Sermon delivered July 4, 1998

by Pastor Donald J Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Quotations from the Bible are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

Here I Come, Ready or Not!

Today is the beginning of a series of seven sermons on the seven S's of Seventh-day Adventism. Today is the first. This is about the Second Coming. We will be having others. Next week will be the State of the Dead, called, "The Blessing of Death." Then: the Sabbath, the Spirit of Prophecy, the Sanctuary, the Simple Life Style, and a Special Remnant Church that we believe in. And so we have quite a series in front of us. I think you will enjoy this series.

One of the major beliefs of our church is that Jesus is coming soon. We are called Seventh-day Adventists. What does the word "Adventist" mean? It means: A person who believes in the soon appearing, or the soon advent of Jesus Christ; the second advent of Jesus. Adventists believe that Jesus is coming soon. That is where the word Adventist comes from. It refers to the second advent or second coming of Jesus.

John 14:1-3 "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; (ample room) if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

From verse 3 we believe that Jesus IS coming again, therefore our hearts are not troubled. He says: "I will come again." That's a promise, and you can bank on that promise.

Jesus guarantees His coming. Do we see any signs of Jesus soon return? I believe we do. So when will the final troublesome events begin and when will it really start?

There is an interesting verse tucked away in Matthew 24. It follows Jesus' prediction of famines and earthquakes in the days just prior to Jesus second coming. This text has a very interesting word in it. In fact, it's the very first word in the verse. Matthew 24:9- "THEN (that follows verse 8 which talks about the famines, the earthquakes, the various other signs of the Lord's coming. All of these are the beginning of the birth pains. ), Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death... " So when does the trouble really begin? Just after all these natural calamities: the earthquakes, the drought, which is a famine. I could be caused by a flood, couldn't it? It could be caused by most anything.

When will the big time of vexation and affliction start? Right after an explosion of rapid fire natural hazards and troubles, we're going to see the real event taking place on this earth. Quickly after that, attitudes are going to change and tyranny will mobilize itself against Faithful Christians. Now, the National Geographic Magazine, July, 1998 has in it a map. I have subscribed to the National Geographic since 1970. In here is a tremendous map listing all the natural calamities that are taking place in this world and how rapidly they are mushrooming just in the last ten years. In fact they have doubled in the last ten years. You can see, they have charts and graphs of all over the United States what is going on. It's amazing! It is their feature article. When you have a very believable magazine like the National Geographic stating that the calamities have doubled in the last ten years, that's an amazing statement. That ought to wake somebody up. I believe that when people see these natural disasters taking place, they are going to blame all of these events on sin. And they're going to say, "People need to get to church. That's the reason all this trouble is here. Because we're not putting God first, we're just not doing right." So there's going to be a movement to get people back in church, or even compel them to get in church. We call that the "Sunday Law." Great things are going to happen.

Do we see an increase in these natural disasters: the earthquakes and these other things? Yes, we do. Hurricanes, tornado activity. It seems like very storm we had this year had tornadoes or blew trees down or produced hail or something. Dust Bowl droughts, hail and lightening, Volcanoes, floods, landslides, tidal waves, wildfires. I talked to somebody who just came back from Florid this week and there are fires everywhere. If you attempt to go someplace, the roads are closed and you have to go around a hundred or maybe two hundred miles to get where you want to be. There are evacuations of thousands of people, even whole counties.

Just last week, Pat Robertson , of the 700 Club, put out on the air that he is asking God to strike Orlando and Florida with wrath. He says that it is a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah. He says that they are scheduled for heavenly annihilation because of their favor of the "Gay" movement. He says, Orlando is now on God's "hit" list. I don't believe God has a "hit" list. But with all those fires burning in Florida, you might wonder maybe his prayers are being answered. He's expecting terrorist bombs, earthquakes, tornadoes, and maybe a meteor to strike Florida.

Now, really, I know that these disasters are coming anyway. It doesn't matter what some person says. I don't believe that God is striking at various people. I think sometimes He allows things to happen. I think there's a big difference between the two. But there's been an increase of natural disasters. We know that. A hazard only become a disaster when it strikes where people live. There are so many more people now: people are living everywhere, and so these disasters are taking place. The devastation has doubled in ten years. Really, when we see the news about fires out of control, and floods raging and whirlwinds, we sense that time is short.

Another statement by our Lord where there will be great distress. Matthew 24:21,22- "For there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now, and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened."

I believe that God is using these calamities to wake up a world that is spiritually asleep. We need to recognize that we're living in the last days. We may not have too much longer. I believe the day is arriving when we're getting near the end, the advent of our great God will appear, because all things everywhere are boiling or freezing, burning or gushing, moving or shrinking, falling, sinking, sliding, and groaning. We have a few problems out there.

Matthew 24:6 "You will hear of wars and rumors of wars," Well, we've heard about those forever. India and Pakistan are rattling their nuclear swords against each other. How many nations have atomic weapons, I don't know. I was born just before Pearl Harbor, October 27, 1941. I didn't participate in gaining the liberties that we enjoy here in this great nation. But others went out and fought battles so that I could live in a land of peace and a land of freedom. I appreciate that. We hear of wars and rumors of wars. I believe that the judgment day is just over the horizon. I don't think this is going to continue on and on and on.

Adventists are not the only Christians that believe in the soon coming of Jesus. But our understanding is unique among many. Many churches believe that several years before the real coming of Jesus there will be a Secret Rapture. The saved will be snatched away while the lost will have a second chance of seven more years. We don't believe that. Seventh-day Adventists do not see it that way. We read Revelation 1:7 that says that Jesus comes with clouds (clouds of brilliant shining angels) and Every Eye will see Him.

Matthew 24:27- "For as the lightening shines from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man." You can't miss lightening. Even while you are hiding under the covers! You know it's going on out there. Adventists find no evidence in the Bible of two future comings and the first one being a total secret.

Matthew 24:36 says of the day and the hour: "No one knows the day or the hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." Adventists are different than others because we do not set dates for Jesus to come. One popular new age book about Edgar Cayce's prophecies states that Jesus is coming on September 30, 1998. That's a sure thing! I sort of think the He's not coming in September 30, 1998 because He's coming in a day when we do not expect Him to come. So, if He's expected, He's obviously not going to come on that day. No one knows the day nor the hour. Not even the angels of heaven, not the Son; only the Father.

When I was a boy we used to have so much fun playing games of hide and seek. It was never so much fun as when we would play it at night. We would count to 50 and then say: "Here I come, Ready or Not!" That's exactly how it will be with Jesus. Soon Jesus will come whether we are ready or not. No second chance. Today is the day of salvation. Today if you will soften your hearts and not harden your hearts.

There are many signs of Christ's coming. WICKEDNESS --- Daniel talks about the latter time when the rebels become completely wicked.....(Daniel 8:23) We see a lot of wickedness today. don't we.

Consider this fact: according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, if every worker working in every factory and in every office in the United Sates between ages 18 and 40 were tested for drugs on any given day, between 14 percent and 25 percent would test positive. That's alarming, isn't it? So it's not just the kids! Focus on the Family, July, 1998 page 4. 98 percent of people in jail today are there because of drugs according to sheriff John Cupp, Hamilton County, Tennessee. And there are a lot of people in jail. 1 out of every 155 US residents is in jail. Chattanooga times, associated press -- (CTAP), 1-19-1998. Americans spend $57.3 BILLION on illegal drugs every year! Chattanooga Times, 11-10-97. I can't afford it. These addicts get a good share of that money from robbing your house and stealing your automobile and snatching your purse. Crime is way too high.

Aids is still a threat. Did you know that from 1991 to 1995 the number of aids cases among women increased by 63%. Chattanooga Times, AP, Sept, 17, 1997. World-wide, more than 30 million human beings have full blown aids. And the vaccines they use to inoculate people with aids are actually causing aids they think now. CT, AP, 11-26-97. They talk about cigarettes, Adventists don't smoke. Cigarettes shorten life by 12 years, and Gay sex shortens it by 35 years. Both are almost entirely preventable. They're both the result of a sinful lifestyle choice.

Jesus said there would be mega- famines (Matthew 24) just before He returned. According to UNICEF, hunger is now more lethal than any disease since the bubonic plague. This is very hard to believe here in America, but I've read that one in four children under the age of twelve here in America do not get enough food to eat. Chattanooga News, 12-16-97. That's amazing!

Friends, we live in grand and awful times.

LUKE 21:25-28 "There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."

Revelation 13:14 talks about the image of the Beast. This is another sign of the last days. You know who Martin Luther was. Martin Luther made a great statement and he did not believe the same way the mother church, the Roman Catholic church believed. Would you believe that now CATHOLICS and PROTESTANTS agree on SALVATION! At least the Lutherans do.

Martin Luther condemned Roman Catholics for their stand on Justification by works. Catholics still believe they can earn their salvation. Lutherans do not. But this past fall these two groups came to a watershed event when they stated that today they both believe the same on Justification! The Lutheran vote was 958 to 25. Now, that's amazing!

It seems to me that the leading churches of the United States are now reaching their hands across the gulf and grasping the hand of Romanism. (See Signswatch, Spring, 1998 page 4-5.

Major American churches are uniting on such points as are held by them in common. At the Episcopal National Cathedral in Washington, DC at an interfaith meeting, there were prayers by Muslim and Buddhists and scripture readings, "scripture readings", from Hindu writings. The speaker at the April 24, 1997 meeting said that basically "All major religious traditions carry the same message....." Do they? No. At the conclusion of his talk, the speaker was given a standing ovation! That's what we are headed for in this world. The image to the beast is quickly shaping up.

Listen to how God accurately describes the sequence of events: REVELATION 13:11-17 "Then I saw another beast, (the United States of America) coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.

You can see that image is being set up today. It's happening right here. Friends this thing is now shaping up. We believe that Jesus is coming soon. I don't have any idea when Jesus comes. I don't know. I have, over the years of my life in my preaching, always said it's going to be, well, maybe a handful of years. But we don';t know, do we? The main thing is that we will be ready. That we stay ready. And that we get others ready. When He comes will you be ready?

Hebrews 9:27-28 "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. I want to be waiting for Jesus.

Are you waiting for Jesus? Are you waiting for Jesus to come? Or are you playing the game of hide and seek with God? Are you really on your way to heaven?

Yesterday, I saw a hitchhiker along the side of the road with his thumb sticking out. That is a normal occurrence. What made this a striking event was the fact that he was not just standing there, but he was walking. What made this a unique experience was as he had his thumb out and walking, he was walking toward us in the opposite direction that he was asking us to take him. I thought, I've never seen that before. Usually a hitch-hiker is walking in the direction he wants to go. That's a baffling experience to me. I don't understand that.

Are you really on your way to heaven? Is your spiritual thumb indicating that you desire Jesus to stop by and pick you up, while at the same time your walk is taking you further and further away from your goal?!? You know, that's a thought that came to me.

Luke 21:34-36 (according to one of my favorite new Bibles, "The Message") "Be on your guard. Don't let the sharp edge of your expectation get dulled by parties and drinking and shopping. Otherwise that Day is going to take you by complete surprise, spring on you suddenly like a trap, for it's going to come on everyone, everywhere, at once. So, whatever you do, don't go to sleep at the switch..." Sort of a neat Bible to read out of. I want us to be wide awake.

So I want to

Soon we will see Him coming in the clouds of glory to take us to our ultimate retirement home far off in the heavenly skies. Just don't fall asleep at the switch.

 

Opening Hymn: 647 Mine eyes have seen the glory
Scripture: John 14:1-3
Closing Hymn: 214     WE HAVE THIS HOPE!

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