Summary: Examines three danges that we as Christians need to avoid in our thinking about the Second Coming.
A Study of the Book of Luke
Sermon # 47
“Three Dangers with Reference to the Second Coming”
Whenever something climatic occurs in our world; whether it be “The Persian Gulf War” in 1990, or the September 11 Terrorist Attack in 2001 we hear the question, “Do you think this could be the beginning of the end times?” The subject of the “end times,” or eschatology if you want to be technical, has always been an area of fascination, as attested to by the popularity of the “Left Behind” series of novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, which have become national best sellers. I will admit that I have read all of the “Left Behind” series of novels, and I find them informative and entertaining. But frankly I do not fear the end times, it’s not something that I worry about, it doesn’t keep me up at night and I don’t read and study about it constantly. “So what is a balanced Christian approach to the concern about the end times?”
This morning I want to answer that question by examining; “Three Dangers with Reference to the Second Coming” that we find beginning in verse twenty.
1. Don’t Try to Make the Second Coming Fit you Preconceived Ideas and Expectations
“Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, "The kingdom of God does not come with observation; (21) nor will they say, "See here!’ or "See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you."
The Pharisee saw themselves as the experts on the coming of the kingdom of God. And as much as I enjoy the LaHaye and Jenkins “Left Behind” series we should not allow ourselves to think that we have this whole prophecy thing figured out. In fact Jesus says in these verses that we are not to trust anyone who says to us, “I know when the Kingdom is coming.” or “I know when the last days will be.”
In spite of the fact that the Bible says, that no man shall “know the day nor the hour,” (Matt. 25:13) men are still trying to predict that very thing. Down through the years men have been setting dates for the return of Christ. From William Miller who set the date in 1844 to Edgar Whisenant, a retired NASA rocket engineer who set the date in 1988. Each of these men when the date they picked was wrong, they recalculated and set a new date, which was also wrong. Over the last two thousand years lots of men have played neat little mathematical games with Bible prophecies in an effort to determine the exact date of the Lord’s return. This date-setting has alarmed Christians and has harmed the cause of Christ among unbelievers by making us look foolish.
Some have tried to rationalize their date-setting by saying, “Yes the Bible says that we cannot know the day nor the hour but it does not say we cannot know the week and the year.” Very little critical thought is needed to see through that kind of rationalizing.
All down through the years at every climatic event people have asked “Is this the beginning of Armageddon?” Men asked that at the outbreak of World War I and World War II. But Jesus wants us to see that knowing the exact date is not important but being ready is.
There is some question as to the meaning of Jesus’ words in v. 21, “the kingdom of God is within you.” One thing we can be sure of is that Jesus is not telling these unbelieving Pharisees that they had the kingdom of God in their hearts.
The Greek word (entos) translated “within” is used here and can also mean “among” or “in the midst of.” Jesus is saying, “Don’t look around you for the kingdom of God out there somewhere unless it is first of all in your own heart.”
“The irony here was huge, because they (the Pharisees) were arrogantly and unknowingly asking the kingdom’s King, indeed the king of kings, when His kingdom would come.” [R. Kent Hughes. Luke: That You Might Know the Truth. Vol. 2 ( Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 19980 p. 178]
They thought that their position as religious experts assured them that they knew the “where” and “when” of the appearance of the kingdom of God. But because they were trying to make the coming of Jesus fit their preconceived notions and expectations they were missing out the greatest thing that had ever happened in history.
The warning then is, Don’t Try to Make the Second Coming Fit your Preconceived Ideas and Expectations And ….
2. Don’t Be Obsessed by End Times Thought
and Study. (vv. 22-25)