Wednesday, October 3, 2012

"But you, brothers, are not in the darkness!"

What do YOU know about the return of Jesus Christ?  Where would you go to learn more?  The first place would be to Jesus, right?  So we need to go to the Gospels.  And then we need to go to the writers of the Bible, the Word of God.  Jesus said that He revealed only what the Father told Him, and it is His Spirit that inspired the writers of the Old and New Testaments to write what they did.  So whether it is the prophets of the Old Testament or the apostles in the New Testament, the same Spirit spoke through them and through Jesus.  If we study what they say and listen to what they say, we will not be in the darkness of ignorance, a spiritual darkness that leads to judgment and eternal death!

Paul assured the Thessalonians that even though the day of God's judgment and the return of Jesus would come suddenly, as a thief in the night, that THEY were NOT in the darkness so that this day should surprise THEM (I Thessalonians 5:4).  He goes on to say in verse 5, "You are all sons of the light and sons of the day.  We do not belong to the night or to the darkness." 

I find that most people in the church today think very little of the return of Jesus.  I have heard people say, "We can't do anything about it anyway, so why worry about it?"  We shouldn't worry about it, but if we are "sons of the light and sons of the day," we must be warning others of the judgment to come when Jesus returns!  As we saw yesterday, Jesus said that as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be when He returns.  As Noah built the ark, the Bible says that he preached to the people, warning them of the judgment God told him was about to come.  They didn't listen, but Noah did what God told him to do.  We need to do the same, and God has promised that some WILL listen and be saved - those whom He has chosen.

Most people, even in the church, have been taught very little, if anything, about what the Bible says about the events leading up to the return of Jesus, or about the return itself.  I have had pastors tell me that the Church has replaced Israel in God's plans and all we need to know is that Jesus is coming again.  They say that we need to be concerned about the present and leave the rest to God.  That sounds good and it is certainly true that we should be busy doing God's work until Jesus comes.  But what IS God's work?  Didn't Jesus tell us to make disciples and to teach them EVERYTHING He had taught the disciples and that His Holy Spirit would teach the apostles?  If the Bible teaches us about Jesus' return and gives us many details to watch for, shouldn't we learn what God says and use His words to warn others and to impress upon people the importance of coming to God through faith in Jesus Christ and to use their lives NOW for His glory, to help others learn the truth??

I don't understand how people who claim to believe and teach the Bible ignore and leave out what almost every book of the Bible talks about:  the return of the King and the establishment of His kingdom on the earth!  Instead, people today talk about changing the world and helping people to live like Jesus.  What's wrong with that?  It ignores the reality that only by confessing our sin, repenting (turning from sin) and believing in Jesus Christ can we know that we are forgiven and that we are children of the light - GOD's children!  We are not going to change this world - in fact, Jesus never told us to change this world.  HE is going to do that when He returns.  We are to live as light amidst the darkness.  It's not going to be easy; it's not easy now!

Paul goes on in I Thessalonians 5:6-8:  "So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled.  For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night.  But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet."  God wants us to be alert and to see the dangers all around us and to warn others.  Ezekiel 33 says that we are watchmen and we are responsible to warn those who are in danger of the coming judgment.  This is the main task of the Church, of Christians, of the children of the light!

We'll look at the rest of this section in I Thessalonians 5 tomorrow.  We need to understand that God wants His children to read His Word - ALL of it, and to understand it, as His Spirit is our teacher.  The Word is clear.  It was not given to be ignored, in ANY age, but especially in THIS age!  Things are changing very quickly all around the world.  Nations are in an uproar.  Leaders of nations are talking about World War III as though it is being considered.  Where do we turn for hope?  Can a presidential election bring hope?  No, our hope is in the Lord and in His promises to us who believe in Jesus Christ.  If you have that hope, if you are "in the light," give thanks to God for His grace and warn others of the coming events that God's Word reveals to those who have ears to hear.  Pray that He will use YOU to bring someone else into the light, that they, too, might KNOW that no matter what happens today or tomorrow, we HAVE eternal life in Jesus Christ!

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