Friday, December 21, 2012

Last Things: Jesus & the Saved


Last Things: Jesus and the Saved

Sabbath School Teacher
Larry Evans

December 22, 2012

Introduction

According to Mayan prophecies, Friday was to have been the end of the world.  For some it was.  Life is fragile and while we don’t have the statistics we know some woke-up for the last time yesterday and never lived to see the sun set.  The problem with false prophecies, and specifically with those that predict the end of the world, is that they numb the sensitivities for the “real thing.”  So much so that the gospel according to Luke, Jesus raises a critical question:  “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” In other words, there is certainty that Christ will come but there is uncertainty in the faith of man.  Today much attention is focused on the false prophecy of Mayan predictions, on the horrible massacre of little children that took place in Connecticut and the doom of the approaching fiscal cliff.  In light of such pessimism we direct your attention to the only certain hope the world really has.  To get there we will have only a brief time to review:  (1) Christ’s ministry in the heavenly sanctuary, (2) the second coming of Christ and (3) the resurrection of those who died in true faith.  So our appeal today is not to allow the tragedies around us to numb our sensitivities of these spiritual realities.  For within them is the hope that leads us beyond our own doings to the doings of the One who will save us from them.

Quiz

1.        All that needs to be done for our salvation was done at the cross. (Dan. 12:4,9; Acts 1:11; Heb. 7:25)  True or False?

2.        The Day of Atonement was for measuring how good the people were which then determined who would be cut off  from those considered to be God’s people and those who were not.  (Lev. 23:29)  True or False?

3.        The false prophets of which Jesus warned (Matt. 24: 4-11) are represented, in part, by the persecuting beast powers of Rev. 13.  (vss 8, 13-17)  True or False?

4.        Spiritual discernment is needed in the last days because the signs of Christ’s coming and the deceptive signs of the beast power will both have unusual (even miraculous)  signs in the heavens.  (Acts 2:19 and Rev. 13: 13.)  True or False?

5.        The only uncertainty about the reality of a literal, visible and audible Second Coming is in the enduring faith of man.  (Luke 18:8; 1 Thess. 4:13-18)  True or False?

6.        The empty tomb of Jesus is an illustration that the resurrection at His Second Coming is a bodily resurrection.  (Lk 24:1-6; Dan. 12:2; 1 Cor. 15:20,21; 1 Thess. 4:16-18)  True or False?



Study and Reflection

1.        All that needs to be done for our salvation was done at the cross. (Dan. 12:4,9; Acts 1:11; Heb. 7:25)   False (But with explanation)

“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)

We are tempted at times to think that political actions is what is needed to solve the hunger, crime and social needs of the world.  Note what respected Adventist theologian Edward Heppenstall wrote: 

“Concern for the improvement of the social, national, and international problems of man, which are part of the Christian mission, can never discover the ultimate truth and reality of God.  This comes to man from Christ’s ministry in the sanctuary.  Nowhere is the final triumph of truth, justice, and righteousness revealed as a gradual process of saving the world, the sure advance of modern culture and civilization against the forces of poverty, disease, and war.  God speaks to man His final word through the priestly ministry of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary.  The man whose faith is set in the direction will earn the truth for these last days. “  (Christ Our High Priest, p.220)

The Bible does speak of a time when chaos will come to an end. (Dan. 12:4,9).  But will it come as a result of a Mayan prophecy, a meteor falling from the heavens, because of an uncontrollable global virus or because of self-destruction from a nuclear war?  No. The Bible draws attention to what is happening in heaven (Heb. 8:1)  because the outcome there has a direct correlation to the solutions needed here. 

It is true that what happened at the cross is critical to any solution but by itself we only have part of the story.  It is more of a process than an event.

            1.        The shedding of blood is necessary for the atonement. (Heb. 9:22) – Christ our substitute.
            2.        The need for priestly mediation between sinful man and a holy God. (Heb. 4:14-16) – the access of the sinner to his saving God and the provisions made at the cross.
            3.        The judgment and the cleansing typified by the Day of Atonement. (Heb. 9:23) – God’s review of the acceptance of the provisions made by sinful man for him.

2.        The Day of Atonement was for measuring how good the people were which then determined who would be cut off  from those considered to be God’s people and those who were not.  (Lev. 23:29)  False
23 It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a man–made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. (Heb 9:23-24)

The Lord said to Moses, 27 “The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present an offering made to the Lord by fire. 28 Do no work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the Lord your God. 29 Anyone who does not deny himself on that day must be cut off from his people. (Lev. 23:26-29)

“Without question the word ‘cleansing’ points to the ministry of the high priest in the Most Holy Place on the Day of Atonement.  On that day the Lord judged Israel, not on how good they had managed to be, but on whether they ha humbled themselves and accepted God’s forgiveness and cleansing through the ministry of the high priest.”  (K. Donkor in  Growing in Christ, p. 83—emphasis mine)

3.        The false prophets of which Jesus warned (Matt. 24: 4-11) are represented, in part, by the persecuting beast powers of Rev. 13.  (vss 8, 13-17)  True

Note the parallels:

9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.  (Matt. 24: 9-11)

1 “All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. 2 They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. (Jn 16:1,2)
15 He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. (Rev. 13:15)

These events of the false prophet of Rev. 13 which are in direct opposition to the work being done for the people for whom mediation is being given.  The controversy intensifies because of what is happening behind the scenes although we see but the manifestations of the conflict on earth.

4.        Spiritual discernment is needed in the last days because the signs of Christ’s coming and the deceptive signs of the beast power will both have unusual (even miraculous)  signs in the heavens.  (Acts 2:19 and Rev. 13: 13.)  True

Note the parallels:

18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.

19 I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke.

20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.

21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ (Acts 2:18-21)
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13 And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. 14 Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. (Rev. 13:13,14)

The contrast between the true revival and the false revival couldn’t be more pronounced yet it is deceptive nevertheless.
5.        The only uncertainty about the reality of a literal, visible and audible Second Coming is the enduring faith of man.  (Luke 18:8; 1 Thess. 4:13-18)  True

8 . . . when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

Two important points: 

            1.The Son of Man is coming
            2. The only question is if He will find faith on the earth when He does come!

Today we stand in desperate need of help and deliverance from beyond himself.  Humanism has proven weak at best.  Are we open to divine intervention.  Once we come to that point then we must be alert to counterfeits.

6.        The empty tomb of Jesus is an illustration that the resurrection at His Second Coming is a bodily resurrection.  (Lk 24:1-6; Dan. 12:2; 1 Cor. 15:20,21; 1 Thess. 4:16-18) True

The experience of Jesus after death is helpful in understanding what will happen at the resurrection of both the righteous and the dead.

The body of Jesus was missing from the tomb.  It was not just a spirit that arose but the body of Jesus.  The empty tomb is explained further by Paul’s description of the resurrection at the Second Coming.

13 Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage each other with these words.  (1 Thess 4:16-18)

Reflective Conclusion
“Salvation covers more than forgiveness, justification, and sanctification in this life.  Salvation is more than the acceptance of those who believe in Him here.  Complete salvation includes Christ’s second advent.  The plan of redemption cannot be finished without this.  Complete redemption comes only by a new order from above.  In that day God has promised to—

wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.  And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, Imake all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. (Rev. 21:4,5)

Human progress will not do this. Extend life here as long as you wll, but man will neve conquer sin or death, with its terrors for the dying, its tears for the surviving.” (Heppenstall, p.227-228)

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