Summary: The return of Christ.
[this is an emergency]
I remember watching an episode of The Way of the Master (www.wayofthemaster.com) a while back, which is an evangelistic outreach program, headed by Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron. During the particular episode I was watching, Ray was taking a survey, asking people (including believers) if they could name each of the Ten Commandments.
What Ray discovered through this questionnaire was that most people could not provide an answer to his question. Truth be told, there are alarming statistics which reveal Biblical illiteracy among evangelical Christians here is the U.S today. The Barna Group (www.barna.org) researches and provides polls concerning the spiritual state of our nation. Much of what has been uncovered through this research is that while people remain spiritually active (attending and being involved with church), their faith is inactive outside of the church.
In his book, Revolution, George made the following observations. First, typical churched believers will die without leading a single person to a lifesaving knowledge and relationship with Jesus. Second, the majority of believers do not have a specific person in mind that they are praying for hoping that individual is saved. Third, only around 9 percent of born-again Christians hold to a Biblical worldview. Fourth, less than one out of every six churched believer has a relationship with another believer outside of the local church for spiritual accountability.
The reality we face in our nation is that believers have accepted a lifestyle that does not reflect what Christ has spoken of in the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5-7. Many believers live their lives through the local church and not through Christ. Without accountability, discipleship and evangelism, believers have allowed the culture around them to dictate aspects of their faith which has polluted the practice of biblical Christianity. No longer is doctrine upheld for the sake of absolute truth but is disregarded on grounds of tolerance.
These realities speak of the evangelical community. Outside of the community of faith lies the fate of the lost who face STD’s, teenage pregnancy, abortion, suicide and drug abuse. Without truth to be their guide, life is no longer considered sacred and a woman’s right to choose negates the right of a unborn child to be born. This is an emergency. We live in a world where we simply cannot abandon God’s call for the sake of tolerance.
One of Christ’s themes which grew more paramount as his death was imminent was his eventual departure and return to the world. He began to discuss this truth that he would be returning to the world to take those who followed him and believed in him to a place he was preparing. To validate his return, Christ himself pointed to the signs of the times. These signs were indicators that the end was in fact coming. The signs themselves covered a variety of circumstances and issues such as the immorality and lawlessness of the people, intentional disobedience, wars and rumors of wars, and natural disasters of all kinds.
The return of Jesus was a hot topic in church when I first became a believer back in the early 90’s. I remember a number of church leaders driving this point home. I would hear it again and again that Christ could return at any moment so we need to be ready. Without really saying this, the idea behind the “Jesus is returning” really soon was this-you better obey him!
I’ll be honest with you, those conversations always made me a bit worried about my faith and walk with God. It made me feel like I had to get my life in order and that I needed to ensure I wasn’t living in any sin or else something bad might happen. Well those conversations occurred back in the early 90’s and here we are still. We have discussing the return of Christ since he left and he hasn’t shown up yet. The reality is that the signs of the times have always been present.
With that in mind, let’s dig in a little deeper into Christ’s return. There are ten truths concerning the return of Christ which I’d like to share with you all. These truths should help us to examine what it means to live in light of eternity. Bear in mind that Jesus informed the disciples in Mark 13:32 that only the Father knows the time of Jesus’ return.
First, we need to “be ready.” In Matthew 24:44 Jesus is claiming that being ready is the proper response because he will come when least expected. The call to “be ready” is not a call to ““make sure you’ve got your act together” but rather it is a call for us to be mindful of his return.
Secondly, we are called to “pay attention.” In Matthew 24:6-7, Jesus claimed there would be signs which would accompany his return. These signs were like birth pains in child birth and would become much more frequent as his return became more imminent. The more these birth pains increased, the closer the time is of his return. It is clear that the signs have been increasing over the years too.