Are you a sheep or a goat? PII

The Coming Of The Son Of ManMatthew 25: 31- 46 

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Matthew 25: 41

When the Son of Man comes!

Many people go to church and claim to be Christians. But, when it comes down to it, many are not living in the Spirit. Their faith is based on their identity-that they go to church-not that Christ has a hold on their lives (Rom. 8:9).

These are the goats who hang with the sheep, but they are pretenders and fakers who trust in themselves and not in the Lord. They are the ones who cause the most trouble for the good leaders with gossip and divisions, they will exhibit little to no fruit.

How do you know you are a goat? If all you see in life is yourself, your works, or your heritage, you may have a big, eternal problem leering at you! We must be aware that the goats will be taken; make sure you are not a goat, but rather a sheep, one who loves the Lord with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and whose identity is in Christ (Mark 12:29-31; John 10:14; 27-30).

At His second coming, Jesus will be looking for those who are prepared and faithful.

When the Son of Man comes. This refers to Christ’s reign on earth, predicted by Daniel (Dan. 7:13-14). This is a depiction of our Lord’s absolute authority over the apocalypse, judging all who have ever lived, and of both His omnipresence and omniscience.

Right hand, left. In ancient customs, the right side was the place of authority and power, whereas the left was for guests or those in trouble. Inherit the Kingdom refers to those who have been predestined (Romans 8).

We are being prepared for His Kingdom and glory!

Say to those on the left. This is about judgment. Jewish literature teaches that those nations who wronged Israel will be judged. Jesus takes the focus to how we were obedient with His call to the poor and oppressed (Matt. 12:50; 28:10). As we go out to proclaim the Word, how we are treated will bring judgment on those who have done ill to His servants (Matt. 5:19; 11:11; 18:4; 20:26; 23:11).

Here is something you do not want to hear…. Depart from me. The sentence is eternal! Before the Judgment can take place, the news of the Kingdom needs to be told (Matt. 24:14; 28:18-20).  Destruction and judgment, not God’s original plan for His people (Exodus 33:19; 34:6; Psalm 67:1; 1 Tim. 2:4; James 5:11;1 Pet. 2:3; 1 John 4:8-10). But, when sin entered in, the utopia ended and now evil must be put off (2 Peter 2:4-12).

Hell is a real place, not an idea to keep people in line!

Everlasting fire/ punishment refer to Hell, as in eternal punishment. The punishment of Hell is endless; so it is with the eternal blessed life of the Christian who is saved by grace. This is why evangelism and witnessing are so important (1 Cor. 15:1-4).

We need to proclaim Christ as Savior to help save people from this eternal damnation (Matt. 18:8; John 5:24)!

Reflection:

Even in the mist of fear and woe, make no mistake. Christ’s return will be glorious, and present us, the faithful, with commendation, victory, and security. We will receive our rewards and our proper place! We will see that all we went through in life had a purpose and a reason, and we will see the people who benefited, the souls that were saved, and the work that gave Him glory.

We will see clearly what our life was about and what it meant to Christ and to others.

We will say, yes, it was worth it! I am glad I remained faithful! Faithfulness, even when it is hard, is well worth it, as nothing else we do is greater that what we do for our Lord. Our works do not earn our salvation. His grace paid for that; but, why be one who is foolish when we can be the victorious, faithful sheep!

Christ will Certainty Return PIV

second coming eBe curious and hopeful! 2 Peter 3:10-13 

“But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” 2 Peter 3: 13

Can you think of a specific area in your life that could use more hope? What does it mean for you to be confident and exuberant? What can you do to be more confident and exuberant?

Coming refers to when Christ will come back and gives us blessings as Christians who are faithful in Him. This is an aspect of great hope, that our righteousness do matter and it will come into fruition when He comes (Isa. 9:7; 32:16-17; 62:1-2; Jer. 32:40).

New heaven and a new earth could refer to an entire, new, created order after God destroys this one, but other passages indicate this means God reboots this one, cleanses it, and restores it as in a transfiguration process. Whatever means is used is because of His redemption that allows us to have a home of Righteousness. His righteousness will exemplify the world, not sin (Isa. 11:4-5; 45:8; 65:17-25; 66:22; Dan. 9:24; Rom. 8:21-23; 1 Cor. 15:35-57; Rev. 21:1).

Peter makes the point that since everything will be destroyed and judged, we should focus ourselves on Christ. He is our Hope and reason for life and living. He will return. There is no “if;” only “when.” It is not theory, but fact, and it points us to a faith that is sensible and useful. Our lives need to be in pursuit of Him and His Truth and principles so we are not spending our energies in sensationalism and endless debates, but rather in knowing Him and making Him known.

God calls us to be curious and hopeful with what is to come. This is to give us strength for endurance and anticipation of His work to come.

But, we are not to be obsessed and impatient or slip off the path He has for us. Our focus is to be in and on Him, not on our agendas. We are to make sure we do not fall prey to sensationalism or are not carried away by those who are deceptive, manipulative, or condescending or who play to our fears, hopes, and desires. Nor, are we to fall prey to our own faulty thinking, negating the real, revealed truths. Our footing is in Christ. Let us not lose it and fall off a cliff!

Our security, salvation, and lives are in Him and in Him only, all for His glory.

His promise to return is the climax of our life and the beginning of life everlasting. It is our hope in the midst of our trials and sufferings as well as in the daily grind of life. He wants us to live in the contentment of His love, not in the circumstances of ours or other’s notions or trepidations.

Do you understand who you are in Christ? Do you look for signs, or do you take His precepts as your sign and roadmap for life?

The Pharisees in Jesus’ day were experts in inferring what was going on in the world with people, perceived motivations, knowing ‘their’ rules, and even the weather, but they did not know their Scriptures. They knew them as had them memorized, but not understood or applied. They knew the mechanics, but not the heart and intent. They only knew what their interpretations were, what others had said, and the passion to follow the concepts they cherished. But, they did not know the facts of what God had plainly told them in His Word. Just as many Christians today.

The best view to have in eschatology is the buildup of our faith and the deployment of our spiritual formation in the lives of others.

We pave the way for His Second Coming by our faith development and deployment, not by our feeble theories and the chasing of signs! From this passage in 2 Peter, what do you understand God’s call to be for you? What can your church do to discipline and/or warn people who make apocalyptic predictions or have bad motivations for their teaching?

Christ will Certainty Return PIII

God controlConfident! 2 Peter 3:10-13

“… As you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.” 2 Peter 3:12

What do you think discourages hopeful Christians? What can be done to inspire someone who is discouraged to remain faithful and vigilant?

God’s call for us is to be confident and exuberant that He is in control and things will work out. He does not want us, forsaking our duty as Christians in the world here and now by using our energies in nonsocial and nonsensical ways, trying to predict the future and arguing our views of it. If you really think this through, it is like focusing on your favorite junk food and arguing why it is good while forsaking healthy food that is good for you and helps you to grow and thrive.

Since everything refers to what should I do now? This is also a call, a call to keep you from being spiritually or emotionally defeated when tough times come. We are always seeing our Lord, not our situation. This is an aspect of the character of faithfulness, as it will help you persevere under stress and chaos. Christ is the One who keeps us secure, not our environment (John 10:28-29; Rom. 8:31-39)!

What kind of People you ought to be means to watch our motives and behaviors, making sure they are lined up with Christ and not with what is false and pretentious. We are to conduct ourselves with good ethics, honor, and godliness. What we do as a Christian is in response to what Christ has done in us. Works are not for our salvation; they result from our gratitude for the salvation that was freely given to us.

Thus, what we should be thinking, as committed Christians, is how do we now live for Christ and His glory, not how do we live for our desires and needs.

He has given us everything in abundance and in love. This is not a time to be impatient; it is a time to grow and do more in Him and for Him (Heb. 13:9).

You ought… live holy and godly/lives of holiness refers to not letting suffering overtake us or move us from His Way. Suffering is a part of life; it will happen. We have to learn to cope, seek Him, and prepare so we can help others and ourselves through it (see articles on “Suffering” http://www.intothyword.org/pages.asp?pageid=53502). We are called to not be discouraged when bad things, troubles, disasters, and tribulations happen in the world (2 Chron. 15:6; Isa. 13:8; 19:2; Jer. 51:46; Hosea 13:13).

We live in a fallen world where sin has corrupted everything and everyone, so disasters will come. We are called to prepare, plan ahead, and look to Christ as the Deliverer. He is in control!

The day of God. This is slightly different than the “Day of the Lord” and refers to “The Coming One,” as no one else but God Himself. Both terms are interchangeable, meaning great signs will take place, and He is seeking us for our salvation as well as for our spiritual growth. (Rev. 16:14)!

What does this come down to? Do not to make up dates, or dramatize bad theology; rather, know He is on His Way in His timing and be excited, but not fixated.

We are to have a “hasten desire” for Him to come back now. But, we cannot change God’s mind or speed things up. His timing is deemed and decreed by God’s providence and by God alone (Eph. 1:11).

Peter is warning us not to diverge into sensationalism, emotionalism, or fatalism, but see it from God’s view and trust in His timing. Contemporary Jewish thought at this time was divided on whether we participate in God’s intervention. Some rabbis taught that we do hasten it by our repentance, piety, and good deeds, while others said it was fixed and we have no sway over God. The debate continues today amongst Christians. Many Christians feel we hasten God’s timing by our missions and evangelism to all people groups (Matt. 24:14).

The fact is, we have no knowledge of the factors God considers or how His providence, mercy, and patience are working out for our benefit, too.

We do contribute; our actions matter. We evangelize as best and as aggressively in love as we can, because that is what we are called to do. We hasten this day by our fervor, our humble and honest prayers, and our obedience to know Him and make Him known to others. These are the only contributions we make to His timing (Matt. 6:10; Mark 13:10; Luke 11:2; Acts 3:19-20; Rev. 8:3-5; 22:20).

Christ will Certainty Return PII

Like a thief in the night

Like a thief in the night, 2 Peter 3:10-13

“Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives.” 2 Peter 3: 11

Why do you suppose that Jesus did not give us the details of His second coming? What would have happened if He had?

Like a thief in the night, a quote from Jesus Himself, is a vivid image of anticipated End Times, and literally means to “break in,” as to dig into the clay and brick sides to get inside the home. Here, it is a metaphor, and does not refer to a literal thief who would rob us, but that Christ’s coming will not be predicted or expected. It will be a surprise and a shock. This could only happen if the people were not there, as in not ready (Ex. 22:2-3; Matt. 24:43; Luke 12:39-40).

Do not be ignorant of His promise! 

We talked a bit on this one, “Day of the Lord.” It means the Lord’s final Day of Judgment where He settles all accounts and injustices. It is a synonym for the Second Coming and refers to the anticipated eschatological climax of events. Victory over darkness and sin will be achieved after God intervenes in the world with judgment and destruction of His enemies, and rewards and blessings to those who are in Him. Although this Day started with the resurrection of Christ and His victory over sin and the coming of the Spirit, it comes to its consummation and fullness after Christ’s Second Coming and Judgment (Isa. 2:11-20; 13:9-13; Joel 1:15; 3:14-21; Amos 5:18-20; 1 Thess. 2:1-3; 5:2).

The Heavens…disappear… with a roar…elements, refers to God’s judgment, that He will remove all evil and iniquity, and all of humanity’s works will be held in account.

This is an Old Testament image of purification and renewal. This refers to the building blocks of the universe. It is interesting that the Greeks theorized about molecules centuries before science discovered them. The basic elements in ancient times, usually refer to earth, air, fire, and/or water. This term also refers to all that is in the universe, such as celestial beings, planets, and stars. Here, it is most likely referring to the heavenly bodies. Peter’s point is that everything will be destroyed (some believe transformed or rebooted (Isa. 34:4; 64:1-4; Matt. 24:29-31).

Everything will be…. Laid bare/ burned up/exposed, this means to be found out or found, and points us to the judgment that is coming.

The earth will undergo a climatic destruction or reformation. This could also mean that the earth will be destroyed and made new. Also, it could mean being aware of our own motives, why we do what we do (1 Cor. 3:13-15).

Is it to please our curiosity or manipulate others to see our way of thinking, regardless of revealed biblical truth?

The main point of this passage is to tell us not to be discouraged, but to remain faithful and vigilant. We are to live our lives preparing and planning as if Christ would be coming tomorrow or if He were coming a thousand years from now. We are not to be preoccupied with the details and trivialities. That is why Jesus did not give them to us. Rather, our faith development and steadfastness are far more impacting and more real on others around us (Matt. 24)!

The earth and all we know and see will either be destroyed or re-formed into a new earth and a new life. How does this make you feel? How does this give you hope?

Christ will Certainty Return PI

Christ will ReturnUnexpectedly! 2 Peter 3:10-13 

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.” 2 Peter 3: 10

What preparation and participation do you think we are to do? What happens when people do nothing with their faith and just wait for a future that may not come?

Peter, in graphic imagery and hopefulness, is making a strong argument that Christ will return and when He does, it will be un-expected with un-surpassing wonders the world has never seen.

During this time, these early Christians were being discouraged by the persecutions and seemingly insurmountable sufferings and loss. The comfort of Jesus’ returning was like cool water to a person dying of thirst on a hot day. Consequently, false teachers were taking advantage of them. These so-called pious fraud Christians, who were making their own apocalyptic predictions, with bad motivations. They operated just like Satan, seeking to disrupt, seduce, and carry people away from Christ and to their way. If you are not sure who they are, watch their character and Fruit, which will show their true nature (Jer. 23:13; Micah 3:5; Matt. 7:15; Acts 20:28-30; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; Eph. 4:14; Phil. 3:2; 2 Tim. 3:4-6; Titus 1:11, 12; 2 Peter 2:18-19).

What is this all about? This is the climax of the Kingdom of God, the time when it comes into its fulfillment and fruition. The earth and all we know and see will be re-formed as a new earth and a new life. There will be a judgment from which nothing will be exempt.

What does this mean for me? Because all will be judged and “destroyed” (meaning renewed), we must make the most of our lives here and now, not wait for a future that may not come, or bask in the past. We must live for Christ with the hope and purpose He gives us with power, passion, and conviction.

The promise of His Second Coming is to give us hope and confidence. 

We live in a sin-infested world now, but the one to come will be perfect, as all in it will be right with God. We look forward to His Second Coming and the fruition of his Kingdom. But, beware of sitting and doing nothing; we will delay His work and impede the preparation of His Kingdom. Our participation helps His coming, as we help build His Kingdom now.

This passage is also very figurative. The purpose of figurative or apocalyptic language is to describe the indescribable. 

Peter attempts to help us understand these events and the importance of our being ready (Matt. 24: 36 through chapter 25 is also written this way for this reason). This is about being hopeful for the future, but living and being viable in the present.

We can take comfort in the fact that Jesus is coming back. 

This time it will not be a subtle event, as a baby born in a feed trough in a cave. Rather, the entire creation will glow and bend to show the whole world His glory. This passage gives hope to a persecuted church, hope to people in despair, and hope that He is indeed in charge, even when we cannot see it!

What does it mean that we are to live our lives as if Christ would be coming tomorrow and also preparing and planning as if He were coming a thousand years from now? Is this a contradiction, or a plan to do?

How can the Second Coming give you hope and confidence? How does this passage give hope to a persecuted church?

Scoffers on the Second Coming PIII

Read, 2 Peter 3: 1-9

Have you ever thought that God seems slow? What needs to take place so we can understand that we can have patience and trust in Him and His timing? 

Because it has been nearly two thousand years since Christ’s ascension and proclamation to return, many people have given up and even stated, perhaps Jesus is not coming back. But is this valid? No. If we take God’s Word as true, then we know He is coming back. If we really read the Scriptures and see that God lives outside of space and time and is not governed by our physical or temporal laws of physics or humanity, then we can easily see two thousand years is nothing for God. Besides, this is an aspect of grace to give humanity time to consider the implication of God’s sovereignty and our convection to receive Him as Lord.

For God, time is totally relative and in the scope of eternity. This does not necessarily refer to a literal timeline. Rather, that God’s view and perspective of things is not our view and the converse thereof. This long wait is an aspect of His sovereignty (Psalm 90:4).

We have no knowledge of God’s timing! Thus we are not to forget or refuse to heed to God’s Lordship when we feel impatient.

Patient means that our God is a long-suffering God. When God delays His judgment, this means He is demonstrating His love, grace, and forbearance for the consummation of His purpose. We are to take comfort in that He is a God of grace and mercy and is patient with us when we do not deserve it. He seeks our repentance and trust. Therefore, we have no need to be impatient or confused or allow the mocking or misleading of others to distract us from His purpose and plan (John 6:39).

It seems that God is slow to us, but He is in absolute control and we can have patience and trust in Him and His timing. We are impatient with our thinking and expectations, whereas God is patient, allowing His grace and plan to work out. There is no need to make up dates or predict His Second Coming. We are called to be obedient and wait actively in His Word and truth.

Peter is restating his purpose of being an encourager and, at the same time, is shepherding them. A shepherd protects his sheep. If the sheep run astray, he will do what it takes to keep them safe and put, even if he has to break their legs so they will not be eaten.

A pastor needs to root out false teachers and discipline those who cause others to stumble. If not, others will fall prey to things that are misleading, counterfeit, and dangerous.

We can’t just look the other way, hoping all will work out. We have to be proactive and engage the enemy, even the ones in our own flock. Of course, we do this in love-but not just with feelings of love because we will not feel like loving them and, unless one has a disparaging personality, dispensing discipline will not be a joy.

However, we are called to act and to do so within the Fruit of the Spirit and love, carrying a staff to remove the wolves that desire to carry off our flock.

Scoffers on the Second Coming PII

Read, 2 Peter 3: 1-9

“Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3-4

 

What are some of the fears and unbeliefs that you have you heard people say about the Second Coming? How does scoffing put the item being scoffed at down, while lifting up the scoffer?

Peter lays it out, just read the Passage, all of 2nd Peter. He then cements his reprimand by showing his people the ultimate hope we have in Christ, that our life is all about Him-what He has done, and what He is yet to do. And, the big yet to do is His Second Coming.

Yet, in the mist of our great hope there will be great detractors who seek to derail us off His tracks by seeding our fears and unbelief. If a false teacher can’t get you to see a variant view of a skewed truth, others will turn and ridicule real truth. Thus, they will get you to laugh at the truth to demean it so you will not take it seriously. Scoffing puts the item being scoffed at down while it lifts up the scoffer. Pride is at the base of this, which is always the way Satan works.

They will say, “Do you really believe that?” “How can you take that seriously?” We are to see where their arguments come from, mainly faulty thinking and conniving agendas and conceit, causing us to forget God’s promises and even His past provisions.

Take a closer read at these verses. What is our hope and comfort? God is sovereign and in control! God’s mighty hand was in the environment and in humanity before the beginning of time, and continues today and on to eternity. He will judge the quick (alive) and the dead (Acts 10:42; 1 Peter 4:5; The Apostolic Creed).

God’s word refers to God’s ability and authority to command, create, and be Lord. By God’s word, the universe was created out of nothing. We were created and saved. In context, this also shows us that at the time of creation through today, all of history, that God is a God of involvement and action. He is not passive as the deists teach; there is no reason or need to doubt God! (Gen. 1:1-30; Psalm 33:6-9; Heb. 11:3).

We can rebuff scoffer with the Fruit of the Spirit and a gentle answer, then we can take comfort when they attack that God intervenes in history and in our lives. He will judge, as He demonstrated with the Flood (Gen 6-8).

We rest in “God’s divine Word” as in His utterance that creates and commands, that God is “all powerful.” He will repeat the judgments and we have the importance of God as the One who is in control and who will judge the wicked.

He made the universe; He made you for a plan and a purpose. You are no mistake; therefore, you are wanted and have a destiny. Thus, we are called to realize that and not let false teachers, scoffers, and/or connivers distract us from seeing Christ and applying His Lordship to our lives.