Are You Ready?
By Brian V. Brown
1 Corinthians 1:4-9 NIV I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge—God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Do you like getting presents? Especially when you don't know what they are! Birthdays or Christmas, maybe Mother's Day or Father's Day. You're so excited, wondering what the gift is. "Will it be what I want?" "Will I like it?" So you start ripping off the paper in your haste to see what you've got.
But think about this – a gift is only a gift if you reach out and receive it. If you don't receive it, it's not your gift – even if it's offered to you. If you don't receive it, then you may be missing out on something exciting, on something that may bless you.
In the Scripture passage above, Paul is saying to the Corinthian Church that they are not lacking any spiritual gift. But what do we mean by spiritual gift?
Paul lists and explains some of them a little further on in 1 Corinthians, chapter 12 –
- the message of wisdom (how do you fancy that one?)
- the message of knowledge (I'll go for that one!!!)
- faith (we could all do with some more of that!!!)
- gifts of healing
- miraculous powers
- prophecy (speaking God's revelatory word)
- distinguishing between spirits
- speaking in different kinds of tongues
- interpretation of tongues
1 Corinthians 12:8-10 NIV
All these gifts are given to us by God's Holy Spirit. And if God is offering us these gifts, wouldn't it be churlish of us not to receive them. He may have a good reason to offer them to us. What do you think?
But notice in the passage, Paul says that these gifts are to be used until the day that Jesus Returns – what we often call ‘The Second Coming'. On that Day, the gifts will no longer be needed.
Matthew 24:30-31 NIV "Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. . . . . . Matthew 24:36-44 NIV "But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
Do you believe what it says in the Bible? I do – absolutely.
- I believe that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God.
- I contend that it is full of truth and wisdom, not myth and fairy stories.
- I maintain that it is a record of God's dealing with mankind – from Creation to the New Heaven and the New Earth.
Even if some of the subjects and issues are difficult to understand or get to grips with – that doesn't say that the Bible is wrong, it may be that we're not quite as smart as we think we are!
And I would like to share with you a little of what the Bible says about the Second Coming of Jesus. This is a subject, not often considered by preachers, but it is a very important teaching. In fact, by one estimate, one verse in every ten in the Bible speaks directly or indirectly of the Second Coming of Christ. One verse in every ten! Wow! In other words, ten percent of our teaching should concern the Second Coming.
However, probably because it can lead to people having oddball or crackpot ideas in this area, that it tends to be neglected. It can be so easily misunderstood, but that is not a reason why we should neglect such an important aspect of Christian teaching.
So, why should we consider the Second Coming? Well, firstly, because Jesus said that it was going to happen.
In the passage above from Matthew, Jesus was teaching His disciples what to expect prior to His Second Coming. And His teaching is very clear – so we cannot be in any doubt. That assumes, of course, that we believe His words. He warns of false Christs and false prophets. And tells us that we are to expect them. They're popping up all over the place.
You may remember the case of David Koresh and the Branch Davidians at Waco, Texas in 1993. He had claimed to be the Christ, the Lamb of God. He was killed during a stand-off with the FBI, and is probably the most well-known of the recent false Christs. There have been, and there are, many others, even today.
Jesus clearly says,
"For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man." (Matthew 24:27 NIV)
(The phrase ‘Son of Man' is often used by Jesus to describe Himself.) We will all know that Jesus has arrived. There will be absolutely no doubt – we can be absolutely sure.
"At that time the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory." (Matthew 24:30 NIV)
How this will happen is open to conjecture, of course. How will all the nations know, at the same time, that Jesus has come for the second time? I don't know, but let me put something to you . . .
In August 2008, every nation was able to watch the Olympics from China as it was happening. No delay – as we waited for reports to keep us up to date – we could see the events unfolding as they happened. Would you have thought this possible 100 years ago? But today, millions of people are able to see things happening anywhere round the world, just as they are happening. Technology has come such a long way in a relatively short space of time – I remember viewing Queen Elizabeth's coronation on a neighbour's TV, nearly 60-years ago!
Now, I'm not suggesting that this is how we will all see Jesus returning. How it will happen is yet to be revealed, perhaps in some way we have not thought about before. But I am suggesting that somehow all people will see Him return, because that is what Jesus Himself says.
When will all this take place? Again we have the crackpots and the deluded! And again Jesus is very clear –
"No one knows about the day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." (Matthew 24:36 NIV)
Even Jesus doesn't know – so how can we mere mortals?
Down the centuries, many people, organizations and cults have predicted the date – all have come and gone, with no sign of Jesus. All trying to second-guess God. However, Sir Isaac Newton predicted that the year would be 2060 – so watch out!
I believe we will never know the exact day of Christ's return. It is God's nature to act independently from man's thinking. If He returned on a date that someone had figured out, that person would deprive God of His triumph. When it comes to His glory, God doesn't share the spotlight with anyone – not even Sir Isaac Newton!
Okay, if we don't know when He will return, why should Jesus bother to tell us about His Second Coming? He is warning mankind that there will be a reckoning. Things cannot be allowed to go on as they are forever, because God cannot tolerate man's sin for ever – there has to be an end.
Remember the flood? No, I don't mean that you were there when it happened! But at the time of Noah, mankind was doing its own thing – giving no consideration to its Creator. God was not an option. Do your own thing and never mind the consequences! God had had enough – hence, the flood, wiping out mankind. Only Noah and his family survived – and they began to populate the earth again – a new start, with God at the centre.
But we all have the propensity for sin, which must be dealt with. Through Jesus' death and resurrection, we all can be reconciled to God, be washed clean and be saved. Saved? Saved from what? Saved from the result of our sin – "The wages of sin is death", says the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans.
That death is eternal death – eternal torment and separation from God. However, if we sincerely acknowledge . . . .
- who God is
- His love for each one of us
- that Jesus paid the price, the penalty, for our sin
- our need to repent of our wrongdoings
- and receive the forgiveness freely offered by God
then we are saved! We have eternal life! We will be eternally in God's presence, living as He originally intended mankind to live.
In the Scripture from 1 Corinthians, Chapter 1, above, we see the phrase . . .
"… you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ."
1 Corinthians 1:8 NIV
By receiving Christ as our Lord and Saviour, on the day of His return, we will not suffer the effects of God's punishment, that is, eternal death, but will enjoy the benefits of eternal life.
God does not want anyone to perish, but to receive eternal life. But He is a just God, and those who do not acknowledge Him will receive their just desserts. We say he is a God of love, but also a God of wrath. It's us that makes the choice, not God – we know the options!
I know what my choice is, do you?
I choose life, not death.
So the message to us concerning the Second Coming of Jesus is . . .
Because you do not know when it will happen – He could appear at any time.
Today, tomorrow, next week, next year, or, according to Sir Isaac Newton, 2060!!!!
HOW WILL HE FIND YOU?
WILL YOU BE FOUND BLAMELESS ON THE DAY OF THE LORD?
It's your choice.
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are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.
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