21st January 2024

Maranatha the Lord is Coming

Passage: 1 Corinthians 16:22
Service Type:

Automatically Generated Transcript

And especially these days when you listen in to the media, there's a fair bit of criticism that comes to Hillsong. Not only here in Australia for some things down in Sydney that may or may not have happened. It's very hard to know when you're listening in to the news just what to make of some of the accusations. But across in America there have been quite a number of young men who were involved as pastors in the Hillsong but who ended up turning away from the faith or doing things to get themselves sacked and all that sort of stuff. And it really raises a question about the longevity of people who are Christians and serving the Lord as to how long they last the distance before something gets them. And it raises the question about can someone who once was blessed of God be a Christian? And can someone who once was blessed of God end up being under his severe curse of some sort? Well, we have a verse here from the Apostle Paul at the end of his letter to the Corinthians. And there's two letters, 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians. And 1 Corinthians is the one that really has Paul making lots of statements about the carnality of the Corinthian church people. Now by carnality, by the way, the word carnality, means flesh. And carnality is when your living style is according to what the Bible describes, not the spirit, but the flesh. And you know how the book of Galatians talks about the contrast between walking after the spirit or walking after the flesh. And if you walk after the flesh, you're going to then experience all the works of the flesh, which include a whole lot of bad boogies. And so Paul was writing to the church there at Corinth because, they were failing to achieve what a church was meant to be because of their carnality. And that was what that letter of 1 Corinthians is about. When you read it on your own, you'll see that though there's other aspects, of course, it's also the church that was, you know, talked to by the Apostle because of all their gifts of the spirit. And so that linking of there being people who wanted to be, spiritual with the gifts, but in fact being told by Paul that they were being carnal, is a bit of a warning to all of us that we may want to be spiritual, but if we fail to walk after the spirit, you've heard from me before, I like J.I. Packer's translation, one verse in Galatians, that's talking about walking after the spirit. He words it in a sort of modern translation, keep in step with the spirit. And then, he says, keep in step with the spirit. And then, there's a call on us to recognize the danger that we can be a person who should be spiritual, but we can end up by walking after the flesh to need the Apostle Paul to write us a letter to tell us where we've fallen away. Anyway, here's a verse at the end of the very letter. If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Well, that's a rather sudden statement. And then he says, Our Lord, come. Now, you probably can't see it in this particular English translation, but the actual word for accursed is the word that, if it were translated exactly, is anathema. Anathema or anathema. And when you chase down what that word means, you come across the fact that there's a little bit of confusion as to which manuscripts to follow and what exactly this, this verse should read. And some people, because there are versions in other languages which give us more information as to how it was interpreted by someone else back then, but some versions will have the word split into two parts. And the two parts will be the anath part and the, and the first part, let me get it right, I'm talking about the word that when you put it all together has the idea of, I better have a look at my notes so I don't say this wrong, but it's the idea that comes, gives us the word that is a very famous word actually about putting together the two words and you end up getting a statement. I've got the Bible upside down, so that's not a good way to get the right ideas. Okay, so if you do put those words together, you get a part that means marron. And marron is just from another language, it's the Lord. But the atha part is where there's a bit of a disagreement or there's a lack of knowledge to really discern, particularly the marron part's clear, it's just, the Lord. And the marron atha part, if you made it two words, it's marron, atha. The atha can either mean has come or is coming. And there's not the ability from all the information we have to really ultimately decide as to whether it's saying the Lord has come or is it saying the Lord is coming. And so different people take it different ways and they don't really know whether you should take, as in the ESV it says, he's saying if anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed, or whether he's saying something far more pleasant, whether this is a benediction of saying nice things at the end of the letter, or whether it is a malediction of him saying bad things are coming to the people who don't love the Lord. Now, when it comes to, when it comes to considering about churches and considering about Hillsong, you sort of have the same idea as to same choice as to how do we understand that this is a good thing that's gone wrong and they've been cursed for it, or is it that there's something we haven't grasped. And so that's because in the understanding of the language, although the marron part, meaning the Lord is clear enough, the part that is, if you take the two parts separate, the atha part, either means has come or is coming. Now, how to resolve that at the end of the letter is a bit difficult and I don't know enough or have the ability to make a decision one way or the other. But I think that you can see more information coming about from other passages of scripture that often say things that link together things that happened at Jesus' death and resurrection and things that happen when Jesus comes again at the end of the age. You are aware, of course, of the fact that our Christianity has always taught in the original creeds of the early church, like the Apostles' Creed, about the fact that the Lord who has come is coming back. And we refer to the two comings of Christ as the first advent or the second advent. But they're not just two similar comings and he's going to come and repeat the whole deal when he comes back. But rather the second advent is altogether described in the scriptures as for a different purpose than the first. The first coming is when he came to save the world and he's given the name of Saviour and all of the descriptions of the purpose of the first coming like Emmanuel, it means God is stepping in to be with us. But the descriptions of the second coming are like verses that say things like this. That he's coming a second time not for our blessing or healing or, you know, forgiveness, but for salvation. Now, if it's not like the cross but it still is for salvation, what is being talked about is the fact that the salvation that Jesus earned for us on the cross was a once and for all completed deal. He doesn't need to come back again to add to it, or to increase it, or anything. But the coming back again, the second advent, is where that which has been achieved in his first coming and in his dealings with us and whether or not we've become Christians and whether or not we've found the forgiveness that Jesus died on the cross for us to be provided with, whether or not that has happened, but there's something that happens at the second coming that is connected to it that you can't change. The salvation idea is the outworking of that which the first advent has achieved. I hope I'm not making this too complicated, but there's a difference between the first and the second advents as to their purpose, but there's a connection between them. Now, I decided to give myself a title. I'm trying hard to do that because it helps your thinking to be a bit more clearer in these sermons, but I gave the title about coming from this verse, about the advent of Christ and coming from the next set of verses I want us to go to, which is in Joel. So go to Joel and chapter 3 and in Joel there's descriptions from the Old Testament about the fact that God sometimes comes and he comes to forgive sometimes and he comes to bring judgment. And in these verses 13 to 16 in Joel, listen to this. Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Go in, tread, for the winepress is full. You know what a winepress is? It's when you get all the grapes and you put them in a big vat, V-A-T, and then you get people with clean feet, hopefully, treading it down and getting all the wine, the grape juice to be squeezed out so it overflows and is collected. And what they used to do is to get people stomping around in a big vat, depends on how big is the vat, as to how many people doing the stomping. And that was what this is referring to. The winepress is full. There's grapes all there ready for the treading on. But it says, Go in, tread, for the winepress is full. The vats overflow, for the evil is great. And there's other references in the scriptures about how God's wrath is like the overflow of a vat because God's wrath, can be a settled disfavor with our behavior, but it can also be a sudden overflowing of his wrath, his anger, like the overflowing of the juice out of the vat. And put in the sickle, that's about harvesting, for harvest is ripe. Go in and tread, for the winepress is full. The vats overflow, for the evil is great. He's talking about a result of the judgment of God coming on people. And then verses 14 through 19, through to further. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision. For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon are darkened and the stars withdraw their shining. The Lord roars from Zion and utters his voice from Jerusalem and the heavens and the earth quake. But the Lord is a refuge to his people, a stronghold to the people of Israel. Now this prophecy from Joel is very interesting. On account of the fact and I have tried to get onto this in a previous sermon in the morning and I don't know how successful I was at even making the point. But I really think there's something extremely relevant here to understanding the first coming of Christ, the first advent and the second advent. And what is the connection between the two? And I did tell the last time about the illustration that I had from going along to a conference on evangelism in Amsterdam. And at that conference in Amsterdam Billy Graham had given a talk. And in his talk he'd started it from these words from Joel but just particular verses that he talked it from was I think maybe can yeah you got it no that's Joel 3 to 16 is there one from um uh or I don't know right Joel 2 there you go and Joel 2 28 to 32 it shall come to pass afterward and in this particular prophecy in the Old Testament it keeps referring to afterwardness it's been hard to know exactly what is the afterward but I think if you study it carefully you'll come to the same conclusion I did that it's talking about the new covenant days rather than in the old covenant days which they were in at the time of the prophecy given is you'll come to pass afterward that I'll pour out my spirit on all flesh and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy and your old men shall dream dreams and your young men shall see visions even on the male and the female servants in those days I'll pour out my spirit. Now why this passage is so significant is because it's picked up by Peter on the day of Pentecost and we might come back in a moment's time to the rest of that reading of that Joel part but we should go to the book our book of Acts in chapter 2 in verses 17 to 18 because on the day of Pentecost which is the day that the covenant changes to make the new covenant available the old covenant remember last Sunday was it last Sunday or one of the previous Sundays I was asking questions as to who could tell me when the old covenant finished and the answer that was the correct answer that came eventually was that it finished when God tore the veil of the temple out of the temple and the old covenant apart from top to bottom a very thick temple it would be very hard to get torn and it tore from top to bottom because the whole old covenant and its purpose had been completed and this is the end of the old covenant I also asked the question do you remember if you're here as to when did the new covenant start now it's a bit harder to quite pinpoint but it actually started the first time when people were invited to get into the new covenant and that is actually the sermon by Peter in the day of Pentecost we're reading a bit of the quote from that sermon but he quotes from Joel in the last days it shall be God declares that he will pour out my spirit on all flesh and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy young men shall see visions old men dream dreams even on male servants and female servants equal as male and female in those days will I pour out my spirit and they shall prophesy now what's of interest here is that this is quoted by the apostle Peter as an explanation for the coming of the spirit of the day of Pentecost and there were people prophesying what was described there in the book of Joel came true on the day of Pentecost God gave his spirit in the new covenant times it was a new era but what is of interest to those of us who try and work out all these things and when they're going to happen is that the prophecy continues and even Peter's quoting of it goes on to the next bit which Acts 2 is just picking up from Joel and I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below blood and fire and vapor of smoke the sun shall be turned to darkness the moon to blood before the day of the Lord comes that great and magnificent day and it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved now this is quoted by Peter and he applies it to his audience by saying how Jesus is the one who is being talked about and he died on the cross for their sins and talks about him being the Messiah but it ends up giving people a call a call to come to Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and Peter quotes the idea whosoever will call upon the Lord shall be saved so this is very definitely a part of the Apostles applying the Joel prophecy to that very event of the day of Pentecost and the beginning of the new covenant but what is then interesting is that the rest of what he says quoting Joel is about the sun being darkened and the moon turning to blood and you'll only find more references to that in the book of Revelation and to other places about the second coming of Christ so what I learned from that is that the second coming events of terrible things that the book of Revelation talks about is all a part of the new covenant time and it's they're linked together somehow now in the conference I went to that I said there was an evangelism conference with 10,000 evangelists present and Billy Graham gave an address I've been to three of those I'm not sure exactly which one it was but in that conference where he gave an address he got talking about his own ministry and it's a ministry where they go around to all the countries of the world and most of the meetings that he has are in great big stadiums where there's a lot of people in fact in Australia when he came to Australia in 1959 the biggest crowd that the MCG in Melbourne ever had was that time that he was preaching he had people out in the grass and everywhere and so he's had a lot of people and a lot of times when there's enormous crowds and he was talking about some of the dynamics of the gospel being given to the crowds and some of the intuitions that he has as a person who has to tremble at such a responsibility and the person that had to give the message and he quoted from the book of Joel and what he quoted from Billy Graham at the time was in Holland where this great big gathering was was the one in Joel and I think it is chapter 3 verses 13 to 15 or is it chapter 2 no it might be chapter 2 28 and following now let's see how we go come to pass afterwards da da da da da no go down to verses 30 to 32 no that's not capturing the ones I want there is the part though there in the middle if you look at it on the screen whoever calls on the name of the law will be saved but the bit I'm looking for is something where it says multitudes multitudes in the valley of decision and let me turn it up in my own bible to see whether I've given you the right verses to look so there we go thank you Joel 3 13 to 15 this is what Graham quoted multitudes multitudes in the valley of decision for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision and the sun and the moon are darkened and the stars withdraw their shining but he said in those big meetings there's a very solid sense a very solid sense of peace a very solid sense a very solid sense a very solid sense the very solid sense the very solid sense the very solid sense the very solid sense very strong feeling that the decisions that people have put on to make in that moment where the gospel was given and the call was extended is the decision that will determine what happens on the day of judgment. I've been chasing this down because it was a thought I thought Billy Graham made a mistake because I went back to my room and looked up Joel and I said this is about the end times but he's making it apply to his crusades I thought he just made a mistake but I think I was making a mistake not understanding the connection between the first advent and the last advent for the last advent is not him coming back to repeat the ministry he did the first time he's not coming back to give anybody a second chance he's not coming back to have more evangelism but there might be evangelism by the converted Jews the book of Revelation depicts them and they go around trying to call people to come but it's right just before the kingdom of God as it's always been promised is about to dawn in that way in the future but whether people get into it or not depends upon the decision they made of Christ when they first were gospelized even if the gospelizing was in the last moments or weeks or days before all of this broke out but when at last the deal comes then the description in the Bible that describes the difference between the first advent and the second advent is where it says that when he comes at the end of times he's coming apart from the forgiveness but unto salvation it's to giving you what became yours when you decided on Christ multitudes, multitudes and the valley of decision and what Graham was talking about is the responsibility he felt to give that call for decision knowing that as the people decided that would be what would be decided for them on the day of judgment there's a connection between the first advent and the second advent this is everywhere taught in the New Testament the connection between the two but he's not coming the second time just to add a bit of happenstance or add a little bit of excitement he's coming which was the decision when you first got confronted or you later got confronted with the call to become a Christian that decision to respond to the gospel is your decision that you'll be accounted for on the day of judgment God is not going to assess you again but your decision has already made it and there's something very, very potent and threatening about the fact that when Jesus comes again he's going to come to reap and that's what the Joel thing says put in the sickle stop it stop it stop it stop it stop it stop it stop it stop it stop it stop it stop it stop it stop it stop it stop it stop it stop it stop it stop it stop it stop it stop it stop it stop it stop it stop it stop it that part says for the harvest is ripe and the harvest being talked about is the judgment of the world go in and tread for the wine press is full the vats overflow for the evil is great multitudes multitudes in the valley of decision it links the first advent and our response to it to the second advent and what that means to our salvation. That was a frightening discovery for me to make. Frightening because it underlines the responsibility we all have to take the opportunities to allow people to have insight into the decision that really counts. During the week I had something that happened that I shared with the group that met on Thursday night the evening of the Apologetics Club held at the Where Live Niamh and Natalie and a small group of young adults came to this meeting and I was sharing with them and what happened, we went through all about what is apologetics and I don't know who asked the question it was a bit of a discussion but someone asked the question maybe we should have prayer and go around the room and everybody pray for some of their friends they'd been mentioning about people that they were concerned about to come to Christ. So we went around the room and everybody mentioned about their own friend now that immediately put me on the spot to know what I'd talk about when I got around to my seat but I had something ready because during the week I've been trying to replace the hearing aids that I used to have and I've lost. One of them stopped working and the other one I just can't put my hands on so I've got to get some more. And I went to the dentist a few weeks back and the dentist is in a building and as I came out of the dentist happy that it was over but there's a new business that's set up about hearing aids and the person that's running it, I'm not sure if you know that, I can't remember, on the steps or the top of the steps and I asked what she was doing and she told me about the business of the hearing aids and I said, oh, I need to get some more hearing aids. So I ended up with an appointment to go and get my ears checked out again. They always check out how much hearing you do or don't have. But in the discussion, the talking, she found out that I was a Christian and she's the person interested and so I had someone to tell the apologetics group who was my person so they'd hear me praying for this person and they could remember to pray as well. I've had underlined to me not to ever let an opportunity pass. If God gives you one to help someone hear of what Jesus has done, and be given the gospel, which is a call, the gospel is a call to as many as the Lord our God shall call, said the Apostle Peter on the day of Pentecost. He didn't mince his words. He said all sorts of things like, save yourselves from this wicked generation. He said things like, you know, that were to go straight to the heart of someone who needs to make a decision. Now, not everybody has the same, and some people succeed in ways that might be not the ways that I do. I had to learn to get better at my own method. It used to be to give the person I met both barrels of the shotgun. And I had to learn that wasn't always the wisest way to work on people. I had to go through a fair bit of trials of the Lord teaching me just how I could deliver his message best. But we need to let God have the opportunity to give us a chance to do that. To get us in the position where we do take the opportunities and we understand that the decision that they may make is going to be the decision set. I had this confirmed as I was reading for the sermons. I've been trying to give this sermon for a little while because it's been on my heart. That the valley of decision is a decision in the first instance when people hear the gospel and the call comes and you're right there in the spot as to whether you're going to respond or not. God is gracious sometimes to keep extending it. You never know how long he'll go but there does come a time when he says that's enough and the opportunity of responding is withdrawn. There is a sin that I believe it is when you sin against the Holy Spirit when there's a call for you to listen to his conviction and to respond and come to the Savior. It's the work of the Holy Spirit to convict us. It's the work of sin and to point to who is the Savior and when he convicts you of the fact that you really need to get right with God and he convicts you that Jesus saved you when somehow you understand at last why Jesus came and lived and died and that on the cross he bore your sins. And the gravity of the message of the cross is something the Holy Spirit likes to take people and make them confronted by but did you know that the decision you make is the decision that will set the cast it will set the result that will happen on the great day of judgment. It's not as though God is going to punish you for making the wrong decision but your decision not to come to Christ is the decision. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. That's why the reference to the things that are going to be last day things like the sun, moon, dark and stars withdrawing their shining however that's going to be I don't know but it is because the vats of the wine of the wrath of God have got full and you can't help but notice the downhill plummet by the human race in our times and how much rottenness is getting into our country of Australia and how much the world shows the sinfulness of human nature and how gracious he must have been to want to forgive such a rebellious and sinful race that he came in the person of his son to take on humanity that he might become the sinless one the only sinless one since Adam and Eve and we fell and in that sinlessness he was able to forgive he went to the cross and bore the punishment for our failure and how we respond to that and the fact of that response is how the decision goes what responsibility it is to be bearers of the message of that call to as many as the Lord our God shall call and that call can come through us pray for me if I go back to the same place about hearing aids I'm going to because I want another chance to say some more things about the gospel what a responsibility will you join me in feeling the weight and burden of that responsibility ask God to teach you different people have got different skills and different ways of doing things I've discovered don't some people get on with others and get to talk about Jesus altogether different from how I do so one of the first things I discovered about Michelle when we lived in Adelaide and we were both doing studies at the Adelaide University in town we'd catch a bus and sometimes we sat different from each other so we'd have a different non-Christian to talk to on the bus but I got to watch her style I don't know how she does it she used to do it but she used to start off just sharing about herself then the other person opened up and shared about them particularly amongst women this used to happen and she got them talking by the time we got to the end they were sort of pals and she also had a chance to share about the gospel she has a different way of doing it than I can but get God to teach you how do you want me to be a witness sometimes we do that by the responsibility the responsibility we carry in our business and the way we live out that responsibility that other people see sometimes it is because we become a person who sees and hears of folk who've got particular needs and we get alongside them and we're the person that knocks on the door with something for the kids to eat there's other people who do it because they're very good at the thing that they do and they're a bit of a star at sport or something and then because they're a Christian they find a way to let the news out that they are God has got a different way for different people he'll show you your way that he can use your personality but realise that there are multitudes in the valley of decision and he wants you to be like Billy Graham he has it in Big Crusade we did he's passed away now but he had it in big stadiums we haven't won it one on one or in little groups but God can show you your way to get to the people who are in the valley of decision so that when that decision is lived out it wasn't because they didn't have an opportunity this is a very strong heavy responsibility for me I've been trying to find ways to talk about it I think that the Apostle Paul when he spoke at the end of first Corinthians and he said Maranatha he wasn't making a statement of cursing everybody he was linking the facts that the people who do not love God and do not they show up by they do not love the Lord Jesus if you love God then you'll love his son and when someone has the opportunity to get to know Christ they end up hating it they have made the decision and that's why we're here today and that decision will be left out so it's not saying you will be accursed it's saying if you do not love the Lord Jesus you are accursed and that will be the decision in the valley of decision on that day when he comes what a very powerful thing think on it tonight and ask the Lord to help you to find the way that he can use you to help people make the answer the call of God even to as many as the Lord our God shall call the decision is to answer the call of God and come to him and as I've been saying in morning time morning services about Sir John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress the beginning of Christian he's the hero who does the progress of walking towards the Celestial City but he can't get on that walk as Christian until at first he goes down a little trench a little... track and it's a straightened track where there's no getting off to left or right but it takes you to the cross and that's why we as Christians talk about the centrality of the message of the cross because it's the only way to get to be in progress as a Christian you can't dodge the cross you have to decide to go down that track and let the burden of your sin fall off as you bow before the cross and let the burden of your sin fall off as you bow before the cross before the Christ before the Jesus before the Jesus the Savior who died for you If there's someone tonight who wants to be certain that you have answered the call at the end of the service when everything's over and I'll be sitting down here come down and talk to me and say Jim will you lead me in a prayer that I can be certain that I have answered the call of Christ and that is going to be what decides God's decision for me on the day when Jesus comes back again. Let's pray. Heavenly Father, we do thank you in Jesus' name for the Apostle Paul, Maranatha, or Maranatha. The Lord either is saying he did come, or it's saying the corollary of the fact that he came, that he's coming again. Both those aspects are true. We don't have to pick between them. As to whether it means the Lord has come or the Lord will come. Because that which he came for and died on the cross is what he's coming back to complete. Not complete dying, but for the sentence that was there and the value of decision to be carried out. Help us to understand that, I pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

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