Greg Laurie - Is Jesus Coming Back Again?
So I heard a story about an elderly couple that went to bed one night, and I'm not gonna say what an elderly couple is, right, but they're old, they're old. And just as they were getting ready to turn out the lights, the wife said, "Honey, I wish I could have a hot fudge sundae but we don't have any of the things we need. Would you be a dear and go to the market and get it for me"? He goes, "Okay dear, I'll do it". "Vanilla ice cream, don't forget vanilla ice cream. Write it down, you always forget". He says, "I won't forget, vanilla ice cream". "With chocolate sauce, actually hot fudge. Don't forget it, write it down". "I got it. Vanilla ice cream, hot fudge". "With whipped cream. Don't forget the whipped cream". "Okay, I got it. Vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream". "Oh honey, with a cherry on top. Don't forget, write it down, you always forget". He says, "I won't forget. Vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream, cherry on top, got it".
So he went to the market, came back about a half hour later and threw a ham sandwich on the bed. She opened it up and said, "I told you to write it down, you forgot the mustard". Get it? Are you elderly? What's happening here? Okay, so it's fun to lose your mind when you do it together, right? I have often said that Kathy and I, and we've been married now 50 years, so that's a celebration for us. And our church is celebrating 50 years of ministry, so two milestones at the same time, but I've often said between us, Kathy and I, we have one single functioning brain. It's amazing how I'll remember half of something and she'll remember the other half. Sometimes when I'm telling a story, she'll interrupt me and say, "That's not the way it happened". I'll say, "Kathy, you weren't even there. I was there". She says, "Yeah, but the first time you told me the story, you told it differently". And you know what? She's right about that.
So sometimes we forget things but God never forgets anything. He knows the past, he remembers every detail of the past, but he also knows the future. Our life is a continuum to him. Past to God is present, future is past. Therefore, when God predicts the future, it's not as though he's going out on a limb, it would be like us speaking of the past but more accurately because we do forget the past. So this is a new series. As I said, we're starting, "End of the World, What Does the Bible Say"? And I wanna answer this question. In fact, this is the title of the message, "Is Jesus Coming Again"? Let me just get this out of the way. The answer is yes, he is. Jesus Christ is coming again.
You say, "How do you know that Greg"? "Because Jesus said, 'I will come again.'" And so we look at Bible prophecy. What is Bible prophecy? It's basically God revealing history in advance. Did you know that the scripture oozes with the return of Christ? Twenty seven to thirty three percent of the Bible is prophecy. And more than 10,000 of the 31,102 verses in the Bible contain prophecy, and half of those have already been fulfilled. That's not a small down payment. So what was once the future but is now the past because these prophecies have been fulfilled, that's happened so now when we look at the other ones that have not been fulfilled, we know we can take it to the bank and it's going to happen exactly as God has said. And all around us right now are signs of the times telling us one thing, Jesus Christ is coming again.
What are some of the signs of the times? Well, I would say the emergence of China as a superpower. Is that prophesied in scripture? I think it could be and I'll make a case for that down the road. The lessening of the United States as a superpower would be included in that. Also, the emergence of Iran and the repeated threats against Israel. Spoken of in Bible prophecy? As a matter of fact, yes. Even the war in Ukraine causing our world leaders, from the President of the United States to the President of Russia, start throwing the word Armageddon around is a frightening thing. I would also add the explosion of intelligence and technology, especially artificial intelligence, also known as A.I. I would add government overreach in our lives. Where the government is more aggressively trying to get control of us.
The dramatic increase of drug use decimating our cities. International financial instability. Mass shootings, the disintegration of the family. These are all signs of the times. The Bible says in the last days, there will be satanically energized times and things will go from bad to worse. I have to tell you something, I've been a student of Bible prophecy for 50 years now, I don't think I'm an expert, but I am a student of it. And I have to say that I have been shocked what's happened in the last five years alone. Even the last couple of years, what we see before us, the blatant promotion of immorality on every platform imaginable, from movies, TV, to social media. The redefinition of what a man and a woman are, including child gender mutilation as young children think they may be transgender and the parents that encourage and even implement these things.
I can't even believe this. This is evil on a level like I've never seen it before. I would also add what the Bible calls an apostasy, the falling away of people from the faith. The Bible says, "In the last days, some will fall away from the faith giving heeds to the doctrines of demons and seducing spirits". We see leaders fall, we see people that we thought were committed Christians fall, we hear of Christians deconstructing their faith. I wonder if some of them have even constructed it in the first place. But all these things happening around us, these are signs of the times. I know these are pretty negative. There's some positive signs of the times too.
I see signs of potential revival in our nation and in our world. Think of the spontaneous outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Asbury College in Kentucky where thousands of students were just praying day and night and people were literally coming from around the world to see this for themselves. I don't think we can ignore the fact that God has dramatically worked through the "Jesus Revolution" film. Not only was it a great box office success but we've heard so many stories of changed lives, people coming to Christ in theaters, spontaneous baptisms happening after the movie was shown, and now because it did well at the box office in America, it's gone international. It's been in Ireland, England, Scotland, it's been in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, right now it's in Mexico and Brazil and it's headed to India.
So it's really reaching all kinds of people and this week, starting on Monday, it opens on Netflix and so that's a big deal. It's a big deal. Because you know, when you see a movie, you might be interested in it. "Oh, I don't know if I want to pay the rental fee for it". But if you already subscribed to Netflix and that pops up on your screen, you say, "Well, maybe I'll watch it for five minutes" and then you find yourself pulled in, right? And we're praying that God will use this film to impact lives. And let's not forget the largest baptism in American history that just happened at Pirates Cove, the Jesus Revolution Baptism. Four thousand five hundred people were baptized on that day and only a few weeks before, maybe a month before there was another baptism where 4,000 people were baptized. That means 8,500 people were baptized in a one month span of time.
This is amazing, okay? I am telling you. We talk about what happened 50 years ago in the Jesus Movement, nothing like this was happening back then. So it's really reminding us that God is at work. And where is it happening? It's happening in California, isn't it? Right? So, and the Bible says in the last days, God says, "I will pour my Spirit out on all flesh. Your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams". So when I first came to Christ, I was seeing visions, now I'm dreaming dreams, but I'll tell you what, I'm just happy to see God's Spirit at work. But God is working. These are signs of the times. And what does Jesus say? "When you see these things begin to happen, look up for your redemption is drawing near". He did not say, "When you see these things begin to happen, freak out," but rather look up.
And I think there's a lot of frightening things right now in our world today. In fact, there's a phenomenon now that they call doomsday anxiety, which includes the fear or worry about the end of the world or life as we know it. They say symptoms include chronic nightmares, an underlying feeling of fear, and an obsession with the news or doom scrolling through online media. But listen, there's hopeful signs and God is at work. That's why we need to study Bible prophecy. We need to understand it. Some people say, "Well, you can't understand it". That's wrong, you can. You can really learn a lot from it and there's a blessing promised to the person who studies end times events. In the book of Revelation, we read that "Blessed is the one who reads and hears the words of this prophecy and keeps the things that are written in it; for the time is near".
So there's a specific blessing attached to the study of Revelation, and I think in principle this applies to all study of what is sometimes called eschatology, which is a study of last things. And by the way, it is not God's desire to conceal, it is his desire to reveal. That's what revelation means. The last book of the Bible, sometimes it's called Revelations. People say, "I've been reading Revelations". It's Revelation, it's singular. Never say Revelations again or I will have to slap you. No, I don't. You can say it if you want, but it's a single revelation. And the word revelation means the unveiling, God is showing us something. Bible prophecy is not given to scare us but to prepare us. So it's good to learn these things together. But of course, there are always people who go a little too far with it and they engage in date setting.
There was a book that came out in 1988 that was a bestseller. The title of it was "88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Happen in 1988". Then 1989 came and it didn't sell so well. And there's always someone who thinks they've cracked the code and they set a date. But Jesus says, "No man knows the day or the hour when the Son of man will come". There's a Latin term for this obsession with Bible prophecy, and it's rapturous nuttiness. I don't know if you've heard it, but I just made it up, actually. So we wanna keep these things in balance. You know, some people think everything's a sign of the times. They sit in the theater and when the movie is over it says "The end". "That's a sign of the times, right"?
I heard a conversation the other day where one person was actually asking, "I saw a hamburger for sale for $6 and 66 cents, is it okay to buy it"? And I said, "Go ahead and buy it because after they add tax, it'll be a different amount". As long as they don't require a mark on your right hand or forehead, I think you're okay, right? But we'll talk about all those things. The mark of the beast, 666, antichrist, Armageddon, the rapture. What is it? When is it? Could it happen anytime? The second coming, the millennial period and all those things. We'll discover what they're all about together. But as we learn these things there's a reason for it and it should have a purifying effect on our lives spiritually.
1 John 3:2 says, "Beloved, now we're the children of God; it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but when he's revealed, we shall be like him, for we will see him as he is". Then it goes on to say, "And he that has this hope purifies himself, even as he is pure". So if I really understand Bible prophecy as I ought to, it should cause me to want to live a more godly life. Heard a story of a old dude who was out fishing, and he's waiting for a bite, and he suddenly hears a voice say to him, "Hey, you". He looks around, "Who said that"? Didn't see anyone. Must have been hearing things. Moment passes, he hears it again. "Hey, you, pick me up and kiss me and I'll become a beautiful princess".
"Who said that"? He didn't see anybody. Then the third time he hears the voice say, "Hey, you, pick me up and kiss me and I'll become a beautiful princess". And he realizes it's a frog who says for the fourth time, "Pick me up and kiss me and I'll become a beautiful princess". The old man picked up the frog and gently tucked it into his pocket. The frog said, "Did you hear what I said? I said, kiss me and I become a beautiful princess". The old man said, "At my age, I'd rather have a talking frog". We can be like that, miss the point, right? Let's not miss the point of the study of last things of eschatology. It should cause us to want to live a godly life.
James 5, I'm starting at verse 7. "Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord's return. Consider the farmers who patiently look for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to reap. You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near. Don't grumble about each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. For the Judge is standing at the door! For examples of patience in suffering, dear brothers and sisters, look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We give honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy".
So if you're taking notes, here's point number one, something you need to be doing as a believer waiting for the return of Christ. Be patient. Point number one, be patient. Look at verse 7, "Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord's return". The word used here for patience is not speaking of a passive resignation but rather a patient expectant waiting on the Lord. Sort of like the way you felt when you were a young person and Christmas day was coming, you could hardly wait to open up your presents. That's how we should be watching and waiting.
The problem is some believers are spiritually asleep and Paul deals with this attitude in Romans 13. And he says, "Understand this present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your sleep because our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is nearly over, the day is almost here". So he's saying, "Wake up, man, pay attention. Be looking forward to the return of the Lord". And by the way, this word used for wait means to look expectantly. The farmer who patiently waits. And we have to have that patience as well. And that's not easy in our culture today. We don't like to wait for anything. We don't like to deprive ourselves.
You know, you don't have to go down to the mall and search for what you want anymore, you just go to Amazon and if you have Amazon Prime, you might even have same day delivery. If you're hungry, you don't have to go and wait in line, you just call Uber Eats. Everything comes fast, right? And so when we look at things like the return of the Lord, we think, well, the Lord seems late but God is never late, God is always on time. The Bible says, "When the time was just right, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, made under the law to redeem those that are under the law". So really what it's saying is, when the time is just right, God sent his Son Jesus Christ to be born in the manger of Bethlehem. And when the time is just right, Jesus Christ will come back again.
Martin Luther made this statement, and I quote, "There are two days on my calendar, this day and that day". The day you're in right now and that day, the day of the Lord. Now sometimes we may feel as though Jesus is overdue. "Hey Lord," we ask, "Have you looked around at this crazy world? Have you seen how wicked things have become"? The Lord is fully aware of that. In fact, in the book of Genesis, when there was so much evil on the earth that wickedness stunk effectively to high heaven and God intervened, God is aware, but God's waiting for something. Or maybe I should say he's waiting for someone.
You say, "What are you talking about"? 2 Peter 3:9 says, "The Lord is not late as some men count lateness, he is longsuffering toward us". Listen, "Not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance". "Lord, why have you not come back"? The Lord would say, "Because I'm waiting. I'm waiting for more people to believe, I'm waiting for people to put their faith in me before I bring judgment upon this earth".
So number one, be patient. Number two, as much as possible, stand in unity with fellow Christians. As much as possible, stand in unity with your fellow Christians. Look at verse 9, "Don't grumble about each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. For look, the Judge is standing at the door". Don't complain about other believers, go to them and try to help them. This phrase here, to grumble about each other, means to groan from within oneself. It describes someone who has a bitter attitude. These are the people that are always complaining and always criticizing. They think they have the spiritual gift of criticism. That's not a spiritual gift, by the way. But always tearing others down. Don't be that person.
I find today that people are so quick to talk about someone instead of talk to someone. There's so much false information out there, especially on social media, especially on Twitter. I'll even see Christians attacking one another. The Bible actually forbids that. Talk to each other. Make sure that you even understand the other person's position before you publicly criticize them. In Matthew 18 Jesus says, "If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. And if they listen and confess it, you won the person back". Listen, don't be the person that tears others down, be the person that builds others up. And this is what the Bible is saying to us.
Now, number three, be aware of the afterlife. So as you live in this life, be aware always of the afterlife. Look at verse 9, "Or you will be judged. For look, the Judge is standing at the door". Judgment is coming to the world, judgment is coming to every nonbeliever because the Bible says they'll all stand before the great white throne judgment. But listen, you may not know this, judgment is also coming to the believer, but it's a different kind of judgment than what the nonbeliever faces. The nonbeliever, when they die, stand before the great white throne and if their name is not found written in the book of life, they're cast into the lake of fire. But for the believer, our judgment is at the judgment seat of Christ.
In 2 Corinthians 5:10 says, "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ and each one may receive the things done in the body according to what he has done, whether it be good or bad". So this is not a judgment to determine whether or not you get to heaven because in fact, this judgment takes place in heaven, this is more like an awards ceremony where rewards are given out. You see, when you faithfully serve the Lord, God takes note. And as the Bible says, "Your Father who sees you in secret will one day reward you openly". So the key is just be faithful on what God has set before you. Point number four, be courageous. Be courageous.
Look at verse 8. "Take courage for the coming of the Lord is near". So as I wait for the return of Jesus, it should cause me to be bold and courageous. The new English Bible translates this verse as "Put iron into your soul". It's also translated to be resolute. And by the way, that's the same word that is used to describe Christ going to the cross. He resolutely set himself to go to Jerusalem to be crucified. We need to be resolute, we need to be courageous, we need to be bold. You say, "Well, I'm not bold by nature. I'm a bit timid and I'm a bit afraid".
Well, you need to get your eyes off of yourself and put them on the Lord and on the afterlife. We need to be courageous. And one last point, be trusting. Be trusting and think of the example of Job. Look at verse 11. "Friends did you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him in the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy". Job, by the way, is the oldest book of the Bible. Did you know that? It was written before the book of Genesis. And in the story of Job, we have God's servant, a godly man, so godly in fact, that God bragged about him.
And one day the angels of the Lord were present before the Lord and Satan was among them because Satan or Lucifer is a fallen angel. God starts bragging about Job, his perfect and upright servant who fears God and shuns evil. And Satan pushes back and says, "You've blessed him with everything and you put a wall around him". Satan says, "If you stretch forth your hand and strike him, he'll curse you". And then a series of calamities fell upon Job. You know, sometimes people will say, well, look at all the calamity that's coming to the life of that Christian, they must have done something horrible to deserve it. It could be the very opposite. It's because of the godliness, not the godlessness of Job that the hardships came.
So when something happens to you that's inexplicable, that doesn't make sense, God has either done it or he's allowed it and it's for your ultimate good and his glory. Let me say that again. If something happens to you, it doesn't make sense, God either did it or God allowed it and it is for your ultimate good. Notice I didn't say temporary good, your ultimate good and his glory because he promises that "All things work together for good to those that love God and are called according to his purpose". But what is God's end game? It's to make us more like Jesus.