Sunday, September 30, 2007

Wesleyans Believe In the Return of Christ

Sermon Notes from Sept. 30th
Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11

Wesleyans believe that Christ will return to this world at some future, but unknown, date to finally and completely triumph over evil, administer judgment on all sin, and to receive all believers into their eternal heavenly home.

Wesleyans don’t play around with dates.
Paul: about times and dates we do not need to write to you.
Jesus: It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.

Wesleyans don’t get hung up on debating a pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation or post-tribulation rapture. The Bible is not definitive. There seems to be Scripture to support all of them.

Wesleyans don’t fret over the mark of the beast and identifying the Antichrist. We just don’t have enough Scripture references to figure it out. The Bible only says that the number is 666 (man’s number).

So where does all this leave us? What can we know for certain?

The Return of Christ will be:
1) Secret – “like a thief in the night” 5:2

No advance notice. No Two Minute Warning.
The robber does not send a warning note: I will be at your house tomorrow night at 2 a.m. Love, Peter the Pick Pocket
Example Ten Virgins Parable – Matthew 25

2) Sudden – “while people are saying peace and safety, destruction will come on them suddenly” 5:3

Everything will appear to be normal when all will change in an instant. People will be eating, drinking, and getting married until the second before the end. No more time will be given to get ready. We will not know what is happening until it has already happened. Paul: “in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye”.

3) Sure – “as labor pains on a pregnant woman” 5:3

There will be no escaping the Lord’s return. You can’t avoid it or hide from it. It will be a blessing for some and a curse for others.

Rev. 1:1 – The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place.

When Peter spoke of the Lord’s return he asked the question:
What kind of people ought you be?

Our Preparation for His Return:
When you hear about the possibility of an approaching storm you take certain preparations. Christ’s return is not just a possibility, but a sure thing. So what do we need to do?

1) Wake Up – “alert” 5:6

Keep watch. Be vigilant. Satan wants to use darkness and dullness to catch us off guard.
Darkness – not being aware of Satan’s schemes. Like the men of Issachar, we need to understand the times and know what needs to be done.

Dullness – going through the motions and settled into a rut of routine. Keep a sharp edge and keen spirit rather than being lulled to sleep.

2) Clean Up – “self-controlled” 5:6

Self control = moral integrity (mark of a man who believes he will have to settle accounts soon.)
“We know that when He appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself just as He is pure.” 1 John 3:2-3

Peter: “you ought to live holy and godly lives”.

3) Dress Up – “putting on (faith, hope and love)” 5:8

Need to put our battle uniform. We are not in a frolic, but a fight. We live in enemy territory and we are to occupy until Jesus comes. Can’t let your guard down until Jesus comes.

Winston Churchill to House of Commons: “We must always be ready to meet at our average moment anything that any possible enemy could hurl against us at his selected moment.”

We need to Wake Up, Clean Up and be Dressed Up because the Lord could return at any moment. Are you ready?

The unbeliever should be convicted by the fact of the Lord’s return. The believer should be comforted by it.

Not on the Program Committee that is privy to all the details.
But we can be on the Welcome Committee that plans the party.

Ill: Arrival of plane at the airport. Air traffic controller knows all the details but doesn’t get excited about the plane. The fiancee in the terminal doesn’t know any of the details but is very excited about the plane because the love of her life is aboard.

Are you ready?
The return of Christ will be like a pop quiz, not an announced test.

Ill: In school – which class would you learn the most from?
The class where all the tests are announced ahead of time or the one where all the tests are unannounced pop quizzes? How would your approach differ in the two classes?

If the Lord’s pop quiz (return) were today would you be ready?

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