- Sermon Notes
Are You Ready for Christ’s Return?
April 11, 2021
ILLUS – A Bad Case of Spring Fever.
2. Whether we like it or not, all of us, without exception, will be held accountable for our choices.
Hebrews 9:27, it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment
3. And contrary to the way accountability is often applied today, when we stand before God, it will be impartial, thorough, just, and final.
4. You see, Jesus Christ is coming back and the question for us is, “Are we ready for His return?”
5. The good news is God wants us to be ready.
6. God gave us His inspired, inerrant, infallible Word, the Bible, which tells us step-by-step how to be ready for Christ’s return.
7. Tonight, we will learn how to be ready for Jesus’ return as we look to His words in Luke 12:35-59.
1. The last time we were together we noted that Jesus had been teaching a large crowd about how to live out one’s faith while living in this fallen world.
2. Jesus’ teaching is very practical. For example, He tells us to guard our hearts against every form of greed “for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” (15-21)
3. Jesus also talked about worry and why we don’t need to be anxious about what we will eat, drink, or wear because our heavenly Father will faithfully meet our needs. (22-32)
4. As Jesus continued to teach the crowd, He moved from the nuts and bolts of living by faith and avoiding the traps of greed and anxiety to being ready for His return at the end of the age.
5. A cursory glance at His words might leave one wondering what’s the connection.
6. But when we dig deeper into Jesus’ teaching, it becomes clear that the first two topics naturally, logically, and rightly flow into the third.
7. You see, the person who is living out their faith in Jesus Christ is the same person who is prepared for the Son of Man’s return. The two go hand-in-hand.
8. Now, towards the end of Luke 12, Jesus gives a sober warning about how important it is to discern the “signs of the times.”
9. God gave Israel “signs” so they could discern that He had indeed sent His Son to Israel.
10. In the same way, there will be “signs” so that our generation will be able to discern that the time of Christ’s return is near.
11. The “signs of the times” that Jesus refers to in Matthew’s Gospel are that there will be many false prophets and false messiahs who will mislead many.
12. There will be wars and rumors of wars.
13. There will be famines and earthquakes that will grow greater in intensity and frequency as the events of the last days draw nearer.
14. There will be a massive falling away, an apostasy, as unrighteousness and worldliness increases and the love of many grows cold. (Matthew 24:12)
Transition – As we study Jesus’ teaching about the end times we must never forget a central point, we are accountable for our choices.
• We must also remember that God loves us so He is warning us.
• According to Luke 12, the first principle that Jesus gave regarding His return is. . .
I. Be Dressed in Readiness
• Over and over Jesus presses us with the importance of being dressed in readiness.
• To emphasize the importance of His point, Jesus gave several illustrations to impress upon our souls the urgency of being dressed in readiness.
• Each one of these word pictures is filled with insights which we would be wise to apply to our lives.
A. Keep the fire of your soul lit
1. Throughout the Bible the picture of a lamp that is lit and burning oil represents the life of the Holy Spirit in God’s people. (35)
2. The Holy Spirit is the very life of God within us.
a. The Holy Spirit is the One who transforms us so that we may love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. (Luke 10:27)
b. By doing so, the Holy Spirit is preparing us for an eternity with God.
3. And it is important for us to see that there is an important connection between our eternal destination and the preparation of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
4. Our eternal destination and the Holy Spirit’s preparation go hand-in hand.
ILLUS – Preparation for a trip.
APPL – If you are preparing for an eternal relationship with God, what do you need?
• You need to be filled with the Holy Spirit because He is the very life of God within us.
• The moment a person places their faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins and the gift of eternal life, the Holy Spirit indwells them and begins to transform them so that they may live victoriously through Him while they wait for Jesus Christ’s return.
• But there is another important principle, the life of God is what happens within our own hearts, individually, which means no one can have the life of God for you.
ILLUS – What is the personal health benefit of watching someone else exercise?
APPL – We can’t watch someone else’s relationship with God and have them experience God for us.
• We must personally ask Jesus Christ to be our Savior.
• We must personally be filled with the Holy Spirit.
• We must be dressed in readiness.
• We must keep the fire of our souls lit by walking with and in the Holy Spirit.
• It’s personal.
Zechariah 4:6, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the Lord of hosts.
B. Be watchful and alert
1. In these verses, Jesus is calling us to remain faithful. (36-38)
2. Like keeping our lamps lit, the Word of God repeatedly emphasizes the importance of being watchful and alert.
3. God wants us to walk faithfully and when we do it comes with great blessing.
a. God blesses faithfulness.
b. Notice how the Master serves his faithful servants as they recline around the table. (37)
4. So Jesus is telling us to live with a heart of anticipation, eagerly watching and waiting.
5. Jesus emphasizes this point over and over because no one knows the day or the hour; therefore we must live as if He were coming at any time.
ILLUS – Evangelist D.L. Moody was once asked, “What is the secret of your success?”
6. That anticipation and eagerness keeps our lives spiritually watchful and alert.
7. If someone believes their Master is not coming for a long time, he will live a spiritually slothful and lazy life.
ILLUS – When dad and mom were away. . .
APPL – Here’s the danger; when we stop looking for Jesus we stop living for Jesus.
• And if we stop living for Jesus then we won’t be ready when Jesus returns.
• Be dressed in readiness.
• Keep the fire of your soul lit.
• Be watchful and alert.
C. Jesus is coming when He is not expected
1. Jesus uses several parables or analogies to make His point that He, the Son of Man, will come at a day and an hour when He is not expected.
2. In verses 38-40, Jesus uses the picture of the second or even the third watch, 9PM or 3AM, which indicates His return may take longer than expected.
3. Jesus also uses the picture of a thief coming at an unexpected hour.
a. If the head of the house had known the hour of the break-in, he would not have allowed the thief into his home.
b. However, since he doesn’t know the hour or the day, he must always stand ready.
4. In another place Jesus uses the illustration of the bridegroom coming for His bride and said. . .
Matthew 24:35-36, Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.
5. In a Jewish wedding, only the father knows the hour or the day when the bridegroom would return for his bride.
6. The Bible actually presents the Jewish wedding as a picture of the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Church.
7. This picture of the Jewish wedding also gives us insight in the events of the end times.
8. First, it’s important to note that a woman was not required to marry against her will.
a. The man must ask for the father’s permission.
b. But then he must ask for the woman’s permission as well.
c. If she agreed to the proposal, he would give her a gift, perhaps a coin.
o Rings became a later tradition.
o The coin, or ring, is a pledge, like a down payment.
APPL – The Apostle Paul uses similar language regarding the giving of the Holy Spirit to believers.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22, Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (NIV)
d. The couple would then enter into a marriage covenant which is symbolized by drinking a cup together.
e. Then the groom would go away to prepare a home for his bride. This was usually an extension on his father’s house, or a house nearby on his father’s property.
John 14:1-3, Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.
f. When the father was satisfied that his son’s home was prepared and in good order, he then made all the preparations for the wedding feast.
g. Since he was paying for it and preparing it, he got to set the day and the hour.
Transition – Jesus could not make His point any clearer. . .
II. Now is the Time to Get Ready
• After exhorting us to be dressed in readiness, Jesus shifts His focus in the next verses.
• Here, Jesus gives us reasons to be ready.
A. Blessed is the faithful and sensible steward
1. There is a great reward for those who are faithful while they are waiting; they are living by faith and in expectation that He will reward those who are faithful.
2. You see, God will bless those who are faithful with what He has entrusted to them.
3. But Jesus also warns about what will happen to those who are unfaithful with what God has given to them.
4. The foolish person is the one who says in their heart, “I’ve got lots of time. There’s no need to hurry. I’ll party now and then I’ll get right with God later!”
APPL – Here’s the problem with that kind of thinking:
• People who think this way know they need to get right with God. . .
• But they really don’t want to get their life right before God.
ILLUS – The difference between a “last minute cleaning” and a “deep cleaning” of a house.
Matthew 7:26-27, Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.
5. The return of Jesus Christ will be the most spectacular event the world has ever witnessed.
ILLUS – The world use of spiritual phrases to describe various events.
6. But there really will be a terrible battle called Armageddon so the time to “come to Jesus” is right now because the “signs of the times” are all around us. That’s why Jesus said. . .
Matthew 24:32, Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.
Transition – Time is of the essence so let’s be ready and make our lives count.
B. Be used by God to change lives
1. What does Jesus Christ want us to be doing with our lives?
2. Answer: God wants us to be doing what He is doing, building up those whom God loves.
3. How does God do that? God does this by reconciling people to Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ.
4. Once we are reconciled to God, He gives us a ministry of reconciliation so that we may help others be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:18-21, Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
5. The Lord wants us to be faithful until He returns; we are to be about His business.
APPL – When we see the troubles of this world, we realize that people need to get right with the Lord for He is the only One who can transform their lives.
• But you might be wondering, “How can I make a difference?”
• “I’m only one person.”
ILLUS – D. L. Moody wrote the following words next to Isaiah 6:8 in his Bible, “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. What I can do, I ought to do, and what I ought to do, by the grace of God I will do.”
• What does Isaiah 6:8 say?
Isaiah 6:8, Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Luke 12:35-59 NASB
35 “[a]Be prepared, and keep your lamps lit. 36 You are also to be like people who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door for him when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will [b]prepare himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and he will come up and serve them. 38 Whether he comes in the [c]second watch, or even in the [d]third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.
39 “But [e]be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into. 40 You too, be ready; because the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not think He will.”
41 Peter said, “Lord, are You telling this parable to us, or to everyone else as well?” 42 And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that slave whom his [f]master finds so doing when he comes. 44 Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 45 But if that slave says in his heart, ‘My master will take a long time to come,’ and he begins to beat the other slaves, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk; 46 then the master of that slave will come on a day that he does not expect, and at an hour that he does not know, and will [g]cut him in two, and assign [h]him a place with the unbelievers. 47 And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accordance with his will, will receive many blows, 48 but the one who did not know it, and committed acts deserving of [i]a beating, will receive only a few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.
49 “I [j]have come to cast fire upon the earth; and [k]how I wish it were already kindled! 50 But I have a baptism [l]to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished! 51 Do you think that I came to provide peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; 52 for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
54 And He was also saying to the crowds, “Whenever you see a cloud rising [m]in the west, you immediately say, ‘A shower is coming,’ and so it turns out. 55 And whenever you feel a [n]south wind blowing, you say, ‘It will be a hot day,’ and it turns out that way. 56 You hypocrites! You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky, but how is it that you do not know how to analyze this present time?
57 “And why do you not even judge by yourselves what is right? 58 For when you are going with your accuser to appear before the magistrate, on the way, make an effort to [o]settle with him, so that he does not drag you before the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. 59 I tell you, you will not get out of there until you have paid up [p]the very last [q]lepton.”