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Waiting for the Coming of Jesus

September 27th, 2017

How could the Ephesian church live up to this teaching?

With great difficulty. In fact on their own it was impossible.

The powers against them were too great.

That’s why Paul writes

Ephesians 6:10-12

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.

There is only one location to be strong. Jesus must be at the centre of our desires and affections.

11 Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

This is overwhelming. You can see the satanic power of evil when you look at governments around this world. The fact that human beings can even think of threatening nuclear destruction on one another is a blasphemy against God who has made us in his image. It is too awful to even contemplate.

Then Paul turns upside the weapons of the Roman legion.

This is a different type of warfare. It starts within. It is surrendering to the rule of God in our lives.

And there is only one way to wage this struggle.

Ephesians 6:18

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Thy kingdom come. It starts within our heart. It is only by prayer can we see the kingdom of God in our lives.

Did the early church become discouraged after so many years of this spiritual battle and with no return of Jesus?

NT Wright said:

In the scholarship of the last two generations people have said the early Christians were so worried because Jesus had not come back after generations. I regard that as mostly a projection of the failure of European hopes in the middle of the 20th century… that works its way through into New Testament scholarship and they think it was like that in the early church as well: they’re their hopes were dashed and they didn’t know what to do next.

I’m looking at the text and apart from one little flicker in second Peter, actually they’re not saying oh dear what’s gone wrong. They say yeah he’ll come back he will make absolutely everything new.

But in the meantime we have the Spirit we have God’s presence with us we are celebrating God’s kingdom as a now as well as a not yet and so let’s get on and do it and and see where we’re going next. But they are celebrating the presence of God’s kingdom as they’re waiting…

The Church quickly learned to see that the suffering was a sign that they were actually at the leading edge of the kingdom and that they interpreted the suffering not just as miscellaneous oh dear it’s all gone wrong but rather we are now the representatives of Jesus who is the Lord against the principalities and powers. So it’s no surprise that the principalities and powers recognize that and they’re coming to get us.

It means we really are the servants of the king. The suffering is a badge of the fact that we are sharing the Messianic sufferings of Jesus

How do Christians live in this world waiting for the coming of Jesus? Are we are a pessimistic, always negative and critical group?

Too often Bible believers take on a mantle of authority that don’t have about topics they know nothing about.

They can become really quite unpleasant to be around.

Or are we to be a humble people who are filled with the joy of looking forward to the time Jesus will put right this world? He is the answer, not us.

I want to study Peter’s instruction in 1 Peter 1:3-10 to see what are the characteristics of Christians who believe in the coming of Jesus. Who are waiting for the revelation of Jesus at the last Trumpet blast.

1 Peter 1:3

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!

This is a Christian statement!

We are given the light of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

Jesus as a human son, shows us how we are to worship his Father. We see that early in his ministryin his Father’s house – the Temple. “My Father’s house” means:  “This house is about knowing and loving and treasuring a person, my Father. In this temple, my Father has supreme place. He is the supreme treasure here. “A day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere” . “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you”.

Everything he did was in obedience to his Father’s will. So much so – if you seen the Son you have seen the Father.

That’s why we have so great confidence in God’s motive towards us.

In his great mercy

How often this is said in scripture. This is not because of anything we are or have achieved.

he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

Our new birth described by Jesus to Nicodemus has within it the living hope of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. There are so much resting on that to the point that without the belief in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, there is no Christian faith.

And there would be no future either. Christianity would only be a religion of this world, according to human reason. Its hope would be in us getting our act together. Not much hope in that.

But Jesus is alive! That changes everything.

It is a living hope because we hope in Christ and he is alive for evermore, able to save us completely. The same power that raised Jesus to the right hand of God, is now working in us.

We are looking forward, not wishfully, but with certainty to enjoy the same glorious body Jesus was raised with.

And it is only because of the Father’s great mercy: pity, compassion.

The Father knows who we are by our fleshly birth.

Psalm103:14-16

14 for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more.

That’s the hopelessness of our first birth in the old creation. But we have a living hope in the new creation.

1 Peter 1:4

 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,

Everything about us, in fact this whole creation is running down, getting old, perishing and wearing out like a garment. But not the inheritance that Jesus brings for us.

1 Peter1:5 -6

 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

The shield of faith extinguishes all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Satan wants us to doubt. He wants us to question the reality of the promises of God. He wants us to wonder if it is worth the troubles we go through for Jesus’ name as we live differently to the values around us.

Those doubts could be very subtle. I think when people go to a funeral and people say “Old Harry is looking down upon and enjoying our drinks in his name.” .

This all trivializes the need and wonder of the resurrection at Jesus’ coming, the firstfruits of the new creation.

Our faith is from God’s power working in us. It is not a theoretical working. We have already seen the result in Jesus’ resurrection, and glorification.

He will not stop working in us until the reality of who we really are is revealed. Revealed means this salvation already exists. It is now hidden in Christ with God.

The end of this present evil world which is under the rule of death is coming to an end.

“Last times” is not a term for us to speculate about. The Father knows when. We don’t. Sufficient is to trust him that there is a last time.

6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

Here is the great paradox of the Christian faith. Rejoicing in grief.

How difficult this is to understand.

It is obviously not being happy as if everything is OK.

Notice it says ‘in all this”. Deep within us we rejoice in everything Peter has written about. It doesn’t change the human circumstances, but it changes where we are looking.

At the beginning Peter said: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! “

It is in this Christian worship we rejoice.

And at the heart of this worship is deep trust in the Father’s will for us. Whatever the circumstances.

How many times do we read that Jesus came to do his Father’s will.

Over and over again -especially in the book of John – we read this. His will is that none of us perish.

1 Peter1:7

 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire.

Gold belongs to the old creation. It only has temporary glory. Our faith is forever. 

Faith is again “is about knowing and loving and treasuring a person, my Father. In this temple, my Father has supreme place. He is the supreme treasure here. “A day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere” . “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you” .

– may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.

It is hard to imagine that God wants to give us praise, glory and honour in his Kingdom.

James 2:5

 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?

Notice how our hope is upon the revealing of Jesus Christ.

Why?

1 Peter1:8-12

8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Oh, I just love that scripture.

Jesus is the fullness of God in bodily form. He reflects the beauty of his Father in every word and deed.

There is no dark and unknown God that will surprise us. There is no slippage between Jesus and his heavenly Father.

In Jesus we see the Father’s will towards us. In his beauty we see the beauty of our Father. We believe who he is and that is a lifetime discovery of joy. We know that it is in him is the place of our salvation. What he is, we are before the Father now, and it will be revealed in its full glory in the resurrection when he comes.

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow.
12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.

That’s the privilege of the hearing the good news. It was only when Christ came and suffered for us and was resurrected for us, could we begin to understand what the Old Testament was pointing towards.

Peter finishes with

1 Peter1:13

Therefore,

In the light of everything we have said

with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.

This hope is not something we bring about. It already exists waiting to be revealed when Jesus Christ returns.

Being alert and sober means not being distracted by the ambitions and values of this world. They are perishing in their darkness.

The Church lives in the reality of the kingdom coming.

Jesus said “I am coming soon.” And the church replies “Amen. Come Lord Jesus Christ.”

Message for the Day

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