Jesus will Return

Title: Jesus will Return

Text: Acts 1:9-11

Date: October 21st, 2007

I Jesus is Coming Back

II We aren’t to stand around waiting and wasting our lives

III We are supposed to be busy doing God’s will until Jesus comes

The other day I was watching a program on the History Channel (you have to be careful with History Channel programs, like Discovery Channel and National Geographic, because they often take a liberal, skeptical view of the Bible and Christianity), but I was watching this program about the end times and it described what Christians believe and have believed about the 2nd Coming of Christ. It gave the account of what happened in 1844 here in America and in Europe over end-times Bible prophecy. I don’t know if you remember reading about or hearing about what was called “the Great Disappointment” among historians. What happened was around the first half of the 1800s a great interest in Bible prophecy started in Europe and spread to the United States. William Miller became the leading figure of this popular interest in end-times prophecy. Building on the teachings of others at the time, Miller came to the conclusion that based on prophecies from the Old Testament Book of Daniel and the New Testament Book of Revelations that Christ would return around the year 1844. Others even took it further, and with Miller’s endorsement, set the date October 22nd, 1844 as Christ’s exact date of return. Now this was not just some fringe group of over-zealous Christians who believed these things; many people in the United States and in Europe considered the dates valid for the return of Christ. While not all who believed these prophecies carried them to extremes, some did, selling their homes and businesses, quitting their jobs, and setting their affairs in order for the return of Christ. Well, needless to say, they were all sadly disappointed. They were right in looking for the return of Christ — which we are commanded to watch for, but they were wrong in setting a date for it. We’ve been studying the Book of Acts and we’ve already seen these words spoken by Christ to his disciples, “He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority,’” Acts 1:7. If only Miller and his followers had read their Bible more closely, they would have seen that we are not supposed to know the year, day or hour of Christ’s return. “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only,” Matthew 24:36. So there is really no excuse to make that same mistake again, and I think for the most part Christians have learned not to try to set dates in connection with Christ’s Second Coming. Although I do remember way back in 1988 when I first broke into pastoral ministry in Chicago, Illinois, while I was ministering in a Hispanic congregation, I received a book entitled “88 Reasons Christ will return in 1988.” I found out later that this author had written this book and sent it out by the thousands, even millions to Christians and church leaders trying to convince them that Jesus was returning in 1988. Needless to say, again, that date was wrong. And from time to time you hear of people setting dates based on their own calculations of prophecies, but they’ve all proven wrong because we aren’t supposed to know the date of Christ’s return, just that he will return and we need to be ready. Now today I’m going to talk about Christ’s return because Acts 1:9-11 (read) talks about it in connection with Christ’s ascension into heaven. We need to know how to live between now and Christ’s coming. We need to live in expectation but not get caught up in wild speculations.

First, Jesus is coming back, of that there can be no doubt. Acts 1:9-11, “After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.’” That’s pretty clear: “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” So we learn two things – Jesus is coming back and Jesus is coming back in the same way he left, from out of the clouds and sky back to the ground. You might think of a movie or video tape that goes first in forward motion showing Jesus going up, up, up into heaven, and then imagine that movie or video tape in reverse with him coming down, down, down out of heaven to the earth. That’s the way it’s going to happen. I have a friend I’ve know for around 20 years who used to play around with 8 mm home movies back in the days before video camcorders. I remember one short movie he made of somebody jumping off a tree limb to the ground. He then used to reverse the movie projector and show what looked like the person jumping from the ground way up to the tree limb. It looked funny. Well, Christ’s Second Coming isn’t going to be funny at all, it will be glorious for all the faithful believers and devastating for all unbelievers because of all the events that will happen. If you want to know more about Christ’s 2nd Coming you can read Matthew 24, the whole chapter for more details. But let me just quote one passage, verses 42-44, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Now we ask the question today: is Jesus about to return soon? For myself, there are evidences that lead me to conclude that Jesus will probably be returning soon. First, because of God’s providence there’s the establishment of the nation of Israel in 1948, in the lifetime of some of you. Now all the ancient prophecies concerning the Jews can be fulfilled in Jerusalem, etc. That is a great prophetic sign I believe. Second, because of man’s sinfulness, it’s now possible for him to destroy the world through nuclear war. Either man will destroy himself through nuclear war or Christ will return to prevent it. It’s getting pretty close to the place today where some war will start between nations or organizations that possess nuclear weapons and then the end of the world will come. But Christ isn’t going to let that happen before he returns; that’s why I believe his coming is close. But let me move on to point two.

Second, we aren’t supposed to be standing around, wasting time, waiting for Christ’s 2nd Coming. Acts 1:10-11, “They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky?’” The point of the angels – that’s what the men in white were – was that there was no need for them to stand there staring into the sky, waiting and watching for Jesus to return at any minute, but that they should go about doing what Christ had instructed them to do, not waste their lives just staring up into the sky. William Miller and his followers should have studied this verse because if they had they wouldn’t have wasted their lives staring up at the sky for Christ’s return. The point of the angels I believe is that we are to make the most of our time on earth in obedience to God and not waste our time in idle speculations. There’s another verse in the Bible, Ephesians 5:16, that speaks to this same truth: “Redeeming the time, for the days are evil.” Or in other words, “make the most of every opportunity, for the days are uncertain.” We are supposed to not waste our lives in futile and fruitless things. We are not supposed to use up our time on earth in idle speculations like William Miller and his followers did, nor are we to waste our lives in worldly or fleshly business that amounts to nothing in the end. We need to remember that Jesus said, “Without me you can do nothing,” meaning that without Christ, without God in our lives, leading and guiding us, without pursuing God’s will on earth, “thy kingdom come, they will be done,” without living our lives for God, we are wasting our lives, our lives amount to nothing in the end. People today, especially people living in a free nation such as the United States and other free, democratic nations, these people tend to be busy, but busy in the wrong way. If you look at people today, they are very busy, but often busy with the wrong things – pursuing their own wills, not God’s. Making money, building wealth, buying possessions as fast as they can afford them, consuming, shopping, building a material dream world out of human goals and plans. No room for God in their lives. That’s one way to waste a life. But we aren’t supposed to follow that path, just as we aren’t supposed to drop out of life, put on robes, leave society and wait for Jesus to return. Did you know that there were Christians who, after they sold the homes and businesses, made for themselves white robes, called ascension robes, and went out with others on hilltops on October 22nd, 1844 waiting for Christ to return on that day? They had dropped out of society, much like the hippies did during the 60s. That’s not what we are called to do: neither bury ourselves in the rat race, nor drop out of society entirely. So then what are we supposed to do in light of Christ’s return?

Third, we are supposed to be busy doing the Lord’s work until he returns. Acts 1:11, “’Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky?’” If we aren’t supposed to drop out of society and if we aren’t supposed to get buried in society pursuing worldly goals, how are we supposed to live? We are supposed to be about the work of the Lord with our lives, watching, waiting for Jesus, but not getting crazy or fanatical about it. Jesus is coming, that’s for sure, but Jesus has also given us things to do in the meantime, things that we have the responsibility to do. For example, we are to make a living and support ourselves and our family as the New Testament teaches: “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever or infidel,” 1 Timothy 5:8. So that will occupy much of our time, just as it occupies the time of unbelievers and worldly people. But the difference is that we won’t make the making of money and the spending of money and the buying of things and the using of things as the be-all and end-all of life. We will be in the world but not of it, to quote another Bible passage. We’ve got other thing to do than to simply be earth animals, scavenging, saving, consuming, etc. before we die. We’ve got the Lord’s will to obey, and we should be busy doing the will of God with our lives, which will take up the rest of our time. I’ve already mentioned Ephesians 5:15-16 about redeeming the time: “Be very careful then how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” In the case of the disciples, the angels who spoke asked them rhetorically why they were still standing there staring into the sky. The implied instruction is they shouldn’t waste any more time staring up into the sky, but rather to get about the things Christ told them to do. What did he tell them to do specifically? To stay in Jerusalem and wait for the power of the Holy Spirit before starting their ministry. Now to us today, God has a specific will and calling for our lives too. We should not be wasting our time doing something other than what God is calling us to do. On the one hand, we should not be wasting our time joining into the world and “storing up treasures on earth” or serving material mammon or running after all the things the world runs after, Matthew 6:19-34. On the other hand, we shouldn’t just drop out of society, like the hippies of the 60s did, like some people still do today, but rather we should remain in the world, but not of it. We should use the material of the world for God’s glory not our own. We should constantly pray the Lord’s prayer which states, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as in heaven,” as opposed trying to build up our own private earthly, material kingdom on earth in order to give us wealth, power, pleasure, glory on earth. If we can keep this balance, between dropping out of the world and getting swallowed up in the world, then we will truly be walking in the Lord’s will.

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