The Signs of God

Matthew

The Signs of God

April 29th, 1984 @ 10:50 AM

Matthew 24:3-30

And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
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THE SIGNS OF GOD

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Matthew 24:3-30

4-29-84    10:50 a.m.

 

 

It’s a joy for us in the First Baptist Church of Dallas to welcome the great multitudes of you who are sharing this hour on radio and on television.  This is the pastor bringing the message.  In the section on the great doctrines of the Bible called The Second Coming of Our Lord, the message today: The Signs of God.  In the twenty-fourth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, the apocalyptic discourse of our Lord, verse 3 reads like this: "And as He sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?’"  

The Signs of God.  There are three words, two of them in Hebrew and one of them in Greek that mean "signs." Sometimes they’re translated with other words such as "token," but they mean "signs." In Hebrew the word oth; and in Hebrew, the word mopheth; in Greek, the word sēmeíon.  Those words refer to the acts and the phenomena by which God confirms and reveals and makes known His purpose, His will, and His power. 

The Bible is a book of signs. It’s a book of words. It is no less a book of God’s signs.  The Bible begins with signs.  In the first chapter of the first book, in the Book of Genesis, it said, "God said, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens and let them be for signs, seasons, days and years’" [Genesis 1:14].  Those stars in the sky and the sun and the moon, God put up there for signs.  

Not only does the Bible open with signs, but the Bible closes with signs.  That first word, apokalupsis – that’s the first word in the last Book of the Bible [Revelation 1:1].  Apokalupsis: the unveiling, the revelation, the uncovering of Jesus Christ which God gave to show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass [Revelation 1:1].  And He sent and – if you would pronounce that word, what it means, you wouldn’t miss the point – and He sent and sign-i-fied it; sign-i-fied it, sēmainō.  Remember what I said a moment ago?  The word for "sign" in the New Testament is sēmeíon, and the verbal form of it is sēmainō.  And he sent and sēmainō – he sent and "sign-i-fied" it.  Now, we miss the point because we mispronounce the word.  We say "signify."  Well, "signify" takes it all away.  You could say "signify" forever and nobody [would] ever get "sign-i-fied" out of it.  He said: "And He ‘sign-i-fied’ it by His angel unto His servant John" [Revelation 1:1]. 

And in that last Book of the Revelation, the Apocalypse, the unveiling of our Lord, He made known to us all of those marvelous denouement visions of the end of the age in signs.   For example, in the fifteenth chapter, in the first verse, John says, "And I saw another sēmeíon.  I saw another great sign in heaven." 

Not only is the Bible a book of signs, but God is a God of signs.  One of the most remarkable testimonies you will ever read in human literature is that of Nebuchadnezzar in the fourth chapter of the Book of Daniel.  Nebuchadnezzar is giving his personal testimony.  The whole chapter is the personal testimony of the king of Babylon.  He lost his reason, he became mad, and he ate grass in the field like an ox.   And he was humbled, and he cried unto God, and the Lord restored his reason and restored his kingdom and restored his mind – restored his throne [Daniel 4:1-37].   And Nebuchadnezzar is giving his testimony, and he says, "How great are God’s signs!" That’s the way he starts – Daniel 4 and 3: "How great are God’s signs!" 

In that same prophetic book of Daniel, in chapter 6, Darius the king is overwhelmed by the delivery of the statesman Daniel from the mouth of the lions [Daniel 6:19-23].  And he exclaims, in the twenty-seventh verse of that sixth chapter, "This wonderful God of Daniel worketh signs in heaven and in earth."  And he made the decree that all the civilized world should honor that great God of signs [Daniel 6:26]. 

Truly, truly, God is a God of signs.  In the ninth chapter of the Book of Genesis, after the Flood had destroyed the earth, God said: "I do set my bow – my sign, my oth – in the sky. And it is a covenant which I make between me and you and between me and every living creature for perpetual generations" [Genesis 9:9-13] And when you see that bow in the cloud, that rainbow of color, that’s God’s sign set in the heaven that the earth will never be destroyed again by water.  In the second letter of Peter, the third [chapter], verses [5] and [7], Simon Peter says, at the end of the age, the judgment of God that falls upon this earth will not be by water; it will be by fire – God’s sign in the sky [2 Peter 3:5-7]. 

Not only that, but one of the amazing things you’ll read in the Word of the Lord is that God challenges us.  He dares us to look to Him for signs in the choices we make, in the decisions we make, in the way we go, the way we believe, the way we live, the work of our hands.  God challenges us by the invitation to ask Him for signs concerning what we ought to do and decisions we ought to make. 

One of the most amazing, I say, things I read in the Bible is in the seventh chapter of the Book of Isaiah when God says to Ahaz, "Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God; ask it either in the depth below, or in the height above."  "Ask God for a sign" [Isaiah 7:10-11].  And weak, vacillating Ahaz said, "I’ll not ask" [Isaiah 7:12]. Then – I don’t have time to expatiate on that. The reason for it was already in his heart.  He had secretly made up his mind that he was going to ask that bitter and hasty Assyrian nation to come and to help him and to war with him, a thing that proved disastrous for the people of God.  "I’m not going to ask for a sign.  If I did, it’d be the opposite of what I made up my mind to do."  But the challenge is always there just the same.  Ask God for a sign – whether it be in the depths or the heights, ask. 

Well, anyway, God gave the sign and that was that beautiful word of the fourteenth verse of the seventh chapter of Isaiah: the sign of the child that was born then; and before the child should know good from evil, all of those enemies of Israel God would have destroyed [Isaiah 7:14-16].  And, of course, the ultimate meaning: when God gave us the great Deliverer, and His name is Immanuel, born of a virgin [Matthew 1:23-25]. 

Not only do we find all of those signs in the Bible, but especially and particularly is that word sēmeíon, "sign," used to authenticate the ministry and the deity of Jesus our Lord.  The Book of John, the fourth gospel – the Book of John never ever uses the word "miracle."  In the King James Version of the Bible, you have it – "miracle, miracle" – but not in the way John wrote it. John used the word sēmeíon, "sign."  John 20:30 reads:

 

And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this Book: 

But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and believing ye might have life in His name. 

[John 20:30-31]

 

And John chose seven signs – seven signs – and he presented them in his gospel. That’s the Gospel of John.  This sign, you have it translated "miracle"; and then this sign, you have it translated "miracle"; and this sign.  John calls them "signs."  That’s Nicodemus’ word when he came to Jesus by night in the third chapter of the Gospel of John and said, "Rabbi, we know that Thou art a teacher come from God, for no man could do these sēmeíon – these signs – except God be with him" [John 3:1-2]. 

Now, the gospel itself is authenticated by signs.  The third verse of the second chapter of Hebrews, when the author introduces our great salvation, he says those who preached that gospel were confirmed in their witness by signs, by signs. 

When the scribes and the Pharisees came to Jesus in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Matthew and sought a sign of the Lord, He said the sign shall be the sign of the prophet Jonah: three days, three nights the Son of man will be in the heart of the earth and then He’ll be raised from the dead [Matthew 12:38-40]. 

In the second chapter of John, when the same disbelieving infidel group came to the Lord and asked for a sign, He said: "Destroy this temple" – talking about his body – "and the third day I’ll raise it again" [John 2:18-19].  In the preaching of the gospel on the day of Pentecost, Simon Peter said, "Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved by God among you by signs – by signs – which God did by Him" [Acts 2:22].  It is the signs, the sēmeíon, of the Lord Jesus Christ that set Him apart and point Him out as the Son of God. 

God reveals His purposes to His people by words and by signs.  God doesn’t do anything concerning which first He does not tell His people – always.  In the eighteenth chapter of the Book of Genesis, God said, "Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?" [Genesis 18:17-19].  Then, God told Abraham what He purposed for the cities of the plain [Genesis 18:20-33]. 

In Amos, chapter 3, verse 7: "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets."  God always speaks to His people, by words and by signs, concerning what He purposes to do.  That’s true from Genesis to Revelation: the revealing of God’s world plan to us by words and by signs – the meaning of what God does and what He intends to do.  Look at some of the things that God has done in His prophetic Word.

 In Isaiah, chapter 8, Isaiah says: "Behold, look, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs in Israel from the Lord of hosts" [Isaiah 8:18].  The names of those children – and they’re given there in the eighth chapter of the Book of Isaiah – the names of those children, as they walked up and down before the people – the names of those children were prophetic of what would happen to the people of God [Isaiah 8:1-6]. 

One of the most unusual things that you’ll come across in reading the Bible is in the twentieth chapter of the Book of Isaiah.  Listen to the third verse:

 

And the Lord said, Like as My servant Isaiah hath walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign upon Egypt and Ethiopia; 

So shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners, and the Ethiopians captives, young and old, naked and barefoot.

[Isaiah 20:3-4]

 

For three solid years, Isaiah walked naked among all the people up and down every street of the city and the town.  It was a sign from God that the Lord was going to judge Egypt and Ethiopia with the armies of Assyria and take them away naked and barefoot into captivity – a sign from God. 

Here’s another one – unusual: in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Ezekiel, the Lord tells Ezekiel to dig a hole through the wall of his house, and to take all of his belongings out through that hole, and to do it in the midnight hour. "And then when the people say, ‘What are you doing?  What doest thou?’  You say unto them, ‘I am your sign of God that He’s going to remove you out of your house and you’re going into captivity’" [Ezekiel 12:1-11]. God speaks by words and by signs. 

When we look at the signs of God, some of them are covenant signs.  God seals always His promise with some kind of a sign.  Circumcision is a sign from God between Him and the children of Abraham.  In the seventeenth chapter of the Book of Genesis, where circumcision is given as a sign, the sixth verse says to Abraham: "I’ll make thee exceeding fruitful."  That’s the first promise.  And the second one: "And I will give thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession" [Genesis 17:8].  No matter what any League of Nations may say, or whatever any United Nations may pass in resolution, or what anybody else says, God says the land of Palestine, forever, is an everlasting possession of the Jewish people.  And He gave a sign for it – the sign of God’s covenant that Abraham should be fruitful and that his seed should possess the land.  He says, "Ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; it shall be a sign of the covenant betwixt Me and you" [Genesis 17:11].  And the Apostle Paul, preaching about that, wrote in Romans 4, verse 11: "And Abraham received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of his faith."  A sign from God seals the promises of the Lord. 

Look again at the Sabbath.  The Sabbath is a sign between God and Israel not between God and us.  For us to keep a Sabbath day is ridiculous.  It has no meaning.  The Sabbath is a sign between God and the people of Israel.  Exodus 31:13: "Verily, My sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations."  And that’s repeated in Ezekiel 20, verse 12.  God says: "I gave them – Israel – My sabbaths, to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them." 

We observe the first day of the week. We observe Sunday.  That’s resurrection day for us; that’s Easter day for us; that’s the day we magnify our living Lord.  That’s why we meet on Sunday.  If I were a Jew, I ought to worship God on the Sabbath day. The Sabbath day is the sign God gave between Him and Israel.

Now, the Passover is a sign.  Exodus 13 and [verse] 8:

 

Thou shalt shew thy sons, saying, This is done because of that which the Lord did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt. 

And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes . . . for with a strong hand hath the Lord brought thee out of Egypt.

[Ezekiel 13:8-9]

 

The Passover is a sign that God gave to Israel that they might remember His grace and His goodness in leading them out of slavery and into the Canaan’s Promised Land. 

In some such way and sense the Lord’s Supper is a sign for us.  When I hold up that cup – "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, shed for the remission of sins" [Matthew 26:28] – it is a sign of God’s promise in Christ that I may find forgiveness of sin and life in Jesus. 

Not only are there covenant signs, but there are confirming signs.  God’s call will be confirmed by a godly, heavenly sign.  When on the backside of the desert, Moses saw the bush that burned in the third chapter of Exodus. The Lord spoke to him out of that bush, and God said to him, "I will be with thee; and this shall be the sign unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God at this place" [Exodus 3:1-6, 12]. 

 "Where you see this bush burn, there will you serve God."  And Moses was reluctant listening to the voice of the Lord and believing the sign himself [Exodus 3:11].  So, Moses said, in the next chapter, "They will not believe me."  They will say, "The Lord hath not appeared unto thee" [Exodus 4:1]. 

Then, in that chapter, the Lord said to Moses:

 

"What is that in your hand?" 

"A rod."            

"Cast it down."  It became a serpent. 

"Pick it up."  It became a rod again. 

"Put your hand in your bosom."  It became leprous. 

"Take it out."  It was whole again. 

Then, the Lord said, "If they do not believe the first sign, they will believe the second sign.  But, if they believe not these two signs, then do one other sign.  Take water out of the Nile River and pour it on the dry land, and it will become blood." 

[Exodus 4:2-9]

 

And then the chapter ends: Moses did the signs in the sight of the people and the people believed [Exodus 4:30-31].  Confirming signs – the confirmation of Moses that he was sent of God, called of God. 

All of us are familiar with the signs that Gideon asked of God in the sixth chapter of the Book of Judges.  It starts off, "God," Gideon says to God, "Lord God, show me a sign that You’re with me, that You will bless me."  And so the sign was given Gideon: a fleece and a dew on the fleece only and the ground all around dry, and then, the next night, the dew on the ground only and then the fleece dry.  These were confirming signs that God had called him [Judges 6:36-40].

Sometimes, these signs from God are visible phenomena of His displeasure and His unhappiness and His judgment upon people who have erred and who have gone away from the will of the Lord.  For example, in the seventh chapter of Exodus, and in the eighth chapter of Exodus, and in the tenth chapter of Exodus, and in Joshua, the twenty-fourth chapter, all of those ten plagues that were visited upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt – all those ten plagues are called signs of the judgment of God, of the displeasure of God with Pharaoh for oppressing His people [Exodus 7:1-5; 8:2, 15-16, 20-21, 28-32; 10:3-7, 20-23; Joshua 24:5-7]. 

In the Book of Numbers, the [sixteenth] chapter is the story of the ground, the earth opening up and swallowing Korah and his company [Numbers 16:28-34].  They had led in a rebellion against Moses [Numbers 16:1-3].  And in that twenty-sixth chapter, in the tenth verse, it says that they "became a sign."  That is, God was confirming the fact that He was speaking through Moses [Numbers 26:10].  He called Moses and not Korah, and the rebellion of Korah was displeasing to God; and they became a sign when the earth swallowed them up. 

One of the unusual signs you’ll read in the Bible is in Jeremiah 44 – Jeremiah 44:29 and 30.  There were those that fled out of Judah, against the will of God, to find refuge in Egypt; and the Lord was greatly displeased with them.  And the Lord says to them, "This shall be a sign unto you of my displeasure" – the Lord’s judgment against the Jews who had forsaken Judah to flee into Egypt. "This shall be a sign unto you.  Behold, I will give Pharaoh-Hophra of Egypt, your protector, you think, into the hands of his enemies." And they strangled him to death.  And the strangling murder of Pharaoh-Hophra was the sign from God – His displeasure and His judgment. 

There are confirming signs of God in His promised deliverance to His people.  In the thirty-seventh chapter of the prophet Isaiah, Hezekiah comes before the Lord with a desperate prayer.  He has received a letter from Sennacherib, the captain, the king of the Assyrian hosts that surround Jerusalem on every side and holds the city like a vise in his bitter and hasty and warlike hand.  And Sennacherib is threatening the total destruction of the people and the total destruction of the city.  And Hezekiah, helpless before so vast an army, comes before God in the house of the Lord and opens the letter before the Lord and pleads God for mercy [Isaiah 36:1-37:13].  Now, God says to Hezekiah, "I will deliver you.  This shall be a sign unto you.  This year you’re going to reap a gracious harvest.  And the next year you’re going to have a gracious harvest.  And the third year you’re going to have a gracious harvest."  And that night, one hundred eighty-five thousand of the soldiers of Sennacherib were dead, lifeless corpses [Isaiah 37:14-38].

Another beautiful sign in the next chapter of Isaiah: Isaiah has told King Hezekiah that he’s going to die, "You set your house in order. You’re going to die and not live."  And Hezekiah, a good king, turned his face to the wall and he wept and he prayed.  And while Isaiah was leaving the royal palace, God turned him around and sent him back and said, "Isaiah, you tell King Hezekiah that I’ve seen his tears, and I’ve heard his prayers, and I’ve added to his life fifteen years" [Isaiah 38:1-6].

Then the Lord gave him a sign, gave him a sign. "This shall be a sign unto thee from the Lord . . . Behold. I will bring again the shadow of the degrees, which has gone down in the sundial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward" [Isaiah 38:7-8].  Can you believe that?  "I’m going to bring that sundial back ten degrees as a sign that I’ve heard your prayers, seen your tears, and added fifteen years to your life." 

That same marvelous Lord God offered to that king Ahaz whose dial was named for him there in the palace ground.  In the seventh chapter of Isaiah, Ahaz is beset by Resin, the king of Syria, and by the son of Ramallah, the king of Samaria.  And Isaiah has promised deliverance; Ahaz doesn’t believe it [Isaiah 7:1-13].  Then he gave him the sign of Isaiah 7:14, "a child shall be born . . . and before he knows right from wrong, all of these enemies that afflict Israel will be gone."  Then he said the name of that child shall be Immanuel, born of a virgin, "God with us" [Isaiah 7:14-16].  And the ultimate fulfillment of that sign is in Luke 2, verse 12: "This shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger."  It was a sign of the truth of the word of the angel, and it was a sign from God.  This is the King of heaven who will deliver us from our sins.

God confirms His word with outward signs.  He does so in the lives of His servants.  For example in the first book of Samuel, chapter 10, Saul is anointed and chosen king; and when Samuel anoints him, he says, "One, two, three signs are going to follow you, going to precede you, going to be in your life this day."  And then Samuel says, "And let it be when these signs are come unto thee know that God is with thee."  Samuel’s anointing of Saul was accompanied by three wonderful signs [1 Samuel 10:1-9].

The same signs authenticate and confirm the call and ministry of the apostles.  In 2 Corinthians 12:12, Paul writes: "Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you."  Those wonderful miracles that the apostles did, they did not do advantitiously or upon their own choice; they were confirming signs from God that the Word and the gospel they preached were from heaven.  The apostles could not heal at will. They could not bring a miracle to pass by their own choice.

For example, in the last chapter of the last book that Paul wrote, the Apostle says, "Trophimus have I left sick at Miletus" [2 Timothy 4:20].  Trophimus was one of his finest helpers; and that was literally one of the unkindest, cruelest things that man could ever do, if he had the power to heal, to leave him sick at Miletus.  He didn’t have the power to heal. These are signs that God gave to the Apostles to confirm that they were emissaries of heaven and preachers of the gospel of the Son of God – the signs of God, the confirming signs of the Lord.

Now not only this time as you’re listing today have I spoken of confirming signs, that I believe in confirming signs, but I have spoken of it all along through all the years.  It’s just now that I sat myself down to study it in the Word of God and have been amazed at what I have read in God’s Holy Book, a Book of signs, and God, a God of signs. And when we stand before the Lord and seek a word from heaven, "What shall I do?"   Ask God for a sign, and God will give you a confirming sign in His will, in His purpose and pleasure and choice for you: God’s confirming signs. 

When I was called as pastor of the church forty years ago, I had a marvelous sign, a glorious sign from God.  I will speak of it on my fortieth anniversary.  Now I come to the place in my undershepherd ministry of this dear church, "What shall I do? Shall I continue, or shall I retire?"  I am asked that by every reporter that ever talks to me.  There’s going to be a long article about us in the Texas Monthly coming out this fall.  They’re sending a man; he’s here today attending all these services.  He’s going to stay here with us six weeks, just looking at us, writing it down.  Lord, help us: what he’s going to write in that magazine article.  Anyway, it’s the first question that he asked, "Are you planning to retire?" 

They all ask me that.  After you’ve been here forty years, it would be a logical question for anyone to ask, "What are you going to do? Are you going to retire?"  It had been my thought, humanly speaking, it had been my thought that when I come to my fortieth anniversary I shall retire.  "I’ll announce my retirement after I’ve been here forty full years."  Then one of the men came to me, one of these godly men, and said, "Pastor, that would be disastrous for us.  We’re in the very midst of our stewardship appeal and for you to announce you’re quitting right in the midst of our great stewardship appeal would be unthinkable. You can’t do that."

So I paused. No. When I was called here at the church the twenty-seventh day of September in 1944, the first Sunday in October I came here to preach as the new pastor of the church.  That’s why the anniversary is set on that day because as I walked out of the sanctuary here with Robert Coleman, he said to me, "I’ve never seen a service like this, not in my life.  This is your anniversary day."  That’s why it’s the first Sunday in October.  Well, not being able to say on that fortieth anniversary, "I retire," because of our great stewardship program. 

The deacons in Muskogee came to me when I was called as pastor of the church here and said, "Pastor, we’re in the midst of our stewardship program. Don’t leave now!" So I stayed there until November in order to finish our great stewardship appeal.  So the appeal is made to me by this godly man, "You can’t do that."  So I say, "No. We must stay here together."  It’s a tremendous thing the underwriting of the stewardship program of the church.

Then what shall I do?  When shall I retire?  And I asked God for a sign. I believe in confirming signs – that God speaks to us in signs.  "What shall I do?"  And this came to pass.  There is a gift given to our church of several millions of dollars for the building of a new beautiful building here just next to this Truett building and across the street where the KCBI building is.  And we desperately need that structure.  It’s for our children beginning at the junior age.  It’s for a beautiful fellowship hall, a sanctuary hall, where our people can gather every Wednesday night [and] have prayer meeting around the table while we’re breaking bread.  And after we eat and invite everybody to be present, then we have our prayer service in a beautiful sanctuary setting.  It’s going to be a marvelous thing, a beautiful thing, an impressive thing.

Well this gift, given to our church of several million dollars, it has two provisos in it.  Number one: that the building be built now; that it be built now.  And the second proviso: that it be built in my pastorate while I am here.  If we do not do it now, we will not have those several millions of dollars; and if it’s not done in my pastorate, while I’m here, we’ll not be given those several millions of dollars. 

Now I want you to know that several millions of dollars is lots of money; it’s lots of money.  When the executive committee called me to the Dallas Country Club at a breakfast and said because of the high interest rate we were paying on our debt of over ten million dollars – a debt of about ten and a half million, we were paying twenty-three and a half percent – they said, "We have to sell one of our buildings."  And the building they chose was the Spurgeon Harris building; "Got to sell one of our buildings."  And I came here in the pulpit – and even the papers wrote about it: I lamented, and I wrung my hands, and I wept, and I cried, and I pled, and I did everything I could to raise money in order to save that building for our people.  And do you know how much money I raised?  After all of my effort, I raised two million, two hundred thousand dollars.  Two million, two hundred thousand dollars with all of the effort I could pour into it.  I’m just showing you that several millions of dollars is a whole lot of money for a church to raise, and it’s a whole lot of money to leave on the table and walk away from it.  You better think about it a long time before you do it.  So those two provisos: we’ve got to do it now, and we have to do it in my pastorate.

So I was asking God for a sign, and the sign has been given.  I have to stay here.  Forget about that retirement program. I’ve got to stay here until that building is built.  And a fellow said to me this morning, "Pastor, we’re going to take ten years in building that building!"  We’re going to build that building, and it’s a great challenge.  Let’s roll up our sleeves. Let’s take off our coats and hats, and let’s get to work. 

I’m like that song that Kenny Rogers sings about the gambler telling him how to play his cards.  Kenny Rogers says in that song, "You gotta know when to fold ’em, and you gotta know when to hold them, and you gotta know when to run.  For there’s time and aplenty to count your money after the deal is done" ["The Gambler" written by Don Schlitz, 1978].  We’re just like that.  We’ve got to know how to pray for it; and we’ve got to know how to pay for it; and we’ve got to get that building done. And there is time and to spare to rest in leisure after the race is run.  So we’re on the way.

Dear people, these messages are taken off of tape and are published in the book, and I’ve got to finish it. So bear with me just for a minute, and I will summarize this last the best that I can.  We’re talking about God speaking to us in signs.  So the Lord gives us signs, which will be the sermon next Sunday, of His coming and of the end of the world.  They asked Him for signs of His coming.  Jesus did not rebuke them for asking. He did not ignore their question. He did not reprove them for inquiring. He did not say they had no right to know.  He did not say they were in error looking for signs, but Jesus sat down with His disciples and replied in Matthew 24, 25, in Luke 13, and in Luke 21. He replied in kind [Matthew 24:1-25:46; Luke 13:22-30; Luke 21:5-36].  He gave them signs to heed, and He spoke of signs they were to ignore.

The Apostle Paul does the same thing in the fifth chapter of the First Thessalonian letter.  They were so concerned over the coming of the Lord, and Paul tells them that the Lord has given them signs so that they need not be surprised as a thief coming in the middle of the night.  But being Christian, they have been told of the signs of His coming [1 Thessalonians 5:1-11].

There is a wonderful book by Dr. Norman B. Harrison entitled His Sure Return, and in that book he lists the signs of the coming of the Lord.  There are ten of them in the Pentateuch; there are fourteen in Isaiah and Jeremiah; there are fourteen in Ezekiel and Daniel; there are fifteen in the Minor Prophets.  There are seventeen given by Jesus; there are twenty-nine in the epistles; there are eleven in the Revelation.  You count them up, there are one hundred-ten separate signs in the Bible speaking of the glorious return of our Lord, and seventeen of them are happening today before our very eyes.

Now we can ignore them.  In Matthew 16:1-3, the Sadducees desired Him a sign from heaven.  And the Lord said to [them], "When it’s evening and the cloud and the sky is red you say, ‘It’s going to be fair.’  In the morning when you look and the sky is red you say, ‘It’s being foul weather; it’s red and lowering.’"  And then he said to them, "You can discern the face of the sky, but you can’t tell the times or the signs of the times."  And that’s true of the whole world.  We need to be aware of the signs of God that we might know His will for us, for our church, for the whole earth.

You have a wonderful example of the ignoring of a sign in the second chapter of Matthew.  Those wise men came from the east: "We’ve seen His star, the sign of His birth in the sky."  And the scribes and the Pharisees didn’t even bother to go to look at it.  The only one who applied the sign was Herod.  He made more of the Bible than the scribes and the Pharisees [Matthew 2:1-8].  We don’t want to be like that.

  I haven’t time to list them here, the coming of Christ the first time.  I have sign after sign here, the attestation of God, affirmations from heaven of the coming of our Lord, and yet they didn’t believe – they rejected Him.  Are we going to do that?  Are we going to be like that?  Looking at the signs of our Lord, are we going to hide our faces from Him and there’s no preparation.  There’s no readiness.  There’s no watchfulness.  There’s no praying; there’s no serving?

 

Jesus is coming again.

Though scoffers doubt it and you may doubt too,

Jesus is coming again.

All He has promised will ever be true,

Jesus is coming again.

Sure as the flowers that bloom in the spring,

Sure as sun rises to the world doth light bring,

Fragrance of lilies and birds on the wing,

Jesus is coming again.

Maybe tomorrow, O glorious day!

Jesus is coming again.

Gone all the sorrow we have known on life’s way,

Jesus is coming again.

Sure as the flowers that bloom in the spring,

Sure as sun rises to the world doth light bring,

Fragrance of lilies and birds on the wing,

Jesus is coming again.

[Author unknown]

 

No wonder Paul calls it "The Blessed Hope."  That’s our resurrection; that’s our home in heaven; that’s everything this wonderful singer who will be here tonight at 7:00 sang about.  Jesus Himself will lead us.  Jesus will gird Himself and serve us.  O, Lord.

We’re going to sing a song now and to give your heart to the Lord, to come into the fellowship of this wonderful church, to give your life in a new way to Jesus, come.  Make it now while we stand and while we sing.