Thursday, December 29, 2016

Waiting for the Lord's Return

In His Word, God encourages us with the promise of Christ's soon return, and He instructs of our responsibilities until He comes. 

We Wait for Jesus to Come from Heaven
First of all, we must wait for Jesus to come from heaven.

The apostle Paul wrote, “and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.” (1Th 1:10). We know that God's wrath is coming upon this world, and we wait for Jesus Christ His Son to come from heaven and rescue us from His wrath by taking us up in the rapture.

This waiting is something we do eagerly with full expectation. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;” (Php 3:20). The expression "eagerly wait" comes from one Greek word, "apekdechomai" meaning "to expect fully: - look (wait) for." We know with certainty that He is coming from heaven only for those who fully expect Him to do so.

The Scripture promises that Jesus will appear a second time for salvation. “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await (apekdechomai) Him.” (Heb 9:27-28). This reaffirms once again that the Lord is coming for those who wait for Him to do so with full expectation.

He Will Come from Heaven
In the passages I have just cited, it clearly stated that He is coming from heaven. The following verses also tell us so:

When the Lord ascended into heaven before His disciples, two angels appeared in white and told them that He would return in the same way he went into heaven. They also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven."  (Act 1:11)

The Lord also said that He would come on the clouds of the sky. "And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory.  (Mat 24:30).

He Will Descend from Heaven with a Shout
Paul taught that Jesus will descend from heaven with a shout, followed by the resurrection of the dead in Christ and then the catching up of the living saints in Christ into the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord." (1Th 4:16-17)

He Will Come with His Mighty Angels in Blazing Fire
Paul said the Lord would come from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire: "For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus." (2Th 1:6-8).

We Must Stay on the Alert
It's essential that we always remain on alert for His return and be ready for it, since it could happen at any time and we don't know when.

"But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come. It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert. (Mar 13:32-34)

"Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will. (Mat 24:42-44). He said that you must be ready, so this is a requirement.

He also warned us to stay awake and stay dressed spiritually, if we do not want to be ashamed at His appearing, since He will come like a theif. ("Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.")  (Rev 16:15).

We Must Abide in Him
The apostle John also warned us to abide in Christ, so that we would not be ashamed at His appearing. "Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming." (1 Joh 2:28)

We Must Love His Appearing
Paul clearly taught that we must fight the good fight and keep the faith if we want to be ready for the Lord's return, since he is only coming for those who love His appearing. He said, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up 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 loved His appearing." (2Ti 4:7-8)

We Will Be Changed in a Moment When He Comes
Paul said we would be changed suddenly in a moment when Jesus comes, just as quickly as the twinkling of an eye. "Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed." (1Co 15:51-52)

We Proclaim His Death Until He Comes
As we wait for His appearing, we must proclaim His death until He comes, and one way we do so is by eating the Lord's Supper. "For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes." (1Co 11:26)

We Must Endure to the End
The Lord taught that only those who endure to the end will be saved: "You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.” (Mat 10:22)

The apostle taught that we must have endurance to do the will of God, so that we may receive our promised eternal life. “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay. But my righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.” (Heb 10:36-39)

Endurance is required on the part of the saints in order to be saved, since we must continue to obey God's commandments and keep our faith in Christ. “This requires the steadfast endurance of the saints—those who obey God’s commandments and hold to their faith in Jesus.” (Rev 14:12, NET). 

Those Who Endure Must Depart from Sin
Scripture says that in order to run with endurance we must depart from sin: "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us..." (Heb 12:1)

The Greek word for endurance in this verse means “cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy: - enduring, patience, patient continuance (waiting).” Thayer’s says, “in the NT [endurance is] the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings.”

The grace of God has appeared not only so that we could be saved and forgiven, but so that we could deny ungodliness and worldly desires and live sensibly, righteously and godly right now, and look for the glory of Christ's appearing. "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus..." (Tit 2:11-13). The Greek word for "looking for" is "prosdechomai" meaning "to await (with confidence or patience): look for, wait for."

Holy and Godly Living Required as We Wait
Scripture exhorts us to conduct our lives in holiness and godliness as we wait for the coming of the day of God. The apostle Peter wrote:

"Since all these things are to melt away in this manner, what sort of people must we be, conducting our lives in holiness and godliness, while waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God? Because of this day, the heavens will be burned up and dissolve, and the celestial bodies will melt away in a blaze! But, according to his promise, we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness truly resides. Therefore, dear friends, since you are waiting for these things, strive to be found at peace, without spot or blemish, when you come into his presence." (2 Pe 3:11-13, NET).

Putting it All Together
God's Word teaches us that we must wait for Jesus to come from heaven. He will surely come for us from heaven, descending from heaven with a shout, as He comes with His mighty angels in blazing fire. At that moment, the dead in Christ will first be resurrected, then those who are still alive in Christ will suddenly be changed in the twinkling of an eye, and caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Therefore, we must stay on the alert, abide in Him, love His appearing, fight the good fight, keep the faith, and proclaim His death until He comes. We must depart from all sin, conduct our lives in holiness and godliness, and endure to the end. We must strive to be found at peace, without spot or blemish, when we enter His presence. May He find us all doing so when He comes.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Other quotations from The NET Bible where noted.
Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like The 311 Moment, The Timing of the Rapture, The Error of Rapture Date Setting, Wars and Rumors of Wars, The End Time Plagues, The Land Mourns in the Last Days, Sequence of Signs Preceding the Coming of Christ, Synching Up the Seven Seals with the Gospels, Michael Shigaba's End Time Message for Mankind, News Headlines Reflect the End Times, my daughter's poem, The Midnight Hour, as well as her music video The Coming, and the other posts in this blog available through the Signs of the Times Directory. You may also access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.