Today Pastor Choi reminds God’s people of Christ’s Second Coming and God’s judgment. Unlike His first coming (He came for the forgiveness of sin), this time Christ will come for the judgment of the world. Based on the water judgment during Noah’s time, the sermon points out to the cause of divine judgment—the wickedness of humankind. Pastor Choi also exhorts the congregation to be ready for the coming, to beware of the scoffers, to love fervently, and to pray for the salvation of family members.
Water and Fire
Following is a summary of the sermon:
Water and Fire Genesis 6:5-8, 2 Peter 3:1-15
Genesis 6:5-8 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7 The Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
2 Peter 3:1-15 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.
3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” 5 For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.
11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.
14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation;
One of Jesus’ promises that has yet to be fulfilled is His second coming. “Surely I am coming soon,” said He (Revelation 22:20). Yes, He will be back again one day, but this time, unlike His first coming, it won’t be for the forgiveness of sins, but for the judgment of the world (Hebrews 9:28—“28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.”
Although some of us don’t want to hear a sermon on God’s judgment or Jesus’ second coming, it is my duty as preacher to speak about it lest we forget. After all, Jesus talked about it, so did all the apostles, and so should I. By the way, if you think you hear too often such a sermon from me, think again. I preach on this topic once a year. That’s about my average: one out of about 45 sermons each year. Wouldn’t you agree that this important topic deserves at least one sermon a year, if not more?
This morning we are going to think about God’s judgment and Jesus’ second coming. Let me begin with the history of God’s judgment. The first universal judgment of God recorded in the Bible fell upon humanity many years ago in the time of Noah. We are familiar with the story of Noah and his Ark. Some of us even watched the recent movie “Noah”—by the way, don’t believe everything the movie says about God and Noah. Some of them are untrue: “The film’s director Darron Aronofsky, even he’s described the movie as the least biblical film ever made…” (http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/noah-controversial-biblical-film-critcized-taking-liberties-23047843.) Rather, read the whole story in the Bible—God’s authentic script.
Who was Noah? He was the man who built a huge boat called an ark on top of a mountain. The ark was huge—450 feet-long, 75 feet-wide, and 45 feet-high! It was longer than a football field (360’ x 160’) and almost three-stories high.
Let’s not forget. The ark wasn’t just for the sake of having fun with the animals! That’s in the children’s storybook. The real reason for it was that God wanted to have a fresh start with a new humanity after wiping off the old sinful humanity from the earth. Do you know what brought down the water judgment to the old humanity? The wickedness of man, the Bible says. “5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). God was sorry that He made humanity and was grieved in His heart (Genesis 6:6). The wickedness of man brought down the judgment on the earth.
I need to speak a little about God’s judgment. Some of us don’t like the idea of God’s judgment claiming that God is the God of love. But, that’s not the entire picture of God in the Bible. Yes, the Bible indeed says that God is love and He loves the people in the world (John 3:16). However, that’s only one part. The other side of God is holy and righteous in whose presence no sin, wickedness or evil can stand (like no darkness is allowed in the presence of light). We need to have the healthy balance of the both: love and judgment, grace and holiness, mercy and truth.
You may argue that in Noah’s time there must have been some good people who did some good that the world didn’t deserve to be punished. I understand your reasoning. However, you must remember that it is God who makes the judgment call, not we humans. I would rather leave it to God who is the fairest of all and who knows what He is doing. In my opinion, He makes the fairest judgment call. If He says that He was grieved because the world was corrupt, and if He says that He would make an end of all flesh because of the violence that filled the earth (Genesis 6:11), who am I to say “no” to God? After all, it was His creation and He owned them. Whatever He does, I accept His judgment call as righteous and fair. We may not like what He does, we may disagree with His criteria, we may even pray to change His mind, yet as far as the final decision is concerned, it rests with Him.
So, when the wickedness of man became too much for God, He decided to blot out any trace of evil and wickedness with water: by sending rain for forty days that resulted in a universal flood. He only saved Noah and his family (all together eight) along with all the animals (two of every kind—male and female, Genesis 6:19. Compare Genesis 7:2, 3—seven pairs of clean animals, two pairs of unclean animals, and seven pairs of birds). The rest of the world all drowned. None survived the flood except the ark and those in it. Why were Noah and his family spared from the water judgment? Because, the Bible says, he alone was righteous before God in his generation (Genesis 7:1).
I hope you begin to see the pattern of judgment—what causes it, who is spared, and who aren’t. It began with the human sins/wickedness that covered the entire world. It was so bad that God was sorry for His own creation. It grieved Him very much. God came up with a plan to fix the problem. Only one way, He concluded, start anew. So, that’s what He did with Noah’s family. After the flood, God gave them a promise that He would not bring another water judgment to humanity. As a token of His promise, He gave them the rainbow in the sky (Genesis 9:13-17).
Now, move the time table from Noah and enter the world of Jesus and His disciples, Paul and Peter. Welcome to the first century. Was humankind in the first century any better or morally improved than the people in the time of Noah? Not really. They were more or less the same, if not worse. A wicked, adulterous, and sinful generation, Jesus called them (Matthew 12:39, Mark 8:38). Paul the apostle picked up where Jesus left and continued in Romans 1:29-32 (NASB). “ 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.”
Now, fast forward the time 2000 years into the 21st century. What about now—the present world we are living in? Are we any better than those folks in the first century? I wish I could say so in a heartbeat. But, I cannot. I am afraid we are worse than they. Here’s one example. E.g. “The Guilty Go Free—-I saw it the other day. It was in the paper. You probably saw it also. It wasn’t headline news, but it might have served a good purpose if it had been. It read something like this: ‘Sensation hungry spectators, disappointed when a 19-year-old gas station attendant abandoned a suicide attempt, taunted him into jumping to his death from a 104-foot water tower Thursday. A fire department official said the youth, Juergen Peters, climbed an iron ladder to the top of the tower and threatened to commit suicide following a dispute at the filling station where he worked. He changed his mind and was climbing back down when the taunts began. ‘Jump, you coward, jump!’ someone shouted from the crowd. As Peters moved lower the taunts became louder. He hesitated, looked at the crowd, then began to climb back to the top. At the top he moved out on a parapet and flung himself off.” (Don E. Wildman, March 1996).
I believe we are already living in the end times. Perhaps, we are in the end of the end times. Listen to Paul who prophesied what it is going to be like in the last days: “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power;” (2 Timothy 3:1-5, NASB).
Once again, hold onto your urge to argue that the world is not as bad as the Bible says that deserves a divine judgment. Let’s leave it to God.
Let me sum up how God’s judgment works: the wickedness of people and corruption of the world grieves God, which leads Him to a judgment. The next judgment won’t come with water, but with fire. In fact, that’s what Peter the apostle saw coming. He says that there will be a judgment from God through fire against the ungodly. Listen to 2 Peter 3: 6-7 (NASB): “the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.”
Knowing all about the coming judgment, I would like to recommend us to do the following.
First, be ready for His coming (Matthew 24:36-44), for we don’t know when He is coming (Matthew 25:13). Watch and pray (Matthew 24:42). Two thoughts God gave to me in this regard: stay alert in prayer and do not be deceived by false prophets and false christs (Matthew 24:4, 24). There will be many of them in the last days and we are already seeing some of them.
Next, beware of the scoffers. Peter warns that some folks will make fun of us waiting for Jesus’ coming. 2 Peter 3:3-4, 8 says, “…in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation…. 8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
Thirdly, love one another fervently. Peter exhorts us as follows: 7 The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. 8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:7-8).
Listen to Peter once again. “ 11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.
14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation;” (2 Peter 3:11-15).
One last thing: be sure to pray for your family members to be included in salvation. Pray fervently for their salvation. E.g. I pray daily for my family for 40 years.
As far as the exact time and date go, no one knows except God and it is not for us to know (Acts 1:7). But, I know it is getting closer. We don’t have to panic about the coming judgment. He is coming for us. All we need to do is to prepare. Like Noah was. God promises to save the righteous like He did Noah. You and I are righteous before God because of Jesus. Mind you that the righteousness here is not our own, but that of Jesus. Our righteousness is through the redemptive blood of Jesus Christ our Lord, not self-righteousness or a good moral life-style. Never forget that.
John Wesley once was asked what he would do today if tomorrow would be the last day of the earth. He said, “I will live as exactly as I did yesterday.” He was ready. Are you ready?