How Do We Prepare for the End Times?
The Bible says that Jesus is coming back someday. How do we get ready for that day?
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Continuing in our “You Asked for It” Series
If it’s your first time today, here’s what we did:
Over the last number of weeks, we’ve polled the people of Renovation and asked them for their hardest and most pressing topics.
And we picked the 5 most requested.
This week’s topic is: “How do we prepare for the end times?”
I’ll just tell you straight off.
Buy a bunker.
No joke, for just $35,000 a person, you can reserve your space in the Vivos underground shelter in Indiana.
(Show pictures of the bunker)
I feel like this plan breaks down a lot.
1) Does the Facebook app they show on the TV still work after the apocalypse?
2) Does the fact that people don’t have a reservation to get in really going to stop someone during a nuclear war?
Like, can you imagine crazy people with guns trying to run in there, and then going, “Oh, my name isn’t on the list? Well, then, I’ll take my rifles and my family and die out hear in the radiation”
But seriously, how do we prepare for the end?
It’s actually a more commonly asked question than I anticipated.
We got A LOT of questions about this.
In fact, I did some research, on this, and 41% of Americans believe that Jesus Christ will either, definitely or probably, return to earth by the year 2050.
That’s not really even that far away.
When the poll was reduced to just evangelicals, OVER half believe that Jesus will be back by 2050.
Maybe you’re newer to this whole Christianity think, and you’re just thinking, “He’s coming back?”
What does the Bible actually say about this?
Let me give you just a very fast overview, since HOW He’s coming back isn’t actually our primary aim today.
The Bible talks about the end times a lot.
There are over 300 verses specifically related to it.
AND also the Book of Revelation, which is about the end times.
The Bible tells us that in the end times, there will be much tribulation and suffering (a lot of bad things are going to happen…wars, earthquakes, you name it)
But along the way, there will be some very clear signs that the end is near.
Matthew 24 outlines many of these signs.
If you want to learn more about those signs, I suggest you write down that chapter (Matthew 24)
Also, back in 2012, I know that over half of you weren’t even at Renovation yet, but we did a series called, “The End of the World”
In that series we really outlined a lot of this stuff (i.e. What are the signs of the end, what about the rapture, what will all happen, etc.?)
All of those messages are on our website if you want to go back and watch or listen.
We also REALLY dive into the study of the end times in our Theology 201 class, which is one of our summer School of Theology classes, which I can not recommend to you enough.
After all of the tribulations and signs, Jesus will clearly and visibly return to earth, thus ending everyone’s time on earth, and really the earth as we know it.
(1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) – NIV
16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
Once Jesus returns, the Bible says there will then be final judgment of everyone who’s ever lived, and God will create a new heaven and a new earth.
People will then be sent to their permanent eternal states: Heaven or hell.
That’s a bit of important background, but again, our real question today is “How do we prepare, not what exactly will happen?”
If the end could come like a “thief in the night” (an expression the Bible uses often), then how do we make sure we’re ready?
It may not happen in our lifetime, but we need to be ready regardless.
Let’s remember, even if we think we can interpret all the signs and we say that it’s not time yet, that the Jew’s of Jesus’ day thought that they could correctly interpret all of the signs of what the messiah would look like.
Yet, most of them missed it.
Thankfully for us, the disciple and apostle Peter addresses pretty much our exact question today in his 2nd letter, 2nd Peter.
We’re going to be in chapter 3
WHY PEOPLE AREN’T READY
Most people don’t live as if Jesus could come back at anytime.
Even in Peter’s day this was true.
So as Peter answers our question today about how do we prepare, he also is going to address some objections that people had to the idea that Jesus could come back in the first place.
He covers both moral and intellectual objections
Let’s look first at the moral reason for why most people don’t want to think about the world ending
(2 Peter 3:3) – NIV
3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.
Why are they scoffing and mocking this doctrine?
Peter says it’s because of their own evil desires.
What does that mean?
Well, think about it, if Jesus is really coming back to JUDGE the world…and he could come back at anytime…then we better make sure we’re ready.
It’s kind of like this:
Say you’re 17, and you decide (foolishly) to throw a massive house party at your house while your parents are out of town.
And while the enormous party is in progress, your dad texts and says, “Had a change in my flight. I’ll be home at 11pm tonight”
No 17-year old carries on as usual at that point.
They wouldn’t say, “Hey guys. Carry on with the beer and fraternizing and all that…my dad will be here soon. He’ll be so proud!”
No, the teenager goes into full panic mode because he or she knows that there will be “a day of parental reckoning” when dad gets home.
But see, if the world can pretend that the idea of Jesus coming back is nonsense, then we can trick ourselves into believing that living out all of our fleshly desires is a great idea.
But when you like like he could come back today, you’ll live a different way.
And it’s a way that’s actually closer to reality than how we normally live.
And it shouldn’t be out of fear.
For the Christian, because we know we’re forgiven, His return is not a scary day, but a glorious day.
But again, many don’t think that way…especially non-believers.
Some people don’t just object to the concept of the end times because of their fleshly cravings, for some it’s an intellectual objection.
Peter covers this objection in verse 4:
(2 Peter 3:4) – NIV
4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”
In other words, people have been predicting the world is going to end for the last 2,000 years, and it never happens…people keep dying, and the world keeps on going.
But Peter brilliantly points out that this type of thinking is illogical.
Look at the next 3 verses:
(2 Peter 3:5-7) – NIV
5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
Here’s what he’s saying:
“Yeah, you may not believe that God can just come in and end our time on earth, but who do you think started our time on earth?
If we were not an accident, if we have a beginning here, then we can have an end on this planet
If God started it, it’s no less plausible that He can end it.
Just because something hasn’t happened yet...is not a logical reason to prove that it won’t.
Just because the Vikings have never won a Super Bowl, does not give anyone the grounds to say they can 100% guarantee the Vikings never will.
Others, have milder objections to Jesus’ return, and they just simply say, “It might happen, but we have time, so it doesn’t really matter”
But time is not guaranteed.
Both in the number of your own personal remaining days, or in terms of when Jesus will return.
I’m going to skip verses 8 and 9 for a minute, and let’s look ahead to verse 10
(2 Peter 3:10) – NIV
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare
We alluded to this earlier.
Jesus’ return will come like a thief in the night.
It will be unexpected.
Which means we have to be ready
Interestingly enough, Peter earlier used the example of Noah & the flood to say that “if God started the earth, remember, he can end it at any time”
But Noah is also a good parallel example for preparing for the end.
Jesus himself uses this example in Matthew 24
(Matthew 24:36-39) – NIV
36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
I’m not sure we think much, as adults, about the story of Noah’s ark, but it’s striking example as we think about preparing for the end.
It’s a story I read a lot to my kids in our children’s Bible….Jesus Storybook Bible.
And I’m helped a lot by the pictures J
There’s a picture in their Bible of Noah building the ark, and the people of the town are laughing at him.
And why wouldn’t they?
But what about you?
If you did live like he could come back today, wouldn’t you live a different way?
And yeah, people might even laugh at you for taking God seriously like that?
Yeah, they might.
They might laugh and scoff.
But our call, like Noah, is to believe in God, not in what’s culturally palatable.
It doesn’t mean you quit your job and sell your house and follow creepy people around in a van
But as pastors and theologians have said for centuries that we are to live as if the return of Christ is imminent.
SO yeah, it totally might not be for another 500 years, but it’s actually more foolish to live like it’s 500 years away than as if it’s 24 hours away.
HOW DO WE PREPARE
So if you do believe that the end times will come…How else do you prepare?
Verse 11 gives us the clearest clue on this question:
(2 Peter 3:11) – NIV
11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives
Peter is saying, since everything will be destroyed…since the earth is going to burned and laid bare in the end (as he wrote in verse 10), You ought to live Holy and Godly lives.
This goes back to what we’ve been saying:
If you believe he could come back any day, you WILL live a different way.
And Peter really takes a different and interesting angle here.
Peter is saying, “Be Holy and Godly, because the earth will burn”
Be passionate about your spiritual life because all of the material and temporary things…are going to waste away…they don’t matter!
If the earth is going to be destroyed, why are you so obsessed with earthly and temporary concerns?
I mean, where do most of us find our worth?
In the earthly things.
In what we have: Our cars…our house…we’ve finally arrived, and we’re homeowners!
We find our worth in the earthly things we can accomplish: in our jobs…or our diplomas.
Or maybe we find it in our accumulations, or hobbies, or collections…
But it’ll all just be, in an instant, burned.
I’ve seen a few movies and TV shows about the end of the world myself, and one of the things I think directors often seem to do a good job of portraying is that when the end comes (whether it be via war, deadly virus, or alien invasion…
the characters SO quickly realize that most of their stresses, pursuits, and the general way they spend their time, were incredibly meaningless
And they drop it…instantly.
What matters is family…faith.
I keep saying over and over that if you want to prepare for the end times, the Bible exhorts us repeatedly to live like it could be today.
Jesus says: “Keep watch!”
James says: “It’s near!”
Paul says: “Thief in the night!”
And yet, I imagine to most of you, to actually start living like it could be today, sounds fairly irrational
Sometimes I think the coming of the end makes more sense to us if we condense the timeframe.
Let’s say you’re placed in a large room with 30 other people and lots of entertainment.
There’s plenty to do there.
They have arcade games.
They have movies to watch.
They even have a few clubs where you can run for office and feel important in the large room.
But as the person who let you all in shuts the door, they tell you, in 5 hours, this entire complex will be set on fire.
You will die unless you leave.
The same is true for others, but you’re the only one who knows.
What would you do?
Would you spend your next 5 hours showing everyone you’re the best gamer in the room?
That you have the best voice for Karaoke?
Would you help the 5 hours pass quickly by vegging out and watching movies?
Would you try and find significance in becoming the club president?
What would you do?
You wouldn’t do any of that, right?
You try everything you could think of in the next 5 hours to try and convince people to stop drowning themselves in distractions and pleasure and run from the fire.
Now, let me ask you, “What’s the difference?”
What’s the difference if we extend it out to 75 years instead of 5 hours?
Most of the truths remain.
Most of us do not spend our lives passionately living for Jesus and helping Him in his mission to rescue people from the fire of judgment.
We get distracted entertaining ourselves and seeking our own significance.
And it’s silly.
Significantly more silly than living as if today could be the day.
Even though God knew it was going to be AT LEAST 2,000 years, I think the Bible is so serious about the “imminence of Christ’s return”...because that doctrine is a serious aid to us living with the right priorities.
Peter is not discussing the end times so that his readers can excitedly draw charts about how the end times will all work out
He’s discussing it so that in light of it, we would change our priorities…our lives.
That we would, as he said, “live Holy and Godly lives”…all the time.
Because it could be any day.
Now, because of the signs listed in Matthew 24, personally, I don’t think it’s going to be in the near future.
But because I know that my interpretation of the signs isn’t perfect, and the Bible warns me it could be imminent, I still need to be ready for the end every day.
Towards the end of his life, the great pastor and evangelist John Wesley was once asked what he would do with his last day if he knew he would die tomorrow?
His reply was this: “I’d do the same thing I do every day. I would teach at my meeting at this hour, I would preach at this hour, and do my morning prayer time at this hour”
In other words, he could say at the end of this life, “I wouldn’t have to live my life any differently if I died tomorrow or if Jesus come back”
He felt like he wouldn’t have to live any differently.
That’s the goal.
A JESUS First sort of life…not a ME first life.
And living like this, will change not just the way you live out your faith, but the way you share it with others.
Speaking of, as many of you know, 4 weeks from today, God is going to do something utterly amazing in this space on Easter weekend.
Last year, we started an outreach where we also did an Easter Egg Hunt after each of our Easter services.
And we saw over 250 first-time visitors on Easter.
We saw 24 people give their lives to Christ for the first time
Many of you sitting here today, started attending our church that day.
We learned, like a good missionary, that this was an incredibly effective way to reach into our suburban culture here
So this year, we’re doing it again, and expecting God to do even greater things.
We’re actually doing 4 services.
1 on Saturday, 3 on Sunday.
And because we’re expecting God to do a lot, we’re going to prepare a lot, and we’re going to pray a lot.
And so I want you to join me in prayer about this day.
So here’s what we’re going to do:
(Put up 5,000 minutes of prayer slide)
We want to prepare for this monumental day in the life of our church with 5,000 minutes of prayer.
We’re looking for 120 people to pray with us for 3 minutes a day for 14 days (which adds up to just over 5,000 minutes of prayer)
So we need 120 of you who will take a packet in the hallway and from March 13th to the 26th, choose any 3 minutes a day to pray that God would move mightily on Easter.
Specifically through you.
Each packet also contains a space for you to keep track of your praying, prayer requests, and 7 lines for you to write down who you want God to help you bring with you.
If you can only come up with 1 or 2 right now….keep praying about it every day. Maybe it’ll be 5 or 7 by the end.
We’ve given you invite cards to invite them as well.
We believe we’re going to see hundreds and hundreds of people walk through those doors on March 27th…and A LOT of people stand up and surrender their lives to Jesus Christ.
And I think many, many of them will be your friends and your family members.
Because we…as a BODY of believers…are going to get on our knees and beg God to do this.
And so please, be a part of this movement.
And we do all this…and we take it seriously…because we know that tomorrow is NOT guaranteed.
Whether it’s the end of our own lives, or Jesus coming back.
So we want to live a different way, because He could come back any day.
LIVE AT PEACE
And when He comes back, He will judge the earth.
And being ready yourself is the most important part of being prepared for the end times.
Let’s jump ahead to verse 14
You’ll have a chance to read all of it in House Groups this week…which anyone can sign-up for any week.
Look at verse 14
(2 Peter 3:14) – NIV
14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.
The most important thing is that we (and our friends) are found blameless…spotless when he comes back.
Which is something we can never do on our own.
The only way we have the spots of our sin forgiven is by letting Jesus Christ take them upon himself on the cross.
That’s why he came and died for us.
And if we believe in Him through faith, he takes our punishment for us.
And when he returns to bring judgment for all the sin of the world…
those whom have trusted in Him…those whom he was so crazy about that He died in their place…He will gather them to himself.
But when the time comes, if people have continued to put off surrendering their lives to Christ, in that time, like in the days of Noah, it will be too late.
But for now, it’s our job to live Godly and holy lives.
And to bravely share of God’s love and mercy.
As we close, look to verses 8 & 9, which we skipped earlier.
(2 Peter 3:8-9) – NIV
8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
See, the Lord isn’t actually slow in coming back (like some say).
He hasn’t forgotten about it, and we dare not say it won’t happen.
What Peter says he’s doing…is he’s being patient.
He’s giving people more time.
The fire of holy justice is coming, and God is holding it back…so more and more may escape out the door before the fire begins.
People say he’s slow in coming, but what if he would have come back 2 months before you were saved?
His slowness in coming is mercy for us all.
It gives us…it gives our friends more time.
So while out of his love, He holds back the fire of judgment, and holds open the door a little longer, let us attempt to usher in as many people through the door, before…
one day when we least expect it, the door will close.
So let’s act now.
Because we truly believe it could be any day, let us live a truly different way. Let’s pray.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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