God's End Game - Introduction
Series: My Preaching Bucket List
September 02, 2018
Do you know what buzzwords are? They are words or phrases everyone (or at least the really cool people) seem to be using in conversation. For example:
- Basic - means being over the top mainstream. Pumpkin Spice Lattes are so basic.
- Extra - unnecessary or unexplainably random. Can you believe she ordered a Pumpkin Spice Latte? That’s so extra.
- Woke - ‘woke’ is used when describing how knowledgeable a person is about certain topics. I heard our pastor preach the gospel. He is woke.
- Fam - short for family, but it doesn’t necessarily mean blood relation. It’s your close friends and supporters. I’m here talking to my fam today.
- Cancelled - When something is ‘cancelled’ it means it’s been rejected as no longer trendy. Members Only Jackets are so cancelled.
We could go all day looking at buzzwords, but there’s one you’ve been hearing a lot lately I want to zero in on.
Ever heard of that?
Are you a Taylor Swift fan? Who isn’t, right? She has a song called End Game…
I wanna be your endgame
I wanna be your first string
I wanna be your A-Team
I wanna be your endgame, endgame
Its origins are found in the game of chess. The end game involves the last few moves determining who wins the game.
It’s come to mean “The ultimate agenda or desired consequence of a planned series of events (often elaborate and unknown to outsiders).”
In the business world, end game is the secret strategy for market domination.
In everyday life, someone might ask you what your end game is, and they want to know your plans for life or relationships or getting a job or whatever.
Have you ever thought about what God’s end game is?
An atheist user on Reddit did some time ago (Reddit is a huge online community). He posted an insightful question on the subreddit DebateAChristian…
By the way, I’m always amazed at how non-Christians, even atheists, seem to be more thoughtful and have a clearer understanding about God than those who claim to believe in him.
We don’t ask the tough questions, because we think we’ve been called to blind faith. And we haven’t.
But didn’t Jesus say those who believed without seeing are blessed?
Yes, but believing without seeing is different than believing without thinking. Jesus also called us to love him with all our heart and soul and mind.
Matthew 22:37 (ESV) — 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
A while back I read through Acts and I stumbled across something about Paul I’d never noticed before.
Acts 17:2 (ESV) — 2 And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures,
Six times in Acts it says that Paul reasoned with Greeks and Jews concerning the gospel.
We reason with our minds, folks. But don’t we have to believe with our hearts? Yes, but the mind is the gateway to the heart! Problems arise when it’s the other way around.
So back to the atheist fellow on Reddit. He posted a very good question:
“Really, what is [God’s] point? To have a bunch of beings he created worship him for eternity? Why would he do that, and why would he punish the ones that don't? What's the endgame in punishing them too?”
This atheist kind of nailed it when it comes to God’s end game. He mentioned creation (the beginning of the game), eternity and punishment (heaven and hell, the ultimate destinations in God’s end game). The only things he left out were Jesus (the major player in God’s end game) and the resurrection (the final play of God’s end game).
I know what some of you are thinking.
What’s your end game with this message today?
It’s to introduce a new series called - can you guess? - God’s End Game.
To understand his end game, you have to go back to the beginning of the game. First, we’ll look at…
CREATION & THE FALL
Genesis 1:1 (ESV) — 1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
Genesis 3:6 (ESV) — 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
Next, the major player in God’s end game…
THE COMING OF JESUS
Matthew 1:20–23 (ESV) — 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
The mind-blowing twist in God’s end game
THE CROSS AND THE EMPTY TOMB
1 Corinthians 15:3–4 (ESV) — 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
The final play of God’s end game…
1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 (ESV) — 13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
The final places of God’s end game…
HEAVEN AND HELL
Revelation 20:11–21:4 (ESV) — 11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. 1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Conclusion: I put this on my preaching bucket list because over the years God has radically changed my understanding of all this.
You see, I made the mistakes as a pastor most Christians make when it comes to understanding God’s end game.
- I limited myself to a very narrow viewpoint.
- I focused too much on some elements and not enough on others
But when God kind of hit the reset button my faith, he really challenged me, especially when it came to the resurrection and the teachings on heaven and hell.
Wrestling with these things, being willing to look at them from different perspectives, made my faith stronger. Now I look more forward to heaven than ever. Now I understand why there is a hell. Now my eyes are opened to something I’d never seen before: God saved me to something as much as he saved me from something.
I don’t know a lot. But I know God’s end game for working in your life is to save you…
1 Timothy 2:1–6 (ESV) — 1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
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