Jesus Changes Our End Times Living
9th Sunday after Pentecost
Jesus Changes Our End Times Living
1. It’s different
2. It’s urgent
Text: 1 Peter 4:1-8
Did you ride the roller coaster this last week? The Dow Jones roller coaster? We talk about the economy being bad. We think (hope) that maybe it will get a little better. Then in one week the market plummets, peaks, plummets, and plateaus—giving investors and day traders heartburn and heartache. And if we think it’s bad here, we can only imagine what they are going through in Europe and countries like Greece.
The Missouri River has been flooding like never before. Recently over 100 miles of bridges were shut down throughout Nebraska and the Dakotas. While the Midwest is soaked, the South is scorched. We only recently wrapped up the state of emergency in Flagler and Volusia Counties as thousands of acres burned up. Arizona now has thousands of acres on fire. Texas has had over 2.8 million acres burn up since November.
Just as we were beginning to forget about the disastrous earthquakes in Haiti, Japan was rocked and devastated. Wars still rage in the Middle East. Soldiers are still dying. Christians are being killed throughout the world. Christians are being limited and restrained and mocked throughout the United States.
One can only wonder: Is God telling us that he’s warming up the mouthpiece? Is God telling us that his archangel will soon blow the last great trumpet on the last great day? The signs Jesus foretold are being fulfilled. We know that we are certainly in the End Times. We don’t know when Jesus is coming, but we do know that he is coming unexpectedly and he is coming soon.
The apostle Peter certainly understood that Jesus could return at any moment. He also knew firsthand how Jesus can change a life. So Peter teaches us today how Jesus Changes Our End Time Living.
Judgment Day brings many different reactions from many different people. Some don’t think it will ever happen. “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die,” they say. They have no concern for what will happen after this life because they think nothing will happen after this life.
Others look to Judgment Day with a false sense of security. They know Jesus will return. They know Jesus will judge. But these people say things like, “I’ve been a pretty good person. I’m not that bad. Certainly Jesus knows that I’m loving most of the time.” But these people also ignore the fact that they sin like all other people in this world and Jesus will judge the sinner.
Others look at Judgment Day with great fear. They know well what Jesus says about the Last Day. They’ve heard about the sheep and the goats. They know about wheat and the weeds like we heard today. They know about hell and weeping and gnashing of teeth. They know that sinners will be judged as guilty and go to hell, and this terrifies them.
What category are you in? Do you understand there will be a Last Day and it’s coming soon? Have you had a false sense of security, feeling that you are safe because “you’re pretty good?” Does Judgment Day terrify you because you can’t imagine standing before Jesus with all your sins laid bare?
We certainly can understand those feelings of fear. It’s frightening to think that Jesus our judge knows and sees everything that we do. Everything! In verse three this morning Peter mentions some common sins of this world: “debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.” Those are sins of indulgence—indulgence in lust and sex, indulgence in substances, indulgence in rowdy behavior, indulgence in making anything more important than God.
We all have been found guilty of those sins in various ways and various degrees in our lives. If not in action, at least in thoughts and words. Surely we all partake in idolatry that is detestable. Any time we place any thing in this life before the Lord we commit detestable idolatry.
Peter could have kept on writing and writing. There are many more sins to be added to the list. Lying, cursing, swearing, cheating, gossiping, slandering, spreading rumors, hatred, arrogance, selfishness, greed. And we still could go on and on and on.
Oh the shameful things we have done! Oh the horror of knowing that Jesus knows all our thoughts and words and actions! Oh the terror of having to stand before Jesus the judge on the Last Day!
But Peter reminds us of the other side of our God, too. He’s not just Jesus the Judge. He’s also Jesus the Savior. Two words sum it up in the first verse: “Christ suffered.” Two short words. Two simple words. Yet two profound words. It says, “Christ suffered,” but we know it should say, “We suffered,” or, “We will suffer.” But we haven’t had to suffer for our sins. And we won’t suffer for our sins. “Christ suffered.”
It’s not just who suffered. It’s also how he suffered. He suffered once, he suffered for all. He suffered for sins. He suffered for our sins. He suffered to pay for sin. He suffered to liberate from sin. He suffered so that he would die. He suffered so that we would live. What joy! What grace! What love! “Christ suffered!”
There is now no fear when we think about Judgment Day. As we listen to the gospel today and hear about the weeds being swept away from the wheat and being burned in the fires of hell, we have no fears at all! Through Christ and his suffering and death in our place, we are wheat. We are and will be spared from the fires. When Jesus judges us on the Last Day, he won’t see what we have done, he will only see what he has done. Judgment Day won’t be filled with fear. It will be filled with joy for us. That is the final fulfillment of our gift of heaven!
And that changes everything. That changes the way that we live as we look forward toward the Last Day. Take a look at what Peter says, “Since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.” Since Jesus suffered and died for us, we can arm and equip ourselves with that same loving attitude and behavior. We’ve died to our sins, why live in sin any longer? Look at verse two: “As a result, he (the believer) does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.”
Knowing that Jesus died for the sins we have committed, we now live the rest of our earthly lives in thanks to him. As Peter continues, “You have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do.” We’ve sinned plenty in our lives. But now that Jesus has forgiven us and freed us from sin we need not live like that.
What a strange thing to those around us! Look at verse 4, “They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you.” People around us don’t get it. They don’t know why we choose not to indulge in all kinds of sinful ways. They think we are weird or strange or “goody two-shoes.” But what they really don’t understand is that Jesus has changed our lives! He’s forgiven us of sin and freed us from sin. This completely changes how we live in these last days. You see, Jesus Changes Our End Time Living. It’s different. We no longer live for the world, but now we live for him.
Peter was right, people of this world will heap abuse on us. Growing up I worked for about a decade at Subway. In high school my peers always wondered why I didn’t party it up like they did on the weekends. When I was older and a manager the coworkers couldn’t believe that I didn’t do (or use) some of the things they did. I also spent some time doing construction work. It was very obvious to the other carpenters that I didn’t talk the way they did or act the way they did. Be it friends or family or the newspapers or TV, people certainly heap abuse upon us.
But Peter also tells us that some day soon they won’t be laughing any more. Verse 5, “But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” These people think life is great. They are eating and drinking and being merry. They say what they want and do what they want. But that will all change quickly. On the last day they will have to give an account for everything they have done. And those who reject Jesus aren’t washed in his blood. They aren’t covered in his righteousness. They won’t stand innocent before our great Judge. They will carry their sins, which means that their laughing will turn to weeping and gnashing of teeth forever in hell. As Peter says in verse 6, that’s why the gospel was preached and is now preached. The good news is shared so that people can know about Jesus and have eternal life, not death.
This is very much so a matter of life or death. And the end is coming soon. Isn’t it interesting what Peter says in verse 7? “The end of all things is near.” If this apostle of Jesus knew that the Last Day would be coming unexpectedly and soon, what does that say about now? It could come at any minute. It could come in 10 years, 10 days, or 10 minutes. (Hopefully I get to finish my sermon first.)
So if Jesus’ return could be at any moment, and if there is no going back after the end, and if all people will at that time immediately be in either heaven or hell . . . we have some work to do! There’s no time to delay! There’s no time to waste! We need to tell others about Jesus now!
Why not invite your neighbor to church? Why not give my business card to the cashier at Publix? Why not have that conversation with your friend or family member that you’ve been waiting and wanting to have? There’s no time like the present. In fact, there might not be any time left at all! You see, Jesus Changes Our End Time Living. It’s urgent. We need to share the good news with others!
The more you read the news or watch the news or listen to the news, the more obvious it becomes. The end is coming, and it’s coming soon. We’re ready. We’re prepared. Jesus has already changed our lives and the way we live by giving us the knowledge of his forgiveness and love.
But others need to know too. This is a matter of eternal life and death! This is an urgent matter! So tell them! Not just about Christ the King (church and school). Tell the about Christ, our King—the one who suffered, who died, who rose, and who will come back to judge.
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