May 17, 2008

Are We Ignoring The Signs of Jesus' Second Coming?

“For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” Matthew 24:7-8, NKJV.

Within the last two weeks, we have witnessed some very tragic events that have occurred in the world. It was not long ago, on December 26, 2004, when a Tsunami in Indonesia caused more casualties than any other in recorded history. More than 150,000 people were killed, 25,000 were missing and over 1,000,000 were displaced in South Asia and East Africa.

Now, there are reports of nearly 50,000 people that may be buried alive in China after a 7.9 magnitude earthquake that occurred in China’s Sichuan province just a few days ago. 100,000 people may be feared dead in Myanmar too, after a ruinous cyclone ripped through this small Indonesian country, formally known as Burma. Do you recall the devastating floods that happened last summer in Ohio?
How about the severe drought in Georgia last summer too? There have been devastating tornadoes in the central states and fears of famine in North Korea too.

Click here to view the list of natural disasters from Fox News.

We may be baffled by the tragic casualties of war and feel compassion for those who have been devastated by these disastrous events that have occurred recently, but are we really paying attention to what we are seeing? These are not the workings of “Mother Nature” either.


Are these the signs that God is giving us pertaining to the imminent return of His Son Jesus Christ?

I am not a doom and gloom type of person when it comes things such as this that are biblical, but there have been an increased frequency of these types of events occurring lately and these signs should not be taken lightly or ignored. I am a firm believer in bringing good news to people, but I cannot withhold speaking the bad news that we should all know about too, which does make the good news, very good news indeed.

Surely, we have experienced natural disasters like this in the past, so why are these events any different?

How many times?

I do not believe it is a matter of receiving only one warning to prepare for the return of Jesus Christ. We have been receiving multiple warnings that only seem to increase in frequency. Nevertheless, when the last warning has been issued, when the final trump of God has sounded (1 Corinthians 15:52, Revelation 11:15-19), it will be too late for many because God’s judgment will be carried out at that very moment for failing to heed His warning signs and His word.

David Wilkerson (1998) writes, “I’ve scoured the scriptures, and I can’t find a single instance when the Lord judged a people without first giving them warning in plenty of time to repent. Moreover, with every warning God sent, he clearly revealed where people could go to find protection from destruction. Our Lord has always provided refuge for anyone who’s willing to honor his word by heeding and obeying it.” (p. 80, read Exodus chapter 9 also).

Reading verse 7 again, Jesus said, “there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.” These words, famines, pestilences and earthquakes are plural and He said they would happen in various places, not just in one particular part of the world. These would be global events.

Did you know that the Greek word for earthquake is seismos? (σεισμός, G4578). Seismos is derived from the Greek word seiō (σείω, G4579) and this word means primarily to rock (vibrate, properly sideways or to and fro), that is, (generally) to agitate (in any direction; cause to tremble); figuratively to throw into a tremor (of fear or concern): - move, quake, shake.


See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire." (Hebrews 12:25-29, emphasis mine)
What will be shaken here on earth? Aside from the obvious, such as buildings and other structures, it may also be governments, military powers, financial institutions, global economies, political lobbyist groups (particularly those with personal agendas) and even the church, especially the leaders of churches who have been severely abusing their role as church leaders and the people whom they have deceived with false teaching. Carnal living Christians will even be exposed for the frauds they have been. It will all come crashing down one day and will leave an innumerable number of people utterly astonished and bewildered.

We should not discount what is written in the Old Testament concerning warnings through calamities such as we have been experiencing. The Old Testament provides many examples of events that were realized in the New Testament and events that will take place in the future.

In the Old Testament book of Jeremiah chapter 6, the prophet of God spoke a warning to the people of Jerusalem, of God’s forthcoming judgment because of their rebellion against God’s commandments and the way the people had been oppressed and mistreated.

Are you listening?

“For thus the Lord of hosts said: “To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear? Indeed their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot give heed. Behold the word of the Lord is a reproach to them; they have no delight in it.” (Jeremiah 6:6, 10).

Ezekiel was an Old Testament prophet, who was established as a watchman for God over the house of Israel and he was instructed to declare a similar warning to the people because of their wickedness. God told Ezekiel to go and speak to the people, “whether they hear, or whether they refuse.” (Ezekiel 3:11).

Now it came to pass at the end of seven days that the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. "Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; also you will have delivered your soul."" (Ezekiel 3:16-21, emphasis mine).

Why is it that people only want to hear of God’s gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ but not hear the consequences of their sin? The two cannot be separated, especially when that is what the Scripture says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23).

As a doctor would say to a patient who is a smoker, “Unless you quit smoking, you are going to die,” so Jesus has said, “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1-5).

IF THEN ELSE

Do you remember the IF THEN ELSE used in computer programming, maybe in math? If the condition is true, the statements following Then are executed. If the condition is false, then the Else condition is executed. The same would apply to our spiritual lives also.

IF THEN ELSE Statement: (IF) God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, (THEN) whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life, (ELSE) he who does not believe the son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. (John 3:16, 36).

Verse 19 of Jeremiah 6 says, “Hear, O earth! Behold, I will certainly bring calamity on this people – the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not heeded My words nor My law, but rejected it.”

Isn’t this true today! Don’t we see the foundation of moral law, the Ten Commandments, disregarded from public places? When confronted about it, it is a reproach to people and they certainly take no delight in it either and feel rather offended. Will anyone be able to say to God on their judgment day that His law was offensive to them and He should feel guilty about it? Should we expect God’s judgment not to come because of such contemptuous behavior? No, we should!

So what should we do?

The disciples wanted to know from Jesus what would be the sign of His return, when in the future, would the end of the age be? This has been a common question that I am sure is on the mind of many people too.

Interestingly, Jesus did not say to them when He would establish his kingdom, but said that they should not be deceived by people who say that they are the Christ (Matthew 24:4-5). Unfortunately, many will be deceived though because they failed to listen, they failed to recognize the warning signs; they failed to heed His word.

Jesus said that no one knows the hour when He will return, not even He knows, none of the angels know, but only God the Father knows the day and the hour when that will be (Matthew 24:36).

And the Lord says that we should be ready for His unexpected arrival and ready we must be! Now is a good time, for every person, to examine themselves and see if they are called one of God's children (2 Corinthians 13:5, John 1:12).

Luke’s gospel, chapter 21:36, records more specifically what we should do, “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” Luke 21:25-28.

Note: What has been written in this post, is not an edited transcript of the sermon from Pastor David Wilkerson below.

Additional resources

Related sermon – To Whom Shall I Give Warning, Pastor David Wilkerson, July 31, 2005. PLEASE LISTEN TO THIS SERMON.

Fulfillment of Bible Prophecy in Today’s News

100 End TimesProphecies

References

Geology.com. Retrieved May 13, 2008, from http://geology.com/articles/tsunami-map.shtml

Meyers, R. (2006). e-Sword. The sword of the Lord with an electronic edge (Verson 7.8) [Computersoftware].

Scripture taken from the New King JamesVersion. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Wilkerson, D. (1998). God’s plan to protect his people in the coming depression. Texas. Wilkerson Trust Publications.

May 1, 2008

You Are Invited To The Wedding

“Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.”’ But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business.” Matthew 22:4-5, NKJV.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus taught this parable when He was speaking to the elders and the chief priests who had confronted Him regarding where He derived the authority of His teachings.

This particular parable is an illustration of the reunion of Jesus Christ with his church. All are invited to the reception with the Lord, but very few will want to be with Him now in spirit while looking forward to His return, while a multitude of people will procrastinate only to discover it will be too late.


When I read this passage again (1-14), I noticed in verse 3 where Jesus said, servants were sent out to call those who were invited to the wedding and they were not willing to come.

Who might those servants be? They are certainly the pastors of churches who particularly have a burden in their heart to carry out the Great Commission throughout the world around them. I believe they are also the people you see and hear everyday whose lives are examples of Jesus Christ, average people with only one distinguishing characteristic, they have been born-again by the Spirit of God.

It is interesting also to recognize in the same verse that people were not willing to come at the invitation of the King! The king has given an open invitation to the people to come to the wedding of his son and they were not willing to come! The king Jesus is speaking of, is God!

How many people in society would have wanted to receive an invitation to Jay-Z and Beyonce’s wedding? Or the weddings of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas? Thousands of people who are fans of these celebrities would have just loved to have been invited to their wedding.




However, One who is greater than any of these people combined has invited every single person on the planet to be wed to His Son and sadly, many are not willing to come. You thought Donald Trump paid for an extravagant reception for his bride and guests! Think again. God paid for this particular wedding with the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ and that my friends, is PRICELESS!

Isn’t this exactly what happens today? There is no obstacle before any person to come to repentance and faith in Christ except for the obstacles they create themselves, which is often themselves. So, it is not that people cannot repent and place their faith in Christ for the salvation of their souls, they simply are not willing to do so because of pride and selfishness. The same two characteristics that resulted in Satan’s expulsion from Heaven.


“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit. Isaiah 14:12-15

Did you notice Lucifer’s selfishness, pride and arrogance here? It was how he wanted to maximize himself while minimizing God. People act in this same way today too, only that if they knew the danger to their eternal life this brings, they would hopefully run quickly toward God.

Every Sunday and each day during the week, the Gospel is preached inside and outside of the church and people are still not willing to repent of their sins against God. They are not willing to repent of their sins, to receive or recognize the forgiveness of their sins through faith in Jesus Christ. (John 5:40)

Multitudes perish eternally through mere carelessness, who have not any direct aversion, but a prevailing indifference, to the matters of their soul, and an unconcernedness about them. Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Matthew 22:1-14.

The king in the parable was excited about the wedding and wanted everyone to be included in the celebration of the wedding. All of the arrangements were made too, the facility, the menu of food to be served; everything is prepared just as it should be, for a memorable wedding day (v. 4.).

The book of Revelation describes the excitement of the forthcoming dinner celebration, which says, “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” (Revelation 19:7)

Have you made yourself ready for the wedding feast with Jesus Christ? Will you be giving God glory in Heaven for your salvation through Christ, or will you be grieving in hell how foolish and ignorant you were regarding the truth you have heard for so long and continued to turn a deaf ear to?

I have not read in the Bible where there is rejoicing or gladness in Hell. In fact, the Bible says that Hell is a place of tormenting fire and brimstone (Luke 16:23, Revelation 19:20), a bottomless pit (Revelation 9:1-2) and everlasting punishment (Matthew 25:46). Why would anyone want to allow themselves to go here?

What is disappointing again to read in verse 5 is that some people were not concerned at all regarding the invitation they had been given and so, went back to their daily routine of things.

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses!

The Gospel of Luke records a similar parable where the people made excuses why they could not attend the great supper that was prepared for them (see also Luke 14:16-20). They made excuses! Selfishness and pride were the leading motives for making excuses, just as they are today.

The Scripture says the people “made light of it,” in other words, they counted the invitation they received as unimportant to them that the king should want them to be with him.

Think about this for a minute, of the words that are synonymous with unimportant: insignificant, inconsequential, trivial, trifling, petty, minor, irrelevant and negligible or not worth worrying about. Is that how you are treating God’s invitation to be with Him? It is amazing to realize that after His ascension to Heaven, the people then had the exact same negligible thoughts as they do today. “It’s not worth worrying about right now. I have plenty of time to respond to his invitation. I have more important things to be concerned about than where I will spend eternity, look at the economy, gas prices and the housing crisis we are in! I’ll be there, don’t worry.”


Another parable of Jesus found in Matthew 25:1-13, says there were a few foolish people who were left standing at the door to the wedding, pleading for it to be opened for them, because they were unprepared to meet the bridegroom. They pleaded to have the door opened for them and the Lord said, “Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.” (v. 12).


This may seem cold and selfish to reject anyone who comes unprepared or late. Shouldn’t there be some leniency here? If the invitation had been treated respectfully, understanding the importance of it, there would have been no reason to be unprepared and late.

God commands that we repent of our sins (Acts 17:30) and we can choose to ignore His commandment to repent and even His invitation to be with Him too. So there really is no fault with God, it is with those who choose to ignore His invitation and commandments.

Many people have a vague self-assurance of their place in heaven and deeply need to know with biblical certainty and understanding of the requirements to enter. Otherwise, they are walking foolishly to hell. Our own standards to get in to heaven will only lead us straight to hell, because they are not God’s standards that have been followed. A person in essence has said, “My way is better and this is what I think God will accept from me, to allow me into Heaven.” My will be done, not God’s.

The invitation is not just one for mere attendance to say you were invited and when it is over you can go back to what you were doing before the wedding. No!!! This is a lifelong and eternal invitation to be with Christ at His Father’s request. How will you respond to the Father’s invitation to be reconciled to Christ? (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).

This is not at all uncommon in today’s society of people who are also not very concerned about the imminent return of Jesus Christ. For the Christian who has been saved through faith in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8), that day will be a glorious day while for the person who is not saved or who thinks they are saved, will be condemned because they loved living in their sin rather than loving to live for the Savior.

Jesus also informs us in this parable that the remainder of those who ignored the invitation, they went and abused and killed the servants of God who sent word of the invitation the wedding. They were killed for bringing good news to the people. Does that scenario sound all too familiar?

The Scripture says in verse 7 that when the king heard about the atrocities that had taken place against his servants, he was furious and sent out his armies to destroy those murderers and their city was burned to the ground. Notice that they were not killed because they refused to come to the wedding. They were destroyed for killing the king’s servants.

“Persons compelled to sit at a marriage-feast would not adorn it. What credit could it be to a king to force his subjects to a feast at his table?” Charles Spurgeon.

“Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.”” Revelation 19:9
That example is relevant today too. God will not punish us for not accepting His invitation to be with Christ for all of eternity. He will punish every person, by allowing him or her to go to hell, for refusing to accept the atonement of their sins that was placed upon Jesus Christ.

Ok, so you do not want to accept the invitation. How else will a person enter heaven? Jesus said that He is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me (John 14:6). He also said that He was the door through which a person would pass through to be saved (John 10:9). He also said a person must be born again (John 3:3-7).

The apostle Luke writes in the book of Acts there salvation is through no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

This is also recorded by the prophet Isaiah as the Lord spoke through Him, “I, even I am the Lord, and besides Me there is no savior (Isaiah 43:11).

God has provided the way and the choice remains with each person to choose to accept or reject Him. No one can expect to reject Christ and still consider themselves innocent before God.

Improperly Dressed

Finally, in verse 12 there is a man who was at the feast but he was not properly dressed and when questioned by the king why he was not dressed for the feast, he was speechless. The same will be true of any person who will stand before the throne of God, to give an account of their life (Matthew 12:36-37) and will not be able to speak with confidence, or with a pure conscience why they should be allowed to enter God’s holy Kingdom of Heaven.

The king was upset because he was not properly dressed for the feast. This man may have been able to sneak into the feast without concern that he was not dressed similar to the other guests, until the king caught him.

The wedding garment referred to here in this parable is an example of the garment God should see on each Christian when they enter Heaven.

Let me make two points of illustration here to explain.

First, the man who was not dressed properly is similar to a person who goes to church but does not genuinely live committed to Christ. They say one thing and act in a completely different and hypocritical way. His primary interest is the feast and not the son, whom the feast is for. This is very much like people today who go to church on Sunday primarily for show and not for the thanksgiving, worship, praise, honor and glory for their salvation through Jesus Christ.


“But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy; in fear of You I will worship toward your holy temple.” Psalm 5:7
Second, the Bible says that the saints of God are clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

“’This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me,’ says the Lord.” Isaiah 54:17

“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” Isaiah 61:10

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21

“And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” Revelation 19:8, KJV

God should see the righteousness of Christ in that person and not their self-righteousness.

If you have been to a wedding recently, or this summer if you happen to go to one, look at the people who are there. The wedding you attend(ed) this year is an example of God’s invitation for you to be with Christ for now and for eternity.

Will there be a place for you at the feast with the Son of God? Are you on the guest list?


The King is waiting for you to join Him at His table.

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. Revelation 21:27.


References
Meyers, R. (2006). e-Sword. The sword of the Lord with an electronic edge (Verson 7.8) [Computer software].

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Spurgeon, C.H. (1871). The parable of the wedding feast. Retrieved May 1, 2008 from http://www.biblebb.com/files/spurgeon/0975.htm

Christian Persecution Hits All-Time High Worldwide: Report

This morning, I read a story titled,  Christian Persecution Hits All-Time High Worldwide: Report , which is  about how much the persecutio...