His Promise (Message #6)

Pastor Chuck Hill – Trinity Fellowship Church

 Revelation 19:4-16

 Well, good morning everyone. I am so glad you are here today. I know this is Memorial Day weekend – and it was probably very tempting for you to go out of town, or go camping or do something that might have taken you away from here this weekend…but I am very glad to see you today!

You know, let me say right up from how blessed we are to live in this great country! And we owe so much to the men and women who have given their lives to make this privilege a reality for us. As we celebrate a day off and enjoy the festivities of the weekend, and family, and cook-outs and all of the other things we will do…let’s also take time with our friends and family to honor those who have died. Today we remember…and we say thanks!

Well, why don’t you pull out your notes with me and let’s begin this morning’s message. I want to talk to you today about an unbelievable, unreasonable, unfathomable promise that Jesus made to us! And it has to do with the end of time…and the plans He’s made for those who have placed their faith in Him.

Let me begin this morning with a story that some of you may already know… it may be a story that some of you have heard or read about before! It’s a true story and it’s taken from an experience in World War II.

General MacArthur retired from the U.S. Army in 1937 and was appointed to the rank of Field Marshall in the Philippine Army. Now, if you’ll recall, at the beginning of WWII, the Philippines were right in the line of fire…and were about to fall under the control of the Japanese. It was at that time (July, 1941) as the threat of war with Japan grew, that General Douglas MacArthur was recalled to U.S. service as commander of U.S. Army Forces. It was during this time that President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered General MacArthur and all of his staff to evacuate from the Philippines immediately and travel to Australia.  This greatly disappointed MacArthur as he had become very fond of the Filipino people. Before he left, General MacArthur made a promise to the Philippine people.

He vowed: “I shall return!”

An interesting fact: Numerous offices in Washington DC didn’t like his tone nor his wording of this promise…and so demanded that he change the promise to “We shall return” – but MacArthur was a man of conviction and loved the Philippine people and refused to change his statement. He continued to speak publicly and promise to return to the Philippines.

Well, because of the complexity of the war, he was unable to fulfill that promise until 3 years had gone by. However, the Filipino people never lost hope in MacArthur or his promise. They continued to believe and wait and watch. Reports from that time indicate that during that long period of waiting, that Short Wave Radio broadcasts repeatedly carried the MacAuthur’s word behind the battle lines – in an effort to inspire and encourage the people. They never forgot the words: “I shall return!”.

And eventually, on October 22nd 1944, after three long years, General Douglas MacArthur waded ashore from the Gulf of Leyte and loudly declared: “I have returned!”

And on September 2, 1945 MacArthur accepted the formal Japanese surrender, thus ending World War II.

Listen, I share this piece of history with you today, because it’s a story about a promise that was made which completely shaped and dictated all of MacArthur’s strategy during those years away.

He’d made a promise, and he intended to fulfill it no matter what it took!.

Well, Jesus, made a similar promise nearly 2000 years ago– “I am coming soon!” It’s a promise that’s been repeated again and again in every church across the nation… and it’s a promise that shapes Jesus’ entire strategy for all eternity. He’s made a promise and He intends to fulfill it at the end of time.

John recorded these words of Jesus in John 14:1-3. Jesus said,

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go & prepare a place for you, I will come back & take you to be with me that you may also be where I am.”

John 14:1-3

In Revelation 19 we discover what it’s going to be like when Jesus fulfills He promise and He does return and time as we know it ends.

This passage tells us that…

1.      It will be an Event of Great Excitement.

I love the word picture that God chooses to express the greatness of this day. He uses the imagery of one of the most festive activities known to man.

Look at it with me in Revelation 19:7-9. It says,

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. Then the angel said to me, ‘Write: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’”

Revelation 19:7-9

Now, when we read a passage like this which refers to a celebration or a cultural activity, we have to discover the significance and style of the event back in biblical times. And in those days, a wedding ceremony was an elaborate event, usually beginning in the evening as the groom and his friends made their way thru the city to the bride’s home where she and her family were waiting. There, at the Bride’s home, their union was blessed.

Then the entire party noisily led the bride and groom back to the groom’s own home – in a procession lit by torches and lamps. And what would follow was an enormous feast and party that could last as long as an entire week. Weddings were major events of celebration. They were big, involved, well thought out and planned. They were all inclusive, major galas. They were anything but simple or small.

Now, by contrast, our weddings (which we tend to think of as big events) can really seem small in comparison. But regardless of the culture, marriage ceremonies are always times of anticipation and excitement – and passion. 

And that’s exactly the message that God wants to communicate to us. He is saying, because of our salvation in Christ, we have now become the bride of our Savior. And the event of His coming will be nothing short of a major celebration!

When Jesus comes again, it will be as a husband coming for His bride… It will be a time of excitement and rejoicing such as you’ve never known or experienced, because Jesus will be coming, just as He promised.

You know, I read a great story this past week from a church in Kentucky.

Southeast Christian Church in Louisville is a huge congregation of nearly 20,000 worshippers. Well, one of their staff pastors is over all the weddings…and you can imagine how many weddings they must have going on. Well, one weekend he was given the responsibility of baptizing a new convert in Christ. And so, that Sunday morning he joined the man in the water and began to baptize him…but apparently he’d had a busy week and he must have been pretty distracted. Because after hearing the man’s confession of Christ, he declared: “I now pronounce you….”

And then stopped as he realized what he’d said. And after a momentary pause, he finished his statement by saying: “I now pronounce you… baptized!”

That’s is such a funny story – but the relationship of salvation and being connected or joined to Christ as a husband would a bride is very similar.

And just as a groom comes ready to take his bride to be his own – so will Christ return to take the church to be His very own…to love and to care for with purpose and care.

Jesus made a promise – and it’s one that He intends to keep. So get ready…because He’s coming soon. And it’s going to be an amazing day for you – if you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior!

 

2.      It will be a Surprise to some. 

For some people, Jesus’ words “I am coming soon,” are not so much a promise… as they are a warning. Because to some, the gift of salvation has been something they have never been interested in. They have chosen their path over God’s path. And so, for them…the promise of His soon return is more of a warning. It’s a warning to get ready! To make things right.

And yet, even still – to some…His return will be a surprise! It reminds me of the story of a small country church.

They were holding a Revival and the building was packed out. In fact, it was so crowded that night that they had to put chairs out everywhere, even up in front of the platform just in from of the pulpit.

Well, the Evangelist was preaching about the 2nd coming of Jesus that night and he had really gotten wound up. And he wasn’t really a teacher…but more like those old school fire and brimstone evangelists. You know the type…those who move around a lot – the kind that snort and spit and get real loud. Well, at one point in his sermon he leaned over toward the audience and shouted out Jesus’ promise: “I am coming soon!”

He marched up and down the platform some more and then leaned out again over the edge of the stage and cried out “I am coming soon!”

Several minutes went by and again he shouted out “I am coming soon!” BUT this time, he got tangled up in the microphone cord and lost his balance. And he fell…he tumbled right off the stage and landed in the lap of a couple sitting in the front row of chairs.

It really scared the wife…but the husband just sat there and said: “Well, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. He warned us 3 times!”

Listen, when General MacArthur came ashore that day in 1944, NOT everyone was happy.

In the battle to retake the Philippians – history tells us that over 100,000 Japanese soldiers lost their lives. For the Japanese, his words were a declaration of a coming judgment. They weren’t looking forward to that day. Most probably thought that day would never come. But it did! And within less than a year – they would be defeated and forced to surrender!

MacArthur’s words were words of hope for many…but they were words of fear to others!

In Revelation 19:11-16 we see Jesus in all His glory…He’s coming…BUT He is coming in judgment. Listen to the words John writes. He says,

“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”

Revelation 19:11-16

Did you catch all of that?

The bible tells us that when Jesus comes… He will come to make war (vs. 11)

It tells us that…His eyes are like blazing fire (vs. 12)

And when Jesus comes again…Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. (vs. 15)

Folks, there are people who deny Christianity… who deny Christ… who deny the authority of our God… Not because they have a some reasonable theological foundation to do so, but because they realize the wickedness of their own lives and they fear, that…

  • IF God really does exist
  • IF there is a day of judgment coming
  • Then their deeds WILL BE exposed and they WILL BE condemned

Revelation 19 is telling us the day is coming, when the wicked: 

  • Won’t be able to ignore their sin any longer
  • They’ll no longer be able to pretend that they it doesn’t matter how they live

There’s coming a day when men won’t be able to avoid Christ or their sin any longer. Because on the day of judgment (as the apostle Paul writes),

 “…at the name of Jesus every knee (shall) bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Philippians 2:10-11

 Jesus is coming…and when He comes He will come in judgment. So, let this be a warning to us all.

If you are not living for Jesus – if you have allowed the world and it’s flare to deceive you and draw you into it’s web…then get out now. Break the ties that are binding you to a life of destruction and make your decision today to put your faith, your hope, and your life in Christ!

Well, let me share one more point with you before we conclude this morning. 

3.      It is Important To Live Rightiously in Christ.

Now (we that are Christians) know that Jesus is coming back for us who belong to Him. And we know that judgment is coming for those who do not.

We’ve read passages like the one Acts 17, where Paul says: 

“In the past God overlooked… ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”

Acts 17:30-31

We know all this… But we get distracted by “religious things” that look like righteousness.

We tend to get impressed by things that remind us of God’s will. Things like:

…Church going,
… being nice to others
… and living “good” lives

We get so impressed and distracted by these “signs” of righteousness that we tend to forget that

  • Righteousness doesn’t come through church attendance (though gathering with God’s people is vitally important to your spiritual journey)
  • Righteousness is not created by being “nice” to other people
  • Righteousness doesn’t exist because we live “basically good” lives

TRUE righteousness begins and ends with Jesus. Because…

It’s at the name of Jesus, that people will repent

And it’s at the name of Jesus that lives will be changed and hearts reformed

The problem is that we forget this…and then we begin trying to make it about “Doing” rather than “Being”.

 When we forget this, we begin…

To buy into the thought that good actions lead people to Jesus.

And if we forget that true righteousness begins with Jesus, we start looking at the people who live “nice lives” – and we convince ourselves that the “righteousness” of people will get them into heaven.

And then our eternal destination becomes based on our goodness rather than God’s righteousness.

We must realize that righteousness IS important to God. But “righteousness”… is about living in God – not doing things for God! It’s all about Him not us!

And the reason this is so important is because it forces us to keep our eyes on Jesus rather on each other. Look to Jesus, worship Jesus, honor Jesus, follow me as I follow Jesus – but never forget that real righteousness and goodness comes from Jesus not for you or me.

Abide in Him. Trust in Him. Live in Him.

Stay alert and ready for Jesus’ promise to be fulfilled. Wait and watch for His soon coming return. But during that time…don’t take your eyes off of Him.

That’s almost what happened to John here in the 19th chapter of Revelation. John related that…

 “… I fell at (the angel’s) feet to worship him. But he said to me, ‘Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’”

Revelation 19:10

What was that angel telling John? He was telling John: “don’t you go looking at me. Don’t you get distracted by the beauty God has given me, or by the righteousness of God that I reflect. You keep your eyes on Jesus. Because, it’s Jesus that people need.
“…hold to the testimony of Jesus.”

Revelation 19:10

AND, I would remind you…keep your eyes on Jesus… because nothing else will save! As we live out our lives – we must keep our eyes set on Christ. And not just on what He has done…but also on what He has promised. Jesus is coming soon! That’s a fact! And you and I must never lose heart or quit longing for that day!

In theological circles we refer to His promised 2nd coming as our “blessed hope!” And it’s not about hoping (like wishful thinking)…longing for something that will never happen. It is a confident assurance in the future. Our hope.

The apostle Paul wrote in Titus 2:11-13,

 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ…”

Titus 2:11-13

I want to close with these two quotes.

 Apologist and author Ravi Zacharias said,

“Hope is that indispensable element that makes the present so important. Significantly, the absence of future hope has an amazing capacity to reach into the present and eat away at the structure of life, as termites would a giant foundation.”

Dr. Emil Brunner once said,

“What oxygen is for the lungs, such is hope for the meaning of human life. Take oxygen away and death occurs through suffocation, take hope away and humanity is constricted through lack of breath; despair and hopelessness set it.”

Let’s never quit hoping in the 2nd coming – because Jesus is coming again soon!

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