Will this be the year? The year Daniel wrote about? In Daniel 12:1-4, Daniel received a revelation about the end of the world, the resurrection of the dead, and the final judgment. He concludes: “Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”
We live in a time of exploding knowledge and ever increasing travel. There are mass movements of people in Europe, and airports in America are packed with travelers flying to far-flung places. People are in a hurry to get somewhere and trying to keep up with the latest digital technology.
Notice the interesting way Daniel 12:4 reads in the Good News Translation: “Meanwhile, many people will waste their efforts trying to understand what is happening.”
We do not know when Jesus will return, but it could be this year. Daniel said those who are raised to eternal life are those who “turn many to righteousness.” So is this the year you get serious about promoting the Gospel? Is this the year you talk to your family about living for Jesus Christ? You invite your friends to come to the assembly with you? You actually have a Bible study with someone who wants to become a Christian?
Or for some, is this the year you obey the Gospel? Have you obeyed the Gospel by repenting and submitting to immersion in water as Jesus commanded? What are you waiting for?
“I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left.” - Jesus [Luke 17:34]
The New Testament has 260 chapters, and in those 260 chapters are 400 references to the return of Christ. That’s more than one reference per chapter. Far from being some fringe teaching, the Second Coming of Christ is firmly established in the Word of God.
The Return of Christ will bring sharp divisions to many families. One will rise to meet him in the clouds. Another will be left to the destruction and judgment of this world. That’s not some scare-tactic. That’s a fact.
Another fact is this: Your Christian life will not save other family members who aren’t Christians. A person’s allegiance is either to Christ or to this world. You cannot love this world and escape judgment. Jesus said, “Remember Lot’s wife” (17:32). She loved her city, even as “fire and sulfur rained from heaven” and destroyed it. She lost her life, eternally.
So the question is: Is your bag packed mentally? Are you ready to go? When he returns, you won’t have time. Jesus said it was business as usual in the days of Noah before it started raining. He said it was business as usual in the days of Lot before the fire rained down. So be ready.
Among your family and friends, who will be taken and who will be left? For those who will be left, what can you do now to help them?
Many people think of Jesus as a great teacher. They see him as a moral example to follow. And that is where it stops. He is not God in the flesh; he is a great man. But if you accept the teachings of Jesus, you need to look at all he said. He made exclusive claims. In the Gospel of John, he made seven “I am” statements about himself:
I am the bread of life. (6:35)
I am the light of the world. (8:12)
I am the door. (10:9)
I am the good shepherd. (10:11)
I am the resurrection and the life. (11:25)
I am the way, the truth, and the life. (14:6)
I am the true vine. (15:1)
Jesus didn’t say he is one of the lights or one of the doors or one of the ways or one of the vines. He said he was THE light, THE door, THE way, and THE true vine. These are narrow statements. The same person who said, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” made exclusive claims.
So we are left with three choices. (1) He is Lord. He is who he claimed to be. (2) He was a lunatic. He was mentally off and thought he was something he wasn’t. (3) He was a liar. He knew he wasn’t what he claimed to be and lied to get a following.
Many people want half a Jesus—the nice, teaching Jesus. They do not want the exclusive, narrow Jesus. Sorry, he doesn’t come in halves. He comes all or nothing. Lord, lunatic, or liar? That’s the message we carry to the world.
During this political season there have been issues and ballot measures revolving around wages - minimum wage, right to work, etc. Many do not receive a “living wage,” in other words, you can’t live on that wage. But I am not talking about the jobs and paychecks you might think. The Apostle Paul wrote, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a).
Death is used in the Bible in three ways. Physical death is usually what we think of. But there is a spiritual death. In the parable of the Prodigal Son, when the son returns home, his father says to the older son, “...for this your brother was dead, and is alive…” The wages of sin for the prodigal was death. Finally, there is eternal death. In Revelation we read about hell: “...the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death" (21:8).
People do not have to believe in Jesus, and they don’t have to be involved with the church. They can continue to work for the wages of this world. But it isn’t a living wage. It’s a death wage, both here and in the world to come.
“But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23b) God does not pay wages when it comes to salvation. He does not give you what you have earned. He gives a gift of grace. It is free to you, but it is not free to God. It cost him the life of his Son.
Sin pays a wage. God gives a gift. These two are absolutely opposite. The question is: are you tired of your wages? Without Christ, it is not a living wage. Have you
Do you remember “Bewitched”? This old TV series was about a “nice witch” who used her powers in all sorts of funny ways. And she had a nosey neighbor, Gladys Kravitz, who witnessed these events and was continually getting freaked out. Gladys was “bewitched,” fascinated by that which had to be a false representation of reality.
The Apostle Paul asked the church in Galatia, “Who has bewitched you?” (Gal. 3:1) Then he asked a pointed question: “Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (3:3) What was he talking about? What false representation of reality fascinated them?
They thought there were two ways of salvation - one way to get saved and another way to stay saved. First, you were saved by grace through faith. Salvation is a gift. Then second, after you are saved, you get a Christian checklist of things to do: attend, give, pray, etc. Do these and you earn a place in heaven. You start in the Spirit, that is, the power of God’s Spirit saving you. Then you use your power, your flesh, to stay saved. You cling to Jesus. He picks you up and brushes you off. And you go on your merry way with your Christian checklist and work your way to heaven.
Do you think you deserve heaven? Do you think your “good life” has added anything at all to the sacrifice Christ made for you on the cross? And do you think a comfortable little Christian checklist replaces an all-or-nothing relationship with Jesus?
“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all.” - Jesus