HOLD FAST TO JESUS CHRIST, FOR WE ARE IN THE BIRTH PANGS OF THE NEW AGE
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
13 NOVEMBER 1994
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
When we talk of the New Age, we are not talking about what the world calls "New Age"; we are talking about the age to come, when Christ returns.
We always hear of people who think they have the insight to know the time of Christ's return, but they are wrong and do not remember the very Scriptures they profess to know, for as we are told in Matthew 24:36:
36. "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.
But as we heard in our Scripture lesson for this morning, Mark 13:1-8, there are plenty of signs of the end times for us to observe, that we would always be ready.
1. And as He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, "Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!"
The disciples were still seeing the Temple as the saving focus of Israel: the center of their worship of God and the place from which all their answers would come.
But Jesus, in His love, still tries to help them see beyond the physical things into the spiritual realm from which He came and to which He would soon return.
2. And Jesus said to him, "Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another which will not be torn down."
In other words, if you put your faith in the Temple, or the Church, you will lose your faith; but if you put your faith in the God of the Temple and the Church, your faith will mature.
3. And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him privately,
4. "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?"
5. And Jesus began to say to them, "See to it that no one misleads you.
6. "Many will come in My name, saying, 'I am He!' and will mislead many.
We have seen and heard many of these people, these so-called prophets, and have found their pronouncements to be false.
We are not to look to other people for the answer; we are to look to God.
And the first sign of a false prophet is when they try to lead you to themselves, and their ways, and not point you towards God, and His loving, compassionate, and peaceful intent for your life.
Jesus continues to answer their question.
7. "And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end.
One of the signs will be from people professing to be born again believers, but from whom we are encouraged to go to war, and to participate in various acts of killing.
Remember that when you hear these things that they are not from God.
8. "For nation will arise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.
From this description, we can easily recognize that we have been living in these beginning birth pangs.
The unanswered question that many people continually seek to have answered is: “How long is the period of labor before the new age is born and Jesus Christ returns?”
And the answer that so many fail to understand is that when you see these signs, hold fast to your faith, for the end is near, not necessarily in human terms of time, but in heavenly terms.
The hardness of heart that leads to wars and killings and all sorts of cruelty is also a sign of the end, for it shows us that those who have a heart to be saved are fewer and fewer; thus, the holding pattern we are in, to allow every person to be saved who is going to be saved, is nearing the end.
And since God is the One who knows the intent of the heart, He is the one who will pronounce the end of this age.
Those who have faith trust in God to fulfill this promise as He has every other promise in the past.
The writer to the Hebrews, whether Paul or someone else, wrote of this waiting period and of our need to hold fast to our faith.
Let's look at Hebrews 10:11-31 and compare it to what we have been talking about:
11. And every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;
12. but He [Jesus], having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God,
13. waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet.
The priests of Israel who made animal sacrifices could not take away the sin of the people, but could only protect them from the wrath of God, if they were willing, through repentance.
But everyone, in their heart and soul, does not recognize the One who can take away our sins.
These people still seek their worldly ways.
Thus Jesus is waiting for that proper time when all such enemies of God are made, as it were, a footstool for His feet.
This is the time we are in now.
And since we are at least 1,900 years nearer to the ushering in of the new age, it must be closer at hand, that is, in spiritual terms.
Why is this?
14. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
Those who are sanctified are those who are true believers.
How do true believers know that this promise is true?
We are told the answer next:
15. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
16. "This is the covenant that I will make with them
After those days, says the Lord:
I will put My laws upon their heart,
And upon their mind I will write them,"
He then says,
17. "And their sins and their lawless deeds
I will remember no more."
18. Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.
Is the way God wants us to live in our heart?
Is our heart’s desire to cease our lawless deeds and our warring madness, and truly serve God?
If this is the desire of our heart, then we are also sanctified, for our past sins are also forgotten.
Likewise, so are our future mistakes (note that I said “mistakes”) for, as we will see later, sinning willfully will bring condemnation.
But, assuming that we are all sanctified believers, we should also have the following assurance in our heart and soul:
19. Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,
20. by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh,
21. and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
22. let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
23. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;
24. and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,
25. not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.
Isn’t this the reason we are here this morning?
Doesn't it fill you with hope and assurance?
Doesn't it help you to see beyond all our earthly problems into the glory of the heaven to come and to even get that taste of heaven in the here and now?
Therefore, if we know this, then why are there so many empty seats in this church and in many others?
Perhaps this, too, is a sign of the end and of the nearing of the new age to come.
It's unfortunate, but I believe the following passage describes what we are seeing:
26. For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,
27. but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.
28. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.
29. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?
30. For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge His people."
31. It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
I truly believe that the many who have come and gone have seen a glimpse of hell in the same way we have seen into heaven.
But since their heart is not changed, they leave the place of reminder, entering a hell on earth, and lie to themselves: that there is no hell and that their lifestyle is exactly what they and God want.
Mourn for what we see, but rejoice that you no longer have to be a part of it.
Love everyone and make them feel welcome, for who knows, those who come may be the very people God is waiting to sanctify before the end comes.
Thus, we can close with the words of Jesus at the end of our Bibles (Revelation 22:16-21):
16. "I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star."
17. And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.
18. I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book;
19. and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.
20. He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
21. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.
Hold fast to Jesus Christ, for we are in the birth pangs of the New Age.
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