Tag Archives: Second Coming

Advent and the Second Coming

The season of Advent is about anticipating our celebration of the coming of Christ into the world. But it is also about anticipating His second coming into the world at the end of time. For that reason, our pastor gave a sermon yesterday titled “End Times – A Lutheran Perspective.”

It was a very interesting and informative sermon. He talked about the many attempts of mankind and the church to predict the exact time when the end will come, even though Jesus clearly said, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:32.

He also talked about the various perspectives on the end times and the thousand-year reign of Jesus written about in Revelation. There is the pre-millennial view that the thousand-year reign hasn’t yet started. There is the post-millennial view that the thousand-year reign has already passed. And there is the amillennial view that the thousand years is a figurative timeframe instead of a literal one.

But the most important thing our pastor said during the whole sermon took up only six little words: “This is not a salvation issue.

Whether you believe the rapture and tribulation are still to come, that the church is experiencing the tribulation now, or something else does not affect whether you have salvation in Christ. What matters is if you believe God came to this earth as Emmanuel and then died on a cross to pay for your sins.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NIV)

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Music Monday Extra – Double Header

I heard both of these songs on my iPod this morning when I was getting ready for work and listening to my Christian playlist on shuffle. They are a nice addition to my regular Monday post from this morning.

This first one is a great old song by Johnny Cash called “When He Comes.” I can’t believe I actually found it on YouTube!

This second one is from Third Day’s most recent CD Move, and is called “Trust in Jesus.” It is one of my favorite songs on this CD. As the song says, one of these days we are all going to face our Judgment Day; there is only one way we will survive, and that is to trust in Jesus.

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Epiphany

Today, January 6, is the holiday of Epiphany. It is a date commemorated in both the eastern and western Christian churches, though many western Christian denominations do not celebrate it in any way today. I remember mentioning it once to a friend who is Seventh Day Adventist, and she didn’t even know what Epiphany was.

Epiphany falls 12 days after Christmas, and is the source of the 12 Days of Christmas (which contrary to popular belief are not the 12 days prior to Christmas). Epiphany, based on the Greek word epiphaneia (ἐπιφάνεια), which means “appearance,” is the celebration of the appearance or incarnation of God to the Gentiles or non-Jews. In the western church, the focus is on the visit of the Magi to honor Jesus as the newborn King. In the eastern church, the focus is on the baptism of Christ, when He first appeared to the whole world as the Son of God when the Dove came to rest upon Him. In either case, the focus is not on His birth, which is the focus of Christmas, but rather on the fact that He is the incarnation of God for all people.

The primary way I have personally commemorated Epiphany (though I didn’t do it this year) is that when I set up my Nativity sets for Christmas I place the Magi somewhere different from the rest of the Nativity scene. This is because the Magi were still traveling at Christmas and traditionally it is thought that they arrived some time after the actual birth of Jesus. One year I even moved them closer and closer to the Nativity scene throughout Advent and the days following Christmas until they finally “arrived” to honor the baby Jesus on January 6.

In the New Testament, the Greek word for Epiphany more often refers to the prophecy of Christ’s Second Coming rather than His first appearance in the manger. Paul uses the Greek word epiphaneia six times. 2 Thessalonians 2:8; 1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 1:10, 4:1, 8; Titus 2:13. All but one of these verses refer to the time when Jesus will appear once again. Only 2 Timothy 1:10 refers to His birth, and says, “And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News.”

If you have wondered why my blog header had the Nativity scenes after Christmas was over, my anticipate of this holiday was the reason. But tomorrow I will be changing the header; I will be taking down the Nativity scenes with the Magi and putting up something different. But for today, I wish you all a blessed Epiphany!

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A Life Worthy of God’s Call

Last night I was reading 2 Thessalonians while waiting for the sleep study technician to come in and hook me up for a good night’s sleep. Actually, it was a terrible night’s sleep full of weird dreams and frequently waking up to find I was still connected to a computer monitoring my sleep patterns and vital signs. Then today 2 Thessalonians 1 came to mind twice, though I couldn’t recall what I had read that seemed to stick with me somewhere in my subconscious. So I decided I better go read it again. It was then that I remembered the part that stood out to me when I was reading last night.

In teaching about the second coming of Christ, which the Church was looking forward to and we still look forward to now, Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church:

When he comes on that day, he will receive glory from his holy people—praise from all who believe. And this includes you, for you believed what we told you about him. So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ. 2 Thessalonians 1:10-12.

Three things stood out for me in this passage and the book of Thessalonians as a whole. First, Paul says the Thessalonians are included in those who will praise Jesus on His return because they “believed what we told you about him.” Consistent with his teachings elsewhere, and the words of Jesus Himself, belief in Jesus as their Savior and King is what Paul says ensures that the Thessalonians will be part of the saved on the coming Day of the Lord. There were no good works that they could do, or their goodness itself, that would secure for them a place in God’s kingdom. It is the same for us.

The second thing that stood out to me was how the “life worthy of his call” came after belief and was enabled by God. Paul asked that God give the Thessalonians (and us) “the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do.” Good works and obedience are definitely part of the Christian life, but they do not precede belief in Jesus as Lord, and they do not happen because of our own ability or power.

The third thing I noticed was that the Glory and Honor because of the Thessalonians (and our) good works and worthy lives will go primarily to Jesus because it is His grace that makes it all possible. On the Day of the Lord we “will be honored along with him.” However, there is no indication that we will receive any honor before that time or on our own. We will be honored only because we have relied on Jesus.

I tend to be very methodical about things and in my thinking about problems and their solutions. Perhaps that is my legal training, or maybe it is just a gift from God. Because of that I see this simple, logical progression of the human soul from lost to obedient child of God:

  1. God the Father draws the unbeliever to His Son, Jesus our Savior. John 6:44.
  2. The unbeliever hears the call and believes in Jesus as his Savior and atoning sacrifice for his sins. John 3:16.
  3. The new believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God. Acts 10:44-47.
  4. The Holy Spirit works in the heart of the new believer to give him or her the desire to know God’s will and understand His Word, and the power to live a life worthy of God. 2 Thessalonians 1:11.

I know I’ve left out a lot of detail in this short list. And number 4 can take a lifetime of work. But that’s okay, because God is patient. He is much more concerned with a humble and contrite heart that desires obedience than perfect outward actions done to look good in the eyes of others. As Psalms 51:17 says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

“Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.’” John 6:29. All else is the work of the Holy Spirit.

My prayer is that all believers, not least of all me, will stop thinking we can live a life worthy of God on our own, and call on the power of the Holy Spirit to enable us to accomplish all of the good things our faith prompts us to do. Then Jesus will be glorified and honored, as it should be.

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I’m Ready! Are You?

This post is about something that has crossed my mind several times this week. But I haven’t posted about it before because I thought it was a subject I really don’t know a lot about, and I didn’t want to give anyone incorrect information on this subject. Then this morning God helped me to realize that my lack of complete knowledge is the point I want to make.

The subject is the end times. When asked what would be the signs of His return and of the end of the age, Jesus told His disciples:

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. Matthew 24:6-8.

If you’ve been paying attention to the news lately, you will have noticed that there are wars and rumors of wars raging everywhere. According to Wikipedia (I know, not the most accurate source of info, but not completely wrong) there are at least 32 countries experiencing some sort of armed conflict or civil war. At the recent news about the Nuclear Summit, I read an estimate that Iran would have nuclear weapons in 3 to 5 years. Some countries already have nuclear weapons. There is the war against terror, the war on drugs, and gang wars in many cities.

In addition, the news has reported many natural disasters. There have been a number of large earthquakes since the first of the year – first in Haiti, then Chile, Mexico, Indonesia, Spain, China, and 2 days ago in Utah. Then there is the volcano in Iceland that is disrupting airline traffic all over Europe.

Around the world people are starving even though in other parts of the world there is an abundance of food. In third world countries, people don’t even have fresh drinking water and some are lucky if the eat once per day. Crops fail and there is famine in many nations.

These are all the things Jesus warned would happen  before the end of the age; they are the beginning of birth pains for the birth of the new heaven and new earth written of in Revelation. But are these things really happening more now, or do we just hear about them more because in this technology age news travels much faster and farther than it once did?

Assuming these are signs that the end is near, what should be my response? Should I try to figure out the time and date? Many have done just that. Should I stand on a street corner with a sandwich board warning people of what is to come? Many have done that, too. I am thankful that I am not called to do either of these things and that Jesus told us all what to do.

No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. . . . Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. Matthew 24:36, 42-44.

What I understand from this is that the exact date and hour of Jesus return are not my concern. If even Jesus did not know, then surely it is not necessary for me to know. I am not to worry about such things, but I am to be ready. It could happen today or in 100 years. What is important is that my heart and my soul are ready.

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