April 2010

Yes, Christ Is Coming Again!

April 26 2010 by D.E. Parkerson

Back in the early days of 1988 a young lady called our church with a question she wanted answered.  She had read the book entitled, Eighty-eight Reasons Christ Will Return in 1988. Her concern after having read the book was obvious.

I told her that the Bible clearly states that no human will ever know — even the angels in heaven do not know — the date of Christ’s return. I explained how this has not kept countless people throughout Christian history from setting a specific date, only to have the day arrive and pass, and it does not happen.

I then said to her, “Your real problem is that you aren’t saved, or that you are not certain you are saved, isn’t it?” She answered in the affirmative. I made an appointment for her to come by our church so we could discuss the subject further. After sharing what God’s Word says about how a person can become a Christian, she accepted Christ as her personal Savior.

Dr. Charles Swindoll, in Growing Deep in the Christian Life, gives some facts on the subject of Christ’s Second Coming that will surprise lots of people:
  • One out of every 30 verses in the Bible mentions the subject of Christ’s return or the end of time.
  • Of the 216 chapters in the New Testament, there are well over 300 references to the return of Jesus Christ.
  • Only 4 of the 27 New Testament books fail to mention Christ’s return.
  • That means one-twentieth of the entire New Testament is dedicated to the subject of our Lord’s return.
  • In the Old Testament, such well-known and reliable men of God as Job, Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, and most of the Minor Prophets, fixed at least part of their attention on the Lord’s return.
  • Christ spoke of His return often, especially after He revealed to them that He would die.  And He never did so in vague or uncertain terms.
  • Those who lived on following His teaching, who established the churches and wrote the Scriptures in the first century, frequently mentioned His return in their preaching and in their writings.
The Second Coming of Christ is taught in the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, the Augsburg Confession, and in all the ecumenical creeds of the church.

Yes, Christ is coming again. The Lord Himself promised it (John 14:1-6). The Bible teaches it (Matt. 24:42-44; Matt. 25:31; Mk. 8:35-38; and 1 Thess. 4:16-17). Christians throughout history have affirmed it.

He is coming to judge “the quick (those who will be living on that date) and the dead.” If it were today, would you be ready? If not, all you have to do is to bow at Calvary’s cross, lay your sins down, ask the Savior to forgive you, accept the gift of life He offers, make a right turn and keep straight ahead.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Parkerson is a native of Georgia, a graduate of Mercer University [B.A.], Southeastern Seminary [M. Div. and Th.M.], and Campbell University [D.D.]. He has served as pastor of one church in Georgia and five churches in North Carolina. Following retirement as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Sanford on Sept. 30, 1996, he has served nine North Carolina churches as interim pastor. His column, The Paper Pulpit, has appeared weekly in a few newspapers and other publications since 1958. He and his wife, Jessie, live in Wilmington near their daughter and family.)  
4/26/2010 10:29:00 AM by D.E. Parkerson | with 1 comments



I’ll See You in Heaven

April 20 2010 by D.E. Parkerson

Grief is one of the most perplexing and painful problems humans have to face. When a devastating loss occurs, such as the sudden death of a family member or close personal friend, it is easy for us to become overwhelmed by grief.

This happened in our church on Wednesday night before Easter. A deacon who was a close friend had a heart attack and died in less than two minutes in the presence of all who were present. No one knows when this kind of thing is going to happen.

Grief is not just sorrow — it is sorrow that is multiplied. It can be caused by a significant loss of any kind — a divorce, a major health problem, the loss of a job, when your home is destroyed by fire or by a storm, and by many other circumstances.

Though grief has the power to do great damage in our lives, it can also become the source of great strength. It is healthy to express sorrow after a great loss. God created us with emotions, and with a capacity to love one another. After all, Jesus wept as He stood by the grave of his friend, Lazarus (Jn. 11:36).

Weeping is an honest expression of a normal and healthy human emotion. It becomes a problem when we allow it to push us into despair. It is when we allow loss to conquer us that we find it easy to throw up our hands.

The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 4:13, “We do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.” He is not saying we should not grieve when a family member or friend dies. He is saying that we do not grieve as those “who have no hope.” 

The word “hope” contains only four letters, but it is the anchor that keeps a believer in Christ from drifting into despair. No Christian has reason to despair — to give up, to act as though there is no hope. Non-Christians have a valid reason to despair, for they are not assured of having eternal life. They do not know that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him” (Rom. 8:28).

Paul is not saying that everything that happens is good. Rather, he is saying, “In all things (even difficult things) God has the ability to cause good to result.” Even though we may not understand why certain things happen, we can rest assured that God loves us and is working out everything for our good. Without this hope — without this faith in the all-governing hand of God, all our sorrows could turn into despair.

The loss of a loved one in death is a tremendous loss indeed. Though we grieve when this happens, we know that the loss is only temporary. Jesus has promised eternal life to everyone who has accepted Him as Savior and Lord (Jn. 14:1-6).

Though grief is normal when a loved one dies, remember this: Christians never say goodbye for the last time! Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, in The Golden Legend, explains in these words why this is true:

“When Christ ascended
Triumphantly, from star to star,
He left the gates of heaven ajar.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Parkerson is a native of Georgia, a graduate of Mercer University [B.A.], Southeastern Seminary [M. Div. and Th.M.], and Campbell University [D.D.]. He has served as pastor of one church in Georgia and five churches in North Carolina. Following retirement as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Sanford on Sept. 30, 1996, he has served nine North Carolina churches as interim pastor. His column, The Paper Pulpit, has appeared weekly in a few newspapers and other publications since 1958. He and his wife, Jessie, live in Wilmington near their daughter and family.)
4/20/2010 8:34:00 AM by D.E. Parkerson | with 1 comments



Only Two Words: “Touch Me!”

April 12 2010 by D.E. Parkerson

“We must have been living in a dream world to believe that Jesus was the Messiah. Who started this unbelievable story about His resurrection? I would have to put my finger into the wounds in His hands and feet, and stick my arm into the wound on His side up to my elbow before I would believe that He is alive.”

“You can fantasize all you want to about a resurrection,” Thomas continued, “but it appears to me that I have wasted three years of my life believing all the things that we were taught. I’m not going to give up one more day on anything associated with Jesus. Don’t you get it, fellows? It’s over!”

A few days later all of the disciples except Judas (who had committed suicide) were huddled together in a house still trying to make sense out of all that had happened in the days before. It was at this point that Jesus suddenly appeared in the room.

As they, no doubt, wondered what was about to happen, the eyes of Jesus searched the room as if to find a certain person. Then His eyes focused on Thomas.

I am reminded of some of the old western movies I saw in Chester, Ga., when I was a boy where two cowboys would square off in a saloon. While they stood staring each other down, everyone else either ran out the door or jumped behind tables and chairs for safety because a shootout was about to begin.

I can picture in my mind Jesus squaring off with Thomas. And I can picture the other disciples, remembering what Thomas had said a few days earlier, clearing out of the way. My guess is they were thinking, “Is he ever going to get what is coming to him? He is going to regret ever opening his big mouth.”

Fearing the worst, they possibly covered their eyes as Jesus walked up directly in front of Thomas. The room became deathly quiet. What was Jesus going to do?

Jesus spoke only two words to Thomas: “Touch me.”

Not “Drop dead,” or “Get lost,” or “Beat it,” or “You unbeliever.” Not even “Straighten up.”  No, nothing like that. Just “Touch me.”

The two words spoken to Thomas communicate volumes about the character of Christ. The disciples, but especially Thomas, learned a lot about Jesus that day. And the lesson is one that millions of people in our world today need to learn as well.

People need to know that God is not angry or afraid of honest doubt from anyone who is trying to discover the truth about Him. In fact, He invites any and all who have sincere questions to come, to seek, and to ask questions in order to get to know Him.

Part of the challenge Christians face is to help others see how different Jesus is from the religious leaders in our world who demand blind loyalty from their followers and who disqualify anyone who has the audacity to doubt them. These self-appointed charlatans try to manipulate and intimidate people into joining their cause.

With disarming deference to our human tendency to doubt, Jesus simply says, “Touch me. Do whatever you choose in order to discover that I am real.”

Is He your Savior? If not, He invites you to touch His nail-pierced hands!

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Parkerson is a native of Georgia, a graduate of Mercer University [B.A.], Southeastern Seminary [M. Div. and Th.M.], and Campbell University [D.D.]. He has served as pastor of one church in Georgia and five churches in North Carolina. Following retirement as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Sanford on Sept. 30, 1996, he has served nine North Carolina churches as interim pastor. His column, The Paper Pulpit, has appeared weekly in a few newspapers and other publications since 1958. He and his wife, Jessie, live in Wilmington near their daughter and family.)
4/12/2010 6:40:00 AM by D.E. Parkerson | with 1 comments



Celebrating Easter Throughout the Year

April 5 2010 by D.E. Parkerson

The first Easter Sunday in history was over. The disciples of Jesus had seen their Lord illegally tried, unjustly convicted, crucified on a Roman cross, and buried on Friday before sundown. It had been a very emotional experience for them.

That first Easter Sunday was for these dispirited men a tremendous climax to all the tragic events that had befallen them in the days immediately prior. Jesus had appeared to Mary Magdalene. He had also appeared to all of His disciples except for Judas, who had hanged himself. They had no idea had what would happen next.

Now the excitement had subsided and there was nothing better to do. Simon Peter turned to the his friends with whom he had been closely associated for the better part of three years, and said bluntly, “Fellows, I’m going fishing.”

“We will go with you,” responded his friends, and off they went to the Sea of Galilee. Boats, nets, and men headed back to business as usual — a business they had at one time assumed they had left behind forever.

Their return to business as usual is a glaring portrayal of so many of our post-Easter activities. Like those early disciples, we have in recent days experienced something of the joy and excitement of Easter. We have joined fellow believers in worship. Our celebration has included both proclamation and praise.

Easter has always been, and will always be, a special day for Christians. If Jesus had not risen from the grave, the crucifixion would have no meaning or power. The central core of Christian doctrine is the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The cross and the empty tomb are united together in God’s great redemptive act. Joined together they provide the hope of eternal life to all who believe.

The Bible teaches and Christians believe that Jesus arose from the dead. But on Easter Monday, as it was for Peter and the other disciples, we also go back to business as usual — the same routine, the same problems, anxieties, defeats, bondages as the week before. Easter has made an impact on our lives, but it often fails to empower us with the kind of divine energy that brought Jesus from the grave.

The disciples “caught nothing” in their post-Easter fishing expedition — that is, until they cast their nets in response to the order of a stranger on the beach. After they caught many fish they suddenly realized that the stranger on the beach was Jesus.

The 2010 A.D. version of Easter Sunday is now behind us. If what we have experienced through worship is genuine, we must not settle for returning to business as usual. We must celebrate Easter in our lives every day of every year.

We will not influence our world very much with words alone. The living Christ must be recognized in everything that we are and do. It is the only way we can be effective channels and communicators of God’s love and healing to lonely, unhappy, defeated people in the Monday-through-Saturday world around us.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Parkerson is a native of Georgia, a graduate of Mercer University [B.A.], Southeastern Seminary [M. Div. and Th.M.], and Campbell University [D.D.]. He has served as pastor of one church in Georgia and five churches in North Carolina. Following retirement as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Sanford on Sept. 30, 1996, he has served nine North Carolina churches as interim pastor. His column, The Paper Pulpit, has appeared weekly in a few newspapers and other publications since 1958. He and his wife, Jessie, live in Wilmington near their daughter and family.)
4/5/2010 7:27:00 AM by D.E. Parkerson | with 0 comments