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Jeanne Dixon, Move Over!

Revelation 1:1-19

Here is a great word of promise about the future. It’s found in the second letter of Peter beginning to read at the third chapter, the first verse. Remember, please. This is the Word of God. “This is now the second letter that I have written to you, beloved, and in both of them, I have aroused your sincere mind by way of reminder that you should remember the predictions of the Holy Prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles. First of all, you must understand this, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own passions and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation.’ They deliberately ignore this fact that by the Word of God heavens existed long ago, and an earth formed out of water and by means of water, through which the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist have been stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

“But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up.

“Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be kindled and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire. But according to His promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness shall dwell.” 

Soli Deo gloria. To God alone be the glory.

Let us pray. Now may the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God, our Rock, and our Redeemer. Amen.

Today, I want to talk with you about the future. But before I can do that, I must first speak a word about the present. These are difficult times in which we live. All you have to do is to glance at the newspaper for all the confirmation you ever need. And what has been true throughout human history is just as true today, that when people or societies encounter difficult times, there are always people who try to escape the troubling reality of the present by running off into dreams, and prophecies, and predictions about the future. That’s been true throughout history. It’s true now. And surely, that is why there is the popularity of one like Jeane Dixon, the so-called Prophet and seer of our time.

Just this past week, I was standing in a line in the grocery store surrounded by all of those racks of magazines that they have there, and I noticed that on more than one magazine cover there were headlines that said, “Jeane Dixon will make predictions for 1986.” And I think I might at least have to say that Mrs Dixon does seem to have some ability and clairvoyance, though it is nowhere near as significant as she would have us believe. As a matter of fact, just a few years back, Time magazine ran what it called “Jeane Dixon Scorecard,” and it was an analysis of the accuracy of all of her predictions. And I don’t mind telling you that her record was not overly impressive. Yet, she does seem to have some limited ability to be able to discern things which are yet to be. And because there are people who are afraid of what is and who therefore go running off in search of what is yet to be – well, her writings are widely circulated, and she crowds auditoriums wherever she chooses to speak.

But I am not so much concerned today about Jeane Dixon as I am about those people who out of fear for the present go running off in search of the future. Because you see, the fact of the matter is that we as Christians are the only ones who are able to deliver authentic prophecies and predictions about the future and know, absolutely know, that they will come true. And that is true because God holds the future.

It’s like the story that I heard about a little 10-year-old boy in England. He was traveling on the train. There was an older man traveling there as well, and he saw this little boy and noticed that he seemed to be traveling alone, and he said to him – he said, “You’re, you’re rather young, aren’t you, to be making a journey like this?” The little boy said, “Yes, sir.” He said, “Are you traveling alone?” “Yes, sir.” “How far are you going?” “I’m going all the way to the end of the line.” “Well, aren’t you afraid to be making such a long journey all by yourself?” “No, sir.” “Why? Why aren’t you afraid?” “Because my father is the engineer.” That’s what we as Christians know – that our Father is the engineer. And we don’t have to be afraid. We don’t have to be afraid of any present moment in the journey. We don’t have to be afraid even of any future moment in the journey. We don’t even have to be afraid of the journey’s end because our Heavenly Father is the engineer.

God is in charge. And that’s why we as Christians are the only ones who can deliver predictions about the future and know that they will come true. I’ll show you what I mean. Jeane Dixon, move over. Here come the Christians. 

First, Christians know about the future of the world.

Here in the second letter of Peter, Peter writes these words. “The day of the Lord will come like a thief, and the heavens will be dissolved. And the earth and everything upon it will be burned up,” but he says, “According to the premise of God, we are waiting for a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness shall dwell.” There it is. God is engaged in making a new heaven and a new earth, and that New Earth will be a place built on righteousness and godliness, and that new earth is a-coming. God is in charge.

Halford Luccock was a great preacher, and on one occasion, he received in the mail, a program from a performance of Handel’s Messiah. Now, the reason the program was sent to him was because there was a mistake in the printing of the product. In the words of the “Hallelujah Chorus,” instead of “Hallelujah! The Lord God Omnipotent Reigneth,” there was an error. And the printed program read, “Hallelujah. The Lord God Omnipotent Resigneth.” Well, printing error or not, that just is not so. God has not resigned. God is in charge. God has hold of this world, and everything in it, and everything that surrounds it. And I think it’s absolutely fascinating to see that in our time, more and more people in science are beginning to make that same affirmation.

I don’t know if you saw it or not, but in our newspaper, just two or three weeks ago now, there was an article to that effect. The article said, “Going against centuries of scientific tradition, which have been neutral or indifferent to such issues, many physicists today are proposing that our universe has been designed and maintained for life in such a way that it could not have occurred by chance or by accident.” And then the article went on to cite a number of nationally scientists and physicists who are making those kinds of affirmations, I don’t know if you’re aware of the fact or not, but at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, there is a giant computer into which there is being fed reams and reams of information every single day about the universe, and one question is being put to that computer again, and again, and again. The question is this. Has there been any time between now and 15 billion years ago when any set of circumstances could have existed in such precise order that out of those circumstances, our universe could have sprung by chance, or by accident? And the consistent answer of the computer is, “Absolutely not.”

But of course, Christians have affirmed that all along. We serve a God, we say, who’s got the whole world in His hands. We serve a God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We serve a God, to whom 1,000 ages are like an evening gone. We serve a God who’s got a long, long view of human history, and who holds history in His great loving hand. This is still our Father’s world, and we can rest ourselves in the thought that He is still in control. He is still in charge. He still governs. He still rules. He still reigns. He holds the future of this world in His hand. And so, we do not need to go running off after the gimmicks of Ouija boards or the fanciful predictions of self-styled prophets. No, for we have a God who says, “Behold. I am making a new heaven and a new earth, a place where My righteousness shall dwell.” As Christians, we know about the future of the world.

But then secondly, as Christians, we know about the future of the church. 

The Bible says, “One day the Lord will descend, and those who are dead in Christ will rise first. And then those of us who are still alive will be caught up together with Him in the clouds so that we shall be with Him forever. Therefore, comfort one another with these words.” That’s what the Bible says. We know as Christians that on that first Christmas, so long ago, Jesus Christ came to this earth, and we as Christians know that one day that same Jesus will come again. And when He comes again, He will claim as His very own His family, which is the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. We know about the future of the church.

Warren Candler was an attorney. Early in his career, he defended a young man indicted for murder. He made as the basis of his defense his summation before the jury, and in that summation, he sought to convince the jury that because of this young man’s Christian heritage and upbringing that that would be sufficient to turn his way of living around, and the jury accepted that argument. And they wound up rendering a verdict of not guilty. The young man was acquitted. It was at that point that Warren Candler said to him, “Stay away from evil, and stay close to the word and the will of God.” Years later, that same young man, now older, was once more indicted for murder. This time Warren Candler was not his defense attorney. Why? Because in the intervening time, Warren Candler had been appointed to the judiciary. And that trial was conducted in Warren Candler’s court. The jury rendered the verdict. Guilty. And in pronouncing sentence, Warren Candler said this to that convicted murderer. “Once I stood beside you as your defense attorney. Now, I stand before you as your judge. I agree with the jury’s verdict. You are guilty. I sentence you to death.” 

Well, the fact is that Jesus Christ on that first Christmas came to us as our defense attorney. He came to us ready to forgive and to forget. He came to us delivering the message of repentance, of forgiveness, of becoming a part of the forever family of God. But the day will come when that same Jesus will return. And when he comes again, He will come not as defense attorney. No. He will come as our judge.

And the one thing the Bible tells us that will be true is this, that when he comes, the church, the forever family of God, the church will be lifted to power and glory. I have no ear for those who make dire predictions about the future of the church, those who say that the church is going to die in our time – rubbish – for we know the future about the church. The Lord will come, and He will claim for His church for his very own.

But then, thirdly, Christians know the future for individual believers. 

That’s right. You know, it’s – whenever I go into a home where death has come, it only takes a moment to begin to sense from the attitude of mind, and heart, and spirit of that family. It only takes a moment to begin to sense whether that family knows that their loved one is with Jesus. And in that moment – and my friends, I want to tell you something. That is a crucial moment. That is the moment when the gospel becomes startlingly clear. That is Christmas, and Easter, and Pentecost all wrapped up into one. That is the moment when Christianity either lives or dies, rises or falls. In that moment, in that moment, it becomes immediately clear because those who are truly Christian know beyond any shadow that the moment we close our eyes in death, we shall then reopen them to be hold the face of Jesus.

I read about a young sailor boy who went off to war. His mother wrote him a letter expressing her deep worry and concern for his safety, and his reply to her was remarkable. Well, it was just on a postcard, but he said, “Mother, my ship may be hit, and it may go down. And I may go down with that ship. I may go down in flames and explosions. But if I go down, it will only be down into the arms of my Lord.” That’s all he said, but that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this, Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never ever die.” That’s the gospel. That’s the future for you and for me. We are Heaven-bound.

I know we live in scary times, and this is a difficult world, and sometimes it’s hard to see God in the midst of a world like this, but I want to remind you of something. Oh, it was so hard to see God in a baby born in a stable in Bethlehem, and it was hard to see God in a carpentry shop in Nazareth, and it was hard to see God in one who died on a cross on Calvary’s hill, but God was in all of those places. And God is in this world right now working out His way and His will for us and for our salvation.

Do you know the name Marguerite Higgins? She was a journalist. She won a Pulitzer Prize for her reporting of the Korean War. In one article, she tells us of going to visit a division of marines, some 16,000 men. It was bitter cold, 20 degrees below 0. They had been engaged in terrible and costly combat. There was a brief lull, and they were utterly exhausted. They were covered with mud. Their clothing was frozen stiff. And she walked up to one of those big marines. He was sitting down on the ground on his helmet slumped over, and he hadn’t shaved in a long time. And the ice was simply clinging to his eyebrows and his beard, and he was shoveling cold beans up out of a can with a trench knife. And she walked up to him and said, “If I were God and could give you anything you asked for, what would you want?” There was a silence. He didn’t move. And then gradually he lifted his head and looked at her through glassy eyes of weariness and said, “I’d ask for tomorrow.” 

My beloved, the battle of life is not easy. I would never deny that. The Bible never does. But the Bible says – and write it up on your minds and your hearts. The Bible says, “God will give you tomorrow. And for God, tomorrow is as long as forever.” And that’s why you and I are sisters and brothers in Christ, you and I are the only ones on the face of the whole earth who can say it, and mean it, and know it is true. You and I are the only ones in all the world who can say it, smiling, and with confidence: Happy, yes, happy new year.

Please pray with me. Gracious God, we claim the promise which you deliver in Jesus Christ, that You not only hold the future of this world but You hold the future of our lives. And we claim that marvelous promise from the One who said, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. He that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never, ever die.” Amen.

 

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