I'm thankful to be spending the weekend here and I'm glad that you're here. Of course half of the people here are here to hear the kids play (Special music was by the local elementary school.), and they do good, don't they. Some people think that when they get to heaven they're going to play as good as the kids, and you really won't be able to because they got a head start on you. They'll always play just a little bit better.
Anyway, we're going to be having this special weekend with an emphasis on the family. Someone asked me at the meeting last night, they said, "What if you're not married?" I said, "you know, we all have a family. This is for everybody." You know, we're all from homes, whatever that might be. I'm convinced that the church can never be more or less than a reflection of the family. And, you know, the message that prepares people for the coming of Jesus in Malichi 4:5 says, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of te great and dreadful day of the Lord; and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come smite the earth with a curse. Ladies and gentlemen, getting ready for the coming of Jesus has something to do with what's going on at home.
Speaking of getting ready for the coming of Jesus, my parents have passed away in the last few years and I was teasing some of the younger deacons this morning as they were standing with those of us who had been around longer and I reminded them that when they see people our age they probably think we were born this way. You know, like these kids, he looks at me and he says, "Oh, I'm glad I wasn't born like him. I was born young and he was born old. I'll never be like that." Yes, you will. If you want to know what it's going to be like forty years from now, look at me. But you'll probably be even worse. But anyway, this had been real serious for me because when grandma passed away, she was always old. And when mom and dad passed away, it made me think that we're all on a track. What I'm leading up to, ladies and gentlemen, if the story of the coming of Jesus isn't true, we have lost everything. The most important promise in all the scripture for us, probably at this time, is, "Let not you heart be troubled. Ye believe in God, believe also in Me.
In My Father's house are many mansions: If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. -John 14:1-3. We used to hear a lot about the coming of Jesus. In fact, our church was set up on that. I can remember in my own ministry that all the time they talked about the coming of Jesus, but it seemed like it kind of faded away. I think maybe it faded away for two reasons. One was that we were setting dates all the time, and how often can you miss it and still be credible. You know you can miss it two or three times, but not all the time. And so I think we kind of got embarrassed. Another reason I think we don't hear about the coming of Jesus much any more is that we didn't need it.
You know, when you're kind of poor, you want Him to come. You know, and so forth. But when you've got a decent place to live, you've got a job, and so forth, we got to the place where the mansions in heaven weren't as nice in our minds as the ones we've got here. And so, you know, who cares? It is interesting, though, that when you've got a good job and a nice place to live, and the kids are half behaving, the coming of Jesus isn't nearly as important as when you're out of work and you're having trouble with the kids and your marriage is breaking up.
Anyway, my dad, and he's gone to his rest, he thought that Jesus was coming and that he wasn't even going to get to go to college. In fact, he didn't even want to go to college because there wasn't time. He just wanted to get out and tell people Jesus was coming.
He was telling me that one day, he was out selling books as a colporteur and he went to one house and gave the little canvas and the fellow didn't want to buy any books, so if he's not going to buy any books, at least he's got to hear a Bible study. And of course the Bible studies that they gave back in those days were about the coming of Jesus. And so, that's wehat the fellow got as a booby prize. "You're not going to buy my books, you're going to hear a Bible study on the coming of Jesus.
And so he began to talk about the coming of Jesus. The man began to get a little bit excited. Pretty soon he said to my dad, "come into the dining room. I want to show you something." And there in the china closet was a big set of dishes. And the man pointed and he says, "See that set of dishes? My grandpa bought that set of dishes from a family in 1844 who was selling everything they had because in that great banquet where they were going to be the next day, the service was provided."
Dad looked at him an said, "Could I have one of those dishes?" And the man gave him a dish. And here it is. Now, I know what you're thinking. You're think, back in those days the really took the low carb thing to the extreme. In fact, if any of you girls are on the low carb you can have that for our fellowship dinner, you can have two heaping plates. That means something. It means something. It means these people really put everything into the work. They put their money where their mouth was.
What happened to the coming of Jesus with us? What happened?
Some time ago I was a member of the Tacoma Park Church and they asked me to give the lesson study one day at church. It was going to be a group lesson study instead of dividing into classes that particular day. The discussion for the Sabbath School quarter was about end-time-events. You know, all the end-time-events. And so, that particular Sabbath I was supposed to preach, it was about the coming of Jesus. I mean, about that specific time; from the little cloud and all that. I thought to myself, "What can I tell the people about the coming of Jesus that they don't already know about. Everybody already knows that I just can't think of anything new to say." And then it occurred to me, "I know what I'm going to do. I'm not going to tell these people, or ask them what they know about the coming of Jesus, I'm going to ask them how they feel about it, because you know that what we know and how we feel might be different."
And so I made up a little questionnaire. It had seven questions. And these questions were going to be about "How do you feel about the coming of Jesus?" By the way, watch out for questionnaires these days. Now, you're saying, "well, you did a questionnaire." But listen to what I'm about to say. He who asks the questions controls the agenda. There are questions that have only wrong answers. Jesus knew a good question from a bad one. Be careful when people ask you questions, particularly about things having to do with faith and morals. Especially if they say, "Do you believe this or this." Because most of the time those choices are probably not the right ones. Sometime the people ask me questions like that. "What do you believe, this or that?" I'll say, give me another choice." Be careful of questions. He who asks the question controls the agenda.
But anyway, having told you that, . . . By the way, you know, we're almost governing our country on questionnaires. Did you know that? Our country is in effect, fulfilling what Mrs. White said about giving up our republican form of government; we're becoming a pure democracy. A pure democracy is where you go and ask the people what to do next. There are dangerous times ahead of us.
anyway, there was the questionnaire and it was going to be about how do we feel about the coming of Jesus. What I decided to do, rather than to give "Do you believe this or that" I would give choices. The first question was, "Do you want Jesus to come?" And the choices were: Yes; No; very much; or explain. I thought, you know, explain lets you say whatever you want. Anyway, the first question was, "Do you want Jesus to come." I want to tell you that everybody answered "Yes" to this one. Now, before I tell you more about this questionnaire, let me say that I asked these questions not only in the Tacoma Park Church, but I asked essentially the same questions to a young adult class in Wagadoogoo. If I were to say, Meet me next Thursday in Wagadoogoo, would you know where to go? That was the Upper Volta in those days. It's now called, Winniebassaw. In West Africa. Listen to me. I asked these questions to those people in that young adult Sabbath School, they answered the same. I also asked essentially these same questions to academy students in Santiago de Chile where we lived. I got the same answers. Now, I didn't ask them in English. I just said, Quiere tu que Cristo venga? Everybody said, "Si" I don't think one person said, "No."
The second question was: "If you can set a date for His coming, when would it be?" Here we go. Somebody raised their hand and said, "but we don't know the time." I said, "I know that. That's not the question. The questions is: If you could set the date for His coming, when would it be?" Now, I didn't ask the young people in South America, "If you could set a date for His coming, when would it be?' I says, "Quiere tu que Cristo venga ante tu casi o despues?" "Do you want Christ to come before you get married or after?" Let me say, to the answer this questions, "If you can set a date for His coming, when would it be?" let me tell you that most everybody set a day all right, but when was it? It was down the line. It was down the line. Now, there's no place for a name on these. Not everybody put date: down the line someplace. Some people put that they actually wanted Him to come today. But I can tell who they were by the way they wrote: the old people. And the kids down in South America, the very ones who said, "S7iacute; I want Him to come. And some even said, "I want Him to come very much, ansosiomente. But not until after I get married."
Do you know something, some way in our head we've got it in our mind that in some way going to heaven is going to be missing something. We've just got it in our heads that if you want to have fun, have it now because heaven ain't going to be no fun. I'm goig to lose something.
After the service one day, we were talking about the coming of Jesus. A man said to me, these weren't the words he used, but, "If we don't snuggle with our wives in heaven I don't want to go."
I want to tell you, I don't know exactly what heaven is going to be like, but the Scripture says that can't even imagine how good it is. I Corinthian 2:9. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. Now I will tell you what it is not going to have. It's not going to have tears. It's not going to have sorrow. It's not going to have crying. It's not going to have dust. That's what we're not going to have. I want to tell you, there's nothing that when we get to heaven, notice I said when not if. When we get to heaven it's going to be the most wonderful thing. Don't miss it! Don't mis it.
What happened to the "Blessed Hope?" Why don't we hear about it any more? Just get to be my age, you'll start thinking about it. Watch you daddy who was handsome, and your momma who was pretty. Then you begin to think, "Oh God, Jesus, do something for us."
Listen to me! I don't mean to sound just totally pessimistic, I want to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, unless Jesus come one of these days soon, our grandchildren are not going right from wrong. They're not going to know right from wrong. If this world keeps going this way, I had not idea it was going to be this way. One person asked me one time, they say, "What's it going to be like living in the last days?" Like this. I didn't think it was going to be like this.
Why don't we hear about the coming of Jesus any more? I think I know. Matthew 25 tells the story. It tells the story about ten young groom's maids. Now you know, we think of bride's maids because in this country the bride's everything at a wedding. I used to live in South Asia and gues who's everything at a wedding in South Asia. It's the groom. I was talking to a person one time. He said, "I went to a wedding one time and the bride wasn't even there. They went and picked her up after the wedding. Now, over in those countries, you know, I was even reading about it yesterday. I was reading about Iraq. These people don't even get to choose who they're going to marry. Somebody chooses for them.
I was in Pakistan one time and I went to a wedding, a little village wedding, and the groom was there, and I said to the groom, I said, "Do you know your bride?" he said, "No, but saw her one time from a distance." It came time for her to come out and they had her dressed in a sheet from the top of her head to the soles of her feet and there weren't even eye-holes. They just kind of led her out like this. And when I saw her dressed like that I said, "Jacob, look out!"
Anyway, over in that part of the world it's the groom that's everything. And so in the story that Jesus told with the ten young women, they were waiting for the groom. What happened to him? They got tired of waiting. They went to sleep. Doctor Bachelor said last night, "That's the interesting thing. We know we're on track because we went to sleep. We know the coming of Jesus is really close because nobody's talking about it anymore." That's the worst time. That's an awful time. "Here it is," we said. "You know, we're going to go to sleep and he's going to catch us off guard." And we start passing out sleeping pills. We went to sleep. The good guys and the bad guys went to sleep. It's when they woke up that you could begin to separate the men from the boys, the women from the girls. When five of them woke up for some way they were still ready because they still had the oil. And in the Bible, the oil represented the Holy Spirit. Five of them had run out of Holy Spirit.
See, this is happening even in the church. It seems like we've all gone to sleep.. But while we've all gone to sleep, something has happened to part of us. Part of us . . . You know, we're still praying, we still have a spiritual life. We just don't think about the coming of Jesus any more.
But there's another part of us that we've never been more worldly. This is an incredible thing to me, that there's something seems to be going on in the church. One day I hear a Sabbath School teacher say, she said, "Let's pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I said, "The Holy Spirit is being outpoured. Pray that you'll get in on it."
So, in the church, even today it seems like there's a group who are getting close to the Lord. They want to do His will. They want to live their lives for Him. And then there's another goupr in the church, they could care less. These are the people that are running out of oil.
The story says that when the thing really begin to happen, this group that's kind of run out of oil, they';re going to say, "Give us some of the oil you've got." The girls that have the oil will say, "You can't do that.!'
And see, this is the thing that we all have in our heads. "So, well, you know, if there was a Sunday law next Sunday, I think I'd get good." I think if there was a Sunday Law next week I'd have a revival. I think I would have even gone to the revival meetings this week if that happened. Let me tell you this: This has probably been one of the problems in the church through the years. We used the coming of Jesus as a kind of a stick. You know, "You'd better be good. Jesus might come and get you."
Now, when you hear about the coming of Jesus like some kind of stick, does that make you want to come to Jesus or get out of there? You see, here is one of our problems. We've used the coming of Jesus as a threat. We've used it as a scare. And this is the problem with many of us. It's that our religious experience is based on adrenalin. I heard someone say, "You can poison yourself upon your own adrenalin. It's okay to have a little adrenalin to save yourself, but if you've got adrenalin all the time, you make yourself sick. And I think this is one of the challenges we've had as Christians is that it take a wall, it takes a plague, it takes an earthquake, it take some hurricanes in Florida. When there's a good hurricane, you say, "Jesus must be coming." Then you get your yard cleaned up and who cares?
Ladies and gentlemen, understand this, that fear, though it might take us to the cross will never keep us there. The fear will take you to Jesus, it won't change your heart. You can be scared out of your gourd. You heart will just stay the same. The only thing that can change our heart is the Holy Spirit. And I want to tell you, I've come to the conclusion here. Now, you're Adventists here. If you're visiting today, you're welcome. I'm going to talk in an Adventist context. I want to tell you that for many years, you could be a good member of the Adventist church by just changing your mind. Now we've got to realize that it is not a change of your mind we need, it's a change of heart. It's easier to change the way you dress, the way you eat, and what you do in your spare time, but only Jesus through the Holy Spirit can change the way you treat your husband and your wife, I'll tell you that. You see, this is probably the problem that we've had. We didn't get it going on the inside. You could do it all right and be as mean as sin. I'm getting ready for the coming of Jesus if something goes on the heart.
Anyway, this last question in the questionnaire was: "When Jesus comes, will you be ready? The possibilities were: Yes; No; I hope so; or I don't Know. How do you think they answered that? They answered that one either, I don't know, or I hope so. You know, this is probably the trouble. How can you be excited about the coming of Jesus if you think it's going to do you in? How can you think about something that is going to be your last breath? You may say, "How can I say I'm saved?" If you talk to a Baptist, he'll say he's saved. You talk to this crowd and they'll say, "I hope so." Ladies and Gentlemen, we've got to be saved. We've got to get to the place when asked by somebody, "When Jesus comes, will you be ready?" You've got to answer "yes" to that one. We've got to answer "yes" to that one. We'll never see the blessed hope unless we do.
You say, "But Dick, how can I do that? How can I say, 'Yes', I don't believe in once saved, always saved." I'm not talking about that. Let me tell you, you give your heart to Jesus every day. You give it to Him first thing in the morning. You say, "I'm your boy. I'm you girl today." "But I'm not perfect. I'm not perfect yet." Let me tell you this, I'm not perfect, either. But I have the promise that He who has begun this good work in us will finish it.
When Jesus comes, will you be ready? "Yes, I'll be ready." "But are you perfect?" "No." "Then how can you say you'll be ready?" "Because He who has begun this work in my will finish it." "You mean that you can say that you'll be ready for the coming of Jesus?" "Yes, I can say I'll be ready for the coming of Jesus." "How can you say that? Your not perfect yet." " Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. - I John 3:2. He will have a church that is without spot or blemish. He'll have your heart. You're home without spot or blemish." Not because we were able to pull it off, but because we opened up our hearts, we gave our hearts to Him every day, and He worked a miracle, He makes my eyes see, He makes my heart beat, He makes my lungs breathe, and he can give me a new heart. The Holy Spirit can reformat my head and give me a new operating system so that I can just say when somebody asks me, "When Jesus comes, Will you be ready?" "Yes I will."
Let me ask you the question: When Jesus comes, will you be ready? Amen. Son, what about you? Amen. What about the rest of you, will you be ready?
Hymn of Praise: #171, Thine is the Glory Scripture: RR #816, Preparing for Christ's Coming Hymn of Response: #214, We Have This Hope
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last updated November 14, 2004 by Bob Beckett.