Dr. Ed Young - The End of Time
It's amazing how interest in last things wanes and swells. Sometimes there's a lot of interest; sometimes there's little interest. Primarily I've noticed it centers around what's going on in the Middle East. And when there seems to be relative calm there, we sort of back off. It recedes, and we don't think much about the end of life and the end of this world. But when things get hot, we see, Israel and Palestine, the Arabs and the Jews, and now we see the whole Middle East is on fire.
In fact, you could look all around the world today and you see revolution; you see war; you see tension; you see division; you see strife. And then we begin to look at all the natural events that are taking place, the increased number of volcanic eruptions, tsunami, hurricanes,, all the rest that goes with this. We look at the increase in violence around the world; the division between people, between cultures, between nations. And everywhere we point, we see fire, after fire, after fire, and everybody almost begins to ask, "What is going on"? And we begin to think about the future.
Now ladies and gentlemen, we all need to live in three tenses. We need to live in the past. To be human, you have to understand something about history. If you cannot remember, I cannot remember or learn from yesterday, we're in trouble. Also, we have to live in the present. Somebody who will just withdraw from the present and says "What's going on now has no importance, no significance..." If that's you, you're in trouble. By the same token, we have to live in the future, and we have to be assured, or have questions and some understanding of the tomorrows that will come. So we live in three tenses, and as we look at the future, I would like to ask you a question.
As we think about the future now and forever, does that fill you with fear? What's gonna happen tomorrow? Or as we think about the future, can you say, "I have confidence". The answer to that question depends on how you and I navigate through life. We're going to study eschatology. Say, "What in the world is that"? "Eschata" meaning "last things". "Logia" meaning "the study of" or "the science of". We're going to study, the science of last things. And therefore, we're going to look at all the disciplines in a precursory way; not exhaustively, that come under the heading of Biblical eschatology. So, open your Bibles if you would.
I'm going to read one key Verse: Look at I Thessalonians, Chapter Number 4, Verse Number 16: "For the Lord Himself will descend from Heaven with a shout and with a voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord".
Dr. Branson Ray, renowned brain surgeon was taking a walk in his neighborhood, and he saw a young guy on a scooter go around a corner and crash into a tree and hit his head. Dr. Ray knew he was seriously injured. He told someone standing by to call 911, and he went over there, this renowned brain surgeon and began to apply first, first aid. A crowd gathered around, and in a little bit, a young boy about the age of the kid who'd hit his head on the tree, came through and went over to the doctor and said, "Sir, you will have to step aside now. Thank you, but I'm a Boy Scout, and I know first aid"! You like confidence, don't you? You like somebody, or something that stands up and says, "I am confident! I am confident"!
And so here we look for confidence in a world that is on fire. Now where do we find confidence? You take the word "hope" and the Bible is full of the word "hope". By the way, if you want to have an exhaustive Bible study, get the word "hope" and look at it in the Old Testament and New Testament, and I don't know how many times it's referred to. It seems like every other Verse, there's hope, hope, hope, hope, hope, hope, hope, hope, hope. Now, in the Old Testament, there's several Hebrew words that are translated "hope" and they may be good translations; they may not be good translations. But in the New Testament, the word "hope" is used in a different way than what you and I think. We use the word "hope" like "maybe".
It would be good if... Man, I can't imagine it, but I hope... We, look at it as something that is ambiguous; we're not sure about. It's sort of pie-in-the-sky. It, it's sort of a, a wild dream, but I have hope, and I hopes. It's used as a verb and as a noun. Hope. And that's how we use it, isn't it? But that's not the Biblical word. Almost a synonym for "hope" used in the New Testament, is the word "confident". Confidence. So if you, you see the word "hope" in the New Testament; you can put the word "confident" there and it's a better translation in our understanding of it. You say, "Give an illustration..." There's many of them. They give some that we're familiar with.
I Corinthians 13, the great love Chapter, right? All this is love, and finally he says, "There abides three... these three, these will abide. These will remain. They'll be with us: Faith, hope, and love". Okay? But take the word "hope" there and put "confidence". Faith, confidence, and love. Confidence is a better rendering and it has better meaning in almost every context. Faith, confidence, and love. What is faith? Hebrews tells us. Faith is the evidence of things hoped for... in other words, it's evidence of things we're confident in. You have evidence-what's the result of evidence? Your confident, right? Here's all the evidence. It's clear, it's plain. It's undisputable, and therefore, you have confidence. It's the evidence of things hoped for, and it is the substance of things you can't even see.
Now look-faith, evidence of things-there our word -we're confident in, see? The substance of things we can't see. So when we have faith plus confidence, then we're able to love as Christ has called and endowed and equipped us to love. Well what does that love look like? Everybody goes one mile. Love, you go two miles. Everybody loves those who love them. We as Christians are to love those who we don't like, and they don't like us, and they talk about us and slander us and abuse us. If we don't do that, what's the dif... anybody who likes me and I like them -man, that's just normal, isn't it? But when somebody dislikes you and slanders you, and you not only like them, but you love them, that's that supernatural love that we have when we have faith, and then we have confidence. We put our full weight down on. Then because Christ is in us, we have the ability to love.
So it is confidence. And let me say this: Confidence-confidence is what? It's the joyful anticipation of the future because of the promises of God. Get that? Confidence, the joyful anticipation of the future because of the promises of God. How much confidence do you need than when God signs and endorses and says, "This is what I will do". Now let me tell you what confidence in the future is not. In life, after this life, we're not going to have a ghost-like existence. You follow me? A ghost like existence. Now a lot of people believe this. You die; we're going to go this-whooow! Float around on a little cloud, kind of like a Casper, the Friendly Ghost. Remember those cartoons? We just float around on a little cloud. That's not what the future holds for members of the family of God. We're not going to be ghost-like characters.
You see this taught many a mystery religions. You see it when, when they dug up King Tut, remember? The pharaoh in Egypt? And they found there his boat. They found there bowls that he would eat out of. In other words, they sent in his burial everything he's gonna need in the afterlife as he floats around in a ghost-like existence. That is not what the future is about, ladies and gentlemen! Let me assure you... not a ghostly kind of existence. By the same token, the future is not nirvana. This is what the Buddhists teach-that we'll die and we'll lose our own personal identity, and we'll sort of be caught up, and we'll move from soul migration to soul migration until one day, we'll be pswoooo!
Absorbed in this great mist, this great cloud of glory or light, and we'll just be absorbed with all of those others who have gone on before and will come after us, and we'll be in the state of nothingness -a state of total peace and tra, tranquility, lumped in with everybody who's ever lived. We'll be in nirvana! That is not what confidence in the future is all about. By the same token, confidence in the future is not wishful thinking. You know, "I just think the world is going to get better". This goes back to Frederic Slymarker, end of the 19th Century. He said, "Well, if we can get everybody educated..." that everybody is born basically a good person, you know, and therefore, the whole world corrupts us because we're born good. We just have to move forward and the world will get better, and better, and better, and better.
There are not a lot of people believe this anymore, by the way. Not a lot of people believe that. This is what's happened in the last 6 months. We'll see that we're not born basically good people; we're born basically evil. We are born in sin, and we're born as sinners. So that view has gone out... but some have the idea that you know, "I'm going to be wishfully thinking the world's gonna get better and better, and we'll just sort of go off into eternity better, and better, and better in some kind of utopia". That is not having confidence in the future. By the same token, having confidence in the future is not the idea that we're going to live other-worldly. I've seen a lot of Bible-believers who said, "Oh, oh, oh! It's getting gloriously dark! Jesus is gonna come! Doesn't matter about feeding people, loving people, witnessing to people, helping people because it's gloriously dark"!
You know... "I'm gonna live in another world! I'm gonna be so spiritual, and so above life, and I'm outside of all of that stuff..." Listen! That's not New Testament Biblical Christianity! See? It's just not... Also, let me tell you what the future is not. It is not the immortality of the soul. That's platonic. That's Greek philosophy. Even Tertullian bought into some of that. Augustine bought into some of that. Some of our church fathers tried to incorporate the, the Greek view that somehow the body is evil, and the soul is pure, and the soul is immortal, and the body will die. So it doesn't matter what you do in your life with your body, because your soul has immortality about it. You see this even, it's been caught up in some of our funeral rituals. You've been by a graveside; somebody says, "Ashes to ashes, and dust to dust. The body dies, and the soul goes on to be with the Lord".
If you hear that, you're hearing Plato, and not the New Testament! The New Testament says, "Body, soul, and spirit". The resurrection takes place in that resurrection body that we'll talk about in the future, and the body and the soul and the spirit will be united and we will live together on this earth in a pristine new Heaven and new earth forever. See, it's not immortality of the soul. That is not what we look for in the future; it's the resurrection of the body. If a man or a woman dies, the whole man or woman dies, or a man or woman lives, the wholeness lives. That's the thrust of the teaching of Jesus Christ.
Now, remember-confidence in the future. Confidence is the joyful anticipation of the future because of the promises of God. But we can't just be totally futuristic. Let's begin here, today at this time. Confidence is also joyful realization-joyful realization in the present-in the present because of the promise of God. Today, we can have a joyful realization today in the presence of the promises of God. Now you say, "Well, well, what, what does that look like"? Before we get to last things, and we get involved up in the second and third Heaven; before we deal with the Tribulation and Armageddon, and the Rapture of the church, or the pre-trib, the mid-trib, the post-trib and all of that; we've got to realize that we have confidence in the joyful realization in the presence because of the promise of God.
Where do you get that? Many places. Let me give you a fabulous Verse! Look at it if you would in the Book of Philippians. Philippians, Chapter 3. Paul. He goes through. He says, beginning in Verse 10 of Chapter 3, "That I might know Him and the power of His Resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead; not that I have already obtained..." He's not already arrived. "Not that I have already attained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which I also was laid hold of by Christ Jesus". In other words, Paul said, "Christ Jesus laid hold of me, and I want to lay hold of that for the same thing that Christ Jesus laid hold of me".
What is that? That is maturity. That is life now. That is life abundantly now. Are you having abundant life now? Then Paul goes on and tells us the secret, and he says, "Had laid hold of Christ Jesus. Brethren, do not regard myself as having laid hold of it..." He said "I haven't arrived. But one thing I do..." That's just where we begin. Got to do four things. One thing I do. You know what that is? Get up! If anybody had been knocked down how many times, the Apostle Paul was knocked down. He had the Damascus Road experience. He was a failure the first 10 years of his life, as far as ministering to what he'd experienced in seeing the Resurrection Lord. He had, he was let down by a basket, and he went in hiding in his hometown in Tarsus-that was Saul, now-Paul.
And he, we went home to Mama! he couldn't cut it in the world after he became a Christian. He had 10 years of nothingness, as far as the Bible tells us. And then Barnabas saw people becoming Christians; Greeks, Romans becoming Christians. He said, "I need some help. I need that guy-what's his name? I forgot it..." And he went and got Saul. He became Paul in the rest of the story. What about Paul? Was it victory and success, and victory and success as he traveled the whole known western world? No! He was stoned two or three times. He was shipwrecked a couple of times. He was beaten with a whip! He was shamed; he was humiliated. He had something in which evidently affected his eyesight. Perhaps he was a victim of malaria. I mean, Paul had it tough! He got knocked down time and time and time again, but Paul got up!
That's what he's saying to you and me today as we think about, "Oh, the future..." He says, "Start where you are and get up! This one thing I do, the Spirit of God gives you and I the power to get up"! Then what's the next thing he says to us? Part of this Verse. Look at it. He said, "This one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind..." That's it. You get up. The Spirit of God gives you the power to do it-whatever's beat you down; whatever's knocked you down, however you stumble. And then he says, "Forgetting what lies behind..." That means to get over it. Some people get knocked down-they never get over it! Some people are successful and they never get over their success! Failure and success, I never, "Oh, I, I did this..." or, "Oh, oh, I can't recover..." Get over it! Get up, get over it! It's under the blood of Christ. It's been forgiven. It's cleansed. It's gone away. God doesn't even remember it. Get over it! Some people limp, and complain, and belly ache, and whine, and are born in the negative case because they can't get over something! Get up, and get over it.
The next thing we are to do. Paul does it right here. He said, "Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead". What's he saying? Get up, get over it, and get on the right path! You don't accidentally get on the right road. Have you noticed that? You know, I want to go to Berlin! I think I'll go by way of Tokyo. Hello! You have to get on the right road. Here's Jonah in the Bible, classic example. God said, "Jonah! I want you to go east"! Jonah said, "Oh no, no, no, Lord"! And he set sail to go to Tarsus due west. And God says, "No, go east"! And it took a giant fish to swallow Jonah, and it took him three days and three nights in the digestive track of a large, large fish before he even prayed. But when he prayed, that fish took him and put him right where God wanted him to go, in the very opposite direction. So get up! Get over it, and get on the right path. You don't accidentally get on the right path; it's intentional.
You say, "Well, I don't know if I'm on the right path or not..." Sure you do! What is the right path? You know what it is. God will tell you. You're equipped. You know when you're on the wrong path. If we get up and get over it, and go right back on the same path; you're gonna have another shipwreck! Right? Get on the right path. And then what's the final, the fourth thing we are to do? And this is decisive here. He says, "Stretching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus". What he says, "Get going! Get up. Get over it. Get on the right path. And then, don't just stand there-get going"! We need people who are gimpers. Are you a gimper? What's a gimper? A gimper is rarer than the spotted owl.
You don't find gimper in your dictionary; you find the word "gimp" and one meaning of the word "gimp" is to have passion, to have direction, to have insight, to be alive, to be pointed. So we need gimpers in this world. And if you will get up, God will lift you up. If you will get over it, He'll put it in the past. Don't let that good or bad or whatever happened keep you bogged down the rest of your life. Get over it. Then you'll say, "I'm gonna get now on the right path and the right road..." That involves some discipline and some radical choices and decision changing, and then guess what? I'm gonna get going! I want to be a gimper! We need gimpers in this church, ladies and gentlemen. They are rare individuals in this world.
Abraham Lincoln... how many elections did he lose in a row? What? Seven, eight, nine, ten before he was elected President? He got knocked down. He, he lost. Then all of a sudden, because he was a gimper, he kept getting up, didn't he? That's it. That's the first step. And we look at Thomas Edison! Boy, a brilliant inventor. How many failures did he have? Countless failures... And we whine around here and say, "Boy, I'm just down. You know, I'm out. Man, I can't get over it., man, I, I don't know about the right path..." Sure you do, and then move out!
And then, I leave you with one Verse of Scripture, I Corinthians 2. There's a little Verse that says, "Eye has not seen, the eye has not seen, and the ear has not heard what God has prepared for those who love Him". Is that fabulous? Nobody's seen; nobody's heard; nobody's imagined; nobody has thought of what God has prepared for those who love Him and those who become gimpers! Vision, purpose, passion. Get up! Get over it! Get on the right path, the right trail, and get going. We need gimpers. We got a thousand things to do in the Kingdom right here. Are you a part of that? Are you a gimper? Or are you just sitting there and soaking? And gimpers can look in the future and see that God is preparing something that we can't see or hear. We haven't even thought of as we are gimpers for Him, as we truly fall in love with Him.