[Voici une transcription d’un sermon prêché il y a quelques mois par un frère. Je compte le traduire bientôt, mais je veux le rendre disponible en anglais déjà pour les internautes anglophones. Je pense que sa lecture peut être une réelle bénédiction et une révolution de pensée pour certains.]
Introduction: Good evening, I’d like to welcome you as the congregation here, as well as all of you around the conference who are listening tonight. I think we are enthused to hear what God has for us tonight on the biblical teaching of the end of time and the return of the Lord Jesus. I think we will listen to minister Sam Shirk give us a lecture on that, and before we do that we will just have a prayer here at the beginning of the service and after Sam ends and has a prayer we’ll finish up with a few songs that will end this service; so let’s just bow our heads for a word of prayer.
Our all-wise, righteous God in heaven, we bow before you this evening, we thank you for this day, we thank you for the inspiration of the day, we thank you for this opportunity that we can again listen to what you have for us, to your inspiration; we pray especially tonight for this service, we pray that your will can be spoken and we especially pray for brother Sam that he can have an open way tonight to just simply bring the thoughts that you have for him to bring, just move within him that his words can be your will to your people. We just pray for each heart that’s listening tonight, we pray that you would be with us, one and all, help us so we can have courage and inspiration on the journey through life and that someday we can be with you, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Sam: Good evening to everyone. I see a congregation here at Fairview, I’m going to speak to them, and the rest of you can listen in. You know, the reason that we are at Fairview: we spent almost a year and a half here and then we were back home for three and a half months, we decided to come back and visit, and as we were driving out here is when I received this assignment, so tonight I’m an Okie.
This teaching, this biblical teaching, Daniel Kaufman, in doctrines of the Bible, he called it the doctrine of the future, and I guess I’ll probably bounce back and forth a little bit from “in time” to prophetic teaching (or if you want to use big words, we could say “eschatology”, which is the study of future things). I’m not deep into eschatology because I don’t need a word that size, but there’s a lot here. I’d like to start out with a scripture in Revelation 10. This is more of an end-time scripture. Revelation 10. I’ll go down to verse 5: “And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer”.
That Angel has not yet declared this, but the time is closer than ever, even if we look at signs of the times, no man knows the day or the hour, this is very clear. But the signs of the times we’re living in point us very clearly for the fact that this is going to come to pass. And I have heard of old preacher who used to say that they believed that it would come to pass before they before they left this earth, and it didn’t. But they believed in it. And for us in the day we live in, brothers and sisters, that we could be conscious that this is coming and we can be alive and awake spiritually. So that it doesn’t totally catch us unawares, because we’ve been looking towards the future.
Now in 2nd Timothy 3[:1-5], a very well-known scripture here: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;” Now here’s the next verse, the one that we want to pay attention to: “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” I would like to encourage everyone that’s listening that you would examine your hearts as we are approaching the last days and we are already in the perilous times, that we could be involved in a number of these sinful conditions, selfish conditions, and we could still be coming to church every Sunday and even saying the right words when the revival ministers come to see us, and so on. But if that’s all we have, then we only have a form of godliness and we’re pushing the power away; so, brothers and sisters, in the last days in which we find ourselves without choosing here upon the earth, may we realize that there’s power to be had. If we want to be lukewarm, keep up an outward show so that we get the respect of people that know us, but we know inside, like Jesus told the Pharisees, It is like whited sepulchres: on inside they’re full of dead men’s bones; or like a cup that’s washed on the outside but is filthy on the inside. In the last days that we live in, where that Angel is going to be sent forth with one foot on the land and one on the sea and he’s going to declare time is now finished; You know, I’ve often tried to grasp the meaning of eternity compared to time, and I realize that eternity comes without an end to one end and it’s heading without an end to the other end and we can’t know where it starts or stops because it doesn’t start or stop. We think in terms of time; we find ourselves tonight in a little sliver of eternity that God set aside and called “time”. That’s where he put us and called us to serve Him. He loved us and He does love us, and we want to be careful that the perilous times that we are living in don’t get a hold of us.
There are so many things lying in wait to snare God’s people today that weren’t years ago. Some of them come through the telephones that we carry and people get tempted not to have filters on their phones and get involved with porn and things like that. I’m finding more lately that I’m running into people that very audaciously declare that this is all (what kind of adjective should I use?) just made up by Christians to try to govern over other people, but everyone that is saying that is going to become aware one of these days, that they were wrong, that it is true and it is real; and we are going to stand before God.
Daniel Kaufmann, when he was writing in Doctrines of the Bible about what he called the doctrine of the future, he said this about what we’re going to speak about tonight: “In the study of that portion of God’s Word which throws light upon the future, let us not lose sight of the fact that some things are entirely hidden from us, some things partly revealed, and some things clearly shown. We get the most out of our investigation if we do not assume to know too much, but meekly take our place as humble learners and diligent students, in faith receiving what God sees fit to reveal”. I thought those were wise thoughts. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t read about future things, or study about future things and understand what we can; but it means that we need to be careful that we don’t come to the point where we say “I’ve got it down pat now, anyone that doesn’t understand it the way I do, well they’re just poor souls off course”.
Ann and I were part of a Church for a number of years where this topic was sort of a front and centre topic, and the premillennial view dominated, but there were some very devout believers in the amillennial view.
[Now, I want to keep this simple and plain tonight; I don’t want to make it studious and deep. I see young people sitting in front of me and I don’t want to bore you, I want to bring it in a way that you can follow.]
Well, there’s a number of views that revolve around the thousand-year reign.
Millennial means a thousand years. Premillennialists used to not be found among Anabaptists, or very few. Premillennial means we’re yet waiting for the 1000-year reign to come.
Then there’s amillennial. Amillennial means “we’re in it now and the thousand-year reign is figurative and it means a reign of time or an era of time when Jesus is reigning in our hearts and it’s a spiritual and figurative reign”.
Then there’s postmillennialists yet too. They kind of are getting left behind in the dust now because one of their beliefs led to this thinking that things are going to get better and better and better as we wait for the Lord’s return, and how many of you can testify that that’s happening in our country, in our land? I see no hands raised. Things are not getting better; things are getting worse. So, the postmillennials have retreated and we’re not hearing too much from them. There are some churches that would still hold to that, but I’m not here to talk for or against churches tonight; I just want to talk about how we believe and also some other ways that other people believe.
Along with 1000-year reign teaching, is the thought of the Great Tribulation that we read about in Matthew 24, I believe, “such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time”.
I’ve listened to a lot of these discussions, where some said “the great tribulation will be 7 years”, that reaches back into Daniel where it says “a time, times and a half-time”, which equals 42 months. And then there’s another 42 months, and so there’s seven years of tribulation. Some believe that before this tribulation starts, the Church, the believers are all going to be raptured off the earth and they won’t face any of it. That’s premillennials.
Another premillennial teaching is that the Christians will face the first “time, times and a half-time”, then the rapture will come, and the last half of the tribulation will be worse yet, but the Christians won’t be in it, they’ll have been lifted out.
And then there’s another view that’s called post-tribulation.
I remember people saying: “are you a pre-trib or a mid-trib? Or a post-trib?” They were just shortening [the word] tribulation. So, there are many ways to believe in the literal thousand-year reign among churches in our day.
The amillennial view has been favoured by Anabaptists throughout history. About 100 years ago, there were some very prominent Mennonite leaders (I could say their names, you would recognize several of them, but right now it seems wiser not to. Because some of their descendants might be listening). These were influential leaders in the old Mennonite church, and they went to Moody Bible Institute who advance their knowledge of the scriptures, and they picked up the premillennial view there. They came home and taught it among their people, and today there are some conservative Mennonites (not old order conservative) who can’t even fathom that anyone ever believed differently than this. “Everyone knows that we’re living before the thousand-year reign, Jesus is going to come, and then the thousand-year reign starts.”
I noticed when I was worshiping among Mennonites who were strongly opinionated in one way or the other, that there was a lot of debate. In fact, one Sunday, a group from another state came in to see if they could get together on that doctrine. If we could, they wanted to fellowship with us in that Church setting. So, they had lunch at a certain place, and after lunch was over they gathered in the living room and they started dialoguing, some could have possibly called it arguing, but it lasted till 10:00 o’clock that evening; when they separated, both sides were saying “what you believe borders on unbelief. And the other side was saying the same thing, and each side had scripture to back it up.
Since we’ve been in the Church and I have understood… (well, I don’t want to make a lot of jokes here tonight, but there was another version of millennialism that I embraced back then [when we were attending this other church], because I thought, “if these wise men can’t get together, what hope is there for me?” There was a visitor in church one time and they always liked to approach the visitors and ask: “are you a premillennial or amillenial?” This one visitor said, “I’m a panmillenial”.
Well, I had never heard of that one! What does a panmillenial believe? “A panmillenial believes that it will all “pan out” the way God wants it to.” So I concluded “That one is for me, because I can’t follow all this debating”.
But, as we came into the Church and I realized what the Holdeman Mennonites believed, and I realized that it was very similar to a lot of the conservative Amish and Mennonite churches (they still have that amillenial view), I realized that I had embraced the Church that believes it that way. So, little by little is settled in my heart that I agree with this Church, that there’s a lot of figurative writing in the Book of Revelation, and that this part of the thousand-year reign, we believe is meaning an era of time without a precise calendar definition at each end and it will be the time when Christ Jesus is reigning on earth in the hearts of men and women and converted boys and girls.
That’s where we are today. Now somewhere here I have a confession of faith. I want to read about the Dordrecht Confession of Faith, what they put together hundreds of years ago. It was put together on April 21st, 1632. In article 18, it says: “Of the Resurrection of the Dead and the Last Judgment: Finally, concerning the resurrection of the dead, we confess with the mouth and believe with the heart, according to Scripture, that in the last day all men who shall have died and fallen asleep shall be awakened and quickened and shall rise again through the incomprehensible power of God and that they together with those who then will still be alive and who shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye at the sound of the last trump shall be placed under the judgment seat of Christ, the good be separated from the wicked and that everyone shall receive in his own body according to that he had done, whether it be good or evil, that the good and the pious, as the blessed, shall be taken up with Christ and shall enter into life eternal and obtain that joy which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man, to reign and triumph with Christ forever and ever; [Then it gives quite a few Scriptures here, I’ll touch on some of them in a while] And that on the other hand, the wicked or the impious, as the cursed, shall be cast into outer darkness, yea into everlasting pains of hell, where the worm shall not die nor the fire be quenched and where they, according to the Holy Scripture, can never more expect any hope, comfort or redemption. May the Lord through his grace make us all worthy and meet (it means fit, in this setting) that this may befall none of us, but that we take thus heed unto ourselves and use all diligence, that on that day we may be found of Him unspotted and blameless in peace, Amen.”
Then I noticed a little more of the wrapping together of this statement, something that I hadn’t really noticed before. “These then, as has been briefly stated before, are the principal articles of our genuine Christian faith as we teach and practise the same throughout in our churches and among our people, which in our judgment is the only true Christian faith.”
Some people have been spreading the story around that thought of a “united visible church” was invented by John Holdeman, but this was many hundreds of years before and they already testified to that.
Now in the Articles of faith that were written by the Church, it says in article 26: “Resurrection of the dead – we believe in a general bodily resurrection of the just and the unjust…” You know, pre-millennials run into this: the dead in Christ shall rise first and then they put many years (some of them only put seven years some of them put a thousand years) between that and when the evil, those who died not in the Lord, shall rise from the dead, but it says that we believe in a general bodily resurrection of the just and the unjust. “…in the great day when the Lord himself shall descend from Heaven to raise the dead and transform the living, consequently this incorruptible shall put on incorruption and this mortal shall put on immortality like unto the transfigured body of our Lord Jesus Christ whereunto the glorified saints shall enter into eternal glory. We hold the amillenialist view of the Kingdom of Christ and we do not believe in another kingdom of glory, except that of the new heaven and new earth after this earth and the sea with all its visible elements have passed away. Therefore, we maintain that those looking for a personal reign of Christ in a literal Kingdom on earth for a thousand years are misled and will be disappointed. We set no time in regards to the day of the Lord’s return for his written “of that day and hour knoweth no man” (Matthew 24.36), therefore be ye also ready.”
That’s the important part. We don’t need to know when He will come, but if we realize and believe with our heart that we see the signs and evidence that we are coming closer and closer to that, it behooves us to make our calling and election sure, to know where we stand. Then it doesn’t matter what year he comes, what month or what day, or even one hour. Because if Jesus is in our heart, when the trumpet sounds and we see Him, there’s going to be joy and glory in our hearts. This is my Redeemer, my friend, the one who died so that I could live!
“Therefore, be ye also ready; whether it be for the message of death or for his personal glorious appearing in that day. Even so come, Lord Jesus.” There’s a number of other scriptures there.
So, the Church believes, and we believe, that the thousand-year reign is not a future event. That’s where the word “premillennial” comes from. “Pre”, we’re living before… And there’s tremendous variations in how that is believed. Some would almost believe that there’s going to be a second chance during the thousand-year reign. Others would see that their churches are not living up to what the Bible says, so they can think: “well that’ll be in thousand-year reign when the lion and the ox shall eat straw together, and so on, then it will all be a glorious time.” I sensed that that might be an error even when I heard that, and that God wants that in the Church today. For those of us who were lions before we got converted, our life has changed so dramatically that we can lie with the ox and the lamb and we’re all at peace together. I don’t know, if we would go through the congregation here (I’ve learned to know many of you), well I don’t know for sure which ones of you were lions before you got converted and which ones of you or calves or lambs, but the important part is that you did get converted and that made it, if you were a former lion, that you can lie down with the ox, the calf, the lamb, and you can eat straw together with them.
How do you remember it? I remember I was not a pious young man when I went through most of my youth and when I got converted, I was not prepared for what God was going to do in my heart. The things that I was very stubbornly clinging to become unimportant to me, the things that came from pride and so on became unimportant to me, because I had now changed into a lamb.
So, in our Confession of Faith, it tells us that we believe the dead shall arise, and then there will be those who died in the Lord and those who died not in the Lord.
Maybe we should go back to Matthew 24 for a little more on that. I know there are people listening tonight who can easily understand every flaw that I make in my talk here, so I’ll try to keep it as flawless as possible. Matthew 24 verse 21, there’s the great tribulation. “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” Even there, that tribulation being part of the End of time, it says there was no tribulation like that since the beginning of the world to this time, nor ever shall be. “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” That word “deceive” in some other versions is called “seduce” which is another word for deception, draw men. Now it says here: “Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” There’s no one going to be able to say “oh the Lord has returned, He’s over there on the other side of Oklahoma City” or “He is back in Pennsylvania”, because it shall be like lightning in the east. That lightning flashes across to the west and every eye will see it. So, it says in verse 31: “And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Now this applies to us in our day. “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:” because it is budding, leaves are starting to come. “So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.” And brothers and sisters, I’d like to emphasize that. It is not that far away anymore. There’s too many of the things that are falling in place for the last days, and that leads the true believers to understand that it won’t be long and Jesus will be coming out of the sky. Just the same way as he ascended, He will descend and we shall see Him and we will be happy people if our heart is right and will be ready to meet Him.
So, it is near even at the door. “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” When we are grounded on the Word of God and maybe in a spiritual sense we could say it thunders and there’s lightning and 83-mile an hour gusts of wind all around us; but we know, we have that assurance in our hearts, that we are on the solid rock and we will be safe.
So, brethren, there’s going to be scary things come to pass, but if we are complete in Him, they don’t need to scare us, we can stand in awe and say “this is tremendous”. “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” That part of “one taken and the other left” in the vision of the future that’s not the faith we embrace, they would say “well the rapture came” and the one was ready to go so…”
I don’t know if you have ever seen a car ahead of you with a bumper sticker on it that said “warning! in case of rapture, this car will be driverless.” Because they believe that when the rapture comes, they’re going to be taken right out of that car even though the car might be in the Cimarron Turnpike going 75 or 80 mph. So, they’re warning us to take heed.
But in the amillennialist view, this verse is just simply stating the difference between the one that is ready and the one that is not ready; they could be working side by side on the same job. The one that’s ready will go with the Lord and the one that’s not ready will… I want to get to that here shortly in Matthew 25, there’s more scripture there. It talks about the foolish and the wise virgins and how the foolish ones didn’t make sure they had oil in their lamps. And when the cry went out “the Bridegroom is here!” and they wanted to trim their lamps and get their flame nice and cheery the oil, and they found out that the oil was gone and so they quick ran out to buy more oil in desperation, probably. While they were out, the Bridegroom came and he took those who were ready with him. The foolish said “Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.” Then Jesus’ words to us are: “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”
OK, now about the General Resurrection versus the First and Second Resurrection (that could be 42 months apart or 7 years apart or 1000 years apart depending on which version you were taught), but it is taught clearly that there will be another resurrection. Here is Matthew 25, it makes it pretty clear, in verses 31-33: “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.”
This is sometimes called the Great White Throne Judgment, but whatever you want to call it, it is the judgment where Jesus comes with all the holy angels and everyone is going to be gathered before the judgment seat of Christ, each one to receive according to what we lived for; and he’s going to see those sheep and goats in this line coming up. I don’t know how that will look. I’ve sometimes imagined that we would see a long line of people just slowly advancing. Some, as they were getting nearer and they were hearing the words of Jesus, they were starting to tremble, and others, maybe their hearts were calm and they said, “thank God we’ve prepared for this!”
All nations! I heard a minister say one time that that includes all the pharaohs of Egypt, all the kings of Europe that rule according to their own good pleasure, and the Caesars, and this preacher would say, “and lo and behold, in that line, comes a little man named Hitler, he will also receive his judgement.” But all nations shall come together before that.
And this, brothers and sisters, let it not scare us, but let it make us stand in awe and determine in our hearts that we want to be ready; even if Hitler is right behind me in that line up to the Judgment Seat, we know that God is going to see my heart and he’s going to pronounce according to that.
“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:”[verse 34] This is God’s plan from the very creation days, his plan was that his children should be gathered in there, inherit the Kingdom that was prepared for them. It was prepared for us! (… I was just thinking of an illustration but maybe it’s too earthy, so I’ll leave it…) But when God has prepared Heaven’s best for us and we are distracted and we follow our pride, our self-will or lust of the flesh, whatever else, our lust of money, covetousness… and we might get filthy rich, and we might even be able to say: “well I’m one of those Holdemans over there southeast of town”.
Then God will say “but I’m looking into your heart, and what I see in your heart will not fit into my Kingdom”. That part needs to be very sobering to us: that we cannot hide anything from the Judge.
“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? (this is an interesting verse) And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (verses 35-40)
So what good we do for someone, our heart is touched with their plight and so we reach out, we help them and do what we can. Earlier, I stopped if I saw cars broke down along the road, I would always stop. I said, “this is an opportunity God gave me”. And here I found out they had run out of gas. So I said, “well, I’ll go down to Clarks Ferry and I’ll get some gas and I’ll come back and then you can drive down there”. I had to buy a jug of gas and everything and when I came back, guess what? They were gone. So, I was feeling so good about doing this good deed for them, and then it sort of fell flat for me. They were already on their way, someone else probably had gas in their trunk or something. But I like doing that. Sometimes it’s not appropriate. I picked up hitchhikers when I had my family along; I probably wouldn’t do that so much anymore unless I had a real revelation from the Lord. But when I had a hitchhiker with me in the car, I had a captive audience and I could testify to him about the Lord and what the Lord has in store for him. And sometimes miraculous things happen… but I don’t want to get too far into the storytelling mode…
“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand,” listen to these words these are scary words “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:” there’s a place that I didn’t prepare for you, but you’re going to need to go there… “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” [verses 42-46]
Brethren, can you… (sisters too)… can you, for one moment, fathom that desperate, hopeless feeling that those poor souls had? Maybe there were some of those that had a form of godliness. And they would say: “Well, surely God knows that I went to get gas for that man, he just wasn’t there anymore?” or so on … But they hear those words: “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels”.
These are the words of our Lord Jesus to help us understand how we should be thinking and acting and doing and believing. So, Jesus is going to return. Let’s turn back to 1st Thessalonians chapter 4, if you have your Bible… Oh by the way, while I’m looking for this scripture, I want to thank everyone that is either listening in or sitting here, who used WhatsApp to encourage me, saying that they would be praying for me. I was feeling the need of prayer very keenly… OK, 1st Thessalonians, chapter 4 verses 13-15: “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.”
I get kind of confused in my sense of direction here, but I think there’s a Cemetery somewhere in this neighbourhood, called Cedar Cemetery, I believe. And everyone that died in the Lord, will arise in the Lord. We which are alive and remain shall not prevent them which have already died. “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:” [verse 16] I have sometimes thought that I’d like to get a job maintaining a cemetery so that I could be right there when it happened and see what a mighty miracle is going to take place here. But whether I’m watching or not, the dead in Christ shall rise first. “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” [verses 17-18]
These are sobering words but also comforting words for us to take. The ones who believe in a rapture that comes way ahead of the next coming of the Lord (I’m not sure how many comings of the Lord that will make for them) They will be comforted by these words. Can you fathom being comforted by these words? If not, then draw nigh unto Him and He will draw nigh unto you and that comfort will comfort your hearts. That’s God’s plan. He’s going to come back with all the holy angels with him.
The judgment day: I already touched on that a little bit. Second Corinthians 5:10 and 11. Let’s look at that again… This is again about the Judgment. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.” We must all appear. But it says here: “knowing the terror of the Lord”, when God’s wrath is kindled. The essence of God, [according to] my understanding of the Scriptures, is love. He loves us. He sent His only begotten Son because He so loved the world. And to this day, no matter how many wrong things we’ve done, He is still longing to be reunited with us and we could have a loving relationship with Him.
But, knowing the terror of the Lord, how hard is it for us as brothers and sisters to say a word for the Lord? I remember a time in my life when I spoke for the Lord because I felt a compulsion that “I have to do this” and I always felt uptight and I couldn’t speak just calmly. One day the Lord came to me and made that clear: “You don’t need to be uptight if you’re witnessing for me. Just follow the open door, and I will give you the words to speak.” That really put my heart to rest, and I would encourage you all to believe that, and if God shows you an open door, for you to witness for Him, knowing the terror of the Lord we persuade men. Go ahead and persuade them or do what you can to persuade them! If you do that with the spirit of Christ you are not going to be very offensive to them, but you are going to be used of the Lord and you’re going to be rewarded for it… (I see the clock has been going faster than me) …
I think I might have read this here before, but this is a little business card-sized printing, it’s pretty old and tattered. A brother in Michigan gave it to me once, he was a descendant of the notable Frank Haynes, and I think he has some descendants here in the audience even.
He passed these out. He is quoting William Booth from the Salvation Army and he said: “the chief danger of the 20th century will be a religion without the Holy Spirit, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, Salvation without regeneration, politics without God, [need I say more on that one?] heaven without hell…” Just preach, like Lyle said this morning, that word easy believism: that everyone is going to go to heaven, God wouldn’t send anyone to hell… And he wouldn’t! It’s us that make the decision that will end up earning us those words “depart from me”.
So, brethren, sisters, let the Lord revive your heart. You know, we got that letter the other year about some brethren that made a plea for a revival? The essence of the first part of that letter is very correct. We need a revival. People need to be able to see the inspiration of the Holy Ghost in our lives so it doesn’t give them a question: “yeah he’s a Mennonite, but you better not try to do business with him because you’ll get the short end of the stick…” I hear things like that back East sometimes. And the Mennonites that give the other man the short end of the stick they would say “No! I’m honest.” But I told one brother “Well, how come is it that so many people are not sure that you are?…”
Well, if we detect things like that about us and about our influence in the neighbourhood where we live, let’s apply at heaven’s door for revival and be revived again so that people can sense and we can know that the power of God is living within my heart and soul and He is leading and guiding. May God bless everyone.
Let’s bow our heads to pray.
Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you this evening for your Word, we thank You for the teaching it gives us, and we thank You for the witness of our forefathers and how they believed too, dear Father. Help us to firmly believe what You teach in your Word and not cast about seeing if we could find an easier way. Dear Father, bless everyone that’s listening tonight. If there are those that need revival and don’t really realize it, just speak to them. If there’s those that need revival and they know full well that they do, dear Father, help them to draw nigh so that You could be nigh unto them too. But dear Father, as the Church is living in the last times, be present among us, guide us, inspire us, so that the witness that goes out might be heavenly and might not be a double-tongued witness. Dear Father, bless everyone that’s listening, bless us all with good rest tonight. In Jesus’ name, Amen.