Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sermon: Jesus' Death & The End of the World


Pastor Chaggama Joseph Mapenzi

Let us pray:
Our gracious and loving Father who is in heaven, we thank you for granting us an opportunity to worship you on the Sabbath day. We are even more thankful for the Sabbath in that it keeps us reminded that the true Sabbath is Jesus. In Him we rest on the Sabbath day as a foretaste of things to come. We are now waiting for you Lord to come again so that we may no longer rest after six days of hard labour and pain, sorrow and cry, but to rest from this present evil world and enter in your true tabernacle where timeless eternity is the order and sin is no more. Now Lord, take away the veil of prejudice and fear, hatred and enmity amongst us. Allow your abiding presence to be felt by your children as we ponder upon your word. We pray in Jesus' name, Amen.

We have a subject before us this Sabbath which is a simple one in that it is what we have been preaching since the Advent movement began. I chose this subject and topic because I grew up looking forward to the second coming of Jesus as the blessed hope, and preached the same in our pulpits for the past 22 years. To understand this sermon you only need to submit to the divine teacher, the Holy Spirit, for the regeneration of your spiritual faculty to strengthen your memory of the past sermons on the same topic so that the plain meaning given here will be made even plainer. Could you please pick up your Bibles and read it along this sermon.

God raised up the Seventh-day Adventist Church because of two neglected but important doctrines for the Christian Church. (i)The importance of the law of God including the biblical Sabbath and (ii) the second coming of Jesus that will occur first before one thousand years of Revelation 20:1-6 (premillennialism). Our Sermon today examines these two contributions in the light of Jesus, the law (Divine system of rules and the entire Old Testament Scriptures) and the end of time.

Jesus and the Law
The state of our question
We answer one question with two parts: was the death of Jesus on the cross necessary and how is it related to the law of God and the end of the world?

The Law is defined as a system of rules that everyone must obey.[1] However, according to one of the leading academics in the field of philosophy of law, Hart being a Jew suggested that the law is also the ‘revelation of truths’.[2] These two definitions serve the purpose of this subject. The law of God is the revelation of his truth-Jesus is that Truth and through knowing Him we have an obligation to obey God’s written law. The unwritten law of God was challenged by Satan in heaven (Revelation 12: 7-13) before sin entered into the world through Adam and Eve (Genesis 3). Jesus who is called Michael amongst many names given Him in the scripture, won the victory over Satan in the heavenly realms. With the sin of Adam sin became a human problem and his environment hostile to him. In other words, the death of Jesus on the cross was both directly related to the unwritten law of God that existed before creation of Adam. This law as reduced to Ten Commandments and further reduced to two by Christ. The question is: did Jesus have to die on the cross and how is his death related to the law of God and the end of the world?

The cross event a microcosm of the end of time
The law required that one person should die so that the whole nation should not perish (John 11:50). This amongst other issues related to the law caused the Jewish religious leaders to give up Jesus to be crucified by Pagan Rome (Matthew 27.1-2).[3] The Jewish end time which was limited by time and space reached its climax at the birth, life and death of Jesus Christ (theologians call this event, realized or inaugurated eschatology). The universal end time begun after the resurrection of Jesus during the apostolic age and will reach its climax at the second coming of Jesus (the not yet eschatology respectively). The cup that Jesus promised not to drink with his disciples until in his Fathers’ kingdom (Matthew 26:29), will be celebrated at his second coming to deliver his suffering Church. Christ too suffered on the week leading to the end of his earthly life.

Significant to this sermon are the events leading to the second coming of Jesus. The antichrist as a genus[4] is the union of the church and the state laws. This union has crept into the church of God through different forms.[5] As it was during the week leading to the sacrificial death of Jesus so will it be to His church. It was the apostatized nation that rejected its Messiah; in our time the apostatized religious leaders will enter the union with the state and will give up the faithful Christians to be persecuted by the state law. This has been happening since the days of the apostles. The intensity and severity of persecution will take a global scale just before Jesus appears in the clouds of heaven.

Those who will be faithful to the law of God will feel separated from God. White compared this tribulation period brought by state persecution with Jacob’s time of trouble.[6] But it is evident that Jacob's time of trouble was a type of Christ passion (suffering) and to his elect, there will be a time of trouble such as never was since was a nation even to that time or after (Daniel 12-1-3). The good news is that the church will be delivered from persecution just like God raised Christ from death.

It is important to remember that in Gethsemane Jesus was undergoing a little time of Jacob’s trouble (Luke 22:40-48). Its climax was reached at the cross. On the cross the darkness that covered the earth for three hours (Matthew 27: 45) was a microcosm of the darkness that will cover the unrepentant sinful world but to the believers in Christ the light will be shining. At the cross Christ dealt with the law requirements and died for sinners’ stead (1 Peter 2:24). On the other hand Christ was offered as a sacrifice not only for sin of the world, but as a forensic (future judgment) justification of the law of God (Romans 3. 36; Hebrews 9:26,28). Jesus felt separated from the Father’s love (Matthew 27:48). However, the scripture says, God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself (2 Corinthians 5:19). As it was for Jesus who trusted His Father to deliver Him from the time of trouble, so it will be with the saints awaiting the second coming of Jesus ; they will cling to the promise of His coming to deliver them from persecution.

Christ the Head of the church was bitten, bruised and killed by religious leaders’ initiatives with claims that He broke the law of God. The believers in Christ who are his body (the church visible and invisible) will be persecuted just like Jesus their Master.[7] The cross was necessary to demonstrate God’s love for humanity and to justify His law that He is just and the justifier of the unjust. The accusation that led to the crucifixion of Jesus was a microcosm for the believers living at the end of the world.[8]

You might be feeling that you have lost hope in these times of economic instability, fear and uncertainty. Faith in Jesus is the only hope that does not disappoint us in the end. God is calling with His tender love, come, repent and make your ways right with God right now.
Could we please sing while you march forward for a dedication prayer, ‘while Jesus whispers to you come, sinner come’, open this link:

Let us pray:
Our loving Father, we have realized that your love for us and your creation is so great that you could not break your own law. Forgive us, restore us into harmony with your will and keep us near to your heart, now and forevermore. Dismiss us in unity with you until that day when you come again. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

[1]HS Hornby, Oxford Advanced Genie, in Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English, 6th edn, (Oxford University Press 2000).
[2] HLA Hart, Concept of Law 2nd (Oxford University Press 1994) 1.
[3] The Jews were not allowed to pass on Capital punishment by the Romans. An example: During colonisation of Zanzibar the British Consular did not have mandate to try murder charges. Appeals were sent to India and thus the final decision came from the Supreme Court of India. This is a similar scenario to the Jewish nation during the trial of Jesus called Christ.
[4] Desmond Ford'S second PhD was on Christian eschatology especially on ‘the antichrist’ or as Jesus called it ‘The desolation of Abomination’ in Matthew 24:15. Ford suggests that antichrist began in Old Testament from Genesis to Revelation and will continue until Jesus’ second coming.
[5] The final manifestation of the Antichrist will be the union of church and state. God's church will be persecuted in a global scale just before the second coming of Jesus. A church which allows homosexuals to serve God in public demonstrates the characteristics of an Antichrist.
[6] E.G White, The Great Controversy (Harvest Books, 1888) 642.
[7]Revelation 14: 6-12
[8] The Biblical view of the end time begun with Jesus especially after the resurrection (Hebrew 1:1-2; 9: 26-28), the end time in this sermon refers to time just before the second coming of Jesus.

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