On Miscellaneous Subjects
By Pastor Ron Thomas
Rodgers Baptist Church
801 West Buckingham Rd. - Garland, TX 75040
Text: Acts 1:6-11. "When they (the members of the New Testament church established by Jesus Christ) therefore were come together, they asked of Him (the resurrected Jesus), saying, Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
7 And He said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power.
8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
9 And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;
11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven."
Introduction: Another Christmas celebration is behind us. For the last month or so, we have measured our lives by our preparedness for Christmas.
Thirty shopping days until Christmas. "Money's tight! It looks like a lean year for Christmas. Hey, did you hear that lay-away is coming back!"
Twenty shopping days until Christmas. The paper says consumer spending is down! Everyone is concerned, especially the retailers. Will shoppers go to the malls? If they do, will they spend their money? The whole world seems to get on board, at least when it comes to the materialistic side of Christmas.
Ten shopping days until Christmas. "Did you see all the Christmas sales in the paper? There are some great bargains out there! Some poor soul was trampled to death as he opened the store for an anxious mob of Christmas shoppers!"
Five shopping days until Christmas! "Look at that poor family! They can't celebrate Christmas because they don't have any stuff! Let's all pitch in and give them some stuff, so that they can celebrate Christmas. Give the children some toys, after all, Christmas is about children and toys."
Three shopping days until Christmas. "Stores are opening earlier and staying open later to make it easier for shoppers! Buy two, get the third free! You can still shop on line!"
Two shopping days until Christmas. "There's a red tag sale going on over there, and a red dot sale over at the other store!"
It's Christmas eve! "Are you ready for Christmas? Did you hear about the discount coupons they are giving over there! Quick, run out and get some more food at the grocery store before it closes!"
Finally it arrives! Christmas day is here! "Whew! Made it! Oh yes, ....I almost forgot. Merry Christmas!"
Were you ready for Christmas? Did you make it? Were you prepared for the coming of Christmas? The celebration of Christmas in America, largely leaves Christ out altogether. If the coming of Jesus Christ is included at all in the average American Christmas celebration, He gets no further than Bethlehem, and remains frozen in time as a "babe in the manger."
In case you didn't know, Jesus did leave Bethlehem! Jesus actually grew into manhood, and lived a purpose driven life! Even as a twelve year old, Jesus was keenly aware of His purpose. He came to accomplish His Father's will. What was His Heavenly Father's will and purpose? Jesus came to give His life as a sacrifice for sin. As a thirty year old man beginning His public ministry, Jesus stepped onto the banks of the Jordan river to hear His cousin and forerunner John the Baptist say of Him, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Jesus did just that! As the sinless Son of God, Jesus offered Himself for us, giving His life as an atonement, and on the third day, He rose again!
Did you know that Jesus fulfilled three hundred Old Testament prophecies in His first coming? From His birth, to His life, ministry, death and resurrection, Jesus met every challenge and satisfied every ancient type, every ancient prophesy and promise! At the end of His earthly life and ministry, Jesus was able to say to His Heavenly Father, "I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do."
In our text passage, Jesus stands outside of Jerusalem, in the ultimate act of defiance to His critics. In fulfilment of His purpose on earth, He bodily ascends back into Heaven! What a sight! What a reality! Jesus returned to His heavenly home and Father! The Scriptures tell us that Jesus came from glory to the earth, and now He returns to glory, however He returns differently that when He came! Jesus is returning with the nail scars in His hands and feet! He is returning in a glorified, resurrected body that connects Him with us forever! Hallelujah!!!!
Those gathered on what is today called the "Mount of the Ascension," just outside Jerusalem on the east side, were gathered to say good bye to the One they loved and embraced by faith! How sad! Jesus was leaving them! What will they do? Oh, yes, Jesus told them to go into all the world with the gospel, the message of good news! But how? Oh yes, Jesus had said that He would be with them always, that He would send His Holy Spirit to indwell and fill them as believers, and empower them as a church! All of this is great for their heads, but what about their hearts? Jesus was leaving them! This was difficult to accept!
It was then, two men clothed in white appeared among them, and addressed the crowd of onlookers. These two angelic messengers reminded them that Jesus is coming again! "This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven." This was not the first time the promise of a second coming of Jesus had been spoken.
Earlier, just hours before His passion, Jesus told His disciples that He was soon to leave them. Jesus said on that occasion, "I go to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."
Did you know that there are more promises and more prophesies concerning the second coming of Jesus Christ, than there are of His first coming? While there are three hundred prophecies in the Old Testament concerning the first coming of Jesus Christ, there are five hundred prophecies in the Old Testament, that have to do with His second coming! The New Testament is packed with information and prophesies that have to do with Jesus returning to the earth! In the New Testament, one out of every twenty five verses have to do with the second coming of Jesus Christ. If Jesus fulfilled everyone of the three hundred prophesies pertaining to His first coming, we can be sure that He will do the same with the prophesies pertaining to His second coming! The question is, "Are you ready for the second coming of Jesus Christ!"
Getting ready for the celebration of Christmas is hardly to be compared to being ready for the second coming of Jesus Christ. Missing the worldly celebration of Christmas, might actually be better for you. For many people, missing Christmas would mean staying sober, avoiding illicit relationships or damaging family relationships, staying out of jail, and staying out of debt or at least not adding to their existing debt. In contrast, being unprepared for the second coming of Jesus Christ will be devastating! Why?
Perhaps the answer to that question is found in answering ---
Four Basic Questions Concerning The Second Coming Of Jesus Christ
Question one: When is Jesus coming again? Actually I have an answer to that question. Jesus will return in "the fulness of the time." Galatians 4:4 says, "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law." The phrase "the fullness of the time," means or implies two things.
First, the phrase "the fulness of time" means When everything is ready and in place. God sent His Son the first time into the world, when everything was ready and in place, when the stage was set. This includes everything from ruling world powers such as the Romans which provided Roman roads, Roman law and Roman peace; to a universal language provided by the Greeks; a universal translation of the Hebrew Scriptures provided in the Septuagint; to personalities such as Herod, Pilate, Caiaphas, John, Joseph and Mary.
We can be sure it will be the same for Christ's second coming! God will send His Son into the world the second time, when every thing is set and in place. The stage being set for Christ's return, includes such things as the advancement of technology; the formation of a one world global economy; the cry for world peace; the rise of global problems and concerns that require international attention and cooperation; the precedence of international law over any local, state, and national jurisdiction; and increasing hostility against any religion that sets itself above all other religions of the world, such as Christianity with its exclusive Savior and way of salvation. There are so many things set and ready for the return of Jesus Christ, it is exhilarating for those who have a Biblical, Christian worldview!
One big piece of second coming furniture that had to be in place for Christ to return, was the nation Israel! This year, Israel celebrated its sixtieth anniversary since it's return to statehood, in it's own land! This is a major piece of fulfilled prophecy related to the second coming of Jesus Christ!
Second, the phrase "the fulness of time" means "When the Heavenly Father is good and ready!" One thing we learn about God is this, He is never in a hurry! We are always in a hurry, but not God! Peter tells us that a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day, to God. We see this in the Inter-testament Period, also known as the Silent Years. There are four hundred years between the last prophecy and prophet, and the voice crying in the wilderness, "Prepare the way of the Lord!" This is the way it is with God and time! He tells an already old Abraham and Sara that they are going to have a baby, they get the nursery ready, and God waits twenty two years for the baby to actually come! Peter tells us in II Peter 3, that before the second coming of Jesus Christ, the world will be scoffing and mocking the idea saying, "Where is the promise of His coming?"
Jesus will come again when everything and everyone is in place, and the Heavenly Father is good and ready!
Question two: Why is Jesus coming again? This question is best answered in Hebrews 9:26b-28 where it says, ".....but now once in the end of the world hath He (Jesus Christ) appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation." Here we are presented a great contrast between the first and second comings of Jesus Christ.
We must notice that Christ's incarnation signaled the "end of the world," or end of the age. Everyone living at the first coming of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem, beginning with Joseph and Mary, can say that they lived at the end of the age. Since Jesus came as a babe in a manger some two thousand years ago, believe you me, it's later than you think!
This passage teaches us that Jesus came the first time to "...put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" on the cross! He was once offered to bear our sins! Why? We are under the curse of sin and death! Because of sin, we die physically, and after death, we face the judgment of God to give an account for our sin! This is the reason mankind refuses to acknowledge God. He knows that if there is a God as presented in the Bible, then he is accountable! In His first coming, Jesus brought the needed, demanded, accepted sacrifice pictured and prophesied since Genesis 3:15, so that we can be reconciled with God!
The phrase "put away sin" in verse 26b, means to abolish, to disannul, to make void! When we acknowledge ourselves as sinners worthy of eternal death before God, recognizing that we are helpless to save ourselves, and then by faith accept God's sufficient, sinless sacrifice for sin in Jesus Christ, our sin is gone! It no longer exists! Hallelujah!
This passage goes on to say that with the second coming of Jesus Christ, the peace freely offered by God will be enforced! When Jesus returns, He will put to rest all the doubts, all the false hopes, all the false teachings and false religions (including humanism and atheism), offered in the past by unbelievers. Seeing Jesus return to this earth, will be the greatest and loudest "I told you so," of all! The second coming of Jesus is about grabbing Satan, sin, and this wicked, sinful, unrepentant, proud, boastful world by the throat, and taking over!
It is interesting to notice in verse 6 in our text passage, that members of the church, (most if not all of which, were Jews), were asking Jesus just when He would honor all the prophesies concerning the redemption and restoration of Israel? "Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" You see, in the Old Testament, the coming Messiah was pictured as a humble, suffering servant on one hand, and as a reigning, ruling King on the other. Jesus was largely rejected and misunderstood, because He did not fulfill the latter picture and prophecies. Now, the believers and followers of Christ understood the "suffering for Israel" part, they just wanted to know when He would return to fulfill the "ruling with Israel" part! Jesus lets them know that those promises are not forgotten and will be fulfilled to the letter, but not yet! First, they must preach the gospel to every creature!
At the second coming of Jesus Christ, those who argue that He was not the Messiah, because He did not fulfill all the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah, will be set straight! Revelation 1:7 best describes that moment. "Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen."
Question three: How is Jesus coming again? The answer is given in verse 11b of our text. The angels said, "this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven." Jesus is coming the second time in the clouds, and in "like manner," that is, bodily, visibly, and undeniably! The second coming will give us the "same Jesus," but make no mistake about it, He will not come the second time as He did the first! There is a great contrast between the first and second comings of Jesus Christ! Revelation 19:11 reads, "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He doth judge and make war.
12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns; and He had a name written, that no man knew, but He Himself.
13 And He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and His name is called The Word of God.
14 And the armies which were in heaven followed Him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
15 And out of His mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations: and He shall rule them with a rod of iron: and He treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
16 And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."
In His first coming, Jesus came as a baby in weakness, in meekness, and in obscurity. At His second coming, Jesus will come in power and great glory to assert His will over all the earth.
In His first coming, very few bowed before Jesus. When Jesus comes again, all knees shall bow at His feet in fear or in faith.
Upon His first coming, the door of the inn was shut in Jesus' face. At His second coming, we read of a door opened in heaven, out of which Jesus rides as "King of kings and Lord of lords."
In His first coming, Jesus was shrouded in secret. The Gentile world was ignorant of the promise, and only those faithful among the Jews were looking for His arrival. When Jesus comes the second time, everyone will know it! Every eye will see Him and recognize Him as the One they pierced, and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of Him!
In His first coming, Jesus came in great humility as a servant. At His second coming, Jesus will return as the Commander in Chief of a very large army.
At His first coming, Jesus came to wear the "crown of thorns." Jesus is coming the second time to wear a crown of power and glory. In His first coming, Jesus came to set up a spiritual kingdom that includes both wheat and tares, both sheep and goats, the real and the phoney. At His return, Jesus will separate the tares from the wheat, the sheep from the goats, the fake from the real, and set up a physical kingdom, the throne of His father David, to rule and reign from Jerusalem!
In His first coming, Jesus came to make peace available between God and man. At His second coming, Jesus will return to make war on those who refused His peace offer!
American writer John Updike once said, "Our brains are no longer conditioned for reverence and awe. We cannot imagine a Second Coming that would not be cut down to size by the televised evening news." One word describes the second coming of Jesus Christ. Apocalyptic!
Question four: How can you be prepared for the second coming of Jesus? Just as for the last month or so, we have measured our lives by our preparedness for the first coming, Advent or Christmas, we need to measure ourselves by our preparedness for the second coming of Jesus Christ! It is more urgent than you realize! You see, the apostle Paul lets us know that there is a "catching out" of the saints by Christ into the clouds, seven years before the coming down of Christ to the earth, against all unbelievers. The great "catching out" is imminent and instantaneous! Time is running out! Jesus could return at any moment to catch His people up and out, leaving behind an even darker and more dangerous world!
If you are an unbeliever, you can prepare by acknowledging the first coming of Jesus Christ. John tells us in John 1, that while many deny Jesus, there are those in every generation who receive and believe in Jesus Christ. Those who bow at the manger and embrace the cross, making room in their hearts by personal faith in Jesus, are the sons of God!
If you are a believer, you can prepare by getting your life in order, and actively serving the Lord Jesus Christ! We are here on the earth for one reason, that is to live lives that glorify God, so that we can better share the good news of Jesus Christ with a lost world!
Jesus came the first time! The whole world marks time by it! It happened, just as promised! It will be the same with the second coming of Christ! Be prepared! Don't be left behind! Don't waste your life. Serve Jesus while you can!