COMING – READY OR NOT!
James 5:7-9 “.. the Lord’s coming .. the Lord’s coming is near .. the judge is standing at the door.”
Matthew 24:1-14 & 36-44.
In v1-6 James was addressing the rich oppressors – those who took advantage of the poor and lived in luxury and self-indulgence. He now turns from the oppressors to the oppressed and instructs them as to how they should behave while living under pressure and encourages them to look forward to the Day of deliverence which will one day be theirs.
He urges them to be patient and to endure under difficult circumstances in the knowledge that it will not be forever – with assurance that the lord jesus whom they worship will one day return.
The second Coming of Christ is not something that we focus on too much these days!!
Maybe there was a time not so long ago when there was too much debate about the second advent – usually about the timetable rather than the event – possibly the pendulum has swung too far the other way. BUT also we live in a society who tend to focus on and live for the NOW with little thought of the future – certainly the eternal future.
The Bible has a lot to say about the end of time and the coming of Christ
– over 300 references in the NT alone – 1 for every 13vv.
For the NT believer it was not just a doctrinal fact but a very practical teaching because it gave hope in the midst of trouble – it help them to endure the present while looking to the future – and they lived in expectation.
Next week deal w. endurance and patience in suffering!!
For this message focus on The Lord’s coming!!
The 3 phrases – “.. the Lord’s coming .. the Lord’s coming is near .. the judge is standing at the door.”
- The Lord’s coming.. [v7]
NT uses 3 different words when referring to the 2c [2nd coming]
1) Epiphaneia – appearing or manifestation
ILLUS. Church calendar – January 6th is Epiphany – manifestaion of Christ to the Magi.
2 Thessalonians 2:8 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendour of his coming. (NIV)
Titus 2:13 13 while we wait for the blessed hope — the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, (NIV)
The idea carries with it the Idea of drawing back the veil to so that what is there may be seen for what it is
ILLUS: a poor illus. is when a sculpture is unveiled – you can have a vague idea about size and shape but only when it it unveiled do you really see it.
1 Corinthians 13:12 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (NIV)
When Jesus returns the vail will be lifted and everything will be seen for what it is.
This emphasis is seen in the use of another word to refer to Christ’s coming
2) Apokalypsis – revelation [Apocalypse – usually meaning a violent future period – bt in NT – reveal]
2 Thessalonians 1:7 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. (NIV)
1 Corinthians 1:7 7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. (NIV)
1 Peter 1:7 7 These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. (NIV)
There are all kinds of ideas about who Jesus is and what he is like – but when he comes there will be no doubt – we will see him as he is – speculation willl cease –
No only see him for what he is but the world will be seen for what it is – everything will be exposed.
3) Parousia – coming / arrival / presence – [This is the word that James uses here –
At the time James wrote this word was used for the arrival of and emperor or other important person.
The people would prepare the town for his coming and then go out to meet him whne he approached and escourt him back into the town
3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (NIV)
1 Thessalonians 2:19 19 For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? (NIV)
2 Thessalonians 2:1-8
1 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him,…… 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendour of his coming. (NIV)
The Bible talks about christian who are alive when Jesus return being caught up in the air to meet him – it also talks of us returning with him to the earth – with out going into the time scale of these event which are the source of much debate – these images fit with the use of the word parousia – going out to meet the King and escourting him back.
- “ ..the Lord’s coming is near.” [v8]
A full and detailed desciption of Christ 2c is impossible – it will be the climax of history – It is something that has never been experienced before in time and space so any attempt to timetable it or give all details is doomed to failure from the outset.
1) it is imminent
What does James mean by ‘near’? almost 2000 years have gone by since James wrote these words.
In theological jargon we speak of the immenent return of Christ – he can come at any moment –
Maybe the only way to understand this nearness is to illus.
ILLUS. Narnia – Childen go through the wardrobe into Narnia [ The Lion the witch and the wardrobe] – they are there for many years yet when they return to earth’s time – no time at all has elapsed.
ILLUS.: Children – difficulty understanding time – Granny is coming next week – can’t comprehend – they can only think in terms of 1 – 2 sleeps!
We must remember that we are living in time but dealing with eternity!
What we might think of as ‘delay’ is infact a sign of God’s mercy – that fact that he hasn’t come to judge the world yet but extend the opportunity for people to come to him.
2 Peter 3:8
8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. (NIV)
2) it is sudden.
The Bible is clear that we do not know when Christ will come – there are pointers but we do not know – When Jesus was on earth he said that he didn’t know but only the Father.
There is an unexpectedness about the Lord’s return – in Matt 24 which we read ‘..one taken and the other left ..’ ‘eating, drinking, marrying ..’ in other words life seemed to be going along and normal – and suddenly he cames!!
1 Thessalonians 5:1-3
1 Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety”, destruction will come on them suddenly, as labour pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
Knowing that Jesus could come at any moment – our responsiblity is to ‘live in the light of his coming’
3) it is glorious
When Jesus came the first time is was in obscurity – to a peasant family in a backwater of Palestine. His 2c will be with power and great glory.
30 “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. (NIV)
7 Look, he is coming with the clouds,
and every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him;
and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. (NIV)
There will be no mistaking when Jesus comes!
“Many people will be surprised when Jesus comes but no one will be mistaken!” anon.
Fancy theories about – now is the right time because we have satelite TV and therefore every one can view it!! Do you think God has been sitting in heaven waiting for us to invent satelite TV!!
As lightening fills the skies so Christ’s coming will fill the skies – but is a greater way – the whole earth will see!
4) it is decisive
1 Corinthians 15:24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. (NIV)
God will bring history to a close when Jesus comes again! God is not sitting in heaven ‘biting his nails’ wondering when world conditions will be suitable to send Jesus back. God is not waiting on the world, the World is waiting on God – He is moving history to a climax – and history will end when Jesus returns.
Whether people know about the 2c or even care, whether they are Christian or not — every man and woman is moving towards the coming of Christ!
His coming will close the curtain on history!
- The judge is standing at the door. [v9]
We are dealing with a God who is always at hand. There is never a time when God does not know who we are, where we are, what we are doing and thinking and how we feel. God knows at all times.
On the one hand this can be a frightening thought – but for the Christian is is very comforting – God knows your situation – nothing can happen to you that he is not there at hand!
1) between believers and unbelievers
There will be a time when God separates those who are his from those who are not.
Matthew 25:32 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. (NIV)
That time hasn’t yet come and if you have not come to Christ – if you don’t know Jesus Christ – COME TODAY!! He is at hand ready to receive you!!
Come before it is too late!!
I think the most terrible words in all Scrpture come from ….
41 “Then he will say to those on his left [the unbelivers], ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. (NIV)
2) the quality of the believer’s life
Judgement is not only for the unbelivers
2 Corinthians 5:10 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due to him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (NIV)
The question here is not our salvation but our reward.
The fire of God’s judgement for the Christian will expose our works but will not take away our salvation.
In Luke 19 Jesus tells the parable of the Minas – [ a sum of money] — a nobleman gives each servant a sum of money – [ the same amount!!] — and expects them to put it to work for him – when he returns they are summoned so that he can inspect their work –
Each Christian is given – salvation – the scriptures – the Holy Spirit etc…
– What have we done with these things that come into our possession.
– Have you become more Christlike?
– Have you grown in holiness and maturity through the indwelling spirit?
– Do you know the Bible in an increasingly better and deeper way?
– How many people have you told about Jesus and his gospel?
In Matthew 25 the parable is different – each Christian in given deffering gifts and abilities – ‘talents’ – and God will hold us to account as to how we use them!!!
In these parable I want you to note that the emphasis of the judgement is positive and not negative. Yes Jesus is our judge but remember that he is our loving, caring Saviour – who longs to come to us and say Matthew 25:23
23 “… ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! .. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ (NIV)
One day Jesus will return whether you are ready or not!!
We do not want to be ashamed at his coming! For the Christian it should not be a fearful thing but a joyful expectancy – as we long for an absent loved one to return!!
Are you ready???!
If you knew Jesus would return today waht would you change in your life?
– Is your haert cold?
– Is there something you would scurry about to do before he comes?
– someone who should put things right with?
How can we be ready?? By living each day each moment for him….
…… So we can be like the old puritan Pastor when ask, ‘What would you do if Jesus was coming tonight?’ ‘I would study the scriptures this morning, speak at the womens’ meeting this afternoon and visit Mrs. Jones in Hospital – I would have my dinner and go to bed.’
C H Spurgeon ‘ The fact the Jesus Christ is coming again is not a reason for star-gazing, but for working in the power of the Holy Spirit.’
Lord help us to live in the light of your coming,
striving for purity, fleeing from sin,
catching a glimpse of what we are becoming,
being transformed to your likeness within.
COMING! – ready or not!
James 5:7-9. [Matthew 24]
- “ .. the Lord’s coming ..” [v7]
– ‘epiphaneia’ – appearing / manifestation
– ‘apokalypsis’ – revelation
– ‘parousia’- coming / arrival / presence
- “ .. the Lord’s coming is near.” [v8]
– it is imminent
– it is sudden
– it is also glorious ..
.. and decisive
- “The judge is standing at the door!” [v9]
– he is always at hand
– he will judge:
– between believers and unbelievers
– the quality of the believer’s life