Look for the Blessed Hope

Bible Book: 1 Peter  1 : 13-14
Subject: Rapture; Jesus, Return of; Blessed Hope
Series: Helps to Holy Living
Introduction

There is a direct link between the resurrection of Jesus and the coming of Jesus for His saints in what we refer to as the rapture. This is because His resurrection was the first fruit of all those who shall be raised when He returns. Without His resurrection, we have no resurrection, but because of His resurrection, all believers have the assurance of the resurrection. Thus, this is a most fitting subject for us to consider when looking at holiness and the return of Christ. We are going to look at the subject, "Looking for the Blessed Hope." The Blessed Hope simply stands for the coming of Christ in the clouds to take His people home to Heaven.

In the dome of the capitol building in Washington, D.C., there is a line inscribed which states, "One for off event toward which the whole creation moves." A visitor asked one day what that meant and the guide said that it spoke of the return of Jesus Christ. Those who serve in the greatest political hall on earth know of this coming event - the return of Jesus.

I have heard that newspapers have a name for the largest type they use for spectacular headlines. It is called, "Second Coming Type." It was used to proclaim the end of the war with Germany and Japan in the 1940s. It was used to tell the world that John Kennedy had been assassinated. It has been used several times in history. Its mere existence tells us that the media is aware of His coming.

The coming of Christ for the Church is mentioned in the New Testament on an average of once every 25 verses. Some have said that it is mentioned more often than creation, the fall of man, The birth of Christ, His death, or His resurrection!

Many people are confused about His coming. I am reminded of the little boy who was trying out for a little league ball team. He was in right field and his dad was watching him try out for the team. The coach hit a ball his way but the little boy's glove fell off his hand and he missed the catch. The coach hit him another, but the little fellow stumbled going back and missed the ball again. His father ran out on the field, took the glove from his son and said, “Let me show you how to catch a fly ball.” The coach hit a ball toward the father, but the dad stepped in a small hole, lost his balance and failed to catch it. The coach hit yet another ball in the man’s direction, but this time the sun got in the father’s eyes and he missed that catch as well. The father took off the glove, threw it on the ground, and said to his son, “Son, you’ve got right field so messed up nobody can play it!”

Sometimes I think that way about the return of Jesus. People have heard so many confusing ideas that it is difficult to explain it to them in an understandable manner. Actually, we are not here today to answer all the questions, but I assure you that God's Word is plain on the coming of Jesus for His people. And the point Peter makes for us today is critical to the Christian living a holy life.

My sermon today is the first in a four-part series entitled, "Helps to Holiness", or "Helps to Holy Living." We have completed our look at the three-part series on "Strangers in the Land" and turn now to the further writings of Simon Peter.

Note here that Peter links the return of Christ with our behavior. Peter is pointing out the following:

i. Belief determines behavior.

ii. Doctrine effects duty.

iii. Assent to divine truth governs action.

So, Peter begins by establishing that we must give ourselves fully to God's truth and in doing so he provides us with a comparison. He says that this is like a man going out to do physical labor. The laborer dresses for the work he is going to do and he makes sure that he has removed every encumbrance so that he can be effective. So, he tells us that we should do the same with our minds in regard to the truth of God. He states that we must get our minds ready for action. Then he begins to tell us the three things which we must concentrate upon if we would truly live holy lives.

The first of these involves the coming of Jesus for the Church. If we fail to live in the awareness of His return, Peter would say that we will fail to please God in all that we do. We must set our minds on the coming of Jesus in order to set our feet on the path of our mission. How many times this week did the return of Christ affect your actions? Once? Three times? What is that you say? "None at all!"

The thought of the return of Christ should be affecting our lives daily. A man had been at sea for some time. He came home and saw on the shore the wives of many of the other sailors, but his dear wife was missing. He came ashore, went to his home and his wife came running and throw her arms around his neck. "I have been waiting for you," she said. He replied with disappointment, "I know you have been waiting, but the wives of the other men were watching for them."

Jesus would have us watching and waiting for Him, and for good reason. Let’s look at those reasons from the words of Simon Peter in today’s text.

I. Think on the Return of Christ so you will not be Ignorant

One little boy was asked in school, "What is 3/4 divided by 5/16?" The little fellow scratched his head and answered, "I don't rightly know, but it ain't enough to worry about." Some folks feel that way about the return of Christ. They say, "If it happens to day, it happens, but it doesn't really make any difference to me." So, they are totally unconcerned Jesus appearing at any minute. Actually, looking for His appearing makes a Christian keen and alert in every area of his or her spiritual life.

So, just how can this subject help us avoid being spiritually ignorant?

A. The Ignorance of a Wasted Life

First, being aware and ready for His return can keep us from the ignorance of a wasted life. It is sad to see Christians throwing their lives away on things in the world. I mean, they just do not give themselves fully to the work of God. They do not tithe. They do not pray. They do not witness. They do not live for Jesus! Do you know why? They are ignorant of something very important. They do not realize that Jesus is coming soon and all that will matter at that point is what we have done for Him.

This ignorance leads to evil living. Back during the 1800s a new idea began - the theory of evolution. Man actually believed that he would become more and more civilized until war, poverty, crime, hate, prejudice, all of the ills of mankind were eradicated simply by human effort. Then came WWI. When it ended, leaders called it The War To End All Wars! The devastation of WWI was so great that leaders felt humans would eschew war in the future. Yet, at that very moment a German corporeal was beginning his plot to become the greatest menace, the great killer, the greatest hate-monger the world had ever known. Hilter was in the wings waiting to prove them wrong. You see, evolution had convinced mankind that we they were on a ascending line of human character. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

Have we have not gotten any better today? The world is sick with a disease and the disease is called sin! We are no better off morally today than at any other point in history. In fact, many argue that we are worse now than ever before. Science has given people the false hope that all disease will be cured, prejudice will be eradicated, crime will be overcome and some even believe that we will find a means of becoming immortal. Yet, the same issues people dealt with the in the time of Christ are with us today. Why? Sin!

The only cure for this world is Jesus. The ultimate cure is the return of Jesus to this earth!!! If you live in ignorance of this His return you will believe the lies the devil tells you and the world propagates. Look for His return and you will not live a wasted life.

B. The Ignorance of a Worried Life

Also, being unaware of His return leads to a worried life.So many people are worried about worldly things, and they fret over things that do not matter. Even in our churches we watch people scratch and claw for power or attention while letting souls slip out to meet God unprepared and unsaved. Almost everyone of us are much more upset after a church service if we discover that someone has scratched our car than we are over the fact that no one has been baptized in the church in weeks or months. We have tears over a broken vase in our home but no tears over the lost souls or our friends and family.

What if you and I lived each day with the awareness that Jesus is coming soon. Being aware of His return affects our knowledge and that causes a Christian "gird up the loins" of his mind. This keeps our attention on what matters most and protects us from being fooled by the world's lies.

II. Think on the Return of Christ so you will not be Impeded

A farmer went to town years ago and entered a department store to look around. In that store he saw pajamas for the first time. They were a beautiful, bright red color and he was a bit fascinated by them. The store keeper came over and explained the pajamas were the first of their kind in any store in the area and asked if the farmer would like to buy them. The farmer put in thumbs in the overalls and stared at the red pjs for a moment and then asked, "Exactly what are these things used for?" The store owner said, "Well, you wear them at night." The old man said, "Naw, in that case I don't want them jps 'cause I don't go no whar at night but to bed."

Friend, the child of God is to be dressed for working, not for sleeping. Looking for the return of Christ gets us out of our pjs and into our soldier's uniform. We are to be dressed for work in the kingdom!

A. Impeded in our Progress

It is a sad thing to see someone who never progresses and that is a subject Peter is dealing with in this passage. He tells us that looking for Christ to return will cause us to grow in the knowledge of the Lord. He speaks here of not "conforming" to the evil desires of our former life. Looking up to the coming of the Lord will help us make progress rather than falling back to our old ways as we did in the old days.

Alexander Maclaren called this passage the text on the “family likeness”. Yes, we are to be more like Him. Concentrating on His coming will help us to be more like Him. Holy living involves being fully aware at all times of where we are in our progress with Christ. If we do not think of His return, and our appearing before Him, we will likely decline in our Christian life rather than improve.

B. Impeded in our Performance

F.B. Meyer asked D.L. Moody for the secret of his power with God. Moody said that he lived every minute in the awareness that Christ could come at any moment. Moody said he never preached a sermon without realizing that Jesus could come before that sermon ended. Living in the awareness of the coming of Christ would heighten any Christian's performance level.

One problem for all of us who have served the Lord for many years, is a tendency to fall back on previous experience. Yet, Jesus is ever leading us forward. We are to follow Him by taking up our cross everyday. Paul wrote in Philippians 3:13-14, "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." One thing that made Paul an exceptional servant of Jesus was the fact that he was always pressing on toward being all he was called to be in Christ. He even mentions at one point that a special crown is prepared for those who love the appearing of Jesus (2 Timothy 4:8)!

Being aware of the soon return of Christ will keep us from being ignorant and it will keep us from being impeded in our walk with Christ. But, think of yet another advantage in the Christian life when we live in the knowledge that Jesus might come at any moment.

III. Think on the Return of Christ so you will not be Intoxicated

There is more than one way to be intoxicated and I'm not speaking here about intoxication with alcohol or drugs. You see, you can become intoxicated with ideas. That is certainly something that is happening today. America, for example, has become intoxicated with socialism in the last few years. Socialism is the idea that government can solve all problems and resolve all social inequities. Actually, that is not true. One need only look at a country like Venezuala today to see how absolutely insane Socialism is. We are also intoxicated today with the idea that morals really don't matter, or least they are relative in nature. What is moral to you and what is moral to me may be opposites and still be okay. This removes God from the equation and allows every person to live with a personal set of moral values.

Being intoxicated with the wrong ideas is very dangerous. Germany became intoxicated with the ideas that Hitler promulgated in the 1930s, and even when they became aware that all was not well, they could not bring themselves to admit they were wrong. Only after their total defeat did they sober up from horrible intoxication with Nazism.

The same thing can be true within the minds of God’s children. We can become intoxicated with the ideas of the age in which we live. One need only consider the Crusades that were launched by the Church to see how easily people can be intoxicated with foolish ideas. For many years in America, white people and black people didn't attend church together because white people were infected with the idea of racism. When Jesus comes, the Bible is clear that saved people from every nature, race, language and culture will be in heaven singing Worthy is the Lamb! Looking for His return can cure worldly intoxication of the mind and heart.

Exactly how does the intoxication of the mind occur in any generation?

A. Intoxicated with the World's Values

First, this intoxication begins with the world’s values. There has been, and always will be, a set of values in the world that differs from the values found in God’s Word. The Christian is to live according to God’s Word. If we are not well founded in the scripture, we will easily be led astray and will find ourselves intoxicated with a set of values that are contrary to God’s will, God’s way and God’s Word. Anyone truly committed to the Lord can easily see this happening among many Christian groups and Christian people today.

B. Intoxicated with the World's Victories

Also, we can fall victim to group-think. That is, when something seems to bring about a good result, we accept it as being okay. In fact, just the promise of a good result can cause many Christians to be intoxicated with the idea.

Think about abortion for a moment. Abortion was presented as a way for women to have their rights to privacy and the right to reproductive freedom. Also, proponents of abortion claimed that abortion would reduce child crime, child abuse and child poverty. Some Christians accepted this as a positive idea because it appeared to present a way to overcome a great social and family problem. Look, however, at the results. Since Roe vs. Wade, child crime has sky-rocketed, child poverty has increased and child abuse is at an all time high. It is easy to see why. Once you devalue the unborn child, it will not be long before the child that is born will also be devalued. If you don't care about a child in the womb, you will not care about a child in the crib.

Christians must not be intoxicated by the arguments of the world that promise solutions to the world's problems. Following God’s will may appear to be a difficult path, but His way is the only correct way and the only way to victory.

If we keep looking for the return of Jesus, we will not allow the world to persuade us that ungodly ideas can lead to godly results. Looking up is the answer; looking around at the world will only lead to confusion and collusion with the ungodly ideas of the world.

C. Intoxicated with the World's Vices

The world seeks to entice us with its promise of fun and games. Sex, money, pleasure and fun are used by Satan to lure us into a sense that this life is all that matters.

Our world is absolutely intoxicated with sex these days. This generation acts as if it is the one that discovered the concept of human sexuality. God created us male and female and He has a plan for us to enjoy what He created. However, if we move outside His established boundaries there is nothing but sorrow, disease, and death on the path ahead.

Think about it, there is something deadly in this building right now – it is called electricity. It is operating the lights, the sound system, the television camera equipment and air-conditioning. It is powerful and wonderful, but it is deadly. The reason it is helpful to us is the fact that it is kept where it belongs. It is running through protected wires and is connected to safe receptacles. If one of those live wires fell on our heads right now, injury and perhaps death would follow.

That is the way it is with sex. Within a marriage between a man and a woman, sex is a wonderful gift from God. From it comes intimacy and love. We derive sons and daughters from this gift. But, beware, if it slips beyond God’s will, nothing but sorrow will follow in its wake.

This principle is true in every area of life. We must not be intoxicated with the vices that the world embraces. We must keep looking for the return of Jesus. By looking to Him, we keep ourselves from being lured away by the world and intoxicated with the world’s wine!

Holy living is only attainable if we dress up for duty and look up for our Master to return. Intoxication with this world occurs when we forget that we were saved to live in another world - one that He is preparing for us.

Conclusion

He is coming! Just as He came the first time as promised, He will come again as promised. He is coming. Just as He rose from the dead as promised, He will appear in the sky as promised. He is coming. He is coming like a thief in the night. A thief never sends you a message to tell you the day and time he will appear. He shows up unannounced. Jesus is coming soon.

Are you ready for the return of the Lord? How about you Christian, are you living as if he were coming today?

“Living He loved me, Dying he saved me,

Buried He carried my sins far away,

Rising He justified, freely forever,

Someday He's coming, O glorious day." (J. Wilbur Chapman)