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The Second Coming of Christ - 65

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
March 11, 2024 2:00 am

The Second Coming of Christ - 65

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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We are coming to the end of our expositional series in the book of the Revelation, and there are repeated themes as we look at this last chapter that are repeated on purpose for emphasis sake so that we will not forget critical and important matters. In verses 6 through verse 17, in just those verses themselves, there are eight of those verses that are given and designed to provoke us to holy living. There are exhortations to obedience, there are promised blessings for holy living, and there are warnings of judgment for unholy living. So this passage that's before us tonight is well suited for our time around the Lord's table, because when we come to the end of the book, we wonder, what is the end?

What is the purpose? What is this whole book driving to? Well, it's driving us to contemplation and thinking of paradise restored, the enjoyment of the saints of God in a perfect place, free of sin, free of the curse, and that time that every saint should be looking forward to being in the presence of our Savior, unhindered by sin, unhindered by anything that would disrupt that fellowship and communion and intimacy. What a blessed hope we have in that. So these verses are reminding us that that's the end. But in the meantime, here are exhortations, here are encouragements, here are warnings that not only prepare us for that day, but are designed to provoke us to live that way right now. So this evening, there is a transition that takes place in verse 12. John is receiving revelation mediated to him through an angel in verse six. I've already read that, then he, that is the angel, said to me, these words are faithful and true. And that's important that we understand and be reminded of that.

These words are faithful and true. All the words that have been revealed, plus the ones that will yet be revealed that we will be considering, and a part of that is the promise of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, to come again. The second coming of Christ is one of the fundamentals of the faith. We believe in the physical, literal, bodily return of the Lord Jesus Christ to this earth. And if you do not believe that, you're outside the parameters of orthodoxy. You are in an area of heresy if you do not believe that. And we believe in the literal bodily resurrection, or not resurrection, but second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Interesting in this last chapter, there are three references to that. Notice my Bible is a red letter edition. So we have in verse seven, red letter words, words of the Lord Jesus, behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book. Verse 12, again, a transition away from John receiving revelation mediated through an angel, we have now Jesus himself speaking. In verse 12 says, and behold, I am coming quickly and my reward is with me to give to everyone according to his work. And then the second to the last verse of the book, verse 20, he who testifies to these things says, surely I am coming quickly. I think we should draw the conclusion that Jesus wants us to have that front and center and to be reminded of his promise that he is indeed returning.

He's coming again. And again, I want you to hear that in the context of what the angel said, these words are faithful and true. This is what Jesus has said. We can believe it.

We can stake our very life upon it and order our life around it. So tonight, let's think together about the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. And as he comes, he's coming as a judge. Notice with me verse 12, Jesus again says, and behold, I am coming quickly and my reward is with me to give to everyone according to his work.

He's coming to judge. Now, we spoke briefly when we covered verse seven, this idea of coming quickly. And let me just revisit that for a moment that how we should be understanding this. When Jesus says, I am coming quickly and he says it three times, it seems to us that two thousand plus years have passed since he returned to glory. And two thousand years doesn't seem like a short period of time.

However, we need to understand it in reference to his first coming. You know, if I were to say to you, I ran a mile in four minutes. Well, four minutes in reference to running a mile is pretty impressive, right? But if I were to say to you, it took me four minutes to tie my shoes. That's in reference to tying my shoes. You'd say, well, that took you forever, right?

To tie your shoes. Well, we're talking about the second coming of Christ in reference to his first coming. And from the time the promise was given in Genesis three fifteen until the first advent of Christ is four thousand years. And we are only two thousand plus years removed from Christ's exaltation to the right hand of God.

So in reference to the first coming, these two thousand plus years is a short period of time, relatively speaking. Now, it can also mean this. It can be in reference to me, in reference to the manner of his coming.

What do I mean by that? Well, we are told in the scriptures that Jesus, when he comes the second time, he's coming as a thief in the night. He's coming in the twinkling of an eye. That sounds like that sounds like language that communicates quickness, right?

Like a thief in the night, like a twinkling of an eye, in the twinkling of an eye. So I think that helps us. Now, regardless of when he's coming, we know he's coming. That's his promise. Again, it is one of the fundamentals of the faith. And one thing is absolutely certain that I can tell you. We are one day closer to his second coming than we were yesterday.

Right? Time is marching toward the second coming of our savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is on God's redemptive calendar.

It is the next great event that all of history is moving towards. I think we can agree to that. I'd like for you to turn with me to Second Peter for a moment. Second Peter, because there's a passage there that speaks to this and addresses this issue of timing. Second Peter 3. Peter is going to talk to us earlier in the chapter about scoffers who are going to say, Where is the promise of his coming?

For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning. So scoffers. So Peter raises this issue of the scoffers and then he says in verse eight, But, beloved, so here's a word to you and I. Here's a word to the church, the believing church, the gathered church. But, beloved, do not forget this one thing. So here is one thing that Peter wants us.

God wants us to keep front and center. This one thing that with the Lord, one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. A lot of this is perspective. From our perspective, it seems like a two thousand year delay is a long time. But from heaven's perspective, a thousand years is as a day. A day is as a thousand years.

That should not disturb us. It should not disrupt our confidence, our faith in the promises of God. But, beloved, do not forget this one thing that with the Lord, one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness, but is long suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise and the elements will melt with fervent heat.

Both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of the Lord, because of which the heavens will be dissolved being on fire and the elements will melt with fervent heat. Nevertheless, we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, verse 14, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by him in peace without spot and blameless. You see how the expectation of the second coming of Christ is tied to aspirations of holy living.

It should motivate, it should provoke. So let me quickly just give you a couple of headings as we've looked here at 2 Peter. This is not a sermon from 2 Peter, but as I went there, I thought it might be good just to give you some headings to hang our thoughts on. Number one, the perspective of time that Peter reminds us of, the perspective of time, heaven's perspective of time as opposed to our perspective of time. A year or a thousand years is as a day as a day is as a thousand years, the perspective of time, the certainty of his promise, the certainty of his promise.

Do not forget this one thing. Verse 9, the Lord is not slack concerning his promise as some count slackness. So there is the certainty of his promise. There is the reason for his apparent delay. And what is that?

Well, what does he say? The Lord is not slack concerning his promise as some men count slackness, but is long suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. His apparent delay is undergirded by his long suffering, his willingness that all, that is all the elective God should come to repentance.

It's a gracious delay. It's extending the age of grace. It's extending the opportunity for sinners to repent of their sins, that they might be in that glad number in that day.

And then there is the motivation to holy living that I've drawn your attention to. It should motivate us, genuine believers, to live holy and godly lives as we anticipate the soon return of our Lord Jesus Christ. So back to Revelation, chapter 22. We see the fact, the announcement by Jesus of his second coming and that he is coming quickly three times in this one chapter. Jesus says he is coming quickly.

He wants us to get that point. When Jesus does come, whenever that is, he's coming in judgment. Notice he says, Behold, I am coming quickly and my reward is with me to give to everyone according to his work. As we've studied this book together, the emphasis on the second coming of Christ at the end of the book doesn't surprise us. We would anticipate it. We would expect it.

We're not surprised by it. However, perhaps before we studied this book together, we did not realize that there were multiple references, multiple passages in the book that spoke of his second coming. In fact, at the very beginning. Remember Revelation, chapter one? You say that's quite a while back.

We studied that together. Revelation, chapter one, verse seven. Behold, he is coming with clouds and every eye will see him, even they who pierced him and all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of him.

Even so, amen. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, says the Lord, who is and who was and who is to come the Almighty. So there was reference at the very beginning of the book about the second coming of Christ. I could take it other places, but I only take you to one more, and that is Revelation, chapter 11. Revelation, chapter 11.

Let me read it, verse 15. Then the seventh angel sounded, and there were loud voices in heaven saying, the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever. And the twenty four elders who sat before God on the throne, on the thrones, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, We give you thanks, O Lord God Almighty, the one who is and who was and who is to come because you have taken your great power and reigned. The nations were angry and your wrath has come and the time of the dead that they should be judged, that you should reward your servants, the prophets and the saints and those who fear your name, small and great, and should destroy those who destroy the earth. So there is another reference to the second coming of Christ with emphasis on his coming to reward the saints and to judge the ungodly. So again, back to Revelation, chapter 22. We see that Christ is coming and when he comes, he's coming to judge. Now, what do we see here in verses 13 through 15? We see number one, the qualifications of the judge, and we see number two, two categories of people who will be judged when he comes. Notice with me in verse 13, Jesus says, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

Three phrases that are descriptive of the Lord Jesus Christ. Again, this is the first we've seen this. We saw it in Revelation, chapter one.

We saw it earlier here in chapter 21. But again, three distinctions. I am the Alpha and the Omega. The beginning and the end, the first and the last. This is the qualifications of the judge.

What are his qualifications? He is from everlasting to everlasting. He is ruling and reigning from the beginning of time until the end of time. And if he's ruling from the beginning of time until the end of time, that those bookends, it stands to reason that he's also ruling and reigning in between. Sovereignly ruling, reigning, ordering all things to a predetermined end. And that should encourage us because this world seems very chaotic.

At times it seems very out of control. But we need the word of God to inform us that our faith might be strengthened, that we might be reminded of the promises of God and not be troubled, not be in fear. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Amen? Amen.

Three distinctions, three terms. And because that is true, no one is outside the scope of his authority or his judgment. You remember what Jesus said at the end of Matthew, chapter 28, verse 19? All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Jesus has all authority.

It has been granted to him. And here he is at the end of time, exercising that authority as judge. Now let's think with, you think with me about who it is, two categories of people that will be judged. The people who will be judged. Notice with me in verse 14.

Blessed are those who do his commandments that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter through the gates into the city. Category number one, verse 14, category number two. But in contrast to outside are dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters and whoever loves and practices a lie.

Let's think about these two categories of people. Category number one, those who do his commandments that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter through the gates into the city. Those whose conduct and character demonstrate their genuine faith in Christ as Lord. True faith.

True faith in Christ results in a love for Christ that longs to keep the commandments of Christ. The dominating characteristic of their life is a life of obedience, not perfect obedience, but that is the trajectory of their life. That is what their life is oriented around. That's what they're living for. And what Jesus is telling us here, that that should be the dominating characteristic of the life of a genuine believer. Those who do his commandments, those and only those will have the right to enter in to the New Jerusalem and to eat of the tree of life, to enjoy communion and fellowship unhindered.

But then there is a second category. Here are those who do not have faith in Christ. And that is demonstrated by their conduct. Again, this is just reinforcing the teachings of scripture. James tells us faith without works is dead. The emphasis isn't on doing in order to receive blessing. The emphasis is on examining conduct to see who indeed is of the faith and who is not.

Conduct is the determining factor. We do not have the ability to discern 100 percent accurately a person's life, but we are to examine. We're to be fruit inspectors. God, Jesus, is examining our lives for the evidence of spiritual life. He is the only one who can accurately detect the fruit of repentance in one's life. So what does it say about these?

Notice the first thing. It's a new terminology there in verse 15. But outside, these are people outside, are dogs. Dogs is a term that refers to those who have no care for or concern for holy living. They're driven by their passions.

Just like a dog, the only thing a dog thinks about is his craving to satisfy his fleshly desires. That's it. And that's what's being described here for us.

And then the rest of the language there is more descriptive words, but they're not new to us. Sorcerers, the sexually immoral, murderers, idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. The point is, those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Now, this is the third time in these last two chapters that we've been given similar lists. We saw it in chapter 21 verse 8.

I won't read that. Again, chapter 21 verse 27, and then again here in chapter 22 and verse 15. This repetition is on purpose. It's a warning to us.

Here's the point. You cannot live for the devil and be received by Christ into this new earth simply because you've prayed a prayer, made a decision. Those things are insufficient in order to be qualified to enter into this blessed life that is promised to those who are surrendered to the lordship of Jesus Christ.

The Bible makes it clear that a faith in Christ that does not transform a person's behavior is not genuine faith. The faith it saves arises out of a regenerate heart. What is a regenerate heart?

What does it produce? It produces new desires, new longings, because divine life has been granted. Divine nature has been graciously bestowed. We are a new creature in Christ. Behold, all things are becoming new. And we have these three warning passages because so many people are deceived thinking that they're in the company of the beloved and yet they will find themselves outside, which says there in verse 15, but outside, outside are dogs and then this list. What about you and I tonight? You know, our struggle, our struggle with sin, our pursuit of holiness is fraught with dangers.

There are obstacles. There are challenges in our pursuit of Christ and of righteousness and of holy living. But what is our disposition? Our disposition is that we delight in the law of God after the inward man. First John 5-3, God's commandments are not grievous to us. The only thing that grieves us is our failures to keep the law of God. That's what grieves us. We're not grieved by. We understand that God's law is a gracious thing.

It's a good thing. It's for our good. It's for our growth. It's for our journey as we make our way in this life. So the Christian, you and I, we strive to keep God's commandments.

And again, we're encouraged because it is God who is at work in us, both willing to do according to his good pleasure. We're to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, and yet confident that God is at work within us. Proverbs 28-13 is a great verse of warning. It says, He who covers his sins, he who hides his sins, he who excuses his sins, he who blames his sins on others, he who covers his sins will not prosper. But whosoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy. We want to be characterized by men and women who are not covering their sins, but owning our sins, confessing our sins, and forsaking our sins. And that verse says only those who do that receive mercy.

Those who hide, cover, blame, mercy is not bestowed upon them. Notice with me the first part of verse 16. Again, red letter, I Jesus have sent my angel to testify to you these things in the churches.

This isn't for the world. This is a message for the churches, the professed church for you and I tonight. Now, again, we have this literary device that is used an awful lot in the scriptures.

It's an inclusio. It's bookends. We have this emphasis here at the end of the book. Again, Jesus says, I have sent my angel to testify to you these things, the things we've just talked about, in the churches. And then we find in Revelation chapter one in verse four, John has given these instructions, John to the seven churches which are in Asia. So chapters two and three are instructions for the churches.

This is not for the world. This is for the churches. This is for the believing church. So on this occasion, when we gather around the Lord's table, let's take seriously what we find here.

Must be certain that we know what category we fit into here. Two categories, two categories of people that will be judged when Jesus comes. When I say judge, I don't mean wrath.

I mean when he judges all. There'll be those who receive reward. There'll be those who are found in the company of the saints.

And how will they be characterized? There'll be those who do his commandments. Those who are practicing, pursuing holiness. The writer of Hebrews says without holiness, no one will see the Lord.

Not perfect holiness, but a holiness that characterizes our life. We've been set apart. God has taken ownership of our lives. He has bought us, purchased us with the blood of his own dear son. And therefore he has a claim upon our lives. Our lives are not our own. We belong to him.

And our lives now are redirected. We once were a slave to sin and of unrighteousness. We were controlled by our sinful passions. We were slaves.

But not anymore. We're a slave now of righteousness. We are pursuing righteousness. We are on a path of holiness.

Now, I'm not saying these things to disrupt anyone where, as I said, I preface this by saying, the Christian life is not an easy life. Paul could say at the end of his life, I have fought the good fight of faith. You say, well, Paul, what do you mean fight? Well, there was a lot of fronts that Paul was fighting. He was fighting the enemies of Christ. He was fighting those who were trying to hinder his work of planting churches. But part of the fight that Paul, I think, is referring to is the fight that every genuine believer has in his own heart with the corruption of the flesh. The spirit wars against the flesh, the flesh against the spirit.

They are contrary to one another. That's unique to a Christian. An unsaved man knows nothing. He does not have the indwelling spirit.

He knows nothing of this spiritual conflict. But the greatest saints, as well as the weakest saints, know all too well what Paul is referring to there, the great fight of faith. I have fought the good fight. It's a good fight because we are contending for righteousness. We are pursuing Christ.

He's worth every effort. He's worth the expending of ourselves, warring against our flesh, subduing our flesh, denying our flesh. And there are times that we fail miserably at that.

But what do we do? Proverbs 28, 13. We don't cover our sins. We confess. We forsake. And as we do, we find fresh mercy from God to encourage us to keep on fighting the good fight of faith. So the idea that the Christian life is a life of ease and we just coast our way into heaven is not true.

It is not true. I've had people come to me and say, I just don't understand. I thought becoming a Christian, I've got more issues now. I'm struggling here. I'm fighting here. I've got this. I've got that. Yeah. Yeah.

Guess what? Your old nature just got a new roommate. And your new roommate wants to subdue your old roommate, your old sinful nature. And that's what is going on is good news that greater is he who is in us and he who is in the world. And we are more than conquerors through him who loved us and gave himself for us. So the Lord's table is a means of grace for the people of God.

It's a time where we come, we examine ourselves, we consider. Lord, which category am I in? Am I one who's deceived because this message is for the churches? This isn't for the world.

I can't overstress that. In red letter, in verse 16, we have these words, I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you these things in the churches. This is for us. To seriously consider how is my life characterized? Am I a man or a woman who is pursuing a life of obedience? Not perfect obedience. That's what makes heaven so attractive to us, because the fight for righteousness and holiness will be over. We will be perfected in holiness. And as we've said a few times from the pulpit here, to be reconstituted in a way that almost defies our imagination, we will be constituted that we will not be able to sin.

I can't imagine it. But that is what God has purpose to do for his people. And that's what awaits us. But in the meantime, in the meantime, let's be striving. Let's be pursuing. Let's be yielded to the Spirit of God.

Let's be actively putting to death the deeds of the flesh. And God will help us. God will aid us. We're the people of God. We're the family of God.

We're to aid one another in this pursuit. And we do that when we come together and worship together and sit under the preached word together and interact with one another. Those of you who are married, you need to have a deep and abiding appreciation for the spouse that God has given to you, if that spouse is a believing person.

Because there is a companionship. There is a oneness that defies any other relationship in the body of Christ. And that person prays for you. That person is a means of accountability to you. God uses that person. And I think we could all stop and just ask for testimony. You'd say, oh, yes, my husband, my wife has been used of God to arrest me, to help me, to instruct me, to rebuke me, to convict me.

So this message is what it is, what was next. And it is, I think, uniquely fitted for our preparation for our time around the Lord's table. So let me pray as we transition to that. Father, thank you again for your word. Thank you for your faithfulness to your people. Thank you for the love that Jesus has for his church. He gave his life's blood for his church. Father, thank you for the incredible privilege to be named among the saints. Father, use our time around the table this evening to strengthen and to fortify us and to give us new resolve to fight the good fight of faith for the good of our souls and for the honor and glory of our Savior. We pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-17 14:14:17 / 2024-03-17 14:26:17 / 12

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