Pastor's Corner - July 2017

Biblical Thinking and the Return of Christ

 

Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Titus 2:13

The second coming of Christ is a two part event:  the rapture of the church before the tribulation period (7 years) and the Second Advent, after Daniel’s seventieth week, when the great usurper of the kingdoms of this world and the god of this current age is put in his place.  Christ Jesus will then be declared King of Kings and Lord of Lords over all of God’s creation.

During the present church age, believers look forward to the rapture as their blessed hope because, according to I Thessalonians 4:13-18 and I Corinthians 15:50-58, there will be:

 * The Power of their Resurrection.
 * The Promise of their Rescue from this present world.
 * The Promise of their Reunion with saved loved ones that have gone on before. 
 * The Promise of His Revelation; imagine seeing His face, hearing His voice and being welcomed into heaven!
 * The Promise of our Rejoicing; our blessed condition will be eternal, with our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ!

The practical, everyday results of this hope are that we are to be firm in our convictions, fruitful and faithful in our work and hopeful in our anticipation of his appearing. 

I was saved in August of 1973, when the Arab oil embargo, along with the long lines at the gas stations waiting for rationed gas, thrust Hal Lindsey’s book, The Late, Great Planet Earth, to the top of the New York Times best seller’s list.  Much has happened in the past 44 years.  Since then, Islamic terrorism has become an unseen everyday threat, lurking in the shadows of everyday life throughout the whole world.  The narrative on Israel is still the same; the Arab nations won’t rest until they annihilate the apple of God’s eye.  The signs of the times are all around us.  

While most Bible believers await Christ’s return for all the right reasons, some odd, unscriptural attitudes and beliefs have crept into Christian thinking in recent years.  They are sometimes referenced in articles, over the pulpit or in everyday conversation.  These tendencies reveal a strange undercurrent in Christian thinking.  They are:

Date Setting – while the Bible is clear that no man can set the date of the second advent (Mark 13:32-33) and that the rapture is eminent (I Thessalonians 4:17), the date setters are still with us and persist.  One such date setter wrote “88 Reasons Jesus will come in ‘88” and when 1988 came and went without Christ’s return, undeterred, he wrote “89 Reasons Christ will come in ’89.”  Believers were embarrassed as a result of this doctrinal hobby horsing, as the lost world had a field day, poking fun at the blessed hope. 

Christian Stoicism – Christ returning to take the church home before “Jacob’s Trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7) is seen as biblical escapism.  Those teaching the church will go through the tribulation are seen as braver, tougher, etc.  A stunt man was once asked if he was being a coward for using a safety net when he did a stunt high above the ground.  He replied by asking if jumping out of a plane, without a parachute, made him a brave man.  Whether we are willing, wanting or able to go through the tribulation is not the issue.  The issue is that God’s purpose for the tribulation period is to get Israel ready for the Second Advent and the church’s purpose, on the earth, will be over.  It’s a question of what God says about it, not what we do or don’t want.

Make No PlansDon’t train for a career, have children or start a ministry because it’s a waste of time, after all, Jesus is coming back.  Imagine how many fruitful ministries would have never taken place in the past 50 years, if those with the vision to start them would have listened to such foolishness.  Imagine how fatalistic that sounds to Christian young people, how discouraging! 

The Worse It Gets, the Better – Gay marriage, militant feminism, moral and spiritual decline, along with the destruction of America:  Bring it on, it only expedites the return of Christ.  REALLY?  While it’s true that the biblical signs concerning Christ’s return are negative, that does not mean that things getting worse in society, our nation or the world will necessarily expedite Christ’s return.  It’s as if we all could get Jesus to return sooner by throwing a bucket of gas on the fire of perilous times that already rages.  NONSENSE!  In the extreme, adherents to this idea become anti-patriotic toward the United States and view any patriotism and love of our country as a sign of worldliness among believers. 

Finally, let’s remember that it’s not about our disappearing (escapism), but His appearing (I Timothy 6:14-15) and that the hope of the return of Christ should bring out the best of Christian character in all of us and cause us to redouble our efforts for His glory, in these last days. 

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be:  but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.  And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.  I John 3:2-3