Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

The Doctrine of the Last Things (14) The Blessed Hope

Written by Rev. C.A. Schouls
A. Waiting for the Lord (Titus 2)
ÒLooking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus ChristÓ - Titus 2:13

In this second chapter of the letter to Titus Paul stresses the need for sanctification in relationships, with emphasis on the family. Doctrine and life must agree. He, therefore, gives instructions on this to the various classes of people who make up the church, stressing that they must lead godly lives. Trained by God's grace, living in the here and now, believers must live lives of self-mastery, devotion and control while Òlooking for that blessed hope...Ó

What is this blessed hope? ÒHopeÓ refers to the fact that there is earnest waiting and confident expectation for something that will surely come. It is ÒblessedÓ because this hope, this thing or event that will be, imparts happiness, bliss, delight and glory. Even the exercise of this hope is blessed for it focuses on its glorious Author (Rom.15: 13) and all the wonderful truths that it includes--everlasting life, purification of life, boldness of speech, and more (Titus 1:2; 2 Cor.3: 12; 1 John 3:3). But the greatest joy and glory is in the realization of this hope, which is the Òglorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.Ó

Not two Persons, the Father and the Son, but one is expected. Paul is saying that Jesus Christ is our great God and Saviour and He will appear. What he means in this chapter is that the joyful expectation of the appearing in glory of our great God and Saviour effectively prepares us for life with Him. How does He do this?

First, the Second Coming will be such a glorious and joyful event that believers will not want to Òmiss out on itÓ but will want to be Òappear with him in gloryÓ (Col.3: 4). Second, this wonderful expectation fills them with thankfulness, which causes preparedness by God's grace. Think of it: the greatest good will be conferred upon us. Will we not want to prepare the best possible welcome for the One giving us this good? What is this good? It includes a renewed body, public acquittal before the Judge, entrance into eternal glory and forever enjoying the presence of the beloved Lord. In addition to all this, when we consider that none of this is deserved--rather that we deserved condemnation instead--we will surely want to prepare ourselves for His Coming.

B. The Coming of the Lord (2 Thessalonians 1)
1. Who Will Come?
What a question! The Lord Jesus, of course. Yes, but in what capacity? As Judge, of course. But is that all we can say? There is more. There are as many facets to this answer as there are to the glorious character of the Son of God. We mention only four. He is coming as Òthe Son of manÓ (Matt.24: 30; 25: 31) Who through suffering attained unto glory and Who therefore deeply sympathizes with His struggling people (Heb.4: 15). Furthermore, He is coming as the Lord who will reward his servants (Matt 25: 21, 23). Then, He comes as the Bridegroom Who takes his Bride to Himself (Rev.22: 17; etc.). And He comes, Òthis same Jesus in like mannerÓ (Acts 1:11), that is, blessing His people.

2. How Often Will He Come? Dispensationalists, who are still to be considered brothers in Christ, although they are wrong on this point, speak of at least two comings: first for the saints, then with the saints. They also speak of three bodily resurrections, up to as many as six judgments, two chosen people (Israel and the Church), seven dispensations and eight covenants. We realize not all Dispensationalists hold to the same views: these numbers are the maximum as far as we know, but they are there. All this makes the Bible a difficult Book to understand. How can we get clear answers? The best way is to ask simple questions. ÒHow often did Jesus ascend?Ó ÒOnly once, of course.Ó There is your answer, for the angels said He will Òso come in like manner.Ó He went to heaven only once; He will return only once.

3. When Will He Come Again? Can we answer this question? Partially. He will come again when the gospel will have run its course (Matt.24: 14) and the Man of Sin has been revealed (2 Thess.2: 3), the fulness of both Jew and Gentile has been gathered (Rom.11) and the number of the elect is complete (2 Pet.3: 9). For the rest we know only that we do not know: ÒOf that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son but the FatherÓ (Mk.13: 32).

4. How Will He Come Again? The Lord's coming will be very sudden and take people by surprise. Although there will be a sign seen in heaven (Matt.24: 30), it will not be a warning sign but an announcement. The Lord Jesus told the Sanhedrin that they would see Him coming in the clouds of heaven. Perhaps that is the sign. It will all happen very quickly. A moment ago, Òthe signÓ was not there; then, suddenly, there it is (1 Thess.5: 1-3). This sign will introduce a series of events that will follow hard after each other, Òin a moment, in the twinkling of an eyeÓ (1 Cor.15: 52).

It will be a glorious coming in which Òthe Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fireÓ (2 Thess.1: 7). He will come with the saints already with Him. It will be a physical coming, for He will return as He went, physically. It will be a visible coming in which all will see Him.

5. Why Will He Come Again? Scripture tells us He will return for the following reasons:

a. To inflict vengeance on those who do not know God and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thess.1: 8).

b. To be glorified in his saints and to be admired in all them that believe (2 Thess.1: 10).

c. To judge the living and the dead (Matt.25: 31-46; John 5: 22, 27, 28; etc.).

d. To make all things new (Rev.21: 5).

The Òblessed hopeÓ should fill our lives. Believers make up the Church, the Bride of Christ. That Bride is pictured in the Revelation as longing for the coming of her Bridegroom. She calls out to Him ÒCome!Ó (Rev.22: 17). She does that, prompted by the Holy Spirit. That is how our lives should be. And the fact that so much of that is missing should be all the more reason that we long for the fulfilment of this blessed hope. Much of this is still hidden. Let us not get lost in arguing over matters and details that are not clear, not revealed or not yet understood. But let our lives be focussed, in faith and by grace, on the coming of our great Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ.

(For a more detailed treatment of this subject, refer to W. Hendriksen, The Bible on the Life Hereafter from which much of this material was drawn)

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1.
Does the believer's hope end in man or in God? In other words, is the realization of this hope limited to the joy that we shall have or does it include the idea of God's glory and His joy in our salvation? Does Philippians 2:11 have any bearing on this?

2.What can be done to increase in our own hearts and the hearts of others this glorious waiting for the blessed hope?

3.We have mentioned some titles of comfort given to the returning Lord. Are there also titles of terror, showing how He will deal with the wicked?

4.If it is true that Jesus knows all things, how could He say what He did in Mark 13:32?

5.From where will Jesus be coming and where will He be going at the Second Coming? What does that tell us about heaven--is it a place and is Jesus physically there now?

6.How will Jesus be Òglorified in his saintsÓ when He returns?

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