Watch!

Watch! No, not the football game on TV. Not the JV or Varsity basketball games this week. The outcomes don’t matter. Turn off the TV, the computer, the tablet, and the smartphone and watch. “Watch what?” you ask. Watch for Christ’s return—that is, know the signs of Christ’s return and be ready for his coming.

Knowing the signs of Christ coming and growing in readiness for his return is the important subject of a new RFPA publication I was happy to find in my church mailbox on a recent Sunday. The author is Rev. Martyn McGeown, member of the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church in Ballymena, Northern Ireland and missionary pastor of the Limerick Reformed Fellowship in Limerick, Ireland.

The contents of this book arise from a series of sermons on Matthew 24 and 25 that Rev. McGeown preached in Limerick between August of 2011 and January of 2012, barely a year after his graduation from the Theological School of the Protestant Reformed Churches in the summer of 2010. Read this book and you will find that Rev. McGeown is gifted beyond his years in both preaching and writing. The RFPA has found an able author and I hope that this is the first of many books to come from the pen of Rev. McGeown, Lord willing.

Throughout this book, Rev. McGeown makes the difficult understandable and practical for the believer. Matthew 24 and 25 are difficult passages, not only because they can be hard to understand, but more importantly, because they vividly set forth the lot of the believer in this life. The way of the believer in this life is the way of suffering and persecution that grows in intensity as the end draws near. A Reformed amillennialist, Rev. McGeown does not sugar coat this reality, but shows how this suffering “serves the coming of Christ and the end of all things” (p. 46).

Throughout this book the author makes the material very practical for the reader. He doesn’t beat around the bush or blunt the sharp edges of the reality of persecution for the believer. One example, from the many available in the book, serves to prove this point. In Chapter 4 (The Church Hated By All Nations), Rev. McGeown writes,

Matthew 24 does not specify who will deliver the Christians up to be afflicted, but Mark and Luke add that it will be in some cases former friends and even family members. Jesus had already warned about this: he had not come to bring peace, but to bring a sword (Matt. 10:34). The result would be opposition and enmity among friends and even families. Now he underlines it again: you will be handed over to the authorities to be afflicted and to be killed. Your friends will do it! Your parents will do it! Your brothers and sisters will do it! Your sons and daughters will do it! “Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death” (Mark 13:12). “And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolk, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death” (Luke 21:16).

What a bitter pill that will be to swallow! Surely it is bad enough to be arrested; bad enough to be treated as a criminal; bad enough to be thrown into prison, to be tortured, to be put to death. But to watch as your own family do it! To hear your nearest and dearest say, “Take him. He is a Christian. We hate him. We are not on his side.” How dreadful! (p. 51)

So…turn off the TV, phone and computer…and live in reality…and watch! Know the signs of Christ’s imminent return and grow in your readiness for his return. Read this excellent book.

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This post was written by Aaron Cleveland, a member of Hope Protestant Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. If you have a question or comment for Aaron, please do so in the comment section.

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