Saturday, May 21, 2011
With Special thanks to Dr. Adrian Rogers for much of this material.
As you are aware, Harold Camping has made world-wide fame by predicting the Second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and Rapture of the Church on May 21st. The Lord Jesus, a greater authority, has said, No one knows the day or the hour of His return. (Matt 2435 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.
While the Coming of the Lord IS possible to occur on May 21st, it is UNLIKELY to be that day above any other, since no one knows the day or the hour. We are to be on the alert for when He does return, for the day of His Return has never been closer… every day is a day closer to His return.
But, you and I are not on the Planning committee for the Lord’s return; we are on the Welcoming Committee!
We DON’T know when the Rapture of the church will occur. We don’t know when the Lord will return.
1 Thessalonians 4 and 5 tell us somethings about His Coming For His Church! 1 Thess 4:13v-5:11
13 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.
14 Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus.
15 For we say this to you by a revelation from the Lord: We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming will certainly have no advantage over those who have fallen asleep.
16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
17 Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will always be with the Lord.
18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. (HCSB)
13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.
14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.
16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. (ESV)
The Central Person
14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
His name is Jesus. Jesus is the Central Person
“The revelation of Jesus Christ…and the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:1-2).
Christians shouldn’t be looking for “something to happen.” We’re looking for Someone to come. His name is Jesus. If you read the book of Revelation and don’t see Jesus, you’ve missed it.
Jesus Christ is the hero of the Bible. You will find Him everywhere you look—the Rose of Sharon, the Kinsman Redeemer, the Mighty Warrior. This is especially true in the book of Revelation. He is the theme, the center, the heart of the book.
The word “revelation” is the Greek word apocalupsis (“apocalypse”). It literally means “an unveiling.” If you’ve ever seen a statute unveiled, someone pulls a drawstring, the cover drops, and the statue stands there, unveiled for everyone to see. That’s exactly what this book is about: the unveiling of the Lord Jesus Christ in all His majesty and glory, for the world to see.
Imagine the heartbeat of God the Father as He pulls the drawstring, unveiling His glory, and says, “Here is My dear Son, King of Kings and Lord of Lords!” We’re going to see Him with His glory unveiled!
You see, when Jesus came the first time, His glory was veiled. But His second coming is going to be so different from His first.
First, He came in shame. When He comes again, He comes in splendor.
First, He was despised and rejected. When He comes again, every knee shall bow before Him.
First, He came for crucifixion. When He comes again, it’s for coronation.
First, He came to a tree. When He comes again, He comes to a throne.
First, He was spat upon. When He comes again, crowns will be laid at His feet.
First, He came as a carpenter. He comes again as King.
First, He came as a servant. He comes again as Sovereign.
The first time, He stood before Pilate. When He comes again, Pilate will stand before Him.
The first time, He heard cries of mockery. When He comes again, He’ll hear “Worthy is the Lamb! Blessing, honor, glory and power be unto Him!”
This is the glory revealed—and the splendor we can anticipate—each time we study the wonderful book of Revelation. No wonder God has promised in Revelation 1:3
The Comforting Promise
Return “The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven…” Acts 1:11 says the same things. “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seem Him go into heaven.”
The Sleeping, v. 13a-14. When the word “sleep” is used of believers it always refers to the death of the body, not the soul. Death for believers is nothing more than “sleep.” How many like to sleep? That would be all of us. Imagine coming into the bedroom of a loved one and discovering they were sleeping. You would not rush to the phone and dial for emergency services. They were quietly sleeping, in due time they will awake.
Rescue Of the Thessalonians the Apostle Paul write 1 Thess 1 6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. 9 For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
10 ..to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
Resurrection The dead in Christ shall rise first…” There are signs of Christ’s coming all around us, but right now we should be listening for he sounds of His coming.
Christ will return in the air with a “shout.” This is not just some noise. It is an authoritative shout. What Christ will say I don’t completely know, but we have a preview in john 11 when Lazarus was raised from the dead. Jesus called out, “Lazarus, come forth,” v. 43c. It had been noted that if Jesus had not specifically call out “Lazarus” He would have emptied the whole cemetery!
Also, a “trumpet” will sound. Trumpets were very important in ancient Israel. Certain sounds called them for either war or worship. For us then, all fighting will be over, so we will be called to endless worship.
All the sleeping dead in Christ will return with Christ in spirit and their bodies will be resurrected and rejoined with their spirits. The dead in Christ will defy the “grave” and will be resurrected. Yes, people will be fitted with new bodies, bodies fashioned like unto the glorious body of Jesus, Phi 3:21.
Rapture “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the air….”The word “rapture” does not appear in the Bible, but don’t let that bother you. The words “trinity,” “mission,” “demons,” and “sovereignty” are not found in the Bible, either, but they are all doctrines clearly taught in the Bible.
“Rapture” is a Latin word that means “to seize, to catch away.” It can mean “to take by force,” like inJohn 6:15 when the crowd wanted to “take” Jesus by force and make Him their king. When the rapture occurs, those who are living at that time will defy “gravity” and be taken up. The Bible calls this a“mystery” in 1 Corinthians 15:51.
Imagine you took small pieces of copper, lead, zinc, iron, platinum, gold and silver and metal scattered them over your yard. And then you let the grass and weeds grow over them. What would happen if you took a giant electromagnet and swung it over your yard? Some of those pieces would leap up, coming right through the dirt, if necessary, and cling to the magnet. Which metals would do that? Not the zinc, or the lead, or the copper, or even the gold. Only the iron would. My friend, when Jesus Christ comes, those who share His nature are going to be caught up.
Reunion “Caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air…”
What a homecoming day that is going to be! In your daily Bible reading in Genesis have you ever paid any attention to a phrase that is repeated again and again?
· Genesis 25:8 “Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years…” now watch it, “and was gathered to his people.”
· Genesis 35:29 Isaac died and “was gathered to his people.”
· Genesis 49:43 Jacob died and “was gathered to his people.”
This does not mean a burial with other people in some cemetery. This was the gathering of God’s people—family, friends, fellow believers.
Sometimes people ask, “Will be know one another in heaven?” Absolutely. We will not know less in heaven than we know here.
And, here’s a bonus—we will know people we have never known! Peter, James and John knew Moses and Elijah on the Mt of Transfiguration—all without any name tags!
Warren Wiersbe says this word “meet” “carried the idea of meeting a royal person or an important person. Adrian Rogers said, “It’s a technical word that speaks of welcoming a returning dignity, going out with an entourage to greet him.” “!
Reception “And so shall we ever be with the Lord.” John 14:1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
Did you know there is a blessing in the Book of Revelation? “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand!” (Revelation 1:3). Hear it. Jesus said, “If any man have an ear, let him hear” (Revelation 13:9). Do you remember your parents or teachers ever saying to you, “Do you hear me?” They were not asking if you heard them with your eardrums; they wanted to know if you understood what they were saying.
Keep it. God wants more than just a curious mind when you read the Book of Revelation. There are commands in this book for you to obey. If you really believe the end of all things is close at hand, you will not be casual about the things of Christ.
It Will Unlock the Mystery of History In eastern religions, history just goes in a cycle. That is why adherents of these religions believe in reincarnation. Religious followers keep coming back until they get it right. But Bible history is not cyclical; it is linear. Christians are moving toward a goal.
It Will Bring Sense to Our Suffering Suffering is not God’s final plan. Revelation 21:4 says: “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
It Will Bring Stability in Chaotic Times The days in which we are living are absolutely mind-boggling. Knowing God brings stability in chaotic times. He is the Almighty!
All it takes is the Almighty to give us that understanding.
The Certain Prophecy
The Day of the Lord
1 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you.
2 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.
3 While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
4 But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief.
5 For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.
6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.
7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night.
8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.
9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.
11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
The time is at hand. Revelation 1:3 says, “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” What does John mean when he says the “time is at hand”?
It does not mean that the time is immediate. It means that it is imminent. Jesus Christ can come at any moment. We are not waiting for some event to take place before Jesus can return; He can come whenever He chooses.
Friend, we have been living in the last days for more than 2,000 years. The apostle Paul expected Jesus Christ in his lifetime. He was not wrong to believe that way; he was right. Every Christian should be living in the light of the imminent coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. How grateful I am that God gave us His Word to give us comfort, guidance, and assurance of His sovereign plan!
Although this subject may be considered fearful to some, this is primarily meant not only to inform, instruct, and enlighten, but also to motivate and get you ready for Jesus’ return. And if you’re not absolutely ready for the second coming of Jesus Christ—pay attention!
For the day of the Lord is a certain moment in history as yet to be revealed. It is as real as His birth and as powerful as His resurrection. I pray you will not be one of the ones asking, “Where has everybody gone?”
A Day of Sudden Destruction
“For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3).
We all know that a thief in the night never announces his coming. Instead, he comes in secret, and you are surprised. This will be the case in the day of the Lord that we call the day of tribulation (see Joel 2:1-2 Blow a trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming; it is near, 2 a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains a great and powerful people; their like has never been before, nor will be again after them through the years of all generations.
Jeremiah 30:7 Alas! That day is so great there is none like it; it is a time of distress for Jacob; yet he shall be saved out of it.
Daniel 12:1 At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book.
Matthew 24:21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.
Revelation 6:15-17 Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”).
The dark days this world has known are nothing compared to the torture and terror that is coming under the reign of the anti-Christ who will tell the world the biggest lie about what happened to God’s people at the rapture. It is my belief he will say that Christians were standing in the way of world peace so God took them out of the way.
I believe he will come with a one-world government, one-world church, and one-world economic system. And everybody will say “Hallelujah! Peace at last!” The nation Israel will even receive him as their Messiah—making peace and signing a treaty with him. If you want to know more about the coming of Satan’s superman, read Daniel 8. The world will be so hungry for peace that they will gladly yield their alliance and strength to any man who offers the hope of peace. And they will experience peace and safety. Then … there will be sudden destruction. Even now, can you hear the thundering hoof beats of hell getting closer? The flames of judgment are appearing on the horizon. And the raging waters of God’s wrath are furiously pounding against the dam of His mercy.
A Day of Surrounding Darkness
“But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:4-8).
Paul is talking about the kind of moral darkness we are experiencing today. Paul says the world is asleep in this darkness and if not asleep, then drunk. For we know today the depth of depravity is everywhere—the music, movies, magazines, the Internet and so much more.
But be encouraged! God has a plan for His people in this day of darkness and Paul tells us three things which characterize the Christian in this surrounding darkness.
• Be aware. We don’t have to go around with headline hysteria. We can put the Word of God next to today’s newspapers and declare that we know what the world is coming to—it’s coming to Jesus! The only hope of this poor sin-cursed world is the second coming of Jesus Christ.
• Be awake. The stage is rapidly being set for the drama of the ages. We are not to put on a white robe and go up on a mountaintop and wait for Him. We are to occupy until He comes. God’s alarm clock is going off for us to wake up, get up, dress up, go out, and stand up for the Lord Jesus Christ!
• Be alert. With the breastplate of faith and love, guard your heart, and with the helmet of salvation, guard your head. We need to get a bulldog grip of faith on the unshakable, inerrant, infallible Word of God. And learn to love the Lord, the brethren, and the lost.
A Day of Sure Deliverance
“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do” (1 Thessalonians 5:9-11).
There is a great debate as to whether the church will go through the great tribulation. I believe the church will be taken out before the tribulation begins, and here are three reasons why:
• First, God did not appoint us to wrath. In the Scripture above, He may chastise His children, but He will never pour out His wrath upon them. Just consider two of His children who were spared His wrath ? Noah and Lot.
• Second, the Scripture also says Jesus Christ died for us that whether we wake or sleep we should live together with Him. If I must go through the great tribulation, then I’m not living in the expectation of Jesus coming at any moment … I’m looking for the horror of the great tribulation.
• Third, Paul wrote these words to bring comfort. If you knew you would go through the agony of the tribulation before Jesus returned, would you call His second coming a blessed hope? If the tribulation occurs before Jesus returns, then do you know what the blessed hope is? Death!
Jesus Christ is coming. Finally, be careful to approach prophecy with great humility. When you get right down to it, we need to serve on the welcoming committee, not the program committee. Whenever Jesus comes, we all need to be ready.
Yes, it’s been more than two thousand years, but I want to remind you… the first time He came, He was born on time, died on time, and rose on time. And when He comes again the second time, you can be certain He’s coming on time!
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
From Joe McKeever
"Pastor, some of our members are concerned."
That gets his attention, believe me.
You can say all you want about how the minister is God-called and God-protected and that sort of thing, but he would not be human if he did not want the people he's serving to be supportive and responsive. After all, since he's sent to help them, he will want some kind of evidence he's accomplishing his purpose, otherwise, he feels that he has either failed them or God. Or both.
He is vulnerable as a result.
What makes him more vulnerable to negative influences from the congregation is that he has a family to feed and look after the same way you do if you work at the post office, drive a delivery truck, teach school, or extract teeth. The fact that he needs this job means he opens himself up to pressure from his constituents.
As a result, he reacts--at least emotionally--when he hears some of these lines that have been used on preachers since the beginning of the church.
"I know we ought to be reaching all these people and it's good they're being saved, but I miss our church the way it used to be."
Yesterday, the church I visited had 140 in two services. When the pastor came, 3 or 4 years ago, they had 40. In the last 3 Sundays, he has baptized 11 people. Before the benediction, the pastor called on me for (ahem) a few words. I said, "My friends, I am thrilled at the growth your church is having. These are wonderful days in this church. But I need to caution you about something. The devil will not take this lying down. He will raise up people to criticize and oppose, and he'll do it from within the congregation."
I said, "Sooner or later, you will hear someone say, 'I wish our church was the way it used to be.' When that happens, do not wait for the pastor to address it. That's your job. You turn to them and say, 'Are you out of your mind?!'" They laughed, but I hope they got the point.
"I'm not being spiritually fed by your sermons."
This is a common ruse that accomplishes two things: it puts the preacher down while leaving the impression the critic is super spiritual with a taste for the red meat of the Word. And may I say, such criticism is almost always off base.
I once had a chairman of deacons say, "Preacher, they say you're not preaching the Word." I said, "Mike, I just got through preaching through the Gospel of Matthew. What did they mean by that?" He said, "I don't know." I said, "Please go back and ask them." That was the last I heard of it.
"Pastor, some of us have been talking and we feel there is a malaise in the church."
The answer to this one--those are the exact words I once heard from a group of nay-sayers in my congregation--is a simple one: "Yes there is, and you're it."
Why do people think they can spend their days criticizing the pastor and undercutting him, and then fire him because "there is a malaise within the congregation." There ought to be one; they made it! (Webster defines 'malaise' as an unfocused feeling of general unease or discomfort. Yep. That's exactly what a constant barrage of criticism and non-support builds within a church body.)
"Preacher, we were here a long time before you and we'll be here after you leave. Don't tell us what to do with our church."
This ungodly approach is usually directed toward the pastor of a small church, particularly a first-timer who doesn't know any better. But its cousin lurks in the hallways and classrooms of the larger churches where members-with-seniority-and-clout (MWSAC) resent the changes the pastor is bringing in.
"Pastor, some of us think it's time for new leadership."
This one is also a camouflage for the real reason they are attacking you, pastor. They have no answer for what you preach and the way you are leading. They want you out and the best they can come up with is this nebulous, foggy, smoky reasoning.
The answer to it is, "You're right. I think you've been chairman of deacons long enough, don't you?"
"Pastor, there's a delegation of deacons here to see you. Now."
Nothing strikes terror into the pastor's soul like this one. He knows the boom is about to be lowered. Even if he stands up to them and carries the day and keeps his job, the fact of the confrontation itself will leave him shattered and unnerved for the rest of the day. No one enjoys this.
My hunch is that fully half those in the pastoring business despise confrontation. They feel called as healers and blessers. They will put up with a lazy staffer, a critical member, or a rebellious leader far longer than they should simply because they hate to call someone on the carpet and have to deal with the consequences. Maybe they'll move to another church, they think to themselves.
But the worst confrontation of all to a pastor is when they themselves are the subject of the meeting.
What makes it worse is if the preacher has served any length of time, he knows he has failed some people, he has preached some lousy sermons along the way, and he has left undone work he should have pulled off. In other words, he knows he is not guiltless.
Anyone who has been married for three years or more has grounds for divorce. That's my philosophy. What it means is that if one were keeping account of every slight, every put-down, every harsh word, he/she could convince some judge somewhere of grounds for divorce for incompatibility.
In a sense, a pastorate is like a marriage. The only way to make it work past the honeymoon stage is for both sides to agree for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.
The spouse or the church leader who is committed to the mate or the preacher so long as everything goes well will soon be headed to the divorce courts.
There is no way to say this loud enough or sufficiently forcibly: Every pastorate that endures--that is, every church that keeps a pastor for any length of time--has to make up its mind to weather the storms that blow through from time to time.
What are the storms pastors endure and which blow through every congregation periodically?
Criticism. Disaffection. Mass exodus, with members taking their tithes. Sinful rebellion against godly leadership. Worldly philosophies. Carnal failures.
Here's are questions that ought to be discussed in every church committee meeting:
What would it take for me to leave this church?
How committed am I to seeing this church's mission through to completion?
Do I really believe God calls pastors to churches and that He alone decides when one should leave?
Am I part of my pastor's support team or one of those who make it difficult for him to do the work God sent him here to accomplish?
I've left unaddressed something the premise of this article assumes: that preachers are frightened at the idea of losing their churches. The answer to that is severalfold....
1) Let the preacher look to the Lord as His employer and not to man. (II Corinthians 4:5)
2) Let the preacher understand, too, that the leadership of his church are mortal, have clay feet, and can make serious errors. In other words, he can be fired and his ministry severely wounded by church members.
3) When that happens, his responsibility is to shake the dust off his feet and go on to the next assignment. If he grows embittered, it's a sign he had his eyes on men and not on the Lord.
4) A pastor will spend his entire ministry walking that line between taking great joy in his congregation but looking only to the Lord for his affirmation and guidance. Sometimes he will veer from one side to the other, but both are essential. Paul called the Philippians "my joy and my crown" (Phil. 4:1), and yet he knew the only crown that mattered would be one from the Lord (II Timothy 4:8).
Frightening words to preachers? Nothing will give him a heart attack more than walking up to him five minutes before the morning service and saying, "Uh, pastor, I thought you'd want to know. The pastor-search committee from First Church Bigtown is here today. All twelve of them."
Oh my. Watch him sweat now.