Sunday, November 10, 2013


“The doctrine of Advent”
by  Pastor Walter Posthuma Th.C. (Hon.HM)
Reading: 2 Peter 1: 12-21 (NKJV)

12 For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. 13 Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, 14 knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. 15 Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease. 16 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 18 And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. {The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.)

May the Lord bless the reading of His Holy Word, and to His Name be all the glory and the praise, now and forever.  Amen! "... We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eye-witnesses of his majesty." -- 2 Pet 1:16 NIV

Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ. One of the people mentioned in the Bible with whom I can identify my self is the apostle Peter. You know, I love to read the stories of this rough fisherman, who, very often, did the wrong thing, and said the wrong thing, but only with the best of intentions. And when I was reading one of his letters the other day, I decided to preach on some of them which I am doing today. I have taken my text for this  from the second letter for reasons which will become clear in a moment. And I am doing this because in the first chapter of his second letter, and in the words of our text, the apostle Peter made a statement which was of great importance to the people he was writing to, and which is also very important for us, the Church of the 21st century. And it is especially important to us, as we are approaching another period of advent.

Let me just remind you, my friends, that the apostle Peter did not write those two letters just to keep up the contact with Christians who were living in exile for the sake of the Gospel, but he wrote those letters in order to encourage those people and to strengthen their faith. You see, these people had difficulties and problems, just as we have from time to time. And as a result their faith in God began to waver and they began to doubt the promises of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, just as we do from time to time. And not only was there persecution and ridicule from a hostile world, which was opposed to Christianity, but there also was trouble and division within the Church, just as happens to the Church today from time to time. False teachers had crept into the Church and they were undermining the faith of the believers. And the main drift of this false teaching was that Jesus was not coming back any-more. "Where is this 'coming' he promised?" they said "Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." 2 Pet 3:4

Jesus was dead and gone forever, and it was no use to be waiting for His second coming, because years had gone by and nothing had happened. And it was for this reason in the first place that Peter had written his letters. To remind the people of the Gospel, and of the things they already knew and in which they were established. Peter's aim was that every Christian who would ever read his letters that they would know and be certain of the truth of all the things they had been taught. He wanted all his readers to be in such a position that, whatever happened to them, they would remain strong in their faith, and bold in their confession.

And therefore he puts before them, and also before us, the doctrines of the Bible. He assures all Christians of the truth of the faith in which they stand. And he does so by explaining the doctrine of the Church, of eternal election, and of the  second coming of Christ, the doctrine of advent. He gives us the assurance that persecution and trial are not the end of the road, but that, as Christ has suffered, so too Christians share in His suffering, In order that they may rejoice and be glad when finally His glory will be revealed.

And that is really the main theme of this second epistle, the revelation of the glory of Christ. The second coming of our Lord, on the clouds of heaven, to judge the world, and to put an end to all wickedness, and unbelief, and persecution. Peter preached the Advent of Christ, in order to encourage and help the people he was writing to. He proclaimed the second coming of Christ in order that all Christians would be enabled to make their calling and election sure. To confirm it, and to stand fast in the belief that, whatever happens to a Christian, God is in control of their lives and their destination.

And today I would like to do the same, and I would also like to encourage you and to strengthen your faith. Faith in Almighty God, who is in control of this whole world and whatever may happen in it and to it. And what better method could I choose than that which the apostle is using? What better way would there be to strengthen your faith than the explanation of the doctrine of Advent, the doctrine of the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ?

Now, we all know this doctrine, or at least, we all ought to know this doctrine because it is the main theme of the Bible. You will find it in the Old as well as in the New Testament. Prophets like Daniel, and Ezekiel, and several of the minor prophets foretold it and had visions about it. The apostles preached it, Jesus Himself spoke about it on several occasions. And the Book of Revelation leaves us without any doubt at all that this world will come to an end, and that the whole human race will be judged by the great Judge, our Lord Jesus Christ.

We know it, my friends, because the Bible tells us all about it. And even those who do not believe the Bible and who do not believe in God, know it. They may not believe it, and they may try to push it out of their minds, but they know it. Deep inside of every creature there is a certain knowledge of God. As the apostle Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans, when he says: "Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law,  since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them. This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares. -- Rom 2:14-16

We all know it, my friends, and we all know that we will not escape from the fact of the second coming of Jesus. We all know that everyone will one day have to stand before the judgement seat of Christ, according to the Scriptures. We know the statement of Jesus Himself, which He told the people around Him, towards the end of His ministry here on earth, when He said: "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, He will sit on His throne in heavenly glory.All the nations will be gathered before him, and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.    -- Mat 25:31-33

We know because the Bible tells us that: “the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from the sky and the heavenly bodies will be shaken; at that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and with great glory”. Matthew 24:29-30We know that one day every knee shall bow and every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord.

We know that, my friends, but, you know, it is so hard to believe it at times. Two thousand years have passed since the day that our Lord ascended into heaven and for all that time the Gospel has been preached, including the doctrine of the second coming, yet nothing has happened so far and the world is still the same. And we could well ask with the scoffers of Peter’s day: “Where is the promise of His coming?” How do we explain the state of the world today?

If we claim that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, and if the Christian message is that this Gospel is miraculous and supernatural, and if we claim that the Son of God came into the world to save the world and put things right again, and if this has been preached for the past two thousand years, then how do we explain the state of the world, and all the wars we have had, and the state of society? How do we explain all the Godlessness in the world today, and the decline of moral standards in our society.

Does it not seem, my friends, that the Gospel has failed, and that the Church and the Christian message has failed? Is there anything in the Gospel at all? These questions are asked, my friends, they were asked in the days of Peter, and they are still being asked today. "Where is the promise of His coming?" How do we know that the Gospel is true, and how do we know that Jesus will come again to judge the world? How can we believe all this and how can we be sure?

And the apostle Peter has the answer for us, my friends, indeed the whole Bible is full of answers for all the questions we may care to bring up. And the answer to our present question is in the doctrine of advent and in the words of our text where Peter says:

["We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eye-witnesses of his majesty."]

I did not tell you any fancy stories, he says, and we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. But we were eye-witnesses of His majesty, when we saw Him with our own eyes in all His heavenly splendour on the mount of transfiguration and when we heard the voice of God. And when I told you that the Lord would come again I declared the Word of God and the facts of the Gospel. 

Jesus is no myth, He is the Truth and is exactly as I confessed Him to be, the Christ, and the Son of the living God. I know, for I have seen Him, I have walked with Him, I have listened to Him, I have touched Him, and I was an eye-witness of His majesty and glory.]

["For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we have simply stated the facts as we have heard it from His own lips.] 

Jesus is true, He is the one who was promised in days of old by the prophets. He is the One of whom it was said that He would be born as a babe in Bethlehem. He is the One of whom it was predicted that He would die for the sins of the world. He is the Messiah according to the Scriptures. And just as sure as all the things that were told and predicted of Him have come true, and have been fulfilled, so too will the prediction and the promise that He will come again to judge the world, come true, and will be fulfilled.

Let us never forget, my friends, that God has a plan for this world. God has a plan of salvation which He has mapped out right from the very beginning of creation. God knew that man would fall and rebel against Him, He knew that Satan would take charge of this world and make a mess of it. And He had His plan ready, and has been working out this plan from the beginning. And He is still working out this plan and will bring it to completion in His own good time and according to His own time table.

And right throughout the history of mankind and the history of God's people, God has worked on His plan. And there were times that it seemed that God's plan came unstuck and that it did not work out. When God looked at the world He has made and when He saw all the wickedness and rebellion, and when He decided to destroy the wicked world with a flood, it seemed all so meaningless, and it did not seem to work out the way that God had planned it. But He kept on working at His plan by keeping Himself a remnant and by starting all over again.

He called Himself a people, beginning with Abraham and his descendants, the people of Israel. And when again it did not seem to work out, and when the people He loved and cared for rejected Him, and when He had to send His own people into exile, even then the plan of God did not come to an end. And exactly as He had told it would happen through the mouth and ministry of His prophets, it happened. In the fulness of time, when everything else seemed to have failed, God Himself stepped into the history of the human race in the Person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, in order to save the world.

And although this part of God's plan also did not seem to work out, when His Son was rejected by the world, and even by His chosen people, and when they crucified the very Son of God. It turned out to be exactly as God had wanted it and planned it. His Son rose from the grave on the third day, He ascended into heaven, and is sitting at the right hand of God, from whence He will come to judge the quick and the dead. And it is therefore that we can see that the doctrine of the second coming, the doctrine of Advent, is also part of God's great plan of salvation. Because we can now look back and see what has happened so-far in this plan, and we can know that this wonderful plan of salvation is not finished yet. There is more to come, my friends, and this wicked world will not have the last say, and God will continue to work out His plan and purpose in His own good time.

And it may seem at times that God is holding back, He will keep His time-table, and the end is as certain as the beginning. And everything that has been predicted and foretold will come to pass. Jesus will come again and sit on His glorious throne, He will judge the world in righteousness, and He will judge the Prince of this world, the devil Satan. And we can be absolutely certain of the victory of Christ and His cause. Whatever may happen in the world around us, my friends, whatever may take place that can make us doubt and wonder, the plan of salvation assures us that the kingdom of God is coming, and that He, who is called the Lord of lords and the King of kings, will triumph and prevail.

And I would like to emphasise this fact, my friends, because there will be times that all this is almost impossible to believe. There will be times that we could almost be deceived, and may loose heart and hope.
Times that it may seem that God is no longer in control and will be defeated. But the Bible tells us and the Word of God assures us that the end is sure and that God will triumph. Jesus will reign, beyond a shadow of a doubt. And the Word of God does not fail, my friends, it has never failed, and everything that has been predicted has come and will come to pass.

People may deride this doctrine, they may ridicule and scoff at it, and they may not believe it. But the same God who promised to send His Son into this sinful world, and who did sent His Son, will also make sure that this doctrine of Advent and the second coming of our Lord will come to pass without fail. The same Jesus who was promised to come the first time, and who did come the first time, has also promised to come the second time, and will come the second time. God's Word will not and can not fail, and the Gospel will not fail either. It may seem so at times, but it will have its effect without fail and in due time.

You see, my friends, the Gospel never promised a better world. That's where a lot of people go astray, but the Gospel never proclaims that this world will get better and better. It simply states that this world is sinful and will remain sinful, until the time it will be destroyed. The business of the Gospel is not to make a better world to live in, but it is to show us the way out of this sinful world and into the kingdom of God. And during the two thousand years that the Gospel has been preached, it has been, and still is, the power unto salvation for all who believe it.

For centuries it has been taking people out of the realm of corruption and sin and Satan, and has put them into the everlasting kingdom of God. It has, and still is, saving people from this wayward and perverse generation, and has gathered people from every tribe and nation and saved them from the wrath to come, saved them from eternal damnation and condemnation of a righteous God. Oh no, my friends, the Gospel has not failed and will never fail. It will go on proclaiming salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

It will continue to declare that all who believe in the Lord Jesus and who obey His commandments, will not come into judgement, and will be fully acquitted on the Day of Jesus Christ. "We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eye-witnesses of his majesty." said the apostle Peter in the words of our text. And he could have added: "but we have preached to you the true Gospel and told you the Gospel truth. And that statement he made was of vital importance to the people he was writing to, the Church of the dispersion. Because these people needed to hear this message in order to have their faith strengthened and to be encouraged.

And we, as Christians of the 21st Century, also need to hear the same message. This statement is also of vital importance to you and me, my friends, because we also are living in a world that is anti-God and anti-Christian, and in which everything seems to go wrong. And we also need to hear that, what we have believed, and what we have put our trust in, is not some kind of fable or myth, but it is the Gospel truth. We also need to be encouraged by the fact that God is still in control, that He has not left us to our own devices, but that He is with us, and will be with us, even till the end of time.

And if we  believe the Gospel, my friends, and if we believe that it is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, And if we trust in Jesus and only in Jesus for our eternal salvation, If we are truly Christians and believe the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, Then, my friends, we can only come to one conclusion, we need to tell others about it. We need to be aware that there is not a moment to spare and that we need to tell others and warn them to flee from the wrath to come.

We need to be urgent in season and out of season and continue to proclaim the Gospel of salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ. Continue to proclaim the Gospel which tells us that there is a way out of the sordid mess that this world has got itself into. And we need to point them to that way, which is the Lord Jesus Christ. We need to tell them of the love of God, which was so great that, rather than letting people go to their eternal destruction, He sent His Son, that by believing in Him, people don't have to perish, but can have eternal life and eternal happiness. ["We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eye-witnesses of his majesty."]

Peter had seen the Lord, he knew all about Him. And he has passed the message on to us so that we may be encouraged and strengthened in our faith. And so that we may know that, no matter what happens in the world around us, and no matter what may happen to us, God is in control, and is working out His Plan and purpose. And we can be sure that He will fulfil all His promises and that not one of them will fail.

We can be sure, my friends, that the little Babe of Bethlehem, whose birthday we will again be celebrating soon, the Lord willing. That this Babe, born in a stable, and laid in a manger, really was the Son of God. Who came to this earth to save mankind from their sins, and to take upon Himself the judgement and the punishment which was due to us, which He bore on the cross of Calvary.

And we can also be sure that this same Jesus will come again, not to condemn us, but to take us home, that where He is we may be also. Then we can also be sure that, on that last day of advent, we will hear His voice; "Come, you who are blessed by My Father, take your inheritance that was prepared for you from the creation of the world”. May God grant that we all can look forward to the coming of our Lord, and to the introduction of the kingdom of righteousness, and peace, and glory, which will never cease. And to His Name be all the glory and the praise, now and forever.   Amen!

The Lord bless you and keep you,

The Lord makes His face to shine upon you

And be gracious unto you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you

And give you peace.   Amen.

by  Pastor Walter Posthuma Th.C. (Hon.HM)