God's End Game - Part 40
Published September 29, 2019 at 10:45 AM
God’s End Game - Part 40 We are now into the final play of God’s End Game: the second coming of Jesus Christ or the Return of the King. Our theology book defines it this way… The doctrine of the second coming describes the expected return of Jesus Christ at the end of time, when he will come to judge the world and usher in the fullness of his kingdom. We’ve covered in a general sense the last part about ushering in the fullness his kingdom. God’s kingdom was temporarily overthrown by the devil in the garden, something God allowed. God’s end game plan is all about restoring that kingdom. The birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus ushered in the kingdom and his second coming finalizes it. We also got a pretty good picture of what will happen at the end of the age (AKA the Last Day), at least as far as it concerns us: Jesus will descend from heaven (dimension not altitude) at the sound of a trumpet. He’ll have with him those believers who have died. They will get their new resurrection bodies first. Then those who are alive at his coming rise up to get their resurrection bodies as well. We all will forever be with the Lord There’s another part of our theological statement we haven’t looked at yet: he will come to the judge the world. That seems to be a contradiction if you look at what is probably the least known verse in the Bible, John 3:17. I say least known because most folks stop at what is probably the most well known verse, John 3:16. John 3:16–17 (ESV) — 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Jesus also said… John 12:47 (ESV) — 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. Catch the seeming contradiction? This is reconciled by looking at Jesus’ mission according to which of his comings we’re talking about. The first time Jesus came, which is found in the Christmas story, it was about saving us from our sins… Matthew 1:20–21 (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.” How will he save us from our sins? By allowing himself to be crucified on a cross, by taking our sins upon himself as the Lamb of God. That’s one of Jesus’ many titles. It has to do with the Passover Lamb that was sacrificed so the angel of death would pass over the Israelites in the 10th plague. A lamb was also sacrificed daily in the temple to take away the sins of the people. John the Baptist saw Jesus as the Lamb of God… John 1:29 (ESV) — 29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Paul did too… 1 Corinthians 5:7 (ESV) — 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. As did the apostle John is his Revelation… Revelation 5:6–14 (ESV) — 6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. 8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” 11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped. Jesus’ mission as it relates to his first coming was about saving us from our sins as the gentle, meek, self-sacrificing Lamb of God. The mission as it relates to the second coming is a different story. In Revelation we see this… Revelation 19:11–16 (ESV) — 11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. There’s another name for Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and in this text we see that Jesus set to wage war. What a contrast to the Lamb. Along with waging war, Jesus returns to judge the earth and everyone on it… Revelation 20:11–15 (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. As God’s End Game plays out towards the end, all people will be judged. It’s called in theological terms The Final Judgment… This doctrine affirms that when Christ, the merciful and righteous king of the earth, returns, all human beings will be held accountable for their lives, resulting in eternal condemnation or eternal blessedness. So, there’s really no contradiction when you look a things according to the mission. There’s the Lamb of God mission with the first coming and the King of Kings mission with the Second Coming. The first mission was to save and the second will be to wage war and judge. How all this fits into a schedule of the End Times I don’t know. I know we’d like to know. As I’ve mentioned, there’s a whole industry, a franchise in Christianity focusing on providing timelines and such. It sells movies and books. One scholar warns though… “Great caution is required when studying subjects within [the End Times]… The Bible gives few details, and those often in passing; it does not set out a detailed plan or pattern of divine action at the end of this passing age. As always, Christian theologians must be careful not to presume to know more than God has revealed.” But what God has revealed is enough isn’t it? What we can know is what we need to know. At the end of God’s End Game is the Final Judgment for all, for everyone who has ever lived since the beginning of time. This makes me think about how everybody likes to categorize people into two groups. There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who make things complicated, and those who make things simple. “There are basically two types of people. People who accomplish things, and people who claim to have accomplished things. The first group is less crowded.” – Mark Twain There are two kinds of people in the world: the Givers and the Takers. There are two kinds of people in the world: Pessimists and Optimists. There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who follow the rules and those who make the rules. There are two kinds of people in the world: Players and Haters. There are three kinds of people in the world: Those who know math and those who don’t. In reality, you can’t divide folks into just two groups. The world and the people who live in it are too complex for that. But in the end, the final judgment really does make for two kinds of people in the world: those going to be with God forever and those not. Those whose names written in the Book of Life and those not. Those going to live in the New Heavens and Earth and those going to hell. Yes, Pastor Brad just said the “h” word. Is he really going to go there? Talking about hell in church has gone out of style. It’s become taboo in a way. If I’m going to be honest, I sense that pressure. I’d rather not talk about it. But if I’m going to be fair in sharing with you what God has revealed in his Word, I have to. It’s not popular, I know, but it’s all over the Bible. It’s as much a part of God’s End Game as the resurrection and the New Heavens and Earth and everything else. Conclusion: You know, God has kind of dealt with me over the years on the teaching of hell. Not so much what it is but how I present it, how I preach on it. For many years when I preached on hell I did so in a spirit of pride, as if I was doing God a favor, like when the principal makes you the hall monitor and you get to enforce the rules written in the handbook. I wasn’t worried about going to hell after all. Western Christianity as a whole for a very long time has majored on fire and brimstone preaching scented with a hint of pride, I believe. Which is partly why it’s gone out of style. But I’ve come to realize how wrong it is to be puffed up about hell, to use it as a stone to hurl at the heathens. Yes, by God’s grace I don’t have to worry about it. Yes, God is just to judge, and I will show you how necessary and right hell is soon. But how can my heart not break at the thought of anyone going there? The Word of God reveals his heart on the matter… 1 Timothy 2:1–4 (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. 2 Peter 3:8–9 (ESV) — 8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. Ezekiel 18:23 (ESV) — 23 Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? In the coming weeks as we are able I’m going to cover the hell and final judgment part of God’s End Game plan, as humbly and as sensitively as I can. I’m going to show you how no one’s actually in hell yet just as no one is actually in heaven (not as we understand it). And then, finally, I’m going to take us into the glories of the New Heavens and Earth, something I’ve been itching to do from the beginning. But here’s something I want you to think about today… All our destinies depend on what we’ve done with the Lamb of God. If we wait until the King of Kings returns it’s too late.