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An Overview of the End Times

Sermon Series:

The Church Never Preaches On...

Ryan Kimmel
Ryan Kimmel

Lead Pastor

Peace Church

Main Passage:
Mark 13:32-37


Today is the day that the Lord has made.

Very cool. So Sarah Jansen is one of our missionaries. And real quick, can we just say hi, Sarah and family? Because they're gonna be watching at some point today. Right now, let's just say it together.

Hi, Sarah.

Hi, Sarah.

You guys are awesome, awesome. Well, welcome to our final message in our six-part series we've been calling The Church Never Preaches On. If you are just joining us for the first time, here's what happened. We asked our congregation, what are topics that you think the church never preaches on? Either topics here at Peace or across the nation. The church submitted a bunch of topics and then voted on the top six. And today, the last day of the series, we're looking at what was clearly the number one most voted topic that people thought the church never preaches on, which we're going to preach on today. And it's this, the church never preaches on an overview of the end times.

Before I became a pastor, I was at my previous job and I had this really awkward and kind of intense conversation with this guy on the job. He came at me, he knew I was a Christian, and he said to me, he said, do you really think that Jesus Christ is sitting up there on some cloud and at some point he's just going to like float down to heaven and we're all supposed to worship him? You really think that's going to happen? And he started with kind of just like a mocking tone and then it got intense and kind of condemning because then he turned and said, you know, you really believe that? And I just was kind of looking at him and then he goes, do you realize how stupid that sounds? So don't tell me you actually believe that Christians, how would you answer?

Yeah, I said I do believe that I mean, I don't believe he's just sitting on a cloud but I believe he's coming back I Do believe that and I said I'll give you three reasons why I believe that. Number one, it's because he already came from heaven to earth. That's what we get to celebrate every Christmas, the incarnation, that the son of God left heaven, came to earth, and that baby boy grew into the man that would be the savior of all the world as he died upon the cross for my sins and for your sins. That's the first reason. Second thing is because that man, the son of God who died on the cross in our place for our sins Three days after he was dead. He rose again from the dead which leads to kind of the third point that if the Son of God came from heaven to earth Died on a cross in our place for our sins was dead for three days and then rose himself From the dead if that guy says he's coming back, I'm going to believe him.

And I said, you know what, let me give you a fourth reason. And I think this might be helpful for some of you as you encounter some opposition to this. I said, yeah, and I believe this. And here's another reason why I'll give you a fourth reason why. Because I don't believe that the future of this big beautiful universe, I don't believe the future of the universe is just to eventually grow dark and lifeless and slowly expand forever into the infinite void. My heart rejects that. I don't believe that. In my heart of hearts, I know that all of this actually matters. All of this is actually leading somewhere. And I believe you believe that too, if you would search the heart of your hearts. Because the Bible says that God has placed eternity into the hearts of men.

There's just something about existence that we know this all actually matters. This is all actually leading somewhere. Not to a vast, infinite void of meaninglessness, but this is actually leading somewhere. This was all gonna culminate in something in my heart of hearts I believe that and I believe you do too and that something is The renewal of all things That something is the return of Jesus Christ.

So yes, my friend. I do believe that Christ is coming back. I do believe that the King will return And that's what we're gonna look at today. We're gonna look at what Jesus says about the end times So please turn in your Bibles to Mark chapter 13 We'll look at verses 32 to 37 if you do want to use up Bibles that we provided that's on page 10 81 But as you're turning there, I'll tell you this church if there is one issue where Bible loving Bible Believing Christians can have a lot of different opinions. It's in the end times. Now, in Mark chapter 13, we see Jesus speak about the end. He speaks about the destruction of the temple. He talks about the great and terrible time of tribulation, which is a great time of trials and suffering. And then he closes up this apocalyptic teaching by speaking about his own epic return. And this is what he says. God's Word Mark chapter 13. We'll read verses 32 to 37. Jesus says this,

Mark 13:32-37

32 “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard, keep awake.[a] For you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants[b] in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. 35 Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows,[c] or in the morning— 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”

Amen, this is God's Word. Let's pray and we'll continue. Let's pray father in heaven above Lord for whatever and however the end times unfold I pray that by the power of the Spirit by our faith in Jesus You would help us to stand ready to be alert and awake to be vigilant. Holy Spirit, help us to rightly understand the Word of God today. And it's in Jesus' name that we pray these things. And everyone said, Amen.

So church and friends, if there's one thing I could tell you today, one main point as you walk away from this morning, it would be this.

Christ has announced that He will return, so we must be prepared

And as we consider the end times, let's look at two things from our passage. First one is this We'll see that we don't know when the end will happen So we must stand guard and the second thing is that we don't know when the king will return so we must stay Awake, so let's get into the first part here.

1. We don't know when it will happen, So we must stand guard (vv. 32-33)

So Jesus and the scriptures say a lot about the end times but not enough to give us a clear timeline where every single Christian agrees. But listen to me, that's not Jesus' prerogative. He doesn't give us all that we want to know, he gives us what we need to know. And in fact, while Jesus was on earth, he wasn't aware of all the details of the end times agenda, but he was clear on the assignments, and that's a model for us.

Listen to what Jesus says here. Keep your Bibles open, verse 32. But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake, for you do not know when the time will come. Okay, so to be on guard, to keep awake, as Jesus says, this means that we need to live our lives in light of the fact that this is all heading somewhere. And we don't know when it's going to happen. So we're reading from Mark chapter 13 right now, but the counterpart to this passage is in Matthew 24. And in that part, Jesus speaks about how people will eventually forget that he's coming back and they're just gonna start living their lives completely ignorant of the fact that Christ is at work and doing something and is going to return.

Talks about how there'll be these people who are just distracted by daily life, rather than keeping awake. These are the people who are more concerned about where their next vacation will be, rather than where they will go after they die. They're not living lives in preparation for the end to come or the fact that Christ will return I don't know about you sound like people of our culture

Church we don't know when it will happen. So we must stand guard. So here's the question. What is the it? What will the end times? Actually be like so let's get into this. Let's talk about some various end times, we need to discuss what's often seen as the major components of the end times events. And then people will build their theologies around what the Bible reveals as far as these major milestones.

So it's mainly these four big things. Number one, the millennium reign of Christ. Christ, mentioned in Revelation chapter 20. This is where Revelation speaks about a 1000 year reign of Christ on earth. Then the second thing is the rapture. This is clearly, easily, culturally the most popular notion of the end times. Books and movies are produced all about the rapture. And we'll get into this, but that teaching primarily comes, at least the word rapture, comes from what Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians, but more on that later. So the millennium reign of Christ, the rapture, and then there's the great tribulation. This is noted as a great time of distress upon earth as the world descends into disorder, chaos, and suffering. Kind of seems like we might be at the beginning of that. I don't know.

I'm not a prophet.

The return of Jesus Christ. Speaking as the great and final return of Christ that Jesus himself said would happen, the return of Christ is what all the end times prophecies and theologies ultimately culminate in. That forever and however it happens, in the end, Christ will return to usher in the great renewal of all things, wiping away every tear and every pain from which we'll be able to live forever gloriously with our Savior and God for all time. Now, when it comes to those four major components, again, the millennium, the rapture, the tribulation, and the return of Christ, the ways that different end times theologies are formulated is in relation to those as far as what they look like, how they play out, and the order of those things. Now, usually what happens is of those four, there's two pairs that get grouped together.

Oftentimes the millennium and the return of Christ will get paired together, we'll talk about that. And then the rapture as it relates to the great tribulation. So let's start with the millennium. In Revelation chapter 20, the apostle Paul, I'm sorry, the apostle John, in Revelation chapter 20, the apostle John is given a vision of what is a 1,000 year reign of Christ on earth. And so when we talk about that, there's three primary theologies or categories that get surrounded around this thousand-year reign.

Premillennialism, Postmillennialism, and Amillennialism. So premillennialism basically means that Jesus has a sort of first coming that kind of inaugurates his thousand-year reign on earth which concludes with his final and glorious return that ushers in the new heavens and the new earth Then as you can probably bet Postmillennialism means that Jesus return comes after or post the 1,000 year reign and That 1,000 year reign is typically more ushered in by the church in Jesus while not physically He is still ruling and reigning through his church for this thousand years. And then there's amillennialism.

Now amillennialism, like atheist, basically means that there's no literal one thousand year reign. Now clearly Revelation chapter 20 speaks of a thousand year reign of Christ. So what amillennialists will do is they'll say that that one thousand year reign, that's just a symbolic term for an extended period of time. Revelation speaks in apocalyptic literature, not everything can be taken literally. The thousand year reign is just an extended period of time for which Christ is ruling and reigning via his church that essentially started with the life, death, resurrection, but then ascension of Jesus to heaven. The church is ushered in, this is the time of the church, that Jesus rules and reigns through his church through an extended period of time, proverbially called a thousand years, which will culminate in his final return." Now, those are three ways that people begin to end the end times as it relates to the millennium. And I will even say, and if you hold a different view, then you understand that there's various branches even within those views. But another way that people categorize the end times, I'm just going to pause right now and just call out something that I know to be true. There's three groups of people in here right now.

One group is bored out of their ever-loving mind. Second group is like, hmm, this is interesting. And there's a third group who are listening ever so intently at every single word to make sure I get it right. I love being a pastor. This is great. Just kidding, I really do. So another way people begin to categorize the end times is they think about the rapture as it relates to the great tribulation. Again,

the rapture primarily referenced in 1 Thessalonians 4, but then also as it relates to the great tribulation that's mentioned in places like Daniel 12, Matthew 24, and Revelation chapter 7. For these views, we basically have three understandings because Christians really like the number three. Pre-trib, mid-trib, and post-trib rapture. Now this all has to do with whether or not God will allow his people to go through the time known as the tribulation or if they will be raptured that is taken out to avoid the suffering so one of the more common ones is called pre-trib rapture clearly meaning that the church that Christians are raptured before the tribulation pre-tribulation rapture mid-trib mid-trib is where Christians experience partly or half of the tribulation but then are raptured out so they don't experience it in full. But then of course we have the post-trib rapture, where Christians and the church experience the full tribulation, but then we are raptured at its conclusion. Now as you think about those different theologies, these are already assuming that the return of Christ and the rapture are separate things.

Now let me just say this real quick. I might... We at Peace Church, we are from the Reformed tradition. I did not grow up in the Reformed tradition. I grew up mainline. I'm a Reformed convert.

You all welcomed me in so graciously. So I didn't grow up in a tradition or a church that I don't ever remember hearing about the end times. And it's often noted that the Reformed tradition doesn't have a great emphasis on it as well. But here's what I've come to find out. It's often believed that the Reformed tradition does not believe in the Rapture. Let me just tell you that's not true. Maybe some individuals don't believe in the Rapture, but this notion comes right from the Bible, 1 Thessalonians chapter 4. But the notion here that Reformed people often fall into, not fall into, but believe based on Scripture, is that the Rapture and the return of Christ happen at the same time. So let's talk about this.

Okay, the word rapture. I don't know about you, but the very first time I heard the word rapture, because I didn't grow up in a tradition that had a heavy emphasis on it, let's see if you remember this. The very first time I remember hearing that word rapture is from the Wizard of Oz.

Remember when the scarecrow says, joy, rapture. Okay, moving on. Watch it later and then you can text me. So the word rapture comes from what Paul said in 1 Thessalonians. Now the word rapture comes from the Latin, but the original Greek word here that Paul wrote in, because remember Paul wrote in Greek, the original word is harpizo. And that means to be caught up. That's the word that Paul uses in 1 Thessalonians. Now, interesting note, harpizo is where we get our English word harpoon.

If you think about a harpoon that's thrown down, catches something, then we bring it back up. That's kind of a notion there, that harpizo is about being caught up or being like brought up. So, the common word that we use in our vernacular is often the word rapture.

Again, that comes out of the Latin tradition, rather than harpizo, which comes from the Greek. But they mean the same thing, and they originate from the very same passage here in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4. We're going to look at verses 15 to 18. You can turn there if you want, otherwise I'll read it for you.

Here's what Paul writes as it relates to what we call the rapture. Verse 15, For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. Left until the coming of the Lord. So Paul is speaking here about the return of Jesus Christ. Verse 16 for the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of a command with the voice of the archangel With the sound of the trumpet of God and the dead in Christ will rise first then we who are alive Who are left will be caught up? Will be harpid zode will be raptured together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air So that we'll always be with the Lord. The notion there is not that we're all hanging out in the sky, but that as Christ is returning, we will meet Him in the air and we join Him in His procession back to earth from which we will be forever together with Jesus. But I love what it says in verse 18. Therefore, encourage one another with these words, because this is something that we should look forward to. This shouldn't fill us with anxiety or fear. This is something exciting that we should long for.

Now, when I read this passage, I know many would disagree, but it seems pretty clear to me that this speaks about the one and only return of Jesus Christ, that when that happens, he will descend from the clouds with the sound of the trumpet of God and will be raptured into the air as part of the welcoming party that comes with Christ in his glorious procession And his return to earth Now another passage people will try to will look to draw from Teachings in the rapture is from first Corinthians 15 and even if that is speaking of the rapture listen what it says in verse 52 Says that this will happen in a flash in the twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet at the last trumpet. So here's another reason why I believe that the rapture happens at the one and only return of Christ, because there's no explicit teaching in scripture that says Christ will return twice. Some people think Christ will return in a sense, at least partially, to rapture his people or to rule and reign for the thousand years, but then he will return again at the final coming where he ushers in the renewal of all things.

Now that seems logical and you can put that together from past decisions in scripture, but you have to kind of insert that meaning because there's no explicit teaching that says there's two second comings of Christ. Every time in scripture we hear about the return of Christ, it seems clear to me that there's only one return. But again, for certain end times theologies to work We have to insert that notion of a first return or a partial return in order to make sense of different end times theologies And timelines, so let's just stop here for a second because My Baptist friends blood is already starting to boil So let me say quick three quick things. We at Peace Church, we are gonna have people in every end time category, and I love that. Because here at Peace we are gospel-centered. That we believe the Bible says that Jesus is the only way to heaven, and our job is to share that message, and that's the focus that we center ourselves around.

And from that we can have fun, charitable disagreements on secondary issues. But the first thing is that we at Peace Church, we're going to have people in different end times categories. Secondly, there are people here who come from a tradition that had a significant emphasis on this. I did not. That means that we're going to have people here who are far more read up and far more passionate about this than I am, which leads to the third thing, which is probably the hardest thing, is that people in each category are going to complain that I did not do a good good enough job of defending their position. So I will confess to you right now the point I'm making right now is the point that I believe Jesus was making and it's this that we don't know when it will happen. So we must stand guard.

Church, I'm here to tell you I am more concerned with being found in Christ. I'm more concerned with sharing the gospel with my neighbor. I'm more concerned with getting my family right before the Lord than I am excited about figuring out a complex series of passages to delineate how they all work together.

Now, here's what's true about every End Times theology, even the one that I personally hold. When it comes to the End Times, what you have to do, what every position has to do, is piecemeal it together from various passages while also at the same time discerning what's literal prophecy versus symbolic versus what's already been fulfilled it's very complex I'm not saying it's bad to do I'm just saying it's hard to do and nor am I saying it's a waste of time at all the Bible is written for us to us and so it's part of knowing our Bibles it's fun to do but it's just hard but I'm saying to you exactly what Jesus himself said About that day and time nobody knows only the Father in heaven meaning I Don't believe any of us will fully understand how this is all gonna work out until after it happens and Then on the backside of this we can all stand together and look back and say, oh, that's how it was supposed to happen. And then we turn around and we worship Jesus and we don't worry about it again. So if you were more concerned about figuring out the end times than you are concerned about discipling your kids or your grandkids or sharing the gospel with your neighbor, then you're not heeding the words of Jesus himself. Which brings us to the second point.

2. We don't know when the King will return, so we must stay awake.

So Jesus is given this teaching, then he turns to like this quick little parable. Look at verse 34. Jesus says, it's like a man going on a journey and he leaves his home, but he puts his servants in charge, each with his work and he commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore, stay awake for you do not know when the master of the house will come in the evening or at midnight or when the rooster crows or in the morning lest he come suddenly and find you asleep and what I say to you I say to all stay awake so it's clear here in this teaching that Jesus is referring to himself as the master and he's going to leave for a while but he will return he says the master leaves the servants with each quote each his own work to clarify Jesus is the master, we are his servants who are in charge until he returns. So my question for you, my friends and fellow Christians, is are you at work? Are you getting to work? Are you attending to your job? Are you staying awake?

The question you need to be asking yourself, Christians, is where are you connected or involved or on mission?

Where are you serving the church or ministering in the name of Jesus. The question is, what are you actually doing with your faith? Many of us just keep our faith in our back pocket as our little ticket to heaven. That's not how it works. Your faith is part of an assignment that God has given to you to live out until either you go to heaven or Christ comes back.

So my question for you is, what are you doing with your faith? I'm more concerned about that answer than where you stand on end times prophecy. We don't know when Christ will return during the day, at night, towards the morning. What Jesus is saying is that there will be no immediate warning. We don't know when it's going to happen, so we need to stay awake. Of course, Jesus is speaking symbolically here. He doesn't mean we can't actually sleep. What he means is that we can't be found lazy. We can't be found not doing our job.

We can't be found not engaged in the mission of Christ or the focus of God. Jesus is saying that we all need to be doing our work. So Christian, my big question for you, what are you doing with your faith? To be asleep means that we're more focused on this life without any notion of preparing for Christ to come back. Christians, do you know that Jesus is returning at any moment? And are you prepared for Christ to come back at any moment? Now, let me give you a little something here. You're gonna hear pastors say that you need to prepare for the return of Christ. Let me tool you with something. Your response to that should be, okay, what does that mean to be prepared?

Listen, I'm a simple man, I'll give you a simple answer.

Here's what it means to be prepared for the return of Christ. It means that when Jesus Christ does return, that you've done everything that you're supposed to do for Him. That moment that Christ descends and you hear that trumpet call, that you don't think to yourself, oh no, oh no, I didn't do this. I didn't get to do this, or I didn't get to do that. Now listen to me, I'm not talking about visiting the Grand Canyon or going to that trip to Switzerland, to my friends who are in Switzerland right now, actually.

This means that you did everything that God had called you to do for Him. If Christ was to come back today, what do you wish you would have done for Him and in His name? Because here's what I'm going to tell you, whatever that is, do that now. The time is growing short. The window is closing.

Dawn is breaking. The King is coming back. And you need to be prepared for that. And again, that just means when he returns, you don't sit there and think, oh no, I didn't get to do this. Oh no, I didn't tell my co-worker about Jesus.

Oh no.

You did everything you're supposed to do. That's what it means to be prepared for Christ to come back. So here's what I'll tell you, because I know some of you are wondering where I personally land in all this. So here's what I'll tell you. Ultimately, I am a pan-millennialist.

What that means is that for those in Christ, it'll all pan out. Wasn't going to let you off without a dad joke. But seriously, but seriously, with nobody fully knowing, here's what I say to you, we can each be fully convinced in our own minds with our own research of the Bible about how this will play out. And I empower you, I commend you, search the scriptures, search the scriptures. But if even Christ didn't know how it was all going to play out when he was here, if Christ didn't systematically articulate a clear series of prophesied events and their order, then here's what I'd say to you. When it comes to the end times, all of us need to approach this with abundant humility and charity towards other Bible-believing Christians. I will tell you exactly what I believe. I believe Jesus Christ is coming back and we better be found ready and waiting and working for him. We better be found fighting for the kingdom and preparing for the Christ to return. The very last two, the last two, not just pages, but the last two verses of the Bible for me are so profound and they're so sobering and they give us just a great focus. The last two verses of the entire Bible are this.

Revelation chapter 22 verses 20 to 21. He who testifies to these things says, yes, I am coming soon. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen.

So are we in the end times? Well, practically speaking, I guess how it, how you, I guess it depends on how you mark the start of the end times, but here's what I'll tell you.

Every day that goes by, we get closer to the end. Every day that goes by is one day closer to the return of Christ. And we need to be prepared for that moment to happen at any time.

And so I say with John, the writer of Revelation, I too say, come Lord Jesus. I am ready. I want him to come now. Yes, it's true.

The Bible says there's things that need to happen before Christ returns. I'll tell you now, not all those boxes are checked, but it seems to me like those boxes are getting checked pretty quickly these days. I watch for his return. I long for his return. On the one hand, I want him to come back today to put an end to all this madness.

I am ready for heaven. I'm only in my 40s, but I am ready for my eternal home. But on the other hand, I have friends and family who have not yet believed on the name Jesus. And so I am thankful for the time that God has given to us that I might share the gospel. And so I will honor Christ with what he says at the end of our passage.

And what I say to you, I say to all, stay awake. One thing I'm hearing a lot these days is you're hearing a great call from pastors to the church saying, wake up. It's time to wake up, church. I agree with that in a sense, but here's what I'm saying. This is a call not just to wake up to what's happening politically or culturally.

That's important. But to wake up means to realize that the end is near and that we are staying on task. That we're not being lazy, but we're being on mission. The return of Christ is going to happen. Jesus himself said, yes, I am coming soon. My friends, Jesus Christ is the son of God who came from heaven to earth that he might be the final and complete sacrifice for your sin and my sin, our past, present, and future sin. And upon the Christ, Jesus paid the penalty in full so that we might be brought back to God with no longer having that sin barrier between us and God. Jesus smashed that down with his life, death, and resurrection so that we could experience the full love of God through the Son. And the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the guarantee that his promises are true that our salvation is secure.

And also that he is coming back again So repent and place your faith in him because the time is growing short Don't get so distracted by life that you forget what's to come Be found watching be found waiting be found working for the kingdom be found rejoicing in and sharing the gospel Don't be found sleeping or distracted watch Stay awake for he is returning. Yes, our King is coming back

Amen Now church, we're gonna close with a song that we don't sing very often here at peace But I think it's a really great song to close our time with And so would you please stand and let's sing glorious day

Father we come before you we pray Lord in Jesus name That you would help us by the power of the Spirit by the truth of your word Through your love that we would stand ready Lord that we would do all that you're calling us to do Father not in order to earn our salvation But in response to our salvation and in response to the words of Jesus who himself said he is returning. So Father, we long for that glorious day. And Father, as we sing the words here of the gospel again, I pray God that you would send your spirit to descend upon this church here and now, that we'd lift up our voices in one, in unison, as we cry out that Jesus is King, and as we long for the day, the glorious day of his return. Be with us now, Father, in Jesus' name. And everyone said, amen.

Church, let's sing together.

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