Robert Jeffress - Life's Most Important Choice
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress. And welcome again, to Pathway to Victory. For 2000 years Christian have wondered when is Jesus coming back? No one knows the day or the hour, but we can be certain, that Christ will indeed return, just as he promised. Last time we discovered what will take place during a seven year period, known as the Great Tribulation. And now we're going to look at the culmination of that season, when Christ finally returns to earth. My message is titled, History's Most Important Event on today's edition, of Pathway to Victory.
In 1961, just a few days, before president elect John F. Kennedy was inaugurated as president of our country. He invited evangelist Billy Graham to join him in key Biscayne, Florida, for a few days of relaxation and golf. Now the invitation to Graham surprised people for two reasons. First of all, because of Kennedy's well known disinterest in spiritual matters. But also because of his equally well known dislike of evangelist Billy Graham. Nevertheless, they spent a couple of days together. And one day after they finished playing golf they were riding back to the hotel. And Kennedy still had his driving privileges. He was driving a white Lincoln, with Graham in the front seat, and suddenly president Kennedy pulled the car over to the side of the road. He stopped the engine. He looked at Billy Graham and said, "Billy, do you believe Jesus Christ is coming back to earth one day"? Graham said, "I certainly do Mr. President". Then Kennedy asked, "Why do I hear so little about it today"?
The fact that Jesus Christ is coming back to earth, is one of the best kept secrets in the world. And yet as you look at scripture the constant refrain about the old and the New Testament is, Christ is coming back again, to reclaim this broken world that has been lost. It is that event, what I call history's most important event, that we have come to in our study of Bible prophecy. Many times we talk about the Battle of Armageddon. And then there is a climatic battle that we will look at in just a moment. But it is actually a war that characterizes the last three and a half years, of the tribulation and goes up and down the length of all of Israel. But here you got the world forces. They are tired of the tyranny of the anti-Christ, and they are ready to try to topple him. And that's where we've come to in Revelation 16, the battle or the war of Armageddon.
Look at Revelation 16:13-14. John says, "And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon," that's the Satan, the power behind the anti-Christ. "I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast". That's the anti-Christ. "And out of the mouth of the false prophet," anti-Christ assistant, "I saw coming out of their mouths three unclean spirits". Did you realize that just like there is a holy Trinity, father, son, and Holy Spirit, there is a Satanic Trinity. The dragon, that is Satan. The beast, the anti-Christ, and the false prophet. John says, "I saw coming out of the mouths of the Satanic Trinity, three unclean spirits like frogs. For they are the spirit of demons, performing signs which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty. And so they gathered them together to the place in Hebrew, which is called Har-Magedon".
The satanic trinity: satan, the dragon, the beast, that is anti-Christ. The false prophet. They are going to try to lure all the kings of the earth to this one spot in Israel, for the great battle. Now you say why would the anti-Christ want to gather together, all of his forces, all of his enemies in one place? The answer is so he could destroy them. That's the way you do battle. If your enemies are all dispersed throughout the world, you can't get at them. You need to bring them all together in one place.
I remember years ago, hearing Dr. Criswell tell the story about being seated on an airplane, next to the chief of staff of the pentagon one day. And because Dr. Criswell was preaching on the Battle of Armageddon, he turned to the chief of staff of the pentagon and said, "Do you ever believe there will come a time when there will be no need for foot soldiers. That everything will be done through nuclear warfare. Will there ever be a time when foot soldiers are irrelevant"? And the chief of staff without hesitating said, "Absolutely not. There will always be a need for foot soldiers. Because soldiers are the way we push our enemy altogether in one spot, so that we can destroy them. Even with nuclear warfare". That's exactly what you have going on here.
Look at Revelation 16:17. While the world forces are gathering themselves together, at the plane of Megiddo to mount war against the anti-Christ, it is at that point that God releases his judgment, his final judgment against the earth. Look at Revelation 16:17. "And the seventh angel poured out his bowl upon the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple for the throne saying, 'it is done'". This is the final bowl judgment. The final of God's judgment, against the world. And notice this judgment, this bowl is poured out not on the earth. It is poured out in the air. I believe that John is describing what we would call a nuclear explosion. A nuclear exchange. Something that happens in the air and has great destructive force. I think that is exactly what John is saying that he saw. He saw this judgment poured out in the air.
And notice the result of it, in verse 18 to 20, of Revelation 16. "And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peels of thunder. And there was a great earthquake such as there had not been since man came upon the earth. So great an earthquake was it, and so mighty, and the great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And Babylon the great was remembered before God to give her the cup of the wine of his fierce wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found". I think that is a nuclear exchange that he is describing here. But regardless of the source of this judgment, this judgment against the entire world is just a prelude to the main event. And that main event is the return of Jesus Christ. Turn over to Revelation 19. As the world forces are battling at the plane of Megiddo, as the world is trying to recover from this nuclear judgment, suddenly the heavens are going to open the Bible says.
And look at Revelation 19:11-13. "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse. And he who sat upon it is called faithful and true. And in righteousness he judges and wages war, and his eyes are a flame of fire. And upon his head are many diadems, crowns, and he has a name written upon him which no one knows except himself. And he is clothed with a rob dipped in blood, and his name is called the Word of God". As the world forces are doing battles suddenly they are startled, when they see the clouds part, and they see the appearance of the Lord, Jesus Christ. And when they see Christ, they see he's not alone. Because in addition to the appearance of Christ notice secondly, there is the appearance of the church of Jesus Christ. Look at verse 14. "And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following him on white horses".
Who is that army that is following Christ from heaven to earth? It is you. It is i. There'll be the appearance of Christ. There's the appearance of the church, and notice thirdly, at Christ second coming there is the defeat of Christ enemies. Look at verse 19. "And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against him, who sat up on the horse and against his army". Here are all the world forces prepared to do battle against anti-Christ. When suddenly they see Christ and us with him. Suddenly, those enemies become friends. They unite together. All the world forces and anti-Christ, to do battle against Jesus Christ and his army. They are going to make war against us.
And some people say, "Well, I'm a little uneasy about that. You mean I'm going to be riding on horse back with Jesus and flailing the sword? I'm not sure I'm up to that. I'm not sure how well I would fare in such a battle against the world forces". No, that's not what it's going to be like at all. Our defeat of the enemies of Christ has nothing to do with our strength or horse riding abilities. It has to do with the power of God. Because look at verse 15 and verse 21. How are the enemies going to be slain? "And from his mouth," Christ mouth, "Comes a sharp sword so that with it he might smite the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. And he treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God the Almighty, and the rest were killed with the sword that came from the mouth of him, who sat up on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh".
Just as God killed 183,000 Assyrians, with a breath of his word. So God with a single word will destroy his enemies, on that day. That's what happens at the second coming of Christ. The appearance of Christ, the appearance of the church, and the defeat of Christ enemies. "Well pastor, why is all of this important"? What difference does it make if Jesus is literally coming back to the world one day?
I remember when I was in high school, and a member of this church being very excited about one particular Easter Sunday. Because on that particular Easter Sunday, Billy Graham was coming to preach at our church and he was going to bring the Easter message. At that time Amy and I were dating. She lived in Richardson like I did. But her family went to a church with a very, very liberal pastor. And this pastor I know from personal conversation with him. He didn't believe in the deity of Christ, he didn't believe in the inherency of scripture, he didn't believe in heaven, he didn't believe in hell. He didn't believe that Christ was the only way to be saved, and he didn't believe in the second coming of Jesus. Kind of wondered why he was in the ministry, what message he had. But he told me one on one, all the things he didn't believe.
So on that Easter Sunday morning and I was in my little Volkswagen bug driving down central expressway. Excited about coming to hear Billy Graham. And I decided to turn on the radio, to listen to the sermon that Amy was listening to at her church. 'Cause it was broadcast as well. It was 40 years ago, but I remember that sermon like it was yesterday. That liberal infidel pastor said this. He said, "For 2000 years, people have been looking for, and expecting Jesus to come back to earth one day. But he hasn't come yet, and he's not coming. The first time Jesus comes, is when he came at Bethlehem. The second time he comes, is when he comes into your heart".
That was his sermon on the second coming. And when I heard those words, I thought about 2 Peter 3, which Peter said, "Know this first of all that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lust and saying, 'where is promise of his coming? Forever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was, from the beginning of creation'". People today mock the idea of Christ coming. Oh, those Christians they believe that forever. Peter says it'll be that way in the last days. But verse 80 says "Do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved. That with the Lord one day is a thousand years and a thousand years is one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some count slowness. But he is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but all to come to repentance".
The only reason Christ hasn't come yet, is because he's giving you an opportunity to repent. But he is coming one day. Make no mistake about it. Why is it important to believe in a literal, visible, physical, return of Jesus Christ? Let me mention three reasons. Why is Christ coming back to this world again one day. First of all, Christ is coming back to fulfill the prophecies of the Bible. There are over 1800 prophecies in the Old Testament, about the second coming of Jesus Christ. You can't turn a page of the New Testament but without reading over and over again, Christ is coming. Christ is coming.
If Christ does not return as he promised he was going to return, then it means you'll have hundreds of prophecies in the Bible unfulfilled. And if there are prophecies that are unfulfilled, it means the Bible cannot be trusted. Jesus is coming back again, to first of all fulfill the prophecies of the Bible. Secondly, he is coming back to judge unbelievers, and to judge the sinful world. The Bible says Christ is coming back to judge this fallen world in Isaiah 11:4. The prophet said, "But with righteousness he will judge the poor and decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth, and he will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth. And with the breath of his lips, he will slay the wicked".
Why is Christ coming back again? To fulfill the prophecies of the Bible, to judge unbelievers, but thirdly and most importantly, Christ is coming back again to reclaim the earth. In Genesis 3, we read the story, about how sin came into this world, and the paradise God created was lost. But it was only temporarily lost. But listen to me, don't start folding up anything. If there is no second coming, if there is only a rapture in which God snatches away believers to live with him in heaven, and leaves the earth as it is, that would be like God saying to Satan, "Okay, Satan, you won. I'll take believers up here with me in heaven, and you can stay here on earth. I'll stay in my corner of the universe if you stay down there in your corner of the world".
Now do you think God's going to let that happen? Of course not. God created this world perfectly. And the Bible says, "One day he's coming back to reclaim what is rightfully his". That's why the second coming is important. It is a time for Christ to reclaim, and recreate this sin filled world. I remember reading the story about a group of seminary students who were playing basketball. After they finished their basketball game they were going to the shower and one of the seminary students, noticed a janitor sitting on the bleachers waiting for them to finish up so he could clean up. And as the seminary student walked past the janitor he saw that he was reading the Bible.
So he said to the janitor, "What are you reading"? The janitor said, "I'm reading the Book of Revelation". The seminary student was studying the Book of Revelation. He knew how complicated it was. And so he said in his most condescending tone, "Well tell me, do you understand what it means"? The janitor looked up and said, "Yes, sir. I understand what it means. It means Jesus is going to win". One day Jesus is going to win. But let's be honest. As we look at the world today, it doesn't look like Jesus is winning, does it? We see in the world around us or perhaps just in our own world. A world that's filled with sadness, with disease, with broken relationships, and with death.
What we feel and what we see is very, very real, but it's also very, very temporary. The Bible says one day Jesus is going to win. One day Jesus is coming back again to reclaim and recreate, that which has been lost. The apostle John looked forward to that day. He saw it before him in Revelation 11: 5. He said "And the seventh angel sounded, and there arose a loud courses of voices saying, 'the kingdom of this world has now become the Kingdom of God, and of his Christ. And he shall reign forever, and ever'". Amen.