R. J. Brown
Would the church please stand for the reading of God's word. I would like to use for my text tonight the book of Acts, chapter two, beginning with the eleventh verse. The day is Pentacost, just 7 weeks after the Passover when Jesus was crucified. The Holy Ghost has just been given. The 120 are all speaking in tongues. Many people from all over the civilized world are watching the amazing spectacle:
2:11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.
2:12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?
2:13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.
2:14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:
Peter was called to preach. He was the first person called to preach. This was the first day of the New Testament Church. Peter was the first New Testament preacher. This was the start of something very big.
Everything was in Biblical order. Peter was the man of the hour, being called by Jesus himself while he walked in the flesh among men:
16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
16:19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Peter was obediant to the LORD's command in preaching this first sermon in Jerusalem to a gathering of Jews:
24:47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Beginnings are important times. The beginning of one thing frequently marks the end of something else. The beginning of the Church dispensation marked the end of the dispensation of the Law. When these beginnings and endings are done not by man, but by God, then we know that they are done correctly.
Consider the act of creation itself:
1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
This was really a beginning! There was nothing -- no universe at all -- absolutely nothing. Nothing, that is, in the physical sense. God was there. So were the angels. God is not physical though: God is a spirit.
4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
If God was there in the beginning, making the beginning happen, then does it make sense to talk about anything before the beginning? No. When God created all that stuff on the first page of your Bible, time was one of the things he created too. Time is an inescapible part of physical reality: everything physical -- in this present world -- must experience a beginning, an existence, and finally come to an end, even time itself.
10:5 And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven,
10:6 And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer:
But when we finally do escape this world, and the bounds of physical reality with it, we will be a part of eternity. Make no mistake about it: everyone will eventually become a part of eternity.
Eternity is not just a long time; it is forever. This is an infinity, a never ending. When I was a child I eventually asked that famous question, ``What's the biggest number?'' The answer was startling, even to a small child. ``There is no biggest number,'' or, ``It's infinity.''
No amount of explanation can do this concept proper justice. As I matured mathematically, I developed a better appreciation of infinity, but in college, studying calculus, the concept suddenly took on a much deeper meaning. In graduate school, I learned of different types of infinities. It is mind boggling. Even after all this formal study, I still feel that the songwriter put it best, in terms that anyone can understand:
Though we've been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days
To sing God's praise
Than when we've first begun.
No matter how long we have been in heaven, or hell for that matter, we have not used up any time -- we've no less days -- than when we started. We are not going to run out of time. Not over there. But over here is a different story.
9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
As God created the entire universe, everything that we can experience in the physical -- in the flesh -- he also said he would eventually put an end to it:
24:35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
``The first heaven and the first earth were passed away.'' This tells us that the entire universe as we know it today will come to a very real end. Scientists are studying outer space. They have learned a great deal in the last 30 years or so about what can happen when an individual star dies. The gravity that holds our feet on the ground is a powerful force indeed. A star that is large enough can colapse under the force of its own gravity to form what is called a black hole.
A black hole is a place where gravity is so strong that nothing can escape it and get out, not even light. Anything that comes too close to a black hole will get caught in the powerful gravitational field and be lost forever inside the black hole.
This is very interesting, but you do not necessarily need to have a star to get one. All you need is enough gravity. Since gravity is a property of matter, all you need is enough matter -- enough stuff -- and you can get the gravitational colapse that produces a black hole.
Scientists also have a very popular theory of how the universe began. It is called the big bang theory. The idea is this: the whole universe started out as nothing, then it exploded and gave off lots of energy, and the matter went in all directions at once. You can laugh if you want, but it sounds like they could have figured that out a lot easier by reading the Bible.
1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
1:3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
1:4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
Verse 2 says, ``the earth was without form, and void.'' This sounds to me like the conditions just before the big bang. Verse 3 could have read, ``God said `Bang!''' And there was light, a form of electromagnetic radiation, or energy. The Genesis account is in accord with the big bang theory up to this point.
The interesting thing that comes next is scientists predicting whether or not the universe will end. It all depends on just how much matter is in the universe. Not enough and it will go on expanding forever, but anything more than a critical amount, and it will eventually slow down its expansion until it reverses and becomes a contraction. It is then just a matter of time until it all colapses back into a monstrous black hole.
20:14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
What with a new heaven and a new earth, the old being passed away, big bangs and black holes, scientists discovering Bible truths about the beginning and the end of the universe, even though they were not looking in the Bible, I am astounded. This is convincing evidence coming at us from all sides. We had better take it seriously. Not only does the universe have a definate beginning and end, but so do we.
Humanity had a definite beginning:
1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
And a definite ending:
20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
The church age had a beginning. Peter was the beginning of the preaching of the Gospel of the church age. Christ has been calling preachers ever since that time. He called Saul of Tarsus, who became Paul. Saul was dead set against the church, yet Jesus called him on Damascus road and turned his life completely around.
Men will be called to preach the Gospel as long as there is a Gospel to preach. The Lord told us no one would know when he would return to call his church home until it happened. He told us to always be looking for that return.
But there will be a last preacher, for there will be a last day when he will return. There will be a last person called to preach. There will be last alter call. There will be a last handshake with the preacher on the way out the door. There will be a last time anyone ever walks out of a church door.
There will be a last time they start that old familiar car to drive home after that last service. They will never enter a church building again. I am not just talking about the man who wrecks that car and kills himself on the way home. I am talking about everyone in the church. This will be the last time a service is ever held in that church. This will be the last church service that is ever held anywhere. This will be the service the Lord comes after.
Or will it be the service the Lord comes in? If the Lord came back for his church before you walked out of that door, would he be coming back for you? Or would you get left behind? Are you ready to meet the Lord?
This could be the last church service you are ever in. This could be the last church service ever. I could be the last preacher. This could be the last sermon. God's talking to someone out there. You aren't really ready to meet the Lord face to face yet, are you?
This alter is officially open for business. The Lord's business. The salvation business. The time to be ready is now. He's coming back soon. Anytime at all. It could be tonight. It could be before this alter call is over. Come get ready to see God. Come discover, or rediscover, what the Holy Ghost is all about. Come to this alter and pray. Come repent of your sins. Tell God you're sorry. Make amends with your maker. Come pray till you talk in tongues. Come pray till you dance and shout. Come pray till get drunk. Come pray till you pass out. God wants to do something great in your life tonight. God wants to light a fire that will burn throught the darkest night -- a fire that will burn till he takes you home.
Mr. Saint that just ain't quite right: Its just a little thing, but its not quite right yet. Come make it right tonight. You may not get another night.
Miss Young Person that has always taken church only half seriously: you think there's still plenty of time, and you're young, and still wany to experience some things: do you want to experience eternity -- in hell?
Mr. Backslider: you know what's right; you've known it for years. Knowing it and living it are two different things. Come live it again. God still loves you. He wants you back now more than ever, because, you see, he's getting ready to come get you, but he can't unless you're one of his.
Mr. Sinner? Never been in a church service quite like this before? Don't be afraid. Don't be hesitant. I'm not asking you to do anything but come up to this alter and have an encounter with God. There is a church full of saints eager to pray with you here. There is no better place to discover who God is and what he can do for you. You can repent of you sins: that's telling God all the things you have done that are displeasing to him, and meaning it, and promising not to do any of them again. You can be baptised in Jesus name for the remission of sins. That is washing those sins away so not even God can see them anymore. You can be filled with the Holy Ghost and speak in tongues as everyone in the Bible did when they were filled. You can set your course for heaven. You can become ready to meet God.