Why Why Why?
Jackson Snyder

Biblical Literature ArcCenter Home    Challenging Sermons

 

Romans 8:17-25, Matthew 9:14-17

 

Questions and Quandries

            World

              Why does it seem that the whole world is in upheaval?

              Why has there been unending world war throughout this century?

              Why has the weather and climate been changing so markedly?

              Why are we now facing an economic crisis of dynamic proportions?

              Why does time seem to be moving so fast?

              Why has our culture decayed in the last 30 years?

            Church

              Why are people so unsettled and insecure in their faith in God?

              Why is the Church of God in such upheaval and foment?

              Why are Christians so ignorant of God's plan for the world?

              Why does sin prevail on earth in spite of prayers and promises?

              Why do so many suffer if God is omnipotent and benevolent?

            Personal Realm

              Why are marriages falling apart at alarming rates?

              Why are our youth so disturbed, neglected and hopeless?

              Why can't we maintain relationships any more?

              Why can't we seem to "get on top of things" like we should?

              Why, why, why?

            We want answers to our questions, but the old formulas and pat answers no longer seem to hold true.  We want to know what's going on.  We want to know what God is doing. 

 

The Last Days

            I believe the Bible points to these days as being what it calls the "last days."  I'm not a doomsday prophet, yet I can't help but to perceive what Jesus called the "signs of the end times."  Jesus describes the signs to look for to determine what the "last days" would look like.  In Luke 21:

              The Jerusalem Temple will be torn down.   It is.

              Jerusalem surrounded by armies. It is. The armed man at Dead Sea.

              Wars will prevail.  They do.  A century of world war.

              Great earthquakes.  They are occurring with alarming frequency.

              Famines.  Unprecedented in the history of the world.

              Plagues.  New and incurable plagues, like AIDS and Ebola.

              Terrors.  The threat of nuclear immolation.

              Signs in the sky.  UFOs, space travel, and crashing comets.

              Persecutions.  Barrett - 300,000 martyrs every year.

              Perplexity.  Confusion despite increased knowledge.

              Inclement weather.  The last six years have baffled...

              Heart attacks.  The greatest killer.

              False Christs.  A cult on every corner.

              Powers of the heavens shaken.  The supernatural disturbed.

 

            In addition, Paul writes to Timothy concerning the nature of humanity in these end times.  Listen to his words, and realize that they must be for today.

2 Timothy 3:1-5a ...There will be terrible times in the last days. {2} People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, {3} without agape, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, {4} treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-- {5} having a form of godliness but denying its power.

            And in these words we find the crux of our moral crisis in this country - people in denial of the power of God - yet another sign of the last days.  Such brute beasts as these will make life as a Christian very difficult and woeful, for Jesus also predicted that those who stubbornly clung to his name would have to endure much for his sake.  He warned that in the last days,

“You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. {17} All men will hate you because of me. {18} But not a hair of your head will perish. {19} By standing firm you will gain life” (Luke 21:16-19).

            Today, Satan is moving in with every power that he has.  Through our times of distress, we must remain in Jesus, and take joy in his promise of redemption and restoration, constantly remembering the words he spoke to us about troubles:

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. {12} Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven ...(Matthew 5:11-12a).

Rejoice and be glad - if Jesus told us to rejoice when people speak lies about us, then our eventual reward for endurance must really be outstanding.

 

            The only prediction as yet unfulfilled is the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem, and the restoration of the sacrificing of animals, which Jesus calls "the abomination of desolation."  Believe it or not, the new temple is in the final stages of preparation.  After its rebuilding, you “will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:27). 

            That "cloud" he is coming in will not be made of water vapor, but it will be a "cloud of witnesses" (Heb 12:1) - consisting of myriads of angels and resurrected saints of God - coming to judge sin and sinners, and bring the world and God's children, into restoration and redemption.  If you have given your life to Jesus, and you are living your life dedicated to his service, you will take a prominent place in the scenario of the "end times."

            These last days that we are now living in will be days of great trouble poured out into the old wineskin we call Earth. 

Rom 8: {20} For the creation is subjected to frustration ... in hope {21} that it will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. {22} We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

This new move of God on the Earth is bursting the wineskin of our planet just as a new child bursts forth from the womb of her mother in due time.  And if creation is pregnant and groaning and bursting under the strain of God's move in these last days, then

{23} ... we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for ... the redemption of our bodies. ... {25} But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

If you are regenerated and reborn by the Spirit of God, you can't help but be in turmoil in these days, for you are pregnant and groaning and bursting inside whether you realize it or not ... bursting with the hope of your remaking, restoration and bodily redemption, for which you have little recourse but to wait patiently and utilize the spiritual resources that God is bestowing.  Like the patient and faithful Job, our hearts convince us that "inside we are like bottled-up wine, like new wineskins ready to burst" (Job 32:19).

            For God is not just allowing perplexity, perversity, and turbulence to reign, but He is also doing a new thing among the remnant of his children who must endure the suffering of their eventual redemption.  For just as Peter proclaimed hope at Pentecost, God himself announces good news to we who are groaning today, saying

In the last days ... I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams (Acts 2:17).

 

A Century of Renewal

            The 20th Century has been a century of war and turmoil, but it has also been the century of God's promised spiritual outpouring.

            In the United States, no section of the population has been overlooked by God - the Spirit has fallen among the poor and rich, the sick and the whole - renewing entire denominations - converting heathens and pagans of every stripe - infiltrating the modernistic mainline denominations - even restoring a segment of the Roman Catholic Church to authentic Christianity by the 1960's.

            And now in the 90's, God is pouring out a last great draught of new wine into his old wineskins.  This "last cool drink" finally broke out on June 18th, 1995 right here in Pensacola.  Several of us have been affected by this outpouring - several of us have been nourished by this new wine - some folks here will yet receive what God has for them if they will step out in faith to receive - others will receive nothing.

 

The Five Rs

            Where must we as the church and individuals go if God is to fulfill his plan in our lifetimes?  I can answer this question by using five key words that all begin with the letter "R."  They are Renewal, Renovation, Revival, Revelation, and Restoration.

            Renewal  What the believers are experiencing in Pensacola today, especially where the Spirit has broken out, is called a "renewal."  People are getting saved, filled with the Spirit, set free of family curses and demonic influences such as witchcraft, and filled with supernatural joy and proof of God's existence.  It is renewal - being made new again in the image of God.

            People are reacting to the influence of the Spirit in different ways - some are "resting in the Spirit," some are quaking and shaking, some are running and jumping, others are laughing or crying or cheering uncontrollably.  A renewal is really a Holy Ghost party.  Rick Joyner sums up what God is doing in renewal with a marvelous metaphor:

The last thing I want my kids doing after one of our play sessions is to try to figure out what this or that kind of tickling meant.  The deepest meaning to anything I did was that I just wanted to have fun with them, and wanted them to enjoy it as much as I did.  That is exactly what the Father is doing with his kids in many of these meetings (Vision #4, p. 3).

            Friends, if you love God and are called according to his purpose, you will be facing hard times ahead in these last days.  You need to be "tickled."

Renovation

            Last week I was talking to two young men who had just gotten saved at a renewal meeting.  We were sitting in the bus and I was witnessing to them.  One said, "We went to the meeting to make fun of the people there, but we both got saved instead.  I feel completely different, but I'm really struggling with sin in my life.  What should I do now?"

            The question is, "What should the church do now?"  There is going to be a lot of new wine poured into the old wine skins of the church.  The old wine is not going to satisfy or nourish the renewed.  Saying the creed or singing the doxology or lighting the candles will mean nothing to those to whom we must now minister.  Jesus said, "New wine requires new skins - it will burst the old."

            The old church must be willing to renovate, or new churches will form and the old and stubborn ways will die.  Renewed men, women, and children do not respond to tradition and dead "forms of godliness" - they want to see Jesus - and they need to be taught discipleship.  Is the church ready for renovation?  It better be.  Have we decided to be mission minded?  Or are we fed up with enduring "growing pains?"  Are we here willing to accept those bursting with the Spirit of God, or are we content to let them pass on?  We must renovate - you must renovate.

Revival

            After renewal and renovation, the next stage is revival.  Revival is not what we do once a year.  Revival is a strong movement of God that transcends national or cultural boundaries, and brings forth a change in the attitudes of people and their culture.  People who are in revival are (1) full of the Spirit, (2) have a correct and Biblical understanding of what it means to be a disciple of Christ, and (3) are engaged in doing the same works on earth that Jesus did.  Those who are revived are succeeding in making a difference in the world for God. 

            Yet revival is not merely an individual thing, it is a corporate, body movement.  When the body of Christ moves, the world is changed, and the children of God are revealed.  The next stage is Revelation.   

Revelation

            Romans 8:19 tells us that "The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed."  Although I have thought about this verse a lot, I admit that I don't understand it.  But in some way, it seems, in the end time, when all hope is about gone for a ruptured creation, those who are reborn into the image of Christ will be revealed to the world, and will take an important part in bringing restoration to the Earth. 

            God promises a new heaven and a new earth.  I believe that the revealed children of God will be disclosed to the world and take a major role in its rebuilding and restoration. 

Restoration      

            Restoration is the final of the five "R"s.  The children of God will be revealed and Christ will come with his minions to set all things in order.  The Jesus Christ will reign on Earth, and we will reign with him.  Then we will witness what John wrote about in his Revelation:

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. ... The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. {13} The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done (Revelation 20:12-13). 

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. {2} I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. {3} And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. {4} He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away" (Revelation 21:1-4).

 

Invitation

            Beloved, we find our important questions regarding our world answered in scripture.  It is true that we are now experiencing global trauma unlike at any time - as though these were really the "last days" that prophets like Jesus predicted.  But we are also experiencing an outpouring of the Spirit of God unprecedented in the history of salvation.  Although we as God's children must endure much, much power is being given through which we might overcome.  Are you being filled with the Spirit in these last days?  Are you receiving your share?  Don't let this flagon of wonderful new wine pass your cup by.