What Does It Mean To Shrink Back At His Appearing?

What Does It Mean To Shrink Back At His Appearing? December 19, 2018

Why did the Apostle John say he wanted believers to abide in Christ and have boldness on the day of His appearing, and not shrink back in shame? What’s the meaning?

Faithful Servant

Willem de Poorter, The Parable of The Talents or Minas. 17th Century

All believers are stewards…stewards of their time, talent, and treasure, and Jesus will hold us all accountable for what we have done (Matt 25:40) and haven’t done for Him (Matt 25:41), so when Jesus was speaking about stewardship, He gave the Parable of the Talents. To each, “he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away” (Matt 25:15), but He will come again to see what each had done with what they’d be given. We know He gave to each of them “according to his ability.” They had the ability to do good and the ability to invest these talents, sowing them into the Kingdom, so they had no excuse. They had the means and the ability, but not all of them acted wisely. Two did, as the Master says of their doubling their talents, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matt 25:23). They had been faithful. That’s what the Master was looking for. It wasn’t that it was doubled that mattered, but they had been faithful with what they’d been given. Then the third servant came and had nothing to show for what the Master had given him. He may have had little, but He was not faithful with it, so the Master said, “take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away” (Matt 25:28-29). What will the Master say to us? Will it be, “Well done thou good and faithful servant, for you attended 5,380 Bible studies and attended 9,873 church services….enter into the joy of the Lord?” By all means, no! It will be whether he or she was faithful with what was given them. Talents can be buried or multiplied, but if they don’t use them, they will lose them.

Shrinking Back

I can remember getting caught at doing something and then, being ashamed of it. I clearly knew what I was doing was wrong, but I did it any, but when I was caught, I had to admit it. I remember thinking, “If the Lord returned that very moment, would I shrink back from Jesus in shame?” I would say, yes at that moment, but the Apostle John actually wanted to encourage the church, however, he also wanted to make sure they understood that they are responsible for their actions or inactions. John implored them to “abide in [Jesus] so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming” (1 John 2:28). If you are not abiding in Christ, then you are likely not abiding in His Body, and probably not abiding in His Word, and maybe even not walking in obedience (Matt 25:35-36, 28:18-20). By not abiding in Christ, you won’t be acting as much like Christ, and if one is not acting like Christ and He appears at that moment, there is certainly the possibility that you or I would shrink back in shame.

His Appearance

The Bible teaches that many, not a few, will be stunned when Christ returns and they discover that He doesn’t even know them (Matt 7:21-23). Every unbeliever and false convert will see Jesus Christ coming in the clouds of glory. The only exception would be unless their death precedes His appearance, but that still means a judgment is coming (Heb 9:27), but for all who have rejected Christ, they “will wail (or mourn) on account of him” (Rev 1:7) because they refused to bow the knee to Him and repent and be saved. They will wail over their own rejection of Christ, knowing in their hearts that God does exist, so they’ll be without excuse (Psalm 19:1-2; Rom 1:18-21). Not only will they shrink back at His appearing, there may be a good many believers who do the same thing because they have not been living Christ-like, having one foot in the world, and the other in the Kingdom. By the way, that doesn’t work!

Examine Yourself

I say this not only to others in preaching and teaching, but I say it to myself: “Examine yourself!” It doesn’t hurt to take a self-diagnostic and the Word of God does an outstanding job of that. The Book of 1st John is an excellent example. So is the Book of Philippians, but John reminds the church of this tenet of the faith: “If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him” (1 John 1:29). If someone’s not practicing righteous living (Not perfect of course!), then it may well be time to “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test” (1 Cor 13:5). Peter tells us that we should “be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall” (2 Pet 1:10), and this spiritual self-examination will give you peace of mind, or as Peter writes, “For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 1:11).

Using our Talents

Some of the things that Jesus Christ has commanded the church to do is clearly spelled out in Scripture, so we have no excuse for not following His commands. For example, the command to go “and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt 28:19), but He also gives us specific things to do with our talents and Jesus sees these things as being done to Him. The Master says, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me” (Matt 25:35-36).


I pray you (and I) regularly examine ourselves to see if we’re soundly in the faith and to make sure we are being faithful servants with what we’ve been given. In this way, we won’t shrink back at His appearing. That’s because we understand that as far as Jesus sees it, “as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matt 25:40). There’s no reason to shrink back in shame if you’re found faithfully doing what He’s commanded…but there’s every reason to shrink back in shame if the Master says, “as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me” (Matt 25:45). We know that ends very badly (Matt 25:41).

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

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  • pud

    The proper question to ask is “Who cares what some guy who was maybe named “john” said?” Who cares? What sane and rational people do (not you obviously) is as WHAT IS ACTUALLY TRUE?

    You on the other hand, like a gullible indoctrinated non critically thinking infantile bumpkin, simply swallow whole whatever is fed to you by other gullible indoctrinated non critically thinking infantile superstitious bumpkins.

    “I pray you (and I) regularly examine ourselves to see if we’re soundly in the faith”

    Nothing fails like prayer. Are you going to change the plan of the almighty one?
    Faith is THE most dishonest position anyone can take. There is nothing too absurd or stupid that can’t be taken on “faith”…you’re living proof!

    “there’s every reason to shrink back in shame if the Master says, “as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me” (Matt 25:45). We know that ends very badly (Matt 25:41).”

    The ole master/slave relationship! What normal person wishes to be a slave?

    No, you do not “KNOW” jack, jack…you “believe” an ancient stupid false obscene BOOK!

    Fixed it all for you coward!

  • Carlos Santiago

    Thank you Jack. I appreciate your insight on this important topic. It’s been said ‘Christianity is not a religion it’s about a relationship’ and indeed it is. If we are not examining and using our talents to serve we are not in the relationship. We(both male and female) are created in His image. Our characterizations of a grumpy old man who sits on a carved throne judging is enjoys judging all day is twisted . God doesn’t crave rules and neither do we. We crave healthy relationships. It pleases the Father when we love and serve all people with our God given talents. By this we reflect His light. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3f200a1586cc5c7ee1146fd9d21397e953b714f8aa0e331f9c7f4d516c276bd4.jpg

    • pud

      Rubbish…Look up the definition of a “relationship”…takes two or more REAL existing objects to “relate” You cannot have a relationship with an invisible undetectable imaginary friend in your head.

  • Ellen EJ Lefavour

    Excellent. As the day of our Lord’s appearing approaches, we should be focusing all our attention on Him, praying without ceasing and doing the work He has called us all to do, while watching and waiting with eager expectancy.

    • pud

      OOOoooo! Any day now huh? Can’t wait for blood up to the bridles of horses can ya? Tell me simple minded indoctrinated delusional one…Why does an omnipotent “being” need you to do “his” work? You can’t even see how delusional and ridiculous you are.

  • Matthew 22:37

    A great quote by I.D. Williamson from his essay defending universalism:

    “I may remark, in passing, that GOD is the Savior of no more than he saves or will save. If ten men are in danger of upsetting a boat, and I go out to save them, you could not call me the savior of ten, unless I saved them. If you saw me launch out for their relief, and knew perfectly well that I would save them, you could with propriety call me the savior of the ten, even before the work was actually done. But if it should turn out, in the end, that I should save but five, then it would prove, that you were mistaken in saying that I was the savior of the ten. So here, God is not the Savior of a soul more than he actually saves. True, that work is not yet accomplished. But the apostle knew that he had engaged in the work, and that he could not fail of success, and therefore he called him the Savior of all men. But should it turn out, in the end, that God should save but a part, then would it be proved that the apostle was wrong, when he called him the “Savior of all men.”

    I know it is said, that God OFFERS salvation to all, but it should be remembered that an OFFER of salvation is one thing, and SALVATION ITSELF is another. If I offer to save a man who is drowning, THAT does not save him, neither does it make me his savior from death. God may offer salvation to man, but that does not save him, neither does it make God his Savior. He is the Savior only of as many as he saves. Should any man dispute this, I ask him to go forward to the future world, and as he looks down into that dismal hell, in which he believes, and beholds the multitude of its hopeless inhabitants, let him tell me, if he will, in what sense God is their Savior? It matters not what may have been OFFERED them, what have they RECEIVED? is the question on which your answer must depend. I care not what MEANS may have been put in operation for their salvation. If these means were not EFFECTUAL, and they are not saved, then God is not their SAVIOR, and the apostle labored and suffered reproach for a trust, that was vain and futile in the extreme.” – end quote

    The Christian Universalist view of human destiny seems to be the most childlike form of faith as a child knows to depend on His Father not on himself or human free will.

    Being spiritually born again all depends on Jesus and not on a human being’s choice at all as it is a supernatural birth that some receive and some don’t.

    Don’t bother arguing the scriptures with anyone because the time is better spent learning God’s perspective so you can deliver the Gospel to those ready and willing to receive it.

    Obviously Christians are not in complete agreement on the scriptures so why even bother arguing them with people who don’t know Jesus when you can use that time learning the scriptures and obtaining fuller spiritual growth.

    You can’t argue anyone into spiritual maturity. That comes from obedience to God.

    Where the spiritual unity comes in is in Jesus. Christians may differ on their beliefs on the destinies of men and in their interpretation of eschatology and on other doctrines but so long as the Christian abides in Jesus then he has spiritual unity through Jesus no matter the denomination.

    I put this out for Christians to consider. I don’t intend to argue it with anyone. These are advanced spiritual concepts and if you haven’t got Jesus then the foundation hasn’t been laid for you to understand them much less argue them.

    You can’t replace the spiritual with the empirical and achieve spirituality any more than you can replace the seed of an orange with an apple and achieve an orange.

    So I don’t argue any more with people who like to confuse the spiritual and the empirical and insist on making the false substitution as if they are authoritative or as if man made science is.

    If you want to understand the spiritual then you learn from the Master, Jesus, on it or from his disciples. Nobody else is adequately equipped to teach on it much less argue about it.

    God sees the end from the beginning. Man doesn’t. So if Paul calls Jesus the Savior of all men then he is. Effectually.

    • If God is the saviour of all human beings then what does this statement attributed to Jesus mean: “Depart from me you cursed into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels”.? Is the Paul of the pastoral letters diametrically opposed to Jesus in his views about the extent of salvation?

      What do we make of the Paul of 2 Thessalonians where he has Jesus coming again in flaming fire taking vengeance on all who do not obey God nor believe in the gospel of Jesus? Is he a different Paul than the Paul of the pastoral letters?

      Perhaps a simpler hypothesis is that the bible is full of contradictions?

      • Matthew 22:37

        Matthew 25:41 Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)

        41 Then shall he say also to those on the left hand, Go ye from me, the cursed, to the fire, the age-during, that hath been prepared for the Devil and his messengers;

        • “I am not limited to this one place on the Net at all.” Did I say that you were so limited? Your propaganda is on many sites under different monikers.

        • “Do the scriptural research.” “…God’s position on man’s destiny…”

          Your assumption seems to be that the bible is the Word of God. If it’s not, how can you know that you have “God’s position on man’s destiny”? And wouldn’t doing a “scriptural research” be useless?

          What do you make of God’s alleged command to Saul, through the false prophet Samuel, that he take his army and exterminate the Amalekites for what they did to Israel about 400 years earlier? Saul was told that not only the combatant troops must be destroyed but civilians, including defenceless women, little children and babies. They were to exterminate “everything that breathes”. Is this command to commit murder really a command of God? What responsibility did little children and babies have that they should be brutally murdered? (1 Sam:15). This is in the bible, but it is hardly consistent with the Jesus that we see in the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon on the Plain. So isn’t the hypothesis that the bible is NOT the word of any god more likely?

        • pud

          You have no “mind” to be “made up” You surrendered your mind a long time ago in favor of a superstition. You handed in your critical thinking skills if you ever had any in favor of someones made up primitive narrative. Had you been born in Iran you would surely be babbling the same things using the Q’ran story as your basis. You, like jack and his simple minded drones, do not care for what is true…you prove this when you state that nothing will or could change your delusional perspective.

        • If you study the bible properly, you will become an atheist. So much of it is barbaric that it cannot be the Word of any god.

          Why not do deep breathing? Slowly in and slowly out! You will sense a presence of compassion, peace and loving-kindness. You don’t need any holy book, any temple or church, or any religious guru to interpret the so-called sacred text. Just practise kindness!

  • Matthew 22:37

    I am done posting in this thread. You can’t really discuss the topic of salvation with people predetermined to extinguish God, His Son and His Word.

    All you can do is pray and advise them of the need for self examination and repentance. But they may not hear and judge correctly if their hearts have grown callused or their consciences are seared.

    We see that demonstrated every day in this comments section. Maybe the atheists should be praying for God to restore their hearts and consciences for them because right now all they do is put a holy God on trial when they aren’t mocking His followers and trying to force a false substitution of the empirical for the spiritual in other people’s minds.

    This is why attitude, humility and obedience, towards God is so important. The flesh nature is fallen. Why would a human being trust in his own fallen nature ahead of a holy God’s promises and revelation? Human history is replete with examples of mankind’s fallenness. Go read what people do in times of war. Is that not an ample enough demonstration of fallen human nature.

    Better to pray to God to open one’s eyes to one’s own falleness, weakness and depravity before daring to judge God in a public forum and assusming you can lead others into agreeing with your depravity.

    I am done in this thread. People need to have a teachable spirit with a reverence for God to even approach the scriptures. Without that there is something gone awry in the human heart. I can’t fix it. The only one that can is God.

    So if you need one. Take your heart to God and ask for a whole new heart and attitude like David did in Psalm 51.

    I am not arguing with people who need heart and attitude adjustments from God. With people who have the unteachable spirit and put the false man made idol of science in God’s place which is the altar of the human heart.

    All my best to everyone reading and may His grace abound to you!

    • What bullshit! The bible is NOT the word of any god. You should actually read it, instead of substituting your nonsensical “spiritual” reading. Does the text have God telling Saul, through the so-called prophet Samuel, to exterminate little children and babies? You know it does, so don’t deflect from this horror by claiming some ‘spiritual’ understanding.

      You are so deluded to imagine that a book written by bloodthirsty, violent, and very ignorant savages, who created god in their own likeness, is some “Word” written by a god.

    • Illithid

      Just FYI, not every atheist finds it necessary to mock and belittle all religious believers. I like a vigorous debate, but I try to be civil.

      Perhaps they’ll grow out of it.

      • Matthew 22:37

        i know but arguing is a worthless endeavor for a Christian.

        We aren’t suppose to be spending our time around people who deny God exists but around godly friends.

        Many people have gone awry in this world from keeping bad company.

        How many parents would go back and screen their children’s friends if they could. Bad behavior can be communicated and learned.

        “Bad company corrupts good character” the Bible says.

        So I seek out the good company now. The people seeking to follow Jesus’ way.

        You cannot learn it from people determined to deny him.

        Many people have probably learned a “fear of man” from hanging around bad company.

        Armies are based on a “fear of man” i.e. peer pressure.

        Keep your mind focused on Jesus and stay in the right company and ask God to send you a godly friend or two.

        David had a godly friend, Jonathan.

        Solomon had ungodly wives and they led him astray.

        Google the topic of godly friends and see what bible verses come up.

        This is one reason why I say put an emphasis on studying with the best disciples of Jesus.

        People can have an evil influence on other people so come out of their orbit and let God school you through the best people who have been influenced by Him. These people do exist y’know.

        Never get so set in this world’s ways that you refuse to let God remake you and restore His image in you. But that is exactly what people do. Become fearful of change and want to stay set in their old sinful ways.

        The only perfect parent is God the Father.

        He is also our sovereign.

        When you engage in all this arguing online all you are really doing is reading treason against Him.

        I never harbor traitorous thoughts about Him so why do I want to learn and harbor other people’s evil traitorous thoughts and doubts about Him?

        I don’t. It is worthless, subversive chatter.

        I will focus on Jesus and let him take me to a better plane of existence.

        • Illithid

          To be clear, I am also an atheist. I became so by studying the Christian Bible. I just don’t like to be rude about it. My only objection to anyone’s religion is when they try to force it on others, such as by teaching creationism in science classes, or discriminating against gay people, or denying their children medical care. Otherwise, though I think you’re wrong, hey, believe what you want.

          • Matthew 22:37

            Well have a good day. There is no point in me arguing with people who have too literal a view of the Bible. I always had enough imagination to give God credit for the benefit of the doubt. He is the omniscient one after all who sees and knows where people don’t.

            Also some of my minor ventures into science validate the Bible. I don’t spend much time on it but I think the dietary laws, the prohibition against touching dead bodies and the prohibition against homosexuality helped to protect the genetics and health of God’s people.

            Medical doctors today still say the Old Testament diet is medically sound.

            Plus recent discoveries on the brain reveal homosexuality could be a disability and promiscuity is not biologically favorable for women

            So why is it people get to deny the reality of a disability and the majority of society be forced to convert from their own reality to the disabled person’s version of reality? Do people with a cleft palate or clubfoot get to say they aren’t disabled?

            A disability can occur naturally. Also certain types of intercourse are not natural to the human body and open it more easily to the possibility of disease or injury.

            So if God wants to protect His people’s health and human genetics why do so many of the people today object to that? Why can’t God be protecting human role models?

            Isn’t it man over reacting to and misinterpreting things God has said?

            Go watch the TED video on Youtube by Helen Fisher about the brain in love. It validates Genesis 2 in my opinion.

            Read up on the over secretion of hormones in utero changing the brains in homosexuals.

            Then ask yourself why public education goes around promoting the safe sex myth when condoms and diaphragms are not 100 percent fool proof. Monogamy and abstinence offer the higher level of safety.

            But the sexual revolutionary ideas got out of the box back in the 1950’s ahead of the biology and science today and is it too politically dangerous and socially volatile now to reveal the true facts?

            Have a blessed day. I hope you take the time to check the health and sexual facts out before rendering further judgment on the Bible because people like to fight a lot of battles based on assumptions and political rhetoric that don’t take some of the facts into consideration. I guess they want to live their lives more than they want to know the true facts.

            The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

          • As soon as Illithid mentioned that he was an atheist, you claim that you don’t want to argue with people who have “too literal a view of the Bible”. Does this mean that you want to spiritualize the bible when you come across the texts of terror that are in the bible? Does this mean that you, and only those who agree with you, can have a proper “spiritual” understanding of the bible?

            Why are you too afraid to face the texts of terror that are there? Is it because you are too scared that to believe that they occurred and were commanded by your god? Do you think that to accept them literally would mean that your god is plainly immoral? Are you afraid of becoming an atheist?

          • Matthew 22:37

            I am done here. I have never been afraid of anything an atheist says.

            But you cannot be reasoned with usually and you just never put in the research you should on spiritual matters because you don’t seem to want to believe or really know the truth.

            I want to invest my time where I get a better return for the effort.

            I should spend more time with the biblical archaeologists. I really like how they validate the Bible as a historical document. I just ran across the Smithsonian and National Geographic doing that today.

            I loved it when I found the Nebuchadnezzar tablet in the British Museum years ago validating the biblical account of King Nebuchadnezzar eating grass for 7 years in the field like a cow as God decreed. The modern name for that is poryphyria.

          • Perhaps you might be better off if you gave up your so-called spiritual reasoning and studied modern biblical scholarship, modern Christian theology and ethics, instead of living in your fantasy world of spiritual reasoning. Of course, it makes far greater sense of reality to adopt atheism than to live in your delusional world of make believe.

          • Illithid

            I’ll reply to two of your points here, leaving aside the theology.

            “So why is it people get to deny the reality of a disability and the majority of society be forced to convert from their own reality to the disabled person’s version of reality?”

            Who’s being forced? People are being persuaded that non-heterosexual orientations are natural and not harmful, with the agreement of reputable medical and psychiatric organizations. What people may be coerced by law to do, if necessary, is to treat gay people as full citizens with equal legal rights.

            “Then ask yourself why public education goes around promoting the safe sex myth when condoms and diaphragms are not 100 percent fool proof. Monogamy and abstinence offer the higher level of safety.”

            Public sex education does not claim that any prophylactic method is 100% safe, as far as I know. I agree that monogamy is safer, and this is what I practice. And while it true that abstinance is 100% effective, abstinance-only education is definitely not.

            Regarding the Bible, let me say that there can be some worthwhile observations and rules in a religious tradition without there being any truth to the theological claims. There can be plenty of errors, too. I’ve read the books, I’m familiar with Christian claims and apologetics. I just don’t find them convincing. I think your god, like every god ever described in human history, is made up. It’s just that simple.