The “SURE THINGS” Series #5
"A SURE PROMISE!"
TEXTS: 2 Cor. 1:18-22; 5:1-10; Jude 24-25; 2 Pet. 3:1-16; Rom. -14
INTRO: Back in
1823 a man by the name of William Cushing was born in
God heard this servant and granted him the words to one of the best children's hymns over the last 100+ years! The name of the song, "JEWELS" found in many hymn books; a beautiful hymn that speaks about the joy of Christ's coming ... a promise which in his mind was “a sure promise!”
Another great hymn this former pastor wrote was "Hiding in Thee" ... for a preacher who had lost the ability to speak he managed to keep bitterness at bay ... and found a song in his heart, and the privilege of writing a wonderful children's song in thanksgiving to the God who had saved him as a young boy ... who now as always held to the SURE PROMISE OF CHRIST'S COMING AGAIN!
PROP. SENT: Eternal life is a sure thing, and there are 2 places we may choose to spend it! Why not accept the sure promise of Jesus Christ, He is coming again ... and only those who have accepted Him as Lord will be traveling up, the rest will find a path only downward! Today is the day of salvation AND know that one of the surest promises in the universe is that JESUS IS COMING AGAIN ... AND SOON!
I. EXPLICIT! 2 Cor. 1:18-20; Jude 24-25
A. Absolute! 2 Cor. 1:18-20
1. God is not a wavering God ... He is not one way today and tomorrow who knows!
a. Paul and others had preached His promises!
b. Not a single promise of God's has ever failed!
ILLUS: Both the Old and New Testaments are filled with promises of the second coming of Christ. Someone has reported that there are 1,845 references in the Old Testament alone and a total of 17 books that give it prominence. Of the 260 chapters in the entire New Testament, there are 318 references to Christ's second coming. That averages one out of every 30 verses. Furthermore, 23 of the 27 New Testament books refer to this great event. That leaves only four books that do not refer directly to the Second Coming. Interestingly, three of these four books are single-chapter letters which were written to specific persons on a particular subject. -- Source Unknown
c. Those promises that have not yet happened therefore can be counted on!
d. The message of Christ's salvation and His coming again is simply a YES, YES, deal!
2. Jesus is the "AMEN" to these promises!
a. This means He is the living proof of God's existence and His promises!
b. Since Christ died for us we can count on His Word!
c. Jesus promised that where He went, we will someday go also!
3. To this sure promise Paul said "AMEN!" (This simply means: "so be it!")
4. There has never been a promise of God that ended with NO, only YES! Meaning: “YES IT IS TRUE!”
5. It is therefore an absolute fact that Jesus is coming again!
B. Assurance! Jude 24-25
1. Jude is the "postcard epistle" ... short, but with a hallmark finish!
2. Notice the end of this short letter: "God is able to keep us from:"
3. Note the last line: God, "before all ages, now and forevermore! AMEN!"
4. There is simply no doubt about it ... and if you do have some doubt then we should all read VERSE 22 where we are to "snatch others from the fire and save them."
5. Fortunately, it is God who "is ABLE TO keep us..."
II. ENDURANCE! 2 Pet. 3:1-16; Jude 20-21
A. Arrogance 2 Pet. 3:1-7
1. The last day’s mentality will include great scoffing at this surest promise of God!
2. The arrogance of man's heart is to think only of the here and now and ignore the huge future we all will face and live in!
ILLUS: Billy Graham was speaking at the University of California and was being heckled by a large group of EDUCATED LIBERALS who scoffed at Christianity as being relevant until Dr. Graham brought up the subject of DEATH & ETERNITY ... suddenly it was quiet! He continued and shared this story: A young college girl had been fatally injured in a car accident; these were her last words to her mother: "You taught me everything I needed to know to get me by in college, how to light my cigarette, how to hold my cocktail glass, and how to have sexual intercourse safely ... but Mother, you never taught me how to die; you had better teach me quickly, Mother, I am dying!" – Source Unknown
3. The mentality of the last days will include the arrogance of man's selfishness, only thinking of the moment, what more can I get, what more can I do, what more will I accomplish ... NOW, NOW, NOW, NOW!
a. What about eternity!?
b. What about tomorrow, it will come!
c. You cannot ignore this reality ... and you may not have the chance later to decide!
4. There are no guarantees in this life ... except ONE SURE PROMISE! To those who receive Jesus Christ TOMORROW IS FOREVER WONDERFUL!
a. For the sinner his past is always going to be catching up with him!
b. For the saint his future is always going to be catching up with him!
c. What a wonderful difference for the SAINT!
5. Arrogantly, men forget about the past when God shouted the need to think about eternal life...
a. Remember the flood?
b. Remember Sodom & Gomorrah?
c. Remember God's promise of the future ... everything will one day be destroyed with fire ... and hell will be real ... but so will heaven!
ILLUS: It may be now or never ... who knows! A man and his son were fishing in the cold waters of the northern sea some time ago, they stood fishing from the edge of a section of ice that reached out into the extremely cold waters ... to fall into that water would mean death in only a few minutes, suddenly a snap was heard and sure enough the father and son were now on an ice drift floating out to sea ... at once the father shouted to his son, "JUMP NOW SON AND DON'T HESITATE A SECOND!" While the father jumped in the waters to swim the short distance to land the son hesitated ... when the father in a moment reached shore and turned, he saw his son floating away ... now too far to survive the distance of the cold water ... he stood there simply watching until his son disappeared in the distance, still floating farther away ... never to be seen again ... he hesitated when the time was right ... and death was the only reward ... while his father who jumped in time continued to live ... how about you? Today is the day of salvation! – Source Unknown
B. Ache! 2 Pet. 3:8-9
1. Yes, it has been a long time ... it could still be longer, or it might be today!
ILLUS: What good will it do the farmer to be angry at the plants because they are later in yielding fruit than he thinks they should be? It won't affect the plants. It is not in his power to ripen fruits at his pleasure. Therefore, as the farmer exercises patience and long-suffering waiting for the earth to yield her fruit, so should we in waiting for the presence of the Lord. -- Source Unknown
2. Yes, while we wait we ache!
a. But, God is trying to wait as long as possible so that many will be saved!
b. However, a time will come when His promised return will happen: DO NOT choose to perish ... God desires NO ONE TO PERISH, which is why He has waited...
3. Like all things in this material universe we will eventually run out of everything, including time! (Einstein's 2nd Law of Thermodynamics actually teaches this, also called the "Law of Entropy" ... all systems are running down!)
4. Don't be caught short!
C. Attitudes! 2 Pet. 3:10-16; Jude 20-21
1. God has something to say to believers too while God is patiently waiting for all to come in repentance to Him!
2. We are to frame our minds with certain attitudes and actions!
a. We are to live "Holy" ... live UP to God's expectations, not see how much we can get away with and still make heaven!
ILLUS: During his 1960 presidential campaign, John F. Kennedy often closed his speeches with the story of Colonel Davenport, the Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives. One day in 1789, the sky of Hartford darkened ominously, and some of the representatives, glancing out the windows, feared the end was at hand. Quelling a clamor for immediate adjournment, Davenport rose and said, "The Day of Judgement is either approaching or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for adjournment. If it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. Therefore, I wish that candles be brought."
Rather than fearing what is to come, we are to be faithful till Christ returns. Instead of fearing the dark, we're to be lights as we watch and wait. -- Henry Heintz, Troy, New York. Leadership, Vol. 5, no. 2.
b. We are to be a peace even during times of travail such as the last times will be ... indeed they are now!
c. We are to take this patient waiting of God's and use it to reach as many as possible while it is still possible ... this is not just a time for believers to sit back in comfort and await the 2nd coming so they can escape while their neighbors or friends go to hell!
3. We are to "BUILD ourselves up in the most Holy faith" (Jude 20) ... this is not a time to attack each other in the church, or to live sloppy lives!
4. We are to pray in the Holy Spirit ... more than just repetitious prayers!
5. "KEEP ourselves in God's love" (Jude 21) ... as we wait for the surest promise to become reality!
6. "Be merciful to those who do doubt" (Jude 22) ... this concept of Christ's return isn't an easy one for people to swallow ... and there are times we may struggle with doubts too!
III. ENGAGEMENT! 2 Cor. 5:1-10; 1:21-22
A. Agreement 2 Cor. 5:1-10
1. Though we now "groan in this tent" (our bodies as frail as they are!) we have this promise ... groaning will come to an end and a wonderful groan-free body will be given us!
ILLUS: The primitive church thought more about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ than about death or about heaven. The early Christians were looking not for a cleft in the ground called a grave but for a cleavage in the sky called Glory. They were watching not for the undertaker but for the uppertaker. -- Alexander Maclaren (1826-1910) -- Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 9913.
2. How can we be sure? BECAUSE "GOD HAS GIVEN US A DEPOSIT," GUARANTEEING THE PAYOFF ONE DAY OF THE ENTIRE LOAN!
a. The idea here is like an engagement ring!
b. What is the idea behind an engagement ring? It is the deposit that guarantees THE FUTURE UNION ... OR IN OUR CASE AS THE CHURCH AND BRIDE OF CHRIST ... MARRIAGE!
c. This means heaven folks!
3. The Spirit of God in your heart NOW is the deposit of what is to come! FULL PAYMENT OF A BODY THAT CAN BEAR THE HOLY SPIRIT OF A REDEEMED HUMANITY!
4. God Himself made this agreement with all those who accepted Christ as their Lord!
B. Adjoining! 2 Cor. 1:21-22
1. His seal of ownership upon us is the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives as we accept Christ!
2. This will guarantee that we will be joined with Him in His own home one day, when He comes to give full payment of what He started, our FULL AND COMPLETE RESTORATION and full benefits of perfect sinlessness ... HEAVEN!
3. This is going to happen ... it is a sure promise of God's!
ILLUS: A farmer had an old hound dog that he cherished. One day the dog disappeared, and several weeks passed without his return. In spite of this, the farmer continued to set out fresh food for the dog every day. Finally, in curiosity, one of the farmer's neighbors asked why he continued to set out food for the dog when he obviously was not returning. "He will be back," replied the farmer. "Because he knows I am here waiting for him. And when he gets here I want him to know he is welcome back." Today we wait for Christ's return with great expectancy. We do not know the day nor the hour of His return, but we are confident that He is coming back. As we wait for Christ's return, we prepare ourselves each day to meet Him. -- Source Unknown
A. Active Rom. 13:11-13
1. "WE must not slumber in these days" ... even though night is coming; we are not children of NIGHT, we are children of the DAY … many people need our light!
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.
2. No matter how long it has been since you were saved, it is now nearer to the coming of Christ than when you first believed ... it can only be closer!
3. This world is getting darker ... even though they are saying this is a time of a "NEW WORLD ORDER" ... and a time when many nations are joined together in peace ... IN TRUTH THEY ARE JOINED TOGETHER FOR WAR!
a. It won't be long and night will end ... it always does!
b. This is true spiritually as well, while we live in dark days, Christ Jesus' coming will usher in the FULL LIGHT ... and then it will be the CHILDREN OF LIGHT WHO WILL RULE!
c. You too can be a child of God's family ... and if you are BRIGHT you will be!
4. Our activity should increase towards those who are still without the benefit of salvation!
B. Adornment! Rom.
1. This is a time to "CLOTHE OURSELVES WITH JESUS CHRIST!"
2. This is not the time to just gratify our flesh ... to ignore eternal values while fulfilling all our temporal ones!
ILLUS: A little girl had been listening while her mother's friends were speaking about the imminent return of the Lord. After some time she was missed, so her mother went in search of her. She found her looking out a window at the top of the house. Asked what she was doing she said, "Oh, Mother, I heard you say Jesus might come today, and I wanted to be the first to see Him. See, I washed myself and put on a clean dress." -- Source Unknown
3. This doesn't mean live like a monk ... but it does mean to think seriously of the need to win the lost!
a. It does mean to have clear spiritual priorities in one's life.
b. It does mean to value spiritual things above material things.
c. It does mean to do everything we can to build up the body of Christ!
d. It does mean to preach the gospel in every nation!
e. It does mean to be alert to the enemy's tricks and schemes that would sidetrack our walk with God!
4. We are going to be adorned with a crown of righteousness ... WE SHOULD LIVE THAT RIGHTEOUSNESS NOW, not just later!
CONCLUSION: One of God's sure promises is the guarantee of heaven to all who have received Christ as Lord! The day is going to come when we really will be able to use the term "SAVED" in its fullest sense. Since "saved" is past tense, meaning it is already finished, the use then of this term really means we are declaring the surest promise of Christ's finished work in our life, as though it is done NOW! Praise God we are "SAVED" ... and what a "sure promise it is!"