Mars Hill Staff Devotional
(Part 3 of 3-part series)
from Fred Carpenter
“. . . looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,” – Titus 2:13
I’ve witnessed this scene several times in my life. I’m in a room of people. It could be a classroom, a dining room or a conference room. An important person enters the room. The mood in the room immediately changes and the people begin to act different than only a moment before.
What if you knew that Jesus was going to walk into your world right now? That before you finish whatever you’re doing, whatever activity you’re engaged in, you would see Him face to face? Would it make a difference?
The apostle John was dealing with a similar thought when he wrote, “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 John 2:28. What a terrible thought, to shrink away from Him in shame!
For those who love Him, His return should be something entirely different than what John is describing. In fact, in Titus 2:3, Paul calls it our “blessed hope.” And why does he use this descriptive?
It is blessed because of all that the Savior’s return will mean to us as believers in Christ. Hampton Keathley reminds us that His coming for us means . . .
- transformation or glorification (glorified resurrection bodies),
- reunion (meeting loved one and friends who have died in the Lord),
- remuneration (evaluation for and the giving of rewards for faithful service), and
- reigning with Christ in the glorious future that follows
According to Ray Stedman, “One of the great reasons the church is so confused in this day, one of the reasons the church says so little of true significance to the world, is that it has neglected and abandoned, by and large, the hope of the coming of the Lord. There are very few sermons preached on it. There is very little said about it. There is no time given to a consideration of what this hope means and why it is set forth so frequently and so clearly in the Scriptures. Great sections of the Scriptures that deal with the hope of our Lord’s return are simply ignored by Christians.”
The Bible teaches us that the return of Christ is imminent (James 5:8). If we really believe that, it will change the way we live. The great preacher F. B. Meyer once asked D. L. Moody, “What is the secret of your success?” Moody replied, “For many years I have never given an address without the consciousness that the Lord may come before I have finished.”
Speaking of our blessed hope, Spiros Zodhiates said, “Our hearts will be propped up if we live in the constant expectation of His coming.” Did you know that 1 in every 20 NT passages refers to the Second Coming either directly or indirectly! God intends that our blessed hope, the promise of His return would motivate us to Godly living, encourage us to persevere and reorient our priorities.
“You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.” – James 5:8 NASB
The Preacher’s Commentary…
The doctrine of Christ’s return is vital to our staying power in the tough issues of Christian obedience and discipleship. It is unfortunate when we make a test of orthodoxy out of some particular version of this hope. I’ve often thought that it must be the strategy of Wormwood himself (a “junior tempter” in charge of a young male “patient” in C. S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters) to get Christians fighting over whether the return of Christ is before, during, or after the Millennium or the Great Tribulation. Whatever your view of the manner of His coming, let the hope of His return be your sustaining joy and strength. (Briscoe, D. S., & Ogilvie, L. J. The Preacher’s Commentary Series. New Testament. 2003. Thomas Nelson or Logos)
“That day lies hid that every day we be on the watch.” – Augustine
“If this (Second Coming) is not an integral part of the faith once given to the saints, I do not know what is.” – C. S. Lewis
“There is such a danger of our being so occupied with the things that are to come more than with him who is to come.” – Andrew Murray
“Since he may come any day, it is well to be ready every day.” – J. Hudson Taylor
William MacDonald the godly Plymouth Brethren writer who went home to be with our Lord in 2007 wrote these poignant words regarding the effect that the truth of the Bridegroom’s imminent return should have on His Bride, the Church…
For believers the hope of the imminent return of Christ has practical implications of vast significance.
1. It should have a purifying influence on our lives (1Thessalonians 5:23; 1 Jn. 3:3).
2. It should burden us to pray and work for the salvation of the lost (Gen. 19:14; Ezek. 33:6; Jude 21-23).
3. It should encourage us to persevere in spite of persecution and trial (Romans 8:18; 2 Cor. 4:17; 1Thessalonians 4:13-18).
4. It should make us reduce our holdings of material possessions; their value declines as His coming approaches (see Lev 25:8-10, 14-16).
5. It should constrain us to apologize to anyone we have wronged and to make restitution where necessary (Matthew 5:24; Ja 5:16).
6. It should inspire us to diligent service knowing that the night is coming when no one can work (Jn 9:4; 1Thessalonians 1:9; 1:10).
7. It should keep us in the attitude of expectancy (Luke 12:36) and abiding in Him so we will not be ashamed before Him as His coming (1 Jn. 2:28).
8. It should make us bold to confess Christ (Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26).
9. It should prove to be a comforting hope (John 14:1-3, 28; 1Thessalonians 4:18; 2 Thes 1:7; 2 Timothy 2:12).
10. It should be an encouragement to moderation, gentleness, and sweet reasonableness (Philippians 4:5).
11. It should be a motive for unity and love (1Thessalonians 3:12; 13).
12. It should encourage an other-worldly attitude (Colossians 3:1-4).
13. It should be a reminder of coming review and reward (Romans 14:10-12; 1 Cor 3:11-15; 2 Cor 5:10).
14. It should be used as a powerful appeal in preaching the gospel (Acts 3:19-21; Revelation 3:3).
For those who are not believers, the truth of Christ’s return should lead them to repent of their sins and make a full commitment of their lives to him as Lord and Savior. (MacDonald, W & Farstad, A. Believer’s Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson or Logos)
September 24, 2013 at 10:16 pm
Thanks so much, Fred. The expectation of His imminent return really does change one’s attitude and priorities!