Friday, December 6, 2013

Rebuke, Repent, Remember

Last week I talked about the three things that the thief on the cross said: first he rebuked the other thief and his false doctrine, second he showed that he understood the Gospel, and third he asked Jesus to remember him.  Not only can these three things be applied to our confession of faith, but they can be employed when we approach studying the Bible, and I use them when I preach the Gospel.  Let me demonstrate with the following passage:

Matthew 24:36-44
24:36 "But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

24:37 For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

24:38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark,

24:39 and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man.

24:40 Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left.

24:41 Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left.

24:42 Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.

24:43 But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into.

24:44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

First, rebuking false teaching about this passage.  We live in a time where everyone seems to be predicting when the world will end.  Everyone, from the secular humanist to the scientist to the religious.  This is not something new.  Predictions about the end of the world have been going on for millennia. Martin Luther said the world was going to end before 1600.  John Wesley gave a range.  Cotton Mather kept having to revise his date when they kept passing and nothing happened.  Cults, Churches, Wisemen, Popes, Techies: all have predicted the end of the world.  Go to Wikipedia and see the lengthy list.

And yet here, right here in the Bible, in verse 36, it says, Jesus says, that no one will know the time.  No one will know the hour or the day.  In fact, in verse 44, Jesus says that not only will no one know, the time will be the least expected time!  My NASB says "the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will."  The angels don't know, Jesus himself doesn't know, and certainly man does not know.  Why am I talking about this?  Because we need to beware those who claim to know.  They are false teachers.  Thankfully, Luther and Wesley gave RANGES.  But they still shouldn't have given anything.

Here's another: the rapture.  The whole Left Behind culture says that the saved are going to disappear and leave the unsaved behind to fight things out on earth.  This very passage says that the coming of the Son of Man will be like the days of Noah, when Noah got in the ark, saved, and the ones outside the ark, the unsaved, got washed away.  You WANT to be left behind.  This is the separation of the chaff from the wheat.  Just like the pitchfork throws up into the air both wheat and chaff but the wheat is heavier and so it falls to the threshing floor but the chaff gets blown away, so if the coming of the Son of Man.

Here's something I saw by carefully reading scripture: there will be two men in the field, there will be two women grinding at the mill.  It's not one man working and the other gambling.  It's not one woman at the mill and the other engaged in prostitution.  Both of the people seem identical on the outside, engaged in identical activity.  But God has chosen one for salvation and the other for destruction.  This is the doctrine of election shown in two short verses.  Remember to abhor evil and embrace the truth by reading the Bible carefully.

Second, we can find the Gospel in this passage.  Where is Jesus?  He is all through the Bible, but where is he in this passage, besides the one speaking?  He is the ark.  He is our vessel of salvation, the lifeboat.  By being in Christ, we are boarding the second ark and surviving the un-creation of everything.  Jesus is the only route through destruction to the other side.

Finally, let's ask by praying: Heavenly Father, save us!  Remember us when you come into your kingdom and place us on the second ark, lift us up out of the realm of darkness and carry us to safety in Jesus Christ.  Let us reject false doctrine, embrace the power of the Gospel for salvation, and beg God for his grace, by which, through faith in his Son, Jesus Christ, we are saved.