Revelation 14:14 describes a scene of the
coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible says, “And I looked, and behold a
white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his
head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.” It is very clear that
this text is talking about the coming of Christ, as many times the Bible
describes His coming in clouds accompanied by all of His angels. He will come
as King of kings with glory and power wearing a golden crown upon His head.
Interestingly, He will come not only as a King, but also with a sharp sickle in
His hand. A sickle is a tool of farmers, so why will Jesus come as a King of
kings, and at the same time come as a farmer?
The season in which the farmer uses his
sickle is at the time of harvest. Jesus Christ is coming back with a sickle in
His hand because the second coming of Christ is the time of harvest. The
harvest is the children of God, those who reflect His image. “And another angel
came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud,
Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the
harvest of the earth is ripe.” Verse 15. A similar picture is seen in Mark
4:29: “But when the fruit is brought forth [ripe], immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.” These
verses give us an idea that Jesus is coming back as soon as the earth is
With this in mind, who is waiting for whom?
Is the farmer waiting for the fruits, or are the fruits waiting for the farmer?
Are we waiting for Christ, or is Christ waiting for us? Christ is waiting for
us to be ripe, although we can also say that we are waiting for Christ as well.
Virginia and South Carolina are two of the
fruit growing states in the United States. If you were to go to an apple
orchard around the end of September, you would see acres of apple trees all
laden with an abundance of fruit, some red, some green, and some yellow. Even
before the fruit is ripe, it looks as if it would be juicy and sweet and ready
to eat. You may be hungry and reach out to pluck that apple when it is not
ripe, but it will hang on tight to the branch, and you will have to pull at it,
having a war with the branch, twisting and pulling it hard before you can pluck
it and then bite into it. Only then do you realize it is not ripe; it does not
taste good because it is very sour and if you eat it you may get a stomachache.
However, if you go to that same orchard
around the beautiful time of autumn the fruit will be ripe. At the first bite
the delicious sweet juice will run down your chin because it is ready with a
sweet taste; it is ripe. Jesus Christ is coming back, not for sour people, but
for sweet people. He is coming back, not to fight with the world over you, not
to twist you, not to turn you, or pull you. All that Jesus needs to do when He
returns the second time is just touch you, and you will be ready. Those are the
kinds of people that Christ is waiting for—sweet people of God.
then do we get ready for the Second Coming of Christ?
It is very simple! We must become ripe and
sweet fruit. This can be confirmed one more time from the Bible to make it
clear. “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold,
the husbandman [farmer] waiteth for the precious fruit
of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and
latter rain.” James 5:7.
There you have it. Christ is waiting for His
people to become ripe fruit. But to become a ripe fruit, you have to receive
the early and the latter rain. Before even considering the early and latter
rain, a seed must be planted into the ground. Planting yourself into the ground
is the beginning or the start of preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ.
That tree is dependent upon how the seed grows in its first three years.
Once the seed is planted, it must die.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground
and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” John 12:24. According to the
Bible, to bring forth much fruit the seed must first go into the ground and
die. Without the death of the seed, there is no life in that plant and hence no
The only way to be ready for the coming of
Christ, to be harvested by the sickle of Jesus and be taken away by the
heavenly Farmer, is to first die. As soon as a baby is born into this world, it
begins to die. In this world, you are born to die.
However, in the Christian world, you die to
live. The worldly philosophy is to ask what life is all about. Let us eat; let
us drink; let us party and have a good time. If it feels good, do it; if it
tastes good, eat it! If you want to get it, get it now and have a good time,
because tomorrow you will die. But the Christian’s philosophy is totally
opposite. It says, let us die with Jesus today that we may live with Him
A strong Biblical concept is that those who
want to have life must experience death with Christ in baptism. “Know ye not,
that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his
death?” Romans 6:3. Here we see that baptism represents death with Christ. So,
baptism represents death to the old life and the beginning of the new.
The Bible says, “Therefore we are buried with
him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by
the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Verse
The three most important ceremonies that you
will celebrate in this life are your birthday, wedding, and funeral. All three
of these events happen on the day you are baptized: birthday, marriage to
Christ, and the most important aspect, the funeral to the old self. What kind
of person is buried in the ground? A dead person! If a live person was buried
it would be considered murder, so only those who are dead—dead to self—should
be baptized. There are many people being baptized who can say, “I know the
doctrines; I don’t eat pork; I don’t drink alcohol; I will keep God’s holy day,
and I will pay my tithe; I know about the second coming, and I know about the law
of God.” Yet they are still full of selfishness, impatience, jealousy and evil
surmising; are still envious, revengeful, backbiting, gossiping and greedy,
having all these things in their hearts.
To have doctrinal understanding only and be
baptized is to be buried alive. When people are baptized alive, not
understanding the meaning of dying to self by surrendering himself or herself
to God, it brings trouble into the midst of Christian fellowship. Understanding
the true meaning of baptism is essential to the new candidate, to prevent
him/her from making such a solemn vow. Baptism is clear—dying with Jesus and
living with Christ. “For if we have been planted [in the ground] together in
the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
Knowing this, [you had better know this!] that our old man is crucified with him,
that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve
sin.” Verses 5, 6.
what needs to die?
The old man! Whether you like it or not, all
have an old man that must be slain day by day. You see, baptism is the occasion
that you commit yourself to die to self, the day that you allow Christ to
crucify the old man. But after baptism it does not feel as if the old man is
completely dead. That is the reason why Paul says, “I die daily.” 1 Corinthians
15:31. That old man wants to live again and again and again. But, by the power
of God you can keep him dead day by day. That is the power of the message of
salvation for mankind.
But let us go a little deeper than this. What
kind of man is the old man? The Bible says when the old man is dead, then you
should not serve sin. So if the old man is alive, that means we are still
serving sin. Consider this: If I am serving you, that would mean that I am your
slave or servant and you are my master. So I have a master named old man. That
master named old man is to die in order for me, as a servant of this master, to
be free. When the master is dead, I am free. The Bible says, “For he that is
dead is freed from sin.” Verse 7.
it possible to be free from sin?
The Bible answers this and reveals the secret
how to be free from sin—to be dead. This means surrender, to be completely
surrendered to God. He that is dead to the old man, it is he who is free from
When first learning how to type, it seems so
awkward and difficult to hit the right key, but with practice, doing it over
and over again, you find that it is no longer necessary to look at the keys
because it just happens automatically. Repetition forms habits. And when a
habit is formed, it is acted upon without any thought. Habits can be good or
dangerous. So what kind of old man is this? It is an old man that causes you to
commit sin automatically, and the sins committed are habitual sins to which you
As a young person I had a bad habit of
stealing. At first I found it very difficult. My heart pumped with fear as I
looked at the storeowner and looked around making sure no one was watching as I
grabbed the candy and put it in my pocket. My whole body shook, and I was
sweating as I slowly walked out of the door when the owner was not watching. I
took off and then stopped, looking around to make sure that no one was
watching, before I ate my candy with fear and trembling. Each time after that
it became easier and easier, until after years walking into a store, stealing
became automatic without any nervousness. Sin becomes automatic, and you become
a slave to it until it is impossible to give it up.
Some have habits of smoking or drinking alcohol,
and others have a bad temper that they claim to have inherited from their
family and it seems impossible to change. There are young people who are
addicted to drugs, cocaine, crystal meth, marijuana, sex and alcohol, and some
husbands are so addicted to anger that they beat up their wives. Children are
addicted to video games that consume their every thought, playing games for
hours each day. Some mothers are addicted to shopping, and that is all they can
think about doing—shop, shop, shop, ’til they drop! All of these habits consume
a person and take so much time and energy that those who are trapped often
think they are too far in sin for God to change them, so they try to kill that
old man themselves by making resolutions to quit their habit. They muster all
of their strength, and with great effort tear that cigarette apart, flush it
down a toilet, and then say, “Ok, from this day I’m not going to smoke!”
The first week is often fine and even the
second week goes well, but on the third week the boss may speak as though they
might get fired. The fourth week their child starts being a bother. Then on the
fifth week the wife starts nagging because there is no money coming in.
Nervousness sets in and then worry. Then starts the search for something to give
some comfort. The old habit kicks in—just one time, one more! After all, isn’t
there a reason? I am stressed out. I am full of anxieties; let me relax; just
one more! And they do it. Next day they do it again, and then, in half a week
they are back to where they were before, but even worse.
Because they tried to kill their old man with
human strength, it did not happen. There are many ways to kill a person. You
can shoot him, strangle him, hang him, poison him, cut him, beat him or drown
him, but there is only one way to kill the old man. That old man must be
brought to Jesus at the foot of the cross and see Him dying there; see Jesus
bleeding for his/her sins; see Jesus suffering for his/her transgressions. See
Jesus agonizing before God, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
That old man must be brought to the cross,
not in your own effort alone. The only effort you can put forth is to drag that
old man to the cross and fall at the feet of Jesus helplessly. Tell Him all
about the pains in your life and the guilt that you face. Tell Him about the
bondage that you are in. Tell Him you are sick of falling again, and again,
into the same old sins, that you are tired of it. Jesus will cleanse you with
the power of the love of God if you will allow Him, He will crucify that old
Christ has the power. “That ye put off
concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to
the deceitful lusts. Ephesians 4:22.
When the Bible says, “put off,” it gives the
idea of putting off a garment. It goes on to say, “And be renewed in the spirit
of your mind.” Verse 23. Putting off the old man means the transformation of
the heart and mind. The Bible says, “And that ye put on the new man, which
after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Verse 24. Praise God!
Through Christ you can put off the old man and put on the new man. But the
question is, How do we put off the old man?
“Crucify him.” Paul says, “I am crucified
with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth
in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the
Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20.
When we pray as Paul prayed, we receive power
to live a new life with Christ dwelling in our hearts. That old man must die.
What is the condition of a dead person? “For the living know that they shall
die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have
they anymore a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love,
and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished.” Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6.
According to this Scripture, a dead person
cannot talk, cannot love, and cannot hate. So when your old man is dead, he
cannot hate; he cannot love, and he does not know anything.
We as human beings, living in this world,
see, hear, smell, and feel temptations. Many times Satan is so clever that when
he tempts, he tempts you in such a way that he causes you to think you have
already committed sin while you are only being tempted. He turns your feelings,
emotions and thoughts in such a way that he causes you to think you already
committed the sin. The devil manipulates and plays with your mind. Temptation
is not sin, but when yielding to that temptation, then it is sin. So, between
the temptation and yielding, the Christian has the power to say, “Stop! Before
I yield to this. I claim that I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live;
but Christ liveth in me.” If Christ is living in you,
you will respond just the way that Christ would respond to the temptation.
Christ was tempted in all points as we are,
but without sin (See Hebrews 4:15). Christ must live within your heart and you
must surrender to Him moment by moment to receive His power. But how is that
possible when we see, feel, hear and even smell temptation? While living by
feelings, it is impossible; you must live by faith. Faith and feelings are as
different as east and west—totally different. Some people depend upon feelings
to determine the strength of their faith. When feeling good, they have strong
faith, but if they feel bad, they are low in spirituality. Feelings may
fluctuate, but faith remains steady without listening to feelings, relying on
the word of God. The power that is available can only be received by making the
Though temptations come, respond by faith in
the love of Christ, which is the power and secret of the Christian life. When a
body is buried, it is put six feet under the ground, and so should the old man
be buried, six feet under, but why not make it seven feet under—a perfect
burial, and then put a little mountain on top of it so that the old man will
not come back up again.
If only a part of the old man is buried, then
a foot or hand may come back out and grab something that he likes. That old man
wants to live, but by faith you must tell Jesus, “Lord, keep my old man dead,
every day, and by faith I live by You and not by him.”
If you have this kind of commitment with the
Lord, you will have a victorious Christian experience. The old man has wounded
some of you and some others make mistakes here and there, but Jesus is saying,
“My child, come to Me. My son, come to me. Let Me explain to you how you can
overcome your own self. Let’s walk together again. Die with Me so you can live
with Me and walk with Me.”
Do you know how to live the life of humility
and obedience? “Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not.” I John 3:6. To dwell on the sin, saying, I
cannot commit sin, I better not commit sin, keeps the focus always on the sin,
but this misses the crucial point. In order to have strength to overcome sin,
the first effort must be to abide with Christ, day by day learning to abide in
Him: “nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth
in me.” Galatians 2:20.
then are there so many fights in the church?
Church members are so often not talking to
each other, or competing with each other, or jostling over who will be the next
head elder and fighting for position or power. They say, “Who’s paying the most
money into church?” “Who has the best education?” Why is it that so often in
the board meeting there is dissention, which ends up in fighting? The root of
the problem is that we have not learned to die to self, daily. If the church
members are dead to self and Christ is living in them, automatically and
naturally there will be complete unity and power.
God arranged that there would be order. He
planned it, and we must follow His example and follow His steps. Are you
fighting for a position or power? How often we see the bigger brother pull rank
on the younger brother, pushing the responsibilities his way. When young men
show their muscle and their magnificence comparing themselves one against
another, self is not dead. When girls gather together and compare who is the
thinnest, who is the most beautiful, who has the best-looking boy friend, self
is not dead. And then when watching television with every soap opera saturated
with adultery, fornication, and self-exaltation by beholding, we become
changed. Self is not dead. When young people play computer games of destruction,
bloodshed and blowing things up, self is not dead. Do you understand?
Satan is in this world, and he is doing all
he can to deceive the people. When Jesus was hanging on the cross, he caused
the people watching to say, “If you are the Son of God, come down and save
Yourself and we will believe You.” Matthew 27:40. But Christ said, “Forgive
them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34. They beat Him, whipped Him,
spat upon Him, dragged Him, mocked Him, reviled Him, and nailed Him on the
cross, but Jesus, ever so softly and tenderly looked down and said, “My child,
I love you. I cannot come down because I want to save you.”
Oh, my brothers and sisters, look to Jesus.
Look to Christ. If you do, your old man will become nothing. The only thing you
will see is Jesus Christ Who is all in all. Jesus says, “Let us go; let us live
Judy Hallingstad is part of the LandMarks
team. She may be contacted by email at: email@example.com.