Bible Study Theology

Christ’s return is certain

Yesterday I talked about the Scriptural command that we should encourage one another with the fact of Christ’s return.  I believe that when we fail to do this, the result is either apathetic disengagement with the work of the Lord, or despair in the face of persecution and difficulty.  God has saved us, his children, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  And he has given us  the “blessed hope” that our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will return and complete that salvation by his glorious appearing (Titus 2:13-14)

So what does the Bible teach about Jesus’ return?

His return is certain.

There is no doubt: Jesus will come back.  The angels said to the 11 disciples as they watched Jesus rise up into the air:  “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11)  Jesus will come.  As I Thess. 5.2 says, “the day of the Lord will come…”  In Matthew 24:44 Jesus said, “…the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”  

The Bible also reminds us that the certainty of Christ’s coming will very often be challenged by those around us.  The apostle Peter says in 2 Peter 3:3-4

3…knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.  4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming?  For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”

But even though at times we may be tempted to question the return of Christ due to influences like  this spoken of by the apostle, let us encourage ourselves (and one another) with this fact:  Jesus IS coming.  It WILL happen!  A more certain assertion cannot be made than this one:  Jesus will return to earth.   There is no fact more certain than that. 

  • It is more certain than the possibility that the cancer in your body will kill you.
  • It is more certain than the continuation of your career.
  • It is more certain than the value of your life insurance policy.
  • It is more certain than the retirement you are planning.
  • It is more certain than the plans you have for what you want to do for the Lord.

Jesus is coming.  Hallelujah and Maranatha!

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!  21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.  Amen.

(Revelation 22:20-21)

I want to continue with more blog posts on the coming of Christ, but it may not be until the end of the month before I can post again.  Sorry.

NOTE:  In order to keep this post brief, I haven’t included all the specific promises of Christ’s return that the Bible contains.  Perhaps you could contribute to this blog by mentioning in the comments section some of the specific verses promising Christ’s coming that I have not mentioned.

Bible Study Theology

The importance of meditating on Christ’s return

Recently I was involved in a special prayer meeting for a church in Asia that is being persecuted.  As we prayed together, the Spirit brought to my mind the following passage from 1 Thessalonians, and the importance of actively maintaining in the forefront of our minds the hope of Christ’s return.  Frequent meditation on Christ’s return will encourage and strengthen us as we face persecution and difficulty in this world.  

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.  14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.  15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.  16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God.  And the dead in Christ will rise first.  17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.  18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

When we fail to meditate on these details of Christ’s return, we are missing out on a very important source of encouragement that God has designed for us.  Paul says that we are to “encourage one another with these words.”  

In the next chapter, he says the same thing:  “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (I Thessalonians 5:11).  This second reminder to encourage one another, just like the first, follows a description of the details that will surround Christ’s return to earth.  

I Thessalonians 5:1-10

“Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you.  2 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.  3 While people are saying, ‘There is peace and security’, then sudden destruction will come upon them as labour pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.  4 But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief.  5 For you are all children of light, children of the day.  We are not of the night or of the darkness. 6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.  7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night.  8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.  9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.  11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

Consider the tremendous power these truths have to encourage us as God’s people.  When we face persecution and difficulty during our lives, even if that difficulty is for an extended period of time (perhaps even for our whole lives), meditating on the truth that Jesus is coming back and will eternally reign as king over a perfect and sinless new earth will give us a different perspective on our circumstances.  What is a year of suffering? or ten years?  or a lifetime? in comparison to what Jesus has prepared for us in eternity?

Or taken from another perspective, meditating on Christ’s return will encourage us not to be slothful and lazy during those times when we are not facing difficulty or persecution.  As verse 6 says, “let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and sober.”  What regret we will experience at the return of Christ if we have not busied ourselves with the Lord’s work as we wait for him to come.  We will be like the servant who had nothing to show for the talent that had been entrusted to him in his master’s absence.  (For a sobering thought, read the consequences this servant suffered in Matthew 25:30)

So given the power that these truths have to encourage us, over the next several days, I want to meditate on what the Scriptures teach about the return of Christ.

Bible Study

Jerusalem: God dwelling with his people (Psalm 137:6)

Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy!

This verse caught my attention because it is a rephrasing of my current life verse, Ps. 27.4. In Ps. 27.4, the psalmist says that if he is going to ask the Lord for only one thing, this is what it would be: that he might dwell in the house of the Lord forever, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord. Basically, he wants to be with God. Here in Ps. 137, the psalmist is saying the same thing. Jerusalem is the city that God makes his dwelling. So Jerusalem symbolizes God’s presence with his people (see also I Ki 11:36; 14:21, II Ki. 21:4-7, II Ch. 6:6; 12:13, Zec. 2:5; 8:3-8, Rev. 21:2-3. By saying that Jerusalem is above his highest joy, the psalmist is saying that he wants to be with God more than anything. This joy is set above every other joy.

The phrase about the tongue sticking to the roof of his mouth is used three other times in the Bible and always refers to not being able to speak. So the psalmist is saying, “If I fail to make being with God my highest joy, then I really don’t have anything worth saying or singing about. Same thing with “let my right hand forget its skills” in v. 5. He is referring to playing an instrument (see context of vs. 3-4).

When I fail to value and appreciate and seek to be in fellowship with God, then I have lost my highest joy. Nothing else is worthy of my life. So to apply this scripture, I need to find ways to express this practically. How am I going to enjoy God’s presence today?

In Rev. 3:20 Jesus issues an invitation to the church in Laodicea, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock…”. We often associate this verse with evangelism and inviting people to come to Christ initially, but the invitation here is to people who are already Christians. Jesus wants to “come in and eat with him, and he with me.” The picture is one of fellowship.