Category Archives: Eschatology

Romans 8.18-23

Title: The Temporary State of Suffering

Text: Romans 8.18-22

Introduction: We’re in Romans 8 (pg. 888 in the Pew Bible). The Subject this morning is Suffering. And my sermon doesn’t come from the tremendous depth of experience, but rather, it simply comes from God’s Word. The sermon this morning won’t have all of the answers on suffering. I’ll only cover what’s listed here in Romans.

I make no apologies in this regard, but rather count it a blessing and thank God that I have not had to suffer as so many in the world do. I’ve never been to prison for my faith. And I have been relatively healthy – able to do the things in life I want to do. I enjoy the physicality and thought that goes into reaching summits in Colorado. I ride my bike, jog, walk as much as I want and not as much as I should. I take one pill a day – and that is for my thyroid. My doctor says that dosage will increase with age, but for now, I feel blessed.

So, as I think about suffering, I have to ask myself… and I think, we should ask ourselves as we look at this text: what is the context of suffering here? Is it cancer? Is it sickness, illness? Or, is it imprisonment, mistreatment, and punishment for being a believer? Well, contextually, I think it has to do with suffering for being a Christian. As for application, I think this applies to both: You can trust God in your sickness and in your illness, too.

I don’t say this lightly. I’m very aware that many of you are suffering now. Some of you may suffer for being a believer – you’re passed over for work or promotions; you’re placed in an awkward position; moved to a different location.

On a side note: It was good to hear the State of Colorado dropped their case against the Christian Baker, who refused to create a transgender anniversary cake. The same baker, by the way, that won a Supreme Court decision last year. But, I think more persecution is coming.

Added to these types of persecution and suffering, I know that many of you are suffering health wise – you or a family member.

I don’t enter into this subject lightly because it is something my family is experiencing. It is a topic that is very near and dear to my heart.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul hasn’t mentioned suffering up to this point. As a matter of fact, he won’t mention it again. You’ll only see it here in v. 17 & 18; Verse 17 is what gives us our context. Rd v 17: 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Flow: There is, therefore, now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Why? Because the Spirit has set us free from the law of sin and death. How? Through Jesus; who died on the cross to pay that penalty on our behalf. V4 says that Jesus satisfied the righteous requirement of the law. The Benefits are tremendous: freedom in the Spirit, Focus for life, The Spirit-filled believer is now alive in Christ – and, as we talked about last week – The Spirit-filled believer is adopted into the family of God!

But then Paul ends with this odd statement: provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Paul is definitive on this topic of suffering: in this life, we will suffer as believers. Period. We don’t all suffer the same way and we don’t all suffer the same thing – but, understand this: if you’re a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, you will suffer in some fashion.

Why is that? And where does it come from? And, what is its purpose?

Well, that is a topic that is rather large and most definitely something we cannot possibly accomplish completely today. And we shouldn’t try. Paul doesn’t. Paul has good reason to do so, but he doesn’t. He doesn’t make his focus about suffering. Instead, he acknowledges it but then turns his focus elsewhere. And so should we. He mentions suffering and then gives us a history lesson.

Let me repeat: he mentions suffering and then, doesn’t talk about it, but rather gives us a history lesson. He comes back to this idea of how we suffer now when he talks about the Spirit and the Spirit’s intercession in our lives – who helps us in our weaknesses (v26).

Read with me v 18-23 (pg. 888): 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

What is Paul saying? He’s letting us in on something absolutely incredible. I’ve been taught, as have many of you, that when you’re looking for the theme of a book you’re studying, you read the beginning and the end. Usually, there at the beginning of the book or letter, and repeated in the end, you will find the melodic line that flows through the book. A great example is Mark, a book we studied a few years ago. Mark begins with: The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The introduction climaxes with God proclaiming in v 11: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” – So with the introduction, you have this claim that Jesus is the Son of God. Throughout the book, demons and spirits call him the Son of God. Before he is crucified the High priest asks him if he is the Son of the Blessed. And Jesus says, yep. And at the book’s climax, as Jesus dies on the cross, the Centurion witnesses the entire events and says: truly this was the Son of God.

So Mark’s theme is Jesus is the Son of God. Is this true for our book, Romans? Let me show you: read the introduction. Observe 1.5: Paul is declaring the Gospel is preached to the nations to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name. Now look at Romans 16.25: 25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—

There you have it. You do a little research on our book and you’ll see that this is exactly what the Letter is all about: The preaching of the Gospel to all the nations in order to bring about the obedience of faith.

I mention these because I think that is what Paul is doing. I mention these to raise one last question about beginnings and endings: is this book (the Bible) like these others – does it have bookends which identify for us a theme? And, does that theme flow through the whole of the Bible in such a way that it acts as a melodic line of sorts? Well, let’s look.

  • When you read v 19-23, what stands out? The Creation. Where is The Creation Story in the Bible?
  • We see in chapters 1-2 of Genesis that the world is created and everything is perfect. The Creation the way it should be. Or, the world as it was designed to be.
  • In chapter 3, we see the fall. Sin enters into the world and everything is marred. Everything. Sin now brings death, disease, and dysfunction. Cain murders his brother, Abel. Weeds, thorns, storms, sickness, struggle all enter the picture. Animals are no longer friends with man, but rather, animals fear man.

What we see in the introduction is Creation, and then, creation falling apart, or de-creation. So, what do we see at the end of the book, in Revelation? We see Eden restored. We see re-creation. So, do we see some of the same elements in the beginning and in the ending? God is in the beginning doing his work and he is in the end doing his work. There is a garden in the beginning. There is a garden in the end. A tree – a tree; a river – a river; Ezekiel 25 tells us of the garden of God, Eden. It tells us of the precious stones and gems and colors. We see the same thing in Revelation in Heaven, Eden restored. So is that the melodic line of this book? That God creates, Sin destroys and God will recreate in the end? All we have to do is look throughout the book at the stories that are told.

  • Adam and Eve are in the garden; they sin and are banished into exile from the garden. Do you see times in Scripture where there is a desire to get back to the garden? Absolutely.
  • God creates for himself a people, through Abraham. He promises them a land. A land flowing with Milk and Honey. It is a picture of the return to the garden. But do his people obey – do they live out the obedience of faith (as it says in Romans)? No, So look what happens to Israel. It becomes a desert wasteland.
  • But there hope is that it will be restored. For you and me, we know that restoration isn’t a “Mighty Israel” here. It is a new heaven and a new earth.

This is what I think Paul is doing: I think he is visiting the melodic line of the Bible for us: There was perfection with God. Sin entered into the picture and destroyed that beauty. It continues to wreak havoc, but one day, Eden will be restored. There will be a new heaven and a new earth. And that – out there in our future – is what Paul wants us to focus on!

  1. Creation Present: Read v 19; we longingly, actively wait with eager expectation for glory.
  2. Creation Past: read v 20; creation waits now in the present because it was subjected to futility in the past. That verse is talking about the fall of man – the story of Adam and Eve.
  3. Creation Future: read v 21; it was subjected in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption (that’s sin and the effect it has on us now) and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God (that’s heaven, where there will be no more sickness nor sorrow, no more pain and tears, there will be no more thorns, no more tornados, no more earthquakes, no more hurricanes, no more cancer, no need for glasses.

Why is that? Because creation will be restored. Paul is reminding us of the big picture. Suffering in this present time is temporary. Heaven, where there is no suffering, will be eternal.

So, here is the problem: we’re stuck between the now and the not yet. With this bit of information, how then shall we now live?

A few comments about these verses:

  1. In v18, the verse reads: 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 1st, this word consider – it is the Greek word for which we get our word logistics. Paul is being logical about suffering and he’s working through the problem. 2nd, There is a word in the original language that isn’t in the English and it’s the word ‘about’. Lit.: the about to be glory. The idea is that it is just right out there beyond us. I believe when we’re there, we’ll look back at this time and think about how brief it really was. We worried about a lot of stuff that didn’t really matter that much.
  2. In v19, we read: For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. I already told you that I’d translate this: actively waits with eager expectation. The word wait here means a deep sense of waiting with passion and longing. Also, the word in here revealing, is the Gk word from which we get our word Apocolypse. And, normally, that word is scary, but, not for the believer! Because what will be revealed for us is a wonderful thing!
  3. In v20, it says that the creation was subjected to futility… The idea is that this isn’t so much a result of what Adam and Eve did, but more about the plan of God. See, if you keep reading you’ll read: not willingly, but because of him who subjected it… Who is this ‘him’?
    1. Some folks say Adam. He was the one who sinned and by which all sin has been passed on to us. The read the verse this way: 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Adam who subjected it…
    2. Others say no, it is Satan. Satan was the one who wreaked havoc on the world by leading Adam and Eve astray. These people read the verse this way: 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Satan who subjected it…
    3. But there is a third option and I believe this is the correct understanding: 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of God who subjected it… And I say this because of the next couple of words: in hope.
      1. Satan would never offer hope, so that knocks him out of the running.
      2. I don’t think Adam actually thought to himself: I’ll eat this fruit in disobedience to God’s command in order that those who follow after me will have hope in God. That’s ludicrous.
  • It can only be God. God did this, subjected creation to futility in hope of our future glory.

Now that’s a pretty powerful statement. God did this because he had a plan.

  1. In v22 we read about this momentary affliction. Paul uses the terms of a pregnant woman giving birth. The idea is that the pain is very real, but a momma endures such pain for the joy that is before her. She knows that after she has endured, after she has given birth, she will get to hold this precious little one. There is pain and struggle in the moment, but joy comes in having given birth. To use what seems to be an oxymoron: this is a joyful pain. And so should our suffering in this current world be. Joyful in that it is temporary. Joyful in that it is preparing us for the glory that is yet to be revealed in us. It is hard now, but hang in there. There is joy coming! And that is what he says in v 23; rd v 23;
    1. Consider the disciples who declared it a joy and a privilege to suffer for Jesus!

Application: Paul tells us about suffering:

  • How we suffer: The Creation actively waits with eager longing as we suffer.
  • Why we suffer: The Creation was subjected to futility (to this suffering) unwillingly
    • God did so in hope
      • of freedom from bondage to corruption
      • of obtaining freedom of the glory that is to be revealed in us
  • Conclusion about suffering: The Creation groans with a pain that ends in joy – because joy is coming. You’ve just got to hang in there!

Conclusion:

  1. Suffering is temporary: this present time (kairos). The difference between Kairos and Chronos is like the difference between a minute and a moment.
  2. Suffering is an extreme opposite of what we’ll experience in the “about to be”: There is no comparison
  3. Here’s the incredible truth about suffering and sin: We can grasp the incredible grace of God because we know what sin and suffering is.
  4. I’d like to say a word about what suffering is not. Sometimes, I’m convinced that we think we’re suffering and we’re really not. Let me ‘splain.

In life you have expectations. You’ve had them already today. You come and you expect certain things to happen or not to happen. You have expectations. You expected to sing songs this morning. If we hadn’t sung any songs, you would have responded. Some of you: negative. Some of you: positive. But there are expectations and you respond to those expectations based upon your experience. Maybe you come to worship expecting a normal service, but we show a video. Your experience is different from what you expected and maybe you’re happy or maybe your sad. You respond to your experience based upon your expectations.

But here lies the problem. Sometimes, your expectations aren’t met and you become unhappy. You think you’re suffering. But are you really? You’ve come expecting there to be seats. What if you came in this morning and there were no seats in the worship center? How would you respond? Some folks would be like: Cool, we’re doing something different! Others would be like: this is so uncool! Honey, go find me a seat. If I said, we’re sitting on the floor this morning, some of you would feel like you had to suffer today. But, do think there are churches gathering today somewhere in the world where there are no chairs? Would you say they’re suffering?

Here is my point: sometimes you think you’re suffering, but you’re really not. You’re just selfish and you’re not getting your way.

Your expectations are about you. Hey, listen, I’m no different. I know it. I sometimes pray and act like I’m suffering until my eyes are opened and I realize that I’m just being selfish.

Suffering Requires:

  • Perspective: An vantage point of the whole, big picture – and you see what’s coming (18).
  • Patience: Wait eagerly for adoption to come to fruition (19).
  • Knowledge: we know that this was done in hope of freedom

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Living, Creation, Eschatology, Faith, Romans, Romans 8, Scripture, Sermon, Spiritual Formations

Christ, Our Blessed Hope

Title: Christ, our Blessed Hope

Text: 1 Thessalonians 4.1-5.1

Introduction: This morning we reach the conclusion of this Summer’s Sermon Series: HiStory. Last week we ended the 9th sermon in this series with an empty tomb. The tomb is empty because Jesus is risen. And what’s more… we have this hope that we will rise again in like manner, should we face death before he returns.

Our text for this morning’s sermon is found in 1 Thessalonians 4. We’ll be there this morning, so go ahead and turn there: 1 Thessalonians 4.1. A 2nd place we’ll be is in Titus 2. So, if you’d like to put a bookmark there…

This sermon is the last sermon in a series entitled: HiStory. The premise behind the series is that the whole of the Bible is one story. From beginning to end, the story is all about Jesus. God’s intention from before the foundation of the world was to save his people and to send his son, Jesus, to be the savior of his people.

We opened this series with a look at the perfection of creation and how it was ruined in Adam and Eve’s rebellion. As they were banished from the garden, God gave them a promise of someone who would come and restore things. Gen. 3.15 was the 1st indication that Jesus would someday come. In the future, somehow, someway, the snake crusher would come and restore what was damaged.

We saw how life in the fall was a continual downward spiral, until God destroyed it all in the flood, but saved 8 people and a bunch of animals through the Ark. Creation was destroyed  and God started all over.

This 1st section of the series was my favorite. I loved how our Community Group spent extra time in this section observing a film entitled: Genesis: is it history? Del Tackett was our guide and narrator. I highly recommend this documentary if you’re looking for help in strengthening your biblical worldview.

In Genesis 12, God picked a man from whom he would build a nation and from whom the Promised One would come. This nation would be his people (Israel) and he would be their God. The problem was that they, too, rebelled, like Adam and Eve. Instead of serving and following God, they chose to worship and serve idols.

God sent them Prophets, Priests and Kings, but somehow, someway, they still rejected the God who loved them. Their priests didn’t intercede like they should have. Many of these priests were worried more about themselves than teaching the people and interceding for the people. Their Kings never lived up to the role. One came pretty close – his name was David. He set an example of what the true King would one day look like. But he wasn’t the promised King. No, these Kings led the people astray. God sent them prophets to tell the people His words. But the people rejected the prophets. They beat them, shamefully mistreated them and in some cases, killed them.

In so many ways, many of these prophets pointed to the Promised One, but none of them were him. After many years of being caught up in a cycle of following God, not following God – God grew silent. There were no prophets to tell them God’s Word. No kings either. The people entered a time of darkness and silence for 400 years.

Then one day, after those 400 years of silence from God, the Promised One finally came. God’s voice broke the silence. God’s son lit up the darkness. He came and lived a perfect and sinless life. Then, he died on the cross of Calvary to pay the penalty for the sins of the world – to restore that which had been damaged. And, after three days of laying lifeless in a tomb, he rose again.

Many of his followers thought that the Kingdom would be restored when he rose from the dead, but instead, he delayed the coming Kingdom. Instead, he commissioned his followers to share this good news of redemption with the world until he does return for his people.

Titus 2.11-13: 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

There is so much to unpack in these three verses, and that isn’t even our task today! It is an outline for our lives in this era: God’s grace Saved us, God’s grace is Sanctifying us, preparing us for glory. For now, what I really want to focus on is what Paul calls our Our Blessed Hope, which is Christ’s Glorious Appearing.

  • The hope you and I have as believers, as we live out our lives in this present age, isn’t the rapture to escape the tribulation.
  • The hope you and I share as believers as we live in this present age isn’t perfect health and untold riches of materialism.
  • The hope you and I share as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ as we live godly lives in this present age is Christ and his glorious appearing!

Let’s break down Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica:

  1. 1st, he tells the Thessalonians how to live while we wait for his appearing (4.1-12).
  2. 2nd, he tells them what to expect when Christ returns, especially for those who already died (4.13-18).
  3. 3rd, he tells them of the Great Day of the Lord (5.1-11). He’ll finish his comments on this in his next letter, 2nd Thessalonians when he teaches them about the lawless one, the antichrist.

Transition: let’s look at this 1st section, which outlines for us how then we shall live…

How then shall we live?

I. We Walk with our Lord (4.1-12)

exp.: rd v 1-3a; Sanctification is often seen in two phases. There is the immediate phase and the process phase. In a very real sense, we are sanctified at our conversion. And, in a very real sense, we struggle with sin throughout our lives – not experiencing total sanctification in this body until this life is through. Our statement of faith teaches this better than any other document. Let me quote from the BF&M 2000:

Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification.

There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

  1. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace. Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Savior
  2. Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ. Justification brings the believer unto a relationship of peace and favor with God.
  3. Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to God’s purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual maturity through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate person’s life.
  4. Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed.

Glorification is what we’ll experience at his glorious appearing. For now, though, how then shall we live?

I think it helps to understand that there is in one very real sense the sanctifying process that God is at work in us and on the other hand, there is a very real sense that there is our responsibility to be at work in the sanctifying process. Many Christians call this ‘the walk’. In Philippians Paul told the Christians at Philippi that they were to be “working out” their salvation with fear and trembling as God was “working within” them to will and to act according to His good purpose. Look what Paul says to Thessalonians here:

  • Be holy: rd v 3-7; avoid immorality, impurity;
  • Brotherly Love: rd v9-10; and then he gives them some instruction on neighborly affairs: rd v 11-12
  • Walk properly before outsiders: live quietly, mind your own affairs, work with your hands, and be dependent on no one.
  • Being Holy is how you live within yourself – it manifests itself externally, but it is an internal quality. Brother Love is the display of your holiness within the church. But there is contact with the real world, too. That is your … as he calls it …‘walk’ as seen by outsiders.

app.: We walk with the Lord and our work is a witness to those who are lost. Not that our walk saves us, but that rather our walk is a demonstration of what we believe to a lost and dying world.

t.s.: How then shall we live? 1st, we walk with the Lord. 2ndly,

II. We Wait for His Glorious Appearing (4.13-18)

exp.: waiting means that life goes on – day after day, month after month, year after year as we walk with the Lord; And, a big part of life is death; this was a concern for the Corinthian church we looked at last week – and, it is a concern for these folks in Thessalonica, too. They didn’t have a lot of doctrine to go with their newfound faith. Remember, the Jews had a foundation for their faith. The Gentiles, not so much! So, they had a lot of questions. For them, they wondered what would happen when their loved ones died. Would those who passed on miss out on Christ’s return?

Let’s read what he tells them; rd v 13-14; Paul told the Corinthians in his final letter to them that to be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord; Paul tells the Thessalonians here something very similar: that as their loved one’s body lay in the grave, their spirit was with the Lord; Then, when Christ returns, they will accompany Him.

ill.: As I quoted from Joni Eareckson Tada last week: One day actual spirits will return to their actual graves and reunite with stone-cold dead forms and – in the twinkling of an eye – we shall be changed. Paul says, that those of us who are still alive will certainly not precede those believers who’ve gone before us.

app.: Rd v 15-16; And so, while we continue in this body, we wait. As our loved ones die and are buried, we wait. We wait for his glorious appearing where we will … rd v 17-18: 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, 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. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

t.s.: We have this hope – not a hope like it is going to rain, but a certain knowledge and faith that communicates: at his glorious appearing we shall be with him.

So, How then shall we live? we walk with the Lord, we wait for his return, and..

III. We Watch for The Great Day of the Lord (5.1-11)

exp.: why do we watch? Well, read with me v1-2; we watch because it is unexpected and we don’t want to be caught off guard. Rd v 3-4; look at these three phrases that describe the suddenness of Christ return:

  • Like a thief in v2
  • Sudden destruction in v3
  • To surprise you in v4

Exhortations: (in v6-11)

  • Stay sober and awake! Because, it will come suddenly and without expectation!

Transition: there are many terms and teachings on this doctrine called eschatology. And, in preaching a message like the sermon this morning, I’m ever aware of the differences of opinion when it comes to End Times. That’s right, I said opinion. There are those who would disagree with me: they are so dogmatic, that they think they’re the only one’s who are right!

Let me take some time to lay out four truths that we should all agree on and avoid the hot topic areas of disagreement. This Wednesday night, our Community Group will be discussing these different views and I’ll lay out for you there what I see in these passages and in Revelation. In that meeting we will look at the areas of disagreement. For this morning, I arrange these doctrinal truths on which we should all agree from the book on systematic theology by Wayne Grudem. Bruce Demarest, a mentor of mine at Denver Seminary, also has a wonderful systematic theology in 3 volumes. It doesn’t read as easy as Grudem’s, but it is a wonderful indepth look at the end times. I’ve chosen to use Grudem’s outline because it was handy.

  1. There will be a sudden, personal, visible, and bodily return of Christ. like a thief in the night… Note all four aspects of his return:
    1. Sudden and unexpected
    2. Personal: he is coming with his army of angels
    3. Visible: this isn’t some spiritual type of return, we’ll see it.
    4. Bodily: Christ Body isn’t in the grave and he didn’t have just a spiritual resurrection after his death. He was raised physically, and he’ll return physically.
  2. We have no idea when Christ will return. The Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Mt 24.44); for you know neither the day nor the hour. (Mt. 25.13); Jesus said that no one knows the day, not the angels, nor even the Son – only the Father knows the day he has chosen. (Mk 13.32-33). You and I can know the season – we can see the time for his return, and I believe that it will be soon and very soon. But as for that day… no on knows.
  3. We should eagerly long for Christ’s return. Maranatha, Even so, Come Lord Jesus. And as Titus records: 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, Christians should be eagerly and expectantly longing for Christ’s return. For someone to hope for his delay because he loves this world and his life in this world demonstrates a tremendous misunderstanding of what this life is to be. If this is all you hope for, you’re missing something very important. You’re not understanding sin and its effects.
  4. No matter how you get there eschatalogically, Evangelicals pretty much all agree on the final results: we will all stand before the Son of God – unbelievers to judgment and believers to their reward. Believers will live forever with Christ in a new heaven and a new earth. In this place – this new heaven and earth – believers will worship God in a never-ending kingdom where there is no more sin, no more sorrow and no more suffering.

Conclusion:

Dr. Harry Pritchett, Jr. tells the story of a friend he had, who taught 8 year olds in Sunday School. In a Sunday school class of 8-year olds Philip stuck out because of his Down’s syndrom. Eight-year-olds can be cruel. The third-graders did not welcome Phillip to their group. Not just because he was older. He was “different.” And because he suffered from Down’s Syndrome, he had many difference that were quite obvious: facial characteristics, slow responses, symptoms of what we used to call ‘mental retardation’.

One Sunday after Easter, the Sunday school teacher gathered some of those plastic eggs that pull apart in the middle — the kind in which some ladies’ pantyhose used to be packaged. The Sunday school teacher gave one of these plastic eggs to each child. On that beautiful spring day each child was to go outdoors and discover for himself some symbol of “new life” and place that symbolic seed or leaf or whatever inside his egg. They would then open their eggs one by one, and each youngster would explain how his find was a symbol of “new life.” So … The youngsters gathered ’round and put their eggs on a table, and one by one, the teacher began to open them. 

One child had found a flower. All the children “oohed” and “aahed” at the lovely symbol of new life. In another was a butterfly. “Beautiful,” the girls said. Another egg opened to reveal a rock. Some of the children laughed. “That’s crazy!” one said. “How’s a rock supposed to be like a new life?'” Immediately a little boy spoke up and said, “That’s mine. I knew everybody would get flowers and leaves and butterflies and all that stuff, so I got a rock to be different.” Everyone laughed. The teacher opened the last one, and there was nothing in it. “That’s not fair,” someone said. “That’s stupid,” said another. The teacher felt a tug on his shirt. It was Phillip. Looking up he said, “It’s mine. I did it. It’s empty. I have new life because the tomb is empty.” The class fell silent. From that day on Phillip became part of the group. They welcomed him. Whatever had made him different was never mentioned again.

Phillip’s family had known he would not live a long life; just too many things wrong with the tiny body. That summer, overcome with infection, Phillip died. On the day of his funeral nine 8-year-old boys and girls, confronted the reality of death, marched up to the altar–not with flowers. Nine children with their Sunday school teacher placed on the casket of their friend their gift of love – an empty egg …

You see, believers get it. They know the meaning of the empty egg story. Like Philip, they say I have life because the tomb is empty; they know the hope of life after death because Christ is risen. And, they know the hope of His Glorious Appearing –

  • And so, they walk with God every single day of their lives;
  • They wait patiently, knowing that one day he will return and
  • They keep a watchful eye out, because it will happen when this world least expects it.

Let’s pray…

1 Comment

Filed under 1 Thessalonians, Eschatology, Messiah, Resurrection, Scripture, Sermon