Eagerly Awaiting Our Savior
By Rich Carmicheal
"…Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ..." (Phil. 3:20).
Christians differ in their understanding of the events surrounding the Second Coming of Christ. They have differing views, for example, of the timing and nature of the Rapture, the Great Tribulation, and the Millennium. This is due to a number of factors such as the teaching one has received and the principles one uses for interpreting biblical prophecy. However, in spite of the variety of views concerning the Second Coming, there are at least three central truths upon which all Christians can agree: 1) Jesus IS coming again, 2) we must be ready and watchful, and 3) a glorious eternity awaits all who belong to Him!
Jesus IS Coming Again!
God’s Word makes it clear that Jesus Christ is coming again. Though there may be some uncertainty from man’s perspective about the timing and nature of events associated with the Lord’s return, there is absolutely no doubt that He is coming. He IS coming! How can we know that with such certainty? Because the Lord Himself has promised to return, and He is completely faithful to His promises. We can "hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful" (Heb. 10:23). For example, Jesus promises, "…I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am" (John 14:3). He also makes this promise: "For the Son of Man is going to come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then He will reward each person according to what he has done" (Matt. 16:27). And, in the final chapter of the Bible, He declares, "Behold, I am coming soon!" (Rev. 22:12).
Of course, there will be those people who, like those mentioned in 2 Peter 3:3-4, will scoff at the idea of the Second Coming. But in response, Peter gives this reminder: "…With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare" (2 Pet. 3:8-10). Likewise, the Apostle Paul stresses the certainty of the "appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in His own time…" (1 Tim. 6:14-15). Jesus teaches that "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father" (Matt. 24:36). Though we do not know the day or hour, it is certain that in the Father’s perfect timing, Jesus IS coming again!
Be Ready and Watchful!
In light of the certainty of Christ’s return, the admonition throughout the New Testament is to be ready and watchful: "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come…. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him" (Matt. 24:42, 44).
The writer of Hebrews declares that Christ "…will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him" (Heb. 9:28). Our "waiting" for Him is not a passive waiting, but a very active waiting. Paul points out in his letter to Titus that the grace of God "…teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good" (Titus 2:12-14). As we wait for Him, we are to deny ungodliness, worldly passions and wickedness, and embrace godliness, purity and uprightness. We are to be clear minded and self-controlled so that we can pray (1 Pet. 4:7-8). We are to encourage one another and spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24-25). As Paul points out in Colossians 3:1-17, Christ is now our life, and since we await His appearing, we are to put to death and rid ourselves of whatever belongs to our earthly nature such as sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, greed, anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language and lying. And we are to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, love, peace and gratitude. We are to let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly, and we are to overflow with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.
As we look forward to His return, we are to "make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him" (2 Pet. 3:14). And we are to do these things all the more as we see the Day approaching (Heb. 10:25). We are to discern the present time and respond accordingly: "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" (Rom. 13:11-12).
A Glorious Eternity Awaits Us!
Now is the time to become vigilant and diligent. Now is the time to stand firm in the faith, to turn from sin and embrace godliness. Now is the time to be faithful to all He is calling you to be and to do. Consider some of the glorious things in store for those who are ready and waiting for His return:
We will receive reward from the Lord. "For the Son of Man is going to come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then He will reward each person according to what he has done" (Matt. 16:27).
We will receive an inheritance – the kingdom. "Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world" (Matt. 25:34).
We will be given a place in the Father’s house. "In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am" (John 14:2-3).
We will be given eternal life. "[God] will give to each person according to what he has done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, He will give eternal life" (Rom. 2:6-7).
We will receive praise from God. "…wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God" (1 Cor. 4:5).
Our bodies will be raised imperishable, in glory and power. "So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body…" (1 Cor. 15:42-44).
We will be clothed with immortality. "…For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality" (1 Cor. 15:52-53).
We will see the incomparable riches of God’s grace. "…in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:7).
Our lowly bodies will be like His glorious body. "…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).
We will appear with Christ in glory. "When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory" (Col. 3:4).
We will be rescued from the wrath of God. "…and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead – Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath" (1 Thess. 1:10).
We will rejoice in the presence of Jesus over those whom we have impacted spiritually. "For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when He comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy" (1 Thess. 2:19-20).
We will be with the Lord forever. "For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever" (1 Thess. 4:16-17).
We will see Christ glorified in His people and we will have the great joy of marveling at Him. "…on the day He comes to be glorified in His holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed…" (2 Thess. 1:10).
We will be awarded a crown of righteousness. "Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing" (2 Tim. 4:8).
We will know the full expression of salvation. "Christ…will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him" (Heb. 9:28).
We will experience a new heaven and a new earth. "But in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness" (2 Pet. 3:13).
We will be granted the right to the tree of life and to enter the Holy City. "Behold, I am coming soon! …Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city" (Rev. 22:12-14).
What a marvelous eternity awaits the people of God! Brothers and sisters, press on. "…Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…" (Heb. 12:1-2). Fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith, for much is in store for those who long for the Lord’s appearing (2 Tim. 4:7-8). Let us be found faithful when He returns! "Come, Lord Jesus."