There is always excitement when expecting someone to visit when you have not seen them for a long time. Two of our children and their families live in the USA. Our daughter was in RSA last year around this time and she arrives on 31 August. The excitement is electric, especially for Jenny. Angela introduced me to a Smartphone App called “Countdown.” Every day we look at it and today it says “9 days to Angela’s arrival.” Is it not wonderful that we are able to measure off time exactly? The great hope of the Christian Church is the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus. Throughout the ages since the angels in Acts 1 spoke of His return, the Church has been looking forward with anticipation to this momentous event. Some have predicted the year, month and date only to be found out as false prophets. Remember the interaction between the apostles and the Lord? Although the apostles viewed the Kingdom in a nationalistic context, Jesus was precise in His answer:
Ac 1:6 So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.
Why would God not tell us when Jesus will return? Firstly lets read
Ac 3:20 “and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. 21 He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22 For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. 23 Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.’”
1) The only Christ is Jesus! We need to be very clear on this. Many want us intentional Christians to be accommodating and tolerant of all religions. Without being vindictive, judgmental or unkind, the Bible teaches us that there is one, true, living God and this God is the God of Scripture, Creation and Calvary. He says:
Ac 4:12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
That is what Acts 3:20 is saying. The God of Israel … the people He chose to be His special people to tell the world about Him … this God says there is only one Messiah, Christ, Savior and that is Jesus. Listen carefully … it is not loving to ignore the lost-ness of people. It is not being tolerant to keep the Gospel to yourself and allow people to die without hearing the Good News. Would you allow a person … even an enemy to walk into an oncoming car without looking? Would you not warn them? Would you not shout and scream to get their attention to prevent their imminent death through being hit by a speeding car? Then why would you allow people, especially those you love to go to hell without hearing that through Jesus they may escape the damning eternal fires and pain and suffering? The Jews needed to hear that their Messiah was Jesus … the one they crucified.
2) When, O when will He return and restore all things?
Ac 3:21 He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.
See that little word “until”? When we think of God’s first promise of a Messiah in Genesis:
Ge 3:15 “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel”
We realize from then until Jesus was born of a woman … it was near on 4,000 years (that is if you believe in a “young earth” … following the Biblical timeline … as I do). Then If Jesus ascended around 30 AD (the incarnation could have been around 5 to 3 BC) … and the angels promised His return without saying “when” it would be … we have little clue as to when it will be.
(a) Perhaps the closest we can come to is:
Mt 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
This refers to world evangelism … but then … the challenge is that every generation needs to hear. By this I mean a country might be evangelized, but what about the children that will be the next generation?
(b) The comfort of the Word. We just don’t know when Jesus will return!
Dt 29:29 The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.
The date of Jesus’ return is God’s secret.
(c) However, what we do know is that Jesus cannot return to earth until the full complement of the elect are saved. If God chose a people before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight (Eph 1:4) and predestined that they be conformed to the likeness of the Lord Jesus (Rom 8:29) … each one of them need to hear the Gospel and respond positively … but we do not known when all the elect will hear and be saved. So, we don’t know when Jesus will return.
3) The staggering news for the Jew … and all who refuse to listen to the Gospel message and respond to it.
Ac:21 “as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22 For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you.'”
This is an exact quote from Deuteronomy 18:15. Moses was a savior of Israel. He was a proto-type. He and his ministry pointed to the true Messiah who was to come … and Peter uses this text to emphasize … “you must listen to everything he tells you”. That is … listen to His Gospel and respond positively. He had pointed out that the Jews Messiah was Jesus … and this Messiah is the only Messiah the world will ever receive … there in none other! Now follows the hard hitting part:
Ac 3:23 “‘Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.’”
The Jews as a nation who did not listen to Jesus’ message were completely cut off from amongst the people of God. Many Jews did believe and still do today, but as a nation they are no longer God’s chosen people … The True Christian Church is God’s people! Be it the Jew or be it anyone else who refuses to listen to the Gospel and respond positively will be cut off from God and His Kingdom people. To “completely cut off” means to bring to an end … to strike off the register of heaven. Share the Gospel even to those who will not listen. They might respond in the future. I did!
Father, grant me spiritual strength and confidence in the power of the Gospel and the influence of the Holy Spirit as I pray and share the glorious Gospel that alone brings eternal life to all who believe in Calvary’s Blood. Amen.