"When Will Jesus Come Again?"
It has been 2000 years since Jesus ascended back into heaven. How long before He returns? What will that day be like? Should I understand some sign before he arrives?
When Will Jesus Come Again?
(2 Pet. 3:1-10)
A. I have never been a big fan of debates. I watch some of the political debates but I have never been a fan of the religious debates. Not be a comfortable with intense confrontation, that style is one that turns me off more than draws me in. But I admit there are times when that style of one side versus another is needed. It is need for people to come to a conclusion about who to believe. So both sides lay out their arguments and the jury or the people then are called upon to live according to their decision. This is what takes place in our reading today.
B. Peter is calling for a spiritual debate and is willing to write down the arguments that are used by the other side and then refute them with his own arguments. But the end result is that you and I are called upon to make a decision and live according to that decision.
C. There are a few religious topics that are as emotionally charged as a study of the Last Days. We hear people all the time talking about end time, Jesus is coming soon, topics like the numbers found in book of Daniel that add up to tell us the last day or unveiling of the book of Revelation so that we know when the dragon and beast will bring about a millinieal kingdom. Book like the Left Behind series were a huge hit, especially among people who profess Christianity. We talk about wars, rumors of wars and devastating earthquakes and start to take Matt. 24 as our proof text that all that is going on now is a sign that Jesus return will come at any minute. I understand the calling of second coming of Jesus. We talk about the Perusia, or escatology, and other.
I. Time and Comfort Are Negative Tools
A. Okay, let’s just say that you were at my house and I got up, went to the door and said, “I’ll be back soon.” How long would you wait for me? An hour? What if I didn’t come back and a week had gone by, would you worry? What if you didn’t hear from me for a year? The book of Acts begins with these words (Acts. 1:7-11). Wow. How many of those 11 do you think believed Jesus would come back in their lifetime?
B. Some early Christians believed that if they lived long enough they would see the coming of Jesus. Paul, John, and Peter all wrote and talked like the end was coming soon, but soon is a very relative word. The night of his betrayal Jesus would tell the twelve that he was going to prepare a place in his father’s house for them and would come back to take them with him one day. But how long?
C. I don’t live each day with a thought this could be the day Jesus comes again. I don’t live with the expectation of his second coming. Life is busy. I think about tomorrow or the growing up of the kids and life after that. I live in a mind-numbing age from morning to night that thinking about Jesus coming and living like he will is not where I have been, but brethren, that scares me
D. Why would I expect Jesus to come back now? The fact of the matter is Jesus did not come back when it seemed like the Jewish world was coming to an end in AD 70 as the city of Jerusalem was destroyed, the temple broken and the end of Jewish spiritual life as they knew it. Jesus did not come back at the end of the first century with reign of Domitian and his cruel killing of Christians.
E. The fact of the matter is too many of live like we don’t believe he is coming again. We kind of like this life. I have never known hunger, homelessness, serious illness for financial destitution. I don’t have the suffering that many in the first century who claimed Christ had. But maybe that is just as much my problem as my blessing. Do I really want him to return? Do I long for it? But for Christians suffering, or persecuted, or homeless; oh I am sure many of them want to be home with Jesus.
F. The biggest reason most people don’t really live like Jesus might come today is it has been 2000 years. The appearance is that many who profess Jesus can come today don’t live like he will come today. We have allowed Satan to use time to keep us from a sense of urgency and comfort to keep from a sense of desire.
II. History Lesson
A. Look again at 2 Pet. 3:3-7. There will always be people who allow time to be used as sort of “proof” that Jesus lied. Peter sets up his debate by giving the other side the first argument. The question from them was “If there was to be a coming then it should have happened already.” They then begin to use time as proof.
B. The first proof. Ever since our fathers died everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation. What “fathers” are they talking about? My understanding, because of their argument, is that the first generation of Christians. Since Jesus ascended into heaven there has been at least one generation of Christians who have accepted him as Lord and also died in the flesh. You want more proof; people have lived and died since creation. The very regularity of the world argues against Jesus coming back. Nothing changes
C. Peter’s rebuttal. Let me tell you the creation story. Long ago God created the earth by dividing the waters and bring forth the land. By God’s word that created the earth from the water, God used water to destroy the earth. It will be God’s again who destroys but this time, not with water but with fire.
A. Here is the part that just pulls me in. Peter, in both logic and love calls upon his readers to not forget that time for God is not the same as time for man. You cannot make God into a timeline. He is eternal. A day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day. Time is not an argument when it comes to God.
B. Here’s the point. You want to have one great reason why God has given us 2000 years so far? Because he wants you to be his child. Because God wants me to repent and not perish. Because just like in the days of Jonah the cry of God can still be headed and his compassion can still be received. The only problem is I can’t guarantee you tomorrow. The return of Jesus will like a thief in the night, all heaven will break loose, a roar of fire and the earth will be destroyed. But not you. You don’t have to be destroyed. You can repent. It is God’s love for you that has allowed time to pass. Will you respond? Will you believe with all your heart that the one who created this earth will also destroy it, but before that happens desires to save you from yourself? You have heard the word of the Lord today, but the calling is believe enough to repent. In that repentance, confess Jesus as Lord and be born again in the waters of baptism. It is His call for you today. If you have wandered from the way of righteousness, then repent before it is too late. The path to God begins with only a step, you will be come to Him as we stand and sing.