tribulation, these final years offer believers opportune time to grow their faith in preparation for that period of hardship, so it is of utmost importance that we take advantage of all the time we have. We should be reading our Bibles, paying careful attention to everything we read, soaking it in through understanding, believing, and applying it diligently. We should be seeking out good Bible-teaching sufficient to grow us in our faith. We should also have by this time developed a good prayer life as well. These things are not chores and never should be viewed as such. Instead, the believer should ask the Lord to give them a greater desire to seek and serve Him, to reveal the truth of His Word, and to expose any false lies that may be lingering in their heart. For wherever there is a lie, Satan will make use of it, for he is a liar himself and has been since the beginning when he became the father of lies (John 8:44). Therefore, he will oppose the growing believer more aggressively than those casually trotting along in this race. Growing believers determined to do what the Lord would have them do are Satan’s favorite targets whom he will not hesitate to attack when given a chance, so we must be alert at all times. So why should we be surprised when the going gets rough?

1 Peter 5:8-9 (ESV)

8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

Satan will use anything he can to deter the believer from living their best for the Lord. Laodicea is no small amount of evidence for this, and that is because today’s Christians are so distracted by the world, its riches, politics, culture, you name it. Don’t let Laodicea swamp your relationship with God! Don’t let the tribulation be a cause of stumbling! We cannot let anything keep us from serving our true master, our King, who loved us and died for our sins.

1 John 2:17 (ESV)

17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Concluding Points

1. Attitude- As our Lord spoke to Laodicea, “become zealous and repent” (Revelation 3:19b). Repentance entails a change of mind that results in a change in action, and our attitude is a big part of this. To turn our hearts to the Lord in choosing to follow Him completely, we must align our mindset to one of a zealous desire to know and serve the Lord to an ever greater degree. We have to seek out the truths of His Word without compromise, believing them, and then applying them in the power of the Holy Spirit. Our searching requires us to rely on God’s power, heeding the voice and guidance of the Holy Spirit continually for the rest of our lives. This process starts inwardly and then manifests itself outwardly.

2. Spiritual Growth- Growth is the process of change implemented in our lives. It is accomplished by having a good prayer life, reading our Bibles, and receiving good solid Bible teaching. The believer must then take that truth, understand it, believe it, and then apply it, all in faith in the power of the Holy Spirit.

3. Bible Reading-Without God’s Word, spiritual growth would not be possible, for the Spirit would have no truth in our hearts to work with to aid us in our spiritual battles. Believers need to read the Bible for themselves, striving to do so every day to keep their hearts and minds loaded with “ammo” to renew the mind daily. God’s Word acts as a safeguard against satanic attack and grows the believer inwardly so they may advance in the Christian walk. The Word of God, adequately studied, understood, believed, and applied, acts as our blueprint to help others.

4. Good Solid Teaching- The primary way God dispenses His truth to people, in general, is through His Word, and this takes the form of teaching through a prepared teacher. Believers can’t grow independently, and there is a significant risk when a person attempts to interpret everything for themselves. This approach will open the individual up to false teaching through misinterpretation. Submitting ourselves to a qualified teacher safeguards us from this. Through this person’s ministry, the believer can then understand Scripture with more clarity to walk the path toward eternity with less “fog” to block their view.

5. Prayer- Prayer is necessary for the believer in every way. How could we have put our faith and trust in the Lord without first having believed? How could we confess our sins and communicate our heart’s desires to Christ? How could we pray for others and for any difficult situation we may face? How could we fight our spiritual battles without crying to God for help? So many are the necessities to pray, and without direct communication with God, how could we grow?

6. Testing- Faith has to be tested for it to grow. The moment a person gets saved, the testing begins immediately. By successfully negotiating satanic opposition and genuine testing from the Lord, the believer’s faith is grown and strengthened, resulting in spiritual advance.

7. Progress- Progress is the result of continued spiritual growth, and a significant sign of that progress is consistency in our living out all that we have learned from Scripture up to this point. This spiritual advancement occurs through passing the more difficult tests that come to the believer who has mastered basic spiritual combat. To further advance, the Lord allows the believer to undergo trials they haven’t yet gone through, tests beyond the everyday struggles the believer has to negotiate daily. Since the believer’s faith has grown past the primary stage, it is time for them to undergo more demanding challenges to take their faith to the next level. In the end, the believer will become more battle-tested than ever before to move forward and carry out the work the Lord has for them to do. To help others properly, we need to have undergone training.

8. Production- This is where our spiritual training leads us to the status of being able to properly help others in the more mature ministry phase the Lord has grown us into. As a reminder from what we have already mentioned, any believer can minister the moment they get saved, and the Lord calls us to do so whenever we have the chance. But there comes a time when the Lord can use us to fulfill an even more prominent role in His church, a part we will only be ready to accomplish after completing the proper training.

Final Words

Preparing for the tribulation is not easy because living the Christian life is not easy. There is all manner of obstacles, temptations, and whatnot constantly pulling on us. That is why people must know what they are getting themselves into before jumping into the battlefield.

Luke 14:28 (ESV)

28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?

2 Timothy 3:10-13 (ESV)

10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

God wants us to give our all to Him, which often involves sacrificing things we may struggle to give up. As people who belong to Christ, we have to crucify the flesh along with its passions. We cannot go into this with one hand on the world with the other holding tight onto God, for that will not produce an abundant Christian life well lived. The world tugs at us now, a tugging that will become violent yanking during the tribulation. The only way to resist and stand firm without being pulled over is to stand steadfast in our faith, no matter how little we may have.

Many believers who enter the tribulation will be unprepared. The yanks and pains of suffering will be much harder for them to endure, even if most will make it through safely to the end. This was no excuse for them not to have prepared in advance, however. By being lackadaisical, they are making that time all the more difficult to tolerate. A strong faith will help an individual cope with the pressures and difficulties of all the horrors the tribulation will present.

1 Corinthians 15:58 (ESV)

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

1 Timothy 6:12 (ESV)

12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

The question comes back to love. When we get saved, putting our faith and trust in the person and work of God’s son Jesus Christ, we are committing our lives to Him. The more a person loves an individual, the greater their commitment toward them, for it is our love that determines our commitment to someone. Life is not about us. Selfishness does not make for a good testimony, for as mentioned previously, all believers need to remember that we are the salt of the earth, a light shining in a dark place as a witness to all others who live in this present world. People need the Lord, for all around us, people are living as if they will continue forever. People are suffering, believers, yes, even among the family of God, many are suffering malnourishment of the “pure milk of God’s Word. Who will step up and help these people? Is this not the Church’s job whom Christ has appointed?

Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV)

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Today’s believers have chosen to be oblivious to the church’s desperate needs and those outside it because they continually choose to remain complacent in their relationship with the Lord. However, we can make a difference, for that is the church’s primary goal, after all, to help not only through the building up of its individuals in love but also to witness to others bringing them into the “construction project” of this same house. Giving is fine and all, but what is so needed among most Christians today is a change of mind toward God, for once they see their own indifferent attitudes, they can, by the Lord’s grace and power, correct the issue.

Revelation 3:19-22 (NIV)

19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. 21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

If the church were to change, the whole body and bride of Christ would be a brighter light, showing all unbelievers that we DO love and cherish God more than anything else. There is no doubt that there would be far fewer unbelievers in this world if the church were more united in their love and zeal for the one who gave Himself up for them. The church is like a sports team, but how can it function if the teammates are not working together? If everyone decides to play for themselves and march to the beat of their own drum, how much can they expect to accomplish? One person cannot be a team unto themselves, for that is not what the Lord intends.

Philippians 2:2 (NASB)

Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.

The first word of advice to today’s believers is to examine themselves, their hearts, their priorities, what they prize and treasure most in life (Matthew 6:19-21). The church needs to realize that though we may suffer in living this life for God, perhaps even losing many things we once held dear to us, there is a greater gain to be had from all this that far outweighs all the losses that may obtain in this world. Think of the Apostle Paul, “For me to live is Christ, but to die is gain.” We gain everything we could ever want in Jesus Christ, and He is our eternal inheritance. Do we desire the world’s treasures more than Him, or do we love Him as we should, holding Him dear and ever closer to our hearts more than anything else? We are not of the world; besides, the world hates and seeks to destroy us!

Believers must answer the call. We have enlisted in the Lord’s army. Like in any military branch, we are expected to do our duty and comply with all the rules. This life is all about Jesus, and He is our commander, so we must do everything His way, according to His standards. Why would believers render themselves almost entirely useless in this struggle in which they now engage? Would we rather be of more use to God or the evil one? Since we have chosen for Christ, do we even realize that we are on His side? Should we not give our best for the Lord? As His children, we have to account for ourselves, our own choices, and our conduct. Being lukewarm toward God is only aiding Satan’s goal and causing others to stumble as well. The church era of our day is partially self-destructing, for this fact will be made ever so evident in the great apostasy destined to claim many believers numbering no doubt in the millions (Matthew 24:10-13; Revelation 12:4).

We are soldiers for the Lord, and being a soldier entails sacrifice, just as how a soldier in the military of whatever country is willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of his nation. We, believers need to have the same attitude that Christ had in giving Himself up for us, an attitude of humility and sacrificial service. As we have discussed in the section regarding the believer’s negative attitude, there can be no room for selfishness. If we love God as we should, then we will love our brothers and sisters sufficiently.

God loves us so much, more than we will ever be able to comprehend, so why would we not want to love Him back? If we indeed do, in the way we should, then doing our task will become all the more clearer to us, and answers will come flooding our way sooner or later. So, for the believer contemplating their life, thinking about negotiating the challenges they will face in the future, fearing the attacks that will come ahead, a final few verses I must leave you.

Philippians 4:13

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

John 14:27

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

And may His grace be with you!!!

Revelation 22:20-21

20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. 21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Recommended Study Sources