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Text Sermons : ~Other Speakers A-F : Richard E. Bieber : AHEAD OF YOUR TIME

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There was once a time when everyone knew that the earth
was the center of the universe.

“Of course, the earth stands still and the
sun keeps flying around it every day.”

“Anybody can see this with his own eyes.”

Those who had a different idea were laughed right out
of town by the scientists. Then, along came this joker
Copernicus who insisted that it’s the other way around.

“The sun, gentlemen, does not revolve about
the earth. The earth revolves around the
sun.”

The world’s top scientists tapped their fingers and
looked bored.

“Moreover, gentlemen, the sun does not
really rise and set. The earth is turning
on its axis, making a complete rotation
every 24 hours.”

You can just imagine the scorn that was heaped upon
Copernicus by the experts - the men who had always known
and had been able to prove that the earth, naturally, is
the center of the universe.

Today we look back and recognize that there was only one
thing wrong with Copernicus when he started out. He
was ahead of his time. He knew how things really were
even though the world, at first, thought him a fool.

In the 6th Century B.C., the city of Jerusalem believed
itself to be divinely charmed.

Jehovah God will protect us from Nebecudnezzar’s
armies.
Haven’t we been promised that our city belongs
to God forever?

But there was a prophet in the city those days who
caused no end of trouble,

— he unsettled the people,

— he told them Jerusalem would be conquered.

“God never promised to protect a bunch of hypocrites
like you” said Jeremiah. “How can you expect God to
protect you when you blaspheme His name and defy His
holy will? Jerusalem will be conquered.”

They didn’t exactly appreciate Jeremiah’s message,

— they all—but killed him
— they wanted to think that Jeremiah was wrong.

As it turned out, Jeremiah was right — only he was
ahead of his time. He saw what other eyes could not
see and would not believe until destruction came.

For 2000 years there have been people walking this
earth who have known as Copernicus knew about the earth
revolving about the sun, as Jeremiah knew about the
impending destruction of Jerusalem,

— that God has already judged this world
through the Cross of His Son

— that God has already made Jesus Christ
Lord over the earth

— and that soon this Christ will appear
openly as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

And for 2000 years the world has looked upon the people
who have known these things as a bunch of crazy fools.

“You’re telling me that the world is going
to end?”

“You’re telling me that this Jesus of Nazareth
is going to actually return to rule this earth?”

“Give me my car keys. I’m going out
and get some fresh air.”

“You mean to tell me that those plagues in
Revelation are really going to happen?
And there’s really going to be an Armageddon?”
“0, come on!”

“Look, if you want to love your neighbor and turn the
other cheek and all that — lovely. This world can use
a little of that. But when you come around proclaiming
Jesus Christ as coming back to be King and Lord and
Judge here on this earth — you lose me.”

To be a Christian in this world today means that you’re
going to be a little ahead of your time. It means that
you’re basing your life on facts that the world just
doesn’t have — and can’t possibly believe. And so in
the eyes of the world you can’t be anything else but a
crazy fool.

With Copernicus, it was different. The earth was already
visibly turning on its axis and revolving around the sun.
All he had to do was get them to shut up and listen care-
fully and he could show them that he was right.

With Jeremiah, on the other hand, it was not so easy.
Jeremiah couldn’t prove anything until it happened as
he said it would. Time had to vindicate him.

Our case is like Jeremiah’s:

Time is indeed hurling us toward that moment
when everybody will know that Jesus Christ
is Lord,
King,
The Son of God.

But we’re not there yet. So we’re out of step,
out of joint with the world, we’re crazy fools.

We know that He’s coming back because we have been shown
by God, in our experience, that Jesus Christ is already
Lord. He is Lord now!

By the power of the Holy Spirit working literal wonders
in our midst, we can see it, feel it,
we can demonstrate it to faith.

- The blind receive their sight.
- The lame walk.
- Lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear.
- The dead are raised up and the poor have
the gospel preached to them.

But can we prove to the world out there that Jesus is
Lord? No! To the world we can prove nothing — we
can only preach a gospel which most of them will find
foolishness.

So, our problem — and it’s a big problem — is to keep
living in this world,

— knowing that we’re ahead of our time,
— knowing that we’re out of step with other people

and not lose our grip on that glorious day that we’re
waiting for, because

— the minute you lose your grip on the future
— the minute you lose your vision of the return
of the Master and His coming Kingdom

you sink back and become a child of darkness yourself.

If you were to go down Toledo Avenue from here to Junction
and knock on every door and take a survey of how
many people, at one time or another, gave their lives
to Jesus Christ, you’d end up with quite a few.

But, if you were to get an honest answer from these
folks as to how many of them are still walking with
Christ today, the number would drop to one-half,
one-third, or one-tenth.

You would find that the majority of people, who at one
time or another, made a commitment to Christ, after a
while slipped back to their old life, and that today
they are actually more dull of mind and blind of eye
then before their conversion took place.

Why? One reason is because most of those who made a
commitment to Jesus Christ were never told that to be
a Christian is to be ahead of your time. And once
they got into it, they couldn’t stand the strain.

If doctors delivered babies as hastily and sloppily as
some evangelists and preachers bring people to faith
in Christ, few babies would live. Some evangelists are
almost like sideshow barkers.

“Hurry, hurry, hurry. Step right up and
make your decision. Get yourself saved
from sin. Tickets 50 cents — two for a dollar.”

Many a poor sucker who steps up and buys his ticket
doesn’t have the faintest idea what his decision for
Christ is really going to cost him.

When you surrender to Jesus Christ, you are not going
through some blubbering emotional catharsis,

— you are anchoring your life to One whom
this world will never know to be the Lord
until this world has come to its end.

This makes you ahead of your time.

— You’re listening to a Spirit they do not hear.
— You’re going by facts they cannot see.
— You are different.

And this world knows how to spot people who are different
and it knows how to put pressure on these people to make
them conform.

The virgins in our gospel had just this problem.

— They were ahead of their time.
— They took their lamps and went forth to
meet the bridegroom,
— only there was no bridegroom
— they waited and waited and no
bridegroom came.

“Are you girls crazy? Waiting here in the
dark to meet the bridegroom at this hour.
Go home and go to bed!”

Now the virgins believed that the bridegroom would
come and so they kept waiting for him and he did come.
But it took the bridegroom so long to get there, that
by the time he arrived only half of the virgins were
still prepared — only half of them went in.

Our Lord has been most careful to teach us how to live
in this world as people who are ahead of our time — so
we can hold out until He gets here. He has shown us
how and if we don’t live this way, it’s certainly not
His fault.

If we’re going to survive as people who are ahead of
our time, the first thing we have to learn is detachment.

— Learn to hold yourself in a detached
open—handed relationship to everything
in this world.

— Lay not up for yourselves treasures on
earth where moth and rust corrupt and
where thieves break through and steal.

— Sell what you have and give alms. Don’t
be like a man on a 50 mile hike who wants
to take the kitchen stove and the bathtub
along.

The apostle Paul teaches the same thing: detachment.
The time is short —

- from now on let those who have wives
live as though they had none,
- those that mourn as though they were
not mourning,
- those that rejoice as though they were
not rejoicing,
- those that buy as though they had no goods,
- and those that deal with the world as
though they had no dealings with it.

In other words, we go on living, buying, selling, working, resting, but with detachment. Making sure that
we don’t get sucked in and chained down to this age by
our houses or lands, or money, or wives, or husbands, or
children. This life is a camping trip — it’s not our
home.

The second thing we’re going to have to learn to do if
we’re going to survive as people who are ahead of our
time: we’re going to start doing our banking in Heaven.

Prove to yourself that you really believe by banking on
the age to come,

— lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven
where neither moth nor rust corrupt and
where thieves do not break through and steal,

— provide yourselves with bags which wax not
old — a treasure in the heavens that fails not.

Put your “money” where your mouth is. If you say you be-
lieve He’s coming back, how come you're sinking your
treasure in things that are going to be destroyed?

Where your treasure is, that’s where your
heart is.

If your treasure’s in this world, then your
heart’s in this world and you’re not looking
for Him to come back.

My friend, if all your years of toil add up to a pile
of securities in your safety deposit box, a pile of money
at the local bank — I say if that’s all you have
to show for your life — what do you have?
If years of toil, and prayer, and suffering have won for
you a crown of righteousness in the coming Kingdom, you
have something.

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my
cause, I have kept the faith”, says Paul.
“Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of
righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge
shall give me at that day — and not to me only,
but unto all them also that love His appearing.”

And finally, if we’re going to survive as people who are
ahead of our time we’ll have to learn to live in a
continuous posture of readiness.

Let your loins be girt about and your
lamps burning and yourselves like men
that wait for their Lord when He will
return from the wedding. That when He
comes and knocks they may open to Him
immediately.

The flame in the virgins lamps was a symbol of their
readiness and when the flame went out this meant that
they were no longer ready.

It’s very simple

- if you are living in constant union with
the Spirit of Christ,
- if the Christ you are communing with in
your heart is really the Son of God and
not some false Christ you’ve set up for
your own twisted purposes,
- if it’s really Christ the Son of God
you’re walking with, and talking with,
and obeying,

then when the trumpet blast pierces the heavens you
won’t be afraid. You will lay down your work, go to
the door, look up at the sky, and you will know that
you’re no longer ahead of your time — your time has
come and that all the waiting and watching, and all
the suffering you endured through the night hours were
more than worth it.

At last the Kingdom of God has come and the children
of God will have their day — a day which will never
end. Maranatha — may it be soon.





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