Archive for May 2009

The Fearful and Eager Anticipation of That Day and Hour   Leave a comment

The most famous words in the most famous sermon by the most famous pastor in American history is “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” by the Puritan pastor, Jonathan Edwards. There has never been a sermon title that was so polarizing and so hated–sadly, even among Christian circles. Just the title alone is enough to make one feel uncomfortable. But the title is barely a peek into the discomfort Edwards meant to convey. It has been told that after preaching the sermon in Enfield, Connecticut on July 8, 1741, the people were screaming and wailing, falling to the floor or grabbing their seats for dear life. According to Reverend Stephen Williams, who was present in that congregation that day, all were crying out, “What shall I do to be Sav[ed]–oh I am going to Hell–oh what shall I do for a christ…”

But you can’t see all that fear and sorrow from just the title; you have to get in to the meat of it all. The most famous lines in this sermon are the ones he concluded with–the ones that brought about such a great and fearful reaction from the people:

“And let every one that is yet out of Christ, and hanging over the pit of hell, whether they be old men and women, or middle aged, or young people, or little children, now hearken to the loud calls of God’s word and providence. This acceptable year of the Lord, a day of such great favour to some, will doubtless be a day of as remarkable vengeance to others. Men’s hearts harden, and their guilt increases apace at such a day as this, if they neglect their souls; and never was there so great a danger of such persons being given up to hardness of heart and blindness of mind. God seems now to be hastily gathering in his elect in all parts of the land; and probably the greater part of adult persons that ever shall be saved, will be brought in now in a little time, and that it will be as it was on the great out-pouring of the Spirit upon the Jews in the apostles’ days; the election will obtain, and the rest will be blinded. If this should be the case with you, you will eternally curse this day, and curse the day that ever you was born, to see such a season as the pouring out of God’s Spirit, and will wish that you had died and gone to hell before you had seen it. Now undoubtedly it is, as it was in the days of John the Baptist, the axe is in an extraordinary manner laid at the root of the trees, that every tree which brings not forth good fruit, may be hewn down and cast into the fire.
“Therefore, let every one that is out of Christ, now awake and fly from the wrath to come. The wrath of Almighty God is now undoubtedly hanging over a great part of this congregation. Let every one fly out of Sodom: “Haste and escape for your lives, look not behind you, escape to the mountain, lest you be consumed.”

 I have no idea as to the audience that is reading this entry right now. I’m not sure whether you believe in salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. I’m not sure if you are Christopher Hitchen. In either case, we live in a society that is living in the aftermath of Friedrich Nietzsche, the great thinker who boldly proclaimed: “God is dead.” If God is dead, there is no need to deal with sin because there is no standard of sin–and ultimately no judge of sin to whom we have to give an account. But God is NOT dead. (Hey, if all it takes for you to believe Nietzsche are those three words… my five should suffice to convince you otherwise.)

Jesus, however, knew that people would be living as if there was no God and that people would act as if each individual was the ultimate ruler of his life. How did Jesus know? Well, Jesus is God–so that helps in the infinite knowledge department–but that’s how people were living when Jesus was living as a man, that’s how people were living before Jesus arrived, and that’s how people have been living since Jesus arrived.

But Jesus gives a sobering illustration of the result of living in light of Nietzsche’s view: “As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:37-39). Basically, in the days of Noah, people were yelling and screaming “God is dead” (no, Nietzsche did not come up with it) until God brought down a horrible flood on them–one that they were not prepared for at all.

But God is NOT dead. God is alive. And He promises that He will return one day and it will be like that scenario that he was talking about. There will not be a dark and gloomy cloud; there will not be theme music to warn you; and there will not the slightest warning found anywhere outside of the Bible. Judgment is coming, and it will not be coming on such-and-such date or at such-and-such time. The Bible clearly states: “The day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2). Jesus says that He “is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:44). You will be at the party having your third beer of the night while hanging out with your buddies; you will be watching a movie with that special someone; you will be sitting on the can reading your ESPN. That’s when it’s going to happen–that’s when Jesus will come again.

I am writing to two sets of audiences. The first are those who have not entrusted their lives to Jesus Christ. Jesus is returning, and He’s returning soon–at least, sooner than you will expect. He will return and His wrath will be great. But that’s where Jonathan Edwards left it and it would be unloving–hateful, actually–for me to leave it at that. Turn to Jesus Christ, owning up the sins you’ve committed against others and against God and forsaking the life you’ve lived for yourself and for Nietzsche’s fame and giving all of yourself to be used by Jesus Christ. There is refuge against God’s warth, and that refuge is God’s merciful love.

The second set of audience I’m writing to is the Christian believer. You, too, should find fear in the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 24:26-51 because those words are aimed at the unfaithful follower. They are left for the ones who testify to being a follower of Jesus, but are partying with Nietzsche on most days and at most times. Jesus gives a warning: “If the wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and he begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks iwth drunkards, the master of the servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 24:48-50). As was the case with the non-Christian, Jesus is returning on a day and at a time when you don’t expect–before you expect. Therefore, be in fearful anticipation of that day and time.

But that is not all that is to come–Jesus did not leave us with a do-as-I-say-or-you-will-suffer promise. It is a promise of such value that the apostle Paul says that “to die is gain” and that “my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better” (Philippians 1:21,23). God promises that Christians will “hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:16-17). That’s what we have to eagerly anticipate…reunion with Jesus Christ and being overwhelmed with the greatest joy imaginable (and not even fully imaginable). So, Christian, anticipate the return of Jesus Christ. It will not be in another lifetime, but will be in ours. It will not be in another year, but will be in this one. It will not be another day, but will rather be today or tomorrow. Take each and every day to be ready for His return, both in fear and trembling, and in eager anticipation.

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Posted May 28, 2009 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

Ungodliness   1 comment

“Ungodliness may be defined as living one’s everyday life with little or no thought of God, or of God’s will, or of God’s glory, or of one’s dependence on God. You can readily see, then, that someone can lead a respectable life and still be ungodly in the sense that God is essentially irrelevant in his or her life… Now, the sad fact is that many of us who are believers tend to live our daily lives with little or not thought of God. We may even read our Bibles and pray for a few minutes at the beginning of each day, but then we go out into the day’s activities and basically live as though God doesn’t exist. We seldom think of our dependence on God or our responsibility to Him. We might go for hours iwth no thought of God at all. In that sense, we are hardly different from our nice, decent, but unbelieving neighbor. God is not at all in his thougths and is seldom in ours.” — Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins

Posted May 2, 2009 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized