Summary: In the season of Advent we are awakened to be forces for God and good.
Title: Being a Forces for Good and God
Text: Romans 13:11-14
Thesis: In the Season of Advent, we are wakened to be forces for God and good.
Romans 13 is a chapter in which the Apostle Paul instructs us on how to live as Christians in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ.
In Romans 13:1-7, he instructs us on how we are to live in relationship with the government. In Romans 13:8-10, he instructs us on how we are to live in relationship with one another and our neighbors. Then in Romans 13:11-14 he says, “Here is another reason to live right. Time is running out, for the coming of our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.
In other words he is saying, Christians do not have time to be squabbling with the state, each other, or their neighbors. They must instead be witnesses of what God is doing. (Homiletics, December 2007, p 49)
The Associated Press reported a story from Russia where twenty-nine members of a doomsday cult have barricaded themselves and are living in a cave in a forested area near the Volga River about 400 miles southeast of Moscow. They have apparently stockpiled food and other supplies sufficient to last them until the end of the world, which they predict will be May of 2008.
One high ranking Russian Orthodox Church official told Russian television, “What we’re seeing in Penze right now is a most vivid example of what could happen to a society, if this society is deprived of proper religious education.”(http://edition.cnn.com/207/WORLD/europe/11/15/doomsday.cult/index.html)
Paul does not want Christians to be deprived of a proper religious education. Paul would have us know that a proper and biblical understanding of the end times is not to retreat from the world into a cave, but to “wake up” and live as people of God in the world.
1. Wake up
Wake up, for the coming of our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. Romans 13:11-12
The term, wake up, suggests this is a matter of urgency. Commentator, William Barclay speaks of the second coming of Christ as a “crisis moment” in the history of the world. The expectation of the early church was that Christ could and would come at any moment.
When we think of urgency the word “imminence” comes to mind: something impending, ready to take place, or hanging threateningly over one’s head.
Jesus taught in Matthew 24 regarding the unfolding of the signs that will indicate the return of Christ and the end of time as we know it. Jesus said, “And then at last, the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among the nations of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man arrive on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send forth his angels with the sound of a mighty trumpet blast and they will gather together his chosen ones from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven, however no one knows the day or the hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the father knows.” Matthew 24:30-36
In Matthew 25 Jesus told the story of the Ten Bridesmaids, who waited for the arrival of the bridegroom. The bridegroom was delayed, so they all went to sleep. When the bridegroom arrived at midnight, they woke and prepared their lamps to go out and meet him. In the meantime, five of the bridesmaids had run out of oil, so they went to buy more oil, but upon returning, the bridegroom had already arrived and they were shut out. Jesus said, “So stay awake and be prepared, because you never know the day or the hour of my return.” Matthew 25:13
In the letter to the Thessalonians Paul wrote, “The day of the Lord will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night… So be on your guard, not asleep.“ I Thessalonians 5:2-6
I have never liked alarm clocks. They are not conducive to pleasant waking. The old time clocks rattled and jangled violently on the night stand requiring the sleeper to fumble around for the button to turn it off. They were effective because by the time you found the button you were wide awake. Less primitive alarms have a snooze button. The thing about a snooze button is that it lets you get a few more minutes of dozing, but when the alarm goes off again and each subsequent time you have hit the snooze button, you know that the time you need to be at work is nearer than it was the time before.