The apostle Paul, heading for Jerusalem, was warned often that bonds and afflictions awaited him there (Acts 20:23). While he was in Caesarea, the Holy Spirit guided the prophet Agabas to once again graphically warn Paul that he would be bound and delivered into the hands of the Gentiles (Acts 21:11). Because of this, all of Paul’s companions urged him not to go (Acts 21:12). But Paul firmly responded, “I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13). Paul said he was ready. Are we?
Paul said he was ready to die for the name of the Lord. During his second and final Roman imprisonment, he knew his time was short and he had prepared himself mentally and emotionally for that eventuality (Acts 21:13). He said, “I am now ready to be offered and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (II Tim. 4:6,7). Though we, in this age, in this country, may never face the opposition Paul did, we must have the same attitude (i. e., I John 3:16; Rev. 2:10).
In saying he was ready to die for the name of the Lord, he also indicated he was ready to preach the gospel. Paul wrote the letter to the Rome church of Christ saying he was ready to preach the gospel to them there (Rom. 1:15). Being prepared to preach requires effort. Paul told Timothy, a young gospel preacher, “study to show thyself approved unto God” (II Tim. 2:15). Even though the apostle Paul was inspired, he still wanted to study (II Tim. 4:13). If Paul and Timothy needed to study, then we most certinly will need to, as well.
Studying will also help us be prepared to give an answer for the reasons for the hope that is in us (I Pet. 3:15). When Paul stood before Felix, he reasoned of righteousness, temperance and judgement to come. Upon hearing this, Felix trembled (Acts 24:25). Many on the day of Pentecost were pricked in their hearts when they heard the gospel for the first time (Acts 2:37). The apostle Paul spent weeks teaching and defending the gospel with the Thessalonians Jews and some of them believed (Acts 17:2-4). We, likewise, must be able to defend what we believe.
We must also be ready to hear. The scriptures implore us to keep our feet when we go into the house of God and “be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools” (Eccl. 5:1). James told us to be swift to hear, slow to speak (James 1:19). How many times did the Lord condemn those whose ears were dull of hearing (cf. Matt. 13:14)? Most people are willing to talk, but really few are ready to hear.
In order to be the kind of Christians we need to be, that God wants us to be, we must be ready to every good work (Tit. 3:1). We must be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord (I Cor. 15:58). Jesus warned His disciples to be ready and “watch” (Mark 13:37). We need to be filled with the fruits of righteousness (Phil. 1:11) and the fruits of the spirit (Gal. 5:22,23).
We must also be ready to avoid temptation (Mark 14:38). In being prepared, we must put on the whole armor of God so that we can stand (Eph. 6:13). The devil is not going to sit idly by; he is active. He will go about as a roaring lion on one hand, seeking to devour and as an angel of light on the other seeking to deceive (I Pet. 5:7; II Cor. 11:14). We have to be prepared so that we can recognize his attacks as they are being set up and meet them.
Finally, we must be ready for the Lord’s return (Matt. 24:44). We know neither the hour or the day when the Son of man will return (Matt. 25:13) but we do know He will return because He was raised from the dead (Acts 17:30,31). Therefore, the Lord could return at any moment and it will be a most unfortunate day if we are not prepared when He does. If we are not prepared, we will be like the five foolish virgins who did not prepare and were locked out. They cried, “Lord, Lord open to us” (Matt. 25:11). But the Lord responded, “I know you not.”
Are you ready?
Eric L. Padgett