Creed for the Common Man - End Times
Creed for the Common Man - End Times
Sunday, November 29, 2009: Creed for the Common Man - End Times
Today, the ninth & final sermon in the Creed series - The Biblical teaching of “End Times.”
“Eschatology” (esk-ah-TAHL-ogy) taken from the Greek Word “ESK-ah-toss” meaning “last things” or “end-time” details. There is no one topic that confuses even the most learned individual, than the study of “End times.” It is a topic to be studied, grappled with, discussed & debated…but in the end should NOT cause division among the body of Christ.
In essence, THE ONE MAJOR DIFFERENCE between most of the Evangelical views on “End Times” is the disagreement about WHEN in God’s calendar of events the Lord Jesus Christ will return in all of His glory. This is called The “2nd Coming.”
Sure, every ‘evangelical’ theologian agrees that the Lord Jesus Christ WILL indeed return, but what God allows to precede the coming of the Lord UNTIL He comes is the question that varying viewpoints & theological positions try to answer.
At TRBC, we hold to a “Pre-tribulational” & “Pre-millennial” Return of Jesus Christ
“The Lord Jesus Christ will literally, physically, and eventually return to gather up all true believers to take to heaven with him (RAPTURE) before a 7 year tribulation period upon this earth. After which, the Lord will literally, physically return to establish His literal, physical, earthly Kingdom upon the earth (2nd Coming).”
Let me provide a clear, simple, basic summary of God’s Calendar of Events according to our understanding of God’s Word:
God’s Calendar of Events
In order to understand the ‘2nd Coming of Christ’; we have to go back to the ‘1st Coming of Christ’.
EVENT #1 - The “1st Coming of Christ” - The Birth of Christ
Approx. 2000 years ago, the Lord Jesus Christ came to this earth for the FIRST time (the “1st Coming of Christ). He lived, died, rose again, and promised us that He would come again:
Acts 1:8-12 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 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.” 12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey.
EVENT #2 - The Waiting
It has been approx. 2000 years since the 1st Coming of Christ & many have mocked us for believing in something that they say will never happen. But this is nothing new, in fact, they were saying this to believers even 30-40 years after the Birth of Christ:
II Peter 3:1-9 Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), 2 that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, 3 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, 6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. 7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
NOTE: v.8b, “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” is simply a figure of speech (called a SIMILE that makes a comparison) to make a simple point. That one point is this: Peter is saying, “A promise by God made 30 years ago, 40 years ago, a 1000 years ago, or 2000 years ago…it is as good as if he made it just yesterday (a day ago)!” That’s all it is! A figure of speech to make this one simple point.
But the point is a PROFOUND POINT: “It may be a while before it happens, but make no mistake – IT WILL HAPPEN!!! And during the waiting, we LOOK AHEAD to that coming:
I Corinthians 11:26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.
EVENT #3- The Rapture of the Church
Remember from our study of “The Church” that this refers to ALL BELIEVERS and not a particular church congregation in total. We talked about the Invisible Church. The RAPTURE is where Jesus Christ Himself comes for all Believers to take to heaven to be with Him forever! It will be immediate…Without notice…
And swift…It will not be visible to unbelievers...and they’ll probably try to explain it away with all kinds of excuses as to how all these people just disappear – alien abduction, a punctuated event within the cycle of evolution, & who knows what else.
The two major portions of scripture that describe the rapture: I Thessalonians 4 & I Corinthians 15.
I Corinthians 15:51-52 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
I Thessalonians 4:13-17 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 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. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
NOTICE, that Jesus Christ does NOT ESTABLISH His physical, earthly Kingdom at the RAPTURE; Therefore, we do NOT consider the RAPTURE as the technical “2nd Coming of Jesus Christ.”
EVENT #4- The Tribulation Period
There will be a 7-year period of Tribulation (our ‘persecution’ or “troubling times’ upon the Earth.) NOTICE that the “RAPTURE” occurred “PRE-tribulation” or “Before” the tribulation. That’s why, we say that we believe in the “PRE-TRIBULATIONAL coming of Jesus Christ.”
During this time, many will accept Christ, BUT they will undoubtedly be indescribably persecuted, tortured, and die for their confession of Jesus Christ. Whereas, before the Rapture, if they would have believed then, they would have already been raptured into Heaven and escaped the tribulation.
During the rapture, there will be two distinct periods of time. The 1st 3 ½ years will be relatively peaceful while the Antichrist sets up his domination. The 2nd 3 ½ years will be a time of persecution for all believers under the new world leader, the Antichrist.
Matthew 24:15-21 “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), 16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. 18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. 19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.
Fortunately, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ prior to the rapture, you will NEVER have to experience this horrible season of suffering. But there is good news, even during the tribulation, that 7 yr. season of suffering will come to an end…
EVENT #5- The Second Coming of Christ
After the seven year period of Tribulation – and right in the middle of the most massive war & display of military force upon the earth…the Lord returns in all of His power & glory:
Revelation 19:11-16 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”
Just when man flexes his military might as much as possible, the Lord returns in all of His power & glory. And THIS TIME, to take the world OVER & establish His Kingdom upon the earth! Jesus returns & destroys the enemies of the Believers & establishes a literal, physical, Earthly Kingdom upon the earth.
Then all the believers (and only believers) who remained alive during the tribulation time make up the population of a literal, physical, Earthly Kingdom.
This Kingdom is the 6th date of God’s calendar.
EVENT #6- The Millennial Kingdom (or “1000 year Reign of Christ”)
NOTICE that the “2nd Coming” occurred “before” the Millennial kingdom. That’s why we say that we also believe in the “Pre-Millennial coming of Jesus Christ.”
Revelation 20:4-7 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
At the end of the 1000 years, all the demons, devils, and all the remaining unbelievers – those who have never received Christ as their Savior – are cast into Hell with those who were already there. You will remember the discussion about hell as very real place where people will spend a real eternity.
At that time, Eternity begins.
EVENT #7- Eternity
After the thousand year reign of Christ upon the earth, the Lord will change everything – for ETERNITY! This is the basis for the hope we have in Christ. The hope that I Thess. 4 talks about. Because this will be a time and place of absolute peace.
Revelation 21:1-7 NLT Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” 5 And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” 6 And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. 7 All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.
Knowing this, let me offer a few encouragements to you & explain how all of this “End Times” discussion can POSITIVELY affect our lives today!
Knowing God’s Plan of “End Times” should comfort us that no matter what happens…
God is Always with Us!
Romans 8:38-39 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God wants us to share the Gospel!
You can see the URGENCY to SHARE Jesus Christ with EVERYONE possible!
II Corinthians 6:2b Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
I Peter 3:9 NLT The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
God is in Control!
In everything we face, when we feel as if we are all alone and that life is out of control, we know that God has a perfect plan for each of us. Jeremiah 29:11-13 reinforce this truth.
God will deal with it all! Never to be dealt with again!
And FINALLY, Knowing God’s Plan will encourage us that: We Win!
Revelation 21:6 …And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.
Rev. 21:22 But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. 24 And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.25 Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). 26 And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. 27 But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
At that moment that Our Lord snatches us away - It will be glorious!…It will be perfect!…And we will all finally be at peace!…Because at that Midnight Cry…We’ll be going HOME!