Telling Spiritual TimeSeries: Blessed Hope. James Dewhurst March 7, 2021
The Blessed Hope
Today, as we kick off this timely and intriguing series together, I want to talk to us about the critically important spiritual skill of – Telling Spiritual Time!
Over the next 4 weeks, we are going to be discussing the part of Christian theology that deals with the final chapter of humanity. Eschatology which comes from the Greek word escalation addresses the end of the world and the final events of human history.
We are currently living in a time of unprecedented national and global chaos! Morality is in free fall, sickness is pervasive, nations are divided and things are changing at such a rapid and extreme pace, that it’s leaving many to wonder if these are signs of the end?
As we begin our series today, I want to establish one of the most foundational core beliefs for all believers in the N.T. church, which is affectionately known as the “Blessed Hope”! This unwavering core conviction is that Jesus will one day come in the clouds, in all of his glory, and take us home to be with him, forever. Shortly before his crucifixion, Jesus told his disciples in:
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. (ESV)
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (ESV)
30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (ESV)
The second coming of Jesus is going to change the world just like His first!
The most repetitive, predominant prophecy in the entire N.T. surrounds the 2nd coming of Christ. While the O.T. contains 300 prophecies about Jesus’ first coming, the N.T. contains 318 about His second coming. 1 in every 25 verses talks about Jesus’ return!
The 2nd coming of Jesus isn’t a sermon topic, it is the Future Hope of the church!
We know he’s coming, but the big question is – How do we know when He’s coming?
Do you know what time it is Spiritually?
Jesus considered telling time an indication of spiritual maturity, as he challenged the religious leaders in:
1 And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. 2 He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ 3 And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. (ESV)
Spiritual signs will never be recognized with carnal eyes!
2 Corinthians 4:4
4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (ESV)
3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’and they will lead many astray. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. 9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (ESV)
The first sign is Deception!
Matt 24:4-5 “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.”
We are living in a time of historic deception, where evil is being called good, and good is being called evil! People claiming to preach a gospel of love are deceiving the church with a false gospel of perversion. Jesus warned us not to be deceived by it!!!
1 Timothy 4:1 “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” (Deception is demonic!)
2 Timothy 4:3-4 “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”
Jesus taught – When people start believing lies and rejecting truth, the end is near!
A second sign is a Global Chaos!
Luke 21:10-11 “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.”
Jesus specifically names pestilence as a sign! The word for pestilence in Greek is Loymos and means “plagues or diseases”. What is different about COVID 19? It is a global pandemic, not a local or national illness, that has affected over 188 nations. This is the first time in history a virus has shut down the world, limiting travel, closing schools and churches, and shutting national borders. (We’ve never seen anything so severe!)
Jesus taught – When war, division, and sickness go global in scale, the end is near!
A third sign is a Persecution!
Matthew 24:9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.”
A 2019 World Watch List report revealed that there are now 150 nations around the globe that are persecuting Christians on a daily basis! In the top 50 anti-christian nations, with North Korea ranked number 1, there are 245 million Christians living under religious persecution. 1 out of every 3 Christians in Africa, 1 out of every 6 Christians in Asia, and 1 out of every 9 Christians worldwide are being persecuted for their faith in Christ. Every 24 hours, 11 Christians lose their lives for Jesus Christ!
Jesus said in: Matthew 24:13 “The one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
Jesus taught – When the persecution of Christians grows worldwide, the end is near!
A fourth sign is Failing Faith!
Matthew 24:12 “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” (The majority of believers will walk!)
The last days will be a time where God separates the wheat from the chaff, the faithful from the fearful, and the committed from the casual. As immorality rises, the majority of Christians will embrace culture over conviction. (Only a remnant will remain faithful!)
***Only 13% of adults today make moral decisions based upon the Bible!***
A fifth sign is Global Preaching!
Matthew 24:14 “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
Up until the age of the internet, it was virtually impossible to reach the whole world with the gospel. But today, the gospel is proclaimed on global media platforms to nations and people groups that outlaw churches and have been closed to missionaries for centuries!
Jesus taught – When this gospel finally reaches the whole world, the end is near!
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