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Entries in End Times (8)

Tuesday
Nov062018

My Personal End Times: The New Heavens & the New Earth

Revelation 21.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on November 4, 2018.

We are now at the last point of our series.  For the sake of time, I have broken this up into two sermons.  It begins with God’s promise to recreate the universe.  Throughout the Bible God reveals to us that He truly is the master of creation, and can even melt it down and recreate it when He wants.  So here we get a brief glimpse of what that new creation will look like, and the wisdom of God who is bringing us to it.

All things are made new

I will use the phrase from vs. 5 for our point because it describes what verses 1-4 are showing us.  The things of this world have grown old through use and abuse, but God has a day in which He will renew and refashion it to where it is both fresh and greater. 

Verse 1 makes it clear that in the last chapter the old heavens and earth were melted down and then sometime after the judgment recreated.  The new “heaven” here means the cosmos or universe and not the spirit realm where the throne of God is.  As for the new earth it is not just renewed, as in being brought back to a fresh state of the same thing.  It is also, refashioned into a different form.  We see this because it shares the detail that this new earth has no sea.  This does not mean that there is no water, but that large bodies of water like the Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea, Caspian Sea, or the oceans, for that matter, will be no more.  Throughout the Bible the waters were a great separating instrument to mankind.  It was also used as a symbolic representation of the turbulence of the nations.  Thus God will remove the physical barriers to mankind’s unity and the spiritual problems that drive its constant dissensions.

Verse 2 introduces the New Jerusalem, which comes down from God (i.e. it comes down from the third heaven).  This does not seem to be connected to the old Jerusalem on earth, which would have clearly been destroyed.  This is typically referred to as the Final State (condition), or the Eternal State.  This new creation is what we will inhabit into eternity.  Of course it would be folly to try and comprehend what plans God has for us in the Eternal State, other than to recognize that the emphasis is that now we can do it in perfect fellowship with God.

The New Jerusalem descends from Heaven

The New Jerusalem is compared to a bride adorned for her husband in verse 2.  However, in verses 9-10 it is called the bride of the Lamb (i.e. Christ).  Is the city just a symbol and not an actual city?  The descriptions to follow are far too detailed to treat the whole thing as simply a symbol of the Church.  Just as God’s people have been prepared to live with Jesus in eternity, so the city has been prepared to be the place of our dwelling, which leads us to the next point.

We are told in verse 4 that God wipes each tear from their eyes.  It is not saying that He will do that from then on because all the sources of pain will be no more: death, sorrow, crying, and pain.  Here we see the cathartic or healing experience of God removing any remnants of the old earth and its imprint upon our minds.  This is the ultimate renewing of our minds.  In verse 5 we are told that this plan and purpose of God is “true and faithful.”  It truly is His plan, and He will surely accomplish it.  God will bring it to pass for all who trust Him in this life.

In verses 6-8 we are given several promises from God and a warning.  First we hear the phrase “it is done” connected to that point in time.  This is in contrast to the words of Jesus on the cross, “It is finished.”  They are two different Greek words.  At the cross Jesus used a word that was used to state that a debt had been paid in full.  Thus at the cross it was finished in the sense that Christ had paid the price for salvation.  However, at the New Heavens and the New Earth “it is done” means that salvation/healing has been fully accomplished.  God has completed the task of overcoming the rebellion and corruption of the old universe.

Next the fountains of the Water of Life are promised to those who are thirsty.  There is a beer commercial that loves to use the slogan, “Stay thirsty, mis amigos!”  However, this begs the question.  What are you thirsty for?  You can drink all the beer you want, but it will not satisfy the empty aching in your soul.  If you are thirsty for the Waters of Life that are given to those who put their faith in Christ then you will know satiation that this world cannot give.  We drink from this water by faith.

Then inheriting all things is promised to those who overcome.  This world is our testing ground and the thing we must overcome.  It seeks to destroy your faith in God, but you must overcome it.  Jesus told his disciples that they would have persecution in this life, but then he said, “Fear not!  I have overcome the world.”  Thus we know that He will enable us to overcome the world as long as we lean upon Him.

Lastly, the warning is given.  We are given a list of the kinds of people who will be thrown into the Lake of Fire (i.e. The Second Death).  Most of the list makes sense.  However, many balk at the very first word, the cowardly.  Really?  People who are cowardly will be thrown into the Lake of Fire?  That seems way to harsh.  The point is not that those who are afraid receive the Second Death.  Rather, it is those who let fear cause them not to believe in Christ and instead embrace any of the other things in the list and more (there is no reason to believe the list is exhaustive).  When we let fear cause us to turn back and not overcome the world, then we fall short of the salvation and healing that God has for us.

The New Jerusalem described

For the sake of time I will list the descriptions briefly.  But it is worth spending some time thinking about the things described.  Verse 10 states that John is taken up to a great and high mountain.  This seems to be an allusion to Daniel’s kingdom “not made by human hands.”  That kingdom became a mountain that filled the whole earth.  As John stands on the great high mountain he sees the city coming down like a great mountain itself.  The Bible is replete with the mountain analogy.  The mountain of the Lord that was established in the earthly Jerusalem, pointed to a heavenly mountain of the Lord that existed in the heavenlies.  This New Jerusalem seems to be the ultimate mountain of the Lord coming down out of heaven and having the presence of God (as we see later).

We are told that the whole city is made of precious stones and shines with the glory of God.  In fact everything seems to be made of translucent material that will enable the glory of God to shine through it.  This is similar to the description Daniel gives of the righteous.  He says that they will shine like the stars.  Definitely there is a reference to taking on divinity (an immortal body that is from God).  However, if God has a glory that actually shines, it would stand to reason that we too will have some kind of shining glory, although lesser than that of God.

There are 12 gates around the city named after the 12 tribes of Israel and guarded by an angel.  We are also told that each gate is made out of a single pearl.  This is significant because as we go to the next point we will see that the walls are 216 feet tall.

The wall, that the gates are in, have 12 foundations named after the apostles of Christ and made of precious stones.  We are told that the city is the same length, width, and height and that each side is 1,400 miles.  It would be amazing enough to conceive of a city that was 1,400 miles square, but for it to also be 1,400 miles tall is flabbergasting.  We are not told if it is shaped like a cube or like a pyramid.  If it is like a cube, then it would be more reminiscent of the temple and the Holies of holies, whereas a pyramid shape would be more in keeping with the “mountain of the Lord” motif throughout Scripture and mentioned in verse 10.  Of course we have to point out that the streets are made of pure gold and thus in heaven gold is asphalt. 

Verse 22 tells us that there is no temple in the New Jerusalem because God and the Lamb dwell in it and they are the temple.  There is no separation from God and His people any more.  That, which was important to understand in the past, has now been overcome.  Not only is there no temple, but the city does not need the light from the sun or moon.  This doesn’t mean there isn’t a sun or moon, but that their light is not needed because of the light from the glory of God.

We are also told that the nations who are saved will walk in its light.  I should point out that it is not stated that the city will “land” upon the earth, only that John saw it descend out of heaven.  In light (pun intended) of this description, it would seem more likely that the New Jerusalem would orbit the New Earth as an artificial satellite giving light to the earth below.  However, it is quite possible that it lands upon the earth.  Of course life in the New Jerusalem and on the New earth is left to our imagination.  Do some people live in the New Jerusalem all the time?  Do some only live on the earth, and if so who?  Though many are quick to be dogmatic in answers to these questions, it seems a fool’s errand.  We simply have not been told and thus should wait until the time in which it will be revealed.

One thing is clear, only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life may enter the New Jerusalem.  Which brings up the question, is your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life?  You can make sure that it is today, but repenting of your sins, believing in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and following His commands.  Will you do this now?  If you do you will have the joy of experiencing the greatest city that the world has ever know because it will have been built by God Himself.

The New Heavens & the New Earth Audio

Tuesday
Sep042018

Your Personal End Times: What is after death?

Various Passages.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on September 2, 2018.

Today we continue to look at the end times from a personal perspective rather than from a global one.  Last week, we emphasized the biblical teaching that we are given one life to live on this earth and then we face judgment.  We also pointed out that God’s ultimate purpose is to resurrect all who have died and thus lift mankind out of this mortal condition in which we have found ourselves for ages.  However, there is a large amount of time between the death of most people who have lived and the time of the resurrection.  Note: In a later sermon, we will deal with the reality that there is a resurrection of the righteous and a resurrection of the wicked that do not happen at the same time, but are both at the end of the current age.  So what happens to people in between their physical death and their later resurrection?

Some passages use the terminology of sleeping and have led some people to believe that this is literal.  Thus they teach that the soul of an individual, after death, will go into an unconscious state and awake at the resurrection.  However, it is generally understood to be a euphemistic way of referring to death.  Too many passages exist in which we see the souls of those who have died as conscious and aware.  Yet, what does that look like?

Today we will look at the first of two possible experiences after death.  Scripture promises all who belong to Christ, both those who died before the cross and those after it, that they will be with Him in heaven when they die.

Those who belong to Jesus got to be with Him in Heaven

We cannot list all the passages that directly or indirectly make this point clear.  However, let’s look at several passages that give us a picture of what lies beyond death for those who belong to Jesus.

Luke 23:42-43 involves Jesus on the cross.  One of the thieves mocked Jesus, but the other one was clearly repentant.  He then says to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”  The reply of Jesus is, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise.”  Notice that Jesus emphasizes that it will happen today.  So is paradise a place in the grave (more on this later) or is it another term for Heaven, God’s dwelling place?  In 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, the Apostle Paul speaks of a person who was “caught up to the third heaven,” and then describes it again as “caught up into Paradise.”  Clearly he is equating the third heaven and Paradise.  It was common to see the cosmos as having a first heaven, the atmosphere, a second heaven, what we call outer space, and the third heaven, a spiritual place where God dwells.  Another point to make is that the directional language used for Paradise is upwards, i.e. “caught up.”  The grave is never described in the Old Testament or the New Testament as being up.  It is always down, and in the dust of the earth.  So, Jesus is promising more than that the thief will join him in the grave.  The other thief would be in the grave as well (admittedly not with Jesus).  The promise is that he would be with Jesus in heaven.

This promise is made in other passages as well.  In Philippians 1:21-24, Paul describes his potential death as “a desire to depart and be with Christ.”  Basically, his argument is that it is good to be alive on this earth because we can labor for Christ and help each other.  However, it is a better condition to depart this life, i.e. die, and be with Christ.  There is no suffering and difficulty for us in that condition.  This is a clear equation from Paul.  He knows that for him to die is to be with Jesus.  Let’s look at another passage.

2 Corinthians 5:4-9.  In this passage it becomes clear that there are three possible conditions for a believer in Christ.  The first is that we are on this earth with a mortal body.  In this condition we should make it our aim to please the Lord because He is the source of the other two conditions.  Upon our death, those who “please the Lord” enter into the second condition, which is a soul that is with Jesus and without a physical body.  The second state is seen as more desirable than the first state.  Yet, the first is necessary to reach the second.  Even better than being a soul that is with Jesus and without a body, is to be with Jesus and to have a glorified body.  This passage emphasizes the promise of God that we will have a glorified body (also called a heavenly body) that is incorruptible and immortal, at the resurrection of the righteous.

Believers in Jesus can be confident that when they leave this life behind, they will not cease to exist or go into an unconscious state.  Rather, we will be in the presence of Jesus in a spirit form, of which we have very little information to satisfy our curiosity.  Right now Jesus is at the right hand of the Father awaiting the command to come to earth and set up His earthly kingdom.  Also, there are countless believers who are with Him waiting for the day that they will receive their resurrection bodies and join Him in His triumphant return to Earth.

Lazarus and the Rich Man in Luke 16

So what about this story that Jesus told?  For the sake of time I will assume you have read Luke 16:19-31.  In this story there is a very poor man who is full of sores and has to beg for his food.  His name is Lazarus.  There is also a very rich man who is apparently healthy, has costly clothing, and never wants for food.  It is clear that the rich man did not help Lazarus.  The only consolation Lazarus received was dogs licking his sores.  Both men die, but they have very different fates.  Lazarus is carried by angels to a place referred to as Abraham’s Bosom.  It is not clear if this is just a description or an actual name for the place.  We are told that the rich man is buried and then finds himself in torment in Hades.

Now Hades is a Greek term that is synonymous with the Hebrew word She’ol.  Both of them essentially refer to the grave.  Though it can be used to refer to a physical grave, it typically refers to a spiritual holding place for the spirits of those who die.  In the story the grave is depicted as having two compartments, a place of torment for people like the rich man and a place of comfort for those like Lazarus.  Clearly the main teaching is that we should be careful how we live our life because our life on earth directly impacts what we will experience after death.

In the days of Jesus it was believed that wealth was a sign of God’s blessing, and so the rich man may have felt that surely his condition after death would be just as fair.  Similarly, a person like Lazarus would be seen as cursed by God, and could not hope for a good condition after death.  Notice the reversal of fortunes.  Those who live selfishly, without thought for God and their fellow man, will be in torment when they go to the grave.  However, the souls of the righteous (whether destitute as Lazarus or else) will receive comforts and no longer suffer.  Both cases are depicted as spiritually alive and conscious. 

Why isn’t Lazarus in the presence of God?  It appears that until Jesus actually paid the price for the sins of the world, those who put their faith in God had to wait in the “nice side” of the grave to enter His presence.  Once Jesus paid the price on the cross, he then went into the grave.  There he proclaimed his victory over sin and death.  This would be good news to the righteous, but a shattering of any hope for the wicked (see 1 Peter 3:18-20).  Some believe that Ephesians 4:8 refers to Jesus leading the righteous captives out of the captivity of the grave and into heaven.  Whether this verse is intended to reference this or not, it seems stretched to think that only believers after the cross could go to heaven after death while those before the cross must stay captive in Abraham’s bosom.  In John 8:47 and John 16:15, Jesus taught that everyone who “belonged to the Father” would believe on Him.  Thus all that belonged to the Father (before Christ came) essentially belonged to Him.  Would not that which belongs to Christ be with Him?  The price has been paid.  At this moment all the righteous and faithful of every generation back to Adam are with Jesus at the right hand of the Father, and believers who die today immediately join that multitude in Heaven.

There are objections to taking Luke 16:19-31 literally.  They say that this is just a parable and thus is only emphasizing that our life on earth sets us up for a good or bad experience in the afterlife.  Thus they would ignore the descriptions as merely props used to get an idea across rather than specifics.  The problem with this is that if this is a parable, it is the only one where one of the characters is named.  An even bigger problem is that the parables of Jesus were always true-to-life.  Jesus did not tell Aesopian Fables involving turtles and hares.  His stories always represented real experiences that happened every day.  Why would this be the one parable where we would say the story does not represent real experiences that people who are dying have every day?  There is no strong reason.  Thus I believe that the story is intended to give us a real look into the grave and give us a rough picture of what it will be like.

Today, I encourage you to think about your life.  We are not all as destitute and seemingly cursed as Lazarus, and most likely you are not as well off as the rich man in the story.  However, it is important how you live this life because it will impact what you will experience after your death.  If you want to be in the presence of God when you die, then I encourage you to put your faith in Jesus, rather than in yourself or the things of this world.  Admit to God that you are a sinner in need of saving.  Believe that God sent Jesus to pay the price for your sins and that His teachings are the way for you to live your life.  Then publically confess Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  Those who embrace Jesus in faith have a bright future ahead of them in which not even physical death and the grave are bad things.  They simply become our promotion from the teaching grounds of this life into the presence of God Himself.  Choose to follow Him today!

What is after Death audio

Tuesday
Nov102015

Jesus Reveals The Future- Part VI

Luke 21:29-38.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on November 08, 2015.

Today we will finish this chapter and return to the events of the last days of Jesus leading up to the crucifixion.  I plan to pause our study through Luke for the next 2 months and then pick it back up next year.

Having finished his revelation of the things that are in the future, Jesus ends with some final instructions regarding how that should affect their minds and lives.  It is important to recognize the difference between receiving information from the Lord and having that rightly impact our lives.  We must not only hear the Word, but we must also recognize the imperatives that the Spirit of our Lord is pressing to us.

Instructions From The Lord

Jesus starts his instructions with a parable regarding vigilance.  Several times he commands us to watch, look, and see the things that are happening around us and within us.  Thus earlier he commanded his disciples not to fear and not to be deceived.  Both involve the things that we may or may not see.  The people of God are called to be a vigilant people as opposed to those who are spiritually sleeping, drunk, or dead.  The first thing he points them to watch for involves all the signs and events that he has prophesied.  It is not enough for us just to know that he believed these things were coming.  We need to be a people who watch for these things.  On one hand we watch for the things that fit the descriptions that Jesus gave.  But on the other hand we make distinctions based upon what he said.  Thus we know that some things were going to happen in the first century, other things were going to be indicative of the whole age of Gentile domination, and then some things would be indicative of the end of this age and the Second Coming of Jesus.  Part of our watching is coming to a better understanding of what Jesus was saying.

Jesus gives a parable of budding trees.  It mentions a fig tree but then adds “and all the trees.”  Sometimes a fig tree is used as a metaphor for Israel.  However, in this passage it is a picture of all the things Jesus prophesied (some of them having to do with Israel).  When a tree begins to bud then we know that summer is near.  Although we may think this a no-brainer, there is a subtle point being made.  We have dates on the calendar such as June 21 and September 21 (depending on the year) in which we declare the beginning of summer and its end.  However, our experience with this period of time called summer is not always the same.  Sometimes it comes late and sometimes it comes early.  Trees have a relationship with the earth and sun that is different than us.  They are more sensitive to the things that can go undetected by us.  Thus a tree buds when it has a certain amount of energy and nutrients from the soil and sun.  We can make educated guesses at when that will be, but nothing can take the place of seeing the trees and plants responding.  Thus the difference between computer models and real life cause and effect cannot be made clearer.  Those who watch the world and make their guesses as to when the times of the Gentiles will end and the Second Coming will occur have often demonstrated the inability we have as humans to sense spiritual things clearly.  The signs and events that Jesus has revealed are intended to be like buds on a tree.  They help us know that the Kingdom of God and the Second Coming is near, or not.  Clearly, Jesus is not referring to the spiritual aspect of the Kingdom of God that the disciples had already entered into.  Rather, He is pointing forward to the Millennial Age when Messiah will remove the wicked of the earth, depose its wicked kings, and hand the kingdom over to the saints.  What has happened spiritually will come into being politically at the Second Coming.

Next Jesus makes a statement that “this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place.”  If this was the only information we had, it would seem that Jesus is pointing to the disciples and saying this generation (the one that exists now).  But when we look at the same account in Matthew 24 it is worded a bit differently.  “When you see all these things, know that it is near-at the doors!  Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.”  Here the generation being referred to is a generation that will see “all these things” in the future.  So here is the rub.  If all the events of Luke 21 happened in the first century then they were the generation Jesus was talking about.  However, I have made the case in the last 5 sermons that not everything happened.    In fact, the genius in how this prophecy is written can be seen in how the people of every generation will still operate with a characteristic of vigilance and it would do them in good stead.  Thus the first century believers saw many of these things and were prepared to avoid the wrath of God poured out on the nation of Israel and the city of Jerusalem.

Yet, there are still some things that have not happened.  Matthew 24:15 mentions an Abomination of Desolation that did not occur in the first century.  There are some creative attempts at connecting this with events at the 70 AD destruction of Jerusalem, but they are forced at best.  Matthew 24:14 mentions the Gospel being preached in “all the world.”  This also would not be the natural understanding of what happened before 70 AD.  Yes the Gospel spread greatly into the Roman world.  But the universal need of the Gospel requires a spread throughout all the nations literally.  Notice that it says all things that are written would be fulfilled (vs. 22).  This sets up many passages, such as Zechariah 14, that were clearly not fulfilled in the 70 AD destruction.  The times of the Gentiles ending and the Second Coming of Jesus did not happen in 70 AD.  Again, there are some creative attempts to say that Jesus came back spiritually.  But that is not what this prophecy predicts.  Lastly, we have not seen a convergence of the sun and moon darkened with stars falling to the earth.  See last week’s sermon for more on this.

Up to verse 34 Jesus is talking about our vigilance regarding the things in the heavens and on the earth.  But at verse 34 he begins talking about our vigilance regarding ourselves.  Believers must be watchers of their own souls as much as they are watchers of the times around them.  The word translated “take heed” in the NKJV has the idea of turning your mind and inspection upon yourself.  Thus we talk about introspection.  There are many temptations and fears that can sidetrack a believer from following Jesus.  If a person is not careful and does not watch themselves they will fall into sin and into its consequences.  If left unattended, these things can even jeopardize the soul of a disciple of Christ.  We only need to think of Judas to recognize this.  Jesus warned Peter, James, and John, when he asked them to pray with him on the night he was betrayed, that they needed to “watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation.  The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41).  The love of God and the blood of Christ do not absolve the believer from vigilance over their soul.

Jesus points out that our hearts can become weighed down with sin.  The picture is of a person who is overly burdened and cannot follow where the Lord is leading.  Hebrews 12:1 touches on this same concept, “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”  Whether we think of the analogy of an animal that is so loaded down they can’t move, or of a runner in a race who is wearing boots and heavy clothing, both instances demonstrate that we will not be able to do what Jesus wants us to do, or go where he wants us to go.  Jesus mentions two specific sins and a general category.  They are: carousing, drunkenness, and the cares of this life.  The word translated as “carousing” is a reference to the state of mind of a person when they are drinking alcohol.  It involves both the giddy feeling of euphoria and the attending horrible pain of a hangover.  In both cases the mind of the person is messed up and not focused on Jesus.  In the first all inhibitions and ability to work well are overwhelmed by a false sense of well-being.  This false well-being takes the place of seeking our well-being in Christ.  Thus it is a form of idolatry.  In the second situation our mind is filled with pain and suffering to the point it is unable to deal with anything else that the Lord may have for us.  This cycle of drinking to feel good and then not feeling good has sidetracked many a person from being a faithful servant of the Lord.  The second sin translated “drunkenness” goes hand in hand with carousing.  It is a clear reference to the person who drinks too much alcohol and becomes intoxicated.  Believers are not commanded to be teetotalers, but they are commanded not to be drunk.  Both of these issues can be seen as spiritual metaphors.  The lusts of our flesh can become the directors of our pursuit of well-being.  The consequential cycle of dramatic highs and crashes, shipwrecks the faith of people in the way of Christ.  This leads us to the general category of the cares of this life.  Jesus referred to this in the parable of the soils.  He warned that the cares and worries of this life can suck up all the moisture and nutrition of our life and choke out the Word of God.  Thus a person does not grow in becoming like Christ and instead grow in becoming like the world.  All of these are like weights on our heart and must be jettisoned in order to follow Jesus.  It might be better said that the Christian life is one of learning to prune the things we need in order to continue following Christ.  This is a process that will not end as long as we are in this flesh.

The consequence of dilatoriness in the battle against the lusts of the flesh can lead to being caught unaware by the Day of the Lord.  Now the problem here is not that a person has sinned.  But that they have quit watching over their soul and have become like one of the drunkards.  Just because you have the label of Christian does not mean that your heart is really following after Jesus.   Several parables that the Lord told refer to servants who doubt that the master is coming back and begin to take advantage of their position in his “house.”  They end up receiving the same judgment as those who were his enemies and never a part of his house.  The Lord is coming back to judge the wicked of this world who reject him as Lord.  Yet, he will also judge the wicked servants of his house who have rejected him in their hearts.  Thus Jesus uses the picture of a snare or trap in verse 35.  The world and “Christians” who are following their flesh will be surprised at the coming of Jesus.  They will both be caught up in the judgments and wrath of the Lamb of God.  All traps have bait that the thing being trapped wants.  In this case both those who never follow Christ and those who only pretend to do so are trapped by the lusts of their own mind and body.  God has warned us for millennia that those who go after the lusts of the flesh will reap destruction.  Thus we begin to understand another side of the distress and perplexity experienced by those who see the wrath of God coming upon the earth.  They are trapped by their desire to do it any way but the way of Jesus.  The world is headed into a trap that it will not escape.  Do not listen to the songs of the singing sirens.  They call mankind to take hold of its “evolution” and become the gods it was destined to become.  This will lead to inescapable judgment and destruction.

Finally Jesus tells us to pray for ourselves.  Technically watching and praying are concepts that are tied together in the Scripture.  They are two sides of the same coin.  Yes we ought to pray for one another.  But a prayer life begins with a person who sees the assault of sin upon their own heart and has established a communion with Jesus regarding what is seen there.  Only then are we able to rightly pray and intercede for others.  A prayer of introspection concerns itself with being ready for the Lord’s return.  Regardless whether he comes back or we die, we know that we will have a day of accounting and this should be a daily concern of our prayers.  In fact, Jesus uses the phrase “counted worthy to escape…”  This is not talking about meriting our own salvation.  Only those who are clothed in the righteousness of Christ are worthy.  However, our response of faith to Jesus must demonstrate works that are worthy of true repentance.  In other words, “Don’t be deceived.  God is not mocked.  Whatever a man sows that will he also reap.”  If we sow to our flesh we are going to reap destruction.  But if we follow the Spirit of Christ and sow to it, we will find life.  Our pretense will not be over looked by him who can see all things of the mind and heart.  Thus we want to be able to stand before Christ as an accepted servant, rather than to fall as an unworthy servant who is cast out into utter darkness.  Many who think they should be accepted will be rejected in that day.  It is no mystery.  Christ has made these things abundantly clear.

Let me end by reminding us that God does not intend His wrath to be poured out on His people.  1 Thessalonians 5:9 says, “God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord, Jesus Christ.”  Also, Revelation 11:18 says, “The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your name, small and great, and should destroy those who destroy the earth.”  Like He has often done, and like He did in 70 AD, the Lord pulls out the righteous before He brings down His wrath.  Thus He will do in the last days.  At some point Jesus will rapture His bride before He pours out the wrath of God upon a world that hates him.  Today is the day to choose what side you will be on.

 

Jesus Reveals Future VI Audio

Saturday
Nov072015

Jesus Reveals The Future- Part V

Luke 21:25-28.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on November 01, 2015.

Today we continue working through the prophetic teaching that Jesus gives in Luke 21.  In these verses Jesus points to a time when he will come back to earth again, often called the Second Coming.  After having walked through the signs of the age of sorrows, and the destructions of Jerusalem that would occur, Jesus then turns to his Second Coming.

Then Jesus Will Come Back

We finished last week talking about the Times of the Gentiles.  This undisclosed amount of time would continue to manifest Gentile domination until the time allotted by God was completed.  This long period of time would eventually come to a close leading up to the Second Coming of Jesus.  It can be tempting to make the Second Coming of Jesus be a spiritual coming in 70 AD.  However, I will point out later why this stretches all credulity.

The first thing Jesus points out in verse 25 is that there will be signs in the heavens, specifically the sun, moon and stars.  It is somewhat vague here.  However, in Matthew 24 it states that the sun and the moon will be darkened and the stars will fall.  Such phrases would have been recognized by the hearers of his day.  They are used in the Old Testament as part of the Day of the Lord, when God judges the whole earth.  We have the same language used in Revelation 6:12-14 regarding the opening of the 6th Seal.  “I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood.  And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind.  Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place.”  Darkness of the sun and a blood-like moon is usually a sign of massive dust or ash particles in the air.  However, there is more going on here.  The picture of a scroll rolling up is used to describe the sky.  Some have said this could be pointing to some kind of nuclear warfare event.  However, it could also be the effects of an asteroid or comet striking the Earth.  Now it is common in the Bible for natural events to point towards spiritual events.  So when the Bible talks about stars falling, it can be a simple description of celestial objects entering the Earth’s atmosphere and shining like a star as it burns up in the atmosphere or strikes the earth.  It is nonsensical to hold the Bible accountable to a modern, technical definition of a star.  We even still refer to meteorites as “falling stars,” even though we know they are not technically suns.  Yet, we must also realize that the idea of falling stars has been used as a metaphor for falling angels.  We will come back to this later.  The main point is that there will be disturbances in the heavens, most likely both natural and spiritual things.

Then Jesus says that there will be distress and perplexity on the Earth.  Just as the heavens are disturbed, so the Earth will be too.  The term for distress means to be in dire straits.  It was a metaphor similar to being between a rock and a hard place.  This leads to the second term, “perplexity.”  Perplexity points out the inability to move forward or escape.  This can be due to a distressed mental state, “I can’t see my way out.”  Or, it can be due to a strategic error, “Checkmate.”  Either way, people on earth will be in a state of being boxed in and not sure what to do next.

This leads to a description of the seas and waves roaring.  I think that this also hold a natural and metaphorical meaning.  Powerful blasts of “space rocks” would cause massive tsunamis and tidal waves.  Yet, the Bible also uses the tumultuous sea as a metaphor for the peoples of the Earth.  They are pushed by tidal forces beyond their control.  They are tossed to and fro by the winds of the air.  This was a picture of the frenzied and driven nature of mankind.

The next description is that men’s hearts will fail them in fear of what is coming.  Earlier Jesus had told his disciples not to fear the things of the time of sorrow.  However, these things will be tied to the wrath of God being poured out on the Earth.  The phrase literally means that men would faint or drop dead out of fear of those things coming upon the earth.  Now as I have said earlier there is both a natural and supernatural aspect to these things.  Jesus says that the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  This reference is to more than just the natural powers of the sun and planetary motions.  Here are some Scriptures that reveal that the powers of the heavens are not just about celestial objects.  1 Peter 3:22, “Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities, and powers having been made subject to Him.”  Jude 1:13, “raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.”  Revelation 12:3-4,9, “And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads.  His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth… He was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”  Thus we see that the powers of the heavens and the stars are often a reference to spiritual entities.  In Revelation 12 we see that a time will come when Satan and the angels that follow him will be forced out of the heavens and down to the earth.  Thus the last days will be scary from a natural standpoint and a supernatural standpoint.

It is at this point that Jesus says that the Son of Man will visibly return in great power and glory.  In Revelation 19 we see that this is during the great battle of Armageddon.  The armies of the world will be drawn to the Middle East by demonic messengers, where they will destroy Israel and then turn their power against the Lord Jesus as He returns.  In fact, notice that Jesus says, “they will see…in a cloud.”  The Second Coming of Christ is not an invisible, spiritual event.  It will be very visible.  Every eye will see Jesus coming on the clouds.  This fulfills what the angel told the disciples in Acts 1.  They were watching Jesus ascend into heaven until he disappeared in a cloud.  The angel said, “In like manner he will return from heaven.”  The rolling clouds and visible, glorious power of Christ is described as very bright and he will be followed by the hosts of heaven. 

Thus Jesus says that when we see these things happening we should look up for our redemption is near.   As Christians we are already redeemed in that the blood of Christ has purchased us back from sin and death.  However, our redemption is not complete.  We are still stuck in sinful flesh, and in a sinful world full of wickedness.  Christ will come to redeem natural Israel, and to complete the redemption of His Church.

It is important for us to understand that, though it has been a long time, God has a plan that is slowly working itself out.  This plan does have a point at which the present order comes to an end.  Think about this.  If you have not put your faith in Jesus and become his disciples, then you need to give this serious thought.  If you are not ready for His Second Coming, then you will be caught up in the judgments on the wicked.  But if you repent then you will be cared for by God Himself.  He will bring you through the fire of those times and you set your feet on a rock so that you can stand.  He will remove the wicked from the Earth and establish a kingdom of righteousness.  We have seen each of these things happen one by one.  A time of sorrows began back in the first century AD.  Jerusalem was destroyed in the first century and is now under threat of destruction again.  Mankind as a whole is rejecting the gospel of Jesus and is primed to receive the man of sin as its leader in these last days.  We are on the precipice of the wrath of God being poured out and the Second Coming of Jesus.  Prepare yourself today!

Jesus Reveals Future V audio