Living With Expectation
Living with Expectation
Sermon Notes – Ps. Jim White
Sunday 22nd September, 2019
When Venese and I were around 16 and 17 – two kids who met at school – madly in love – we already had a solid faith in God and a church background… To be honest, I’m not sure exactly where Jesus fitted into it all. We certainly didn’t have a revelation of Him as someone that we knew intimately and loved wholeheartedly.
We did know Him as the Son of God who died on the cross for our sins. I guess it was a fairly religious approach to our faith, because that’s all we’d known and experienced.
But in those very early years of going out together, as we were growing in our faith together – and in some ways actively stretching the boundaries of what we were familiar with… we were fascinated by the very limited understanding we had of the fact that Jesus was coming again… that there would be a Second Coming of Christ.
And I think for both of us, we thought it could be imminent. I’m glad it wasn’t. I really wasn’t ready!
Mind you, we didn’t get that fascination with the second coming from sermons at church – well not our church anyway!
We had a good friend at the time who was Seventh Day Adventist. And we went to a couple of their meetings and bible studies. I know now that they had their own areas of religiousity, just like we did… but one thing that they talked about all the time, was the Second Coming. And that excited us.
I remember we were sitting and talking in Venese’s car one evening – up on a hill not far from her home at Marom Creek… that’s all we were doing… talking… and it was her car because, as a nurse, she had the money… I was still at school and had nothing.
But as we were sitting there, in the distance these rays of light began to rise up over the hills – lighting up the skies… and I remember thinking – is this it? Is Jesus coming back now?
It was only the headlights of another car.
But I tell you that story because that’s how we were wired… we were expecting Jesus to come back at any moment.
Fast forward over 40 something years later… and I still believe with all my heart that Jesus is coming back… but I’d lost that sense of expectancy and the excitement and the child like faith that I once had.
That expectancy brought hope to my life even back then as a teenager. It gave me a sense of joy and purpose, because every day mattered. And really, I was only a kid.
I want to talk more about that in a moment. But some of you might be thinking – well it’s over years and He still hasn’t come back!
Well, actually, it’s over 2,000 years and He still hasn’t come back – even though Jesus is quoted in Rev 22:20 as saying Himself that He would be coming again soon.
The apostles obviously thought he meant, really soon…
And as time went on, Christians struggled to understand and it became a bit of an obstacle to their faith… So Peter writes to them…
2 Peter 3:3-4, “knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”
Now I don’t personally hear any scoffers saying those things to me… and yet I’m sure they are out there.
But what I think has happened is that most of us have lost our sense of expectation that Jesus will in fact come back anytime soon. We rarely talk about it. We rarely think about it.
2 Peter 3:8-9, “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
That’s confirmed earlier in the Psalms:
Psalm 90:4, “For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it is past, And like a watch in the night.”
I think it’s interesting too that the word “soon” is translated just as often in the scriptures, and has the same original meaning, as “quickly.”
So it may not be soon as we understand it – but when He does come, He will come quickly!
Peter 3:10, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night…,”
I don’t think God has inspired these words simply to confuse us or to be misleading.
I believe that He wants people of every generation – from the first church apostles right through to the Christians living in 2019 and beyond… to live with an expectancy that He might come today – or tonight – and to live like that may be a very real possibility.
Because if we lived like Jesus might be coming back today, wouldn’t our view of life – of eternity – of the urgency to see people come to salvation in Jesus’ name… wouldn’t that cause us to live differently?
Psalm 90:12, “So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Every day counts for something. And Wisdom reveals it’s worth.
And wouldn’t it also cause us to have that same kind of hope and joy and excitement that Venese and I, and perhaps some of you had early in your Christian walk as well?
When Jesus ascended into heaven following His resurrection… the disciples were standing there staring into the skies…
Acts 1:10-11, “And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
In other words, don’t focus on His going – focus on His coming back!
Which leads me into some really interesting keys for where our own focus needs to be – as we look at the story of the ten virgins.
This is a parable that Jesus Himself shared with His disciples. It’s part of an incredible section of teaching on the last days…
Matthew 25:1-13, “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”
So here are some important things for us to think about.
Firstly, especially for us men, it can be a bit tricky getting our heads around the fact that we are compared to ten virgins. But this is Jesus telling the story – the epitome of what a true man should be…
This is a parable… and what He is really talking about here is the church – as a pure, spotless bride… because this is the closest imagery we can get to the closeness of relationship that He wants with us, His Church.
These words are mentioned in the classic teaching on marriage in Eph 5.
Ephesians 5:25-27, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.”
This will be one of our greatest challenges in these last days – to maintain purity as the body of Christ – the church… purity in our teaching – purity in the gospel – not allowing our culture and New Age philosophy to infiltrate the church and corrupt it.
I stood up recently against an article in the Advocate newspaper that was written by another minister – not one from Ballina – that was just a mishmash of New Age rubbish… and I told them so… It spoke about joining hands with the other dimensions of our cosmos – a new dimension of consciousness – and the next evolutionary leap – Christ, the truly awakened, cosmic one, is all, in all, uniting all.
The reason I made a fuss about it was because our church is one of the local churches who advertise directly under the articles that are written each week. And this particular article was a false representation of who we are and what we believe.
But this is the kind of tainted teaching and philosophy that has already infiltrated many parts of the wider church.
So, men, don’t be offended by the use of the word virgin… it’s really speaking of maintaining the churches purity in identity and teaching – keeping the gospel at the heart of who we are!
And don’t be confused here by thinking that the five foolish virgins weren’t actually part of the church. They were ones who professed to be Christians. They were out there waiting for the Bridegroom. If they weren’t professing Christians, they wouldn’t have been expecting the Bridegroom – the King – to be coming.
So then there’s the issue of the oil. The foolish virgins only took their lamps with the little bit of oil they had in them. The wise ones took vessels with extra oil.
Now I’ve heard a lot of teaching about the oil being the presence of the Holy Spirit. And that’s true.
The main role that the virgins had was to shine their lights for the Bridegroom.
But when the time came – the foolish ones only had their lamps – with no oil – and so there was no light!
Again – this speaks of the church. There will be some parts of the church in the last days – all they will have is the lamp, without the oil. They’ll just have the outer form of religion, without the power of the Light – the Anointing.
And let’s not just talk about some parts of the church as if we are the perfect ones… Let this be a warning for us also.
We have to keep the Light shining. That’s what we are called to do. That’s our part in making the way for Christ to return – by burning brightly so there’s plenty of light when He comes…
These foolish virgins liked the idea of having a lamp – they liked their position as one of the lamp holders… but the lamps were empty – no passion – no Anointing – no light.
And although the foolish virgins thought they could borrow some oil at the last minute – that’s impossible. You can’t borrow someone else’s Anointing. You can’t borrow someone else’s light.
Notice too that they’d all been sleeping.
So the wise virgins slept as well as the foolish ones. There’s nothing wrong with sleeping. But sleeping in this sense represents the normal rhythm of life. We’re not meant to be outside with our heads stuck in the air constantly looking to the sky for Jesus to come back.
We’re meant to shine as lights in the everyday flow of life – working, sleeping, going about God’s business – because in Matt 24 Jesus says, who is a wise and faithful servant? He is one who is found doing what he’s called to do, when the Master returns.
So all the virgins wake up when the cry comes out that the Bridegroom has arrived. They all trim their lamps. I wasn’t quite sure what trimming a lamp was – I thought it was something to do with the wick.
So apparently to keep the oil flowing freely from the lamp up through the wick to create light, you have to trim the wick to keep it clean and not fuzzy on the ends.
Here’s the thing. Even the virgins without oil, still trimmed their lamps.
In other words, they still did all the outer stuff, but their lamps are useless without oil. Maybe they didn’t even realise they were out of oil at that moment. Maybe they’d gone so long without oil that they just did things routinely…
This is a warning for all of us as well. Our power is in the Anointing of the Holy Spirit.
And the danger of becoming a lamp without oil is real for the church. It happens.
And you can’t just get it at the last minute when you need it. You can’t borrow it or find it just when you need it.
You can go and buy it – but the cost and the time isn’t found in a moment.
Let’s bring this back to our own personal lives.
Other people may see you and think you are a beautiful lamp. Outwardly you look the part. But inwardly, there’s no oil. There’s no passion. There’s no faith. There’s no real expectancy that Jesus could come back any minute. You’re an empty lamp.
If that’s the case, don’t wait until the cry goes out that Jesus is on His way.
You can be filled – you can have all the power and anointing on the inside that you need to be a truely bright light in these days… but it does cost.
The price may be the letting go of certain things in your life. Sin perhaps. Distractions… it might mean taking the time to build the Word into your life again. It might mean disciplining yourself to pray, to just be with God… to rediscover that relationship you once had with Jesus. To rekindle your first love again…
You don’t just pop out to the shop to buy that stuff. If you wait til the last minute, it may to too late.
By the time the foolish virgins got back from the shop, the doors were closed.
And do you know what the Bridegroom said? “I do not know you!”
That would be devastating…
It’s not that we have to be perfect… we can only be a pure virgin – a child of righteousness – because we know Jesus… really know Him… and live each day with the revelation that His Blood has saved us – and the Holy Spirit has filled us… the same Holy Spirit is the Anointing – He is the Light that shines from within.
The day is coming… and when it comes it will come quickly. Are you ready? And you watching and waiting – even as you go about your everyday life?
We might have been waiting for 2,000 years – and only the Father knows when that time will be…
But He has given us signs. And the signs seem to be lining up more and more with increased intensity.
The bible says in those days just before the Second Coming, there will be false prophets… natural disasters… wars and rumours of wars… increased persecution of Christians… but with the gospel being proclaimed in all the word…
All of that is happening in an unprecedented way.
Jesus has already been once. It was a mission of grace. It was a mission of salvation.
Titus 2:11, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,”
But then in verse 13 it says:
Titus 2:13, “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,”
So His first coming was about grace. His second coming is about glory.
Now is our time of grace. His delay is only because He wants all to be given the opportunity of salvation.
But the Second coming is about His glory filling the earth. And this is what He will look like:
Just s I’m reading this, would those appointed please bring us the communion elements.
Revelation 1:12-16, “Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.”
Isn’t it interesting that this speaks again of lampstands. The seven lampstands are the seven churches…
Revelation 19:11-16, “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”
We need to be preparing ourselves to see Jesus in all His glory.
So I thought that this scripture would be a perfect lead in to our time of communion this morning. Because His first coming culminated in the shedding of His own blood on the cross of Calvary.
But even in His glorious second coming, there is still the reminder that there is power in the Blood. He is clothed with a robe dipped in Blood.
Matthew 26:26-29, “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”
It’s only when the Blood has completely done it’s work in the heart of mankind that Jesus will come – and He will drink it New with us in His Father’s kingdom.
This is a significant thing that we are called to do – to remember Him – to remember His shed Blood.
But a time is coming soon – quickly – when we will share around the table of communion with Jesus Himself.
We don’t talk enough about the second coming of Christ. So I wanted to talk about it today!
Let eat and drink together – but with an expectation of His return. Be full of faith – be excited and full of joy – because it won’t be long before the Kingdom of Heaven is manifest gloriously before us!