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The Soon Coming King

April 11th, 2017

… until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. (1 Timothy 6:14-17 ESV)

In giving his divinely-inspired charge to Timothy, Paul added this thought. He said that Timothy was to “keep this commandment,” or he was to fulfill his calling “until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The “appearing” is epiphanea in the New Testament Greek, and was an important word in the New Testament for the coming of the Lord and the end of the age. (See 2 Tim. 4:1 and Titus 2:13.)

We often say these words with a sigh, “until He comes,” aware more of the delay in His coming than the promise of it. But it is given here in an entirely different manner, in a completely different spirit. Here there is faith, hope, and enthusiasm for the coming King.

There is one view of life that sees old age dismally. We start out strong and then grow weaker through the years, losing friends, strength, mental abilities, and optimism. We die as a relief, exhausted by our long and tiresome journey through life. Even some Christians fall into this view, even though there is little Christian about this outlook on life.

The other view is that for the Christian there is always a brighter day coming. We grow old and despite whatever indignities are associated with age, despite the losing of friends, strength, etc., we can say with the apostle Paul, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16 ESV).

The hope of the pastor and of each Christian, is not that we will be recognized and rewarded on earth for our contributions to the work of God, but that we will be affirmed in heaven by Christ Himself, who says, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord.”

And in order for that to happen, He must return. Truthfully, we are more excited about His return than about our own reward. He will come at the right time, and all of history is moving and working toward this goal. He is the One worthy of praise:

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:11-12 ESV)

We do not serve for just the sake of resting. We do not serve in order to be forgotten. We do not serve a cause or a calling that is passing away. We serve and worship the coming King, who is and will be victorious. This is the hope that we are to keep before us at all time.

Art is made, whether in paintings, music, or literature, by contrasting light and darkness. Dark and subdued colors fade into the background and bright and vivacious colors leap off the canvas. The darkness of this age, the subduing of man’s spiritual nature and of God’s standard of holiness, the darkening of hearts across this world, has caused a shadow to pass over our age. But the light is not some “new” human idea, or some “new” charismatic leader. Those are just more of the subdued colors of darkness.

The hope is the coming King who is the Light of the World and the hope of eternity. He is the new bright “color” of the future. From the moment we trusted in Christ we began living for eternity. Each day is closer to His return. Each day is closer to this great event. This is what we look forward to. He is who we look forward to.

1 Timothy, second coming , , , ,

Thanking God in Hard Times

November 4th, 2016

But we ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. He called you to this salvation through our gospel, so that you may possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thes. 2:13-14 NET)

We are in an incredibly tense American presidential race. Many have commented that it is the worst that we have seen during our lifetimes, and I would echo these thoughts. Also, as America is the most powerful nation on earth the whole populace of the world is caught up in the drama and nastiness of it.

Much of this I believe to be no more than political hype - both sides threatening that if the other candidate is elected the world will [practically, in their words] come to an end. Yet it has upset people around the world.

We can learn something from what Paul wrote in these verses of 2 Thessalonians. After describing the rise and ultimate downfall of the Antichrist, which will happen during the worst days on planet earth, Paul gives reasons why we can be grateful. He began to section with an intent to comfort us, not to upset us (2 Thes. 2:1-2) and he returns in these verses to accomplish that goal.

My friends, do not miss the peace and joy of Christ in dark and tense times. Jesus spoke of peace and joy that no one could take from a Christian (John 16:22) and this is the peace and joy we need to have.

Why can we be grateful in dark times? What does this passage teach us?

We can be grateful because we are assured by the love of God. He called us “brothers and sisters loved by the Lord” (2:13). Let us not despair because God loves us and His faithful love will secure our forgiveness and our salvation. No matter what happens on this earth, we should always remember that the Father affectionately remembers us. Sometimes we can see the trace of prophecy in current historical or political developments, but not always. When we cannot clearly see how God’s program of redemption is working out, we still trust in His love.

We can be grateful because God is at work in our lives. This is another cause of gratitude, that God’s love is experienced through the sanctifying work in our hearts of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit takes the truth of God’s Word and matures us and works in us to make us better people. During tumultuous times we can measure how mature we are by how our hearts are reacting. Are we afraid? Then we need to trust God more. Are we angry and vindictive? Then we need to embrace and share grace more.

We can be grateful because we are promised glory. Our citizenship is not in this world. We are just passing through this life. Our eternal home is with God in heaven where we shall share in His glory through the redemption we have in Christ. We should be responsible to do our duty here on earth, to make this world a better place. But our affections and expectations are ultimately invested in the eternal kingdom of God. “Conducting out lives in holiness and godliness, while waiting for and hastening the day of God,” as Peter wrote:

Now, dear friends, do not let this one thing escape your notice, that a single day is like a thousand years with the Lord and a thousand years are like a single day. The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some regard slowness, but is being patient toward you, because he does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief; when it comes, the heavens will disappear with a horrific noise, and the celestial bodies will melt away in a blaze, and the earth and every deed done on it will be laid bare. Since all these things are to melt away in this manner, what sort of people must we be, conducting our lives in holiness and godliness, while waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God? Because of this day, the heavens will be burned up and dissolve, and the celestial bodies will melt away in a blaze! But, according to his promise, we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness truly resides. (2 Peter 3:8-13)

Christians do not panic like the rest of the world. We live confidently, boldly, and at peace.

2 Thessalonians, Dealing with Difficulties, second coming , , ,