Discipleship in 3D

Scripture Reading for the morning was from Luke 15:22-24, part of the story of the Prodigal Son, “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began. (Luke 15:22-24)

The lost son in this story returns and the waiting father throws a party. When we reflect on our own experiences, we each may have a similar story of before we became a follower of Christ; we recognized our lostness and the fact that we were spiritually dead. The wayward son looked around at his circumstances and his surroundings and the Bible says that “he came to his senses” (Luke 15:17). I love that phrase. It tells me that the Christian faith does not expect us to check our brains at the door, but to discover that Christianity is a reasonable and rational belief system.

Another story about coming to life is found in John chapter 11, the story about Lazarus. Not a spiritual coming to life, but he actually came back from the dead. I love this visual adaptation of this famous story:

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Video Text: John 11:34, 38-45, 12:1-2, 9-11

This is a story about a man who goes from the barren tomb to the banquet table.

I believe that every person in this room will discover exactly where you stand with Christ. I’m going to make it very easy because I call this message, Discipleship in 3D. The D’s are listed in your notes. Let’s begin in John 11:33-35, and check out that first scene.

  1. What Jesus Saw (John 11:33a): Jesus saw that Mary was weeping, and also the Jews who came with her. A better word might be “wailing.” Think about it, Jesus had come down from heaven, stepping out of eternity where there is no sin, sorrow, tombs or tears. On a practical side, this family was special to Jesus, and he saw these special people grieving over the loss of Lazarus. So let’s move on to…
  2. What Jesus Suffered (John 11:33b): Jesus was deeply moved in his spirit and troubled. The word used is similar to agitated and pretty close to “snort” like a horse. It is used in the NT for displeasure or indignation. He was troubled, he literally shook with emotion.
  3. What Jesus Said (John 11:34): “Where have you laid him?” Note that Jesus was not ignorant to the location of Lazarus, but rather he wanted to get the people focused on the place of his greatest miracle to date. All these people made their way to the tomb. Think about it. All of us are also on the way to the grave. Why? Because of our sin. Jesus was going to the tomb for the same reason… because of our sins.
  4. What Jesus Showed (John 11:35): it is here that we read the shortest verse in the Bible, “Jesus wept.” This Greek word (dakruo) occurs here and nowhere else in the Bible, meaning he burst into tears. It is a different word used for Mary’s tears (John 11:31) and the tears of the Jews (John 11:33).
    1. This was no wailing in despair, it is the strong emotion of the Son of God, as we read in Hebrews 5:7 (While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death). He was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief; he cried because his heart was broken over the sorrow of his close friends.
    2. I think he also wept because he could see what the crowd could not, perhaps he saw Lazarus in paradise, surrounded by the saints of God. He was in a place where time stands still, where the hosts of heaven were eagerly awaiting the time for the Son of God to be glorified. He was barely introduced to Abraham and Moses; perhaps the saints were questioning him about what he knew about Jesus. And now, Jesus was about to call him back into this world of sin, suffering, pain and death. I think Jesus wept out of a different sorrow for Lazarus.

All of this is by way of introduction to the scene: the feelings of the Savior and the finality of the grave. All those around the tomb that day knew for certain that once someone lands in the graveyard, there’s no leaving, sort of like checking in to the Hotel California.

The Order (John 11:39a): We read that Jesus tells them to remove the stone. He is all-powerful, and he could have done it all by himself, but I believe Jesus wanted the people to participate in the miracle. This was going to be the greatest miracle yet, and he was not going to show off his power in an inappropriate was by commanding stones to move by themselves. Besides, Jesus commands people, not stones. Remember that story in Luke 19:38-39, during the celebration and entry into Jerusalem, “if these disciples remain silent, the stones will cry out.” Jesus wants people involved in his mission here on earth.

The Objection (John 11:39b): The objection to removing the stone was that after four days, there will be such a stench.

Here is where we will discover our first D of Discipleship; we discover for certain that Lazarus is DEAD. How can you tell if someone is dead? It is fairly obvious when it comes to physical death: the heart stops beating, the lungs stop breathing, the person grows cold, but Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:1 that we all “were dead in our trespasses and sins.” He was speaking to believers who were born again; so those who are not born again are still dead. We walk around people every day, and there are people in this room, who are dead on the inside. How can you tell?

There is no health: they might have physical health, but on the inside, they’re rotting away. Have you noticed that those who are dead will often engage in behaviors that will hurt them physical, emotionally, and relationally? They are involved in habits, hurts and hang-ups that are damaging to their health.

There is no happiness: people might say they are happy and have all they want, but there is no real or lasting peace on the inside, which only comes from knowing that our sins are forgiven and we are loved unconditionally by God.

There is no hope: These spiritually dead people seem to be fine as they go through life, but when it comes to eternal matters like physical death, they have no hope or assurance of what happens to them after they die; they fear the unknown.

Some of you sitting in here today can’t say for certain that you have passed from death to life. You wonder why you get nothing out of the worship experience, and can’t figure out what these church people are all about. Don’t feel bad, because the Bible tells us WHY you don’t get it. First Corinthians 2:14 says, “But people who aren’t spiritual(spiritually dead people) can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.

Is this YOU? Are you dead? Those who are alive in Christ can tell that you’re dead, because we are able to inspect the “fruit” that people bear. But we are never to judge, because we reserve judgment for God alone. What needs to happen today is that you follow the steps of the Prodigal Son, come to your senses (Luke 15:17) and allow the love of God to flood your soul and forgive your sin. Come to life and be born again, born anew, born from above in order to become one of God’s children. Jesus is calling your name and he invites you to step out of the tomb and to walk in newness of life.

Lazarus was dead, but after calling his name, he is now delivered from the grave (John 11:44a): “he who had died came forth.

  1. I believe that there is a reason that Jesus called Lazarus by name. If he would have simply shouted, “Come forth” everyone in the graveyard would have been raised from the dead that day.
  2. Jesus also called him in a loud voice, which tells me that when we do something for Jesus, let’s not be shy or remain in secret, but allow people to see Jesus through your words and actions. Let people see your good works and glorify the Father who is in heaven.

When we are delivered from death, God wants us to be set free from sin, which brings us to the second D of Discipleship, Lazarus was DEAD, but now that he is alive, he is DISABLED. He steps out of the tomb bound hand and foot and his face was wrapped with a cloth (John 11:44). He was wrapped up and held in bondage with the funeral garb of his day. The man is alive but he is not set free until Jesus tells the people to “unbind him and let him go.

I think that many people in the room find themselves in this situation. You’ve prayed the prayer, you’re born again, delivered from death, but they are disabled and defeated by some sin that they are just not willing to give up. Jesus speaks to us daily about walking in a manner worthy of our calling and Christians, but you turn aside and refuse to get rid of the sin that so easily trips you up. What are some things that bind Christians?

Bound by darkness: (John 11:44) there was a cloth over the face of Lazarus, which prevented him from seeing clearly. For us, perhaps someone doesn’t really know that certain behaviors are sinful. He needs to be taught the Word of God so that they will know how to live and what sins to avoid. God’s children need to be able to walk in the light. Let’s learn what pleases God and and what displeases God.

Burdened by disillusionment: it is here that people can stop attending church and following Christ. Perhaps they thought that when they were made alive in Christ, their problems would go away. They have become disillusioned. Their passion for Christ has gone AWOL. Perhaps you’ve listened to too many skeptics bad-mouth the Christian faith to the point you are sliding backwards away from Christ. Jesus does not remove problems in life as much as he gives us a new way to deal with our problems.

Bought by declaration: Jesus tells the people to unbind him and let him go, so we must remember that the same power that raised Lazarus from the dead is available to us today. If we want to be unbound and set free, it is only through the power of God’s word. Jesus declared that we are to be set free. We are bought with a price.

Is this YOU? Are you disabled? You claim to be a follower of Christ, maybe you’re a member of this church, and have been baptized, but you have some sinful habits that continue to hold you captive. You’re disabled. The Bible talks about overcoming the world, and you have no clue what that is all about. It is only with God’s help, and the strength we find in gathering as the community of faith. Notice that Jesus told the people to unbind him; so for me, I believe Jesus does not expect us to be set free on our own.

The next time we see Lazarus, he is back home dining with Jesus. He has gone from the barren tomb to the banquet table. Imagine the celebration! But the mood becomes heavy when they discover that the Jew are seeking to kill Jesus, and while we’re at it, let’s kill Lazarus, too (John 12:10).

It is here that we get to the third D of Discipleship, Lazarus was once DEAD, then he was delivered from the tomb, yet DISABLED by things that had him bound. Now he has become DANGEROUS. Why is Lazarus dangerous? John 12:11 tells us point blank, “because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.” Our common enemy, the devil, saw Lazarus as a threat that needed attention. He needed to be eliminated. Lazarus was alive, people were coming to Jesus and that got Satan angry.

When you hang around with lost people, how many times do you get shot down because you don’t participate in whatever activity you are convinced that it is sin if you did it? Maybe it’s drinking alcohol at a bar, or living a promiscuous lifestyle or committing adultery, you insert the sin. The fact that you don’t participate is condemning to lost people; the Spirit convicts them of their sin and the best way avoid the guilt is to get rid of YOU. They think they won’t feel convicted if you’re not around.

When people are controlled by the enemy, they will seek to get rid of all that is holy. If you are convicted that your mission is to point people toward Jesus, then you my friend have a desire to be dangerous.

But there is another danger that is more subtle. What if Lazarus was simply happy to stay at the dining table with Jesus? Is that not a dangerous thing for believers? We come to church and we sit down and soak up inspiration, relationships, perhaps enjoy the entertainment, and now we have the potential to become consumers. The church can become all about me.

A great word-picture for me is the difference between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. Galilee has water flowing in and also flowing out of it; and it is full of life. The Dead Sea has all sorts of life and living water flowing into it, yet nothing ever flows out; nothing lives in it either. It is dead. Don’t let that happen to you.

I am convinced that what we need can be boiled down to this formula: Worship plus two. Coming to worship is fine, and enjoyable, but it is really non-committal. We just show up an hour a week putting in our time for God. We need worship plus two:

  1. Involvement in a Small Group: to develop community and put ourselves into a greater position to experience life transformation. We don’t really experience community when we sit in a pew looking at the back of someone else’s head. We need interaction and accountability.
  2. Involvement in a Serving Ministry: where I can give back and serve God and others. The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).

It is dangerous to ourselves if we only dine at the Master’s table, but we can be dangerous to the enemy by making an impact on the world around us, and point others to faith in Christ.

So, where are YOU in this story?

Are you still in the tomb, dead spiritually? Then you need to repent and believe the gospel, and be born again.

Are you alive in Christ, but disabled by some sin that you can’t shake? Today can be the day that you allow Jesus to be your Lord, not just your Savior. Are there sins you need to forsake, seek forgiveness or repent of? Don’t wait another day. Once you know you’re disabled, how can anyone live that way any longer?

Perhaps you’re born again, set free from sins that used to plague you in your early Christian life, but now you realize that you need to be dining with Jesus on a regular basis. Any living thing grows, if it’s not growing, it isn’t alive. Disciples grow in their faith. We can teach you how to do that.

Finally, maybe you have been made alive in Christ, you’re no longer bound by habitual sin, your devotional time with Jesus is going well, but you realize that you have never become dangerous to the enemy. Today is the day you want to learn how to tell others about Jesus, how to let your light shine in dark places. Today can be your day to publicly tell Satan that you intend to be like Lazarus, you want to be dangerous.

The alternative is found in John 11:46, those who did not come to believe in Christ, went away to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. I don’t believe they went to witness for Christ, they went into the enemy’s camp rather than stand up with Christ.

So, are you dead, disabled or dangerous? Where do you stand with Jesus? The choice is up to you. There is always room to move toward a higher level of commitment to Christ and his church. What is your decision today?

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Are People Married for Eternity?

What is this life all about? Is it preparation for the age to come? Where does the soul go after we depart this planet? Will there be a resurrection? If so, what is the point? Do we spend eternity in heaven with Jesus like an unending worship service? Will we still be married to the one we love? Will she be waiting on the other side, longing to be reunited? Let’s take a look at Luke 20:27-40.

“But now, as to whether the dead will be raised—even Moses proved this when he wrote about the burning bush. Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, he referred to the Lord as ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live before him.” (Luke 20:37-38)

As Jesus taught in the temple courts, several religious leaders from the Sadducees approached him in an effort to trip him up theologically. The Sadducees were a priestly group of elite leaders who based their theology on the Torah only, the five books of Moses. That is why they did not affirm the resurrection of the dead, a view that comes out of  later sections of the Old Testament. This put the Sadducees at odds with other Jews of the time, including the Pharisees. The Sadducees believed that the soul perished along with the body. They would have answered the question “What happens after we die?” simply: “Nothing. When we die, we are dead. Period.”

In Luke 20:27-40, the Sadducees approached Jesus with a theological problem they thought invalidated the resurrection of the dead. It seems likely that they had discovered that Jesus, like the Pharisees, affirmed the resurrection doctrine. Suppose a widow remarries several times, the Sadducees proposed, when she and her husbands are resurrected, whose wife will she be? Since the Sadducees, along with all other Jews of their day, rejected the rightness of polygamy, their hypothetical situation seemed to show the foolishness of the resurrection.

Jesus responded to this challenge in a way that the Sadducees did not expect. He revealed that marriage “is for people here on earth” (Luke 20:34). In the age to come, when people are resurrected, they will not be married. Moreover, Jesus provided evidence from the Torah for the reality of life after death. The “God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,” as revealed to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:6), is the God of the living. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are alive in God (Luke 20:38).

Jesus’ vision of life after death can be upsetting, not only to first-century Sadducees, but also to Christians today. We sometimes assume that the after-life will include marriage as we have known it. For those of us who are deeply connected to our spouses, it’s hard to imagine an eternity without being married to the one we love. Yet, if we trust God’s goodness, we have confidence that the life of the age to come will be wondrous beyond our imagination.

When it comes to the question of what happens after we die, there is much that we don’t yet know. But we do know that we will enter into a fullness of life in God, eternal life, abundant life, life as it was meant to be.

How do you respond to Jesus’ teaching about life after death? When you think of what God’s future holds, what do you envision? What do you hope for?

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Resurrection Investigation

Paul was still in jail in Caesarea, and two full years had passed. Felix would bring Paul from time to time to talk, but there is no evidence that he continued in any conviction of sin; he was hoping for a bribe (Acts 24:26). The time had come for new leadership and Paul had a brand new audience. Festus replaced Felix.

Paul came before Festus and again he pleaded his case, that he had done nothing wrong (Acts 25:8). Festus invited him to Jerusalem for a trial (Acts 25:9) but rather than return to Jerusalem, Paul appealed to Caesar (Acts 25:10, 11) He was destined for Rome (which was God’s design already).

Festus had an interesting statement, he “was at a loss how to investigate” Paul’s claim that a dead man had come to life (Acts 25:20). How would each of us conduct such an investigation?

Our first task is to make it personal; Jesus is not just someone to believe in, he is someone to know. Once you know he is risen, a conviction develops that will not be swayed. We know him since he speaks directly to our hearts, not just our heads. Dead prophets of the Old Testament don’t save, guide, heal, deliver, answer prayer or speak through the ancient text. The first step is to open your heart to the possibility that Jesus is who he said he was. Then ask him if he is real, and be honest and open enough for him to reveal himself to you. A good investigative reporter asks these questions: who? what? where? when? and how?

What? This passage tells us the what; including who is in charge, what is he up to and where he is leading.

When? No one, not even Paul, knew the answer to when God would fulfill his promise. Paul just knew that God had called him to finish the task he had been given. The Jewish patriarchs all died before receiving the promise. They all believed God would send his Messiah, but they did not know when, or who it would be. They knew what he would come to do; bring salvation. They were certain of where; Israel, and then to other parts of the world. But the problem is that they did not know when God would do all of this.

How? Paul knew God was sending him to Rome, but he did not know how. Festus thought he had decided to send him to Rome (Acts 25:25) but it was actually God’s decision. Paul probably never imagined that his arrest would be a tool in God’s hand to give him an all expenses paid trip to Rome. God always fulfills his promises, and we just don’t know how he will do it. God promised to send the Messiah, but no one ever guessed exactly how he would do it.

Application: Each of us at some point in our lives must come to terms with the claims of Christ. C. S. Lewis wrote, in Mere Christianity, about his famous theological trilemma. Jesus claimed to be God (John 10:30, 14:9). That claim is either true or it is false. If it is false and he knew it; it make Jesus a liar. If it is false and he didn’t know it; it makes him a lunatic. Neither option makes Jesus one worth following. The only logical option is that he claimed to be God and it was true; so the choice we have to make is to accept or reject this fact.

The resurrection can be investigated as well (read more). I see it as God’s affirmation of all that Christ stood for and taught during his earthly life. Jesus proved that all he said and taught was true by rising from the dead; just as he said he would (Matthew 12:40, 26:61, 27:63, Mark 8:31, 9:31, 10:34, 14:58, John 2:19).

He Died in the Service

You’ve heard the joke… a boy sees a plaque in the foyer of the church honoring “those who died in the service.” While shaking the hand of the pastor at the end of the worship service, the little boy asks, “were they in the 8:30 or the 11:00 service?” I don’t know too many stories about people dying in church, but the Bible records one such story when Paul turns into a long-winded preacher in a place called Troas (Acts 20:7-9).

Paul left Ephesus and traveled through Macedonia and into Greece, where he stayed three months (Acts 20:1, 2, 3). Under more persecution, the small group (Acts 20:4) caught up with Luke at Troas (Acts 20:5, 6).

Luke was a man short on elaboration when it came to details, but as Paul preached on and on past midnight, a boy name Eutychus fell asleep sitting on a third floor window sill, fell out and “was picked up dead” (Acts 20:9). It appears that Paul’s enthusiasm exceeded the stamina of his audience.

As one with a spiritual gift of teaching, I understand the dilemma, wanting to pass on everything that I learn to others. I often wonder about my writing too much on this blog, but then justify the length at times for a few reasons:

  1. People will read only what they choose to read.
  2. If people want to know more they have it available right now.
  3. If people choose not to read it, I still have it on my blog as an electronic filing cabinet for my future reference!

I can imagine some of you reading this getting a kick out of Acts 20:9 where Luke mentions, “Paul kept talking on and on.” Perhaps you are thinking the same about me, going on and on, but I hope what I share with you is worth your time!

Back to the story. Had this boy not fallen asleep and out the window, Paul would not have had the opportunity to raise the dead. The message went on and on, the room was so crowded they had to sit people in the window to hear. The lamps and bodies made the room warm. Most of the listeners had risen at dawn that morning, so it was a very long day. I imagine the boy (and others) had to prop their eyelids open.

Perhaps a dream caused the boy to twitch and he fell out the window. It would not be such a funny story if it were not for the happy ending, Paul runs down and declares the boy is alive (Acts 20:10). Another humorous part for me is that after he raises the boy, Paul goes back upstairs and continues talking until morning (Acts 20:11).

The moral of this story, don’t sit too close to a window as you read my lessons… did I make this one a little shorter?

Paul’s Concept of Parousia

Parousia is a Greek word used 24 times in the New Testament to mean “coming, arrival, personal presence.” It is most often used to indicate the second coming and the arrival of the Son of Man though it can also indicate a visit by a Christian worker, apostle or even the “man of lawlessness.”. In the Greek world of the New Testament it meant among other things A State visit or the presence or appearance of a deity during worship. It has a range of meaning to that of the archaic English word “visitation.”

There are two views to this Christian doctrine: it is either largely disregarded, or it is the main theme in all preaching and teaching.

Paul’s pictures of the second coming are mainly Jewish: The Jews were the great pessimists in history, as well as the greatest optimists in history. They were the chosen people, always dominated by foreigners, longing for the time when God would intervene in history and put His people at the top where they should be. God would do this with a supernatural intervention in human affairs.

The Jews divided all history into two ages:This present age of trouble, wickedness and evil; The age to come – the golden age of God

  1. The age of plenty: abundance
    1. “Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “When the plowman will overtake the reaper And the treader of grapes him who sows seed; When the mountains will drip sweet wine, And all the hills will be dissolved. “Also I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, And they will rebuild the ruined cities and live [in them], They will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, And make gardens and eat their fruit. (Amos 9:13-14)
    2. Until the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high, And the wilderness becomes a fertile field And the fertile field is considered as a forest. (Isaiah 32:15)
    3. Indeed, the LORD will comfort Zion; He will comfort all her waste places. And her wilderness He will make like Eden, And her desert like the garden of the LORD; Joy and gladness will be found in her, Thanksgiving and sound of a melody. (Isaiah 51:3)
  2. The age of friendship: even man and beasts
    1. “In that day I will also make a covenant for them With the beasts of the field, The birds of the sky, And the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, And will make them lie down in safety. (Hosea 2:18)
    2. And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the kid, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze; Their young will lie down together; And the lion will eat straw like the ox. And the nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:6-9)
  3. The age of relief: no more pain
    1. “No longer will there be in it an infant [who lives but a few] days, Or an old man who does not live out his days; For the youth will die at the age of one hundred And the one who does not reach the age of one hundred Shall be [thought] accursed. (Isaiah 65:20)
    2. “They shall not build, and another inhabit, They shall not plant, and another eat; For as the lifetime of a tree, [so shall be] the days of My people, And My chosen ones shall wear out the work of their hands. (Isaiah 65:22)
    3. And no resident will say, “I am sick”; The people who dwell there will be forgiven [their] iniquity. (Isaiah 33:24)
    4. He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces, And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 25:8)
  4. The age of peace:
    1. And He will judge between the nations, And will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war. (Isaiah 2:4)
    2. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:9)
    3. Then my people will live in a peaceful habitation, And in secure dwellings and in undisturbed resting places; (Isaiah 32:18)
    4. “And all your sons will be taught of the LORD; And the well-being of your sons will be great. (Isaiah 54:13)

The place of God’s people in the universe:

  1. Jerusalem as the center of the world
    1. Now it will come about that In the last days, The mountain of the house of the LORD Will be established as the chief of the mountains, And will be raised above the hills; And all the nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways, And that we may walk in His paths.” For the law will go forth from Zion, And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:2-3)
    2. And it will come about in the last days That the mountain of the house of the LORD Will be established as the chief of the mountains. It will be raised above the hills, And the peoples will stream to it. And many nations will come and say, “Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD And to the house of the God of Jacob, That He may teach us about His ways And that we may walk in His paths.” For from Zion will go forth the law, Even the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Micah 4:1-2)
  2. Jews having a missionary duty: very few believed this
    1. He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6)
    2. Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, And all flesh will see [it] together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Isaiah 40:5)
  3. The dream of power: most common
    1. “For the nation and the kingdom which will not serve you will perish, And the nations will be utterly ruined. (Isaiah 60:12)
    2. Thus says the LORD, “The products of Egypt and the merchandise of Cush And the Sabeans, men of stature, Will come over to you and will be yours; They will walk behind you, they will come over in chains And will bow down to you; They will make supplication to you: ‘Surely, God is with you, and there is none else, No other God.'” (Isaiah 45:14)
    3. And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain on them. And if the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no [rain will fall] on them; it will be the plague with which the LORD smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths. (Zechariah 14:17-18)

The way in which these changes will come:

  1. Under human leadership
    1. Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit. (Isaiah 11:1)
    2. “For if you men will indeed perform this thing, then kings will enter the gates of this house, sitting in David’s place on his throne, riding in chariots and on horses, [even the king] himself and his servants and his people. (Jeremiah 22:4)
    3. ‘But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them. (Jeremiah 30:9)
    4. “Behold, [the] days are coming,” declares the LORD, “When I shall raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely And do justice and righteousness in the land. (Jeremiah 23:5)
  2. Direct intervention of God in history
    1. Destruction and terror
      1. Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, Cruel, with fury and burning anger, To make the land a desolation; And He will exterminate its sinners from it. (Isaiah 13:9)
      2. Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is near, And it will come as destruction from the Almighty. (Joel 1:15)
      3. A day of wrath is that day, A day of trouble and distress, A day of destruction and desolation, A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness, (Zephaniah 1:15)
    2. Cosmic upheaval
      1. “And I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire, and columns of smoke. “The sun will be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. (Joel 2:30-31)
      2. For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not flash forth their light; The sun will be dark when it rises, And the moon will not shed its light. (Isaiah 13:10)
      3. Therefore I shall make the heavens tremble, And the earth will be shaken from its place At the fury of the LORD of hosts In the day of His burning anger. (Isaiah 13:13)
    3. Judgment: Thus I will punish the world for its evil, And the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud, And abase the haughtiness of the ruthless. (Isaiah 13:11)

Day of the Lord and Second Coming: Christianity was cradled in Judaism, so naturally there would be an identification of the Day of the Lord and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ; both were the great intervention of God in human affairs. This doctrine was an essential part of the church’s teaching. The word, kerugma means “a herald’s announcement.”

  1. Fulfilled prophecies – new age inaugurated at His birth
  2. Born of the seed of David
  3. His death, to deliver us out of this present age
  4. He was buried
  5. He rose on the third day
  6. He is exalted at the right hand of God
  7. He will come again as Judge and Savior of men

Frequency of inclusion: In the book of Acts, only three references, but with Paul it is different. Paul mentions it in every letter except Galatians and possibly Ephesians.

Two special references by Paul:

  1. An essential part of the Gospel: “On the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.” (Romans 2:16)
  2. A motive for the Christian life: “Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him.” (2 Thessalonians 2:1)

Thessalonians: beginning with the earliest letters:

  1. Paul believed He would return in his lifetime: “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Thessalonians 4:15)
  2. Believers should be presented blameless to the Lord: “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23)

Romans: wake out of sleep. “And this [do,] knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.” (Romans 13:11)

First Corinthians: the time is short, concentrate on being ready. “But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none.” (1 Corinthians 7:29)

Philippians: beginning the latter letters. “Let your forbearing [spirit] be known to all men. The Lord is near.” (Philippians 4:5)

Ephesians: no mention, some say he had outgrown the concept. “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30)

Corinthians: mid-life for Paul.

  1. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. (1 Corinthians 10:11)
  2. If anyone does not love the Lord, let him be accursed. Maranatha. (1 Corinthians 16:22) – The Aramaic phrase would not be known to any Greeks, yet he ends the letter to the Greeks with maranatha.

Paul speaks of waiting for Jesus Christ:

  1. For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, [that is] Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10)
  2. And may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ. (2 Thessalonians 3:5)
  3. For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? (1 Thessalonians 2:19)
  4. So that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Corinthians 1:7)
  5. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; (Philippians 3:20)

Paul often used language of the scholars: (Isaiah 26-27)

  1. The Lord’s coming
    1. For behold, the LORD is about to come out from His place To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; And the earth will reveal her bloodshed, And will no longer cover her slain. (Isaiah 26:21)
    2. Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him, (2 Thessalonians 2:1)
  2. The coming judgment
    1. For behold, the LORD is about to come out from His place To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; And the earth will reveal her bloodshed, And will no longer cover her slain. (Isaiah 26:21)
    2. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, (2 Thessalonians 1:9)
    3. And then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; (2 Thessalonians 2:8)
  3. The resurrection from the dead
    1. Your dead will live; Their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, For your dew is as the dew of the dawn, And the earth will give birth to the departed spirits. (Isaiah 26:19)
    2. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of [the] archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. (1 Thessalonians 4:16)
  4. The sound of the trumpet
    1. It will come about also in that day that a great trumpet will be blown; and those who were perishing in the land of Assyria and who were scattered in the land of Egypt will come and worship the LORD in the holy mountain at Jerusalem. (Isaiah 27:13)
    2. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of [the] archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. (1 Thessalonians 4:16)
  5. Gathering of the elect
    1. And it will come about in that day, that the LORD will start [His] threshing from the flowing stream of the Euphrates to the brook of Egypt; and you will be gathered up one by one, O sons of Israel. (Isaiah 27:12)
    2. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:17)

The Jewish idea is repeated often:

  1. The Day of the Lord becomes the Day of Christ
    1. That you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. (2 Thessalonians 2:2)
    2. Who shall also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:8)
    3. Just as you also partially did understand us, that we are your reason to be proud as you also are ours, in the day of our Lord Jesus. (2 Corinthians 1:14)
    4. Holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may have cause to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. (Philippians 2:16)
  2. It will come without warning – and with signs
    1. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. (1 Thessalonians 5:2)
    2. Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him, that you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one in any way deceive you, for [it will not come] unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he may be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains [will do so] until he is taken out of the way. And then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; [that is,] the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness. But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. And it was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word [of mouth] or by letter from us. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-15)
  3. It will be God’s holy wrath on a rebellious world
    1. So that He may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints. (1 Thessalonians 3:13)
    2. Who shall also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:8)
    3. And [to give] relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed–for our testimony to you was believed. (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10)
    4. For after all it is [only] just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and [to give] relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, (2 Thessalonians 1:6-7)
    5. And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, [that is] Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:10)
    6. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)
  4. God will send judgment
    1. But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, (Romans 2:5)
    2. On the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus. (Romans 2:16)
    3. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath [of God] through Him. (Romans 5:9)
    4. Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, [but wait] until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of [men’s] hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God. (1 Corinthians 4:5)
    5. Knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality. (Colossians 3:24-25)
    6. Knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free. (Ephesians 6:8)
    7. Each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is [to be] revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. (1 Corinthians 3:13)
    8. If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are. (1 Corinthians 3:17)
    9. But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES. (1 Corinthians 5:13)
    10. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10)

What has grace to do with judgment?

  1. 1) Judaism is an intensely ethical religion (Matthew 7:20)
  2. 2) Paul was a missionary – preaching to the immoral
  3. 3) The greatest gift called for the greatest responsibility
  4. 4) Justification by faith is the beginning of new life, one must go on to sanctification

This material is from William Barclay, the Mind of St. Paul, 1975.