Anticipating Christ’s Return
Most people know the story of the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ as a baby in a manger. Many know He came to die on a cross for sinners. They celebrate His birth with carols, decorations, parties and gifts; even though a strong, growing vocal minority would like to see Christmas removed from the American landscape.
But although much of the world is aware of and even celebrates Christ’s first coming, most of Christendom despises and ignores His second coming to judge the world. Many who call themselves Christians are ignorant or misguided about this Biblical truth.
Unbelievers don’t want to hear about the second coming of Christ, or judgment and hell. They dread it and down deep in their hearts they know it is true. If as adults we believed in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, they would laugh us off as foolish; but because they have a vague uneasiness that the Bible and Christianity may possibly be true, they hate and try to silence Christianity and those who declare it. They mistakenly think that if they silence Christians, God and His Truth will go away.
Regardless, we Christians need to lovingly and faithfully warn them. In fact, one of the best ways to share the Gospel is to begin by warning sinners of the Biblical facts concerning Christ’s second coming.
Jesus constantly warned of His second coming throughout His ministry. In Luke 12:40 He taught, “Be ready also: for the Son of Man comes at an hour when you don’t expect Him.” In Acts 17:30-31 Paul approached the unconverted religionists in Athens with the warning, “The times of this ignorance, God winked at; but now commands every man everywhere to repent. Because He has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He has ordained; whereof He has given assurance unto all men, in that He has raised Him from the dead.” Jesus, who was crucified, buried and raised from the dead on the third day, is one day returning to this earth. His second coming will be to judge and rule over this world for a Millennium, one thousand years.
Go to the link on PROPHECY to learn more about the Millennium and of the eternal state which follows.
Though unbelievers hate and despise the idea of Christ’s return to judge this world, we Christians long for His return and we sing, “Oh, Lord Jesus, how long, how long, ere we sing that glad song, Christ Returneth, Christ Returneth. Hallelujah Amen. Hallelujah Amen.”
Listen to these Biblical promises of Christ’s second coming that challenge us as Christians to be faithful and ready for His return.
“Be patient therefore brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waits for the precious fruit of the earth, and has long patience for it, until he receives the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient, establish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draws nigh.” James 5:7-8
I encourage you to read the major passages on the details of the return of Christ for His own as found in I Corinthians 15:51-58 and I Thessalonians 4:13-18.
How can we prepare for His coming? Let’s return to Luke 21 as we wind up our study of Christ’s Olivet Discourse. Jesus says to us in verse 28, “Look up and lift up your heads, for your redemption draws near.”
I. LOOK UP WITH ANTICIPATION AND ENCOURAGEMENT.
When we look at the circumstances around us: political, economic and moral darkness, we have reason to feel hopeless, despondent and in despair.
But when we look up to Jesus who bids us to be of good cheer for He is returning for us and to take over this world one day, perhaps sooner than we can imagine; He give us His blessed hope. James wrote in James 5:8 “Be patient, establish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draws near.” The last promise and the last prayer in the Bible are found in Revelation 22:20. They are “Surely I come quickly. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
II. LOOK IN WITH INTROSPECTION AND SELF-JUDGMENT.
That’s Jesus’ challenge to us in verse 34 of Luke 21. “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and the cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.
Christ is warning us here to beware of living lives of excess, immoderation and self-indulgence, living for fun and pleasure and self-satisfaction. Imagine! Christians partying while the world around us goes to hell.
It’s not sinful for Christians to have fun and enjoy life. I love Church socials and wacky fun. I love to see our children and our teens enjoying occasional church socials and parties in the homes; but it is wrong for Christians to be surfeited or weighed down, trying to drown themselves in the pleasures of life and forget the reality of Christ’s imminent return.
If anything, church parties and socials should be occasions when we invite our unsaved friends to join us in our fun times so that they can see first hand the reality of Christian joy. That may be the first step to winning them to Christ.
The joyful anticipation of meeting Christ imminently should lead to growth in virtue and holiness. Listen to John in I John 3:2-3 “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. and every man who has this hope in him, purifies himself even as He (Jesus) is pure.
Paul says the same thing in Titus 2:11-14. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldy lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world, looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us and purify unto Himself a people for His own possession, zealous of good works.”
Paul writes these kinds of warnings to the various churches. You can read another of them in Romans 13:11-14. Peter also warns Christians of the return of Christ in II Peter 3. In verse 11 he reminds us as Christians, “See then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.”
John, an old man when he writes His Epistles, in I John 2:28 reminds Christians, “And now, little children, abide in Him; that when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.”
III. LOOK OUT WITH EVANGELISTIC CONCERN
In the Matthew 24 account of the Olivet Discourse, Jesus refers to the need for evangelistic activity. He reminds us that in Noah’s time in the days before the Flood began, life went on as usual with people eating and drinking and getting married and ignoring Noah’s warning of a world wide flood right up to the day Noah and his family entered the ark. In Luke 21:35 Jesus speaks of the world’s population as being trapped in a snare when He returns to judge.
In II Peter 3 Peter likens the universal world wide flood of Noah’s Day to the world wide judgment that will fall on the earth when Christ returns. As people scorned a flood in Noah’s day; so today, unconverted scientists and teachers close their minds to all the evidence of a flood because they know that if they believe it to be true, to be consistent they must also believe in the world wide judgment Peter warned of in this 3rd chapter.
How do you stand? Is your faith in Christ who died for your sins and rose again for your justification? If so, you are justified and ready for the return of Christ. If not, you stand condemned to the fiery judgment that awaits this earth and all those who dwell on this earth.
Thank God for the doxology in Jude’s little one chapter epistle. Verses 24 and 25 declare “Now unto Him (Jesus our Saviour) who is able to keep you from falling and to present you FAULTLESS before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God, OUR SAVIOUR, JESUS, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever, Amen.”
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