Are You a Gregory Christian?
You Better Watch Out,
Jesus is Coming Soon!
by Bob Wilkin
Many of our names come from Greek words that have Christian significance. For example, Christopher comes from two Greek words that mean Christ bearer or one who bears [the name of] Christ. Gregory comes from a Greek verb, gregoreo, that means to watch or to be watchful. The Lord Jesus introduced this concept of being Gregory believers in His Olivet Discourse. He commanded all believers saying, “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming” (Matt 24:42; see also 24:43, 50; and 25:13). The believer who “is not looking for him” is one who will be rebuked by Christ when He returns (24:51).
The apostle Paul repeated the Lord’s instruction in his first epistle to the Thessalonians. After teaching on the Rapture in 1 Thess 4:13-18, Paul spoke of the value in believers being watchful for Christ’s return in 1 Thess 5:1-11. “Let us watch and be sober,” Paul exhorts (1 Thess 5:6; see also v 10). Believers are to live each day expecting that our Lord Jesus may well return today. Gregory Christians are watchful. They watch what they say and do because they realize that this may well the day that Jesus will catch them up to meet Him in the air.
Gregory Christians Will Rule With Christ
There are hints in First Thessalonians that Gregory Christians will rule with Christ (see 3:13 and 5:23). Paul, however, did nothing more than allude to this truth in First Thessalonians, evidently because the readers already well knew this truth. We know from 2 Tim 2:12 that Paul regularly taught that “if we endure, we shall also reign with Him.” And watchfulness is necessary for us to endure in our service for Christ (1 Thess 5:6, 10; Matt 24:45-51).
In our Lord’s teaching in the parable of the faithful and foolish servant, the servant who remains watchful for his Lord’s return “will [be made] ruler over all [his Lord’s] goods” in the life to come (Matt 24:47). Watchfulness, if continued till the Lord’s return, results in rulership. While in the parable of the minas the Lord Jesus doesn’t specifically mention watchfulness, the concept is clearly there as well. The first two servants watched for their Lord’s return and thus they both were told they would rule (Luke 19:17, 19). But the servant who did not use his mina wasn’t watchful and wasn’t given the privilege of ruling with Christ in the life to come (Luke 19:20-26), though he did get into the kingdom in contrast to the unbelievers who did not (Luke 19:27). Watchful Christians, Gregory Christians, will rule with Christ. The Lord and His apostles have given us truth about what lies ahead in order to move us to be watchful. Eschatological truth should transform our words and actions.
Gregory Christians Will Have
Confidence at His Coming
The theme verse of First John alludes to this truth as well. John says, “And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming” (1 John 2:28). Abiding in Christ is related to being watchful. Those who abide in Christ abide in His words. Since He taught us to be watchful, abiding Christians will be watching for Christ’s soon return (unless, of course, they’ve not been taught that truth yet). We find in 1 John 2:28 the very same two options that the Lord presented in Matt 24:45-51 and in Luke 19:11-26, that is, confidence and shame. Gregory Christians will have confidence before the Lord Jesus. Non-Gregory Christians, Christians who are not watching for Christ’s return, will “be ashamed before Him at His coming.”
Whenever a believer starts to think, “My Master is delaying His coming” (Matt 24:48), he is heading for trouble. True, it has been nearly 2,000 years since Jesus promised His soon return. However, that in no way means that He will wait another 2,000 years. We should realize that the opposite is true. He will likely come any day now. That He will come in our lifetimes is something we should expect. He might not. But it is vital that we live expecting His imminent return. The very attitude of expectancy is the watchfulness that our Lord and His apostles command. Don’t we all long to hear our Lord say, “Well done, good servant” (Luke 19:17)?
Whose approval would mean more to us than the One who died on the cross for our sins and has given us everlasting life (1 Cor 9:27; 2 Tim 2:15)? Gregory Christians will have confidence at His coming.
Even Non-gregory Christians Will Be Raptured
People who believe in Lordship Salvation believe that only those who persevere in faith and good works will make it into the kingdom of God. Most people in Christianity today think that only Gregory Christians will avoid the lake of fire! The reason for this confusion is a failure to understand the difference between eternal life as a free gift and eternal rewards that are earned by faithful endurance.
Paul makes it crystal clear in 1 Thess 5:10 that even non-watchful believers will spend eternity with Christ. Paul says, “[Christ] died for us, that whether we wake [grēgoreō = watch] or sleep, we should live together with Him.” The NKJV translated grēgoreō as wake here because it is contrasted with sleep. However, it would be better to translate it as watch, since Paul used this word earlier in the context in the sense of being watchful (v 6, “let us watch,” not let us wake). Even Christians who are morally asleep when Christ returns will be raptured and will “live together with Him.”
The beauty of the Free Grace position is seen in a verse like 1 Thess 5:10. This verse makes perfect sense to us because we know that perseverance is not a condition of being in Christ’s eternal kingdom. Faith in Christ is the sole condition. Once a person believes in Jesus for eternal life, He has that life which can never be lost. And as long as he continues to believe in Jesus, he continues to know that he is secure forever whether he is watchful or not. Of course, as we’ve already seen, it is a literal shame when any believer dies or is raptured in an unwatchful condition. But the issue isn’t one’s eternal destiny. The issue is the fullness of service for Christ in the life to come.
You Better Watch Out, Jesus is Coming Soon
A 1934 Christmas song has the idea of watchfulness in the first line. “You better watch out, you better not cry, better not pout, I’m telling you why: Santa Claus is coming to town!” I don’t know if that song was influenced by the Bible and our call to watchfulness or not. But the truth is, there’s good theology there if we replace Santa Claus with the true meaning of Christmas, the Lord Jesus. We better watch out since Jesus is coming soon. GES helps believers be Gregory Christians. We encourage believers to live desiring to hear those blessed words, “Well done, good servant.”
We at GES are committed, of course, to never sacrifice the good news in order to motivate watchfulness. That would be a tragic mistake. But the free gift of eternal life is not a license to sin. Assurance of irrevocable life in no way motivates moral lethargy. Once you know that you have everlasting life that can never be lost, you can and should be properly motivated to gain the Lord’s praise and approval. That’s why our ministry promotes both themes. This Christmas season, let’s stand firm in our assurance of everlasting life, and let’s be watchful because Jesus is coming soon whether we are ready or not!