Saturday 27 November 2021


Luke 21   v 25/38

Today is Advent Sunday and for many Churches it is the start of the Church’s year.  For all Christians it is a time when we think about the return of our Lord, although for so many people, they have not recognised His first coming.  This is a very serious and important subject and should not be treated lightly. The teachings of the Bible are not acceptable to many folk within the Church, but they are quite clear.  Let us look at them together this morning.

The Bible tells us that God will one day bring an end to this world. 380 times in the New Testament the return of Jesus is mentioned, and the whole Bible promises His return.

There is a call to be prepared to receive him when he returns, and a warning for those who fail to prepare.

In this passage, Jesus foretells of His coming. Having warned of the destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem, he tells of the consummation of all things on His return. The powers of heaven will be shaken, there will be changes in the skies which will indicate heaven shaking. There is positive hope of redemption at the time of His coming, where mortality turns to immortality. There will be redemption of the body taking place.

The analogy of the fig tree is a sign that the return of Jesus is at hand. There is also reality to which the fig tree analogy of the second coming is pointed to.   Jesus emphasises the permanence, certainty and truth of His words.

 Jesus stated that only God knows when that time will be. He compared life in the days of Noah to those relating to what will be happening when He returns to earth.

You remember the story of Noah. A lot of people laugh and scoff at it, but archaeologists say there is plenty of  evidence that a flood did exist at one time over a certain portion of the world, the portion that Noah lived in.  In addition, archaeologists found an ark in Africa.

Noah tried to warn his fellowmen of coming judgement, but there was a sceptical unbelieving and casual unconcern.  The more Noah preached the more they laughed at him. God said man was too evil, so He was going to make it rain for forty days and destroy the earth.  But God saw Noah was a good man of moral integrity who worshipped God faithfully. 

God told Noah how to build a ship, and when Noah did so everybody laughed at this crazy guy building a ship out in the desert.  Today you would have television crews from around the world taking pictures.  But then the rains came and how they must have wished they had listened to Noah.  

Jesus said as it was then, so it will be in the day of the coming of the Son of man. There are several things said about that day. First, it was a world in which marriage and home were abused. People were obsessed with sex. Emphasis was on immorality. Look at our world today; we are living in the same way as in the days of Noah. We see the same conditions today. Pick up a newspaper.

The Telegraph and Mail newspapers often feature religious articles on their websites, and a lot of comments are made in response which are quite vitriolic; not just disagreement, but open hatred of religion.  People do not like to hear their way of living is seen to be immoral by others.  They want to live their lives without reference to God or biblical values. 

One journalist wrote an article in response to a speech by an ex-Archbishop of Canterbury, who had suggested the Church faced extinction.  He stated the Church could not expect younger people (especially) to reject same sex relationships, or couples sleeping together outside of marriage, or the doctrines of the Church such as a Virgin Birth and resurrection, which SOME churches still do preach.  He was in fact implying that the Church should drastically change its stance on such issues, although I think many within the Church have done so in thought and practice.

At the next meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England, a whole host of members have called for same sex marriage to be debated, some already calling for it to be approved and calling for the LGBT lobby to be congratulated.

We are called to live by the teachings of Jesus, and are warned there will be people who mock the faith.  They will do so in order to justify the sinful way in which they live.

People turning away from the faith, vitriolic attacks from atheists in the press, evil and wickedness in all the violence we see, and  politicians are telling us the greatest threat in the world is climate change. An Archbishop actually stated the climate change issue was more important than the Nazi regime, offending Jews who lost six million In Nazi gas chambers.

 In addition, to all such events we have false teaching in the Church to placate the politically correct establishment.

No one appears shocked any more at any behaviour as we see gay marriage legalised and people wanting the Church to practise, with few having any strong objection. Indeed, there are those within the Church who actively support the concept.  There  are Bishops actively calling for same sex marriages to be allowed in Churches, and an American bishop in such a union was appointed in one diocese.  

  We are called to live by the teachings of Jesus, and are warned there will be people who mock the faith.  They will do so in order to justify the sinful way in which they live.

People also scoff at any talk of Jesus returning or the suggestion of judgement, stating God will not intervene and asking why He hasn’t done so.  They forget that one day to us is like a thousand years to God, who is giving time for more people to be saved.

They forget too, if they ever knew, that God did once destroy the earth and is saving up fire for when judgement comes.  This will be without warning, leaving no place or time for hiding.  The Bible calls for Christians to live pure and holy lives to avoid punishment that awaits the ungodly .

When we turn to the gospel  we find Jesus had been talking to His Apostles on the Mount of Olives, who asked Him what the signs are of His coming back at the end of the age. Jesus answered there would be wars and rumours of wars, nations would fight nations--- there would be famines, ----earthquakes----Christians would be persecuted ----people would turn away from the faith. ----there would be false teaching---evil--wickedness. 

Over the years since Jesus spoke these words, each generation has sought to apply them to their time, but I put it to you that no generation can claim more relevance to them than this generation.

We have wars going on perpetually in Africa; there have been wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran promising to wipe Israel from the face of the earth---- famines of unprecedented scale.   Super powers are massing arms and fearful weaponry.  China, Russia, America are considering future action and partnerships and we have a virus circulating  the world.

In the United States, the virtual leader of the free world. There is a President who appears to be in a world of his own, and the sooner he is replaced the safer we will all be relieved. We have a Prime Minister who is losing the confidence of the population day by day.  Europe has a man who imagines he is a replica of Napoleon, unfortunately not with the same ability. What a collection!

A situation of utmost gravity exists in the Middle East where Iran wants to wipe Israel off the map, and world leaders seem to be deluded into thinking they can trust Iran, whereas Israel is more ready to face reality. They in turn are ready to attack Iran, and bearing in mind that the Bible prophesises the world will end in Jerusalem, we should all be concerned.   The Bible states God will protect His ancient chosen people.

Christians are being persecuted in Islamic countries, with Churches being burned down, and barbaric action taken against them.  

We see famines in Africa, earthquakes and typhoons of unprecedented strength, with one island which rarely has rain having had large parts destroyed by storms.

Amidst such worldwide uncertainty, the main Churches are more concerned with following the agenda of the homosexuality lobby rather than the purpose God created them for.

False teaching aplenty is given in our Churches, to justify and make acceptable modern moral behaviour. Christians are being forced out of Middle Eastern lands, where arson and murder reign against them, and they are treated barbarically. Jesus says all these kinds of things will happen in the last days,  that are before His return.

This is how it will be before Jesus returns to an unbelieving world which will be living as they choose.  People laugh at this story and at today’s gospel; they call it a myth and fairy tale, but they will find out one day.

When Jesus returns, just as the flood brought sudden judgement, His return will do the same.  People will be caught unawares, as they will be unprepared through rejecting Christian teaching.  The world will be separated even between families and friends as Jesus taught.  The Bible is clear – there was a beginning and there will be an end, when Christ comes again.

Jesus stated two people will be together, one will be taken to be with Him, the other will be left.  A person who has accepted Jesus, who died on the Cross as their Saviour, will be safe on Judgement day.  A person who has not will be left behind. There will be no chance to make a decision then, we have to be ready beforehand and decide we want to accept Him now.  The Bible states, ‘now is the day of salvation.’ God has given everybody a chance to decide and choose. These are Jesus’ words, not mine.

This is a very serious truth to consider, for the Bible teaches that the consequences are drastic, some will be saved for eternal life and the rest will be lost.  However much we might like to conclude there is a different ending, the Bible leaves us with no doubt.

We are expected to spread the gospel message, particularly to our families and friends, for we will never have warning.  The Bible states now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation

There is a grossly mistaken notion, that as long as one is honest and a nice person one is assured of heaven.  That is not what the Bible teaches.  Many people who are atheists are honest, and nice people.  There has to be a personal commitment to Jesus.  The Bible states, ‘salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved’.  Jesus said, ‘no one comes to the Father except through me’.  The Church has not always given sound teaching on this; indeed there are those who do not accept those words.

 Whilst it may be comforting to believe that we can all get to heaven regardless of one’s beliefs, and we like to please our fellow men and women, it is quite cruel to mislead if it is not true.  It is like telling a blind person standing on the foot walk of a busy road, it is safe for him to cross when ready.  Others say if you just follow your conscience you’ll be fine, but consciences become dulled and hardened.   We need to be prepared just as any responsible householder will take care of their property against theft, for burglars do not give notice of their coming.    

 This is why it is so important for each person to make his/her own decision whether to follow Jesus in His teaching, commands and demands He makes on us.

 You see the Bible is all about commitment. We are reminded of the superficiality of commitment in our own time.  Less than 10% of people think God worthy of one hour per week to visit a Church.  Yet if you were to ask people their religion, the vast majority would reply C of E and seriously consider they were Christians.  They would be mortally offended if you suggested otherwise. Very few people seem it necessary to think of Jesus, even less to do anything about it.

 Some Christians have sincerely gone to extremes to prepare for Jesus’ return.  Jesus never called us to do anything more than to be faithful in all that we do, and always to do things to the best of our ability, and be ready to greet Him either here on earth or in heaven. SCRIPTURES REFERENCED

Lastly, we see how certain it is that our Lord’s words will. be fulfilled. Jesus peaks as if He saw the unbelief and weakness of people, and knew they would shrug off His words, and say the world will go on as it always has.

Luke ends with two warnings from Jesus.  One was to be ready and faithful for the day He comes with His Kingdom in all its fulness. The other warning a call to be spiritually ready by praying, so that the believer would avoid being harmed by the tumultuous scenes and circumstances of His return.

Keep the faith, and do not lose heart.

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