Monday, December 24, 2018

The Message of Christmas

"What Child Is This?"  "This, this is Christ the King..."

But He was more than King, Ruler, Messiah....

Matt. 1:22-23  - "Immanuel" - in fullest sense!  His proper name = Jesus, but His title = Immanuel"

Our faith celebrates:  The Divine Incarnation - (in flesh)
                                 The Divine Humiliation  (humbled when became a man)
                                 The Divine Sacrifice

I.  Divine Incarnation - God in flesh, human form
on one hand, this is huge mystery, however is clearly declared - John 1:1, 14  (John 20:28)
Example:  Paul - 1 Tim. 3:16

This idea is often rejected ... Not because it is unscriptural/ unreasonable, impossible, but because it is unfathomable, incomprehensible.

This leads (naturally, inevitably) to:

II.  Divine Humiliation - defined by text - Phil. 2:5-8

ie:  "man"  (baby, adolescent, common) with human needs, frailty, which led to:  accusation, ridicule, rejection, crucifixion.....

Note - how His Humiliation differs!!
(1)  = self Humiliation - no one can humble Absolute God!
(2) = Humiliation without reference to/result of weakness, fault, failure, etc.
(3)  = Self Humiliation .... for a Purpose 

III.  Divine Sacrifice

includes... (A)  physical death  ie:  experienced physical death  (not the cessation of being!
                 (B)  Substitutionary death - 1 Pet. 2:24
                                                            2 Cor. 5:21

The Purpose???  He came to.........
(1)  Redeem - buy us back from sin/ to Himself.
Sin = violation of His law, will, only God could forgive that!
So...... Matt. 1:21
Was a covenant between God and man - (He took our unrighteousness and clothed us in His righteousness) - positional righteousness

(2)  Reconcile - 2 Cor. 5:17-19

(3)  Reveal .. Himself, His Will, His Plan
by ... clarifying previous Revelations
and ... giving additional Revelations
(Contrast: dream, vision, etc. with face to face, same language, etc.

(4)  also... Identify (connect with us) - Heb. 4:14-16 -
example:  mediator, middle man, go-between ....

this = who/what/why we celebrate Christmas!

This = why we sing..... Hymn #88 - "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" - (vs. 2, Vs. 4)
                                   Hymn #96 - "Good Christian Men Rejoice" - Vs. 3
                                   Hymn #76 - "O Come, O Come Emmanuel..."

= why (perhaps) we should sing:  Hymn #147 - "And Can It Be" - vs. 1

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The 4 Advents of Christ

Advent = a coming;  a (notable) arrival

Advent Season = weeks leading up to Christmas
Today = the 4 Advents of Christ.

#1.  His First Coming = the coming of Messiah (Christ), not of God!
Messias (Hebrew) --> Christos (Greek) --> Christ (English) - (The Anointed One) - the One that God would send, would call, would enable to save all mankind, (not to deliver from Rome)

He came - AS predicted (prophesied/foretold)
But NOT as expected!!!
Matt. 1:22-23 - incarnation - He came as a man (God in the flesh)
Matt. 1:21 - save from sin(s) - called Immanuel = God with us in the flesh

#2.  His Second Coming = His Return ... bodily, visibly (we'll be able to see Him),  in glory
(to establish His Kingdom/ to Rule/ to usher in Eternity)

Christians been waiting 2000 years for His 2nd. coming!!!
But --- Jews waited that for the 1st. Coming!!! - But, eventually He came --- in God's timing!!

Meanwhile we live in the " 'tween time"
So, a look at 2 less celebrated Advents....

#3.  His Visitations - John 14:18 (I will be with you)  Matt. 28:20 (I am with you always),  Heb. 13:5  ( will never leave you or forsake you)

From time to time He chooses to visit His people.
These tend to be:  (1)  occasional  (though He is "with your always!")
                            (2)  Personal - (rather than to the whole church)
                            (3)  Under-whelming   (simple/subtle/quite/easy)

Question:  Have you ever sensed His Presence?  His touch?  Activity?  Involvement?

Have you ever longed for the above?  Asked for the above?

This = "Spirit of Advent" - examples:  lyrics to "O Come, O come Immanuel", "Come Thou Long Expected Jesus"

Examples of Visitation Prayers:  Come, Lord, and.........
         #1.  deliver from oppression, from harassment, from bondage, from enslavement
maybe for 'self, maybe for another.
         #2.  (closely related) - heal - physical, emotional, relational!!  Most suicides due to emotional issues.
         #3.  Establish justice - which = "make things right!!"  (like they ought to be)

*we don't always get what we pray for/prefer.
So.... additional prayers........
"Lord, in the absence of delivery, healing, justice...
(1)  Grant Strength  ( to continue, endure) IN SPITE OF.....)  ie:  be faithful
(2)  Grant Comfort - in MIDST of....
(3)  Grant Assurance - in the absence of the sense of Your presence...

Along with that..........
(4)  Grant Wisdom   (that I might know)
(5)  Grant Light   (that I might see)
(6)  Transform  (me/those I love)
(7)  Establish Your Kingdom as far as is possible in a  (a) fallen world  (b) with free will 
(8)  Judge which = "respond to evil/Right wrongs!"
(9)  Make Yourself Known

NOTE:  Not necessary to experience His Presence to be Aware of His Visitation!!

Sometimes  (a) you Know He's at work .... regardless of sensation
                   (b)  You see it in retrospect!!
                   (c)  You may not see it at all!!!  BUT ... you know it's so!!!

4th. Advent???

(4)  HIS ENTRY - ie:  to your heart's throne!!

Illustration:  Rev. 3:20 - this = a coming to His Own!   ie:  your HEART .... but HIS THRONE!!  - He created it!  He designed it!  He died for it!

This may precede visitations.....
this may be result of visitations...

No matter... because question is:  (1)  will you hear the call?
                                                   (2)  will you open the door?   (invite Him in?)
                                                   (3)  will you relinquish the throne

As we approach Christmas, consider the 4 Advents....
Pre-Christian?  especially note #4 --- His Entry!!!!

Monday, December 3, 2018

The Second Coming

Christmas season = 1st. coming  (incarnation)
The text, 1 Thess. 5:1-11 = 2nd. coming  (advent)

2nd. coming = Common theme!!

Statistics concerning the 2nd. Coming  (MacArthur - The 2nd. Coming)
#1.  Prophecy = 1/5 of scripture  2nd. coming = 1/3 of that 1/5th.
Therefore, 30% of Bible prophecy is concerned with the 2nd. coming.

#2.  Over 300 Old Testament prophecies concerning Christ;  200 yet to be fulfilled  (at His return)

#3.  36 (of the 46) Olt Testament prophets speak of events connected with His 2nd. coming

#4.  Over 1500 Old Testament passages refer to the 2nd. coming
Over 300 New Testament passages refer to the 2nd. coming.  (1 out of 25!)

#5.  2nd. Coming = one of the most prominent subjects in the New Testament (next to "Faith")

#6.  For every time the 1st. Coming is mentioned in Scripture, the 2nd. Coming is mentioned 8 times.
For each time atonement (death on the cross) is mentioned, the 2nd. Coming is mentioned 2 times!!

#7.  Jesus HIMSELF refers to His return 21 times

#8.  Men are exhorted to be read for His return over 50 times!

HISTORICAL views/predictions/expectations.

Originally ..... disciples expected a quick return!!  (Therefore, gospels not written until later!)

Later .. "perhaps the resurrection = beginning of the Millennial reign!  (Rev, 21)  Millennium - Rev. 20:1-3
Therefore, He would return 1000 years later.  Example:  Post-Millennial view.

Then ... some said "2nd. coming will begin with the Millennial reign!  Example:  Pre-Millennial view

In early 200s, Hippolytus (based on Daniel's 70 weeks) AND 6,000 years with millennium beginning then (Sabbath Millennium), said "millennium should begin 496"

Origen (185-254) said millennium = "allegory & symbolism")
Therefore, not necessarily literal chronology --- Example:  A millennial view
(also, Augustine, mid 300s, "millennium begins with the resurrection".

303-311 - "the Great Persecution" by Emperor Diocletian = was this "the Great Tribulation"

312 - Constantine became Emperor, then in 313 the Edict of Milan legalized Christianity.
324 -Constantine chose Christianity to be the official religion in the Roman Empire. .
New hope for the Post-Millennial view!!!  - 13 years from persecution to preference!!

410 - Rome (now a Christian City) sacked by the Goths.  Many thought THIS was the "beginning of the tribulation"

Year 1000 was choice for His return - a millennium landmark, as was 1033 - ie:  1,000 years since the Resurrection!!  Post Millennial fulfillment.

1347 - 1350 (up to) 40% of Europe died in the bubonic plague.  Tribulation period????

Christopher Columbus - on one hand, was in search for shorter route to the east Indies,
But also = serious student of Bible prophecy, and considered 'self a Christ bearer (missionary) to foreign lands.

His calculations = world would end year 7000.
                            world was 5,343 years 318 days old at Christ's birth
                             add another 1,501 years had passed
             leaving  only 155 years 'til Christ's return.  Therefore, felt urgency to carry the gospel to all the world!!

1828 Wm. Miller (Vt.) (based on Daniel's 70 weeks) said "Lord's return sometime in 1843 - example:  Millerites
then  "return October 22, 1844"  - "the Great Disappointment"

later followers said "right date, wrong place" ... Christ had purged the sanctuary ... but in Heaven!! and wouldn't appear on earth because church was not observing the Sabbath!!  => 7th. Day Adventists

Also, Jehovah's Witness' claim Christ returned invisibly and began to rule in heaven as King in October 1914.
(since then we've been in "last days") (days of woe)

Early America -- mostly Post Millennial - things going to get better and better and then the Lord returns
New World - fresh start - religious freedom
Coupled with "industrial revolution", etc.

After Civil War, a new(er) form of Pre ... 'Dispensational  Pre-millennial'.  (Plymouth brethren, John Darby, C I Scofield, Clarence Larkin) - this is the most familiar view today.

Post Millennial + (1) Great War  (ending 1918)  and (2)  2n.d WW (just 20 years later!!)

Then post war establishment of "Israel" - 1948  (United Nations Resolution 181)
(with Matt. 24:34 "this generation will not pass til all fulfilled")

So....... Hal Lindsey  "Late Great Planet Earth" in early 60s - "could take place in 40 years"  (therefore:  1988 ... so sold more than 35 million copies in 50 languages.

Edgar Whisenhunt (NASA Engineer)  - "88 Reasons Why the Lord Will Return in 1988" - Sept. 11-13, 1988
Later:  1989, 1993, 1994"

1995 began "Left Behind" series  (Tim Lahaye, Jerry Jenkins)

Then Y2K!!!  (mostly computer BUT Christians got on board!!)

Harold Camping (Family Radio) - May 21, 2011

Mayan Calendar - Dec. 21, 2012 = end of world!!

On one hand - ALL serious theologians AGREE!!!  HE'LL RETURN!!

However ... when?  how?  what scenario?  time frame?  historical setting?  unfolding of events???

(some of) Jesus' words:  Matt. 24:27, 30-31, 36-39, 42-44
Acts 1:6-7

So.... brief overview/outline of His 2nd. Coming:

How He'll Return....
        Bodily - Acts 1:9-11  "in same way...."
        Visibly - Matt. 24:27 - "as lightning"
        Suddenly (unexpectedly) - "like a THIEF"  (when people are at ease!!)

2 Pet. 3  - "scoffers will come" - Peter
But "Lord is no slow... = Patient!!  Not wanting any to perish!
        In glory  (appearance)
        In charge (authority) - Rev. 19:11-16  'every knee will bow, every tongue will confess'

What He'll Do....
         He comes:  TO REDEEM - to consummate/complete
                           to fulfill the contract/to finalize the deal the he died for
Payment is made/Property not yet occupied

                          To Judge  lost and saved = living and dead
             "separate" sheep and goats     wheat & tares  grain & chaff

                          To Rule  King/Lord/iron scepter!

He will       Establish the Kingdom  - "thy kingdom come thy will be done ... where?
He will       Usher in Eternity  - Rev. 20 & 21

Practical Application.... from words of Christ and the Apostles...

(1)  be informed - "don't be deceived!"

(2)  be prepared - example:  thief
On one hand, can't be vigilant every minute!
However, can be prepared for inevitable!  - example:  safe room in case of a tornado

How to prepare?  Accept Christ today,  Follow Christ hereafter
Question???  Isn't that just "fire insurance"??
ANSWER"  He Knows the heart - "not everyone who says unto me 'Lord, Lord'....

(3)  be encouraged - Matt. 16:18  "upon this Rock"  will build my church AND ____________??
Rev. 21:5

(4)  be faithful - Matt. 25:21  (talents)

Question?  What's the likelihood I'll bet to see 2nd Coming??
Answer:  You'll see it all right!!
         Christian:  if alive you get to see Him come!!
                         if dead?  ... you get to come with Him!!

Not yet a Christian?  Get informed/ get ready/ follow Him!!!

Closing Scripture:   Num. 6:24-26