Friday, December 6, 2013

The Second Advent: Jesus isn't just for Christmas

 Isaiah 55: 6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call upon him while he is near"

Matthew 22: 11-14

 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Matthew 25: 1-13

 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

The Christian festival of Christmas is the one time of year when Jesus is paid lip service in our culture.  We hear future pop stars sing of him in "The X-Factor" final, countless Christmas albums are released, and many schools invite parents to come and watch their children dress up as Mary, Joseph, wise men, shepherds and angels in their Nativity plays.  And in parish churches doors are open to unbelievers for various carol services and midnight mass, so that they may too hear the good news of the coming King, born in weakness two thousand years ago for the salvation of the world.  While all these things are good, in so far, as they exalt the name of the true Jesus, God of God, Light of Light, and the gospel of salvation by grace through faith,  the Scripture carries several warnings to unbelieving visitors.  That this Jesus, born in a manger, will return in glory to judge both the living and the dead, and his dominion will have no end.

Those found in unbelief at the return of the King of the universe will be cast 
into the lake of fire prepared for Satan and his angels, while his elect will be 
glorified as all the promises of our eternal salvation will finally by consummated 
by the great Shepherd of the sheep.  So as we offer the good news of Jesus' 
first advent this Christmas, led us leave our unbelieving audience in no doubt 
that Jesus is coming again, and preach to them the necessity of faith and 
repentance unto salvation.  

To non-Christians I would warn, "there is no flirting with Jesus.  
You can't make him a small part in your Christmas festivities and then 
ignore him the rest of the year".  The incarnation of Jesus Christ demands the 
same response given by the shepherds and angels; and God-willing we believe 
the Spirit will grant faith and repentance to all who hear God's Word and receive 
it with gladness.  But for those who turn down the invitation year after year, 
who persist in flagrant unbelief despite how many times they've sung "Silent 
Night", there is only a "fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire" that 
will consume the unrepentant (Hebrews 10:27).

So the message for our unbelieving culture is clear: "seek the Lord while he may be found" this Christmas",  Do not spurn the implanted Word of God that has the power to save your souls (James 1:21), and thus be found without the imputed righteousness of Christ that comes by faith at the time of his second parousia (coming).  And hence forth be cast into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.  For now the door is open.  The message of the free forgiveness of sins for Jesus' sake is available to everyone for God desires "all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth"  (1 Timothy 2:4).  So this Christmas if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts against God's promise to save as the Israelites did and died in the wilderness.  Be under no illusion that the "narrow door" to God's kingdom will one day swing shut when Jesus comes in glory with his holy angels.  For on that "day of the Lord" the wise and foolish virgins will hear one of two statements from Jesus, words of eternal welcome or eternal separation: "I never knew you" or "Come, you who are blessed by my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you" (Matthew 25: 34). This Christmas, will you be wise and cloth yourself with Christ, or will you continue in foolishness unto utter devastation, found without the oil of faith that alone (apart from works) can save you.  Whatever your response, the reality of history's ultimate destination remains:  Jesus is coming.

Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus!  

Check out the first part of this joint Advent blog event at:

One Sheep Ponders - The First Advent: The First Shepherd

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