This is David Wells, General Superintendent of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada (direct Canadian equivalent of the Assemblies of God) writing this month in the denominational magazine, Testimony. I believe his writing has broad application to Evangelicals and Christians in general…
An emphasis on the soon return of Christ (“Are you ready?”) has been replaced by a speculation regarding prophecy that tends to thrill more than mobilize. It has to be said of Pentecostals that “…upward social mobility is clearly affectin gthe apocalyptic fervor and urgency as the world looks a little better to contemporary and more affluent North American Pentecostals.” Thus in our orthodoxy (doctrine), we believe in the parousia (second coming); but in our ortopraxy (practice), the majority of us are not influenced by its reality. This has obvious impact on values, lifestyle and ministry priorities.
When Jesus told His followers He would return again, He warned them about slipping into speculation or apathy. “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matt 24:36). Then, using three parables, He taught them to focus on watchfulness and fruitfulness while waiting for his return. Lots of things were going to distract them from kingdom truth and priorities, so their posture had to be to one of watchful prayer (Parable of the Ten Virgins, Matthew 25: 1-13). In that condition of readiness they were not to go and hide in a cave, but they were to live their lives in Him with productivity (Parable of the Talents, Matthew 25:14-30) and selfless service (Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, Matthew 25: 31-46).
While we may not speculate quite as much today as those before us did on issues such as the identity of the Antichrist, we must ask ourselves if we are prepared to take Jesus’ promise of His second coming seriously.
~ David Wells
Quotation is from Steven Land, Pentecostal Spirituality (Academic Press, 1994)