MESSAGE DELIVERED: MARCH 5, 2017
Just in case there’s someone here who doesn’t know this, let me explain. I am a DINOSAUR! Now, chronologically, I am over 60 years old. But I’m only 40 years old, SPIRITUALLY!, having been wonderfully and gloriously Saved in 1976. And then, in terms of SOCIAL DEVELOPEMENT, I guess I’m probably a TEENAGER, an EARLY teenager, 13, maybe. And in terms of MATURITY, I guess I’d be pretty comfortable sitting in a sandbox and pushing a toy truck around.
But in spite of all that, THEOLOGICALLY, I’m a DINOSAUR! And it’s all because I BELIEVE what Jesus said, when He spoke about the event that we call the “2nd COMING”!…or 2nd ADVENT, as it is sometimes called.
See, many mainline seminaries no longer teach the doctrine of the 2nd coming…the IMMINENT Return of the Lord. And many mainline DENOMINATIONS no longer BELIEVE it.
Although, I should add, that is the position of the LEADERSHIP of those denominations, and not necessarily the position of the people sitting in the pews. Most of YOU know that I once had the privilege of preaching for a little over a year, in two different METHODIST churches, at the same time, back in Northern New York State.
Let me be quick to add that I never WAS a ‘Methodist’, in fact at that time I was a Southern Baptist…but I got to preach at a bunch OF Methodists for a year, and was blessed to see many of them come to Salvation.
All I did was preach the plain, unvarnished Gospel, just like I would have if I was still in the ‘Bible Belt’, but those people seemed to be so HUNGRY for that “good news” that when I preached to a small group of 25 or so, in Clintonville N.Y. at 9:30 on Sunday morning, and then I’d jump in my car and drive around the mountain to Au Sable Forks to preach at 11 am; well, all those folks from Clintonville would jump in THEIR cars, and follow me.
I told them; “I’m gonna preach the same sermon, tell the same jokes, use the same gestures…” and they said “Okay, we want to hear it again”
They were that hungry to finally hear the Gospel…and for that reason, I know for a fact that there is a great deal of difference between the position of the LEADERSHIP of those denominations, and the people that make UP the congregations.
The people that I was blessed to speak to, were hungry to hear about Jesus, about Who He was, and what He did, and what He’s GOING to do! And after hearing, they were then eagerly looking forward to the Rapture, a term that some of them had never heard before!
And let me take just a minute here to remind you that the terms I’m using, the RAPTURE, and the 2nd COMING, are two different events that will take place at least seven years apart. More on that in a minute.
But first, let me tell you what IS being taught in some of those mainline churches…and there are THREE main arguments used to DENY the physical return of Jesus…NONE of which I agree with.
FIRST is the idea that the doctrine of the Rapture is based on FALSE interpretation of the Biblical text. In other words, they argue that the Bible simply DOESN’T SAY THAT!
The SECOND denial is that the LANGUAGE used is only SYMBOLIC, and the Kingdom of God can be brought about, right HERE, on good old EARTH, and that WE are responsible for bringing it about, through SOCIAL CHANGES, and by working for WORLD PEACE! That’s phony doctrine #2.
The 3rd one says that belief in the PHYSICAL, and IMMINENT Return of Christ, is PURE ESCAPISM…that it was a FALSE DELUSION, promoted in the early church to encourage poor, simple believers, who were experiencing great tribulation, that if they could somehow just CLING to their FAITH, Jesus would come and reward them for it. That’s phony doctrine #3.
But, all THREE claim that to believe such a claim today, is proof of a lack of SANITY! Those three teachings, along with others, are used to DENY the LITERAL 2nd Coming.
Well, let me make it clear, that I believe it! And I think I have made my position ON that subject pretty clear, in the time we’ve been together. And if that makes me CRAZY, as WELL as a dinosaur, that’s OK with me. I will believe what the Bible says, not some denominational bigshot.
Because Paul clearly told us, in 1st Thessalonians…”The Lord Himself will descend from Heaven with a shout, with the Voice of the Archangel, and with the Trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught UP together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and thus shall we ever be with the Lord.”
Now THAT sounds pretty straight forward to me, not at all like a passage that has to be subjected to several different layers of interpretation “The LORD will descend…” and “we will arise…” and “be together forever”. What’s there to question?
Then there’s the Words of Jesus Himself, when HE said, in the 14th chapter of John…”Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s House are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go now to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
Again, that seems pretty straight forward…”I’ll go and prepare a place for you…” and then “I’ll come back and get you, and take you there.” I don’t see any cause for guesswork THERE, either.
Listen, EVERY single thing that God has ever said…God the Father, or God the Son, or God the Holy Spirit…every single thing they have ever said would happen, HAS HAPPENED, except THIS one…this 2nd Advent or Coming.
God said a virgin would conceive. She DID. God said His Son would be Born in Bethlehem. He WAS. Jesus said he would be seized by vile men and killed. He WAS. He also said that after three days in the grave, He would rise again, and he DID!
He said He was going away for a while, and He DID. And He said He would prepare a place for those who believe in Him, and He IS!
And He said he will RETURN one day, to receive His OWN…and He WILL. If we have been given a long list of promises…and everything ON that list has come about…EXCEPT this LAST one, WHY would any SANE person even THINK that, just MAYBE, this LAST one won’t happen?
(Pastor Tom hands out three, 1 dollar bills, to three people in the congregation)
Okay, in that passage from Hebrews that I read to you, there are three words that should be of extreme interest to us, in light of what I’ve been talking about, this 2nd Coming of Christ. And those three words are all a form of the word, “appear”.
Hebrews 9:24 says…”Christ has entered into Heaven itself, now to APPEAR in the presence of God for us”. Do you see that?
Okay, verse 26 says…”He HAS APPEARED to put away sin by the Sacrifice of Himself.”…see that one?
Good, now verse 28 says “He WILL APPEAR a second time, apart from sin, for Salvation”. See that?
So, three different tenses of the word APPEAR…”He HAS appeared”…”He IS appearing”…and “He WILL appear.”
TWO of those ‘appearings’ have already occurred…already accomplished. WHY would there be ANY DOUBT that the LAST one would be accomplished?
We are gathered here this morning to observe the Lord’s Supper, the event that came close to the END of what we call the FIRST Advent, That’s where Jesus came to be born as a human Baby, and grow to be a sinless man, and then to GIVE His sinless Body as a Perfect Sacrifice for ALL of us.
The NEXT Event will be when He comes for His Church, His BRIDE…when He comes ONLY for the Redeemed, to take His Own OUT of the world, while God pours HIS Righteous FURY on the UNrepentant mankind.
And THEN Christ will come AGAIN, in what we call the 2nd Advent, to establish His Kingdom on Earth. That’s the event we are looking for now, when He comes as a KING, to RULE and to JUDGE.
BUT, between those events,…between the MANGER in Bethlehem, and the CROWN in Heaven, there was another prophesied event. Between the Manger and the Crown, there was a CROSS! And we are told about THAT one, too.
We are told that He would come as a “Man of sorrows”…that “AII our iniquities would be laid on Him”…and that “by His Stripes we are healed”.
And then came Jesus…Born in Bethlehem, as we were told. And He was taken by evil priests, and KILLED as we were told. And then He was placed in a TOMB, as we were told and that on the 3rd day, He would RISE FROM the DEAD…AS WE WERE TOLD HE WOULD!
So, if everything we have been told would happen, has come true, WHY would we listen, when some latter day intellectual comes along to tell us that God didn’t really MEAN what he said?
God’s Word is true! And God is true to His Word! He said He would send us a Savior, and he did. Jesus said He would come back, and He WILL. And therein lies our Hope…that God WILL do, what He said He would do.
Today, though, we need to reflect that…there WAS a Manger in Bethlehem…and there IS NOW a CROWN in Heaven…but in between…there was an OLD RUGGED CROSS.
And Jesus went willingly TO that Cross, and there He paid, with His own life’s Blood, for the price of every sin ever committed…all of MINE…all of YOURS…all of WHOSOEVERS!
And just BEFORE that Cross, Jesus met with His disciples to celebrate the Feast of the Passover…the feast that looked back on the time when Israel was freed from bondage and slavery in Egypt.
But Jesus CHANGED that Feast, and now WE look back on THAT, as the time when WE were released from the slavery and bondage of SIN, by the PERFECT Sacrifice of God’s Own Perfect Son.
At that Feast, Jesus took bread…unleavened bread…that was called “The Bread of Affliction”…and called it HIS BODY!, which was BROKEN for us.
And he took the wine, which was called “The cup of Blessing”, and He called it His BLOOD, which was to be poured out for the sins of the whole WORLD!
And WE need to remember that ALL of these events are INTER-CONNECTED: that His BIRTH would lead to His DEATH…and His DEATH would lead to His RESURRECTION…and that His RESURRECTION will lead to His soon RETURN!
We need to remember these things!
And especially today, the 1st Sunday of the month, we need to remember His Death…and we need to remember it was for OUR SINS that He died!