I Believe that Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
The coming of Christ is the central theme of the New Testament. At His first Advent He came as the Suffering Servant described by the Prophet Isaiah. He came to seek and to save lost men, and He saved them through the sacrifice of His own life as a perfect sin offering. Though He was equal with God, He emptied Himself of His divine glory and took upon himself the lifestyle of a servant. He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of dying on a cross.
But we cannot think of His first Advent without also contemplating His second advent. In teaching the believers at Corinth about the significance of the Lord’s Supper, the Apostle Paul noted that every time we participate in the communion that we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. The Lord’s Supper is not just about looking backwards to the Lord’s first coming. It’s also about looking forward to the Lord’s second coming. In Titus 2:13 it is called our blessed hope. The Second Coming of Christ was central to the hope of the early church. I’m not so sure that is true of the modern church. Many believers have been persuaded that Your Best Life [is] Now. We are so caught up in the affairs of this world, even in the good things of this world, to the point that we fail to seek the better things. The good things that we enjoy here and now, and the pace of our lives, all-to-often keep us from meditating on, hoping in, and looking forward to the Second Coming of our Lord. The constant refrain of the New Testament, however, is “Christian, don’t let that be so. Be ready. Be prepared. Be alert. Live in the light of His coming. He is coming.”
- "And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." (Revelation 22:12, KJV)
The Scriptures are very clear about the Second Coming of our Lord. It will happen. It will be a Personal, Literal, and Visible coming. It will be a glorious event for those who have chosen to believe in their heart that Christ has risen from the dead, and confess with their mouth that Jesus is Lord. It will be a time of anguish and gnashing of teeth for those who have not.
The question of the moment is: "How are Christians to live in light of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ?" The Bible gives us examples of the different kinds of watchers we can be.
I. WE CAN BE LAZY WATCHERS
- "Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. 34It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. 35Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— 36lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” (Mark 13:33-37, ESV)
- there are some believers who, early in their faith, eagerly anticipate the coming of our Lord
- but as time goes by they become distracted with the affairs of this world
- as a result, they become lazy watchers
- ILLUS. Jesus says that his return is characterized by the rich man who goes on a vacation or takes a holiday leaving his staff in charge of his large estate. The housekeeper asks, "When will you be coming home?" to which the master of the house replies, "I'm not really sure. When I feel like it, I guess." The housekeeper, the chauffeur, the gardener, and the cook all have their assigned duties to perform and are expected by the master of the estate to faithfully execute their jobs just as if he was there watching. A week goes by and there is no sign of the homeowner, and the staff go about their duties assuming their master will soon return. A month goes by and then another and still there is no indication when the master of the house will return. Six months go by, and the servants begin to grow lax in their duties. They’ve not heard from the master of the estate, and they begin to loose interest in their assigned tasks. The Limousine and Porsche go unpolished. Weeds begin to sprout in the once immaculately kept lawns and gardens. Dust collects on the fireplace mantles and bookshelves. The staff is forced to eat leftovers and finally TV dinners because the cook simply fails to cook. Finally, the staff begins to take long siestas in the afternoon believing that surely there will be enough advanced notice of the owner's return, and that they will have time to get the estate in order. The staff has become lazy in their watchfulness for the master of the estate. When they least expect it, guess who'll be coming home?
- does that mean that we’ve misinterpreted the words of Jesus concerning this second coming thing?
- listen to what the Apostle Peter wrote ...
- "Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 5For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 8But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." (2 Peter 3:3-10, KJV)
- the scoffers of this world often sarcastically ridicule those who believe in the imminent, personal, and visible return of Jesus
- they falsely assume that since the world’s creation everything has remained the same—that God has not intervened in the past, so what makes us think He will intervene in the future?
- Peter clearly says that they are willingly ignorant of the history of the world—God has indeed clearly intervened in the past through a great flood, and will clearly intervene in the future in the second advent of His Son
- who are the ungodly?
- anyone who has never made a faith-commitment to Christ
- this is a hard statement and one not readily accepted by our culture
- in our culture, ungodliness is often associated with the vilest of social offenders—the serial rapist, the pedofile, the con-artist who prays on the elderly
- these are obviously the ungodly who deserve hell and the hottest part of hell
- but the Bible does not make such a distinction—the ungodly are those outside of a faith-relationship with God through His only begotten Son, and they will be judged and condemned
- "It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jude 14-15, ESV)
- delay does not mean God has somehow forgotten His promise
- why does God delay the return of Christ?
- the cause of the delay stems not from indifference or inattentiveness on the part of God
- it lies in God’s grace and mercy toward sinners
- in this passage, the Apostle Peter alludes to the Old Testament prophecy of Habakkuk:
- "For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay." (Habakkuk 2:3, NIV)
II. WE CAN BE PRE-OCCUPIED WATCHERS
- "And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’" (Luke 12:16-19, ESV)
- there are some Christians who are so pre-occupied with the events, agendas, meetings and concerns of this world that they really don't care about nor do they anticipate the Second Coming of our Lord
- when we are pre-occupied with an event or situation we are all but oblivious to other events taking place around us
- ILLUS. Every wife who has ever tried to have a conversation with her husband during his favorite sporting event knows this to be true.
- ILLUS. Many well-meaning Christians think that worldliness consists only of certain sinful practices that non-Christians engage in. Smoking, dancing, drinking, gambling, and theater-going are the "big five" that head the list. Depending upon your denominational background, some add other things like makeup, long hair for men, and tight-fitting cloths for women. The implication is that if you don't do these things you're spiritual. Now, I'm not suggesting that these social practices don't matter. Some of them are condemned by biblical principles, and indulging in others can lead to spiritual ruin. What I am saying is that worldliness is a condition of the heart rather than a code of conduct. It is a " ... self-indulgent attitude . . . toward life, the material universe, and all life's relationships," (C. Stacey Woods). "Worldliness is a spirit . . . It is a life without high callings, a life devoid of lofty ideals. It is a gaze always horizontal and never vertical." (J. Henry Jowett). In other words, anything that takes priority over devotion to Christ. This includes such worthy pursuits as striving for success in a career, acquiring a new car, a better home, more material possessions, or living solely for your family.
- the answer to worldly living is simple: surrender the right of independent thought and action to the lordship of Jesus Christ
- clear all your decisions with Him so that your normal desires for position, possessions, and pleasure will be satisfied in ways that glorify God
- the depth of your devotion to Christ will determine the degree of worldliness in your life
III. WE CAN BE FAITHFUL WATCHERS
- "Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:" (Mark 13:35, KJV)
A. WHILE WE WATCH FOR CHRIST'S COMING WE ARE TO LIVE IN FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD
- "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21And having an high priest over the house of God; 22Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, ... " (Hebrews 10:19-22, KJV)
- Because Jesus is our Great High Priest ... "we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place."
- Because Jesus intercedes continuously for us before God we can have a confidence in approaching God
- ILLUS. Most of you have seen the movie classic, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman and the Cowardly Lion have traversed many miles and come through many dangers to present their petitions before the Great and Powerful Oz. But they approach the Wizard in fear and trembling with no assurance that he will even receive them.
- in fear and trembling and trepidation
- what good is access to God if you do not avail yourself to that access?
- this access is made possible through his body which was "broken for us"
- ILLUS. The Apostle Paul writes that Christ has provided access before God "through the curtain, that is, his body." Paul uses the example of the rending of the Temple Curtain which separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple complex, (Matt. 27:51). The veil was a symbol of a strictly limited access to God. When Christ died that veil was ripped in two from top to bottom. Hebrews tells us the veil represented the Christ who gave his life for us. When he died to bring forgiveness to all who would accept him it represented unlimited access before God.
B. WHILE WE WATCH FOR CHRIST'S COMING WE ARE TO PERSEVERE IN HOPE
- "Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)" (Hebrews 10:23, KJV)
- trials and temptations are real for all of us
- Satan hurls his fiery darts our way and seeks to penetrate our shields of faith
- can we be honest?
- sometimes we don't raise our shields fast enough and his attacks wound us
- in the face of all that, Satan the world, and the flesh send our way it is sometimes tempting to give in to a sense of hopelessness
- don't do it!
- when those times come the Bible says "Hold on!"
- the idea is not that we can loose God's grace if we don't hold on, but rather we hold on because in our hope we have assurance and the promise of better days
- we can take heart because the one who has promised us hope of better days if faithful
- while we watch for Christ's coming we are to persevere in hope
C. WHILE WE WATCH FOR CHRIST'S COMING WE ARE TO LIVE IN FELLOWSHIP WITH OTHER BELIEVERS
- "And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." (Hebrews 10:24-25, KJV)
- the Christian faith is not lived and practiced in isolation
- there are simply too many "lone wolf" Christians in our society
- you will never, ever find a growing, maturing Christian outside of the fellowship of other Christians
- pick a leaf from a tree and it will shrivel
- take a coal out of the fire and it will grow dim and grow cold
- separate a believer from the church and you will find a backslider
- "One another" is a significant thought in the Bible
- we are to "love one another" John 13:34-35
- we are to "be kind to one another" Ephesians 4:32
- we are to "bear one another's burdens" Galatians 6:2
- we are to "confess our sins to and pray for one another" James 5:16
- here in Hebrews 10:24 we are to "stir up one another"
- the phrase "stir up" is a strong word which mean to “sharpen, stimulate, incite, or provoke"
- NIV translates it as "spur one another on to love and good deed"
- the idea is that we are to motivate each other to be the best possible Christians we can be
- how many believer have been discouraged because other believers have put them down or jumped on their case for one reason or another
- Paul encourages us to meet, to worship and to encourage each other while we wait for the Lord's return
- be a faithful watcher!
What kind of watcher are you? Are you a faithful watcher? Are you a preoccupied watcher? Are you a lazy watcher?