Pretend It’s The End Part One: “Be Sober, Be Watchful” –

A Bible Study for the New and Growing Follower of Jesus

By Timothy Smith, Posted in 2022

“Pretend It’s The End” Part One:

Be Sober, Be Watchful

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TruthTexts presents a 6-part Bible study about living every day as though our time here on Earth is short.  We know civilizations, nations, and our own lives will not last forever. But believers in Jesus know that  “the end” is really the beginning of Eternity. So we will examine the Bible’s TruthTexts on how to behave, how to think, what to say, and what to do, in order to share the love of Jesus with the whole world. There are no “End Times” speculations in this study, no rash predictions. There’s just a serious look at some practical TruthTexts about living radically different lives by following God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit in these perilous times.

Please tell me what you’ve learned, and what I could add to strengthen this study!

– Timothy Smith,


“...when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” – Jesus, in Luke 18:8

“So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.” – Jesus, in Matthew 24:42-44 NLT

“Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.” – Paul, in 1 Cor. 16:13-14

Could this be the Beginning of the End?

The title of this short study series, “Pretend it’s the End,” sounded catchy because it rhymes. But there’s a grain of truth in it. We don’t actually know when Jesus will return, and those who have pretended otherwise have embarrassed themselves and risked discrediting the Gospel in the process. But we are instructed throughout the New Testament to watch, wait, and work as though the end of the world is right around the corner. This series gives us the reasons for that. But in some sense, our own personal end is always right around the corner.

A couple of years ago, my wife and I were able to retire. We moved to a comfortable home in a beautiful town far from the frantic freeway lifestyle of Southern California. But about a year later, the doctors discovered I had cancer, which required major surgery and significant changes to our plans! I was suddenly very focused on what was truly important in my life, to a much greater degree than if I had never had that health issue. And that’s just human nature. Naturally, if I’d thought about it, I could have been more focused on eternal things, with or without that health issue. Like my cancer surprise, events in our country and the world can suddenly remind us that nations and even civilizations don’t last forever. We begin asking the question, “Could this be the End?”

This short study series is not an in-depth analysis of current events. There’s no speculation about Armageddon, or the Great Tribulation, who the Antichrist might be, where the next war will break out, or how the next election will go. I believe the Spirit of God will let us know what we need to know, when the time comes. This study is about something far more basic and central to our faith than speculation about prophecy. It is this: the firm belief that the Day of the Lord is closer now than when we first believed (See Romans 13:11). The writers of the New Testament thought that Jesus would return to Earth to set up His Kingdom during their lifetimes. And every revival since then has sparked new interest in the Return of Christ. Look back at the Matthew 24 verses at the beginning of this study. This and so many other TruthTexts tell us to watch, wait, and work as if it was all going to end tomorrow.

Live as Though Time is Short

When we read the letters of the first followers of Jesus, it is very clear that they told all believers to live as though time is short. “Be sober, be watchful” was a common theme. “Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming,” wrote Peter (in 1 Peter 1:13 NIV).  Later, he wrote, “The end of the world is near. You must be the boss over your mind. Keep awake so you can pray” 1 Peter 4:7 (NLV). The reason for this urgency should be obvious to us. Jesus may or may not return in our lifetimes, but since “all human life is like the grass...” as Peter said, quoting from Isaiah (1 Peter 1:24-25), none of us will live forever here on Earth. So, to condense this down to the most basic form, we are to “Pretend it’s the End,” that is, to live as though our own earthly life could be over at any moment. And to let you in on a little secret (check this out for yourself) – the instructions for living in “End Times” apply equally well to living through personal troubles!

Living as though our time is short also means that we should be aware of what is happening in the world around us, and what that might mean. But it’s not really helpful to run around like Chicken Little, screaming that the sky is falling. I’m exaggerating, but we all know of authors and speakers who have gotten a lot of attention from sensationalism rather than calm analysis of Scripture. Nor are we to cower in fear, or sit idly by, doing nothing. That’s because the return of Jesus is our “Blessed Hope.” Paul wrote to Titus that the Grace of God

“...teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-

controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the

Blessed Hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

(Titus 2:11-13 NIV).

Instead of reacting in fear or anger when the world around us starts to crumble, we are told to live as though what we do today matters for eternity. We need to live as though we are surrounded by people who need to hear the Good News. We are told to act in a way that shows we are going to live forever, no matter what happens in this world. That means sharing the love of Jesus every chance we get! To do this, we need to keep reading our instructions (God’s Word), and stay plugged into our only power source, the Holy Spirit. As Peter told us, “be self-controlled and clearheaded so you can pray (CEB).” Stay in contact, stay in the joy: “I have told you these things so that you can have peace in me. In this world you will have troubles. But be brave! I have defeated the world!” - Jesus, in John 16:33 (ERV)

Things Seem to be Getting Worse – What Should We Do Now?

Today we see cultures and civilizations collapsing, society turning on itself, a huge decline in respect for truth, and simple goodness seeming to evaporate out of people’s lives. And we have a sense of dread that things will actually get worse. Of course, we can respond in many ways when we are faced with such sudden and drastic change. But Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 that we should work to  “Rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (CEB). Because what the Spirit of God can do through us when the world is in crisis is far different, and far better than what we would reflexively do without His help!

We have our marching orders. With God’s help, we will share the Good News, actively follow God’s Truth in our daily choices, and intentionally share the love of Jesus with everyone around us. We need not despair; we are the ones who have the “Blessed Hope,” the promise that Jesus will return, bringing a “new Heaven and a new Earth.” The next part of this study looks at very human and natural responses to the chaos around us, and then presents some TruthText guidance for living, with the promise of God’s own power to enable us. To close, here’s my paraphrase of Philippians 2:14-16:

Don’t complain, belittle, lash out, or argue like so many others are doing. That way nobody can criticize you or claim you’re a troublemaker. Stay clean, pure, and innocent, showing that you are God’s child, empowered by His Spirit. In this way, you’ll shine as a bright light while surrounded by dishonest and cruel people. Hang on to God’s Word, which is our lifeline. Study it, know it, and act on it. Then when Jesus returns, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that the actions you took and the life you lived were not wasted, but produced the results that honored God (and spread His love, even in very trying circumstances!)

Take Action!

First: Check my work! Be sure to look up the verses in this study in whatever translation of the Bible is the easiest for you to understand.* Read the whole section that each verse came from, and make sure that the words I have said about them are true. Once you are sure that I have given you accurate information, ask yourself the questions. Finally, ask God to show you what you should do next.

What are some of the issues and events that lead you to believe

that we are approaching the end?

How do people naturally react to the events we are seeing today?

Do those reactions make things better, or worse?

This study mentions that we are called to “watch, wait, and work.”

What does that phrase, “watch, wait, and work,” mean to you?

Which part of “watch, wait, and work” is the hardest for you to do?

Why do you think that is?

Why do we know that there is hope?

What will enable us to live in that hope?

What do the people around us need the most?

How can we, as believers, meet those needs?

Think of someone you know who is a believer, but is struggling with all of the issues and events in our world. (That would be all of us!)

What comfort and encouragement can you bring to that person?

* I use many translations of the Bible in these articles. Any of them would serve to support the points made in the chapter. All verses with no listed translations are my own paraphrase; please check with your own favorite Bible to be sure I got the right idea.

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