January 4, 2023
PUTTING ON CHRIST – Romans 13:11-14
Listen to last week’s sermon entitled Putting on Christ found in Romans 13:11-14
Pastor Peter Jamieson began his sermon on January 1, 2023, by wishing everyone God’s richest blessings as we move into the new year. Following his wishes, Communion was celebrated. Pastor Jamieson views Communion as a moment of intimate fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ, as well as with each other as members of God’s family. When he led us into Communion, Pastor Jamieson reminded us that Jesus Christ was among us as we celebrated in love and unity.
As a preacher, Pastor Jamieson always takes his role very seriously. He is honoured every time he is given the pulpit, but he is doubly so today since it is New Year’s Day and the first service of 2023. His prayer is that, in some small way, his message titled, Putting on Christ, will set the tone for the year ahead.
Read Romans 13:11-14 NKJV
In Romans 13:11-14, Paul tells us that the time of our salvation is rapidly approaching. He urges us to lead a life of integrity, where we clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ and abandon our desire to satisfy our sinful nature.
Considering this is the first day of the new year, Pastor Jamieson could have begun his sermon by wishing us all a happy and prosperous New Year. Traditionally, New Year’s Day is a time of anticipation, a time to celebrate the start of a new year, and a time to make New Year’s resolutions, most of which we know we will never keep. It should be noted, however, that these are not traditional times. Pastor Jamieson also pointed out that this year there is far more at stake than making silly resolutions and gleefully planning upcoming events. This New Year’s Day is not the time to make New Year’s resolutions, nor is it the time to begin planning all the new and exciting activities we will undertake in the upcoming year. Rather, Pastor Jamieson would like to emphasize that we are on the very threshold of the return of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The time has come to prepare for the most monumental event in recorded history: the return of Jesus to bring about His Kingdom.
Read Hosea 4:6 ESV
In these dark times, we must realize that the hope we possess lies not in our armed forces, in our governments, or even in our personal finances. Our only hope and our only source of safety are found in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The world is undergoing a rapid transformation that is accelerating toward an inevitable fall and a terrifying deception. Unfortunately, as believers, we are not always spared the consequences of poor choices, including our own, due for the most part to a lack of biblical knowledge. In fact, Hosea 4:6 states,
My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge…
It is therefore imperative that the Bible be taught, explained, and proclaimed more than ever before. Most importantly, we, the people of God, must live by this principle. In light of this, Pastor Jamieson used Scriptures to emphasize his main message this morning: It is time for us to prepare for the return of Jesus Christ for we are living in prophetic times.
PROPHETIC TIMES / PERILOUS TIMES
As Pastor Jamieson was addressing the congregation, he asked how many of us believe that we are living in the final days, just prior to Christ’s return. There was a strong showing of hands from almost everyone. It was almost unanimous. There is also widespread agreement among evangelical Christians today that we are living in the Last Days. Yet, many of these same believers are unaware of how close we are to the return of Jesus. Many people in the universal Christian Church are neither prepared nor ready for His Coming, let alone the events that will precede it.
Read Matthew 25:1-13 ESV
According to an in-depth survey conducted at the beginning of 2022, seventy-seven percent of evangelical Christians believe that we are in the End Times near the return of Jesus. A second survey was conducted at the end of 2022, a few weeks ago, and the percentage had declined from 77% to 63% in less than a year. Although much of what has taken place in the world today has been prophetic, 37% of evangelical Christians do not believe that we are living in the End Times, and this number is increasing rapidly. The parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25:1-13 reveals that 50% of the Church will be denied eternal life with Christ. There are approximately 2.5 billion Christians in the world today. Therefore, according to today’s standards, 1.25 billion Christians will be denied entry into the Kingdom of God because they will have lost their faith and fallen away from the Truth.
Read 2 Timothy 3:1-5 NKJV
It is important to note that this passage does not refer to unbelievers. This has always been the case in the unbelieving world and it will continue to be so. In fact, as we near Christ’s return, the situation will worsen. When Paul wrote this, he was referring to the condition of many in the church in the Last Days, just prior to the Lord’s Coming. Paul asserts that as we draw closer to Christ’s return, demonic activity will increase in the world. We often fail to realize, however, that the same demonic activity will also increase within the Church. Many so-called evangelical churches today are promoting gospels of greed; gospels of prosperity; the belief that personal pleasures are of paramount importance; that people deserve to be wealthy as children of the King; that hardship will never enter a true Christian’s life; and that illness or struggles result from a lack of faith. To put it simply, we are to blame.
Read Hebrews 12:6-8 ESV
God loves us. However, sometimes He uses suffering to teach us. It is also a means by which He disciplines us. Moreover, He uses it to strengthen us, mold our character, and prepare us for what lies ahead.
Discipline must be endured. Discipline, hardship, and struggles contribute to our preparation, strengthening, molding, shaping, and development into the likeness of Christ. The apostle Paul states that God disciplines every child that He accepts as His own. Just as fathers correct their children, God also corrects us. Do we not discipline our children when they act out? Do we love them? Yes, of course, we do. By punishing them, we aim to prevent them from going astray, getting into trouble, and injuring themselves. We want the best for our children. God, our Father, is no different. Therefore, if we are not disciplined by the Lord from time to time, we are not true children and do not truly belong to God.
Read 1 Timothy 4:1-2 ESV
We are living in an era of great deception. Again, Paul warns Timothy that in the Last Days, some believers will turn away from Christ to follow demonic teachings and deceitful spirits. These teachings are provided by hypocrites and liars who are devoid of conscience.
Read Matthew 24:4-5
According to 1 Timothy 4:1-2, many will abandon their faith and embrace the teachings and practices of false prophets and false teachers. Pastor Jamieson reminds us that false prophets and teachers are not only found in the church; they are also found among our political leaders, philosophers, government-controlled news broadcasters, and educational institutions. As a matter of fact, Jesus warns against deception five times in the book of Matthew. It is imperative that we remain alert, awake, and prepared at all times! The unprepared will be at great risk of falling prey to the current deceptions, which have already begun.
Read 1 John 4:3 ESV
It is already apparent that the Antichrist spirit is present in the world, preparing it for the greatest deception in history.
Read Matthew 24:9-11 ESV
Jesus clearly states in Matthew 24 that when persecution escalates, many in the Church will depart from the faith, which will lead to hatred and betrayal among the brethren. False teachers and prophets will mislead many.
Read 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 ESV
Paul clearly states in the above passage that a great rebellion will occur before Christ returns. The word ‘rebellion’ is derived from the Greek word ‘apostasia’. In English, the word would be recognized as ‘apostasy’. Paul is referring to a widespread apostasy that will take place within the Church before the Lord comes.
Read 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 ESV
As shown in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10, those who are perishing have failed to love the Truth and are destined for destruction. Salvation cannot be achieved without a love for the Truth. As a result of their preparations, those who love the Truth will see and understand, whereas those who do not love God’s Word will be blinded. They will not see or comprehend the times in which we live; therefore, they will not prepare. The unpreparedness of their hearts will lead them to reject the gospel of Christ and lose their salvation… if they ever had it to begin with.
Read Matthew 24:37-38 ESV
As Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:37, His return will be similar to the days of Noah, meaning that during Noah’s lifetime, it was ‘business as usual’ on earth. Noah had been preaching about the impending flood for 120 years.
Over the course of that period of time, Noah was building an ark. Furthermore, the construction of the Ark was itself an indication of what was to come. There is no doubt that everyone in Noah’s day was familiar with or had heard of his preaching. This situation was a first of its kind. Noah was building an ark in the middle of the desert, and it had never rained. Why were they in need of a boat? Despite preaching for 120 years, no one took Noah seriously. They went about their daily lives as if everything was normal. In spite of this, life was far from normal. No one was paying attention to the impending judgment.
Read Matthew 24:39-42 ESV
Life today is not normal either, nor will it ever be. Everywhere we look, we are seeing signs pointing to the Lord’s return. Despite the fact that judgment is looming ahead, everyone seems to be oblivious to it. Since the people failed to take Noah seriously, the flood caught them all by surprise. The coming of the Lord will be similar to that of Noah’s day. People will be eating, drinking, marrying, giving in marriage, and going about their daily lives as they always have. Jesus warns us not to fall into the same trap, but instead to remain alert and ready for His return.
Read John 1:19-23 ESV
Pastor Jamieson then compared the time when Jesus ministered on earth with the present day, as there is a parallel to be drawn. John 1:19-23 states, “And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ he confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, ‘I am not the Christ’. And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the Prophet?’ And he answered, ‘No.’ So they said to him, ‘Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’ he said, ‘I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”
During Jesus’ ministry, it was widely recognized among the Jews and the Jewish leadership that it was the time of the Messiah’s arrival. It was the 69th week of Daniel’s prophecy, and according to Daniel’s 70-week prophecy, the Messiah would arrive in the 69th week.
The Jews were aware of this prophecy. That is the reason why they asked John the Baptist if he was the one they had been waiting for. John categorically stated that he was not the Christ, but that he had been sent ahead of Him to warn the people to prepare for His coming and to announce His arrival. The message John preached was one of repentance and preparation for the return of the Lord. He said,
I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness. Make straight (or prepare) the way of the Lord.
Jesus preached and proclaimed the Kingdom of God when He arrived, but most people were ill-prepared to accept Him as their Saviour. In response to their continual demands for signs and proof, He rebuked their unbelief and unpreparedness.
Read Matthew 16:1-4 ESV
Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and Sadducees for their lack of faith and inability to accept Him. If they had prepared their hearts in accordance with what John preached, they would not have turned away from Him. Jesus said, “You can read the skies, but you can’t read the signs of the times.” They demanded signs, but Jesus called them hypocrites for failing to recognize the prophetic signs of His arrival and failing to prepare for it in spite of all their supposed knowledge. Jesus informed them that the only sign that they would receive would be that of the Prophet Jonah. Obviously, He was referring to His death and resurrection. Jonah spent three days in the belly of a fish. Jesus spent three days in the tomb.
Read Luke 21:34-36 NKJV
How is this relevant to our generation today? Jesus, Himself, explains it best in Luke 21:34-36. He said, “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Read Romans 13:11 ESV
The time has come for the Church of Jesus Christ to emerge and shine in its fullness. It is time for the Church to put on Jesus Christ. In Romans 13:11, Paul stated, “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us know than when we first believed.”
All of us present this morning have acknowledged that we are the generation that will witness Jesus Christ’s return. This underscores the importance of taking Paul’s words seriously and waking up to what is happening. The hour is not approaching soon or some day. It is already here. The signs are all around us. We have been plagued by pestilence for the past 3 ½ years. There are currently wars and rumours of wars in Ukraine, Russia, China, and North Korea. We are witnessing the fall of the United States of America before our very eyes. The threat of nuclear war is becoming more and more prevalent with each passing day. All over the world, earthquakes are occurring in unprecedented numbers and intensity. They are no longer measured at two or three on the Richter Scale, but rather at 5.6 and 6.8 all around the world. We are currently facing the threat of famine and global chaos. Apparently, the Great Reset will begin in 2023. As a side note, this is the one-world authority referred to in the Bible as ‘Mystery Babylon’. Although we are capable of reading the skies and predicting the weather, are we paying attention to the signs of the times, or are we still seeking additional confirmation?
Read Isaiah 60:1-2 ESV
It is time for the Church to act. As Christian believers, it is time for us to rise up in faith so that the glory and light of God may shine upon us. We are living in dark times, and Jesus is seeking His bride in the midst of the darkness, in order to equip and empower His Church for the final phase of His redemptive mission.
Read Joel 2:28-32 ESV
In the Upper Room on the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the 120 believers, Peter preached perhaps one of the most powerful sermons ever delivered. His sermon resulted in the conversion of three thousand souls. According to Peter, the event of Pentecost was the fulfillment of a prophecy found in Joel, chapter 2. The inference here is that this was not only a prophecy for the Day of Pentecost, which Peter himself declared to be fulfilled, but also a prophecy for the End Times. In Joel 2:30-31, the references to blood, fire, columns of smoke, the sun turning to darkness, and the moon turning to blood are clear signs that this is an End-Time prophecy. In a similar manner to the Day of Pentecost, the Lord will pour out His Spirit once again to empower His Church for the last seven years, or the 70th Week of Daniel’s prophecy, which is commonly referred to as the Seven-Year Tribulation.
The question we must ask ourselves is, “Will we be ready to receive the outpouring of His Spirit?” Will our preparation be adequate for what is projected to be the greatest move of God’s Spirit in all of recorded history?
Read Romans 13:12-13 ESV
The time has come for us to wake up. Paul stated to the Church in his day that “The night is far gone; the day is at hand.” How much more should that statement ring true for us who are now witnessing this ‘Day’? We, believers, find it difficult to put aside all work without gaining a deeper relationship with Jesus. It is through repentance, laying something down, renewing our commitment to Christ, and taking up our cross daily to follow Him that we are drawn closer to the Lord. The time has come for us to set aside all work that does not advance our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us, therefore, walk in holiness before the Lord. During this last period of time, the true Church will be separated from the false Church. Moreover, it is a time to prepare and to get ready for the coronation of the Bride of Christ.
Read Matthew 7:21-23 ESV
As a result, Paul urges us to put away everything that threatens to impede and interfere with that preparation. Jesus issues a clear and direct warning in Matthew 7:21-23. It reads, “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”
The word ‘lawlessness’ in the above passage does not refer to a band of criminals. Paul is not referring to murderers, rapists, or thieves. He is simply saying that all who fail to follow God’s Law are lawless. Jesus said, “Only those who do the will of My Father will be allowed entry into the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Read Romans 13:14, Galatians 5:22-25, and 2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV
In Romans 13:14, what does Paul mean when he urges readers to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh to gratify its desires”? He means that we need to be aware of the hour in which we live. In other words, we must renounce all carnal practices that are not in accordance with the Lord, and not allow the flesh to rule over us. We must put on the Lord Jesus Christ. How do we do this? The apostle Paul states in Galatians 5:22-25 that
the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
The time has come for us to draw near to the Lord and to repent of every practice that is inconsistent with God’s will. It is also important that we seek His presence with a sincere heart. It is time for us to dedicate ourselves to becoming true men and women of prayer, as our lives must be governed by His will. It is essential that we serve the Lord with all our hearts, minds, and strength, and that we love God and His people. By doing so, the world and the Lord will recognize us as true believers.
Read John 13:34-35 ESV
It is not the ability to perform miracles, heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons, preach eloquent sermons, or grow large churches that make up the true bride of Christ. The mark of a true Christian is love: love for fellow believers, love for the Lord, and the love of winning souls to Christ. It is in this manner that we prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Every passing day brings us closer to His arrival.
Pastor Jamieson’s question to us this morning is: “Are we ready?” “Are we preparing for His arrival?” And if not, now is the time to begin.