Signs of the Coming of Christ
Christians look forward to Jesus’ second coming. He has redeemed us from sin, death, and the power of the devil. Our sins have all been forgiven on account of what Jesus has done for us upon the cross. Salvation is a gift of God’s grace in Christ that is received by faith alone. When Jesus comes again in glory, the whole world will know that the Gospel is true! The dead will be raised, believers will receive eternal life in Christ, and unbelievers will be condemned for having rejected Jesus. We who believe in Jesus have nothing to fear.
But why does Jesus seem to delay His second coming and what will the signs of His coming be? Jesus has not delayed His second coming. Just as Jesus was born at just the right time in human history, so He will come again at just the right moment. This apparent delay is no delay at all. It is a time for us to be the body of Christ—to reach out in love to those who do not know Him, to call to repentance, to preach the Gospel, to confess our faith by the lives that we live, to pray for our enemies, and to suffer persecution patiently for the name of Jesus. All of this shows that we are the body of Christ and testifies to His love for a fallen world.
Jesus does not tell us when He will return, so that we do not become complacent. We are called to live each day as if He could return at any moment. Nevertheless, in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 He does give us signs which are intended to encourage faith and teach us to rely upon His faithful Word alone. Using Luke 21:5-38, the following five signs emerge:
1. The appearance of false teachers who claim to represent Jesus (vs. eight) Satan’s kingdom is ultimately one in which he seeks to destroy true faith in the Lord Jesus as the only Savior from sin through His death and resurrection. Just as the pure Gospel of God’s love and forgiveness for us in Christ is the only source of faith, so false teaching is the source of unbelief and the rejection of Jesus. The Church is engaged in spiritual warfare. The kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of Satan are set against each other. The enmity between faith and unbelief, between the Seed of the Woman and the seed of the serpent is as old as the fall into sin itself. But this is a war that is waged by words: the Word of God versus the lies, deceit, and false teaching of the devil. False teaching will always direct people away from seeing their true need for Christ to some form of self-reliance. ““Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them.” (Vs. 8).
2. War and human strife will continue throughout human history (vs. 9-10, 25) Man’s inability to rescue himself from his own sin (self-centeredness, self-righteousness, pride, and arrogance) will continue to manifest itself in every form of violence—from the wars that have plagued human history to the skirmishes and riots on the streets of our cities. All of this shows how desperately we need the salvation of Christ. “But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately…Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” (Vss. 9-10)
3. The occurrence of troubling signs in creation: earthquakes, famines, pestilences, and the unknown (vs. 11, 25-26) On account of man’s sin and to continually show us our need for salvation in Christ, God cursed the creation. The curse of the fall has a devastating effect upon the whole of creation. It includes not only the pain of childbirth and the toil of daily work, but every form of brokenness that we observe in creation. “And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.” (Vs. 11) “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. (Vss. 25-26).
4. The hatred of Christians because of Jesus, which will result in public persecution and personal betrayal (vs. 12-19) The apostles Peter and John rejoiced when they suffered imprisonment and flogging for preaching the Gospel. Persecution and suffering for Jesus’ sake is a sign that we belong to Christ and gives us occasion to testify to the Gospel. Persecution will come from the government and even from false Christians and members of our own families, but in each case the Lord promises to give us the words to speak by which we will faithfully testify to the Lord Jesus and to His suffering and death for the world’s salvation. “They will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake. 13 But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. 14 Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. 18 But not a hair of your head shall be lost. 19 By your patience possess your souls.” (vss. 12-19)
5. Fear and despair because of all of these signs (vs.25-28) It is clear from Jesus’ words of warning that many of the signs leading up to His Second Coming will affect unbelievers as well as believers. “Men’s hearts failing them from fear and expectation of those things which are coming on the earth…” is an expression describing the unbelief that we see evidenced in our world today. Fear of so many things in our own society and culture can quickly accelerate into chaos and a disintegration of civil order. Through such manifestations of fear and disorder we again see the utter folly in man’s attempt to be his own god and savior. For us as Christians, these signs are not to be feared but are rather to be interpreted as signs that our Savior’s coming is near: “There will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; 26 men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” (Vss. 25-28)
In A.D. 33, Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem (vss. 5-6, 20-24). It happened just as Jesus’ described. In A.D 70 Roman armies surrounded Jerusalem, laid siege to the city and destroyed the Temple. Jesus interpreted the event before it took place, calling it a sign of God’s judgment and wrath against unbelief, but also a call to repentance. We should interpret many of the signs of the Second Coming in the same way. The destruction of the Temple would serve as a pattern for what the Church could expect before Jesus’ Second Coming. As horrible as the suffering was in A.D. 70, and as difficult as the suffering will be in the signs leading up to Jesus’ Second Coming, for the Christian and the Church, all such suffering gives us occasion to bear witness to the suffering of Jesus for the sins of the world.
Jesus catechesis bids us to watch and pray. This means that we are called to be ever vigilant in the study of the Scriptures and in calling upon the Lord for the strength and faith He promises to give. The Lord who suffered all, even death itself for our salvation, will enable us to endure the signs of His Second coming with joy and confidence. “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. 35 For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy[c] to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Vss. 34-36).
Peace Bits and Pieces
News and Notes
Advent Midweek Services— Advent is a time of preparation for the celebration of the birth of Christ. It is a penitential season, like Lent, but it also emphasizes the Christian’s hope for Christ’s Second Coming. We are on a pilgrimage through this vale of tears until Christ returns again in glory. Watchfulness, patience, attentiveness to God’s Word and prayer characterize this season of the Church Year. Under the cross of persecution and the curse of the fall, we live in joyful anticipation of Christ’s return. Throughout our pilgrimage we confess Christ, live in daily repentance, and bear witness to Him before the world which so desperately needs Christ’s salvation. Advent Midweek Divine Services are Wednesdays, November 30, December 7, 14, and 21 at 2:30 and 6:45, and will focus upon the theme: “Come, Lord Jesus,” using the Sunday epistle readings:
- November 30: “To Wake from Sleep” – Romans 13:11-14
- December 7: “The Source of Our Hope” – Romans 15:4-13
- December 14: “Stewards of the Mysteries” – 1 Corinthians 4:1-5
- December 21: “The Peace of God that Surpasses Understanding” – Philippians 4:4-7
“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”
Sunday School Advent/Christmas Program
On December 4, an Advent/Christmas Program on the Great O Antiphons will be held during the Sunday School hour on December 4. The program will involve preschoolers through children in the 8th grade. Preparation for the program will be held during the opening of Sunday School from now until the day of the program. Joint practice for the program will be this Saturday, December 3, from 9 to 11.
26th Annual Christmas Service
of Lessons and Carols
The First Nowell, Once in Royal David’s City, and Carols by John Rutter will highlight this year’s Service of Lessons and Carols. The service will be offered twice, after the fish fry on December 16 and at 10:30 on Sunday, December 18. Invite neighbors, friends and family to join you for the service.
- Friday, December 16 at 7:00 p.m. after the Fish Fry
- Sunday, December 18 at 10:30 a.m.
Christmas Festival Service Schedule:
The Cherub and Academy choirs sing at the 4:00 p.m. Christmas Eve Divine Service. The late service on Christmas Eve will be a candlelight communion service at 8:00 p.m. led by the Senior Choir. There will be only one service on Sunday, Christmas Day, and on Sunday, New Year’s Day this year. Both services will be at 9:30 a.m. New Year’s Eve will feature the Service of Corporate Confession with Individual Absolutions given to all at the communion rail. The Epiphany of Our Lord will be celebrated at the Wednesday Divine Service, January 4 at 6:45 p.m.
- Christmas Eve Divine Service at 4:00
- Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion Service at 8:00 p.m.
- Christmas Day Divine Service at 9:30 a.m.
- New Year’s Eve Divine Service, December 31 at 6:30 p.m.
- New Year’s Day Divine Service, January 1 at 9:30 a.m.
- Epiphany of Our Lord, Celebrated on Wednesday, January 4, at 6:45 p.m.
Goods and Services Auction Is February 26, 2017
Invite guests to attend the Goods and Services Auction in support of the Peace Lutheran Academy. The Goods and Services Auction is the single biggest fundraiser for the Academy. In the past we have netted as much as $15,000 for the Academy. We would love to see the auction continue to grow in the goods and services offered and in the money raised.
Please sign up early to donate an item or service for the auction. Auction donation forms are located in the Narthex at the SCRIP counter. The deadline for auction items is February 10, 2017–But don’t delay! Bringing guests and friends to bid on items is a tremendous benefit to the academy. To make reservations, please pick up a reservation form at the SCRIP counter in the Narthex or in the office. Thank you.
Volunteers are always needed to help with the Goods and Services Auction. There are all kinds of chores to do before the day of the auction and during the weekend of the auction which can be a lot of fun! Volunteering is a good way to get to know more folks in the congregation and academy. Contact Karen Frerking if you are interested in volunteering. Sorting and arranging donated items, setting up the display tables at the Silver Spring Country Club, baking tasty treats for the bake sale, and a whole lot more. Let’s all pitch in and make this the best Goods and Services Auction ever!