Posts Tagged ‘the return of Christ’

Be Ready

April 5, 2017

I enjoy church history.  Reading about how God has worked in the lives of people over the years is an interesting study to me.  One thing that I has impressed me is how the core of the Christian message can be compacted into simple statements.  Today we celebrated communion.  An ancient creed that was used simply says: Christ has come, Christ has died, Christ has risen and Christ will come again.

We celebrate the coming of Christ every year at Christmas.  For many it is their favorite holiday.  Every time that we have communion we remember the death of Christ on the cross.  Easter is coming soon, and at Easter we celebrate the resurrection of Christ.

What about the second coming of Christ?

I.  The Return of Christ:  Luke 21:25-28

 “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; 26 men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

When Jesus came the first time, He came as a servant, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  When He returns it will be as the Lion of Judah, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Judge of all.

The early Christians thought that Christ would return in their lifetime.  It was only as the first generation of believers was dying out that they realized they had better write down the story of Christ in the gospels for future generations.

Throughout church history there have been many generations that believed that they were living in the last days, the days of Christ’s return.  This is true for today as well.  Many believe that Christ will return in their lifetime.

II.  The Rapture

A.  Luke 17:34-37

I tell you, in that night there will be two men in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left. 35 Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left. 36 Two men will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left.”

37 And they answered and said to Him, “Where, Lord?”

So He said to them, “Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together.”

This event of one person being taken and another being left is an event that has come to be known as the rapture.  The believers who are on the earth at the time of the rapture will be taken from the earth to be with the Lord. It is described again in the first letter to the Thessalonians.

B.  I Thessalonians 4:16-17

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

When will the rapture take place?  Only God knows, but people have debated it for years.  Today, there are three primary groups.  The first group is the group that believes that the rapture will take place prior to the Tribulation.  The Tribulation is the seven year reign of the Antichrist.  Many people believe that Christians will be removed from the earth before this time.  Others believe that the rapture will take place at the midpoint of the reign of the Antichrist.  They believe that the rapture will take place when the covenant that was made is broken.  Still others believe that the rapture will take place only at the very end, even as Christ is returning to defeat the Antichrist and establish His kingdom on earth.

Which is right?  There is biblical support for each position.  My personal recommendation is to pray that the pre-tribulation position is right, but be prepared to endure tribulation if they are wrong.  So, pray for pre, prepare for post.

III.  Be Ready

A.  I Thessalonians 5:1-2

But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.

We do not know when Christ will return, so the wise thing to do is to live in a state of readiness.  If Christ were to return at this moment, to be ready.

B.  Luke 21:34-36

 “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. 35 For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

It is not that hard to be ready.  Thankfully we do not earn our salvation, but rather we receive it as a gift through our faith in Jesus Christ.  That faith produces a living relationship with God that transforms our life.  We simply need to remember to keep Christ first is our lives and not be seduced by the things of the world.

Keep Christ First.

Ready or not, Christ will return one day.

Be Ready.

The Kingdom of God is Near

June 10, 2013

Here are the sermon notes from 6/9/13.

I.  The Kingdom of God is Near:  Luke 21:29-33

Then He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. 30 When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. 31 So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

A.  Christ had promised to return.

1.  John 14:3

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

2.  Acts 1:9-11

Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

B.  We live in expectation

From the very first generation, people have expected Christ to return in their lifetime.  The gospels were almost the last part of the New Testament to be written, because it was only after the apostles began to die off, that it occurred to them that it was necessary to have a written record of the life of Christ.  They had anticipated his soon return.

I remember as a young person hearing a lot of emphasis on the rapture, the belief that Christ would take his people from this world before the seven-year tribulation.  The presentation was very clear that Christ could return at any moment, we should be ready.

I remember reading in church history, that many, if not all generations have had those who read the prophetic words and interpret them in the light of their current circumstances, and believe that they are in the last days before Christ returns.

I consider this to be, not so much an error in interpretation, as a marvel in inspiration.  That God would have inspired the prophets to write in such a way that each generation would read the words and live in expectation is a marvelous feat.

II.  Take Heed :  Luke 21:34-36

But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. 35 For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Take Heed:  We are to be alert, be ready for our Lord’s return.  The day will come “like a thief in the night”  “like the lightning that flashes from east to west”.  We need to continue to do the Lord’s will until He comes for us, or we go to Him.

Watch:  We should live with both anticipation and patience.  Our kids have a dog that provides a nice illustration.  The other day when we picked up our daughter-in-law, their dog immediately went to the window, stuck his head past the curtain, and watched us leave.  When we returned a while later, the dog was still sitting there, head to the window, watching for her return.  That dog is a good illustration of waiting in anticipation and patience.

Pray:  We should pray to be worthy.  We are only made worthy because of the righteousness of Christ.  Yet the presence of Christ in our lives changes us.  We should pray that God continues His work, both in us, and through us.

For our part, we need to be careful to keep God as our top priority.  If we are not careful, the cares and concerns of this world may crowd Christ from the place of priority in our lives.  This  is why  we must take heed, watch and pray; for the kingdom of God is near.  

Signs of the Times

April 19, 2010

In the past few years there has seemed to be an increase in natural disasters.  Volcanos, tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and all sorts of tragic events have occurred. The other night, here in eastern Iowa there was a blazing comet that streaked across the sky.   Some people wonder if indeed these are signs of the end, that Jesus is returning soon.

It is possible.

I have long believed that Jesus could return at any moment.  I also accept that we do not know the day or hour.  Historically, many generations have believed that they were living in the last days. Obviously it hasn’t happened yet.  So what are we to do?

We should live our lives as if Jesus could return at any moment.  We should also accept that  it could be another thousand years.  What does that mean?  It means that if Jesus comes today, we should be ready.  We should also plan for the future, just in case.