Actively Waiting For Jesus (Part 1)
By Rich Carmicheal
"…But now He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him" (Heb. 9:26-28).
Jesus is coming again! Just as certainly as He came once to give His life on the Cross as a sacrifice for our sins, Jesus is coming again to bring salvation to those who are waiting (or looking) for Him. Can your life be described as one who is waiting for Jesus?
The biblical idea of "waiting" involves eager and confident expectation. For example, the Apostle Paul writes about how we "groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies" (Rom. 8:23). Waiting also includes patience, illustrated by the farmer who"waits for the land to yield its valuable crop" and who is "patient…for the autumn and spring rains" (Jas. 5:7).
But waiting is more than just patience and eager expectation. It also involves action. Those who are waiting for Jesus are not those who are just passively allowing time to go by as they patiently and eagerly expect Him to return. Instead, they take action in anticipation of His return. They actively wait by adjusting their lives to prepare for His second coming. There are several actions that mark the lives of those who wait for Jesus:
Pursue Peace and Holiness
For example, those who are waiting for Jesus pursue peace and holiness. As the Apostle Peter writes, "You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God…" (2 Pet. 3:11-12). He goes on to describe the upcoming destruction of the heavens and elements, and the promise of a new heaven and new earth, and then exhorts those who are waiting and looking forward to this to "make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace" with the Lord (2 Pet. 3:12-14). The writer of Hebrews echoes this exhortation and gives the purpose for it: "Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord" (Heb. 12:14).
Those who wait for Jesus are very serious about God’s standards. They want to be holy as He is holy (1 Pet. 1:15-16). They desire to please Him in every way, and are eager to be set apart for His purposes. They desire moral excellence and purity in mind, body, motives and actions. They do not want "even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people" (Eph. 5:3). Their lives are marked by thanksgiving, and not by "obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place" (Eph. 5:4).
They realize they are in the world, and are called to be the light and salt of the world (Matt. 5:13-16; Eph. 5:8), but are determined not to be "of the world" (John 17:14-15). They seek the sanctification that comes through the Holy Spirit (2 Thes. 2:13) and the cleansing that comes through the washing with water through the Word (Eph. 5:26; cf. John 17:17). They respond to the Lord’s discipline so that they might share in His holiness (Heb. 12:10-11). They long to have clean hands and pure hearts (Psa. 24:3-4), and they purify themselves "from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God" (2 Cor. 7:1).
As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, they clothe themselves "with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience" (Col. 3:12). They forgive as the Lord forgives them, and above all other virtues, they put on God’s love (Col. 3:13-14). They desire to be at peace with all men, and do all within their power to be reconciled with others.
In their pursuit of holiness, those who are waiting for Jesus take sin as a most serious issue. They deeply appreciate the terrible price He paid for their sins during His first appearance when He died on the Cross for them, and they want in no way to violate this costly salvation. They know that they have been redeemed by "the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect" (1 Pet. 1:19), and that to willfully continue on in sin would be tantamount to trampling the Son of God underfoot, and treating as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them (Heb. 10:29).
They know that Jesus is not coming back to bear sin (Heb. 9:28), and so those still living in sin when He returns are in grave danger. They know that the Judge is standing at the door (Jas. 5:9) and "is coming with thousands upon thousands of His holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done…" (Jude 14-15). They always make it their goal to please Him, knowing that "we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad" (2 Cor. 5:9-10). They know that "nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account" (Heb. 4:13), and that when the Lord comes, "He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and expose the motives of men’s hearts" (1 Cor. 4:5). They live in holy fear, realizing that "it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb. 10:31).
They know that anger toward a brother is subject to judgment (Matt. 5:22); as are careless words (Matt. 12:36), adultery and sexual immorality (Heb. 13:4), and everything else that belongs to the sinful nature (Col. 3:5-8). They know that those whose hearts are stubborn and unrepentant store up wrath against themselves for the day of God’s wrath when His righteous judgment is revealed (Rom. 2:5). They also know that no one can withstand God’s judgment apart from Christ, and so they embrace His precious blood, mercy and love, and turn away sin. They take the Apostle Paul’s exhortation to heart: "The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness…" (see Rom. 13:11-14). They say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and live self-controlled, godly lives while they "wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself to redeem us from all wickedness…" (Titus 2:12-14).
Another mark of those who are waiting for Jesus is that they persevere through hardship. They know that it is those who stand firm to the end who will be saved (Matt. 24:13). As they face trials, hardships, persecution and suffering, they find encouragement and hope in the truth that when Jesus returns, He will reward those who have persevered in their faith. They take to heart these words from Hebrews: "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised. For in just a little while, ‘He who is coming will come and will not delay. But My righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.’ But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved" (Heb. 10:35-39).
No matter how hard it is or may become for you, press on to the end, friend! As hard as it may be now, we know that when Jesus returns, everything will be made right. We have tasted the powers of the coming age (Heb. 6:5), and we can look forward to the fullness Jesus will bring when He comes and brings salvation with Him. Our citizenship is in heaven, and so "we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body" (Phil. 3:20-21). The Day is coming when there will be "no more death or mourning or crying or pain" (Rev. 21:4).
Take to heart the wonderful truth that there is an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade that is kept in heaven for you, and that "in this you can greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials" (see 1 Pet. 1:3-6). These trials "have come so that your faith…may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed" (1 Pet. 1:7). We are heirs of salvation (Heb. 1:14) and when Jesus returns we will discover the full dimension of His great salvation and enjoy it for eternity. So do not give up, but persevere to the end!
(Next month I will describe a number of other actions that mark the lives of those who are waiting on Jesus to return.)