Ready For His Coming!
Believers and unbelievers have always had a fascination about what will happen in the life beyond.
People want to know what happens to them at death.
They want to know about the life to come.
Believers have always had that fascination.
The early Christians also had it, so Paul wrote: "I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren,
concerning them which are asleep (believers who are dead), that you sorrow not,
even as others which have no hope." (1 Thessalonians 4:13)
Paul outlines the major events in God's plan for the future.
The pivotal event in the future is the second coming of Christ.
It is so central that Paul refers to it as "our blessed hope." (Titus 2:11-14)
In that passage Paul wrote, " For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously,
and godly, in this present world;
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ;
Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself
a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
Paul describes the second coming as our blessed hope because the return of Christ will mark the
consummation of the age and the beginning of the eternal order.
When Christ comes, time will be no more, and all who are in Christ will live in heaven with Him
throughout all eternity.
Although, there is so much confusion and division regarding the second coming of Jesus,
Christians are generally agreed on the basics.
The basics are important.
When Christ returns those who are living at that time, and those that have already met death
will be with Him.
In this sermon I do not plan to discuss the different interpretations of Revelation 20
where we find the phrase, "a thousand years."
If God leads, then I will present a message on the different views concerning the millennium.
I have studied all these views, but for this message, I want to dwell on the clear facts
from God's Word upon which every Christian can agree.
C. S. Lewis said: "All that really matters is that you were at your post when the inspection came."
I believe that it is obviously clear that Christ did not mean for us to have all the details of His purpose
for the future.
If he had, I believe the details would have been plainly understood.
That which Christians need to know, we do know.
We know that the Lord has promised to return to the earth.
We know that with His return the dead will be raised and the living will be transformed.
We know that He will exercise final judgment upon men and their response to the offer of His mercy
through His redemptive work.
We know that He will put an end to the present world order and establish the eternal order for the glory
those who are His, and a degradation of those who are not his.
There are some things about the second coming that most interpreters would agree,
and those are the things I want to dwell on in this message.
First, and most important is the certainty of His coming.
He will come again.
He has promised that He would, and He will keep His promise for He has never broken
one of His promises.
In John 14, Jesus was seeking to comfort His disciples after he had announced to them
that he would soon die.
He tells them not to be troubled.
He tells them that there is room for everyone in the Father's house, and He is going there
to prepare a place for them.
Then, He says very clearly, " If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again,
and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." (John 14:3)
After Jesus had been crucified, buried, and raised from the dead, He is ascending into heaven.
An angel speaks to the disciples who are standing there and watching.
Acts 1: 10-11 says, " And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up,
behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;
Which also said, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus,
which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him
go into heaven."
This same Jesus!
That is amazing!
This same Jesus who was born in Bethlehem is coming again.
This same Jesus who grew up in Nazareth is coming again.
This same Jesus who turned the water into wine is coming again.
This same Jesus who walked on water is coming again.
This same Jesus who healed the nobleman's son is coming again.
This same Jesus who raised Lazarus from the dead is coming again.
This same Jesus who wept over Jerusalem is coming again.
This same Jesus who was betrayed by Judas is coming again.
This same Jesus who was whipped, beaten, scourged, mocked, and condemned to death
is coming again.
This same Jesus who died on the cross on Calvary is coming again.
This same Jesus who rose from the dead on Sunday morning is coming again.
This same Jesus who ascended into heaven is coming again.
The actual, historical Jesus who lived more than 2000 years ago on this earth is returning to the earth
one more time.
That is simply astounding!
Paul said this in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17:
" For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain
unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel,
and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
Then we've which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds,
to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."
We need to look at the manner of His coming.
It will be a personal coming.
Remember, the angel said in Acts 1:11: "This same Jesus, which is taken up from you
into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen him go into heaven."
The emphasis of scripture is always on a personal, visible, and triumphant return of Christ to the earth.
Second, it will be a sudden return.
He will come as a thief in the night. (2 Peter 3:10)
It will be as it was in the days of Noah, people will be eating, drinking, marrying,
and giving in marriage. (Matthew 24:37)
People will be going about the normal activities of their lives with little or no thought of
God's judgment or eternity.
1 Thessalonians 5:3 states that it will be like the birth pangs of a woman.
A husband and wife may very well anticipate the coming of a child and even know
the approximate time, but it is almost always a surprise when the birth pangs begin.
And His coming will be a triumphant return.
In our text, Paul speaks of it as "the glorious appearing" of our Lord.
There is an old story about a shoe shine man in a barber shop.
He was familiar to every one who came to the barber shop and he always had his Bible lying close by
when he was not reading it.
One day a customer said to him, "I see that you are reading the Book of Revelation.
Do you understand it?"
" Yes, sir, I know what it means," he answered.
The man responded: "You mean that you know what it means when Bible scholars have disagreed
about it all these years!
What do you think it means?"
"It means that Jesus is gonna win." He answered.
That is the bottom line of the coming again of Jesus.
He came the first time in humility.
He will come the second time in glory.
He came the first time to suffer.
He will come the second time to reign.
He came the first time for salvation for the world.
He will come the second time in judgment. (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9)
As someone has said: "Don't look for signs -- look for the Saviour."
No aspect of the second coming of Christ has created more interest than the time of his coming.
From the earliest days of Christian history, people have tried to predict when that time would be.
Hippolytus, a early church father in 170 A.D.-236 A.D. predicted the world would end in 500 A.D.,
and that he based his predictions on the dimensions of Noah's ark.
In the year 375 A.D., an early Christian writer proclaimed:
"There is no doubt that the Antichrist has already been born.
Firmly established in his early years and in a few years will achieve supreme power."
Around the year of 1000 A.D. were filled with predictions of the coming of Christ.
At that time people were so sure of the Lord's coming that they didn't even plant their crops.
In the 1500's Martin Luther wrote, "We have reached the time of the white horse of the Apocalypse.
This world won't last any longer."
Christopher Columbus was a student of biblical prophecy.
He wrote a book called "The Book of Prophecies," in, which he predicted that the world
would end in 1556.
He even wrote, "There is no doubt that the world must end in one hundred fifty five years.
In the year 1666 there were end time speculations.
One pastor wrote in his journal,
"Every time a storm has hit this year the church was full of people waiting for Jesus."
In 1800 William Miller predicted the return of Christ in 1844.
All over the Northeast, half a million Adventists awaited the end of the world on April 3,1843.
The journalists of that day had a lot to say about that.
It was reported that some disciples were on mountaintops, waiting for His coming.
Others were in graveyards, planning to ascend to heaven when their departed loved ones
would come out of their graves to meet the Lord.
Some high society ladies gathered together outside Philadelphia to avoid entering God's holy kingdom
with the common people.
In 1992, Harold Camping predicted the end, and when nothing happened, he changed his predicted date
to 1993, and then to 1994.
All of these people had one thing in common.
They don't believe Jesus when He said that no one knows the time.
There are those who try to predict by saying "this is going to happen, and then, that is going to happen,
and then Jesus is going to come."
Did they not get it -- no one knows!
No man knows the day and the hour.
So, Jesus says to be ready all the time, and to always to be expecting His return.
Jesus tells us all that we need to know about the time of His coming.
In Matthew 24:36 Jesus said: "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, not even the
angels of heaven, but my father only."
Jesus settled the question about that time of His coming, and that ought to settle it once and for all.
After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples, and they were still anxious
about the end of everything.
They asked, "Lord, will thou at this time restore again the kingdom of Israel?"
And Jesus said to them, "It is not for you to know the time or the seasons which the father
hath put in his own power." (Acts 1:6-7)
How could anything be clearer than that.
So, when you hear anyone predicting the end of the world or the coming of Jesus,
you know that they don't know, so don't give them the time of day.
The disciples were concerned about the end time, but Jesus was concerned about the present time.
Jesus said, " But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you:
and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria,
and unto the uttermost part of the earth." (Acts 1: 8)
And in obedience to the clear commands of Jesus Christ we must be present time Christians,
not end-time Christians.
Our concern must be about witnessing and telling others about Jesus until that time comes,
whenever that will be.
So, we are not to look for signs, we are to look for the Saviour.
Just as Paul admonishes us, we are to be living sober, righteous, and godly lives,
"looking for the blessed hope
" (Titus 2:13-14)
We must continue to focus on Jesus.
He may come at any moment and we must be ready.
Matthew 24:44 tells us that we ought to be ready.
If Jesus is going to come as a thief in the night, it will be as it was in the days of Noah.
then we must be ready at all times.
Since we don't know the time of His coming, there are some things that we should be doing.
We should also be ready.
There have been some Christians who sold all that they had, and moved to the wilderness
to wait for the coming of Jesus.
Jesus has never asked His followers to do anything like that.
He does say that we should be faithful in doing whatever He gives us to do.
Your job may be big or small, but whatever it is, do it to the best of your ability
and you'll be ready when Jesus returns.
Be faithful today, and you'll be ready today.
Be faithful tomorrow, and you'll be ready for next week.
Be faithful next week, and you'll be ready for next month.
Be faithful next month, and you'll be ready for next year.
Someone once asked Martin Luther what he would do if he knew Jesus was coming back tomorrow.
"I would plant a tree," he replied.
Just keep on doing what you know to be right and whenever Jesus comes, you won't be disappointed.
At the height of WWII, Protestant theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer was imprisoned for taking a stand
Yet, he continued to urge fellow believers to resist Nazi tyranny.
A group of Christians, believing that Hitler was the Antichrist, asked Bonhoeffer,
"Why do you expose yourself to all this danger?
Jesus will return any day, and all your work and suffering will be for nothing."
Bonhoeffer replied, "If Jesus returns tomorrow, then tomorrow I'll rest from my labor.
But today I have work to do. I must continue the struggle until it's finished."
(Daily Bread, November 10, 1991.)
Bonhoefer was right, it is not for us to try to determine the "when" of the Lord's coming,
it is our responsibility to be expectant of his coming that we might be found doing what the Lord Jesus
has called us to do.
Someone has said:
"Live as though He might come today.
Plan as though He won't return for a thousand years."
We must always be aware that the Lord may come soon, and we should always be watching
for His return.
Jesus uses the illustration of being prepared for a thief.
When do you prepare for a thief?
If you're going to be prepared, then you must always be prepared.
The point is -- Jesus wants us to be doing the right thing all the time.
If you knew this were the day, how would you spend it differently?
Would you tell your neighbors about Jesus?
Would you change your television viewing?
Would you commit yourself fully to the Lord for the first time?
If we are ready and watching, we will make sure that we are living right when Jesus comes again.
Watching for Jesus to come will radically affect our behavior every day of our lives.
If you knew Jesus was coming today, what would you do?
Are there any accounts you would want to settle?
Are there any disputes you would want to reconcile?
Is there anybody you have mistreated of which you would want to ask forgiveness?
Do you want Jesus to come again and find you in some bar?
Do you want Him to come again and find you in bed with someone who is not your spouse?
Do you want Him to come again and find you looking at pornography on the Internet?
Is there any secret sin in your life you'd want to deal with?
Would you want Christ to come again at a time when you haven't attended church in months?
"Jesus is coming to earth again; what if it were today?
Coming in power and love to reign; what if it were today?
Coming to claim His chosen Bride, all the redeemed and purified,
Over this whole earth scattered wide; what if it were today?
Satan's dominion will then be o'er, O that it were today!
Sorrow and sighing shall be no more, O that it were today!
Then shall the dead in Christ arise, caught up to meet Him in the skies,
When shall these glories meet our eyes? What if it were today?
Faithful and true would He find us here if He should come today?
Watching in gladness and not in fear, if He should come today?
Signs of His coming multiply; morning light breaks in eastern sky.
Watch, for the time is drawing nigh; what if it were today?"
So, we certainly need to be witnessing to our lost loved ones, friends, co-workers, and neighbors
while there is still time.
We know that Jesus is coming, but we don't know when.
What if it was tomorrow?
What if it was tonight?
What if it was in the morning.
When I was a boy, we would sing this little chorus:
"Jesus could come in the morning.
Jesus could come at noon.
Jesus could come in the evening,
So, keep your heart in tune."
-- Source Unknown
Jesus has promised that he will return.
Jesus says in v.44, "
Since we don't know when the Lord is coming, and since the consequences of His coming
are so serious, we should always be ready for His return.
"Ready to suffer grief or pain,
Ready to stand the test,
Ready to stay at home and send
Others if He sees best.
Ready to go, ready to stay,
Ready my place to fill,
Ready for service, lowly or great,
Ready to do His will.
Ready to go, ready to bear,
Ready to watch and pray,
Ready to stand aside and give,
Till He shall clear the way.
Ready to speak, ready to think,
Ready with heart and brain,
Ready to stand where He sees fit,
Ready to bear the strain.
Ready to speak, ready to warn,
Ready o'er souls to yearn,
Ready in life, ready in death,
Ready for His return."
-- A. C. Palmer and Charles D. Tillman
Praise God, He's coming for me
The King is Coming
by Bill Gaither
"The marketplace is empty, no more traffic in the street
All the builder's tools are silent, no more time to harvest wheat
Busy housewives cease their labor, in the courtroom no debate
Work on earth has been suspended as the King comes through the gate.
Happy faces line the hallway, those whose lives have been redeemed
Broken homes He has mended, those from prison He has freed
Little children and the aged hand in hand stand all a-glow
Who were crippled, broken, ruined, clad in garments white as snow.
I can hear the chariot's rumble, I can see the marching throng
And the fury of God's trumpet spells the end of sin and wrong
Regal rolls are now unfolded, heaven's grandstands all in place
Heaven's choir is now assembled, start to sing 'Amazing Grace.'
The King is coming, the King is coming
I just heard the trumpet sounding and soon His face I'll see
The King is coming, the King is coming
Praise God, He's coming for me!"
Praise God, He's coming for me!
Sermon adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White