Summary: Discover how to prepare for the end times
We are coming to the final message in this mega-series on what our church believes. Last week, we talked about personal eschatology, or our personal end. We saw that our personal end or death is not avoidable, not natural and not final. This morning, we’ll look at cosmic eschatology or the end of the world and human history.
Our Church Constitution reads, "We believe in the bodily resurrection of all people. Those who trust in Jesus Christ will enter eternal life, and those who trust in themselves and not the grace of God, will enter judgment and eternal punishment. At death, the spirits of those who belong to Christ will leave the body and go to be with Jesus Christ to await the resurrection, when they, with a changed and holy body, will be united with Jesus Christ forever in worship, new relationship, celebration and service."
There is nothing in our statement of belief about pre-millennialism, postmillennialism or amillennialism, and pre-tribulation or post-tribulation. These terminologies are helpful to those who are interested in further discussion, but you need to know there is no absolute agreement on any of these positions by all Christians.
Before I began this message series, I got an email from the first pastor of this church, Pastor Joe Wong. Connie had mentioned to him what we were doing, and Pastor Joe emailed me. He felt what we are doing is important, and he encouraged me not to teach only on what we believe, but to teach on how to respond to what we believe. We read in the book of James that belief without response is useless and dead.
So as I close with our final message, I’m going to focus how we are to respond to the end time events. The focus will not be on the end time events themselves. But let me start by reading Jesus’ description of end time events from Matthew 24:1-41.
How are we supposed to respond to these events!?! Many of these events are already happening, and America is not immune to false teachings, war and the persecution of Christians. Not only will we experience evil through the hands of people, we will experience natural and cosmic destruction, such as earthquakes and possibly impact by asteroids before the return of Jesus Christ to judge mankind.
We read in verses 42-45 that Jesus wants us to be prepared. Jesus gives his disciples four parables to guide their response to the these overwhelming events during the end times. That’s what we’ll focus on for the rest of the morning.
First, Jesus instructs us to obey God for future reward. Matthew 24:45-51
I’ve been leading several pre-marriage sessions during the last four months, and whenever I hear couples say they can make their marriage work or raise their family without God, I cringe at the thought. No one is strong enough to resist the current of worldly trends, which includes selfish pursuit of career, marital unfaithfulness, marriages, domestic violence, etc. This first parable from Jesus addresses how to obey God’s instructions in the midst of worldly allurement and abuse as we near the return of Christ.
Many Christians settle for the world’s standard of success and pleasure. Many forget that God will judge every one of our actions. Just because God doesn’t balance the books at the end of the week or month doesn’t mean He won’t at the end of time.
If you belong to God and are tempted to give into the lust, pride and sins of the world, what can you do? Use your willpower? Pray more? Study the Bible more? Have someone hold you accountable? These are all helpful, but Jesus says we are to obey God for future reward.
We are people who are motivated to gain a benefit or to avoid a loss. Unless we are so won over by the benefits of being obedient to God and the loss that comes with disobedience to God, we will give into temptation every time. We need to be more aware of the rewards of Heaven.
Most people seek illicit pleasure to cover up pain and boredom. Think about the last time you sinned. What emotional pain were you trying to cover up? Stress? Unworthiness? Guilt? Loneliness? Depression? Anger? Or were you bored? You needed some excitement?
God tells us Revelation 21 that Heaven is without death, grief, crying or pain. And Revelation 22 tells us we’ll be serving God. There will be no boredom. Someone wrote a poem titled, "End of the Journey": (Let me read an excerpt)
Light after darkness, gain after loss;
Strength after weakness, crown after cross;
Sweet after bitter, hope after fears;
Home after wandering, praise after tears;
Sight after mystery, peace after pain;
Joy after sorrow, calm after blast;
Rest after weariness, sweet rest at last;