Week 7: THE RETURN OF CHRIST

Sermon AUDIO –26 minutes


The Return of Christ

B.J. Newman
Kirkmont Presbyterian Church
Beavercreek, Ohio 45434
http://www.kirkmont.com/

TEASER 1:
“My goal is not to engage with the skeptic this morning… my goal is to engage with Christians who live like they’re skeptics.  You see this guy I just told you about never thinks about the Second Coming because he doesn’t believe in it… and yet there are Christians here… Christians all throughout the Western World who will say, “Yes I believe in that… but just like the skeptic, they never think about it… it never crosses their mind. They wake up, they drink their coffee, they get their kids on the bus for school, they go to work, the eat lunch, they exercise, they come home, they pick their kids up, they watch TV… they binge watch on Netflix.. and the idea that CHRIST would come back NEVER ENTERS THEIR MIND… and let me tell you Church… that breaks my heart [transcriber’s too… to the point of literal tears].

TEASER 2:
“So, again, my goal is not to engage with the skeptic per se… but here’s what I would have conveyed to that skeptic today… you see he’s got a faith and a hope about the future that’s rooted in Scientific human advancement… and we as Christians have a HOPE and a FAITH in the future based on the One who CREATED Scientific advancement. And we have that hope bases on His Word (Greek [00:13:00] “I am coming soon”. Amen!

[Learn the root of one of the transcriber’s favorite goodbye’s to other believers.. “SEE YOU HERE.. THERE.. OR IN THE AIR…”]

And you won’t want to miss his Grand Finale… a superb ending to a superb sermon.

Listen along as you read TRANSCRIPTION below;

BJ Newman
“Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you this morning… I continue to be humbled by and grateful for the opportunity to be in the pulpit. I’m continually blown away by the confidence of not only the session but also the congregation as a whole has shown me; and it’s my prayer this morning that my words will be both Christ-honoring and God-glorifying and that you guys will ultimately be edified by what we have this morning.

We’re going to continue this morning… the last leg of our series where we’ve been going through THE SEVEN ESSENTIALS OF THE EPC (Evangelical Presbyterian Church).  We’ll be looking at #so if you take out your bulletin there’s a little sheet that has them and #6 is on the back. And I would like for us to read that together if we could.

Jesus Christ will come again to the earth personally, visibly, and bodily—to judge the living and the dead, and to consummate history and the eternal plan of God. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” (Rev. 22:20)

Let me highlight 3 particular points on this before we look at Scripture. The first is that JESUS IS GOING TO COME TO THE EARTH… and in those three ways: PERSONALLY, VISIBLY and BODILY.  He’s going to do two things… He’s going to judge the living and the dead; and He’s going to consummate history and the eternal plan of God.

Let’s turn to the Scriptures to support this… we believe in the Word here so let’s take a look. Turn with me if you will to the last chapter of the last Book of the Bible. In Greek the Book is called “האפוקליפסה של יוחנן” or the Apocalypse of John, more commonly known as the Book of Revelation. We will read the last 2 verses. Chapter 22 beginning at verse 20 says this:

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.

Just notice the simplicity of what John has to say here… “He who testifies to these things is a clear reference to Christ, and Christ says this (the audio has the Hebrew pronunciation of -> “Yes, I am coming soon”. And notice John’s reaction… what does John say when he hears those words, I am coming soon, he says, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus...” and then of course he showers grace`on the Lord Jesus to be with God’s people.

My goal this morning is simple.. I have one simple goal… I pray that when we hear the Word “I am coming soon”, that John’s reaction will be our reaction… that when you think in your mind about our Lord’s return that your hearts will leap with “AMEN”… that you will hear, “I am coming soon” and the first words will be, “Even so come Lord Jesus”.

Now, unfortunately anytime we deal with the idea of the Second Coming… what the New Testament calls (Greek vocal translation here)… the Second Coming of our Lord, it immediately gets shrouded in this cloud of confusion… there’s all manner of confusion that goes around here from things like FALSE PREDICTIONS to FALSE PROPHETS.. and then even within the Christian community there’s all sorts of theological confusion… there’s all manner of things where there’s this MILLENNIUM… it’s mentioned in Revelation… is Jesus going to come before that or after that… or is it even really a thing… and then there’s this whole idea of a TRIBULATION PERIOD and are we going to LIVE during that time or we gonna be gone… and it just immediately gets shrouded with confusion.

And yet I think it’s important for me to point out that this is why the EPC has ESSENTIAL and NON-ESSENTIALS. You see the simplicity of John is.. “I AM COMING SOON.., even so come Lord Jesus“.

Contrast his simplicity with the confusion here and this is what we’re trying to do as a church… we’re trying to look at what’s important and say, ‘this is what we need to focus in on’… He is coming back to the earth bodily, physically, literally and we’re going to SEE Him.. and He’s going to do two things: He’s going to JUDGE and He’s going to CONSUMMATE [complete, perfect] the entirety of earth’s history.

And so it’s important for us to keep that simplicity in mind because when we get into these theological debates it gets confusing… I mean historically reformed churches like ours have held a position known as AMILLENNIALISM… when I look at the evidence in the New Testament it seems like the preponderance of evidence points to the position of POSTMILLENNIALISM… and yet others who love the Lord and treat the Bible with respect would disagree and have other positions.

And yet here’s what we’re trying to get across… we believe that the simplicity of John’s message is ESSENTIAL. And for all of these other things… the TIMING and the BEFORE and the AFTER… we can all passionately defend our position, and yet lovingly disagree; and we can have this UNITY that’s there.

And I think that’s one of the most important things for us to recognize … because again, when we think about this, things get confusing. I mean it’s easy for us as humans… we get a little fickle every once in a while and we start conflating all sorts of things…

I remember as a little kid, JESUS’ RETURN was always just a “thing”… it was just there, ‘yeah, he’s coming back’… I never went to church until I was a teenager, but yeah, somehow or another I just knew Jesus was coming back… it was just that simple. And yet it’s very confusing when you start to think about it

In fact, I was watching a show not too long ago called, “NATURE’S WEIRDEST EVENTS”.. and it was a perfect illustration of how this can easily get confusing… so, let me show you just a brief clip from this and then we’ll come back.

NOTE: If you’re listening to audio STOP. Watch VIDEO below then FF to 00:09:09

Video is from [00:06:00] to [00:09:09] on audio tape.

I’m not sure what your reaction would be if thousands of birds fell out of the sky, but I think I’d be a little bit freaked out.  I was thinking about this last night and I’m like, “Ya know with confusion like this all over the place.. how am I gonna sort this out..”  I was pacing around and I was a little bit nervous… and then I said, “even so, come Lord Jesus… NO, SERIOUSLY… COME NOW BECAUSE I’M NOT SURE I WANT TO STAY STRESSED OUT ANYMORE ABOUT HAVING TO SORT ALL THIS OUT… come NOW (LAUGHTER).

So what happened in Beebe, Arkansas, later on, was that everybody was trying to explain what happened… and there was just a consistent steady drumbeat of people saying, “No, this means Jesus is coming back… THE END is here… it’s over…”. In fact it became such a common theme that some in the media deemed this The Aflockalypse`(LAUGHTER).

So, ultimately what was explained by some folks coming in and doing some research is that these birds roost in the trees at night because they have bad vision and they can’t see very well during the night… and there were reports of sonic-like booms… probably illegal fireworks going off being New Year’s Eve and all, and it spooked these birds and in their panickedfrantic flying smashed into walls and cars and poles… because all of these birds had bodily damage that killed them.

So ultimately we did get an explanation out of it; but it’s just a good illustration here of how all of this confusion can stem and it all sort of gets tied in with the Second Coming of Lord Jesus.

And yet when we come to Scripture.. when we look at Scripture, it’s simple…

I AM COMING SOON …
(and the congregation said… AMEN)
…. even so, come Lord Jesus” …that’s right.

And so what ends up happening here is that, because there’s all of this theological confusion and all of this confusion about how do we explain the SIGNS OF THE TIMES and all this stuff… it’s easy for people to become skeptical.

Now like I mentioned before, when I was a kid the Lord’s Return was just a ‘thing’.  But after I joined the military and began to get exposed to some people who weren’t raised in a town where everybody was Christian.. I began to realize that there are a LOT of people who are very skeptical about this — this whole idea that.. Jesus is coming again is something they don’t buy in to.

– – – – – – – –
I was sitting in an auditorium talking to a friend of mine who’s a relatively mature Christian.. and we were talking about this… about ‘how do I understand the Lord’s Return’ and things like that… and there was this guy behind us who was clearly getting upset about this conversation… wiggling around, making noises; and finally this mature Christian that I was speaking with looked at him and said, “I’m supposing that you disagree with what we’re saying”.

He goes, “Augh… I just can’t believe in the 21st Century there are still people that believe this stuff”.

And then what he said next has been grilled into my head ever since… I was shocked… I mean I was a new Christian and I was like “What???… What do you mean..? You mean you don’t believe it?”  I was very immature in this.

But what the guy behind us said next was, “I have far more confidence that the advances of Science will get us eternal life far before a dead Jewish carpenter ever will“… Ummm I was done.

Now I’m glad this mature Christian was there because I wouldn’t have known what to say… and he said, “Well.. I suppose I can respect that opinion, but that Jewish Carpenter is not dead”… (Laughter and Amens!).

And so my goal here this morning is not to engage with the skeptic per se… but here’s what I would have said to him now if that were the case… you see he’s got a faith and a hope about the future that’s rooted in Scientific human advancement… and we as Christians have a HOPE and a FAITH in the future based on the One who CREATED Scientific advancement. And we have that hope bases on His Word (hear him articulate the Greek @ [00:13:00] “I am coming soon” Amen!

So, again, my goal is not to engage with the skeptic this morning… my goal is to engage with Christians who live like they’re skeptics.  You see this guy never thinks about the Second Coming because he doesn’t believe in it… and yet there are Christians here… Christians all throughout the Western World who will say, “Yes I believe in that…” but just like the skeptic, they never think about it… it never crosses their mind. They wake up, they drink their coffee, they get their kids on the bus for school, they go to work, the eat lunch, they exercise, they come home, they pick their kids up, they watch TV… they binge watch on Netflix.. and the idea that CHRIST would come back NEVER_ENTERS_THEIR_MIND… and let me tell you this morning Church… that breaks my heart.

[It broke the Transcriber’s heart too… half way through above paragraph the “floodgates of heaven” opened up through my tear ducts].

My goal for you is to be able to say, “AMEN… COME LORD JESUS… I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO THE RETURN OF MY SAVIOR.. and my Lord… and as Thomas said, “My Lord and My God”.

– – – – – – –

I remember a conversation I was having with an old Youth Pastor of mine one time.. and he told me something that was interesting… he was teaching his youth class about the Second Coming of Christ… and he said that there was a young girl, probably sixteen-ish who raised her hand and said, “Listen, I’m excited about the Lord coming back, but I just don’t want Him coming back until after I get married” (Laughter).

Now, the first thing to observe about this is that it must’ve been a teenage girl; because if it were a teenage boy, that wouldn’t have been his thing… he might’ve wanted to win the State Championship or something.. not a wedding, a wedding wouldn’t have crossed his radar (Laughter).

But as I thought about this comment, it really began to unsettle me; I began to really get upset about this because… well, let me do this… let me ask you, IS THERE ANYTHING IN YOUR LIFE WITH WHICH YOU CAN FILL IN THAT SENTENCE?

So let me give you that sentence again… “I’m excited about the Second Coming, but don’t want Him to come until after ________. “ … fill in the blank.  What is it that you would say to finish that sentence (pause).

Now, think of that thing that you just filled that sentence in with and understand this… you have made that in IDOL in your life.  Because in effect, what you said it, “I am more interested in doing ‘this’ than seeing the Face of My Lord… than to see my Lord and my God that I love and that serve and that I worship on the Lord’s day COME BACK.

Now.. I’m going to presume that those things that you thought in your mind are probably not sinful… doing those things aren’t necessarily wrong… but your relationship and attitude towards them is.  It’s important that we recognize that what John is saying here is.. “It doesn’t matter what’s going on, I know that you are coming back.. AMEN… even so, come Lord Jesus.”  His heart is filled with JOY; his heart is filled with ANTICIPATION and EXCITEMENT.

I’m aware we can’t stay excited 24/7… I recognize that we do have to go to work and we do have to put the kids on the bus and we do have duties… but what I want you to be able to walk out of here today thinking is… when you HEAR that phrase or when you THINK about the Lord coming back… that there’s a slight excitement there.

Now… some of you may have not been able to fill in that blank… some of you may have been slightly offended by the idea that I would even consider that.  “WHAT? … BJ… YOU WANT ME TO PUT SOMETHING BEFORE MY LORD? .. NEVER…”… and I commend you for that… but the reason I mention it is because I think this is a problem in the rich, modern, western world.. we fall in love with stuff, we fall love with things, we idolize people…  and JESUS said, “If you love father or mother more than me, you’re not worthy to be my disciple” … and those are hard words… that’s difficult for us to understand.

But, understand this too… the problem isn’t happening so much in the rest of the world because Christians in China, Christians in Africa and the Middle East who are suffering… the idea that they would love something in this world more than they would love their Lord… is just ridiculous to them. They are suffering and are in persecution and THEY WANT OUT.. they want the Lord to come, any-day… there’s nothing in this world that they would want to hang onto more than wanting to see their Lord.

– – – – – – –
I had a couple conversations with Pastor Dan when we were talking about this topic, and he mentioned something to me that I found interesting… he said, “That same principle happens as people become more and more elderly as well”… people who’ve had folks that have died and their family, friends and close folks… they begin to think a little bit more excitedly about the return of their Lord.

And it’s interesting because in the New Testament the clearest picture of the return of Jesus Christ has nothing to do with the TIMING and the CHARTS.. and He’s going to come here and these people are in heaven doing this… and these people are down here.. like.. none of that.

Paul is ministering to his folks in the Church of Thessalonica and he says, “I don’t want you to be ignorant about those who’ve fallen asleep”… turn with me to First Thessalonians chapter four.  We’re going to take a look at this picture and see just how clearly Paul lays out this Second Coming,

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.  According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. AMEN… I AM COMING SOON.. AMEN, EVEN SO COME LORD JESUS” … Therefore, Paul says, encourage one another with these words.”

The Second Coming is a source of encouragement… it’s a source of comfort and when we hear

Έρχομαι σύντομα (I am coming soon) our hearts cry, “AMEN, EVEN SO COME LORD JESUS”.

– – – – – – –
Now, it’s important to see what Paul’s doing here… OK?  Let me just mention as a side note…

There are important believers who would disagree with my understanding of this passage. The verb that says, “gather together”… they see the Latin translation of that and this is where the word RAPTURE comes from. So other believers just for your own knowledge, see this NOT as the Second Coming, but as something else.

Suffice it to say that they love the Lord and this is an example where the EPC (Evangelical Presbyterian Church) allows for disagreement on the NON-ESSENTIALS… ok… so just as a side note there.

So this is what Paul’s trying to do.. he’s trying to provide comfort to people who’ve had husbands and wives and fathers and mothers and children and brothers and sisters DIE… and he’s saying “You need not worry… but be comforted because the Lord is going to come down with the cry of the archangel, the trumpet of God… R.C. Sproul called that the “noisiest verse in the entire Bible” (1 Thes 4:16).

And it’s important to see… in the EPC Essential it says that He’s coming back BODILY and VISIBLY and PERSONALLY… this is not going to be a secret. If somebody comes to you and says that the Lord returned in some secret corner of the world… “ain’t happenin’… ain’t true… ain’t no way you’re missin’ this”. We’ve got all sorts of Pomp and Circumstance going on here.

And what Paul’s doing is he’s actually using some imagery from the life and the world that he lives in to describe what’s going on here.

He’s actually pulling straight from the campaigns of the Roman Army. So what would happen is… the Roman army would be dispatched to a battle or to a war and they would be fighting — engaged in that.  And after they were victorious a messenger would come back to the city of Rome and they would tell the Senate, “Listen, WE WON.. the Roman armies are going to be back in a couple of weeks, in a couple of months… GET READY”.

So immediately the city would begin preparing… they would actually build these things called “VICTORY ARCHES”… there are the ruins of a couple of them still in Europe you can go see today.  And what would happen is, as the army was approaching the city would get ready for a parade… it would get ready for this GIGANTIC CELEBRATION and the armies would camp about a mile outside of the city and there would be TRUMPET BLAST called so that the folks who were in Rome… if you were a Roman citizen you could walk out of the city and join the army and following this trumpet blast walk through just like a Macy’s Day Parade… or a Ticker Tape parade of some kind… walk through this Victory Arch celebrating the victory of the Roman armies.

– – – – – –

This is precisely what we see going on with the Lord… it says “the Lord will descend”.. and then it says “Those who have fallen asleep in Him.. we will by no means precede Him… but they will be caught up with the Lord and we who are still alive will join them.  So those who are dead in Christ will rise first, meet him in the air and we will be called up with them, and we will.. as this celebrating victorious army come[ back down, settle on earth and God will then consummate history and judge the living and the dead.”

[TRANSCRIBER’S ADDENDUM – So I say to you sibling believers.. “I’ll see you here, there, or in the air” 🙂

You see. CHRIST’S RETURN IS ABOUT VICTORY… in Latin they call it “Christus autem victoriae” … He is the One who has OVERCOME DEATH and hell and the grave and the Second Coming is the TRIUMPHAL VICTORY of that defeat that He won on the Cross..  HALLELUJAH… I am coming soon… even so come Lord Jesus.

– – – – – – –

But you see there’s another bit of imagery that Jesus uses too… the Second Coming is not just a victory over death.. although it is that… it’s not just a victory for those that He has saved over sin and death and hell though it certainly is that… you see Jesus also called His Church, His Bride.

– – – – – – [This is good]
A couple years ago I got to see firsthand what that feels like… just a little bit of an idea what that feels like. I was stationed in Iraq for a number of months… I was gone from my wife for 10-11 months.. and I will be honest with you, BEING IN WAR WAS LESS DIFFICULT THAN BEING AWAY FROM MY SPOUSE. Those of you who have spouses know exactly that feels.

And… ahh… I asked Kendra, my wife, ahh… “Can you tell me just a little bit about what it was like when I was gone and you knew I was coming back?” … and the difficult part was, she didn’t know exactly when I was going to be back.  There was just this HOLE in TIME at which point I would come back… and I asked her and she said, “It was just sort of this combination of nervous anticipation, excitement kind of thing.”   She said, “Ya know I was constantly cleaning the house, and making sure it’s organized and making sure I had the right dress, and making sure I had everything perfect.” 

Because you see.. WE ARE GOD’S BRIDE… WE ARE THE BRIDE OF CHRIST… and we ought to be doing the exact same thing, getting our household in order, getting our lives in order, preparing ourselves and making ourselves ready for the coming of our Lord… (not to equate myself with the Lord by any means)… and then she also said, “But there was just an excitement”.. she was just ready.. she said, “I just wanted it to be over and I wanted you back so that I could have my husband”.

And I pray this morning that THAT is our excitement… that we will have the same anticipation that our Lord will come back and take His bride.

And so I wanna close with this idea… (pause)… when you go to lunch after church… when you go home with your kids… I want you to think and GET EXCITED about this idea that CHRIST IS GOING TO COME BACK… HE’S COMING BACK FOR YOU… to get ourselves ready and to be prepared… but MOST importantly… to be excited because … [looking at congregation for their input in the finale…]

“I AM COMING SOON

(Congregation – AMEN)

EVEN SO LORD JESUS”

– – – – – – –

For all Kirkmont Sermons go to:
http://www.kirkmont.com/sermons.htm

Share Your Thoughts Below ....

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s