Are You Looking For the Lord’s Return: Part 1
October 9, 2016

Are You Looking For the Lord’s Return: Part 1

Pastor:
Passage: 1 Peter 1:7-12
Service Type:

Bible Text: 1 Peter 1:7-12 | Pastor: Daniel Stertz | Series: A Study of 1st Peter

When I preached this I stopped at the end of the first point on love….

Introduction

The Eve of Your Wedding.  Picture A Girl: Eeee, it’s nearly here!  After all the planning, all the work, it’s finally going to actually happen tomorrow!  The big day is here!  This is the day I’ve waited for.

For some mothers, it’s the day they’ve been planning since their daughters turned 5.

Tomorrow is The Wedding Day!

Night Before The Big Hunt.  In SD, I duck hunted with a guy, almost weekly in the fall.  I asked him if he deer hunted.  He told me, “No.  Once you’ve gone on a big hunt in Colorado, everything else pales.  He hunted on a ranch where you pay big money and they guarantee a look at trophy bucks.”

I don’t know if I agree.  I always like to hunt.  A few years ago, two of my boys & I joined a group of men to hunt.  That night as the guys gathered, some of them began pulling out their armory.  They brought enough guns and ammo to start a small war.  Each one showed off his latest weapon obtained.  Then the deer stories start in.

(You have to know how to tell the story, too.  When my daughter, Kat, got her first deer her brother called to hear the story.  She said, “I saw it and I shot it.”  David said, “Kat, you need to learn how to tell the story.”)

But in the guys’ camp, there is excitement about the big hunt.  They have been scouting this land all fall and have seen some signs & sightings of some big bucks.  For some people, the excitement of the hunt may be more than on the eve of their wedding day.

What if Jesus Came?  Imagine being a part of one of these scenes for a moment, while I ask this question—“Would you want Jesus to come back before your wedding day?”  It’s the night before and all is ready.  Or “Would you want Jesus to come back before the season opened?”

I’ll help you out.  Pious people would say, “Well of course!”   Honest people would say, “Couldn’t He wait one more day?”

App. The question is not fair & totally hypothetical.  But I set it up this way to get us thinking—do we really look forward to the Lord’s return?

One writer asks it this way: “Have we lost the future dimension from the life of the individual Christian and of the church? Have we grown used to a situation in which the coming of Christ and the revelation of salvation do not fall within our expectations? True, we believe in the future hope in principle, but has it lost its importance as a factor in our daily living? And, as a result, do we lay too much stress on salvation now, both in our own lives and in the life of the world, and too little on what Christ has yet to bring?”

I would add another statement to this—are we even stressing salvation enough at all?

Theme: What is the cause for this lack of looking for and living for the Return of the Lord?

Peter writes to believers who were suffering persecution.  The trial might cause them to shrink back in their testimony for fear of persecution.  Peter points them to the Return of the Lord to encourage them to keep on.

How do we relate to what Peter says?.  Up to this point in time, we have not experienced real persecution in our part of the world—at least not for many many years. In fact, life has been pretty good here.  Up until recent years, we have lived in a culture which respects and understands Christianity.   While I believe the culture is changing, we look back and see, perhaps, the “good life” itself may have lulled us to sleep. As was said earlier, in principle we believe in the future hope but it hasn’t impacted us in our daily living.

What Peter does, however, is point us to a remedy for all believers of all times.  Whether we experience persecution or not, we need to keep our attention on the coming of Christ (v.7).  It will encourage us through trials & it will exhort us to serve.

Prop: We touched on some of these things this morning, but I want to build upon them tonight.  Peter directs us to look to  Christ more.  How do we do that?  We see SEVERAL WAYS to keep our focus on the Lord’s Return.

Love The Savior 

We love Someone we haven’t seen.

Peter first brings up a reality we all deal with.  We’ve never seen Jesus, yet we love Him.  In the same manner, he follows this statement with “we believe in him and we rejoice in Him with unspeakable joy.”  This is the most intensely personal aspect of the Christian life.  We love & trust someone we have not seen.  Why is that?

This is part of the inexplicable transformation of the New Birth which Jesus told Nicodemus about.  It is a work of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 5:5 states:

…the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

I can tell you how you can know and receive the Lord, but I cannot give you a heart of love.  That is a work of God.

Love is Commanded.

Christ does expect us to love Him, however.  (Turn there.) How much so is seen in His words:

Mat 10:37  He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Jesus said we are to love Him more than our parents and more than our children.  What is He saying?  In essence, He says we are to love Him MORE THAN ANYTHING or ANYONE!  That means Jesus wants Himself to be our deepest treasure.  If He isn’t then we are not worthy of Him.

Those are powerful words.  But let’s try to understand them.

We begin with asking, “What is love?”

Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)  Sometimes based on that we say, “Love is obedience.”  If we obey the Lord, we show we love Him.

That is true, but is that what we have here in Matt 10:37?  If we love our son or daughter, we keep their commandments—right?  No.  Jesus is not just talking about obedience.  He is talking about Emotions.  He is talking about Treasure.

Eg. We treasure our children.  We wouldn’t sell them or give them away for anything.  We would die for them.  Hopefully, we treasure our parents.  We would do as much as we could for them because we love them.

App. In the same way, Jesus says, “You must love me more or else you are not worthy of Me.”  That means you wouldn’t trade Jesus for ANYTHING—not even your family!

Php 3:8  Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

Is that true in our lives?  Does Jesus mean that much?  Is everything else nothing but a pile of manure in comparison?  That’s a powerful way of putting it.  What would you trade Jesus for?

Trans: That’s a powerful lot of love—to not be willing to trade Jesus for anything.  We have to ask, again…

Where does this love come from?

We have already noted that it is a work of the Spirit, but we also add that the love of Christ begets this love we have.

Ill. Luke 7:36-48.  Note the details.  The woman comes humbly to anoint Jesus’ feet.  She kisses His feet.  She is shedding tears—tears of repentance—and she wipes them with her hair.  The host looks with disgust and thinks, “Doesn’t Jesus realize this is a sinful woman?”

As Jesus illustrates with the debtors He shows where the kind of love He expects us to have comes from—it comes from being STUNNED by the love of God.  It comes from being overwhelmed by the Person of Jesus dying for us—that we could have forgiveness without any merit of our own.

 

Eg. Brother Holmes, this morning pointed out from Matthew how Jesus took the Pharisees to Psa 110 to ask, “How come David calls his son, LORD?”  The Pharisees couldn’t answer and quit asking Him questions.  Jesus was trying to show them He was God.

Eg. John 1 tells us Jesus created all things.  Yet He is the One Who died for us!

That is STUNNING!

Application.

What this is teaching us is FIRST, if you would give up Christ for anything, then you don’t have Him.  This is why we watch so-called believers “leaving the faith.”  We scratch our heads and ask, “How could they just stop believing?”  The truth is they never did.  They never had the Lord.  If they did, they wouldn’t have given Him up.

SECOND, this is teaching us that we need to dwell more on this love that we do.  A true believer would never give up Christ for anything if given the choice, but he may fail to consider the significance of his actions and decisions in relation to the Treasure he has in Christ.

How do we keep our love for Christ in focus?  This is the challenge.  I can only say that, apart from Christ, my wife is my greatest treasure.  My love is intensified as I spend time with her; try to understand her more; try to please her; etc.  So with the Lord, we must:

Meditate on Him – through the Word.  Col 3:16 – “let the Word of Christ dwell richly in you”
Ask the Lord for greater love.  He desires to give us good gifts.
Be obedient & live by faith.
Hang around others that love the Lord, too – personal Bible study & fellowship.

The bottom line is it is a continual relationship.  It’s not a formula.

“I’d Rather Have Jesus”

1 I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold,
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands,
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand
Than to be the king of a vast domain
Or be held in sin’s dread sway;
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

2 I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause,
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame,
I’d rather be true to His holy name
Than to be the king of a vast domain
Or be held in sin’s dread sway;
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

3 He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom,
He’s sweeter than honey from out the comb;
He’s all that my hungering spirit needs,
I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead
Than to be the king of a vast domain
Or be held in sin’s dread sway;
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

Trust The Savior   – “Yet believing”

Again, as we noted earlier, the believer believes in Someone he hasn’t seen.

Believing in Someone we can’t see.

Question: Are we deprived because we have not seen the Lord?  Some might say, “How can you believe in Someone or something you haven’t seen?”

Jesus pronounced a special blessing on believing even though we cannot see Him.  In John 20:29 He responded to Thomas’ insistence that he would not believe the Lord had risen until he saw Him and put his hands in His wounds from the cross.  When Jesus appeared He encouraged Thomas in his faith by saying, “Put your hands in my wounds!”   But Jesus did not commend him.  Instead, He said:

Joh 20:29  Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

No, we are not deprived.  We are blessed because this is again evidence of the New Birth.  It is something that is placed in the heart of the believer.  We believe on the Lord but we are given a heart of belief as well.  We know He is there.

App. I think faith in the Lord is like love.  Just as we wouldn’t stop loving the Lord, so we wouldn’t stop believing.  We wouldn’t stop believing in Him any more than we would our own mother or child.  He is Real to us.

Faith Combined.

We also note that Love & Trust go together.  When we love someone, we trust them.  Faith and obedience also go together.  Because He is the Lord, if we believe, we will obey.  We noted earlier that obedience is part of love for Christ—“If you love me, keep my commandments.”

App. Where do we go wrong, then, in our failure to trust?  Why don’t we trust as we should?

We let our senses sometimes get in the way.  We are reminded that we “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7).  Paul was speaking about trials in the context.  He said as long as he was in the body, he was not home with the Lord.  He lived with that eternal perspective.  Faith kept him going.

On the one hand, our senses may be trying to draw us away from the “good life”.  On the other hand, our senses might question if God loves us or is in control when it seems like things are not going well.

Ill. Remember, our physical senses can be wrong.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten a “start” driving at night and thinking a mailbox was a deer about to run in front of me.

Our hearing can be deceived.  Ill. Bryan, thinking there was an elephant outside.

The Lord tells us that we cannot know the good, perfect, and acceptable will of God until we surrender our lives to Him.

Sum: How do we keep our focus on the Lord’s Return?  We must strive to love Him deeply.  We must trust Him completely.

“Is Your All on the Altar”

1 You have longed for sweet peace,
And for faith to increase,
And have earnestly, fervently prayed;
But you cannot have rest,
Or be perfectly blest,
Until all on the altar is laid.

Refrain:
Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid?
Your heart does the Spirit control?
You can only be blest,
And have peace and sweet rest,
As you yield Him your body and soul.

2 Would you walk with the Lord,
In the light of His word,
And have peace and contentment alway?
You must do His sweet will,
To be free from all ill,
On the altar your all you must lay.[Refrain]

3 Oh, we never can know
What the Lord will bestow
Of the blessings for which we have prayed,
Till our body and soul
He doth fully control,
And our all on the altar is laid. [Refrain]

4 Who can tell all the love
He will send from above,
And how happy our hearts will be made;
Of the fellowship sweet
We shall share at His feet,
When our all on the altar is laid. [Refrain]

Trans: How do we keep our Focus on the Lord’s Return?  Love Him.  Trust Him.  And next time…

Rejoice In The Savior

Peter describes a joy so great words can’t explain it.  This again should be the Christian experience.  When we consider what Christ did for us—our hearts should be so full we can’t contain it.

What really gives us joy?

Luke 10 – Note the context of sending out 70 disciples, given them spiritual power.  When they returned their reaction was one of excitement:

Luk 10:17  And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.

Jesus joined in their enthusiasm as He states, “I saw Satan fall from heaven….”  But then He makes this statement:

Luk 10:20  Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.

Too often what we “joy” is in favorable circumstances.  Jesus rejoiced with them but He cautioned them that their joy would be where it should be.  Yes, they enjoyed some fantastic spiritual ministry, but the time will come when it would be hard.  They would come back empty-handed.  If their joy was in victories & numbers it would constantly fluctuate.

John 15:11

Phil 4:4

1 Thes 5:16

John 16:33

He’s about to go to the cross and experience the worst thing imaginable, something so horrible we can only imagine, a prospect that caused His body to sweat drops of blood. And yet, look at Him here, cheering up the disciples.

The plain fact of the matter is the Lord wants His children always believing and trusting and knowing the important things are settled and everything else is all right. We are “more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

No hanging heads. No towels draped over our sorry heads to disguise our disappointment and hide our tears.

“Lift up your heads! Your redemption draweth nigh!” is how the psalmist put it.

Rejoicing “because your names are written in heaven” means a thousand things, these among them….

Your salvation is secure.
Your hope is steadfast.
Your future is settled.
Your faith is well placed.
Your focus is upward and eternal.
Your troubles are temporary.
Your joy is constant.
God’s promises are sure and certain.
Jesus’ word is dependable.
God’s enemy (and yours) is out of luck.

You will live and die with a smile on your face. People will come away from you saying, “He’s either a nut or he knows something.”

Stay with me a moment longer, please.

Do not miss the implications of the Lord choosing as the basis of your joy that “your names are written in heaven.”

Wishing to anchor our joy to something more dependable and more constant than the up-and-down vicissitudes of this life, wanting to secure our joy forever, and intending to settle the matter for all time, Jesus tied it to our salvation.

The strong implications are that you are saved forever.

Implications, nothing! It’s there, plain as the nose on your face (is “explication” a word? He wasn’t implying anything, but was as explicit as it’s possible to get!)

If we can be saved one day and lose it the next, then get it back the next day, then He chose the wrong figure of speech.  The way some of God’s children believe about the temporariness of salvation–that “one little sin can send your soul to hell,” as I’ve heard it put–makes you wonder what it will take for them to start believing in Jesus and quit taking counsel of their fears.

The Lord Jesus actually thought that the born-again would live forever. “They shall never perish.”  “Neither shall anyone pluck them out of my hand.” “I give unto them eternal life.” “So shall we ever be with the Lord.”

We pitiful humans. We resist believing that salvation is of grace and keep wanting our works to play the starring role in this divine production. Or, we play a little mind game with ourselves that says: I know we are saved by grace and Jesus paid it all, but if I sin after being saved, I’m lost again.

If that’s true, if one sin or a certain number of sins undoes what God did in Christ as a result of Calvary, then no one is secure in Christ, no salvation is settled, no forgiveness is permanent, and we are all in big trouble, and Jesus’ death settled nothing.

It’s time to start believing Jesus, people.

I love what some woman told Pastor Tim Keller upon realizing the gospel of grace for the first time….

“I know why I want my morality to save me. If I’m saved by my good works, then like a taxpayer, I have rights. I’ve paid into the system and God owed me a good and decent life, and there is a limit to what the Father can ask of me. But if I’m saved by sheer grace, then my life belongs to the Father, He owes me nothing, and there is no limit to what He can ask of me.”

Sheer grace. That’s it.

Sheer grace or we are in a mess of trouble, children.

But, rejoice. Your names are written in Heaven. In blood, actually. The blood of Christ.

“Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (I Corinthians 15:57).

Now, let us go forth in joy.

I want to add in the rest of what he says (through v.12) because it goes with what Jesus went on to say in Luke.  Note what 1 Pet 1:9-12 says:

Receiving the end of your faith – that means the goal of your faith—even the salvation of your souls.

He goes on to speak about this salvation as something which great believers of the past wondered about & which even the angels of heaven desire to grasp—that is the Suffering of the Messiah and Glory that would follow.

WE have the wonderful blessing of having these things revealed to us.

Go back, now, to Luke 10 and see what Jesus says – Luke 10:21-24.  In Christ we

 

The Lord knew what the disciples were going to find out. The days would come when they would return empty-handed from their preaching missions, their evangelistic trips, their revivals and door-to-door visitations, and their overseas outreach.

is love, joy….” (Galatians 5:22). “These things I have spoken to you that my joy may remain in you and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11).

Joy. There it is. Joy is the constant refrain of Scripture.

C. S. Lewis famously said, “Joy is the business of heaven.”

God’s word is consistent on this subject.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. And again I say rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).

“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Hours before He was arrested and went to the cross, Jesus told the disciples, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Ill. I love our children.  I like to talk about them. I like to tell about what they are doing.  I rejoice in them.

App. Should we not do the same about Christ, our Greatest Treasure?

Possess Your Gift From the Savior (9-12)

We have salvation—something that the saints of the past desired to know and understand but could not because Christ had not come.

This distinguishes Christianity from every other religion.  People believe in God, but apart from knowing Jesus, they can’t know God.

Do You Love God or Jesus?

What is the relationship between loving God and loving Jesus? Why is that a big deal? Well, one reason it is on my front burner is that it’s massively relevant for Muslim evangelism. I bet you didn’t think I was going to go there. One big issue we face over and over again in a multi-cultural situation where lots of religions are coming together is: Don’t we all worship the same God? You go through Jesus; I go through another prophet.

Jesus looked right into the eyes of the Pharisees, the Jewish leaders, and said, “If God were your Father, you would love me” (John 8:42). He is saying to the most religious, the most God-oriented, Old Testament-saturated people on the planet: You don’t know him. He is not your Father. In fact, he goes so far as to say they are of their father the devil. That’s mind-boggling. What is the litmus paper for knowing whether somebody is a lover of God? Answer: Do they love Jesus? Do they embrace Jesus for who he really is? Not just as some human teacher, not just as some prophet alongside other prophets, but as the very Son of God.

What about John 5:42–43? Jesus says to those same leaders, “I know you don’t have the love of God in you. I have come in my Father’s name and you don’t receive me.” Do you see the implication? You don’t have the love of God in you. How do I know that? You don’t receive me. So here I am dealing with a Muslim person who says: I worship the true God just like you worship the true God. Jesus would say: You don’t know the true God if you don’t receive the Son of God.

So, what is the relationship between loving God and loving Jesus? You can’t have the one without the other. Loving Jesus is the test of whether you love God. Loving God is the test of whether you truly love Jesus.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.