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Is God Late?

Alistair Huong
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Adventists have been preaching that Jesus is coming soon for generations, but has it all been a lie?  Why hasn't Jesus returned yet? What's keeping Him?

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Alistair Huong

Executive Director of AudioVerse

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  • August 20, 2016
    11:00 AM
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Let's pray Father in heaven. Thank you so much for bringing us safely to this place for the Sabbath hours these sacred hours that you have demarcated reserved for us to meet with you. We're taking you up on that offer now. So we invite you to come May you speak to us with a message today be communicated in such a way through the miraculous agency of your spirit to pinpoint exactly what we need to hear and me the words be clear we pray we ask these things now in Jesus' name. How many of us here today believe that Jesus is coming soon. How many of you think that. We are in a Seventh Day Adventist Church right. So it only makes sense that we raise our hands to that question. But let's rewind time a little bit if we'd had gone back to when our parents were our age and you stepped into an avid is Turchin you ask that same question What do you suppose the reaction would be same reaction hands go up. Let's go back another generation what about our grandparents. What about our great grandparents. What about our great great grandparents. What have we rewind time all the way back to the early eighteen forty it's over a hundred and sixty seventy years ago. If we ask that same question How many of us believe that Jesus is coming soon. Not only back then. Not only would they raise their hands they would jump to their feet. They were shell hollow Livia because to them. Jesus was coming. Very very soon. So what happy. One hundred and seventy years later we're still here. Asking the same question soliciting the same response but has it ever crossed your mind that question why hasn't Jesus come yet. We've been preaching this for so long even the skeptics are stepping up to the plate and saying you Adventists haven't learned your lesson yet. All things continue since the beginning and we say Ah but look at the sign. It's war rumors of wars famines pestilences the love of many waxing cold earthquakes in diverse places all of these signs we hear them write every event a list of meeting we go to we hear them every set of Bible study lessons is either number one or two the signs of the times Jesus is coming soon. We pound this drama. But have there been wars all through human history. Have there been famines all through history the play illnesses natural disasters earthquakes signs in the heavens. Have we been duped. Have we believed a lot do some of the Avid to simply believe this as a form of tradition or as some would say we've been brainwashed into a system of religious control where we conjure up this. Manufacture sense of urgency in order to control our young people to make them do what we want them to is that really what we believe because if we believe that we are seventh eighth Adventists believe with the advent of Jesus but yet that very foundation of our faith this all but up fancy fairy tale a fable that has. No grounding why why believe. Why be an Adventist at all. You know the danger is that this type of thinking I have seen these to two extremes. There are those who fall into the ditch of I see in difference. The Bible says there is a servant actually can read about it. Matthew chapter and the Matthew chapter twenty four they serve it. He calls himself a servant. He goes to church he calls himself a believer of Jesus Christ but he says in his heart my lord delays is coming and how do we know by the way he lives. So can it be the some of us internally even if we don't say it out loud internally we think all the time is just going to continue. We might you know secretly think oh lord. Really I really don't want to come back until I finish school. You know like let me get married first. I mean that's sort of important. Like can you wait a little more he's not really going to come back soon. Right. We think this and the show through our actions right. The priorities in our lives are such that. Maybe it's not so important to spend time with Jesus when there is that new movie coming out or the new game that's I preordered that's one extreme but then there's the other extreme which I call the fire is a fanaticism So we say oh jesus isn't coming yet. So we look for conspiracies around every corner under every leaf every rock there is some secret society and we try to conjure up this sense of excitement like no the end really is coming. You wouldn't believe what I've read on the Internet. You would believe what happened in the White House the other night secret closed door meetings that Illuminati is in charge of Jesus is coming soon. Can't you see. The fires of fanaticism. Some And the icy indifference of a lay of the sea an ism. So often we fall into either of these two ditches because internally we're trying to wrestle with this idea. If we've been preaching that Jesus is coming soon for generations now and he's still hasn't come we preached the sign. They've all been fulfilled. What gives us we need to see what the Bible has to say this is our natural reaction and the only answer is if we turn to the Word of God What does Jesus actually tell us about this dilemma. Let's look at Matthew chapter twenty four we look at the world around us we see the under arrest in Syria the Middle East the flooding in Louisiana. We see sick of virus coming right here to Hamilton County Tennessee. We think the world is about to come to an end. Surely Jesus must be coming soon. But notice what Jesus says. Matthew Chapter twenty four Chapter twenty four and twenty five his apocalyptic predictions about the end of time Jesus talking to his disciples. Let's jump right in at verse six Jesus says and you will hear of wars and rumors of war we've heard this preached as a sign of the time as long as we've been alive but notice what he says next what Jesus says next see that you are not troubled for all these things must come to pass. But the end is what. Not yet. Jesus says oh yeah you're going to see signs rumors wars and rumors of wars but hold your horses. It's not it's not the end. Let's keep reading. Verse seven for the nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom and there will be famines pestilences and earthquakes in various places surely when these things happen the end must be around the corner. Even at the door right. Verse eight says all these are the what. Beginning of Sorrows or minute. Have these Adventists evangelists been misleading us all this time we read these verses and every time as they see Jesus is coming soon. But Jesus says these are the beginning of sorrows. So how do we make sense of this. Let me illustrate it to you this way. Imagine you're going on a road trip. You're driving down the interstate and you want to go to New York City when you start driving towards New York from here in Chattanooga. You're not going to see New York on any of the signs along the road you're going to probably see Knoxville or maybe Roanoke or Washington D.C. or something that's on the way right. But once you get close to New York. Maybe a couple hundred miles out. You begin to see it on that road sign New York City our many miles are left. And as you get closer to your destination. What happens to the frequency that you see those signs telling you where New York it. You see more they come become more frequent. And then you begin to see the mileage start ticking down. It's gets closer and closer and pretty soon. Every sign tells you two miles to your exit one mile to exit half a mile to your exit and then this is your ex. So what is Jesus saying he's saying when you see these signs they are simply the road markers telling you that you are headed the right direction but they're not the exit signs. Imagine you're driving down the road and you get to see signs on the road this as Los Angeles two hundred miles and you're headed to New York City. What should that tell you better put a plane ticket to go the other direction because we're headed the wrong way. So what's Jesus saying here these signs. Yes you're going to see them. Yes these are the big. Meaning of sorrows but they simply mean you are headed the right direction and just like those mile markers as we get closer to the end they're going to become more frequent they're going to be more intense. They're going to come in closer proximity. But they're not the exits on. So what are the exit signs. So I want to spend a few moments with you now looking at the Bible to look at the two conditions. The two criteria or the two signs that the Bible reveals to us as the clear markers for when Here's where you take your exit from this world. OK So in other words what are the two signs of the two conditions that must be met. After which Jesus will come. The Bible makes a very clear list stay in Matthew chapter twenty four and look at verse fourteen. Matthew Chapter twenty four verse fourteen. Says this very simply and the vis gospel of the kingdom. Will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations and that the end will come very soon. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness and then the and shall come. So what is us telling us. The world needs to hear the gospel. And until the world hears the gospel the end will not come up. So in the Book of Revelation Let's turn to Revelation Chapter fourteen we actually see the prophet John expounding upon this very point if indeed the Bible says Jesus Himself says this is one of the conditions that must be fulfilled before he can return. You can be sure that. God is not going to leave us in the dark he exposed to us a little bit clearer what is the vis gospel that Jesus is talking about and what does it mean the Gospel to the world. What does that mean does us impling mean as long as we're on the World Wide Web. Everyone has access to it. Our work is done up or does it mean more than that Revelation fourteen the three Angels' messages beginning in verse six this is what it says and I saw another angel flying in the mists of heaven having be everlasting Gospel. To preach to those who dwell on the earth to every nation. Try. Tom and people saying with a loud voice Fear God and give glory to Him for the hour of his judgment has come and worship Him who made heaven on earth and the sea and the springs of waters and then you continue on to the second and the third angels message. So put another words this gospel that must be preached to all the world is not just any gospel. It is the everlasting gospel that is defined and Revelation fourteen as the three main tools messengers that message that gospel must be preached to all the world for a witness of all nations. Now what does that mean all nations. John makes a very clear the angel pretty just to every nation tried tongue and people in other words to every single person on the earth. So the three angels message the gospel the everlasting gospel must go to every man woman and child. Augie earth until Jesus can come up. And now this forms of reason this helps us understand why the Seventh Day Adventist Church places personal public worldwide of vandalism as its highest priority. That's why the seventy administers is a worldwide church. Getting a little bit more practical that's the reason why we don't keep all of our top. Size and offerings at the local church level because the money goes to to reach the whole world we're part of a worldwide movement and why are we a worldwide movement because that has to happen before Jesus can come out. And I praise the Lord that the some of the of the church takes our work seriously the Agnes Church according to USA Today is the fastest growing church even here in North America we think the church is dying in North America we are the fastest growing cross and church here even outpacing the Mormons and we are active worldwide with the second or above that with the largest protestant educational system the largest cross and health ministry system we're second only to the Catholic Church. We're meeting ministries online ministries health ministries education publication have to manage Tarion work we have all sorts of ministries all for the purpose of taking the gospel to the world but the but the reality here is that. This is still of Paul tax. According to the abcess office of statistics we add over one million new members to our church every year every year over a million every year every year every year. That's roughly one new member. Or rather that's approximately three thousand per day. That sounds a little bit like kind of concert. But here's the prob. There are approximately nineteen million members worldwide now and that's roughly one advantage for every three thousand nine hundred people. So in other words every single one of us every single Adventists alive on the earth today we need to go and we ourselves individually must speak to three thousand nine hundred people in order for everyone to hear. But there is one step further. There are approximately four births every second of every day and two deaths every second of every day. So that's a net gain every second on the earth of two more people. So there is a slight problem here. The math sort of works against us. But nevertheless we understand that the final work of taking the gospel to the world is not a work that God leaves entirely to us in our feeble power. It's in cooperation with the agencies of God that this work can be completed the work. Yes is difficult. Yes we need Holy Spirit power this thing called the lateral rain that's going to empower the loud cry that goes to the whole world at the last moment before Jesus comes Yes I understand all that but the point I'm trying to make is this the latter rain the Holy Spirit the help of the heavenly angels all of these things make no difference when a church is sitting around doing nothing. How is God going to pour out His Spirit on a people that just sits around. Yes there is a lot of work to be done. No we cannot hope to have success by ourselves. But humanity joined up in partnership in cooperation with divinity Yes the work can be finished. And indeed the work must be finished because Jesus himself said only until this Gospel goes all the world and then at the end will come up but there's a second half to this puzzle. We mentioned there are two conditions. So I just mentioned the. First one. Now imagine if somehow bought tomorrow right or the end of today everyone hears the gospel. Everyone gets a Bible study will Jesus then come tomorrow. Because we need to look at the second criteria for his return. Let's look now Revelation fourteen. Hope you're still there. Revelation fourteen we can skip near the end of this chapter and verse fourteen. And what we're going to look at is a vision it's a symbolic representation of the end of the world or the second coming. Revelation fourteen verse fourteen says then I looked and behold a white cloud on the Cloud Sat one like the son of man having on his head a golden crown and in his hand a sharp sickle So Jesus coming on the clouds of heaven verse fifteen and another angel came out of the temple crying with a loud voice to him was set on the clouds thrust in your circle and reap for the time has come for you to reap for the harvest of the earth is ripe. So he who sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth and the earth was a repeat. So the second coming of Jesus in this vision that John has is symbolized as harvest time Jesus of the farmer he sees that the grain has ripened and he sticks in the sickle and he reaps So in other words if I can look at this parable in that did it tells me that there is another sign another condition that must be fulfilled before the second coming. Can take place and that is very simply thought harvest of the earth must be ripe make sounds right. For those of you have gardens you understand exactly what I mean. You don't plant your core. One day and you expect to harvest the next. Not even the next week. We're going to have to wait some time for. A seed to grow and to ripen So what does it mean for the harvest of the earth to be bright look at me and Mark Chapter four the Gospel of Mark Chapter four as we tried to unpack what this symbol means the harvest of the earth is ripe market before beginning in verse twenty six Jesus speaking and he said the kingdom of God is as of a man just scatter seed on the ground. Just as a side note here. What does this the seed represent. Earlier in this chapter Jesus actually explains the solar went forth the SO HE Cassie's by all soil types the seed represent the Gospel as a scout is a seat on the ground. I should sleep by night and rise by day in the sea just sprouting grow he himself does not know how for the earth yields crops by itself. First the blade then the head after that the full grain in the head but when the grain ripens immediately he puts in the sickle because the harvest has come up. So this gives us a little bit more information about this process that needs to take place before the harvest of the Earth is right. There must be a slowing that takes place and guess what we just talked about the stone the Gospel going to all of the world the seed must be scattered across by all water it's all soil and then there must be a process that takes place and that process then produces ripen the grain in the full head of the ear of grain and so when you look at clearly it's talking about grain here you have wheat or less a core right you're growing core. How do you know when that corn is right because yes we know when it's a small sprig and there are hardly little tiny little ears and they're all green the kernels are full. Yet we know that's not time to harvest but how do we know when the grain is ready to be harvested how do we know the food is right. Let me put it to you. Another way. If you planted corn or wheat or oat or something else. What do you expect at the end of your agricultural cycle would you expect to see tomatoes on the vine pepper watermelon you want to expect to see. Fruit that is income line that looks like the seed that was planted does that make sense. Yes or no up the way to know when the corner or the wheat or the grain is ripe is when the years of grain the heads of grain has now been reproduced if you will in the likeness of the seed that was plant. And so the Gospel that goes to the world. What what image should we see at the end of the process. Let's look at John let's try to just nail this down. John Chapter twelve. And verse twenty three. John Chapter twelve a verse twenty three. Jesus again speaking. Jesus answered them saying the hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified and he's talking about the hour of his death the end of his life as a man on earth is about to be crucified and verse twenty four Most assuredly I say to you unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies remains alone. But if it dies it produces. Much grain. Speaking of his own life. Jesus refers to himself as the seed as the grain that through His death is buried in the ground and germinate to produce much fruit and is it not the everlasting gospel. To preach about this man she says his life death and resurrection. So what am I trying to say let's put all these things together now the harvest of the earth must be ripe in order for Jesus to come again what does it mean for the harvest of the earth to be right. It means that the sea. That was solid the gospel which is about the life death and resurrection of Jesus must then bear fruit in reproducing a group of human beings that have the likeness of Christ. Now let's make this abundantly clear because Christ object lessons the pen of Ellen White makes this. Crystal clear Christ object lessons page sixty nine paragraph one to says this When the fruit is brought forth. Immediately he put it in the sickle because the harvest is come same illustration as we saw in Revelation fourteen. Notice what she says Christ is waiting with a longing desire for the manifestation of himself in his church when the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in his people. Then he will come to claim them as his own. There we have Matthew chapter twenty four verse fourteen and this gospel must be proved in all the world then the end will come up Christ all blood gypped lessons sixty nine when the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in his people. Then he will come to claim them as a zone. The two conditions. Gospel to the world and gospel reproduced in the hearts of God's people. And when we talk about. Being like Jesus we sing the songs and it's sort of rolls off our tongue it's like a cliche. It's like of course we're Christians. Yeah we want to be like Jesus. Yeah yeah right or that wonderful but just pause a moment and let's let's just think about this not only are we call to speak the words but we are to live the Word and the failure of God's people to do these two things result in a second coming. The has not yet transpired and we think about these two things we've got to also understand that they cannot be separated one from the other These are two legs if you will of the marathon runner trying to finish the race and cross the finish line on one hand character development spending the time not just knowing about the Gospel but absorbing and living the principles of the gospel. When that happens in our hearts brings up the same the love of Jesus for those souls who have not heard and it compels us to share that which they do not have and in the process of sharing the Gospel we ourselves become refined closer into his image but yet. Sometimes we try to substitute one legged try to run the race just on one leg. We think about the vandalism that needs to happen and yeah I'll write the check. I'll leave his volunteer a few hours a week to help out. I might even go on a short term mission trip but eventually isms really not we seem to think that we can substitute. Personal piety Oh I'll just study the Bible more we turn inward thinking oh I'll just be more involved at church but I'm afraid of sharing the gospel with my friends at work or school. We seem to think that we can't hop across the finish line with just one leg. You can't do that many young people become disillusioned because they come to church and they don't cede the life of Jesus reflected the life of the members around them and when we do that we might do all the vendors some of the world the people come in they take one look at us and they go back but we can't have one without the other we can't just sit at home and say I'm going to become like Jesus by just memorizing scripture and let me tell you we should memorize scripture. I'm not saying don't memorize scripture but we can't do that and expect it to substitute preaching the gospel. We can't do one thinking it will mask the deficiency in the other if we are to become like Jesus we need to be like Him in all aspects. And when you look at the life of a prize he did not. Yes He spent time in prayer. Yes He spent time in study but he spent every waking moment serving those around him. And as we looked at the needs in the world around us how can we say that we have the character of Jesus when we are not moved by the same love that Christ had for those in the. In fact I read this passage earlier Christ's opulence pay sixty nine paragraph one when the character of pride shall be perfectly reproduced in his people. Then you will come to claim them as Azzam the very next paragraph and notice what it says paragraph two she continues we're all who profess his name bearing fruit. To his glory. How quickly the whole world would be sown with the seed of the Gospel quickly the last great harvest would be right. Been in Christ would come to gather the precious screen when we take seriously what it means to be like Jesus the gospel will go to the world but I have some sobering reality. I need to share with you. This is found in the book evangelism Page six hundred ninety five and Page six ninety six and this is written in the year eight hundred eighty three. So what year did I say eighteen eighty three long time ago. This is what she said had Adventists after the great disappointment in eight hundred forty four held fast their faith and followed on United we in the opening providence of God receiving the message of the third angel and in the power of the Holy Spirit proclaiming it to the world they would have seen the salvation of God the Lord would have wrought my dually with their efforts the work would have completed and crossed would have Com Air this to receive his people to their reward. It was not the will of God that the coming of Christ should be thus delayed. What year do. Did I say that was written. Eighteen eighty read for the greater part of over an entire century. We've been living under a reality in which. Jesus could have come. But he did and why did he not the conditions simply have not been the passage here simply says had God's people receive the message of the thirteen Joe receiving it to transform their life and in the power of the Holy Spirit proclaim it to the world you see those same two legs running this race accepting the message of the Gospel and his transforming power to recreate us into the likeness of Jesus. Step one and then in turn are going to proclaim it to a world who has not hurt because the people of God chose not to do it. Jesus said let's wait a little longer. Let's put this into context a little bit historians have said that the twentieth century that's the nineteen hundred. It's not only was the bloodiest century of all time it was more bloody than all previous centuries combined. We had World Wars one and two we had the unrest in the Middle East Vietnam Cold War the advent of AIDS and other diseases like it it's. Radical Islamic terrorism economic collapse is like the Great Depression and the economic collapse. Earlier in this century the war on terror. Al Qaida ISIS all of these things did not exist until the previous century and here we're told that it was not the will of God that the coming of Christ should be testable. The Bible is clear about what needs to happen before Jesus can come God's not waiting for the pope as much as we love to talk about peeps. He's not waveforms God's not waiting for this presidential election and boy we like to talk about that evil then it doesn't matter who the president is that's not what God cares. That's not what he's waiting for and surely he's not waiting for another terrorist attack. He's no waiting for another earthquake another log fire another thousand year flood to sweep some part of the world. He is not waiting for any of that he's waiting for you and me and we sit here and we say oh no we're waiting for Jesus to come have mercy. He's waiting for us. Second Peter chapter three. Let's look at that look at that very quickly second Peter chapter three. I don't want to say it in my own words. So let's let the Bible speak for itself. Second Peter chapter three. This tells us the mindset that we ought to have verse ten but the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise of the elements will melt with fervent heat both the Earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore since all these things will be dissolved what manner of persons ought you to be in the whole way you conduct and godliness looking for and. He sinning the coming of the day of God because of which the heavens will be dissolving on fire in the elements will melt with fervent heat. Nevertheless we according to his promise look for new heavens and a new. Earth in which righteousness dwells you see for us to truly be living as Seventh Day Adventists we are not people who simply sit back and are waiting for the second coming. We are people who are actively a piece of me. The second coming. There is a world of difference. One is passive and one is active and if we look at the Bible and the Bible has been very clear. Jesus is not saying yeah let's wait for another war. No he's not saying that the gospel must go to the world and the gospel must do its work in our individual hearts. Those are the two things Jesus is waiting for course Abos jet lessons again says it is a privilege of every Christian not only to look for but to hasten the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Evangelism Page six hundred ninety four per Graf to the long night of gloom is trying but the morning is deferred and mercy because of the master should come so many would be found on the Ray God's unwillingness to have his people perish has been the reason of soul long delay. And sometimes we have the gall to sit and shake our fist at God and say God if you are so good why do you permit all of this tragedy to happen. When God looks at us and says My heart is broken far more than yours but it's because of your prepared this that I continue to wait. He's saying Lord our Lord the Lord of Heaven has an angel saying Lord let's go let's wrap this thing up. We're ready to go and God as wait let's just wait a little longer. Maybe a few more would be ready. Maybe a few more with need the message and be ready for my return because if I come up so many would not be read. So as Jesus. Is godly have we believe the delusion all this time Brother and note the Bible has been cleared the Bible has been very clear what must happen and what posture What position are God in heaven is sitting in right now we are not waiting for him he's waiting for us. And so how many of us here believe that Jesus is coming soon for us to honestly answer that question. I hope it becomes clear now that we need to take a look at our own lives and say is my life lived in such a manner that every price or T. in my life every decision every choice moves me in a way that helps to hasten rather than delay has come. And maybe some of us here are reflecting on our lives. Perhaps the decisions that you've made recently your personal devotional life has not been leading you into the likeness of Jesus but to the contrary. Perhaps now at the beginning of the civil year. This might be the time to say Lord I'm ready to make that change. Maybe some of you look at the pet path ahead of you your college career and it's been all about you. It's been all about where you want but not what God Maybe it's time to change some of your plans to ask yourself this question is my the life should ject re such that I can honestly say everything I'm doing is to hasten my Lord's return because I'm not just any old I haven't I. I'm a Seventh Day Adventist wanting to hasten my Lord's return. Maybe there are some of you who realize there are certain things in your life attachments that hold you back from doing what God has already called me to do and you recognize in your heart. I'm saying that my Lord Elisa's come and you want to say no more Today I laid those things before the feet of Jesus saying Lord I don't want to be the reason why you wait. I want to be ready when you come. So how many of us here want to say Lord Jesus help me to not just wait for your return but to hasten your return them in Syria. That's my desire as well let us pray. Father in heaven. Today we have reflected on such a fundamental belief but yet Lord how often it doesn't impact us in the way that it ought Lord May our choices. Our decisions. Our plans for our lives reveal to the world to watch and the universe that's watching that our lives are not our all but that we truly are avid just believing that you not only are wanting to come back soon. But that we can cooperate with you to hasten that day and so guide us Lord in our choices guide us in our interactions for those students who are beginning a new school year me you we knew within them to commit to trust to you every moment and to give you all of their plans and that you may use them. To bring your return very soon so bless us this Saturday as we seek you first realize. This media was brought to you by audio verse a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio verse. 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