Love His Appearing!

Henceforth there is a laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” -the Apostle Paul (II Timothy 4:8)

At the end of the services on Sunday morning, I was invited up to the pulpit to introduce the topic I would be speaking on in the service that evening. It was December 2nd, and the “Prophet’s Candle” had been lit in the Advent wreath on the stage at the beginning of the service…

“Some of you may think it strange that we would devote a Church service to studying the End Times during the Christmas season,” I began. The look on many faces in the crowd verified that presupposition… “We lit the Prophet’s Candle this morning, and those same men who prophesied of the Messiah’s first coming, wrote volumes concerning His second coming…”

“So, as we celebrate Christ’s first coming, it is important for us to remember that the reason He came was to prepare people for His second coming…” “Please come join us tonight as we study what those prophets wrote and what Christ Himself had to say concerning the times we are living in today.”

Over one thousand individuals in the tri-state area had been reached through my Facebook ad, announcing the event that evening. Nearly two hundred had either “liked” that post or had clicked “interested in coming.” But as I took the stage that evening, no more than forty souls sat in the pews.  It is not a large Church, so we did not expect a huge turnout.  But I could not forget the blank stares earlier that day…

Please don’t misunderstand me; there are many in this Church who love the Lord, some of whom, could not be there.  In truth, it is the same most everywhere I teach on the subject of the Lord’s return…

There are always some who are eager to hear the mysteries of eschatology expounded, but many more who seem fearful of perhaps being seen as one of those “End-Times Kooks,” or they are truly disinterested altogether… Past surveys of Evangelicals confirm that many place eschatology much lower than other doctrines they feel are important to study and hear teaching on. Why is that?

Some would answer that we just need to focus on sharing the Gospel and the “love of Christ,” that teaching on the End Times just frightens people. Did not Jude tell us “…of some have compassion, making a difference…?” Indeed, but in the very next verse, he also wrote, “And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire…” (Jude 1:22-23). God is love, but He is also “a consuming fire.”

Others will tell you that Eschatology is just too confusing for most people to understand, and therefore we shouldn’t put much emphasis on its teaching. But that is the very reason people find it difficult to understand! So few pastors and Bible teachers today are willing to dig into it deep enough that they can teach it plainly to their classes and congregations.

But our God “is not the author of confusion…” There is no doctrine in Scripture that cannot be understood by those who are indwelt by His Spirit, if they will but invest time and prayer in its study…

No, I fear that the larger reason so many Christians avoid studying the End Times is that they do not truly “love his appearing.” Don’t get me wrong, they are thankful to be saved “from the wrath to come,” but they are in no hurry to reach their heavenly home… they rather like it here.

In my Apologetics classes, my students often tell me, “I don’t want Jesus to come back until after I graduate from college and live life for a while,” or “not until I get married and have kids,” or “not ‘till I get old…” Why are we so unwilling to let go of this paltry life in exchange for “that which is to come” and the “glory which shall be revealed in us?” Do we truly believe we will be cheated of something better here?  Paul confessed that he indeed had “a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better...” (Philippians 1:23).

Many of us are much too comfortable in this world. We want to live full lives here, and wish the same for our children and grandchildren, even as the world becomes darker, and colder, and more corrupt every day. The signs of His return are seen near daily on the evening news, but we keep our focus on the next promotion, that new car, that next vacation… Even when the Lord Himself warned us that, “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

I’m guilty of it as well; believe me… It doesn’t take any effort for people to be worldly (Christians included); it’s as natural as breathing. It is much more difficult to “set your affection on things above…” to “…seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1-2). Yet, that is exactly what we are commanded to do…

The second coming of Jesus Christ is “that blessed hope” that has been preached and proclaimed for over two thousand years. All the signs that the Scriptures said we should look for are coming to pass right before our very eyes. If there was ever a generation that should take interest in the study of the Last Days, it should be ours…

With the many promises that have been given to Believers, we should indeed “love his appearing,” and be sharing the same with others…  And as we celebrate the fulfilment of His first coming this Christmas season, we should also give heed to His promise for the future, “Surely, I come quickly,” and exclaim as John did, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).

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