8th December 2011
A MESSAGE ON ‘ADVENT'
by Rev Perry Smith
Dictionary definitions are interesting! Consider 3 aspects of Advent.
1) PREPARATION for a FESTIVITY. Commercially, domestically - but spiritually? Presents, food etc. How do we celebrate this birthday? Why did He come? ‘My God incarnated for me!' (MHB 135) "Our God contracted to a span" (TiS 305).
2) REALISATION of a FELLOWSHIP. ‘Realisation' has two meanings:
a) To understand clearly or in detail. O.T. choice souls had special glimpses: in a cloud, fire, glory - for special purposes on special occasions. BUT a different expectation of a Messiah. Later ‘the time had fully come' (Gal 4:4), at Incarnation; at Pentecost by the Holy Spirit; and now at personal conversion (John 1:12).
b) To convert into fact, like converting assets into money. It is a more conscious, realised possession. True Christians don't just have a theory, or live on a memory, but we know a reality - Jesus Christ!
3) ANTICIPATION of a FINALE. We must respond personally to His first coming, to be ready for His second coming - mentioned about 300 times by Jesus and N.T. writers in all but the 3 smallest N.T. books. Some say 1 in 25 verses of N.T. Note the Creeds and Holy Communion - ‘in remembrance... proclaim... until He comes' (I Cor 11:25-6). Culmination of apostolic preaching - Jesus was incarnate, lived, died, rose again, ascended, sent the Holy Spirit and ‘He will come again in glory'!
Consider the Parable of the Wise & Foolish Maidens in Matthew 25: 1-13):
* The Arrival of the Bridegroom. The event certain; the time uncertain! Note the delay (5) and suddenness ((6). Why 5 wise and 5 foolish?
* The Acceptance of the Wise. Sudden crisis! He's here! Other N.T. illustrations by Jesus, Paul, Peter - thief, lightning, swoop of an eagle, a bursting flood, judgement on Sodom, 2 women at a mill, 2 men in a field, 2 in bed... one taken, one left!
Grasp v.10. The shut door! The oil? - spiritual possession, not mere profession!
* The Anguish of the Foolish. Outwardly they seemed alike, but the crisis divided. They were Unreal - outward formality, no inward reality. Unready - could not
Not borrow oil - like Christian experience. Unrecognised - ‘I don't know you!'
Unreceived - shut door separated accepted and rejected! cf. Noah's Ark's door.
N.T. emphasis on the Second Coming: No fear, be holy, be busy, encouraging others as the ‘Day' approaches (Hebs 10:25). ‘BE READY'. ‘No condemnation' if we are ‘in Christ Jesus' (Rom 8:1). But be sure that you are in Him! He will wind up
God's purposes. The ‘signs' are being fulfilled. Respond to his first coming by His Incarnation, Cross and Resurrection. Then be ready for His final coming in glory!
History (His-story!) is going somewhere. God is in control. The CHRISTIAN HOPE! The curtain will fall on history as we know it. Study the Scriptures. Be ready!