"For the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us, to the intent that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world; looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:11-13).
The all-important practical question for us all in connection with our Lord’s return is what should be our personal attitude toward His coming again. It is this question which is especially answered in the Bible. The Bible treatment of the doctrine is intensely practical.
In the first place, we should be ready for our Lord’s return whensoever He may come. We should hearken diligently to our Lord’s own commandment "Be ye also ready, for in an hour that ye think not the Son of man cometh" (Matt. 24:44). We should not only hearken to these words, but we should keep them in mind every day of our life. Every morning when we rise we should say to ourself, "Be ready for your Lord’s return for He may come today." Every night before we lie down to sleep we should ask ourselves the question, "Would I be ready for my Lord’s return if He should come before I awake in the morning?"
The imminent return of our Lord is the great Bible argument for a pure, unselfish, devoted, unworldly, active life of service. While some preaching may urge people to live holily and work diligently because death is swiftly coming, this is not the Bible argument. The Bible argument is, Christ is coming. Be ready when He comes. This leads inevitably to the question, "What constitutes readiness for the coming of Christ?"
Luke 21:34-36 answers the question, "But take heed to yourselves, lest haply your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that day come on you suddenly as a snare: for so shall it come upon all them that dwell on the face of all the earth. But watch ye at every season, making supplication, that ye may prevail to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man." To put it in other words, preparation for the Lord’s return involves 1) separation from the world’s indulgence of the flesh and the world’s immersion in the affairs of this life, and 2) intense daily earnestness in prayer.
There are many who do not drink strong drink, who nevertheless live for their bellies (in Paul’s homely but impressive way of putting it, "Whose god is their belly" – Phil. 3:19). They eat not for strength for service, but for gratification of appetite, they even eat what they know is harmful. There are others who live very frugally but who are completely sunken in worldly cares; and there are still others who are very active in Christian service but who are neglectful of prayer. They do not "Watch... at every season, making supplication." None of these are ready for the Master’s coming.
In the two parables concerning our Lord’s return in Matthew 25:1-30, we see that having oil in our vessels with our lamps (that is, receiving continuous supplies of the Holy Spirit), and fidelity in the use of our talents in our Lord’s service, are two all-important factors in readiness for our Lord’s return. I would ask every reader, "Have you received the Holy Spirit, and are you constantly receiving fresh supplies of His presence and power?" And I would ask you again, "Are you diligently using for Him all the talents that our Lord Jesus has confided to you?" If you fail at either point, you are not ready for our Lord’s return.
In First John 2:28 we read, "And now, my little children, abide in Him; that, if He shall be manifested, we may have boldness, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming." Here we find that abiding in Him now constitutes readiness for Him when He comes. Are you abiding in Him? Have you truly renounced your own wisdom, your own strength, and your own life, and are you daily and hourly just looking to Him for His wisdom and His strength and His life?
In the second place, we should be watching and looking for the coming of our Lord. Our Lord Himself says, "And be ye yourselves like unto men looking for their lord, when he shall return from the marriage feast; that, when he cometh and knocketh, they may straightway open unto him. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching" (Luke 12:36-37). It is not enough that our lives are right and our service earnest; we should be alert, and expectant for the coming of the Lord.
A special blessing is here pronounced upon those servants who are watching for the Lord’s return. Would that blessing be yours if He should come today? Would He find you watching?
Oh! Let us be watching and expectant and live every hour in the thought of His coming, and never do anything that we would not gladly have Him find us doing if He should come, and never leave anything undone that we would wish that we had done if He should come. Never go any place where you would not be glad to have Him find you if He should come while you were there.
But it is not enough to be watching and looking for the Lord’s return. We should earnestly desire the coming of our Lord. In Second Peter 3:12 we read, "Looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God, by reason of which the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat." If we love our Lord above all else we will long for His return above all else. How a true wife longs for the return of the husband who is across the sea. No gifts that he can send her during his absence will compensate for the absence of the husband, so the true bride of Christ longs for the return of the heavenly Bridegroom. While she may rejoice in those measures of grace vouchsafed her in the present through the indwelling Christ, she longs for the return of the Bridegroom Himself.
I once heard one who had been widely proclaimed as a teacher of advanced truth say that there was a time when he was greatly interested in the Second Coming of Christ, but that of late years he had been so taken up with the glory of the indwelling Christ that he had lost interest in the thought of His return. This utterance was thoroughly unscriptural. To me it is incomprehensible on the part of one who really knows the truth about the return of our Lord. It is well to preach the present privileges of the indwelling Christ, but there is something better than even this – our Lord Himself is coming! We shall see HIM; we shall be caught up to meet HIM; we shall be ever with HIM. And if it is Himself we love and not merely His gifts, no joy and victory that we may know through the indwelling Christ will satisfy the deepest longings of our soul. We shall long for Himself and for that fullness of fellowship with Him that we shall only know when He Himself comes again.
There is a crown awaiting those who "love His appearing." It is doubtful if there ever was a believer on this earth who knew more experimentally about the glory of the indwelling Christ than the Apostle Paul, yet one of the last things he wrote was, "Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me in that day; and not to me only, but also to all them that have loved His appearing" (2 Tim. 4:8). May I put a plain question to you, Are you longing for Christ’s return? If you are not, you may be sure there is something wrong about your life somewhere, or about your relations to your Lord.
He Is Coming!
Our Lord Jesus is coming again – precious words! How they ought to thrill our hearts! How they do thrill our hearts! How they ought to lead us to inquire diligently lest there be anything in us that will grieve Him at His coming. How they ought to make our hearts burn with the desire to do more and to use our talents more faithfully while He tarries.
THE LORD JESUS IS COMING! How small these words make the world with its gain and its loss, its pomp and its pride, its pleasure and its pain, its praise and its blame, to appear.
OUR LORD JESUS IS COMING! How these words should make us eager to bring our friends to Christ at once lest they be "left" at His coming.
OUR LORD JESUS IS COMING! Yes, He is coming, perhaps this year; perhaps this month, perhaps tomorrow; perhaps today. Are you ready?
Listen once again to His own last and sweetest promise, "Yea: I come quickly" (Rev. 22:20).
"AMEN: COME, LORD JESUS."
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon