WHEN WILL CHRIST RETURN?

Pastor James J. Barker

Text: JOHN 14:1-4




INTRODUCTION:


  1. I read an interesting article recently (8/6/10) in the Sword of the Lord.  It was written by the editor, Dr. Shelton Smith.
  2. The article examines the false teachings of Harold Camping, particularly his prediction that the world will end on May 21, 2011.
  3. This past June 21, Bro. Smith sent a certified letter to Mr. Camping.  Just a few days later, he received a receipt from the post office confirming that Camping received the letter and had signed for it.
  4. To save time, I will only read part of the letter:
    “I have a proposal for you.  If you do truly believe that May 21, 2011, is the date for the end of the world, then I challenge you to demonstrate good faith and deed your Family Radio Network and its assets to the Sword of the Lord Publishers effective on May 20, 2011.  This would need to be done with no legal loopholes and announced publicly as soon as the paperwork is signed…It’s time, sir, for you either to put up or shut up.  Amen!” 
  5. I do not think Mr. Camping will accept the challenge.
  6. Back in 1992, Harold Camping published a book entitled 1994?   Camping introduced his book with this statement: “No book ever written is as audacious or bold as one that claims to predict the timing of the end of the world, and that is precisely what this book presumes to do.”
  7. Well, his book may have been audacious and bold, but it was also foolish and wrong. September 6, 1994, came and went, and Mr. Camping was clearly exposed as a false prophet.
  8. Unfortunately, Harold Camping is not the only false prophet making predictions about the end of the world. There have been plenty.  Our Lord said in Matthew 24:11, “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.”

 

I. JESUS SAID “THE WAY YE KNOW,” NOT THE “DAY YE KNOW” (JOHN 14:4-6).

  1. Date setting has been a problem for a long time.  Mr. Camping is just the latest false prophet to do so.
  2. The Jehovah’s Witnesses cult have set dates many times. The founder of the cult, Charles T. Russell (1852- 1916) attracted deluded followers with his fantastic predictions that the Battle of Armageddon would strike in 1914.
  3. When 1914 came and went, Russell changed the date to 1915.  It didn’t happen then either. 
  4. Russell died in 1916, and then Joseph Franklin Rutherford took over the organization.
  5. Rutherford (1869-1942) used the threat of Armageddon to frighten his cult members.  He published a book called The Finished Mystery, which predicted that in 1918 God would destroy churches and millions of their members, and claimed that by 1920 every kingdom would be swallowed up in anarchy.
  6. So we see, making “bold and audacious” predictions is nothing new!
  7. Rutherford taught that the only way to escape this impending judgment and destruction was to join his Watchtower organization.
  8. When his 1918 and 1920 predictions failed, Rutherford set a new date in his book entitled Millions Now Living Will Never Die (1920).
  9. This book taught that the millennial kingdom would start in 1925 and that Old Testament saints like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David would come back to life.
  10. In 1929, the Jehovah’s Witnesses even built a luxurious Spanish mansion called Beth-Sarim (House of Princes) in San Diego California, supposedly to house Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David.
  11. But the place did not sit empty and unoccupied while the JW’s waited for Abraham and the others to show up. (One fellow did arrive, claiming to be the David of the Old Testament and thus a rightful owner of Beth-Sarim. However, Rutherford didn’t believe him.  He called him an “unshaven tramp” and threw him out.)
  12. Since Abraham and company did not appear, Rutherford conveniently moved into the beautiful mansion. He also drove an expensive new car (this was during the Great Depression), while rank and file JW’s went door-to-door selling Watchtower books and pamphlets, and worked at Bethel headquarters for $10 to $15 a month.
  13. In 1948, six years after Rutherford’s death in 1942, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David still had not arrived, so the JW’S quietly sold “Beth Sarim.”
  14. Today, most JW’s know nothing about any of this, but it is well documented.
  15. More recently, the leadership of the JW’s predicted the end of the world in 1975. Many Jehovah’s Witnesses sold their homes and property in 1974 and were commended by their leaders for doing so.
  16. Membership grew by the thousands until 1975 came and went. Then many people realized that they were deceived by the JW’s and they left the organization.
  17. The leaders of the JW cult refused to admit they had been wrong about their 1975 prediction, and today no one talks about it.
  18. Another cult founded upon date setting is the Seventh Day Adventists.
  19. William Miller was an itinerant Baptist preacher who predicted the world would end in 1844 with the Second Coming of Christ.
  20. Miller’s foolish followers condemned all the churches of the day as apostate and “Babylon,” and warned Christians to come out of them. A great many did, and the new “Adventist” movement grew rapidly.
  21. Christ did not appear in 1844. After this disappointment, some Adventists insisted the date of their original predictions had been correct. They decided the event marked by 1844 was not the Second Coming of Christ, but the entrance of Christ into the Holy of Holies to cleanse the Heavenly Sanctuary.
  22. This strange “Investigative Judgment” doctrine was received and endorsed by Ellen G. White, who soon became the leader and prophetess of the SDA cult.
  23. I could go on all day speaking of false cults and false prophets, but I’d rather we turn now to the Word of God (cf. Mark 13:31-37).

 

II. THE RAPTURE WILL NOT BE “THE END OF THE WORLD”.

  1. Many people have this notion that when Christ comes back it will be “the end of the world.”  That’s not true.
  2. First of all, the term “end of the world” means “the end of this age.”
  3. In Matthew 13:39, our Lord said, “The harvest is the end of the world.”
  4. In Matthew 24:3 we read, “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”
  5. In Matthew 28:20, our Lord said, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
  6. The same Greek word is used in all three of these references, and it means literally, “the end of the age.”
  7. The world will not come to an end after the rapture.  Revelation 13:17 says, “And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.”
  8. This means people will be working, and buying, and selling, etc. after the rapture, and during the tribulation period.
  9. The book of Revelation, chapters 6—19 describe what will happen here on earth after the rapture. 
  10. Other details are given in the Olivet Discourse, II Thessalonians 2, and in other Scriptures.
  11. After the rapture, the world will enter into the Great Tribulation.  Our Lord said in Matthew 24:21, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.”
  12. The world will not end, but God will literally turn it upside down.  Isaiah 24:1 says, “Behold, the LORD maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof.”
  13. Our Lord said in Matthew 24:29, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.”
  14. Revelation 9:6 says, “And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.”
  15. The book of Revelation describes these terrible judgments – the seal judgments, the trumpet judgments, and the vial judgments.
  16. When the vials of God’s wrath are poured out upon the earth, wicked men will suffer horribly but nevertheless they will still refuse to repent (Revelation 16).
  17. During all of this turmoil, the antichrist will emerge as a world dictator, and he will force everyone to take a mark in either their right hand, or in their forehead (Rev. 13).
  18. All nations will gather to attack Israel.  Ezekiel 38 & 39 indicate Russia and her Muslim allies will be at the forefront. 
  19. But the Lord is in control.  Zechariah 12:2 says, “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.”
  20. Zechariah 14:2 says, “For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken.”
  21. The Battle of Armageddon will be fought on the Plain of Megiddo.
  22. The Lord Jesus Christ will then intervene (cf. Zech. 14:3, 4; Rev. 19:11-21).
  23. So we see the rapture will not be the end of the world.   According to Daniel 9, the tribulation will be for seven years.  This is confirmed several times in the book of Revelation.
  24. Then our Lord will return to establish His millennial kingdom.

 

III. ARE YOU READY?

  1. Let me first address this question to the unsaved.  Are you ready?
  2. There’s an old song:
    There’s a great day coming, a great day coming;
    There’s a great day coming by and by,
    When the saints and the sinners shall be parted right and left,
    Are you ready for that day to come?
     
    Are you ready? Are you ready?
    Are you ready for the judgment day?
    Are you ready? Are you ready?
    For the judgment day?
  3. The Bible is clear about what is in store for those who reject the Gospel (II Thess. 1:7-9).
  4. Now let me say a few words to those who think they are saved but are deceived.  Our Lord said in Matthew 7:21, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
  5. Finally, I would like to say a few words to those who are saved.  Our Lord said in John 9:4, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.”
  6. Now is the time to work for God.
  7. Now is the time to win souls.
  8. Now is the time to support missions.
  9. Now is the time to pray.

 

CONCLUSION:


  1. I recently read an article (David Cloud), which stated that at least three lakes lined with vacation homes have disappeared in the last few years here in the United States.
  2. Last month Lake Delhi in Iowa drained when a dam broke. Millions of dollars in property values disappeared when hundreds of vacation homes and permanent residences lost their lakefront views overnight.
  3. In June 2008, Lake Delton in Wisconsin overflowed and then nearly emptied in one day. It is a vacation haven for many Chicago residents.
  4. In June 2004, Lake Chesterfield near St. Louis, Missouri, disappeared over a matter of days when a sink hole opened up. Residents who had spent large amounts of money for beautiful lakeside property were left facing a large, smelly mud flat. One 74-year-old retired resident who had purchased an expensive condominium for its view said, “It’s disheartening, getting out on your deck and seeing this. One day it’s a beautiful lake, and now, bingo, it’s gone” (AP, June 11, 2004).
  5. These stories remind us of the brevity of life and the necessity of setting our priorities right. The Lord is coming back, and we need to “set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:2).
  6. We are also reminded that the Lord is coming back very soon.


| Customized by Jun Gapuz |