Summary: “Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come”. (Mark 13:33)
Our theme for today’s sermon is “prepare to meet the Lord”. No person goes into an important meeting late and without preparation. The first thing to do is to find out all there is to know about the person and about his personal views and expectations. Our most important meetings are those with the Lord and yet we often come late without any preparation when we come at all. It appears as if our meetings at work and with friends are more important than our meetings with the Lord. The truth, however, is that our meetings with the Lord are more important than meetings with kings, presidents and heads of state. These meetings are valuable and affect our eternal destiny. The Lord loves us and values the times He meets with us. He is always present at the scheduled place and at the appointed time. This Sunday we have a scheduled meeting with the Lord here but many of us have come late and without preparation. Do we really value our meeting with the Lord or have we come here for other reasons? Our only reason for coming here today should be to be in His presence, to worship and fellowship with Him, listen to His life-giving words and know Him more intimately.
Step One: Know the Lord
a) God is love
We all need to know the Lord. Today many people make God to be who He is not and that is idolatry. “God is love” and His love for us is unconditional. “He loved us and chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world”. (Eph. 1:4) Did He not create us in His own image and likeness and give us authority over His Creation? Why do we find it so difficult to believe that God loves us?
b) God is righteous
We need to know that God is righteous and that only the righteous are allowed into His presence. We need to know that the righteousness of God is a righteousness that has never known sin before.
c) God is just
We also need to know that God is just. A just God cannot overlook sin and must punish the guilty.
God loves us and has provided a way of escape from destruction without compromising His righteousness and justice. Yet we often have doubts about His love. Ironically, Satan knows how much God loves us. In his attempt to “make himself like the Most High” (Is. 14:14) he sought to use God’s love for man to achieve this purpose. According to the Scriptures “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne and steadfast love and faithfulness go before Him”. (Psalm 89:14) What he could not know was that God through His Son would demonstrate His love without compromising His righteousness and justice. God has never compromised His righteousness and justice. When God heard the cry of His people Israel in captivity He reached out to them in love and through the shedding of the innocent blood of the Passover lamb justified their deliverance. At Mount Sinai God gave them the Law and since no one could keep the Law, He instituted the sacrificial system where the blood of animals was shed to deal with sin. This was to point them to the perfect sacrifice of the Lamb of God when Jesus Christ took our place and bore the full judgement of God on sin so that we could be made righteous. Whereas the sacrifice of animals had to be repeated over and over again because the judgement of God on sin was far greater than the animal sacrifice, the sacrifice of Christ was once and for all time. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross exhausted all the judgement of God on sin since His sacrifice was far greater than the judgement.
There is therefore no longer any need for a sacrifice. Let us value what Christ did for us and accept His precious gift of the grace of God.
Step Two: Accept His grace
a) God’s gift of forgiveness
The gospel is the good news of the grace of God. It is good news because it is a gift we did not deserve. “All of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23) but we are forgiven because of the grace of God. Our forgiveness does not depend on anything we have done but on what Christ has done for “By grace are we saved through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God”. (Eph. 2:8)
b) God’s gift of righteousness
The grace of God does not only lead to the forgiveness of sin but also to the gift of the righteousness of Christ. God gives us a new, holy, and perfect spirit. The presence of the Holy Spirit in the believer confirms that the spirit of the believer is holy and perfect since the Holy Spirit will not live in any other place. Since God is Spirit, our new spirit can commune and fellowship with Him.