This is the sermon for Sunday, January 31st 2010.  This is the last sermon in the series, “Faith Foundations.”

Faith Foundations 11

End times

INTRODUCTION

Today, we are going to be dealing with a subject that draws so much attention: and that is end times events.  You want to create controversy or sell books or get a message out, then write about end times.  Tim Lahaye had a series of runaway best sellers called, “The Left Behind Series.”  People could not wait to get their hands on the next book.  They had a long waiting list for them.  I heard many a people say that he was dead on accurate in his interpretation of events…forgetting the fact that the books were nothing more than pure fiction, not gospel truth.  I even heard people say that there would be a great revival started through this series, ushering many into God’s Kingdom, and then the rapture would occur as predicted in the book.  And while I have heard reports of God using the book to draw people to repentance and faith in Christ; there was no massive revival.  The books have come and gone, filling the pockets of Mr. Lahaye, while our society is still just as dark and evil as ever.

What should be our beliefs concerning the end times events?  Should we be pre-trib, mid-trib, or post-trib?  Should we be pre-millennial, post-millennial, or a-millennial?  Should we be full preterist (meaning that all the events concerning the end times have already happened by 70 AD) or partial preterist (meaning some of the end time events have happened by 70 AD, but we still await a future second coming)?

I think that main point we need to believe is this:  We may have disagreements concerning the events leading to Christ’s coming, but one thing we can all agree on:  He is coming again, and this coming will be a physical, visible coming, just like Scripture says.

I was raised pre-tribulational pretty heavily, and I believed it was the only true belief system concerning last days.  But since around 2001 or so, I began to change my belief as I saw things in Scripture differently.  I would now classify myself as Historical Premillennial; meaning I believe in the literal second coming of Christ before the Millennium, but I do not believe in a rapture before the tribulation.  I believe the rapture event and the second coming event is all the same event.

I know many here are pre-trib; and I’m not going to try to convince you otherwise.  I respect your belief, and we can debate one another in a Christ-like fashion around a meal or coffee, but not to disrupt the fellowship of the church.

Now, let’s begin to look into Scripture concerning His second coming.

Jesus will suddenly, personally, visibly and bodily return again.

Let’s look at some Scriptures that bear this truth out.

Matthew 24:27 ESV – For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

Matthew 24:44 ESV – Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

John 14:3 ESV – And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

Acts 1:11 ESV – “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

1 Thessalonians 4:16 ESV – For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.

Hebrews 9:28 ESV – so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Revelation 22:20 ESV – He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

We could go on with other Scriptures, but for sake of time, I want to stop here concerning this point.  I hope you see from Scripture that Jesus is coming physically again.

Believers should be longing for Christ’s return.

In Revelation 22:20 after Jesus reveals to John He is coming soon, John has an eager response: “Come Lord Jesus.”

This should be our prayer as well everyday, asking for the Lord to speed His coming.

Let’s look at Paul’s attitude from Scripture concerning his longing for Christ’s return.

Titus 2:13 ESV – waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Philippians 3:20 ESV – But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 16:22b ESV – Our Lord, come!

As believers in Christ, we should be daily praying for, and expecting His promised return.  Don’t get bogged down in the concerns of this life, but focus on the blessed hope of Christ’s second coming.

Can we know when Christ will return?

Before we look at the Scripture concerning this, there has been a lot of date setting concerning the timing of the rapture, the timing of the second coming, and other things.  It is frivolous to set dates.  Even the disciples wanted to know the time, and Jesus said something to them that should be applied to all Christians, and all date setters today.

Acts 1:6-7 ESV – 6So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.

It is none of our concern when He is coming, and the timing of the events; what is our concern is that He is coming.

Scripturally, we cannot know when Christ will return.

Matthew 24:44 ESV – Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Matthew 25:13 ESV – Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Are there signs that come before Christ’s coming?

While we don’t know the day or hour, there are signs that will take place and therefore point to His coming.  Let’s look at the Scripture for some of these signs.

Matthew 24:14 ESV – And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Mark 13:19-20 ESV – 19For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be. 20And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days.

Mark 13:22 ESV – For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect.

Mark 13:24-26 ESV – 24But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-10 ESV – 1Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, 2not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. 5Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. 7For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. 8And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. 9The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.

Romans 11:25-26a ESV – 25 Lest you be wise in your own sight, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26And in this way all Israel will be saved…

While these are signs that precede His coming, I feel that some have possibly been fulfilled, and also possibly are being fulfilled with the exception of the last sign, Israel being saved to be fulfilled right before He does come.

What comes after the second coming?

There are three main branches of millennialism:  pre, post, and amillennial; and all are considered viable.  And while we can discuss post and a – here at Faith United Church we believe in the second coming of Christ, followed by the Millennium which is called premillennialism..  What is the Millennium?  Where Christ reigns on this earth for a thousand years.

Revelation 20:1-6 ESV – 1Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. 2And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 3and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while. 4Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. 6they will reign with him for a thousand years. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ.

After the Millennium comes the judgment.

Revelation 20:11-15 ESV – 11Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Finally, after this final judgment comes the new heaven and the new earth – or the eternal age.

Revelation 21:1-5a ESV – 1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 5And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

CONCLUSION

We could have spent much more time preaching more sermons on end times, but I wanted to highlight some truths, hopefully you can go home and study this issue asking the Holy Spirit to reveal truth through His Scriptures – not the newspaper or last day novels.

I hope also that this series on Faith Foundations has given you just that: a solid foundation for your faith.

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