The Surety of Christ's Return
A Christmas Message

Acts 1:6-11/Selected Scriptures

Introduction:    This is the Christmas season when we celebrate the First Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus came as the scriptures record, God incarnate in man, the Messiah, the Redeemer and Savior. In His first coming He accomplished all that the Father sent Him to done and went to the cross and there suffered and died for the sins of the world. On the third day He arose and completely the victory over sin and death.

           To those of us who have believed and put their faith in Him as their Savior we rejoice in the truth, the knowledge of the gift of His love that has been shown in our hearts. We thank God for His forgiveness of our sins and that we have eternal life with Him. We are grateful for what God elected salvation to bring, that we who were lost in our sins have, through His shed blood, become the children of God, joint heirs with Jesus Christ, indwelled and led by His Spirit, and are assured that when He returns for His bride, whether we are dead or alive we will be caught up to meet Him in the air and forever be with Him. To that I say with the angels at His birth, "Glory to God in the highest." I will join with psalmist in Psalm 111 who begins the Psalm proclaiming.... "Hallelujah!"

           I look forward to proclaiming at Christ's Second Coming, standing with that great multitude of saved people proclaiming. "Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God. . . .Alleluia: for the Lord God om-ni-po-tent reigneth." (Rev. 19:1b, 6b) Those who study the end times Bible prophecies believe we are very near the moment when He will return.

           God's program is not finished, He has much more He will do and the next prophetic event is Christ's Second Coming the Rapture of His bride, Christians from all the ages since Pentecost.(Rev. 19:7-9; 21:9) Those who study the end times prophecies believe we are very near the moment when He will return.

           Hal Lindsey, who wrote the book "The Late Great Planet Earth" and many books and articles on end time prophecy said on December 12, 2010 on his TV program "The Hal Lindsey Report" that in all the many years he has been studying Bible prophecy concerning the last days, and the return of Jesus Christ to this earth, he said he had never seen so many of the predicted signs fulfilled. He said they are all virtually before us right now. He said there were four signs he was looking for. These four signs were missing and not fully developed until now.

    1. The uniting of the European counties who are the people and culture of the fallen Roman Empire.
    2. The decline and fall of the United States as an independent sovereign world power.

    3. Uniting the global economies under one central control.

    4. The movement to a one world government.

           He stated that these four predicted prophetic events are very near being completed, paving the way for sudden appearance of the coming Antichrist who will dominate the world. The Antichrist will have a charismatic personality, great speaking abilities, and a messianic aura about him, and people will see him as the one who will bring world peace, property and fulfill mankind's dreams. I think you and I have seen an example of how easily people can be swayed and deceived in the 2008 election. Of course we know the Bible says the Antichrist will be the servant of Satan who seeks to destroy the world. (Hal Lindsey, The Hal Lindsey Report, 12-10-2010, http://www.hallindsey.com/ )

           You might ask what does this hath to do with Christmas? The answer is simple and I will explain. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden and plunged the world into sin, God promised to send the Messiah as Genesis 3:15 records. He promised to send a Savior would be the redeemer who would bruise the head of Satan and undo his evil work and bring salvation to men. This was fulfilled when Jesus Christ came to earth in His first coming, God incarnate in man, who went to the cross and there suffered, died and was resurrected which fulfilled the prophecy, and won the victory over sin and death.

           As sure as was God's promise of His First Coming, in the Old Testament and as recorded in the Gospels, is the absolute certainly of His Second Coming to purge this earth, to establish the promised Millennial Kingdom to Israel and then the New heaven and earth. Dear friends we are very close to seeing the Lord return for believers in this the church age when he comes for us in the rapture.

           Numerous times over the next 4000 years after man sinned, God continued to reveal more and more details about the coming Messiah. God foretold the time, place and manner of His birth. The promised Savior would be born of a virgin as "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14)

           Micah 5:2, seven hundred years before the Lord was born, Micah foretold the exact city where Jesus would be born.

              "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." (Micah 5:2)

           However, often overlooked is that Micah not only foretold the town of Jesus' birth but also the exact place in Bethlehem where Mary would give birth to the Lord.

               "And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem." (Micah 4:8)

           Micah 4:8 foretold he would be born in Bethlehem, at "the tower of the flock" which is "Migdal Eder" the place where the shepherds raised the sheep that were sacrificed in the Temple only a little over three miles away. (Luke 2:8-20) These shepherds were the one's to whom the angels announced his birth. Friends, Jesus was not born in a smelly stable behind the inn, but in the clean stall where these special shepherds carefully tended these special sheep. There were no cows, donkeys or other animals there. Because of the special use of these lambs these lambs in the Temple sacrifices they were born in specially ceremonially cleaned stalls. When the angel told the shepherds where to find the Savior, they only told them of the sign that they would find Him wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. These shepherds knew exactly where to go, because only these shepherds wrapped the new born lambs in "swaddling clothes." The Talmud, the Jewish books written by the rabbi said the swaddling clothes were from the priests who ministered in the Temple which were discarded and no longer used. (For an article that explains this go to http://bible-truth.org/BirthPlaceofJesus.html )

           I counted over seventy prophecies concerning Christ's First Coming and each one was perfectly fulfilled when He came 2000 years ago. Others have counted many more.

           Since the earliest ages some men have honestly seen themselves as sinners, and believed in Jehovah God and His word. These saints looked and longed for day when the Messiah would come. Jesus speaking of the faith of Abraham gives us an example of the those that longed for the Messiah to come. Jesus said, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad." (John 8:56)

           The Old Testament saints did not know of this the Church Age as it was a mystery to them as Ephesians 3:1-12 explains. They saw, as Herbert Lockyer describes, "two great mountain peaks of prophecy....the coming of the Messiah and the promised glory of the Kingdom we will see in the Millennium." They believed God by faith and were saved as Hebrews 11, the Bible's Hall of Faith tells us. The resounding theme of throughout the Old Testament is clearly the coming of the Christ.

           As with the believers of God's word in the past, we today, who also believe are looking and longing for the day when Christ will return.

           As the disciples looked upward in the sky they saw the Lord ascend out of their sight. As He disappeared, I am sure that for a moment their hearts felt strong anguish, loneliness, and maybe even despair at seeing their risen Savior taken out of their sight. But God never leaves his children in without hope. Their desperation was quickly quelled as the angels of the Lord comforted them in their distress saying,

           "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." (Acts 1:11)

           Note the angels said He would return "in like manner." In other words they explained Christ would return, personally, as visibly, as gloriously as he had left. The angels message was to comfort and give the disciples the joyful expectation of return which would swallow up the sorrow of that departure.

           Notice as Acts 1:14 records the response of the men. The disciples left the Mount of Olives, (a Sabbath day journey was short distance of about a mile or two at the most) and gathered with the other believers.

           Luke the writer of Acts explains, "These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren." (Acts 1:14)

           The number of the disciples were about 120 and they went about busy with the work of the Lord. Clearly their spirits were lifted by the surety of the promise of Christ's return.

           Judas who had betrayed the Lord was dead, taking his own life, and so the disciples sought the Holy Spirit's guidance to appoint another to replace him. I am sure they remembered the Lord's promise to send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit as John 14:16-17 tells and also in John 16:7-15. The context shows Jesus was telling them of His return to heaven, He said, "A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father." (John 16:16) Acts 1:25 shows their zeal in continuing their ministry the Lord had given them.

           Acts 2 records when the Lord empowered His institution of the local church, which was the assembling of believers together to both comfort and edify believers, that they spread His saving Gospel. At the same time as the events of Acts 1 is recorded, Jesus also gave them the great commission to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. The Book of Acts then records the next approximately thirty seven years as the Gospel was preached beginning in Jerusalem, in all Judea, Samaria and unto the utter most parts of the earth. Luke tells us how Paul was saved on the Damascus Road and carried the Gospel to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. We as Christians and this church stand in this 2000th year after the Lord ascension, in the heritage of the faithful men and women who loved, God, loved the souls of men, and proclaimed the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.

           By the way dear friends, the religion of this state says the Gospel of was lost and their founder restored it. That is absolutely not true. Jesus in Matthew 16:18 said of His church that ". . . gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Christians in this age since Pentecost are the Lord's bride. He promised He would never forsake us and as Matthew 28:20 says, "would be with us always" Not only did Jesus promise this, but history records the thousand upon thousands of faithful believers who put their trust in our real Savior and the biblical Gospel, believing God's word and His promises and who died in the sure hope of the resurrection. Many of these Christians endured persecution and given martyrdom because of their unwavering faith in Jesus Christ and His preserved word the Bible. We today stand as a testimony that God's truth is still being proclaimed and His "ekklesia" the local biblical churches are still to the day alive and well by God's help.

Conclusion:

1. Turn with me to the Book of Titus and follow with me as I begin reading in Chapter 2:11.

           "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." (Titus 2:11-14)

2. The message is two fold as is all the word of God.

           First the message is a compelling plea to the lost, to the unsaved who have not yet believed in Jesus Christ. The message is clear....our God, the Lord Jesus Christ is coming again, and with Him comes judgment.

           Jude stated that 5000 years ago Enoch, who was Adam's great grandson fore told of Christ's coming and also the coming judgment, "And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him." (Jude 14-15)

           God says in Romans 6:23 that the wages of sin is death, but God did not stop with the waning of judgment but also gave the promise of salvation says, "but the gift of God is eternal life."

           If you who are here this morning have not trusted in Jesus Christ as your salvation, would you know listen to the compelling message of God, that He loves you and wants to forgive your sins and give you eternal life. Dear friend He will not force you, but lovingly warns you that you might be saved from judgment to come and become a child of God. 2. The those who have trusted in Jesus Christ, been born again, by His shed blood for you, the Lord compelling message to also two fold.

           He says "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." (Matthew 28:19-20)

           He also says that as you are going, "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." (Ephesians 5:8-11)

           Further God says, "Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:16-18)

           Each of us has a great opportunity to serve our Savior and be a blessing and means whereby a lost and dying world can hear the Gospel and be saved. "Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

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