Allen Jackson - Is Jesus Returning? - Part 2
It's an honor to be with you again. We're continuing our study on what are we to do? It's the most asked question that I receive. How do we respond to what's happening in our world today? Well in this session, we're gonna look at a very specific slice of that, is Jesus returning? Spoiler Alert, I don't believe what we're watching is necessarily those things that will immediately precede Jesus's return, but I think we're seeing the foreshadowing of those things. So, there's a great deal to learn about our faith and the purposes of God and what's unfolding in the world around us. Don't let your heart be overcome with fear or anxiety. Folks, God is moving in the earth. He's preparing his church, he's calling us, he's purifying us. It's an exciting time to serve the Lord. Grab your Bible, get a notepad, open your heart.
All right, the Bible tells us that there will be a resurrection from the dead. The death is not final, hallelujah. You and I have an earth suit, it's on a countdown clock, folks. If you didn't know, I just had a birthday; these suckers wear out. Spoiler alert, you can get all the junk you want to pumped into you and you can fill all the spots, you can get all the DAP you can afford, you can use bondo and you can get some really, people good with body work, but it's gonna wear out. Everybody's looking straight ahead. "I have no idea what he's talking about. It hasn't affected me yet". I'm happy for you. The Bible says we all have two appointments, death and after that judgment and evaluation. But the Bible also tells us there'll be a resurrection from the dead. You're gonna get an updated version.
Now that's pretty good news. It's not subject to aging, they will not time out, and the Bible gives us some events that surround that. One is the rapture, it's a word that's discussed. People will say it's not in the New Testament, that's really insincere, because the words that can be easily translated into what rapture means are a part of the New Testament. Look in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 and verse 15. It says, according to the Lord's own Word, Paul's writing to a church but he's quoting. He said, "The Lord himself said this, that we tell you that we who are still alive, we who are left till the coming of the Lord will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of the Archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first".
So those that have already died in the Lord will be resurrected first. "After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we'll be with the Lord forever". Therefore, be terrified. "Therefore, encourage one another with these words". You see, timing is important cause if you build a system that you're so certain of and you build your whole worldview around the system and you missed the timing, it can bring some real devastation. Your faith's gonna have to include the power of God. And it's too late to figure out whether God is a deliverer after you hear Goliath bellow his challenge. You've got to know that the God you serve is greater than the enemies you face before you face the enemies.
So you start to build that confidence and that trust in God, in the midst of the seasons where you recognize his goodness and his grace and his mercy. Look at Matthew 27. This isn't a subtle theme of Scripture. "At that moment", this is the point of Jesus's death on the cross, when he said, "It's finished". "At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom". The holiest place in the temple was between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies and the High Priest can only go in that innermost space. And he can only go once a year with the blood of the Passover lamb. There was a thick curtain that separated the two. And when Jesus said, "It is finished," that curtain was torn into the way into the Holy of Holies was opened for all.
And it was torn in two from the top to the bottom. But that wasn't all that happened. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks split and the tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. Wow. "And they came out of the tombs and after Jesus resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many people". That's one of those places where it says the secret things are the Lord's. I got some questions cause we don't have a lot of textual information. What did they do? It says, "The tombs broke open and the bodies went in, they were raised to life".
It says, they didn't go into the city until Jesus was, what they do for the interim time? They played bunko in the cemetery? Did they all go get online and check their e-mail cause they had a backlog? A little catching up on social media? We don't know, but it's a foreshadowing, it gives us a little window into the power of God in the earth. You see, we have these crazy battles in our minds, and we imagine we're the people of God. Our Bible says, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth". I have talked to hundreds and hundreds of people say, "Pastor, that's really hard for me, you know, with my education".
Well, bless your pointed head. I'm a fan of education and learning, I love to learn and to study, I'm an advocate, but folks, what's the alternative to God created the heavens and the earth? Something came from nothing? Well, that's a pathway to cleverness. You see, we have denied the power of God because we haven't wanted to imagine that we would have to live at any place where we were dependent upon him. There's no better place to live. There's no better way to be, than depend on the power of God. I am so grateful God is wiser than I am, more powerful than I am, has greater resources than I have, and all of them are at our disposal. We're his kids.
Look in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul said, "Listen, I tell you a mystery, we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed. We won't all die, but we will all be changed. In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet, for the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable". That's that 2.0 version. Woohoo. "And we will all be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality". We will be changed in the twinkling of an eye. In the time it takes you to bat your eyes, God will do something that seems completely impossible to us. Now to me, that is an incredibly exciting thought. I intend to participate, I will do anything in my power, with my choices and my days under the sun to qualify for that lineup. What about you? You see, we haven't really moved God into that place where we have that enthusiasm.
Folks, there are things ahead of us that you don't wanna miss. God's not an intrusion, he's not a burden, it's not a problem, it's a joy. We're gonna be changed in the twinkling of an eye. The Rapture is gonna be followed by the judgment of Christians. That's what comes with new life. Second Corinthians 5 and verse 10, we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things well done in the body, whether good or bad. The big picture on that is everything about us is going to be totally known, nothing hidden.
Now you'll have to think about that a bit, that's more than just something to momentarily pass over. Because we're kind of habituated, we're trained to imagine that, you know, we can manage public perception. But we don't manage God. He knows our thoughts, he knows our intent. It's hard to know your intent, even if you have the best of intentions, it's hard to know your heart. I find I have to invite the Lord. I ask his help, "Lord help me, I wanna get this right, it's not, I'm not trying to be casual about it". But what you should know about that judgment that for the Christ followers, for those of us standing before the Lord to give an account, it's not a judgment over heaven or hell, it's an evaluation of what we've done in time, and we will be rewarded accordingly.
Again, I've said it many times, and there's usually a snicker, but I don't mean it in this way, but God's not a socialist, we're all not all gonna get the same thing. There's not like heaven-issued uniforms, kind of grey. We're not all gonna be in the same place, we're not all gonna have the same outcomes. We'll be in his Kingdom, but he's going to reward us. Look at Romans 8:1, it says, "Therefore, there's now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus". It's not a judgment of condemnation, but it doesn't mean it's just a judgment of affirmation and applause either.
The Scripture says that when we pass through that judgment, if what we have done passes the test of eternity, it'll go with us. If it doesn't, If we've just invested ourselves in the temporal things of this life, it'll be burned up, it won't have a value, it won't have a bearing in the age to come. So, it's another discussion, but it's worth thinking about and contemplating and planning for, investing in the age to come and I don't mean primarily your money. It's not a judgment of condemnation. John says, "Everything that is not righteous is sinful". There's no middle ground. That deception has flourished in the contemporary church.
We act like there's this big grey area. I don't imagine God has that. We're either engaged in things that are righteous, or we're not. Don't let a day go by without engaging in your thoughts, your words, your actions, your attitudes, your relationships and things that are honoring of the Lord. Why would you let that happen? Now it'll be a different scene at the Great White Throne. There's another judgment. The judgments in the New Testament can be identified as to their objective by the place, the location where the judgment takes place. You get that. There's a difference in the judgment from the Supreme Court and a local chancery court. And there is another judgment that's described in the New Testament. We'll look at it, that is a judgment of destinies, but that's not the one for the Christ followers.
Now another thing that we're told about in the New Testament, it's another thing that's frightening to a lot of Christians, and we try to avoid it and we don't talk about it, is the overthrow of the Antichrist and his forces. The Bible in 1 John talks about this in a diverse set of ways. It describes the spirit of Antichrist in the earth. And then it says, "There have been many antichrists that have gone out into the world". And then it describes at the end of the age, the culmination of time, because time will come to an end that at the end of the age, the Antichrist, this one person, there will be the embodiment of the spirit of Antichrist that will step onto the stage of human history as the most brutal leader the world has ever known.
But you need the awareness of each of those expressions of this spirit of Antichrist, because behind that person that ultimately will arise, there is a spirit. The best way I know of understanding what's happening in our world these days, because the self destruction of our nation has to be more than politically motivated. It's illogical, it's irrational, it doesn't make sense, it's indefensible. It's not about political parties or ideologies, it is spiritual. Now that's good news because as the church, there's an authority invested in us to be difference makers. It's why they're so quick to label us and try to silence us. Cancel culture is not new, read the book of Acts. They tried to cancel James, John and Peter, they tried to cancel Stephen. Cancel culture is not new.
The spirit of Antichrist. Antichrist carries two meanings. It means in opposition to, or against the Christ, the true Messiah. It also means in place of. It wants the place of worship and honor that is due Jesus. And that spirit is prevalent in the earth. It will try to capture your heart and your mind and your emotions and your dreams and all that your person defines, as something worth pursuing above all else. "That is the objective of my life," and if you put anything in that place other than acknowledging Jesus is Lord, the spirit of Antichrist has a foothold in you. Now, it doesn't have to be terminal. You can repent and humble yourself and ask God to help you with your priorities. We get really self-righteous about this. You don't expect me to serve the Lord above and then you put the things that you think are most important.
This is really clear, it goes all the way back to the books of Moses, "You can have no other gods before me". Nothing in priority above me. This one's not ambiguous. And that's a struggle in every one of our hearts, none of us are exempt from this. So that's spirit of Antichrist. Then we see individuals across the course of human history that have been the embodiment of that, and it's not hard for us to come up with a list, there are people we don't like. We can take the big historical figures that wreaked havoc, Lenin or Stalin or Mao Zedong, or Hitler. But you can see abominable people, people who have been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands, millions of people in the most horrific ways, expressions of Antichrist, a foreshadowing of this world leader who is coming. He'll be promising solutions, he'll be promising resolutions to the most complex problems that face humanity. He'll be hailed as a Savior. He will take the bargain that Jesus rejected.
Remember when Satan was tempting Jesus, after Jesus had fasted? And he said, he showed him all the kingdoms of the world and he said, "If you'll bow down and worship me, I'll give you the authority over all of these". Jesus rebuked him with Scripture. The Antichrist will take that bargain. There have been many expressions through history, they've affected people groups. In Israel at 130 AD, Bar-Kokhba was somebody who claimed to be the Jewish Messiah. And he managed to successfully stir the people enough that they followed him in a rebellion against Rome. They lost miserably. And that time, Rome was done. They destroyed the temple and the walls around Jerusalem in 70, but in 130, when they rebelled with Bar-Kokhba, they banished the Jewish people from the land of Israel. They renamed it, they renamed the city of Jerusalem, they renamed the land, they did everything in their power to separate the Jewish people from their historical homeland. And that was all initiated by a false Messiah.
Jesus said, "Many will come in my name". We shouldn't be shocked at this. You shouldn't be surprised. When you see human beings posturing and blustering and organizing and say, "We're gonna lead the world to peace and to prosperity and to unity," you know the spirit that's behind it. Don't be confused. The Antichrist will rule for a brief period. But for about 3 1/2 years, he'll be the most brutal dictator our world has ever known. Now here's what's important I believe, for us as the church to understand. From a biblical perspective, God will permit this. He's given us a choice. He said, "You've rejected me and you've rejected my Son, you can have what you asked for".
This is why our message is so important. This is why your interactions with your neighbors and with your family, it's why telling the truth at your kitchen table matters so much. We can choose to serve the true Christ in righteousness and holiness and share in his Kingdom, or we will serve the false Christ. Those are the options. And while we have freedom and liberty and the opportunities to share and engage, you know, I understand the notion of being a missionary is no longer socially acceptable. Taking your worldview, your belief structure and trying to share it with somebody else is seen as inappropriate and offensive, unless you're on the other side of this discussion and then they want laws to dictate that you accept their worldview. And for some inexplicable reason we bow down to that foolishness. Lord help us.
God does not teach us theoretical truth. When we have a revelation of God's truth, it gives us an opportunity to live through it. We gain trust, we gain confidence in the faithfulness of God, we learn to depend upon his character and his power to sustain us. Absolutely, I go to the doctor, but I pray on the way, I pray while I'm there, I pray when I leave, I want them to be inspired by the Spirit of God. We must learn to say no to our carnal earthly self and to say yes to godliness. And in all candor, that's not an easy class to enroll in. You'd rather just leave God behind that glass, in case of emergency break glass, and the rest of the time do what you wanna do, but that's not how the relationships work. All humanity will receive the most terrible lesson ever demonstrated on the earth.
There's some examples of this in Scripture. All these things we're talking about have foreshadowings, they're little vignettes in kind of a micro sample of what this will look like on a macro scale. Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor gave the Jewish people a choice. He knew Jesus was innocent, he didn't wanna condemn him to death, but he was in a very difficult political place. We can all understand this. He was afraid it was gonna cost him. It might have cost him points in the polls. If it went really south, maybe it would have cost him his appointment. At the very least, it seemed like there was something to be gained if he went along what was being asked of him. He's some itinerant rabbi, he's poor, I mean what's the big deal?
I'm gonna score some real points if I go along with this. So his kind of last-gasp effort was, he thought, well I'll give the people a choice. They can have Jesus or they can have the most vile person I have in prison right now, Barabbas. He's a rebel, he's a murderer, he's an insurrectionist, and we know how bad they are. And he said, "I'm gonna release somebody to you today, Jesus of Nazareth or Barabbas, who do you want"? And the people said, "We have no king but Ceasar, give us Barabbas". And if you don't know the history, I can tell you with certainty that for 19 centuries the Jewish people have been ruled by Caesars. And it seems to me that the Barabbases of history have been turned loose upon them. It's been horrific.
Now God has given all humanity this choice, we either accept the Messiah and his Kingdom, or we will serve the spirit of Antichrist. The consequences of rejecting God will be horrific. At the end of the age it will be apparent. In this moment, the consequences of rejecting God are horrific. Please don't do it. I'm not inviting you to join a congregation or a religious movement, I'm inviting you to consider making peace with the Creator of heaven and earth. You see, in our rebellion and our self absorption, our tendency is to blame God for our own choices. Those of us who choose Jesus as Lord will be under his government. Those of us who reject Jesus will be under the government of the Antichrist.
I'll give you a window into the next section, we're not gonna do it right now, but the Bible tells us about the defeat of the Antichrist. It's a fun story, but you're gonna have to listen to the next session to get it. But you have the notes. God is moving in the earth. I don't know the outcome for our nation, because I think the outcome will depend more upon the people of God and our responses than it will political parties or movements. And if we can imagine, to begin to believe that God holds our futures in his hands, and that that's more profound and more important than economic patterns or political movements, God's engagement will be expressed in those places but the authority and the power behind those expressions will be God's involvement.
I think we could all say with some confidence today that science didn't save us from COVID, but I believe God did. And I believe that the truth that was released in its various ways and however you process that, we saw the hand of God on our behalf in the midst of that. But if you were just trusting in the science we have enough information at this point to know the science was at best, inconsistent. Well, the things that are before us are no different, they're troubling, they're unsettling, they're life threatening, they're their future-wrecking but God will take us through. But you wanna learn to place your trust in God. And if you place your trust anywhere else, you're as likely to be misled in the season ahead, as you would have been misled in the season before, if all of your confidence was invested wholly in the CDC.
We are learning to trust God, it's an exciting time. He's moving in the earth. We're gonna see his power as never before. And he called us to this unique generation. That is such good news. I brought you a prayer, but I couldn't fit it on your notes. But they're gonna put it on the screens. And I'm sure they will post it somewhere tomorrow, so don't start calling saying, "Can we have the prayer"? They will make it available. Why don't you stand with me, we're gonna read this together. If you're at home, you can stand and read it with us. Folks, the King is coming, woo, and if we have the good fortune to be here when he returns that will be a hoot. It's a technical Greek word, means a lot of fun. And if that's not the case, he will bring resurrection power to our physical bodies and we will still get to see the Lord. It'll be a good day. Let's pray together:
Heavenly Father, we rejoice in the revelation of your Word. Holy Spirit, grant us understanding hearts and lead us into the truth needed for our assignments. Multiply our boldness that we might courageously proclaim the good news that Jesus is Lord and King. Protect us from every attack of the enemy. Lead us in paths which you reward. Through our lives, may Jesus' name be lifted up and his Kingdom extended, amen.