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Living in the Rear View Mirror

Good Morning Beloved,

I am so pleased to have all of you here with us

Thank you for joining us today

Heavenly Father,

Father, these great truths in Your Word we're about to receive.

Though we acknowledge, they often overwhelm us. Even those of us who are pastors, not pastors, who are lay people, it can all overwhelm us. Lord, we too are to call sinners to be reconciled to God, we all are ambassadors. Thank You for giving us Your Word, Your truths,

particularly those who teach. Father, we ask that You would make us faithful.

In Jesus precious name


"For this reason the gospel was also preached to those who are now dead, so that, although they might be judged by men in the fleshly realm, they might live by God in the spiritual realm. Now the end of all things is near; therefore, be serious and disciplined for prayer. Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen."

I Peter 4:6-11

Today's Message: Living in the Rear View Mirror

Today, in our ongoing study of I Peter, we now find ourselves again in chapter 4, we have been looking at the subjects that are on Peter’s heart, namely a memory that eschews sin. A believer carrying the burden of sin afflicts him rather than a pleasure which delights him. Every true believer lives in a tremendous battle between the desire of the unredeemed flesh and his compulsions of the new man. The new nature. Like the Apostle Paul in Romans 7, we love the law of God. And like the Apostle Paul, we battle the law of the principle of sin and though there is something deep within us planted there by God himself, in the marvelous miracle of regeneration, there is a new life principle that longs for what is right and what is true and what is good and what is honorable and noble and holy and pure.

Allow me to read I Peter verses 6-11, which is our text for today. "For this reason the gospel was also preached to those who are now dead, so that, although they might be judged by men in the fleshly realm, they might live by God in the spiritual realm. Now the end of all things is near; therefore, be serious and disciplined for prayer. Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen."

I'd like to first begin by setting the scenario of the time in which we find ourselves, particularly with regard to the church. Beloved, the church today urgently is in need of spiritual revival, and that spiritual revival can only occur when we as Christians begin to do our spiritual duty. So, what Peter is saying to us here is quite germane to the whole matter of Christian living. And if we are to be what we are to be by God’s plan and design in this world, then it certainly behooves us, to fall in line in obedience to these truths, that are given in these marvelous verses of Peter's epistle. Oh how church does need revival, and it will come when Christians begin to become serious about their Christian life. And only when the church is revived and fully restored will the world begin to really take notice of us, which is desperately needed in our society today.

It's rather interesting to say that the church needs revival in our time because it seems that not long ago we were experiencing a kind of revival of sorts. In fact, this desperate condition of the church seems to have been, at one time somewhat new. If you go back, for purpose of illustration, into the 1970's, you may recall something called the "Jesus Movement." The Jesus Movement, you may remember, witnessed an unprecedented rise in conservative biblical evangelicalism. Beloved, in case you are unaware what I'm speaking of, allow me to point out a few high points: it was a great flourishing of interest in the Bible, and flourishing of interest in evangelism, Bible study, and discipleship. All of the things which are essentially the heartbeat of conservative evangelicalism.

There was the explosion of new translations of the Bible beginning with the New American Standard, and shortly after which came the Living Bible, which I might add, is not really a translation but rather a paraphrase. However, an awful lot of interest in personal Bible study came from the result of that. Christian broadcasting began to explode in an exponential way, far beyond the wildest imagination of most predictors of the future of the church. Then came Christian publishing, and every time we turned around, there was a new publisher publishing some type of new material for the Christian life.

Then came the explosion of Christian tapes, followed by an unbelievable inundation of Christian music, proliferating to the point where we no longer have to listen to anything that isn’t Christian oriented, and we couldn't possibly begin to get through all that is now available. There was a tremendous explosion in Bible-believing churches. I recall when the largest church that was known at the time, had 1,500 plus people attending and by today's standards, a church with 1,500 people is be considered a medium-sized church. Churches now even are building auditoriums to seat 5,000, to 10,000 people, all of which are in some way, a by-product of the flourishing explosion that was once called the "Jesus Movement." And, I remember well, how we all thanked God, for what, at the time, appeared to be a real revival. And now, in retrospect, as we look back, we will assess it as such.

And today, as we move forward into a new decade, it becomes more and more apparent that the prevailing trend in the true church, has since long departed from that great time of revival. There is now no longer what I would call a revival movement in the church, a flourishing movement driven by the Holy Spirit. What seems to be the current prevailing trend, is some sort of a highly popularized, seeker friendly, prosperity teaching institutionalization version of the church. Today, everyone can claim the title of Christian, without being required to uphold, any of what had been previously been known as, biblical standards. You can do pretty much whatever you it is that you enjoy, that bring you instant gratification and pleasure, and still somehow, claim to be a Christian. What I like to call a generation of pop-culture Christians. It tends to suit the needs of those attending rather than an adherence to the law of God, where the pulpit has become a showcase for modern psychology, rather than a position of a higher calling for sound doctrine, biblical truth and theology.

It is a socially acceptable, highly favored form of Christianity, and it is, in fact becoming more and more socially acceptable as it more and more denudes itself of any type of "offensive message." It also deems many teachings of sound doctrine, to be "irrelevant in our society," and "offensive to the hearer," and it is beyond amazing to me, just how fast this movement came about, and with the high speed, high tech media communication capability, it has spread rapidly. However, I must question whether any type of movement will last, as many people are, over time, left with an unsatisfied, hunger, and unquenched thirst, for true, sound doctrine. Yet, it continues to spread very quickly even today, because the means of communicating it to the world, the internet, social media outlets etc., allow it to continue to move throughout our culture so very rapidly.

So, here we are coming out of a time of revival, in to a completely different mindset in the modern church, a time of self-centered, narcissistic standard of living in the church, a time of psychology in the modern church, a time of popularized seeker friendly Christianity, a rather pragmatized type of Christianity, where the questions are being asked: does it work? What will it do for me? How much success will it produce? How much money will it bring in? tend to be prevailing, instead of the teachings that would honor the heart of God. And let's face it, the churches catering to this kind of pop culture Christianity are now literally everywhere.

And I suppose, the greatest evidence of this today, is found in a variety of formats, such as Christian television , Christian radio, celebrity based variety shows and celebrity entertainment has replaced true worship. And along with all of that, ego and pride have long replaced humility, and success has replaced excellence, and cleverness has replaced character, and I could go on and on. Christian call-in radio broadcasts feature every kind of guest speaker that you can possibly imagine with little question as to whether that guest is right, wrong, or indifferent. So called Christian talk shows have hosts who sit there in a ubiquitous fashion with a string of people coming across the scene, claiming every imaginable kind of thing from God, and the host of the show seems to make no comment, or have an opinion, on anything other than to give the guest a platform to be able to express it all. Christian radio is proliferated with modern psychotherapy, and has effectively replaced Bible teaching as the staple. Local churches are fast becoming Christian comfort zones, a sort of elitist Christian country clubs, community centers with less and less redemptive impact on a depraved society and quite frankly, pose even less of a threat against the harmful effects of living in sin.

The prevailing trends of this sort of pop Christianity, I believe, are more subtle than theological liberalism. Theological liberalism attacks the church head on. It’s very easy to identify it; and typically, it’s very easy to address it. However, this pop culture version of church, tends to give lip service to the truth while secretly undermining it. This pop culture Christianity has a tendency to make the basis of Christian faith something other than belief in the Word of God. The basis of faith now is personal experience. The basis of this modern faith is an emotion. The basis of modern faith is solving problems; it’s the need theology again. And this Charismatic Pop Culture Christian Movement has led the way with a new basis of faith and that is private revelation, private words from God, private insights, private prophecies, private visions etc. Secular psychology has been somewhat quasi-sanctified and offers self-help therapy theology which reflects this drifting away from the Word of God as the basis of the living of the Christian life. Christian ministry has become riddled with pragmatism, with manipulation, with professionalism, with consumerism; all of the things, that would have previously indicated a less than biblical foundation to Christian faith.

And the primary focus of this modern pop culture Christianity and the pop culture church has not only drifted far away from the biblical basis of faith but it has drifted away from the person of Jesus Christ. That needs to be stressed in church. Something or someone else has taken over the center stage, and beloved, it is definitely not Christ. It is a celebrity, it is the evangelist, it is the community project, or a fund-raising campaign, it is the renovation of the existing church building, or in most cases, a new church building, it is the miracles supposedly, it is the so- called healings, it is literally anything and everything except for what the church was founded upon, which is Jesus Christ. And we now have a pop culture Christianity, that is everything but Christ centered and it is certainly not biblically based.

It has a new basis of faith; it is a new object of affection. They are in love with self, in love with the celebrity, they are in love with the system, they are in love with the building, the facility, the program, or whatever it is that being pushed at the time. The result is some sort of fantasy faith, not affixed on the person of Jesus Christ, but rather a nebulous faith that wants to attach itself to absence of miracles, replaced with a focus on health, wealth, prosperity, personal comfort, and personal gain. And so, a cheap rendition of the gospel, suited for easy believism, increased weekly attendance, in which an over-flowing of collection plate offerings has flourished. A church in which the evangelist spends more time pushing their latest jokes, newly published book rather than the Word of God.

All of this leaving the true Christian asking the questions: Where is God in all of this? Where is strong Christian faith? Where is that Christ-centered faith that stands against sin, and holds itself to solid ground in the midst of difficult trials faced, rather than that fragile emotionalism called "Christian faith," that is little more than selfish escapism? Where Christ is rarely even mentioned in the message any longer. Though His name, is however, casually dropped from time to time, the primary focus is on man; man is the message and how man can solve his own problems and live a more enjoyable, comfortable life have long become the issue. This pop culture Christian focused o church is least of all interested in the teaching against sin, it's consequences of spending an eternity in hell, Second Coming of Jesus Christ, because that would be to end their enjoyable seeker friendly church service worship experience and hence, their ride on this particular pop culture Christian train.

This pop culture modern church is focused on anything and everything other than righteousness, and holiness. It is personal happiness. It is self-satisfaction. The pursuit of the modern church today, its basis is not that of the Word of God, its focus is not on the person of Jesus Christ. And so its goal is not holiness, its goal is personal happiness. Whatever makes you happy, whatever satisfies you is what you are to pursue. And, quite frankly, I really believe that all of this is destroying the very heart of the church.

Let's stop for a moment, to pause and think about what I'm saying: What more could Satan possibly do to try to destroy the church, that would be more effective than undermining the basis of faith which is the Word of God, the object of faith which is Christ, and the goal of faith which is holiness? All the while still claiming to be talking about faith, still talking about Christ, still talking about Christian moral and virtue, but however, beneath is sugar coated surface, really undermining the heart of all of that. A new basis of faith, centered around my experience. A new object of faith, is my pastor, my hero, my program, my spiritual kingdom, whatever it is you'd like to call it. And the new goal in life, personal comfort and happiness and certainly not holiness. There couldn’t be a better strategy. Beloved, this has always been the strategy of Satan. The enemy of Christ. Who has sought since the beginning of humanity, to obstruct the mission of salvation, redemption and relationship with Jesus Christ.

It begs the question: What is it going to take to bring true revival to the church of Christ? Where is the intended focus to be placed? How are we, as Christians, to live so as not to lose our power and so as to be useful to the plans of God? Here, in this marvelous epistle, the apostle Peter, gives us the answers to all of this right here in this text. And further, I believe what you have in these very few great verses, the verses 6 to 11, is really an insight into the unimaginable genius of the Holy Spirit of God. It is only the Holy Spirit, who in an economy of words, can say an eternity of truth. Beloved, and that’s what you have here, in these verses. Everything in our Christian life can be boiled down to the statements, found here in verses 6 through 11. And I must confess to you, that it is a rather a difficult thing to preach through this without staying here the rest of your life, because every word in this particular passage, provides at least for me, an infinite number of possible tangents, which I will fight greatly to avoid, for the sake of being merciful to you dear and faithful Christian friends.

This passage, is however, a loaded portion of Scripture. In fact, I have been studying personally and preaching on this particular portion of Scripture for quite a number of years; not here however, as we’ve never studied I Peter here, except one other time when I first began preaching the Word of God, but I have frequently gone back to this passage in my personal study because of its salient and basic teaching. Because it gives to us, the church, a summation of everything that Peter wants to say about the duty of the Christian living in a world hostile against Christ, and therefore against those of us who would follow Christ.

And so, now, allow me to just give you a little bit of the feeling of the background of the text we will be examining today, and as we move into verse 7. I'd like you to remember that in every chapter of this epistle so far, the Apostle Peter has challenged the believers who are the readers of this letter.

Keep in mind, they are scattered about, they are being persecuted, they are being maligned, they are being reproached, they are being abused, they are, in fact, suffering Christians. They are living in a very difficult and increasingly hostile world, and within each chapter, he has called on them to focus on the truth, focus on the Lord Jesus Christ and focus on holy living. In other words, he has said to them, "Be sure you keep the basis of your faith, the Word of God; be sure you keep the focus of your faith, the person of Jesus Christ; and be sure you keep the goal of your faith, holiness. Be godly, live those exemplary pure winsome joyful lives, even though you must suffer in the process." And, in fact, if we look at this epistle from that viewpoint, we can find here several motives for their Christian living in suffering.

And, if you'll recall, Peter began, by saying you ought to live the Christian life even though you will suffer, because of our precious salvation. And from chapter 1 verse 1 through chapter 2 verse 10, he discussed our precious salvation. Our salvation is so precious, in fact, it should demand the best out of you. And then, secondly, in chapter 2 verse 11 through chapter 4 verse 6, Peter says you ought to live a holy life, even in the midst of suffering, not only because of your precious salvation, but because of your present situation. And your present situation, is that you are called upon to be a witnessing community, no matter how difficult it is or becomes. And then now, he comes to the third section of this marvelous epistle and says, "You should go on with your Christian living focused on the Word, on Christ, and on holiness not only because of your precious salvation, your present situation, but thirdly, because of His personal Second Coming." You must live in the light of the return of Jesus Christ and that is the focus of his theme from chapter 4 verse 7 through chapter 5 verse 11. That whole section is given with the view of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. In fact, he mentions the Second Coming, and or alludes to it in verse 7, and specifically mentions it in verse 13, the revelation of His glory, and refers to it yet again in verse 4 of chapter 5, the appearing of the chief shepherd who will bring the unfading crown of glory.

Peter is taking his suffering church and moving them from a view of their salvation and of their situation to now a view of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. These three sections then lay out the basic motives for which we are to live the Christian life: because of the precious salvation God has given us, because of the present situation in which we are to be witnesses, and because of the personal Second Coming of Christ where we will have to answer to Him for the life we have lived as Christians. And so today, we have come to that third section.

I'd also like to point out here, that previous statements, is in no way is implying that Peter hasn't previously mentioned the Second Coming of Jesus Christ in his epistle. In fact, there have been several prior references to the Second Coming of Christ. One of which, was way back in chapter 1, when he talked about the fact that there is waiting for us an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, that will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you. As well as the implication is that someday He’s coming to take us there to receive that wonderful inheritance. Then, we find that in chapter 1 verse 13, where he says, "Therefore, with your minds ready for action,be serious and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." Chapter 2 verse 12, he talks about the day of visitation; that is, the day when men face God. So, there is a time, yet to come, when Jesus is returning, and Peter has already alluded to that, and so here again, he makes it the theme of this final section. He is calling us to holy living based upon the immanency of the coming of Jesus Christ.

So, in this particular section two things merge together: we are to live a godly life in suffering in the light of the Second Coming. And, if we want to do our Christian duty, we must know how precious is our salvation, and what attendant duties will best exhibit our gratitude for it. We must also know that Christ has left us in this present situation as aliens and strangers to lead men and women to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and we must live in the light of eternity, the light of heaven and the light of His coming.

What then, is our Christian duty, as we suffer in this world, while pursuing holiness in the light of Christ’s return? Our first point comes in verse 7, which we'll call the incentive. Then, we’ll look our instruction and lastly the intention will later be the focus of our attention. However, for right now, it is the incentive. Let's begin with verse 7. "Now the end of all things is near," Let's pause right there for a moment because that’s the incentive, which is: "the end of all things is at hand." I really want you to get a good grip, if nothing else, on this statement. The term "end" is the Greek word telos, a very familiar word to any Bible student. And when it is translated "end," it could, however, convey the wrong idea. It could convey the idea of cessation. It could convey the idea of termination. Which I'd like to point out here, beloved, it does not mean either of those things. I'd also like to point out, it is never used of a temporal end in all of the New Testament. It is never used of some kind of chronological end as if it simply means something stops. It always has in mind, the idea of a consummation.

Or to put it in another way, it has the idea of a goal achieved, a result attained, or a purpose consummated. It conveys the idea of fulfillment realized, of ultimate destiny. It’s not just the end of something; it is the culmination, the conclusion, the success, the goal, the realization, the fulfillment, the consummation. And so, he says, "the end of all things is near,"

Beloved, that has to be referring to the return of Christ. If he had said the end of your present trouble is near, we could well say, that possibly, he was referring to something temporal. Or if he said the end of your persecution is near, we could assume that maybe a different kind of government might come into play in their lives and treat them more fairly, more kindly. But he does not say that, nor does he imply it. He doesn’t say the end is near of your difficulty, your trouble, or even your situation. He instead says the end of all things. And the end of all things points directly to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. I'd like to point out, tt must refer to that. It cannot be referencing to anything less than that, for that and that alone is when the end of all things are near. And it takes us back to I Peter 1:5 again where he says we are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. And then, verse 7 he says that so that the genuineness of our faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

And so, Peter has the revelation of Christ which is another way of speaking of His Second Coming, connected to the end times there in chapter 1. And that is what he is referring to here. When he says the end of all things is at hand, he is referring to the consummation, the time of great reward at the coming of Jesus Christ.

I would like to call to your attention, the phrase "is near," though a very simple phrase but needs our understanding, "is at hand." And in the Greek, is only one word. It is the word to come near. It could be read this way, "The end of all things is about to come near." It is a perfect tense, and has the idea of a process the end with a resulting nearness or closeness at hand. And I, also believe, that it refers to immanency. That is, the coming of Christ is imminent; that it can, in fact, happen at any time without further warning. It is very near. Peter is reminding them, and us, that they are to live in anticipation of the nearness of the return of Jesus Christ. And so we could therefore say, that they are to live with, here’s the word, expectancy. Do you realize that every generation since then has therefore lived in that same expectancy? All of us live today, or we should live, in the expectancy of the coming of Jesus Christ. Beloved, not to do that is not to be a faithful church.

Allow me to point out, that I Thessalonians was written to a faithful church and I'm sure you’ll remember that he commended them because they were waiting for Jesus Christ from heaven. In

I Thessalonians 1:10, there they were some 2,000 years ago and they then were waiting for Jesus Christ. And that waiting creates a pilgrim mentality. It creates a sojourner mentality. It creates a sense of my alienation. It is a constant reminder that I am a citizen of heaven. And I’m just waiting, waiting to be taken there. I’m just waiting for Christ to show up, at anytime, to arrive.

And, I've lost count of the number of times that I've been asked, "How it is possibly that they were waiting then, and we're still waiting, even as I teach today, this message on anticipation, one of expectancy. So then when is He going to come?" And I'd also like to point out, I have even received such questions within my own family. Beloved, I can only refer to the words spoken by our Lord, Christ Himself, in Acts 1:7, which are, "It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by His own authority."

I'd like to further say, God hasn’t chosen to tell us when Jesus will return. He hasn’t been willing to do that for more than the obvious reasons. Let's be completely honest, shall we? If we knew exactly when Jesus was going to come, it would take away one of the driving motives in the life of the church. We would, essentially become very lazy if we knew He wasn’t coming soon, but say in 10 or 20 years, and if we knew He was coming later tonight, we would tend to become very panicked. So, in His infinite wisdom, God has eliminated both of those scenarios, which require all of us to live in anticipation, with the expectancy. To show you how secretive this whole matter is, I remind you of Matthew 24:36, where Jesus said, "Now concerning that day and hour no one knows—neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son —except the Father only." God knows, and Jesus in His self-imposed incarnational limitations did not even know. So Peter is saying to his readers, "You must live in constant expectancy as if Jesus was to come at any moment."

Lest I remind you, beloved, that that is an unpopular doctrine today, most people are, quite frankly, not interested in all of that. In fact, I believe, and I do so with all my heart, that one of the compelling reasons why people today want to teach a post-Tribulational Rapture, is because at least it gives them a lot of prior warning before Jesus arrives, and that most people, would prefer to think they’re going to live through all of that time, rather than to deal with not knowing when it will occur. You see, it removes that pressure of imminence, and of expectancy, that calls us to a higher level of accountability. "After all, if I’m going to live through the Tribulation, hey, in the meantime, I can live any way I want now, because I’ll instantly recognize the abomination of desolation, which occurs in the middle of the Tribulation, when they sacrifice on the altar in the temple of Jerusalem. I mean, that will likely even be in the newspaper. So, I’ll know when we’re there, and I’ll know when the seals are broken and all that stuff begins to happen, and all those terrible plagues are released upon the earth. So yeah, I’ll know all of that. And when I see that, and when the sea turns to blood, I’ll see that too. And I’ll be able to see all of that, so I’ll know exactly where I am and I can deal with it when I get there. But until then, I can just continue doing what I want, because I have time to "straighten up and fly right." So you see, that removes any responsibility that forces anyone to have to deal with it now.

And if you can take away expectancy and take away immanency and you continue to feed the monster, in a way, and that’s now why you make your decision but I think that’s part of the motivation of this new wave of preoccupation with the post-Tribulationalism, which means that Jesus won’t come till the end of the seven-year Tribulation. And so we can, therefore, chart our way through all of that very easily, because we’re going to know when He’ll arrive or at least pretty darn close to it. Now, does what I'm trying to say here make sense?

But allow me to once again point out the obvious here, that’s just not Peter’s message here. Peter’s message is,very very clear: "Hey, the end is near." And if we refer back to I Peter 4:5, which we studied earlier, I'm sure you will remember, Peter says there that they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. Now, God has committed all judgment unto Christ. Christ, when He comes, will judge the living and the dead in His great Second Coming. And so, Peter is talking about that. He says in verse 5 He’s ready to come, and in verse 7 he says the end of all things is very near, it is imminent, it is the next event on God’s calendar. So, we are to live in that expectancy that the one who is coming will come as judge of the living and the dead and that time is very near.

As you well know, the New Testament is filled with many passages that deal with this expectancy. Allow me to show you a few of them. So, if you would, open your Bibles and follow me along a little journey beginning in Romans 13. Romans chapter 13:12 says this, " Let us walk with decency, as in the daylight: not in carousing and drunkenness; not in sexual impurity and promiscuity; not in quarreling and jealousy." And again, that’s that concept of nearness or immanency. The night is almost gone and the day of His coming is near. Then, let's refer back to verse 11, which tells us what that has in mind. He says there, "Besides this, knowing the time, it is already the hour for you to wake up from sleep, for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed." That is to say, you had better wake up. You’re much closer to the full salvation that will be yours in heaven than you were when you believed. The night is almost gone; the day when God breaks through is near. We best lay aside the deeds of darkness, we better put on the armor of light, we better starting behaving properly, and so verse 13 says, " Let us walk with decency, as in the daylight: not in carousing and drunkenness; not in sexual impurity and promiscuity; not in quarreling and jealousy." Why? Because Jesus could come at any moment. So we are to live in the awareness of it.

And I'm sure you recall that in I Corinthians chapter 7:29, it says, "And I say this, brothers: The time is limited, so from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none, those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, and those who use the world as though they did not make full use of it. For this world in its current form is passing away.

I want you to be without concerns. An unmarried man is concerned about the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the things of the world—how he may please his wife— and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or a virgin is concerned about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the things of the world—how she may please her husband. Now I am saying this for your own benefit, not to put a restraint on you, but because of what is proper and so that you may be devoted to the Lord without distraction."

Paul is saying, we’re in a dying world. We’re moving quickly toward the coming of Christ. You better hold everything in this life very loosely. Did you get that? Don’t become too embroiled in this life, in its emotions, in its possessions, in its relationships, in its economies. Don’t get too involved in all of that. It’s all moving very quickly toward its end. Paul says, the time has been shortened. The word "time" here is not chronos, but rather, it’s kairos. The epic, the season, the fixed time has been made more brief as we await the coming of Jesus Christ.

Beloved, I have been frequently asked, "How can we all believe He’s going to be coming but He never comes in our life time?" All I can say here, is that’s the whole point. The Lord never said when He was going to come so He left everybody in immanency. And those early Christians believed that Jesus was going to come at any time. And of course they would believe it since the Lord didn’t tell them the time and since He did tell them His coming was near. And having been so near to His first coming, it would have been easy for them to expect it would come immediately. God wasn’t hoodwinking them; He wasn’t deceiving them. He was merely saying to them, "You need to live every moment in anticipation of the coming of Christ and hold to the things of this life very loosely." Jesus could come at any moment. I'd also like to remind you, that what might seem like a long time to us, 2,000 years, is not a long time on God's time table. We all know that statement, "A day with the Lord is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day."

And in I Corinthians 15:51, here again is this same kind of expectation, anticipation of the coming of Christ. He says, "Listen! I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. For this corruptible must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal must be clothed with immortality."

So, in other words, everything’s going to change. It’s going to change in a twinkling of an eye. What is the twinkling of an eye? That’s not a blink, that’s the time it takes to refract light off your pupil. That’s how fast we’re going to be changed. And the idea here is: it’s a mystery, meaning it’s not yet been revealed in the past, but it’s going to happen suddenly. The trumpet will sound and instantaneously when that trumpet sounds, we’re gone. And it can happen at any time.

And we know the passage in I Thessalonians chapter 4, is another message about the immanency and the expectancy in which we are to live. I Thessalonians 4:15 says, "For we say this to you by a revelation from the Lord: We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming will certainly have no advantage over those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we will always be with the Lord." And the tone of Paul’s language to the Thessalonians is a tone of immanency. He is not saying those people who are alive then, or those who around when. He specifically says we, we, we, we, we. Beloved, it is always the church’s responsibility to live in the light of the return of Christ. And that is precisely Paul's message here.

Beloved, if they were able to see the immanency of the day drawing near, here we are some 2,000 years later, how much nearer then are we? So, I say to all of you today, that you had better be gathering with God’s people, as you have seen the day is drawing nearer and nearer. As we can find all throughout the pages of the Bible, that there is a great shaking to come, the removing of the things which can be shaken, this material world and the establishment of things which cannot be shaken, are God’s eternal Kingdom and glory. We must live in the light of that as those in the New Testament time did.

The book of Revelation, which is of course, one of those prophetic books deemed to be "irrelevant in today's society," is therefore disregarded in modern church teaching. Many have asked, "What do we have at the end of the book of Revelation?" Then, I suggest reading these words, in Revelation chapter 22 verse 20, "He who testifies about these things says, "Yes, I am coming quickly." and next we find John's response: "Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!" The Apostle John too lived in the anticipation of the soon return of Jesus Christ.

Now, I know I have often been asked, "Well, but isn’t Jesus supposed to return in the last days?" Yes, that is right. But, do you know when the last days began? Well, then allow me to just help you out a bit there. I John 2:18, "Children, it is the last hour. And as you have heard, "Antichrist is coming," even now many antichrists have come. We know from this that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. However, they went out so that it might be made clear that none of them belongs to us."

Beloved, the last hour had begun already when John wrote I John. The last hour, pay attention carefully here, began with the first coming of Jesus Christ. That ushered in the last days. That is why the apostle Paul in writing to Timothy is so explicit about the last days. The Spirit explicitly says that in the later times, some will depart from the faith, I Timothy 4:1, and those later times had already come and that departure was already taking place. And II Timothy 3:1 which was read to us this morning, realized this that in the last days, difficult times will come. And those were the last days and the difficult times had already come upon Timothy.

I want you to see, the last days came when Messiah came. Allow me to just draw you this little illustration here, follow along carefully, if you would. They had seen in their lifetime, the Jews and the people alive at the time of Christ’s arrival, they had seen the end of an entire era. They saw the end of an Old Testament dispensation. They saw the end of the old covenant. Messiah came into the world to bring all of that to an end and to inaugurate the new covenant. The last days were the days of Messiah. The prophets of old said Messiah would come in the latter days, that He would come in the end of the age. They would come at the last time.

And so, when He came it was the last time. It spelled the end of all the previous epics, seasons, eras. They had seen the whole system of ceremonies, and rituals, and sacrifices, and temples, and priests, and offerings all collapse when the veil of the temple was ripped from top to bottom and God opened the Holy of Holies to everybody, He said that’s the end of the system. And then, in 70 AD when God sent judgment by way of the Romans, He destroyed the temple, destroyed Jerusalem, and wiped out to this very day the whole sacrificial ceremonial system. It happened in their life time.

Jesus had said on the cross, “It is finished.” What He had finished was the inauguration of the new covenant. The temple veil was torn. A few years later, the temple was destroyed. Jesus said in Matthew 24:2, "Don’t you see all these things? I assure you: Not one stone will be left here on another that will not be thrown down!" Why? Because it symbolized the devastation of an entire Old Testament economy. The old order was ended and a new order was begun: the order of the Messiah, the order of the last days.

Hebrews 9:26 puts it this way, "Otherwise, He would have had to suffer many times since the foundation of the world. But now He has appeared one time, at the end of the ages, for the removal of sin by the sacrifice of Himself." Beloved, what a glorious statement. Jesus came, put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself at the end of the ages. Christ came, offered once to bear the sins of many, and, pay attention here, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin to those who eagerly await Him. Did you catch that? The first time He came at the end of the ages He was manifested to put away sin. The second time He comes, and He doesn’t come to put away sin anymore. He comes to establish His Kingdom of salvation.

And so, the last days were begun when the ages were consummated, or ended with the arrival of the Messiah. When Messiah came, when Messiah died, when He rose again, He ended the old covenant system, He established His own Kingdom. He said the Kingdom of God is in your midst, and through the gospel of Jesus Christ we are taken out of the kingdom of darkness and placed into the kingdom of His beloved Son in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, says Paul to the Colossians. Christ defeated sin. Christ defeated death. Christ defeated hell. Christ defeated the penalty of the law. Chris defeated Satan. Christ defeated demons. Christ established His authority, and Christ began to build His Kingdom. And we need to see this, we are now living in the last days Kingdom. The Kingdom now is spiritual and inward, and some day it will be manifest outward and universal when He establishes His throne on the earth and in the universe.

And so, there is to be a Second Coming. But the last days began the first time He came. Therefore, we are now living in the last days, the last times, and the last days of those last days. You might put it this way: the Kingdom has come in a state of grace; but soon it will come in a state of glory. The death of Jesus Christ, His resurrection, His exaltation to the right hand of God the Father brought a new departure to the course of history. And it took place once for all at the close of the ages, and it brought in the dawn of a new day. The Kingdom of Messiah is here in its spiritual reality and soon to be here in its visible form.

The point I'm trying to make here, is when Peter says the end of all things is near, is he talking about termination? Yes, in the sense that the old ages have terminated. But more, he’s talking about end of all things, and that is the full end is very, very near.

In Closing.....

Beloved, I want to close with giving you an insight into how we are to live in light of this. In the Scriptures, we find that because the coming of Jesus Christ is imminent, meaning it could happen at any split second, at any moment, it leads us to a right kind of attitude. The attitude is one of expectancy should not turn us into zealous fanatics, like the people who put on their pajamas and sit on the roof top waiting. And it should not turn us into lazy believers who do nothing but lie around, as it were, just waiting for it to happen. It should, however, turn us into watchful pursuers of righteousness and holiness.

To be as it says in II Corinthians 5:9, "Therefore, whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to be pleasing to Him." And if you are a true Christian, that is true of your life. I believe, that should be underlined as the mark of a true Christian: That you want to please Christ! If you don’t want to please Christ, then beloved, that’s evidence that the new life is not in you.

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ." So, in other words, each and every one of us are going to have to give an account for our life. "That each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body according to what he has done, whether good or worthless." The apostle Paul says, "Look, I live in the light of the fact that someday I’m going to have to stand before Jesus Christ and it’s going to be made visible to me in His presence whether my works were good or useless." Not going to parade sin, that will already be dealt with, that’s already been covered at the cross, but whether or not my life was effective, dedicated, devoted, serviceable, useful will be manifest. And since it’s the heart’s desire of every true Christian to want to please Christ, he has to live in the light of the fact that someday it’s going to become revealed to him whether or not or to what degree he did please Christ.

If we’re true Christians, we ought to be sick of the sin of this world and longing for a righteous place.

Beloved, I don't think it can be any clearer, we are to be ready for the Son of Man, Who is coming at an hour that we do not expect. Yes, this is a warning to the unregenerate world. Yes, this is a warning to false religionists. However, I believe, that it speaks directly also to those of us who are believers, that we must also be ready for we don’t know the moment our Christ will come. The end of all things, which very near, far nearer than it’s ever been before. And that is to be our incentive to live a holy life.

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

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Brian Monzon Ministries

The Brian Monzon Ministries



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