Forerunner: Preparing for Christ’s Return
May 22, 2022
Preparing for Christ’s Return
My message today is entitled Forerunner.
Forerunner: a person who goes or is sent in advance to announce the coming of someone or something that follows.
-Forerunners bring awareness & understanding to others of the times we’re living in.
-Forerunners prepare the way of the Lord by preparing people to respond rightly to Jesus.
-Forerunners will have the urgency of the hour to fulfill the great commission- helping people into fellowship with God.
15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”
Essentially, forerunners carry the ministry of reconciliation: provoking others to be joined to God.
The ministry of the forerunner isn’t limited by vocation.
There is no denying that America has entered a time of judgment. There is no denying that many are facing great pressure (empty food shelves, rising gas prices, etc.) right now. The prophet Joel prophesied a move of God (Joel 2:28) that I believe we are on the verge of entering into, even in the midst of this pressure. I believe that God wants to use you to prepare others for Jesus’ return.
Matthew 25:1-13 (AMPC)
Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish (thoughtless, without forethought) and five were wise (sensible, intelligent, and prudent). 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they did not take any [extra] oil with them; 4 But the wise took flasks of oil along with them [also] with their lamps. 5 While the bridegroom lingered and was slow in coming, they all began nodding their heads, and they fell asleep. 6 But at midnight there was a shout, Behold, the bridegroom! Go out to meet him! 7 Then all those virgins got up and put their own lamps in order. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out. 9 But the wise replied, There will not be enough for us and for you; go instead to the dealers and buy for yourselves. 10 But while they were going away to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were prepared went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. 11 Later the other virgins also came and said, Lord, Lord, open [the door] to us! 12 But He replied, I solemnly declare to you, I do not know you [I am not acquainted with you]. 13 Watch therefore , for you know neither the day nor the hour when the Son of Man will come.
Foolish- those that are living in the moment and not with eternity in mind. These are those that are living for the here and now. These are those that have lamps with no oil.
Wise- prepared for the Bridegroom (Jesus). Being with Him for eternity (now and forever). These are those with lamps and oil. Jesus is their pursuit. The end result is eternity with Him.
Lamp- profession of faith in Jesus. Oil- how we are living out our fellowship and obedience to Him.
Jesus is coming back for those that have lamps with oil in them.
Verse(s) 6-7: But at midnight there was a shout, Behold, the bridegroom! Go out to meet him! Then all those virgins got up and put their own lamps in order.
It’s not midnight yet, but it is dark! The Lord wants people who have understanding of the times and seasons to cry out! He wants voices to cry out! He wants FORERUNNERS. The voice of the forerunner will carry the ache of God’s heart. This voice has the ability to provoke a people to put their lamps in order.
Some are prepared for His coming; others are not.
We are forerunners, and we need to think that way.
John the Baptist
The best example of a forerunner is John the Baptist.
Luke 1:13-17 (NKJV)
13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
- Humble (Great in the sight of the Lord)
John was great because he was humble. He was a servant. Jesus said that the greatest in the kingdom are those that serve. John lived in isolation in the desert, ate honey and locusts, and wore camel’s hair. He was lowly. He forsook the luxuries that others had. He was all in. Are you quick to serve others? Are you willing to be last?
- Holy (Drank neither wine nor strong drink)
This speaks of holiness/purity. John was set apart to be used by God. We’re living in a time where many in the church want to be used by God, but they don’t want to remain separated for His use. Do we know what the cost is? Are we willing to pay the price?
- Filled with the Holy Spirit
The Greek word for “filled” is the same word used in Acts 2:4 (And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.)
Filled: furnish, accomplish, fill, supply
Acts 1:8 (NKJV)
8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
In addition to a prayer language, the baptism of the Holy Spirit brings power, might, & strength. We need boldness like never before to be Jesus’ witnesses in the earth.
These things are at work within the forerunner, and many shall turn to the Lord.
It was said that John would go forth in the spirit and power of Elijah. Elijah was a prophet in the old testament. His ministry consisted of:
- To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children- restoration and reconciliation of family
- Turn the disobedient to the wisdom of the just- bringing the unbelieving into a right relationship with Jesus
- To make a people prepared for the Lord- discipleship.
I really want to emphasize the character of these two forerunners: John the Baptist and Elijah
“How long shall you waver between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow Him! But if Baal, then follow Him.” (1 Kings 18:21)
He trained and raised up Elisha. He was willing to pour into Elisha. And likewise, Elisha was not eager to take over and do it his way. Elisha wanted a double portion of his spirit, not his power (2 Kings 2:9). He had the character to sustain the power.
This is a day for believers to have character to match the anointing. God did miracles through Elijah, but character has to be of importance to us.
I mentioned that our nation is in judgment. Could part of the reason be that the Church has been lacking in character, integrity, humility,etc?
Ask yourself, would someone know that I am a believer by how I act?
Luke 3:2-3;8-14 (NKJV)
2 while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. 3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins,
John’s message was a message of repentance & reconciliation
Metanoia is the Greek word for repentance.
It means change of mind. In other words, stop what you are doing that is sin (contrary to God’s will) and do His will. Do a 180-degree spin in the direction your life is going and move towards God.
What does this look like? John answers this question.
8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 9 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
10 So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?” 11 He answered and said to them, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.” 12 Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.” 14 Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.”
Let the change on the inside come on the outside. Have integrity, be honest, love others, treat people right.
Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV)
12 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
If we are to become the messenger, we must first conform to the message.
If we are to follow Jesus we have to conform to His example of living. We should look and be like Jesus and not the world.
Galatians 5:19-26 (AMPC)
19 Now the doings (practices) of the flesh are clear (obvious): they are immorality, impurity, indecency,
20 Idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger (ill temper), selfishness, divisions (dissensions), party spirit (factions, sects with peculiar opinions, heresies),
21 Envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness,
23 Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law that can bring a charge].
24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus (the Messiah) have crucified the flesh (the godless human nature) with its passions and appetites and desires.
25 If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. [If by the Holy Spirit we have our life in God, let us go forward walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit.]
26 Let us not become vainglorious and self-conceited, competitive and challenging and provoking and irritating to one another, envying and being jealous of one another.
Jesus said that the tree is known by its fruit. Apple trees don’t produce oranges. Healthy trees produce good fruit. Bad trees produce rotten fruit, if any fruit at all.
The fruit of the Spirit is in every believer in seed form, but must be cultivated. Every tree can grow as it should within the right environment. The right environment will have soil, sun, and water.
To live the life God intends for you to have with good fruit, you need the right environment. (The Word, fellowship with believers/church, fellowship with the Lord)
John 1:19-27 (NKJV)
19 Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”
21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.”
22 Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?”
23 He said: “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness:’Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”
24 Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees. 25 And they asked him, saying, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” 26 John answered them, saying, “I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. 27 It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.”
John knew what was told of his birth and his assignment in preparing the way for Jesus. He spent his days consuming the scroll of Isaiah and letting the message of the coming Messiah grow inside of Him. John was a lover of the Word. He loved it so much that the message of the Messiah wasn’t just head knowledge; it dropped to his heart and consumed him until he became the message.
Isaiah 40:3 (NKJV)
The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; Make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”
I am the voice! Voices speak with clarity and boldness. Voices provoke people to action. Voices are not parrots. Parrots just echo what they hear and regurgitate information to the others. Echoes speak of what they know nothing about!
Trust the fruit. I believe that those closest to us like our family and coworkers will be the primary people we’ll get to speak to about being reconciled to God. But our character will precede us! Our character will be the proof that we know what and Who we’re talking about.
We need voices willing to cry out and provoke others. We need people to slow down long enough to talk to the stranger at the grocery store. He wants people who are willing to have that conversation again with a family member.
God wants voices to cry out that the Bridegroom is coming! He wants voices to say: Prepare the way of the Lord!
Even in our personal lives, we need to heed this message for ourselves. Make straight the path of the Lord. Now is the time to walk with God if you haven’t been. Now is not the time to compromise and get involved with the world and the things of the world.
What Jesus said about John the Baptist
Jesus said (John 5:25) that John was a burning and shining lamp.
Oil-less lamps don’t shine. There was a burning passion on the inside of John for the Lord and His purposes being fulfilled.
Matthew 11:7-11 (AMPC)
7 Then as these men went their way, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: What did you go out in the wilderness (desert) to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 What did you go out to see then? A man clothed in soft garments? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in the houses of kings. 9 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one [out of the common, more eminent, more remarkable, and] superior to a prophet. 10 This is the one of whom it is written, Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You, who shall make ready Your way before You. 11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
A reed shaken in the wind: John wasn’t moved by the culture around Him? Are you? Are you jumping on every new fad and trend? John challenged the culture around Him. He did not conform to it.
A man clothed in soft raiment: John wasn’t after the approval, applause and gaze of man. He wasn’t after influence nor power.
More than a prophet: He didn’t do miracles. He turned people.
John was called great, but Jesus extends the invitation for us to exceed John’s greatness through servanthood and humility for the glory of God.
The Joy of the Forerunner Ministry
John 3:28-30 (AMPC)
28 You yourselves are my witnesses [you personally bear me out] that I stated, I am not the Christ (the Anointed One, the Messiah), but I have [only] been sent before Him [in advance of Him, to be His appointed forerunner, His messenger, His announcer].
29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the groomsman who stands by and listens to him rejoices greatly and heartily on account of the bridegroom’s voice. This then is my pleasure and joy, and it is now complete.
30 He must increase, but I must decrease. [He must grow more prominent; I must grow less so.]
The spirit and power of Elijah that was on John is coming on the church:
- Recognize that we are sent before His 2nd coming
- We don’t own anyone.
- His happiness is our delight
Therefore, He must increase, and we must decrease. It’s not about us and getting our needs met. It’s about Him and His Kingdom.
Ex: Wedding set up- we all have 1 goal. Get the bride down the aisle to marry the groom. As friends of the bridegroom, you may be the best man, the photographer, you may get pulled in at the last minute
To be the wedding director, you may be asked to do anything according to your gifting and ability. But you already have the ability to get the task done so that the goal is achieved.
- Identify people I often come in contact with who can be reached. Ask God for wisdom and the open door to engage them.
- Ask yourself: Are servanthood, purity, and humility active parts of my character? Ask God to help you in these areas.
- Examine your life to see if your way of living reflects Jesus. You can’t talk about anyone you don’t know.