Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Plan: One Great Big Advent

Every now and then, a really important idea crops up on Twitter, a new-fangled social networking tool that allows individuals to put up their thoughts for others in the Twitter universe (the “Twitterverse”) to see. As I was considering what to preach on this Advent season, I was struck by one “tweet” in particular, posted by a pastor named Tim Brister in Cape Coral, Florida. In his tweet, Tim quotes from a book The Bible and the Future by Anthony A. Hoekema.  Here’s the quote: 
The loss of a lively, vital anticipation of the 2nd coming of Christ is a sign of a most serious spiritual malady in the church. (110)
That grabbed my attention because I agree that this is a very serious problem in the contemporary church. Advent is not just a celebration of the first coming of Jesus Christ, it is primarily aimed at reminding the church that Christ will come again.  Advent is the seasonal reminder to us that the little babe in the manger really is our King.  Advent invites us to ask ourselves the critical question again:  Do we really believe this?  If you do, if you accept by faith that Jesus, the Incarnate One, suffered and died for your sins, how does that play out in your life?  Does it show in your life? This is a huge question for all people in the church because an un-transformed life implies an un-regenerate heart that pays lip service to the crucifixion of Jesus but doesn’t really accept it as sufficient for salvation.

I think that is at the crux of the quote above.  The loss of the vital anticipation of the second coming of Christ is a “most serious spiritual malady” because it implies that there is tremendous unbelief in the contemporary church.  So what should we do?

I looked up the book from whence the Hoekema quote came and read a bit further.
Though there may be differences between us on various aspects of [the doctrine of the second coming], all Christians should live in the light of that expectation every day anew. [Emphasis added]
All Christians should live in the light of that expectation [of the second coming] every day anew.  As a result of this, I have been led to spend all four weeks of Advent on the topic of living in light of the expectation that Christ will indeed return.  How should we live in the light of this reality?

1 Peter gives us some great insight into this question.  We’ll explore four exhortations for how those who are born again live in light of the awaited second coming of Christ.  The overarching theme for this series is: “Prepare for Action: Readying Ourselves for the Arrival of the King.”  Christians who are living in the hope of Christ’s return are exhorted to:
  1. Set our hope fully on the grace to come (1 Peter 1:10-13)
  2. Be holy in all conduct (1 Peter 1:14-16)
  3. Have a holy fear throughout the time of waiting (1 Peter 1:17-21)
  4. Love one another in purity (1 Peter 1:22-25)
I’m really excited out this next series, and I hope you will join us in our preparations for the arrival of our King!

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