Robert Jeffress - How Should We Now Live?
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. The signs are clear, we are living in the last days and the return of Jesus Christ, I believe, is coming soon. And while we can't know the day or the hour, we can be prepared for whenever that event arrives. Throughout the course of this series, we've been connecting biblical prophesy with current events to discover how they signal the coming of the last days. So what does that mean for us today? My message is titled how should we now live? On today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
A survey a few months ago asked a cross section of Americans this question. Which better describes how you feel about the way things are going in the world these days? The survey offered two possible responses. Response number one, everything will be all right. Response number two, things are going to hell in a handbasket. Would you be surprised to know that 60% of Americans chose that second response? Things are going to hell in a handbasket. By way of note, it's the first time going to hell in a handbasket was ever used in a national survey before. But that's how many people feel about the world condition.
Another group, 64% of voters said that they believe that the world is spinning out of control. 84% of Americans in another poll said they believe ISIS poses a real threat to American security. It's not surprising then that in another poll, 70% of all Americans said they are angry about the direction in which the world is going. People are asking the question, "What is the world coming to? Where are we headed? Is anybody really in charge"? The answer to all of those questions is found in a single event toward which all history is marching. That event is the apocalypse, the unveiling, the revelation, the return of Jesus Christ.
And today we're going to talk about the return of Jesus Christ and how we should be living as believers in the light of his return as we conclude our series today, countdown to the apocalypse. Over and over again in scripture, we find the promise of Jesus that he will come again. And the Bible says two things about the return of Jesus. First of all, his coming is absolutely certain. Remember in John 14, Jesus was meeting with his disciples before he was crucified and resurrected from the dead, and he made this promise in John 14:3: and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also. Jesus promised, "I will come again". And you see that promise from Genesis to Revelation throughout the Bible about the Lord's triumphant return.
Did you know in the New Testament alone, there are over 300 verses that talk about the return of Jesus. One out every 13 verses in the New Testament has something to do about the Lord's return. Well, how are we to be living in light of that certain and soon coming of the Lord? As you look through scripture, there are three qualities that ought to characterize every believer who finds himself living in the last days. First of all, the Bible says we are to be people of hope. We're to be people of hope. It's easy to look at the world situation today and get discouraged.
Not long ago, the former defense secretary Chuck Hagel spoke at the Washington Ideas Festival. He wasn't sanguine about the future of the world. He said, "I think we are living through one of the most historic defining times. We are seeing a New World Order, post-World War II, post-Soviet Union implosion being built. Tyranny, terrorism are going to be with us. It's a reality. I see these things continuing". In other words, get used to the world situation. It's going to continue. It is only going to get worse. So pastor, how can we be people of hope given what's happening in the world today? Ladies and gentlemen, our hope does not rest in Washington D. C. Our hope is not found in any politician. Listen to what the Psalmist said, Psalm 39:7: and now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in thee. Our hope is in the everlasting God.
Romans 15:13 contains one of the most beautiful benedictions found in all scripture. Paul closes: now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Do you see the repetition of that? We serve the God of hope. And because of that we ought to abound in hope ourselves. That word, abound, is a very interesting word. It's a word that refers to a river that overflows its banks. That is, when people get close to us, they can't help but get splashed by the hope of God. And that's because we're hopeful.
One of the worst witnesses we can be to unbelievers is to go around depressed and scared and fearful. Oh, what's gonna happen next? What's gonna? That is no witness. Remember what the apostle Peter said? He said be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks for the what? The doom and gloom that's in you? The despair that's in you, the discouragement? No, be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for the hope that is within you. Christians oughta be the most hopeful, the most optimistic, people they are. We ought to be overflowing with hope. But not only are we to be people of hope, secondly, the Bible says we are to be people of insight.
Tucked away in the Old Testament is a verse that I think best describes how we ought to be living in times like these. You find it in 1 Chronicles 12. There's a story about a group of Jewish men who decided to leave the service of king Saul and join forces with David, God's man, at Hebron. The men from the tribe of Issachar, who chose to follow David, the writer adds these words, I Chronicles 12:32: the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do. Men who understood the times with a knowledge of what they, Israel, should do. People who live in the last times are people who, first of all, understand the times. They understand the times.
These sons of Issachar, they knew what was happening in their nation. They knew that there was a shift in the political winds. They had an understanding of the moral and spiritual climate of their nation. And we need to be the same way today. We need to have our finger on the pulse of what is happening in this country and what is happening in this world morally, spiritually, and politically. You don't get any brownie points in heaven for being stupid and ignorant about what's happening in the world. God says if you're gonna be a godly person, you need to understand the times in which God has placed you. That's what the sons of Issachar did, they understood the times.
And secondly, people of insight are people who know what the people of God should do. The reason they had this insight, the reason they wanted to know what was happening in their country, is so that they could know what they should do, D-O, take action. And they came to the conclusion it was time to shift allegiances and to follow after God's man, David. It's very easy for us to get discouraged in the world today and say what terrible times we're living in. I think about the catholic theologian, father John Newhouse. He said, "Yes, these times may be terrible, but they're the only times God has given us and to sin is a despair".
That's what the sons of Issachar say. They say, yes, the times are terrible, but these are the times in which we are living, and we ought to be doing something. The people of insight are people who not only understand their times, but they know what they should do. And that means in these last days, we are to be people of action. They're always involved in doing God's work. And make no mistake about it, God has called upon us to confront an evil society. He's called upon us to confront evil leaders. He's called upon us to confront all immorality and say without stuttering or stammering, "Thus saith the Lord". We are to be actively involved in battle.
Listen to what Jesus said in Matthew 5:13-14 he said: you are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You've heard me say this before, but when Jesus talked about being salt, he was talking about being a preservative. That's what salt did in Jesus' day. It gave the meat a longer shelf life until it eventually had to be thrown out. And Jesus said as my representatives in the world today, you're to be salt. You're to be a preservative in this culture. You are to keep this world from prematurely imploding so that people have longer to accept the Gospel.
He's called upon us to influence this world, to push back against the tide of immorality that is engulfing us. We are to be salt, but he also said you are to be the light of the world, a city set on a hill that cannot be hidden. We're to be at the same time that we are pushing back against evil, we are being to holding forth. We're to be holding forth the word of the light of God. It's not either, or. Jesus didn't say you're to be salt or light. He said you're to be salt and light. You're to confront evil, but share Jesus at the same time. One of my favorite verses in all of the Bible is Daniel 11:32. It says the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action. God has called us not just to understand the times, but to do something. We're to be people of hope. We're to be people of insight. But thirdly, we're to be people of courage. To be that salt and light in today's world takes courage.
Aw Tozer once said, "A scared world needs a fearless church". God wants us to be fearless people as we stand for him. Are you ready to stand for him, regardless of the cost? Persecution is coming. It's coming not just around the world, it's coming to this country. Are you ready for it? Sadly, most Christians aren't. People who find themselves living in the last days need to be people of hope. We need to be people of insight, but we have to be people of courage. And that brings us to an all-important question. Where exactly are we on God's timetable? Pastor, how close are we to the end? We know in Matthew 24, Jesus said no man can know the day or the hour. But we also read in 2 Peter that we are to be alert. We're to be looking for and hastening the coming day of the Lord.
So how close are we? There are two places we need to look to answer that question. First of all, we need to look at the world situation. That's one way to know how close we are. And when I talk about the world situation, specifically I'm talking about looking at the Middle East and even more specifically looking at Israel. The Bible says the final events that usher in the return of Christ will take place in Israel and the nations around Israel. How do we know where we are on God's timetable? Look at the world situation, but secondly, we need to look at the Bible.
The question I'm asked, "With the world's situation like it is, why doesn't the Lord put an end to it and come back"? Well, Peter faced that same question and he answers it in 2 Peter 3:3-10 I want you to look at these verses very carefully. Peter warned: know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lust, saying, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning".
For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the Word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of the water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But the present heavens and earth by his word are being reserved for fire, kept for the Day of Judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as 1.000 years, and 1.000 years as one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some count slowness, but he is patient toward you, not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.
Here are three insights from that passage to always remember. Number one, the Lord's return is certain because God promised it. We have the same scoffers today that were present in Peter's day. Where is the promise of his coming? You all talk about it all the time. I don't see him anywhere. I don't see him anywhere. You know what Peter says? There's another time men were saying that. They were saying that right before the flood. God had promised to destroy the world because of its wickedness, but the flood was delayed. And people scoffed at the idea, but one day, as Jesus said, while they were eating, drinking, and marrying and giving in marriage, the flood came and swept them all away. So will it be when Christ returns again. The Lord's return is certain, because he's promised it.
Secondly, the Lord's return will usher in a Day of Judgment for the ungodly. Notice the sequence of words here: water, destruction, judgment, fire. When the flood came, it swept the unbelievers away into everlasting judgment. God destroyed the world once with water, and he promised he would never do it again. But he is going to destroy it by fire. The Bible says everything we see is going to be burned up one day at the Lord's return. That is going to be good news for us who are believers. It is terrible news for unbelievers because the Lord's return signals his judgment.
And number three, the Lord's return is delayed to give people a chance to trust in Christ. This delay that the scoffers mock, "Where is the promise of his coming"? That delay is for their benefit. God gave them a delay as gift to them to give them one final chance to repent. God is not a God who hates people. He loves people, but he's also a God of justice. He must judge sin. God has provided a way of escape through faith in Jesus Christ, and God is giving every person one last chance to repent before the Day of Judgment comes.
And that leads to the question: how can you, how can I, best prepare for the Apocalypse? We look around the world and we say what in the world is wrong with the world? To answer that question, all you have to do is look in the mirror. You're the problem. I'm the problem. The turmoil in the world today is because of the turmoil that exists in every human heart, a turmoil that is caused by sin, a rebellion against God. And the Bible says we've all sinned. We've all rebelled against God, and everything that is wrong in the world today can be traced back to that rebellion against God, a rebellion we've all participated in. We've all sinned, the Bible says.
How can we be made right with God? How can we be at peace with God? Listen to what Paul said in Romans 5:1 therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Listen to me, the only way any of us are going to be at peace with God, the only way we can be assured of being welcomed into heaven is to be justified by God. That word, justified, is a legal term. It means to be declared not guilty.
The only hope any of us has is that we will be found not guilty before God. But here's the problem, we're guilty before God. You don't need me to tell you that. You've sinned, I've sinned, we've all sinned. We're very, very guilty. How could God ever find us not guilty? Well, that is the miracle of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When Jesus died on the cross, he willingly took the punishment for your sin and my sin. And when we trust in Jesus for our salvation in that great courtroom of heaven, God bangs the gavel down and says not guilty, justified, freely forgiven forever. The only hope we have to be at peace with God when he comes or we go to be with him and stand before him in judgment is to be found not guilty. That's the way we prepare for the soon and certain return of Christ.
Oh, pastor, I know I need to get things right with God someday. I know things aren't what they should be and I'll get around to it one day, but I've got my family responsibilities. I've got this problem at work. I've got this health issue I'm dealing with. I'm just starting out in life as a teenager and young adult, I've got some living I wanna do. I'll get around to it eventually, there's no hurry. That's the deception of satan. The truth is today is the only day you have. And today very well may be the last day that you have. And that's why the scripture says today is the day of salvation. Jesus is coming again, are you ready?