Here is my last talk of my advent series for you to finish off your journey. I pray that God will bless you as you read it. Please use a bible as you look up the references.
Theme: Be Prepared to Meet.
Aim: Those who remain faithful from the birth pains because they are prepared will be taken in to glory with the Son of Man.
1. When will the end of the age happen?
2. What are the signs of the end of the age?
Have you ever met someone who is famous? Have you ever met someone who has saved your life?
Well over 6 years ago, I went to Spring Harvest with my parents and my church. Now most of you have heard of Spring Harvest and know that it is a Christian “holiday” camp for you to escape and experience some really good bible teaching and live worship. I remember it as the year when I met one of the greatest worship song writers of the last century, Graham Kendrick. Now I was part of the child’s tract, and we were asked to tell the people in the main tent or Big Top what we were doing in the youth tracts. I was going to speak in front of thousands of people. So I practiced and practiced, and the pain and pressure of me worrying about the end result was evidence to see.
It was the big day. We were called up on the stage, and the bright stage lights blind my eyes as we entered the main stage. I was petrified. Even though I was nervous I knew God was there, so we went ahead, and we all gave an account of what we were doing in the groups. At the end we were met with applause and whistles, and we went off the stage. At that point, Graham came over and met each one of us. Wow. What an experience. I was so glad and relieved that I stuck at doing the drama, that at the end of the day it produced a reward.
That is what today’s passage is all about. We have all met someone who has meant so much to us that we are well prepared to meet them. That is what we need to be: ready to meet Jesus, but in order for that to happen, the end of the age must come: We need to ask though:
This passage occurs when Jesus had finished being quizzed by the Pharisees in the temple v1 he retreated to the Mount of Olives and was ask privately by his disciple’s two questions V3 which we are going to look at today. When will the end of the age happen? What are the signs of the end of the age?
1. When will the end of the age happen?
That is a question that we ask quite frequently today. When will the end come? From the passage, there is one thing that must happen before the end time comes.
- 1. V14 and this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
The gospel must be preached all over the whole world, before we see the end of the age. In this country, we sent thousands of missionaries around the world to proclaim the gospel in the most open wildernesses in the world. The first Sunday of November when we had Jason and Tracy, who are our Mission Partners from Nepal come over and visit us, they described how the gospel was having an impact in the context of their work. There are hundreds of mission organizations in the world like Operation mobilization, Latin Links, Samaritans Purse, Bible Society etc who are going all over the world with the gospel.
There are still places today, where the gospel hasn’t reached; like the tribes in the Amazon forests, and tribes across the plains of Africa. The core of the Middle East, where there is corruption, and persecution of Christians is an example that the gospel is being spread.
In our own country, there are people in society who haven’t heard the good news of Jesus. At university, I came across a Chinese student and he said to me “I came over here not just to study, but to proclaim the gospel in the UK”. That’s amazing, The UK sent missionaries to China in the 19th Century like C.T Studd, and D.E Hoste, but now in the 21st Century, we are getting Chinese missionaries. That’s amazing!! Being a missionary with the gospel doesn’t mean you can speak 5 languages have a qualification from university, and have millions of pounds. We are all God’s missionaries, and we are all commissioned by him to spread his gospel. The more we are passionate about spreading God’s word to our families, friends, children, neighbours, the more likely that the end of the age will happen. The use of media and technology is becoming widely available today, and you can get Christian radio stations and T.V channels, but in order for Christ to return, his word must reach the whole world.
You might think: Oh that’s too hard and really difficult, why is it so difficult to spread the gospel? It isn’t easy work.
- 1. V8. All these things are the beginning of birth pains.
I have never experienced giving birth, and physically that isn’t possible, but I’m sure that all of you who have children know exactly what I mean. Apparently it is the most physically painful experience a woman can go through in her life. There is screaming, sweating, and pressure all happening at once. You can’t escape birth pains if you want a child. Jesus makes the same point about the end of the age. In order for the end of the age to come, and the gospel to reach the ends of the world we must go through suffering pain, death, agony, suffering, distress, worry! Just Like the worry I had on the main stage, I was worried and stressed about going on the stage.
At the end of all the pain and tiredness of giving birth, you will produce a beautiful baby. The most amazing part of God’s creation, the start of a new life. At the end of all the pain and suffering in the world, something beautiful will happen. Just like me meeting Graham Kendrick. Something even more beautiful than the gift of a child will occur at the end of the age.
2. What are the signs of the end of the age?
Jesus describes to us the signs of the end of the age. There are two signs of the end of the age: False Prophets and natural disasters, and the return of the Son of man.
False Prophets and natural disasters: Has anyone seen the new film 2012? Well for a blockbuster, I think it’s a really good film. It is based on this one man and his family who are trying to escape from the apocalypse. They run from the earth breaking up, earthquakes, floods, wars etc and he is trying to stay alive. There are some points in it where you feel he is going to give in, but at the end of the film, he and his family are saved by these emergency arks to protect them from the flooding. That film strongly pictures what will happen at the end of the age. There will be pain, death, famines, wars V6+7 + V29 etc. V21 For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now, and never equalled again It will be a onetime event. Nothing will compare the scale or impact that these events will unfold.
There are false prophets that are out and about in today’s society and they are either people with mental problems, or they are people trying to make money. This is the first thing that Jesus makes the disciple aware of. V4 Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming “I am the Christ” and deceive many, and v26 so if anyone tells you “There he is, out of the desert, do not go out; or Here he is, in the inner room do not believe it. Be on your guard Jesus says. Don’t be fooled by those who claim to be the Christ. There are many people who have tried to claim to be the Christ.
In my home town there used to be a guy who would walk around, and he use to be called the Cowboy, because that is what he wore, and he use to creep people because he would follow them around the shops, and talk some of the most random things that I have ever heard. When I met one of my friends at school, he told me that he was now claiming to be Jesus. He has now been converted and now is a faithful brother in Christ, but he was a localized version but internationally there have been people who have claimed to be the Messiah.
- John Nichols Thom (1799–1838), Cornish tax rebel who claimed to be the “saviour of the world” and the reincarnation of Jesus Christ and his body temple of the Holy Ghost in 1834. He was killed by British soldiers at the Battle of Bossenden Wood, on May 31, 1838 in Kent, England.
- David Shayler (1965–), former MI5 agent and whistleblower who, in the summer of 2007, proclaimed himself to be the Messiah. He has released a series of videos on YouTube claiming to be Jesus, although has not built up any noticeable following since his claims.
- Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez (1990- ) who, in November of 2011, fired nine shots from a knock-off AK-47 at the White House in Washington D.C., believing himself to be Jesus Christ sent to kill President Obama as Obama is the Anti-Christ.
These people exist. These are people who take it to the extreme. There are also those who are sane, and get certain things wrong and they take things out of scripture, and adapt it in order to fit themselves around the word. These people can be in our congregation today, and across the world. Jesus here is making sure that we are not deceived by people claiming the truth.
So what is the real sign of the coming Messiah? What would be the real sign of Jesus returning? Jesus mentions this in V30-31.
Jesus will return by appearing in the sky. Like the Hymn, Lo! He comes, with clouds descending, once for our salvation slain; thousand thousand saints attending swell the triumph of his train: Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Christ the Lord returns to reign. Then he will descend on a cloud from the sky with power and great glory. Jesus returns for a purpose, V31 He will send angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds. Jesus has come to gather his faithful people and take them with him in glory. The final victory for those who remain faithful will be the greatest reward.
The Son of Man, who is Jesus will be seen everywhere, by everyone, and it will be a wonderful event. V27 for as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man. Lightening is the most fantastic example to show the power of creation. I’m always dazzled by the flash and sheer energy that it contains. We are told that just like lightning the Son of Man would bring his glory and his judgement to the world. He has come for those who have: spent time to know him, receive him in their lives, and now have met him face to face.
So what do we have to do in order for us to meet Christ? V12+13 Because of the increase of wickedness, and love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. We have to remain firm in the faith of Christ. At the moment, some of us are suffering pains that are indescribable, unimaginable; and we could be on the urge of giving in. But we are in the time of the birth pains of life. Those who give in give in to the wickedness of our world, and they will surely die, but those who remain true to their faith will be saved. For in the end, like giving birth, the produce is beautiful, the baby is beautiful, the coming and return of Jesus is a beautiful event. We now come to an end to this series, and I hope that it has inspired you so that:
1. We may be prepared to know who Jesus is. He is the one who came as the suffering servant, to take the pain of sin on his shoulders, on the cross, and the glory of his resurrection shows us that he is brining glory back to God, and re-established our relationship with our heavenly father.
2. We are prepared to receive Jesus. We are called to repent by John the Baptist, to produce fruits in repentance; otherwise, the one who doesn’t repent will be cut away like useless chaff. In order to receive Jesus we must repent and be baptised with the water of repentance and anointed with the baptism of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We are blessed because we remain faithful and obedient to Jesus in our lives.
3. We are prepared for his coming and to meet him. That Jesus will return and collect those who have been faithful for they will have the greatest reward, to be with him in glory. Now we don’t know when the hour of the Lord comes V36 but we are told v42 to keep watch for his return.
Let us celebrate this Christmas, as a time when we remember the innocent child in the manger who we will meet one day and bring us with him in to glory. Isn’t that something worth being prepared for? Let us remain faithful to end. Amen.