Let us rethink one of the fundamental doctrines that Pentecostals always hold on to and that is the belief that Jesus will come again. Jesus is the soon coming King. He will return and He will judge the world. Now, especially in times like this, when all the people are always busy going about the daily lives. What was the reason that we just celebrated Christmas last month? The very reason we celebrate Christmas is that hope of life that is given to all mankind, Jesus, who have come and revealed to us a vision and he said he will return again. I want us all to be reminded of his soon coming message.
Matthew 24 English Standard Version (ESV)
Jesus Foretells Destruction of the Temple
24 Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. 2 But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
Matthew 24:36-44 New International Version (NIV)
The Day and Hour Unknown
36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,[a] but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
Jesus was saying something against the temple at Verse 24. The disciples praised how beautiful this temple was and it was indeed very beautifully renovated at that time by King Herod. It was really a sight to behold but what did Jesus say? Not one stone would be left unturned. God’s judgment will be on the temple and so the temple’s destruction was the first installment of his prophetic words and it has already taken place 70 BCE. Historians have told us today if the first installment of what is in the Bible has already taken place, then whatever is written about the second installment will surely come to pass.
The second thing is about his second coming. There are three things we can learn here.
First lesson: The Son of Man will return. When exactly is that day, no one will know. Jesus said that not even angels nor anyone on earth or in heaven will able to find out the exact time of His coming. Only the Father will know. It is wrong teaching if anyone claims they know the day or the date of when Jesus is coming again. However, some of us might say that the bible does give us signs of His coming. It is true the bible does talk about the signs of His coming but those signs are merely signs. They are merey signs to remind us that He will come again and all those signs cannot tell us whether they have already completed or not.
No one will be able to say this is that sign or that is that sign. So far if you start pointing to this sign and that sign and you will come to a very dangerous point because you are starting to predict the coming of Jesus’ timing. In other words for all of us as Christians, when we talk about Second Coming, do not become a eschatological maniac. Eschatological scholar means the study of end times. The Bible tells us no one will know the exact timing so forget about trying to predict when Jesus will come. If you get hold of a book that tells you the date, please do not take that book for real because the Bible tells us already that we will not know the exact time of His coming.
Second lesson: This passage reminded us that when Jesus returned, it will be like the times of Noah. In the book of Genesis, God revealed this vision to Noah to build an ark. He had to build it up in a mountain, so he had to preach this message to the people. In fact when God revealed his message to him, God already told him the people won’t believe in him. If you were Noah, you may be asking God are you playing a joke on me? Since you know they are not going to listen why preach it in the first time at the first place? However, the way God does things is beyond our human understanding and we have to trust in God and that was what happened. At that time, no one actually have seen a flood. They have never seen such a thing and when Noah preached on that message. Threfore, no one believed no one actually took him seriously until when the downpour happened. Then it was too late.
Why was Jesus was trying to remind us of Noah? Jesus was trying to tell us this that when He comes again it will be at a time where things are just so common, just so mundane, just so typical of another day. Just like another Christmas, just like another turkey dinner that you’re having, just like so common until you will never expect Jesus will come at this particular hour. People have become so relaxed and so comfortable whenever I talk about Jesus’ coming. 2,000 years have passed. Maybe Jesus have changed His plan or just forgot to tell the disciples? Some people say, “hey it’s already 2,000 years, get on with it, Jesus is not coming anymore. We are getting into that season where people stop believing in the second coming anymore. Even among Christians, people became complacent and they forgot about this whole story about the second coming. So we have to be very careful when people start to say forget about Jesus’ coming. Or you might meet some Christians who say Jesus will not come back so soon. Just relax. Be very very careful with such teachings.
We are Pentecostals, we believe in the imminent return of Christ. We believe Jesus can come back at any moment. Even now, Jesus can just come back. There’s nothing to stop Jesus from coming back, that is what we mean by imminent return of Christ which is very very biblical. It’s all found in scripture but there is another teaching among our Evangelicals. They don’t believe in imminent return of Christ, They believe in impending return of Christ. Impending means they believe some events that must happen first before Jesus will come again. That’s why they say relax, those haven’t even happened yet. This is a very dangerous teaching now. When you start holding on impending return of Christ teaching, there is a tendency for us to become complacent to kind of relax and say the Christ is not coming back soon. You become lukewarm and everything seems okay because there is still tomorrow. There is still a chance for us to ask God to for repentance and that’s one reason why Jesus never tell us his return that date. The last lesson in verse 43 Jesus says this, ” but understand this, if the owner of the house had known what time of the night the thief was coming he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into so you also must be ready because the Son of Man will come at hour when you do not expect him now.”
Third Lesson: is the final lesson and the only lesson you must keep remember until the day you meet Jesus.We should always be ready for His second coming. For it is written, this attitude of always ready, always expecting at any point the imminent return of Christ; this attitude is the right attitude and the only attitude that the Bible truly supports. Some people might say, ‘ I don’t hold on to this view. I hold on to the impending return. Whatever it is then, there are all these verses that keep reminding us we need to be ready. Jesus kept telling His disciples, ‘you need to be ready at all times.’ Do not become like the people who didn’t prepare and when the Son of man returned they got caught unaware. Just like the times of Noah, the people were not in the ark but outside. As believers in this season of Christmas we are reminded again that Jesus will come back at any point of time. It could be after this, later or tomorrow, we never know.
How do we then prepare ourselves? How do we live in such a way that we are constantly preparing for his return? At the same time, we do not go into this extreme mode like selling everything off and do nothing and just wait for his return? Here are some simple guidelines. There are three things we should take note of.
i) Keep watch – be watchful all the time so as the end time believers we need to keep watch of all the events that happens around us. There are signs of His coming which means we need to be mindful of. Don’t just watch the news, you should watch your brothers and sisters in the church, in the house of God. That’s one reason why you should come to your prayer meeting as frequently as possible because when you pray together you have one another to be mindful of. Watch over them when they have some spiritual issues that they are going through. You can pray over them when it becomes kind of like slacking. You can watch over them, come to them and encourage them. Also keep watching for yourself, you need to watch over your heart, your passion. Is your fervency for God still there today? Have you become shallow or too relaxed and start to treat Christmas just like any other Christmas? Watch over our spiritual health as a church.
ii) Second thing we should do is to cling to the Word of God. The Bible tells us in the end of times there’ll be a lot of false rumors, false prophets and these people can do miracles, prophesy, give you all sort of visions and more. However, the Bible tells us you need to stick with the Word of God. Any things that go against the scripture should immediately be rejected. how can you discern something that is wrong unless you first discover what is the truth? If you have no idea what the Bible says, how can you say this is not biblical? You need to stick with the truth and to do that you need to know the Word. You need to study the scripture. Don’t just read your favorite verses. Reject any false rumors false teaching that tells you to relax. Let the word of God the full counsel remind us again and again we are living in times where things are getting very tough.
iii) Finally you need to keep encouraging one another. This is a very important spiritual discipline that all of us must practice as we move closer to end times. The pressure on God’s people will get harder and harder by days. No matter what government you have Christians will never be spared. We will always be oppressed in many ways. When you read the Bible it is nothing surprising because what we are living in a world of darkness. We are called to be light of the world and the Bible says darkness will try to trample the light so don’t don’t expect special favour just because certain things have changed. Instead we must come closer together and in times like this, when things are up and down, not very comfortable, we need to encourage one another even more. To live in end time season we need everyone to be on the same boat. When you come to the church don’t come here just to sit down do your Sunday and go back. My challenge for all of us here is this that whenever we come back to this house of God, whenever you come to your cell group, whenever you come for another gathering don’t just come to that event for yourself. We cannot just live by ourselves. Look into each other’s eyes. Go and ask how are you, how’s the weekend, how can I pray for you because we need to be ready at all times.
Christ will return and when he returned you’ll be glorious definitely but it is also the time of judgment. We do not want our brothers or sister or friends and family fall on the wrong side, We want them to rejoice together as we welcome Christ’s return. Don’t just get excited over the events more importantly get people to come to Jesus and be saved and get everybody excited for soul winning because the day of His coming is very soon.
This article is an excerpt from the Sunday service in KAOG by speaker Dr Victor Lee. For the full sermon, go here.
Dr Victor Lee is the President of Bible College of Malaysia and an EXCO member of the Assemblies
of God Malaysia. A dedicated scholar and a passionate teacher, he holds a PhD in Divinity from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. Currently he worships at First Assembly of God, Kuala Lumpur with his family, wife Dr Vicky Teng and children, Wallace Lee & Wilma Lee.