The creed was written in 325 AD the at the Council of Nicaea. And these are core doctrines. These are things we believe. Say it aloud:
“ We believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered at the hands of men, was crucified, dead, and buried. On the third day He arose again; He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; He will come again to judge the living and the dead. We believe in the Holy Spirit; the redeemed church; the fellowship of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting.”
These are our core doctrines. These are things we believe and are going to continue to teach. We want the next generation to have these doctrines, these beliefs strongly rooted in their hearts. We want all of us to continue to live for Christ and live according to the word and the will of God.
A life lived with a consciousness of Christ’s return
Our key thought for this series is: A life lived with a consciousness of Christ’s return, produces different results than a life lived without it. We need to be aware, conscious, and focused on the fact that Jesus Christ will return. Last week we showed you that the second coming of Jesus is not just a single event but rather it’s a series of events and we kind of gave you the 30,000 foot view. We talked about four specific events that are going to take place at the return of Christ.
A life lived with a consciousness of Christ’s return produces different results than a life lived without it.
There are 4 specific events at the return of Christ.
The first being the rapture of the church or the harpazo, the catching away, of those who believe Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior. Then we talked about two judgements, the Judgment Seat of Christ, and the Tribulation. The Judgment Seat of Christ will be happening in heaven. The Great Seven Year Tribulation will be a judgment here on earth. Finally, the fourth piece of this great return of Christ is the final return of Christ as he sets his feet down on the Mount of Olives on that great day of the Lord.
The signs of Christ’s return
Today we are talking about signs of the times. God has given us signs in his word that he is returning and even as it gets near, he is giving us specific signs to let us know that his return is very near. Signs are extremely helpful. Signs help you get on the right highway or go in the right direction. The right street signs help us. I mean, when I am on the highway, I’m looking for the signs for the food. Signs also give us warnings. Signs keep us from danger. Aren’t you glad for the signs that keep you from danger? Give you warnings. Jesus gave us signs like this. Notice Paul’s words right after he writes about the rapture in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3. “1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape”. Paul says that the coming of the Lord will be like when an expectant mother’s, water breaks. And she says, “he’s coming” or “she’s coming.” When her water breaks, that moment is a surprise and yet it is expected all at the same time. Just like there are multiple signs the baby is coming, so it is with the coming of the Lord. Paul continues this in Thessalonians 5:4-6, “But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others who are asleep but let us be awake and sober”. Let us be awake. Let us be aware. Let us understand. See you do not have to be an OB GYN to know when mom is ready to deliver. You can see the signs. And you also do not have to be an Eschatology professor to know that there are obvious signs for the return of Christ. Today, I want to give you some little signs and some big signs that the return of Jesus Christ is on the way.
False Christs saying, “I am the Messiah” is a sign
Let us first walk through the first few verses in Matthew 24:3-5 and the incredible passage says as Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. 3 “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.” Jesus says, false Christs deceiving people will be a sign. Do not forget that Jesus said false Christ that will come saying, “I am the Messiah”. That is a big sign that the coming of the Lord is very near.
Wars and rumors of wars are a sign
We will hear wars and rumors of wars, or you will hear about global and political unrest. Those are signs in Matthew 24:6-7, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.” The word nation is ethnos or ethnic group. Ethnic group will rise against ethnic group. We see that around the world and kingdom against kingdom.
Famine and earthquakes
There is a man at our Dunwoody location, Nolan. He is a great leader there he is also a Georgia tech professor. He shared some data with us about earthquakes on this planet and it’s very interesting. Nolan said, “looking at the entire globe, we have averaged 193 earthquakes of magnitude 1.5 or greater per day so far in 2019”. He said, that is a very high number, but he says it pales in comparison to what happened the week of July 12, 2019 through the July 19, 2019. Most people would not know this because the media has not communicated this to us, but it has happened. Our planet experienced an average of 677 earthquakes per day of a magnitude of 1.5 or greater during that week of July 12, 2019 through the July 19, 2019, just a few months ago. That means that the number of global earthquakes in that week in July was three times above what has been happening normally this year, which is already very high. An increase in earthquakes is a sign of the Lord’s return.
Increased persecution against Christ followers is a sign
Then Jesus said this in Matthew 24:8, “All these are the beginning of birth pains”. All of these are the beginning of the coming of the Lord. When you see these things, these signs, it is close. Matthew 24:9, “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death and you will be hated by all nations because of me.” Jesus here is speaking of increased pressure and persecution against Christ followers. We are aware of that around the world. According to the latest world watch list from open doors, around 215 million Christians face significant levels of persecution in the world today. Researchers for the organization estimate one in 12 Christians live where their faith is illegal, forbidden, or punished. Jesus said this kind of persecution is a sign that he will return. Increased persecution of Christian believers.
The gospel of Jesus Christ preached to all nations is a sign
Let’s keep going. Matthew 24:10-11, “At that time, many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.” There will be great deception before the coming of the Lord. We don’t want to be deceived in these days. Matthew 24:12-14 says, “because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached to the whole world as a testimony to all nations and then the end will come.” An awesome sign of the return of Christ is that the gospel of Jesus Christ is going to be preached to all nations. It’s going to be preached around the world. There’s going to be an intensifying of global mission efforts around the world to get the gospel out to every person.
Let’s do everything we can to be a part of that great end time push to get the gospel of Jesus around the world. It’s not only happening here; it’s happening all around the world and technology is really going to advance that quickly so that people can hear the gospel. You know there are third world countries that don’t have a lot of basic necessities, but a lot of those people have phones. I mean, it’s amazing. Even seven, eight years ago when I went to Haiti and I saw the desperate living conditions that people had, and yet a lot of people had phones in their hands. God’s going to use that technology for people to hear the gospel in these last days. Now, let me give you some big signs.
Israel’s rebirth as the nation of Israel is a sign
Those are signs. But let me give you some signs that were, that are happening right now that you don’t have to look very far to understand that these are things that God said through his word would happen before the return of Christ. And the first one happened in 1948 was huge and forever changed the prophetic landscape. And that is the rebirth of the nation of Israel. The beginning of it takes you all the way back to the Genesis 12. God said, “Abraham, I’m going to make you into a great blessing.” And He has done that today. Abraham’s name is revered among Christians and Jews and Muslims alike.
And then God told Abraham, he said, “I’m going to bless those who bless you and I’m going to curse those who curse you.” And God has done that. But one promise that God made to Israel that went unfulfilled was the promise of the land. God said to Abraham, I want to give you a land of your own and you will live there as a nation in that land, but for 2,500 years, there was zero evidence that that could happen or would happen, but through a series of amazing events. In 1948, the nation of Israel was born in Israel. The Jewish people had their ancestral homeland, and many returned to their homeland. Isaiah 66:8 is a prophesy of this. It says, “who has ever heard of such things? Who, who has ever seen things like this? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children.” Now why do I tell you this? Why is this important? Because in order for all of the other prophecies to happen that are surrounding the return of Christ, Israel must be at home in her land for all these things that are still to come when Christ returns and all these biblical prophecies to be fully fulfilled, Israel must be in her homeland. And she is and has been since 1948. The prophecy of Isaiah 66:8 was fulfilled in May 14, 1448 as Jewish leader David Ben Gurion stepped to a podium in a room filled with Jewish leaders and filled with the press from around the world. And David, Ben Gurion said these words, “This right is the natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate, like all other nations in their own sovereign state. Accordingly, we are here assembled and by virtue of our natural and historic right and on the strength of the United Nations General Assembly, hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz, Israel to be known as the state of Israel.”
-David Ben-Gurion, May 14, 1448.
Today is an exhibit of convincing evidence that all the Bible prophecies concerning the future are going to be fulfilled just as God said they will. The prophet Ezekiel prophesied concerning the current Zionist movement. Zionism is the support for the Jewish people to return to their ancestral homeland. So Ezekiel prophesied about this current Zionists movement and his prophecy also foretells that one day there’s going to be a spiritual return.
There’s going to be a spiritual return of the Jewish people to Him. And he prophesied this in Ezekiel 36:24; 26-28. I am giving you all of this to let you know the return of Christ is very near. Ezekiel 36:24, “I will take you out of the nations. I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land…” And he has done that. And here is his prophecy of the spiritual return of Israel. Ezekiel 36:24, “I will give you a new heart,” speaking to the Jews about the Jewish people, “and I will put my spirit in you and I will remove from your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh, 27 And I will put my spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. 28 Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people and I will be your God.” So, Israel’s return to her ancestral homeland had to happen before Christ returns and it has happened. It’s a very compelling signs of the times.
The reorganization of Europe is a sign
Now let’s talk about some other signs that are happening in our lifetime. This one is very, very significant. The reorganization of Europe. I know a lot of this is kind of heavy. I know a lot of this is something you haven’t heard about before. But just be patient with me for a few minutes because as you see these things happening, I want you to know that these are signs. I want you to know that the Lord will return. In the old Testament book of Daniel specifically in chapters 2 and 9.
I would encourage you to read that during your quiet time this week. Take some time to read Daniel 2 and 9. God gave Daniel this gifting, this ability to interpret dreams, to see visions and to be able to give interpretation and have an interpretation. Also, to be able to interpret the dreams of others. Specifically, the Kings, King Nebuchadnezzar. So, Daniel interpreted a couple of dreams in Daniel 2 and 9. These two dreams are basically about one thing, the history of the world from Daniel’s time until God sets up his future kingdom on this earth. Now they are very detailed. They are very involved. I don’t have time to go into those today, but I do want to encourage you about a specific book that I’ve used as a resource that I’m reading that’s just incredible, called The Book of Signs by Dr. David Jeremiah. He explained so well what’s going to be happening in these days as we near the end and come close to the return of Christ. And he has this fascinating chapter called Europe, Europe. So when studying this and studying the book of Daniel, you’ll find that when God sets up his kingdom, after the seven years of tribulation, there’s a form of the old Roman empire that will be functioning on this earth. The old Roman empire encapsulated a number of nations and those nations now are forming in what we know as this European coalition or these nations of Europe. Dr. Jeremiah tells us about this reconnection of all of the old nations of the Roman empire and how they’re fulfilling the prophecies of Daniel. Today, there are 28 nations in the European coalition. Many are in and they are going to stay in. Some are thinking about getting out, you’ve heard of Brexit, you’ve heard of nations that are considering, “Do we not want to be a part of this?” This coalition of nations already have their own money. The Euro, they had their own constitution. Dr Jeremiah says they could one day soon have their own precedent. You say, well, that is interesting. I can see how that is all coming together. I could see how in time that they could rise forth as a form of the old Roman empire. But pastor, what is the real significance of Europe and all of that? The Bible says that that in the end times there is going to be a ruler who arises, and he will rule the entire world. Many think that he will rise out of this new form of the old Roman empire. I told you last week during the seven-year tribulation time, this time of judgement that an evil ruler will rise. His name will be called, or he will be known as an antichrist. He is not Christ. He is an antichrist. Anti means opposed to Christ. He is vehemently opposed to Christ. He will be filled with the spirit of Satan. Christ means anointed one. The antichrist will be anything but anointed. This antichrist ruler will gain an aggregate power to himself. In other words of the old Roman empire as it appears to be forming now, it will be revived and out of this, there’s a very high probability that this ruler we call or the Bible calls as antichrist will emerge. Is everybody following me now? Stop and think about this for a moment. Think about this. Here is the nation of Israel back in her land. We have this realignment of Europe going on, fulfilling the prophecies of Daniel 2 and 9, and they’re gaining strength in the world today. The power that is present when all these nations are together are only second to the United States and maybe not even second to the United States as they all come together. And it appears that God is preparing for this old Roman empire to emerge as foretold by Daniel. These are signs, these are signs of the times, and I want you to know about it.
The rise of Islamic terrorism is a sign
And then of course, we’ve all lived through this next prophetic sign. We’re the first generation to have to deal with the rise of Islamic terrorism. It became very apparent to us on 9/11 that we had a new enemy. There’s a book by a man named George Sada, who was an air force general under Saddam Hussein. In his book, Saddam’s Secrets, Sada wrote how an Iraqi general defied and survived Saddam Hussein.
Sada tells us about some of the story behind the Islamic revolution. And he said, “I’m often asked about militant Islam and the threat of global terrorism”, and he should know. He went on to warn Americans not to think that the Islamic revolution is simply a middle Eastern or European problem. He said their ultimate goal is conquest of the West and America. And as many of you know, the fastest growing religion in America today is Islam. Yet, we know the vast majority of Islamic people are peace loving people and they want to live in peace. They want to live in peace with their neighbors. We are called to love people, to serve them, to share the love of Christ; and they are your neighbors. However, the number of the radical Islam who preach violence and terror is mushrooming around the world. Experts say that 15 to 20% of Muslims are radical enough to strap a bomb on their bodies to kill Christians and Jews. If that number is accurate, that means there are about 300 million Muslims who are willing to die in order to take you with them. So, what does that have to do with the return of Christ? The rise of Islamic terror is setting the stage for events, I believe, in Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39. Again, taking just a 30,000 foot view of the signs of the times, we can’t take time to drill into all that’s in Ezekiel 38 and 39. I would encourage you to take a look at this book of signs and you can read more about how Islamic terrorism relates to the return of Christ. But these chapters in Ezekiel 38 and 39 prophesied an invasion of Israel in the end times by a vast coalition of nations. All of who are Islamic today except Russia, who will come down from the North. So, what I’m saying is that the rise of Islamic terrorism strongly appears to foreshadow the events leading to the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s great prophecy concerning Christ’s return. So, we’re given signs, wars, earthquakes, nations, ethnos against ethnos, the rebirth of Israel, the realignment of Europe, the rise of radical Islam. All of these are signs that we’re moving towards the return of Christ.
The moral decline and careless living of our nation is a sign
One more sign that I will share with you before we close and that is something that’s happening all around us. You’re very aware of it. You don’t have to go very far. Turn on your television. You can see things pop up on your phone, probably the movie theaters, people around you, and that is this, the moral decline and careless living of our nation. In Matthew 24:37 Jesus uses an illustration that would have really sparked the immediate recognition in every one of his listeners. Matthew 24:37 says, “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the son of man.” Now, what could possibly be the same today as it was in the days of Noah? Matthew 24:38 “For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage up to the day that Noah entered the Ark.” There was a carelessness about life and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the son of man. Jesus said when he returns, it will actually be the way it was before the flood. There was this carelessness. What else? What was it like then? He says this in Genesis 6:5, “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.”
I know that all of you would love to come in here on a Sunday and hear me give you a word that would just inspire you and encourage you and just to help you want to go out and charge hell with a water pistol this week. I know that’s what you’d like for me to do, but how many of you know it’s also good for weekends like this where I just preach the truth in the words of Jesus. He gives us warnings and he gave us signs and he said, listen, watch, be ready. We can’t overlook this. Well, it’s not relevant. I told you last week, one minute after the rapture of the church, it’s going to be very relevant, the definition of relevant. How great the wickedness of the human race has become on the earth. Has America sunk to the, to the lows of Noah’s day? I don’t know, but many people’s moral compass seems to no longer have a true North. Absolute truth is hard to find. People want to do what seems to be right in their own eyes. Listen to what the apostle Paul said about these last days. He said this in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 “but mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People we lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to the parents, ungrateful, unholy…”. Stop there. Sound familiar? “without love, unforgiving, slanderous without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God having a form of godliness but denying its power.” God help us. May we the church never be attached to any of these signs. May we be so in love with Jesus and so white-hot in our passion for God that these things would never be a part of our lives.
Read it again. Read it in your quiet time this week, and if there’s things that the Holy spirit shows you, but that’s part of your life, repent. Call out to Jesus. The Bible says, if you confess your sins, he’s faithful and just to forgive you of your sin and to cleanse you of all unrighteousness, all Lord, may my heart be clean before you may I be right before you and every way changed me into the image of Jesus. But as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be at the coming of the son of man. I grew up in the sixties and seventies in church. Hearing preachers preach this passage and thinking, wow, that’s the way it is now. These must be the last days and here we are 40 or 50 years later and it’s worse. There was carelessness in Noah’s day, people completely ignoring the warnings of Noah, are you listening? Life went on at the church that Noah pastored and preached, he just kept showing up preaching, be ready to have your heart right with God. Life went on. No, as a fanatic keeps building a ship the size of a football field telling everybody, telling his congregation, telling everybody about this thing called rain that’s coming, whatever that was. So, people didn’t pay any attention. They ignored him. They ignored him so bad. He was such a bad preacher. You say a bad preacher. Yeah. He didn’t convince anybody except his own family. People just ignored him. They turned a deaf ear to him. They didn’t pay any attention, but he just kept building that arc, building that place of safety, building it, warning people, building it, warning people, and rather than turning to God, people drifted along carelessly with the prevailing more immoral attitude and the immoral culture of the day, and that is the way it will be when Jesus Christ returns. Again, it’s real, it’s a sign of the return of Christ and the narrative for moral decline is being established in our nation today. So much so that those of us who hold to our faith and hold to our doctrine and hold the moral instruction, we’re labeled as intolerant, discriminatory. Sometimes the language is even as bad as we are. Haters of people when the truth is, it’s just the opposite. We are lovers of people. We love God and we love people, all people. We also love people enough to tell them what the Bible says about sin. That’s love. Don’t let anybody ever tell you differently, but as it was in the days of Noah, so it shall also be at the coming of the son of man.
Keep aware of the signs of the return of Christ.
Finally, Jesus gives us this warning in Matthew 24:42-44, “therefore, keep watch because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.” Jesus warns against the careless approach. He says, you must also be ready.
I haven’t been robbed this year. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been robbed, so I’m not even going to set the alarm on my house. Ah, this neighborhood is a safe neighborhood. We’re not even going to lock our doors. I’ve got, I’ve got neighbors that have never been robbed. They’ve never had a thief in their house, so I don’t have to be concerned. It won’t happen to me. No, no, no, no, no. Jesus said, Matthew 24:42-44, “So you must also be ready because the son of man will come at an hour that you do not expect him”. You need to be ready.
Everyone who hears this message, whether you’re in this worship experience, whether you’re in any of our locations today or whether you’re watching online, I want you to know, I want you to be ready. Ready. No, I didn’t say get ready for church. No. Ready for the second coming of the Lord Jesus. No, I didn’t say get ready for the meeting that you’ve got to have this week. Oh, I know. Life is busy and there’s a lot of things you have got to be ready for. That’s not what I’m talking about. Be ready. Be ready. Make sure you’re looking. You’re ready. Your heart is ready for the coming of the Lord Jesus. You say, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa. I, yes, I’m ready. I’m ready. The question is, are you ready? Does God see your heart and know your heart? Yes, he does. Does he see that your heart is ready? This is week two. We’ve got two more weeks of this series. If you’re ready, I think you’ll do everything you can to have somebody sitting next to you next week so they’re not deceived so their hearts aren’t hardened so that they’re not ignoring this warning that Jesus gives us. Lord, let us do everything we can to get this message out that God loves people and he loves us enough to give us a warning in his word, through the work of the Holy spirit. He’s declaring it today. Get ready because the Lord Jesus Christ is coming again.