1 Corinthians 6:19
Last week we talked about how the Advent season is to be a reminder to us of Jesus' first coming, and also serve as a reminder of the promise of His second coming.
Last week we also looked at some of what the prophets of old tell us of His return, that we might have our faith strengthened; for just as His first coming was the fulfillment of many prophecies, so we can likewise expect God to fulfill the prophecies of Jesus' second coming.
Today we are going to look at a few things that Jesus tells us of His return, and some of the precautions we should be aware of.
Let's begin by looking at John 14:16-17.
16. "And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;
17. that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you.
Note carefully what Jesus tells us.
The Holy Spirit will not only abide with us, but He will abide in us.
It's also as Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 6:19:
19. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
Now, with this in mind, let's return to what Jesus is telling us in John 14, beginning at verse 18.
18. "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
19. "After a little while the world will behold Me no more; but you will behold Me; because I live, you shall live also.
Jesus is confirming that the Holy Spirit will be with us until He returns, that we might know the truth and not fall away after false teachings.
Jesus isn't going to abandon us; He will come again.
We who truly believe, and have the faith to live our lives as believers and not as hypocrites, will see Him when He returns, but not the unbelievers.
And because Jesus would rise from the dead, which He in fact did, then we who are born again will live, also.
Those of us who have Jesus born in our hearts shall live forever, as Jesus Himself lives.
But in saying this, we need to remember that there is much more to being truly born again than simply saying a "sinner's prayer", or saying we're "born again".
We must also be transformed into a new being in Christ Jesus our Lord; a being that is filled to overflowing with love and compassion for the whole of creation, and lives as a peacemaking child of God.
Once again, with these things in mind, let's take a look at Matthew 24:3-31.
3. And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?"
4. And Jesus answered and said to them, "See to it that no one misleads you.
5. "For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will mislead many.
Do you understand the connection between these verses and the verses we looked at in John?
If we constantly rely upon the Holy Spirit to guide us in love and truth, we will not be misled by any of these people coming in the spirit of an antichrist.
6. "And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.
7. "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.
All these things are taking place today, and have been going on ever since Jesus' first coming; but today we are hearing of them almost constantly.
Could it be that Jesus is coming back almost immediately?
It could, but listen to what Jesus says next:
8. "But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.
9. "Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations on account of My name.
10. "And at that time many will fall away and will deliver up one another and hate one another.
All of these things are going on today, but I don't believe it's happening to the extent that it will be just prior to Jesus Christ's return; but it’s something we should expect to happen.
And because it comes to pass doesn't mean that we have been abandoned, for He has told us two things: that it will take place, and that He will not leave us alone.
This is where our faith comes into play.
Can we hold fast to the promise of His Second Coming?
11. "And many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many.
This, too, is happening today, so keep your eyes and ears open.
Pay attention to what is really going on around us, and hold fast to the Lord.
12. "And because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold.
This, too, is happening.
And the ones who are not born again, and have no real faith, will fall away, even though they may claim to be "born again".
The first thing we will see go is their love, which will be replaced with fear.
We will see them destroying and killing in the name of Christ, instead of being the peacemakers who work to free the whole of creation from its present corruption, pain and suffering.
13. "But the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved.
14. "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come.
This is fully happening today, for there is no place in the world where the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not preached, for radio and television reaches where people are not going.
And we will see the Internet tie people together in ways that no one would have thought possible.
You read the signs of the time for yourselves.
What do you see?
15. "Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),
16. then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains;
17. let him who is on the housetop not go down to get the things out that are in his house;
18. and let him who is in the field not turn back to get his cloak.
19. "But woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babes in those days!
20. "But pray that your flight may not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath;
21. for then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall.
22. "And unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days shall be cut short.
Now, none of this is taking place yet in Jerusalem, and since Jesus is telling us that all these things must take place, perhaps the time of His return is further off into the future.
But on the other hand, the church is like the temple in Jerusalem, and we are seeing apostasies taking place in some churches.
Read these signs prayerfully.
23. "Then if anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Christ,' or 'There He is,' do not believe him.
24. "For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.
25. "Behold, I have told you in advance.
26. "If therefore they say to you, 'Behold, He is in the wilderness,' do not go forth, or, 'Behold, He is in the inner rooms,' do not believe them.
Last week, in Zechariah's prophecy, we were told of how and where Jesus will return.
Remember that also, so that our faith is strengthened, and so that we continue to hold fast to the truth.
27. "For just as the lightning comes from the east, and flashes even to the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.
28. "Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.
I believe that the “corpses” are not those who are physically dead, but, rather, those who are physically alive but spiritually dead.
And the vultures are the followers of the devil, who come to devour the non-believers and hypocrites.
With these words, Jesus leads us into the period of the great tribulation, which lasts for seven years and precedes His return.
29. "But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken,
30. and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.
31. "And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
Everyone who truly believes in God will be saved.
Those who have more knowledge than others are responsible for more.
But if we hide from the truth, we are confirming our unbelief, for we are more desirous of living in our present lies.
The very fact that we are believers, true believers, should be confirmed in our desire to become more Christ-like in our lives, and in our search for even greater truth.
Plant these words in the depths of your soul, nurture them, and let them mature and produce much more.
What greater Christmas gift could we give each other, than the gift of the assurance of Jesus in us, seen in our unconditional love and compassion for God, for one another, and for the whole of His creation.