Notes Outline
BEFORE JUMPING IN
THE PROMISE AND THE CRY
URGENCY IN THE EARLY CHURCH
“BUT YOU, BROTHERS, ARE NOT IN DARKNESS”
WHY THE URGENCY?

BEFORE JUMPING IN

    1. Some personal background
      1. Born in Gallup, New Mexico; early years—VBS kid, early decision for Christ; parents divorced; grew up mostly in southern Indiana; church camps, football, Christian youth, leadership
      2. College: mom wanted me to be an engineer, one of my professors encouraged me toward the academy; wanted to be a missionary; studied history and philosophy, mentored by some missionaries; met my wife, Emily
      3. Early missiological “DNA”: God’s faithfulness to His people through persecution; saw it first-hand in Africa; e.g., story of Iman; Poised for Harvest, Braced for Backlash
      4. In 2006, for a number of reasons, felt that God was calling us to resign from our mission board and come back to the U.S.; in the mind of some, we had abandoned the lost; came home broken
      5. My heart was to simply be a church planter in the Muslim world; then God began speaking to us about similar realities coming to the Western world
    2. No fine print
      1. Warning to Muslims considering the faith: You will be persecuted if you follow Jesus.
      2. We’re going to be talking about a range of things in this seminar. Some things may be new to you, some things convicting (myself included), some things encouraging, perhaps even a little bit scary. We’ll be telling some stories. My prayer is that as we work through this seminar together, we will find our hearts tenderized by the convicting work of the Spirit, and also welling up with thanksgiving to God for every trial He has ever allowed or brought into our lives and for the important lessons He has taught us through those trials. Our King is faithful.

THE PROMISE AND THE CRY

    1. The Promise

“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (NIVAc 1:11)

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (ESVRev 22:20)

    1. The longing and the cry

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (ESVRev 22:20)

If anyone does not love the Lord—a curse be on him. Come, O Lord! (NIV1 Cor 16:22; “Maranatha” [NASB])

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully (Gk. teleiōs; “completely” [HCSB, NASB, NET]; “all your hope” [NLT, NRSV]) on the grace (Gk. charin, from charis; “the gracious salvation” [NLT]; cf. v. 10) to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. (NIV1 Pt 1:13)

  • That is why, bracing your minds for a difficult race, and exercising self-control, you must set your hope fully and completely (teleiōs receiving emphasis) on the gracious salvation that will be granted to you, yes, when Jesus the Messiah is revealed. (BHT1Pt. 1:13)

For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead (“and to wait for his Son whom he raised from the dead to come back from heaven” [ISV]), Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. (ESV1 Th. 1:9-10)

To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. (NIV1 Pt. 5:1-4)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth (or “in the future” [NASB]) there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness (“crown of salvation” [BHT]; cf. Jm. 1:12 [“the  victor’s crown of life” (ISV)], 1 Cor. 9:25 [“a crown that will last forever” (NIV)], and 1 Pt. 5:4 [“the unfading crown of glory” (ESV)]), which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved (“longed for” [CJB, NRSV]; “set their affection on” [NET]; “eagerly wait for” [ISV]; “eagerly look forward to” [NLT]; “wait with love for” [TEV]; “set their hearts on” [BHT]) his appearing. (ESV2 Tim. 4:7-8)

    1. Why the longing?
      1. When the Messiah returns, He will (among other things):
  • Raise his people from the dead (see, eg, Jn 5:28-29; Rm 8:23; 1 Cor 15:23; 1 Th 4:13-18);
  • Liberate the creation from its bondage to decay (Rm 8:22-25);
  • Usher in “the Messianic Age”(HCSB)/“the renewal of all things” (NIV, NRSV)/“the regeneration” (NASB)/“the renewed creation” (ISV)/“the age to come” (NCV)/ “the New Age” (TEV); (Gk: ἐν τῇ παλιγγενεσίᾳ [en tē palingenesia]) (Mt 19:28)
  • Reward victors/overcomers with the tree of life (Re 2:7), deliverance from the second death (Re 2:11), a “white stone with a new name written on it” (Re 2:17), “authority over the nations” (Re 2:26), white garments (Re 3:4), by making us “pillars” in the temple of God (Re 3:10), and with the “right to sit with me on my throne” (Re 3:21);
  • Usher Israel into a time of national repentance, unto her salvation as a nation (see, eg, Zc 12:10-13; Rm 11:26-27), deliver her from her enemies once and for all (see, eg, Is 11, Zc 12-14), and put her under righteous leadership (see, eg, Mt 19:28-30)
  • Establish justice throughout the earth (see, eg, Is 2:2-12);
  • Crush and punish Satan (see, eg, Rm 16:20; Rev 20);
  • Overthrow the Anti-Christ/man of lawlessness (see, eg, 2 Th 2)

URGENCY IN THE EARLY CHURCH

    1. What is “urgency”?
      1. Urgency: “1: the quality or state of being urgent: insistence  2: a force or impulse that impels or constrains: urge”
      2. Urgent:  “1 a: calling for immediate attention: pressing <urgent appeals> <an urgent need> b: conveying a sense of urgency”
    2. Apostolic Urgency

The end (or “culmination” [NET]; Gk. to telos) of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray (“for the sake of prayer” [NET]). (NIV1 Pt 4:7)

  • The culmination of all things is drawing near! Therefore, be sober-minded and self-controlled so that you can pray as you should (BHT1 Pt 4:7).

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared (“be urgent” [RSV]) in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. (NIV2 Tim 4:1-2)

What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short (“the time is limited” [HCSB]; “the appointed time has grown very short” [ESV]; “the time that remains is very short” [NLT]; “there is not much time left” [CJB, TEV]). From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of this world, as if not engrossed in them. For the world in its present form is passing away (“will soon pass away” [NLT]; “will not last much longer” [TEV]; “will soon be gone” [NCV]). (NIV1 Cor. 7:29-31)

  • Here’s my point, brothers: The end of the age is very near. From now on, those who have wives should have things far weightier than marriage on their minds; those who weep and those who rejoice shouldn’t get too caught up in weeping and rejoicing; those who buy something should hold to it lightly; those who avail themselves of the things of the world should do so sparingly. The world in its present form is destined to pass away, you see. (BHT 1 Cor. 7:29-31)

 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! (NIVJam 5:8-9)

“BUT YOU, BROTHERS, ARE NOT IN DARKNESS”

    1. Jesus’ return at the appointed time

In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which God will bring about in his own time (Gk: kairois; “appointed times”) God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords (NIV1 Tim 6:13-15)

    1. Matthew 24:36 in context

“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (NIVMt 24:36)

      1. Because people take Matthew 24:36 out of context, it is often used to encourage the exact opposite kind of attitude that Jesus himself wants to produce through it. Some use this verse to discourage us from watching for the Lord’s return from considering questions related to its timing. “Because we don’t know the day or the hour of the Messiah’s return,” someone might say, “we shouldn’t devote much thought, if any, to questions related to the timing of His return.” However, a close reading of Matthew 24-25 in context, along with Luke 12 and 1 Thessalonians 5, demonstrates that Jesus’ purpose is not to promote agnosticism or indifference with respect to His Second Coming. Rather, He tells us this to encourage prayer and watchfulness, so that we will recognize the Day as it approaches, and live our lives accordingly by the power of the Spirit.

“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. (NIVMt 24:32-22)

Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons 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 alert and self-controlled. (NIV1 Th 5:1-6)

    1. They “searched and investigated carefully”

Concerning this salvation the prophets, who prophesied about this gracious deliverance prepared for you, sought wisdom and searched carefully for understanding (“searched and investigated carefully” [NET]; “carefully researched and investigated” [ISV]; “searched intently and with the greatest care” [NIV]; “wanted to know more about” [NLT], “searched carefully and tried to learn” [NCV]; “pondered and inquired diligently” [CJB]; “made careful searches and inquiries” [NASB]), trying to make out the kind of person or the appointed time concerning which the Spirit of the Messiah within them was giving more and more clarity (Gk. edēlou [active, imperfect], from dēloō), as he told them ahead of time about the things that the Messiah was destined to suffer (cf Is. 53) and the glorious things that would follow these sufferings (cf Is. 54)They were shown by divine revelation that it was not for their own benefit, but for yours, that they were stewarding these things, which at the present time have been announced to you by those who proclaimed the gospel to you by the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—matters into which angels long to have a glimpse. (BHT1 Pt. 1:10-12)

  • In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the books (“from the Scriptures” [NIV]; “from the sacred books” [NET]) according to the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet that the number of years for the desolation of Jerusalem would be 70. So I turned my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and petitions, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes…While I was speaking, praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel,  and presenting my petition before Yahweh my God concerning the holy mountain of my God—while I was praying, Gabriel,  the man I had seen in the first vision,  came to me in my extreme weariness, about the time of the evening offering. He gave me this explanation: “Daniel, I’ve come now to give you understanding. At the beginning of your petitions an answer went out, and I have come to give it, for you are treasured by God.  So consider the message and understand the vision: Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city—to bring the rebellion to an end, to put a stop to sin, to wipe away iniquity (“to atone for wickedness” [NIV], “for forgiving iniquity” [CJB]), to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place. Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah  the Prince will be seven weeks and 62 weeks. It will be rebuilt with a plaza and a moat, but in difficult times. After those 62 weeks the Messiah will be cut off and will have nothing. (HCSBDn. 9:2-3, 20-26)
  • Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to him, “How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled… While I, Daniel, was watching the vision and trying to understand it, there before me stood one who looked like a man. And I heard a man’s voice from the Ulai calling, “Gabriel, tell this man the meaning of the vision.” As he came near the place where I was standing, I was terrified and fell prostrate. “Son of man,” he said to me, “understand that the vision concerns the time of the end.” (NIVDn. 8:13, 15-17)
  • The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, “It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.” I heard, but I did not understand. So I asked, “My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?” He replied, “Go your way, Daniel, because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end. Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand. (NIVDn. 12:7-10)
  • But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it. (NIVMt. 13:16-17)

WHY THE URGENCY?

    1. The critical question
      1. The crucial question: How close might we actually be to the appointed time of the Second Coming? Do we have solid grounds for believing that Jesus might actually return in our lifetime, or that of our children? Why should we believe with any real conviction that this generation is any different from those that have preceded it the last two thousand years? Why does it matter? If it isn’t in our lifetime, are we exempt from the call to live with a sense of urgency in light of the Day of the Lord and the return of Jesus? Why the urgency?
      2. My goal in this seminar is not to give a specific date for the Second Coming (see, eg, 2 Th. 2). I am not asking anyone to commit to something to which I myself will not commit. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will use this seminar to deal with the scoffing spirit that so easily rises up in all of us.

First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” (NIV2Pt 3:3-4).