"A Church Preaching Christ Coming Again" Sermon by Pastor David A. Reed at Immanuel Baptist Church – August 6, 2017Back to ImmanuelBaptistNB.org
Not long ago, I saw someone with a tee shirt
that had an interesting slogan printed on it:
It said,"Jesus is coming-Look busy!"
Well, at least they were proclaiming
that Jesus is coming again.
And, maybe that humor
will inspire some people
to actually be busy-
not just to look busy.
The designer of the tee shirt,
no doubt had in mind what Jesus said,
in Matthew chapter 24.[ OPEN ]
Jesus said many things in that chapter
about His Second Coming,
and then He gave a parable-
the parable of the Faithful &Wise Servant
and the wicked servant.
[ READ Matthew 24:42-51 ]
So, we learn from that parable
that our Lord wants to find us busy
when He returns-
and not just looking busy.
Immanuel Baptist Church describes itself as
"a church preaching Christ, crucified, risen and coming again"
So, today's sermon is the final one in a 4-part series
on what that means-what it means to be
"a church preaching Christ, crucified, risen and coming again."
So, today our focus is on what it means
to preach "Christ coming again."
In brief, preaching "Christ coming again" means
preaching that Christ isn't finished.
He isn't finished with us.
He promised to come and take us home to Himself
--to give us eternal life with Him.
And He isn't finished with this world.
Just as God stepped into human affairs in the past-
to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah
and to destroy the world of Noah's day-
Jesus is coming again
to deal with this world
that rejects Him as King.
This is a key element of the Gospel
that Paul and the other Apostles preached.
But it is not popular today to speak of Christ coming again-
even in many churches.
Jesus was crucified.
He died for our sins.
And then He rose again from the grave-
leaving behind an empty tomb.
After that, Jesus appeared alive to his followers
over the course of some weeks.
As we saw in Scripture last week,
there were more than 500 eye-witnesses
that Jesus had risen from the dead,
and was alive again.
Then, as His disciples watched,
He rose into the sky until he disappeared from their sight.
As we read in Acts 1:11, two angels told Jesus' followers,
"You men of Galilee,
why do you stand looking into the sky?
This Jesus, who was received up from you into the sky will come back in the same way as you saw him going into the sky."
Jesus himself had often spoken to the disciples
about His return-
His second coming.
It will not be like his humble birth
as a baby wrapped in swaddling bands
and laid in a manger, an animal's feeding trough in a barn.
Christ's return won't be like His submissive death on the cross.
Rather, Jesus said he will return with great power and glory.
At Mark 13, beginning with verse 26, Jesus said:
"Then they will see the Son of Man
coming in clouds with great power and glory.
Then he will send out his angels,
and will gather together his chosen ones
from the four winds,
from the ends of the earth to the ends of the sky."-Mark 13:26-27
Jesus will return as King of the kingdom of God.
When He was on trial before the high court of the Jews,
and the high priest demanded to know
whether Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God,
Matthew 26:64 tells us,
"Jesus said to him, ' . . . after this
you will see the Son of Man
sitting at the right hand of Power,
and coming on the clouds of the sky.'"-Matthew 26:64
Jesus knew the Jewish religious leaders would understand this
to be a reference to the book of Daniel,
where the prophet wrote,
At Daniel 7, verses 13 and 14
"I saw in the night visions, and behold,
there came with the clouds of the sky
one like a son of man,
and he came even to the ancient of days,
and they brought him near before him.
There was given him dominion, and glory,
and a kingdom,
that all the peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him:
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed."-Daniel 7:13-14
Jesus devoted a significant portion of His teaching
to the subject of His return.
Many of His parables are devoted to this theme,
describing how people would be caught by surprise,
and would be rewarded or punished at that time.
the parable of the ten virgins,
the parable of the talents,
and the parable of the sheep and the goats-
all deal with
what will happen when Christ returns.
Jesus encouraged us at Matthew 24:42-44
to "keep watch" for His coming.
"Therefore keep watch,
because you do not know
on what day your Lord will come.
. . . be ready, because the Son of Man will come
at an hour when you do not expect him."
We can "be ready"
by living the way the Bible teaches us to live,
and we can "keep watch"
by eagerly praying for Christ's return
and by paying attention to world events
that point to the imminence of his coming.
I believe they include:
--the persecution of Christians around the world
--ocean storms, tsunamis, weird weather and climate change
--today's world becoming like Sodom & Gomorrah
--Jerusalem under Jewish control
--and Jerusalem the focus of world tension
--and many other things Jesus said to watch for.
When Jesus told His disciples
about the coming destruction of the temple in Jerusalem,
they asked him,
about the timing and the events to watch for.
Reading from the King James Version,
at Matthew 24:3 it says,
"And as he sat upon the mount of Olives,
the disciples came unto him privately,
saying, Tell us, when shall these things be?
and what shall be the sign of thy coming,
and of the end of the world?"
Jesus answered them
with a lengthy discussion of future world events,
His answer is recorded for us in Matthew chapters 24-25,
Mark chapter 13 and
Luke chapters 17 and 21.
The disciples actually asked a 3-part question:
First-when shall these things be?
--the things Jesus had just spoken about,
in connection with the Roman armies
destroying Jerusalem and its Temple
and scattering the Jewish people worldwide.
Second-what shall be the sign of thy coming
And Third-the end of the world?"
Jesus answered all three parts of their question,
with Matthew, Mark and Luke
providing different details
from what Jesus said.
It's much more than can be covered in a single sermon.
If we look at Luke chapter 21,
we can get part of the flavor
of what Jesus said would happen.
I'll begin reading
at Luke 21 verse 20.
[ READ Luke 21:20-28 ]
The Apostles also elaborated on the end times events
in their letters found in the New Testament.
And the Old Testament prophets
wrote at length on these matters, too.
It would take a sermon many hours long-
or a whole book- to discuss these prophecies adequately,
and their relation to events down through history
and in today's world.
I have, in fact, addressed the prophecies about Christ coming again
in some of my books,
in particular my book titled
"United Nations vs Israel and the End of the World."
There are free copies on the table in the vestibule,
and you can also download the book for free in PDF format
on my web site BibleNook.com.
There is considerable controversy among Christians
as to how to interpret the various end times prophecies,
and just how the foretold events will unfold.
We shouldn't let these disagreements divide us.
Rather, we should agree to disagree agreeably.
And we can recognize our brothers and sisters
who hold different understandings
as being just as sincere and faithful as we are.
Remember that, back in the First Century,
there were many Jewish believers
who were watching for the Messiah to come the first time.
And they were surprised
to see how Jesus fulfilled the messianic prophecies.
but it didn't happen the way they expected.
Jesus surprised them
in the way that He fulfilled the prophecies.
So, we may all be surprised
to see how the end times prophecies
will actually be fulfilled, and when.
But even a simple reading of the Bible
gives those who are keeping watch
good reason to believe that Jesus will return very soon.
One Old Testament prophecy
that relates to Christ's return
is found in the book of Joel,
which, in our Bibles, comes after Daniel and Hosea.
Joel is called one of the "Minor Prophets"
because his book is just 3 chapters long.
I find the whole book of Joel fascinating,
but I'm going to begin reading
a sample of his prophecy,
beginning at Joel chapter 2, verse 31.
[ READ Joel 3: 31- 3:2 then continue 3:9-16 ]
Powerful stuff there!
It makes me think of the time
when God rained down fire and brimstone
on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Or, the time when God sent the Flood of Noah's day
to destroy a whole world
and saved just a handful of people
in Noah's Ark.
And we can certainly learn
from God's past interventions in human affairs
when mankind's behavior deteriorated
to the point that God forcefully put a stop to it:
the flood in Noah's day,
the destruction of immoral Sodom and Gomorrah, and God's intervention
to stop construction of the tower of Babel. Has our world today reached the level of violence
that prompted God to destroy the pre-flood world?
Are people today behaving
like the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah?
Has our technological advancement
resulted in attitudes like those of the people
who were building the tower of Babel?
Then we have further reason
to be in eager expectation of Christ's return.
The portion we just read from the book of Joel
was a sample of the Old Testament prophecies
about the Return of Christ.
The Apostle Peter,
in his Second Letter,
gives us a good sample
of what the Apostles were teaching the early Church
about Jesus' coming again.
I'll read from 2nd Peter, chapter 3, beginning at verse 1.
[ READ 2 Peter 3:1-18 ]
So, Peter challenges us:
Since Christ's return will be so world-changing,
What kind of people ought we to be?
Does all of this mean
that you should quit your job,
stop mowing your front lawn,
and spend your time parading downtown
carrying a poster that proclaims,
"The End Is Near!"?
No, but it may call for
some less severe adjustments on your part.
As individuals, we may or may not
live to see Christ come again to
take the whole Church worldwide home to Him
destroy this wicked world.
But each of us will definitely live
to see Him come again to take us home-individually.
It's nearly 2000 years since Christ went to heaven,
but no believer has had to wait
more than a lifetime
to be called home to Jesus.
Since we know that Christ is coming again,
and since we know that He may come for us-as individuals-
even before His Second coming-
what sort of people ought we to be?
Is there some unfinished business between you and God?
Have you been putting it off ?
If so, then the things we've been discussing
should make you reconsider your priorities.
There may not be time to leave God until later.
Instead of leaving God waiting in the wings,
you may need to re-order your life's interests
so as to move your relationship with God
to center stage.
Time may be running out-
for this world that is rebelling against God.
And time may be running out for you and me, personally.
You don't have to become a theologian,
in order to please God.
I remember the wisdom of a lady
who spoke to me after church one evening.
"I didn't get to know God through any school of theology;
I got to know God through the school of Kneeology."
In other words,
it was through the time she spent
on her knees in prayer,
that she got to know God.
God is not looking for intellectuals.
Jesus said at Matthew 11:25,
"'I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things
from the wise and prudent,
and hast revealed them unto babes."
So, you don't need to study deeply
about Christ coming again.
You don't need to grasp all the details
of history and prophecy.
You just need to put your trust in Jesus as your Savior,
and obey him as your Lord.
Leave the rest to him.
He will do the things he promised-
to bless those who follow him,
and to punish this corrupt world that rebels against God.
Meanwhile, the world around us
has fallen into the condition
of the world that provoked the Flood of Noah's day.
The world around us
has fallen into the condition
of the world that provoked divine intervention
at the tower of Babel.
The world around us
has fallen into the condition
of the world that brought down fire and brimstone from Heaven in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah.
The days, months, or years ahead
will see the sudden return of Jesus Christ,
the sudden rapture of his Church
to join him in Heaven,
and God's final war, the battle of Armageddon.
Although the Bible contains all the details,
we may not be able to puzzle them all out ahead of time.
Yet, we can discern enough
to trust that God knows
exactly what will happen,
and that He has declared
what the final outcome will be.
Our job is to trust and obey.
By putting faith in Jesus,
we can face the frightening days ahead
with joy and gladness
instead of fear and terror.
At Luke 21 Jesus talked about
the things that would happen
just before He returns-frightening things-
and in verse 28 He said,
"When these things begin to take place,
stand erect, hold your heads high,
because your liberation is near at hand!"
As I said last week,
at Luke 18:8 Jesus asked a rhetorical question:
"when the Son of Man comes,
will He find faith on earth?"
And the answer from Immanuel Baptist Church is YES.
Even though many other churches have stopped
preaching Christ coming again,
Immanuel Baptist Church has kept the faith
for over 100 years.
The church is to be commended for that.
Its pastors and its leadership over the years
have persisted in preaching Christ coming again,
just as the Apostle Paul did.
And if our Lord returns tomorrow,
He will find Immanuel Baptist Church
still preaching Christ,
crucified, risen and coming again.