I Will Come Again
On my previous post, I explored some of the significance of the birth of Jesus and how it fits with the character of God as described throughout the Scriptures. On this post, I will take a look at how God’s desire to be with us impacts our lives today and ultimately point forward to a great event, the second coming of Jesus!
In John 14 Jesus tells his disciples He will come again. Jesus also adds
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
- John 14:6 NKJV
These truths found in John 14 are extremely important because they give us hope and point us in the right direction. Jesus is coming again, that gives us hope, Jesus is the way, that gives us direction. Allow me to explain.
In Matthew 24-25 Jesus briefly talks about His second coming. I would say the main idea of this passage is
Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.
- Matthew 24:42 NKJV
Jesus is not setting a date for His coming, rather He tells His disciples, and us, the signs that will remind us that He is coming. Whenever we witness wars and rumors of wars and famines and pestilences we are reminded that Jesus is coming again. He also tells us what to do, Jesus tells us to watch.
“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.
- Matthew 25:13 NKJV
Jesus then tells several parables and in all of them the master or bridegroom goes on a trip and takes a long time to return. Each story is different but there are similarities, the main one being the master returns at a time when He is not expected and He rewards the servants according to how they were behaving. Because the servants or virgins do not know when the master/bridegroom will return they ought to live each day expecting His return.
We know that Jesus came the first time, He came as one of us, He was born as a baby in a stable. He grew up in this sinful world lived a perfect life without sin and ultimately died for our sins, that we might have life in Him (John 3:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:10; Romans 14:9; 1 Peter 2:22). But we still live in a sinful world, there is still pain and suffering, sin still exists, Jesus must come again to judge.
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.
Whether the second coming will be a happy or terrible event really depends on you and on how you choose to live your life.
Jesus clearly tells us to be ready, to watch.
How do we go about that?
This is a topic that I continue to study.
How should I live my life in light of the imminent coming of Jesus?
I do not want to live my life terrified. For many years that was m understanding. I better not do anything bad because Jesus could come back at any moment and I would be lost. I thought that to believe in the second coming of Jesus and to live in expectation of it meant being constantly afraid of it. I doubt I am the only one who has struggled with or misunderstood what it means to live expecting the soon return of Jesus. I know of people who never went to college or started a career because there was no need since Jesus was coming soon. There are those who have moved away from civilization to the mountains or the countryside and avoided education and technology believing they were doing what God called them to do in order to prepare for the end of the age.
Here is my struggle with this.
When I isolate myself and move away from others, I have made the gospel about me. When I want to be perfect for Jesus to save me, and in order to be perfect I feel like I must move away from all others (since it is much easier to feel like I am perfect when I am not interacting with others), what happens to the mission? Who is more faithful to Jesus, the believer living off by himself in a hut in the middle of the woods or the missionary looking for ways to share the gospel with those who have not heard it?
Some believe ,and even preach, that a perfect (sinless) generation will bring about the second coming of Jesus. I wonder how they interpret Jesus’ words found in Matthew 24?
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
- Matthew 24:14 NKJV
And what happens to Jesus’ command in Matthew 28?
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
- Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV (bold mine)
How do I live my life?
Personally, I try to balance the avoidance of sin and the call to mission. I have not yet mastered this, but I currently believe this to be what God has called me to do. I believe the key to living a life where I draw closer to Jesus while being involved in reaching others for the kingdom of God is found in John 15.
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
- John 15:1-4 NKJV
What I know
What I know for sure is that God loves me and that God wants to save me.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
- John 3:16 NKJV (bold mine)
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- Romans 8:31-39 NKJV (bold mine)
This topic is huge and expands the entire Bible. I believe I will continue to grow in my understanding of God’s love for me and His desire to save me, His desire to be with me.
God with us
Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
- Revelation 21:1-4 NKJV (bold mine)
In Revelation 21 we read about the ultimate fulfillment of God’s desire to be with us. So I know for sure that God loves me and wants to be with me.
What’s My Part?
From Matthew 24-25, John 14-15 and Revelation 20:11-15 I get a clear picture of judgment involving how I live my life. This brings me back to my original question. Do I leave everyone in an attempt to live a holier life? DoI maintain contact with people in order to share Jesus with them? What should I do?
With the new year just around the corner, many are thinking about what New Year’s Resolutions to make, what changes to make to make the coming year even better than the previous one. Thinking about this I have come across 3 things that can be considered my part.
The Word of God
The first part I identified is receiving God’s word.
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
John 8:31-32 NKJV (bold mine)
It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of receiving the word of God.
22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, 24 because
“All flesh is as grass,
And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers,
And its flower falls away,
25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.”
Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.
- 1 Peter 1:22-25 NKJV (bold mine)
The word of God is not only how we receive the gospel it also has the power to change the life of those who believe it.
For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.
1 Thessalonians 2:13 NKJV
There are many other texts that address this, I would recommend reading John 14-15. Here is one verse that highlights the power of the word of God
You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
John 15:3 NKJV
The receiving of the word of God continues to be of incredible value especially to those who already believe. It is not enough to be aware of the word of God and what it teaches but to receive it daily.
The second part is holding the word of God and refusing to let it go.
The longest chapter in the Bible is entirely dedicated to the value and power of the word of God, Psalm 119.
Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.
Psalm 119:11 NKJV
The book of Deuteronomy is full of warnings for the children of Israel to not forget what God had done for them (see Deuteronomy 4, 8). Joshua is told to be courageous based on what God commanded him to do.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
- Joshua 1:9 NKJV
The word of God is how we learn about who God is, we learn about what He has done and what He promises to do. How can we hope in the LORD unless we know what He has promised and what He has done?
The third part is to yield ourselves fully to God’s word.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJ
Unless we yield and submit to the will of God as expressed in His word, reading it will do us no good.
Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.
Revelation 14:12 NKJV
My new year’s resolution, the path to spiritual growth, the way to find the balance between living a life set apart while remaining a missionary can be summarized in receiving, holding, and yielding to the word of God. the secret to spiritual growth and missionary success is abiding in Jesus, and abiding in Jesus takes place when I receive His word, when I hold His word and refuse to let it go, and when I yield my selfish desires and sinful tendencies to his word, allowing the word of God to shape how I live my life.
Love must be the principle of action.
Everything I do will have value only when I do them out of love for God. God loved and sacrificed, He gave His only Son (John 3:16). Jesus loved so much that He gave His life for us (1 John 3:16). When we love God, our love will be revealed in sacrifice. It won’t feel like a sacrifice to us, but it will look that way to those who have not experienced that degree of love for God.
This is best demonstrated by Jesus in Matthew 25:31-45. The sheep had done many good actions but they were not even aware of it. They were not even aware that they were bearing fruit, they didn’t see it as a special work deserving any reward.
“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
- Matthew 25:37-40 NKJV
The righteous were obeying God, doing God’s will, they were bearing fruit, but they did it without even noticing. When you are abiding in Christ, receiving His word, holding His word, and yielding to His word He takes care of shaping your character and molding it according to His will. God will bless you and make you a blessing.