AGCC Sun. a.m. 9/16/2001
#2 (The MUST Series)
"YOU MUST BE READY!"
TEXT: Matt. 24:36-25:13; II Tim. 3:1-5
INTRO: No one was ready for what took place this week. No one expected such an attack on our country. With a suddenness that made it appear at first that this was nothing more than a dramatization we stood astounded by the evil that could appear so suddenly!
There will now be lots of questions about our preparedness or lack of it. We are now focused on BEING READY. We hear and will hear more and more calls that say, "WE MUST BE READY."
There is another event coming that will happen suddenly and without a forward announcement. It will be an event that will encompass the whole world. It is the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ for all those who belong to Him. Jesus talked about this frequently, and the Bible predicts it throughout the pages of the Old Testament and New Testament. Jesus tells us about that day so we WON'T BE CAUGHT OFF GUARD, so we WILL BE READY.
In Jesus' own words: "So you MUST be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him." Matt. 24:44 (emphasis mine)
ILLUS:It is so ironic how much we prepare for everything else in life except our soul's destination. If we travel somewhere we prepare by making reservations at hotels and restaurants, we would not order a meal without plans to pay for that meal, even preparing to give a tip. We prepare for almost everything in life, what about our soul's destination in eternity, are you prepared?
It is amazing that such a powerful event is so ignored by most people today, we are quick to believe so many other things but find it hard to believe Jesus' own words about His coming again, yet it will happen!
ILLUS:If you tell a man that there are 300 billion stars in the universe, he'll believe you. But if you tell him a bench has just been painted, he has to touch it to be sure. -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 132.
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that we MUST be ready for eternity, we never know when it will call us forth, either by death or by Jesus' return … either way we MUST BE READY before that moment.
I. WAITING Matt. 24:36-44; II Tim. 3:1-5
A. Readiness Matt. 24:36-44
1. The disciples had asked Jesus a two fold question about His coming again in 24:3 "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"
a. Jesus responded to them in this passage … and changed their focus from "When" to the importance of simply being "ready."
b. Jesus refuses to tell them WHEN … because there was an issue of greater importance … their preparedness before it happens.
2. Jesus said He would return one day, yet today even many people either don't believe this or haven't even heard about it!
a. Jesus clearly tells His disciples that readiness is an important issue … for it will happen with little warning, there will be no time to prepare for it when it happens, only before!
b. Jesus talks about "2 men in the fields, one taken the other left, 2 women will be grinding grain, one taken and the other left."
c. Jesus' point is simple, HE IS COMING again … and ONLY those who are properly prepared with be taken, all others unprepared will be left behind!
3. It would indeed be tragic with so many signs before us to ignore the preparation of our souls for the coming of the Lord, we ignore it at our own peril!
a. It has been tragic in the past when people ignored obvious signs of something coming …
ILLUS:The May 1984 National Geographic showed through color photos and drawings the swift and terrible destruction that wiped out the Roman Cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in A.D. 79. The explosion of Mount Vesuvius was so sudden, the residents were killed while in their routine: men and women were at the market, the rich in their luxurious baths, slaves at toil. They died amid volcanic ash and superheated gasses. Even family pets suffered the same quick and final fate. It takes little imagination to picture the panic of that terrible day.
The saddest part is that these people did not have to die. Scientists confirm what ancient Roman writers record--weeks of rumblings and shakings preceded the actual explosion. Even an ominous plume of smoke was clearly visible from the mountain days before the eruption. If only they had been able to read and respond to Vesuvius's warning!
There are similar "rumblings" in our world: warfare, earthquakes, the nuclear threat, economic woes, breakdown of the family and moral standards. While not exactly new, these things do point to a coming day of Judgment (Matt. 24). People need not be caught unprepared. God warns and provides an escape to those who will heed the rumblings. -- Michael Bogart, Lemoore, California. Leadership, Vol. 6, no. 4.
b. So many of the signs of the last days have been fulfilled, Jesus is coming again! Will you ignore these signs?
4. Jesus' words to His disciples back then are the same words to us today concerning His coming again: "So you also MUST be ready, because the Son of Man WILL COME at an hour when you do not expect Him." (emphasis mine)
B. Revelation II Tim. 3:1-5
1. Though Jesus did not tell His disciples specific signs to tell us when Jesus would come again He did give us clues about the last days.
a. There will be "terrible times in the last days."
b. The list of characteristics of the last days could well be a modern appraisal of the days we are living in!
c. The Bible had also predicted that the last days would include Israel being raised back up as a nation … something that happened in 1948.
d. The Bible also talked about major climatic weather changes, more violent earthquakes around the world, and "wars and rumors of wars." (24:6-8)
2. Jesus did say we would have a sense of the time being soon … though we wouldn't know the day nor the hour.
a. Mat 24:32-33 "Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door."
b. We must not ignore the revelation of Christ … the signs are there, and they continue to sound … are you ready for His coming?
ILLUS:The Winter 1991 issue of the University of Pacific Review offers a chilling description of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster:
There were two electrical engineers in the control room that night, and the best thing that could be said for what they were doing is they were "playing around" with the machine. They were performing what the Soviets later described as an unauthorized experiment. They were trying to see how long a turbine would "free wheel" when they took the power off it.
Now, taking the power off that kind of a nuclear reactor is a difficult, dangerous thing to do, because these reactors are very unstable in their lower ranges. In order to get the reactor down to that kind of power, where they could perform the test they were interested in performing, they had to override manually six separate computer-driven alarm systems.
One by one the computers would come up and say, "Stop! Dangerous! Go no further!" And one by one, rather than shutting off the experiment, they shut off the alarms and kept going. You know the results: nuclear fallout that was recorded all around the world, from the largest industrial accident ever to occur in the world.
The instructions and warnings in Scripture are just as clear. We ignore them at our own peril, and tragically, at the peril of innocent others. -- Tom Tripp in Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), from the editors of Leadership.
3. Over and over again in Matthew 24 Jesus says, "Watch," "Be ready," "Watch out," etc.
4. Will you ignore a Bible that has never been wrong in a single prophecy yet?
II. WORKING Matt. 24:45-51
A. Responsible Matt. 24:45-47
1. What are we to do while we wait?
a. We are to continue working, doing good, preaching the truth, calling people to find Christ … to prepare for the day when Christ does come!
b. It is not a time to relax or ignore the needs of sinful man, just the opposite!
2. Jesus likens the waiting time to a faithful servant waiting for the return of his master … it is not a time to just get drunk and goof off, for that servant there will NOT be a happy return by his master!
a. It is a time to keep a clear focus on priorities!
b. We are to consider each day as though it could be our last on earth!
ILLUS:To start a discussion on core values, our youth pastor asked the teenagers: "What would you do if your doctor told you that you had only 24 hours to live?" The teens mentioned being with friends and family, and the discussion seemed headed in the right direction. But it came undone when Jason, our 13-year-old, said, "I'd get a second opinion." -- Donna Spratt, Melfort, Saskatchewan. Christian Reader, "Lite Fare."
3. Do we take our daily life as seriously as we would if we knew Christ was coming this week?
4. Knowing Jesus is coming soon makes us MORE responsible, not less.
B. Rejection! Matt. 24:48-51
1. Jesus warns all those who will ignore this truth that they will be caught unprepared … and lost for eternity!
a. Jesus clearly says there are two realities for eternity: Heaven and Hell.
b. As real as Heaven is, so is Hell.
2. It will be tragic indeed for so many who have heard the gospel of Christ and rejected it when that day comes.
a. To be unprepared will mean eternal loss.
b. There is no possibility of getting into Heaven AFTER death if you ignored Christ's offer of salvation in this life.
c. The Bible clearly teaches this: Heb 9:27 "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment."
3. There is no purgatory, no way to be prayed out of Hell after death, your decision is based on being prepared BEFORE either death or Christ's second coming.
a. So many now have the opportunity, but may squander it … they will do it later, but there isn't always a guarantee that there is a later opportunity!
ILLUS:Do any of you remember the loss of the vessel called the "Central America"? She was in a bad state, had sprung a leak, and was going down. She therefore hoisted a signal of distress. A ship came close to her, and its captain asked, through the trumpet, "What is wrong?" "We are in bad repair and are going down. Wait till morning," was the answer. But the captain on board the rescue ship said, "Let me take your passengers on board now." "Wait until morning," was the message that came back. Once again the captain cried, "You had better let me take your passengers on board now." "Wait until morning," was the reply that sounded through the trumpet. About an hour and a half later, the lights were gone, and though no sound was heard, she and all on board had gone down to the fathomless abyss. Unconverted friends, for God's sake, do not say, "Wait until morning." Today, hear God's voice. -- Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc, 1990)
III. WEDDING Matt. 25:1-13
A. Requirements 25:1-12
1. Jesus explains the element of readiness as being a "MUST"
a. He uses the wedding practices of Jewish culture in His day to explain the critical need of being prepared.
b. Once the groom came for his bride, a time that even his bride didn't know, the ceremony would happen and the doors would be locked, only those who came in at the moment of his coming were allowed in, no one who came late was!
2. This is what was so tragic about the 5 foolish virgins … because they were unprepared they were locked out!
3. Being ready starts NOW … not when Jesus comes!
ILLUS:Don't cross the bridge until you have the exact toll ready. -- Vern McLellan, The Complete Book of Practical Proverbs and Wacky Wit (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1996).
4. How different things can be when we are prepared for them.
a. We are learning this in light of the tragedies of this week, to be sure we will do better at being prepared in the future.
b. How true this is spiritually also … we need to be prepared for the coming of the Lord, He is coming again!
B. Reality! 25:13
1. Jesus' call here: "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour."
a. His use of the term "watch" here does not mean "keep looking," it is more the term of a military officer who has been given a "watch" … to stay alert and vigilant.
b. This is not some religious fanatic scare tactic, it is going to be a real event, and maybe soon!
c. What kind of people would we be if we knew something important was coming and we didn't warn people about it, so they can be prepared?
d. If we had known about the attack coming this past week we would have prepared differently without a loss of life, being prepared can make a huge difference.
2. It is not enough to be a good person, one must have Christ IN them in order to prepared for Christ's coming, you cannot just know about Him, you must KNOW Him!
ILLUS:If Jesus were born one thousand times in Bethlehem and not in me, then I would still be lost. -- Corrie ten Boom in Each New Day. Christianity Today, Vol. 31, no. 18.
3. Are you prepared? He is coming again!
CONCLUSION: Jesus' words are clear, "So you also MUST be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him." Both the prophets and Jesus said the last days will be difficult … but that when we see these things we should look up … our redemption is coming! Are you ready for Christ's coming? Many will NOT be, only if Christ is in you are you ready. What if Christ comes today?