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When Patience Must Give Way to Endurance

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful. (James 5:7-11)

Since there is near universal agreement, regardless of doctrinal orientation, that the Epistle of James is most likely the earliest of all the New Testament writings preserved in the canon of Scripture, it is interesting to note what he sees as most important to affirm to the early Christians where the Second Coming is concerned. James does not mention any of the End Times milestones or activities which consume most present-day discussions, books and websites such as the timing of the Rapture, but highlights two basic things which he believes will see Christians through to the end: patience and endurance. In other words, he does not remind them of the particular mechanics or timeline of the Last Days, something which at this point in time the Early Church would have understood from Christ’s Olivet Discourse, but succinctly places the emphasis on the more important issue of how a Christian lives and behaves in the course of seeing those things played out. This is actually the essence of the accompanying parables and illustrations Christ provided not just in the Olivet Discourse, but in all His teachings on the Second Coming, that the more important issue for Christians is going to be whether or not they are found to be practicing, serving Christians when the Master returns. In those teachings, no one is ever approved or rewarded for keeping an accurate End Times chart.

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