“We shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.”1 John 3:2 NKJV
In recent years earthquakes, tidal waves, and natural catastrophes all around the earth have caught the attention of the world like few events ever have. Many secular commentators have referenced the Bible, and for good reason.
Wars and strife abound in various nations, and terrorism is rampant. Financial upheaval and failure are all around us. Fear and hopelessness mark the lives of millions of people everywhere. We as Christians should take note of these events, in light of the teaching of God’s word.
“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”Matthew 24:32-36 NKJV
“But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows.”
“These things are the the first pains of childbirth.”—GNT1
“These things are like the first pains when something new is about to be born.”—NCV2
“These things will be like the birth pangs of a new age.”—FBV3Matthew 13:7-8 NKJV
The Old Testament prophets and saints lived in the hope of the coming of the promised Messiah. The Messiah came in the fullness of time…
“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”Galatians 4:4-5 NJKV
The Old Testament prophets did not clearly see the distinction between the first and second comings of the Messiah. They spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, but they did not always understand the detail of what they were given to speak.
“Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you throught those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven; things which angels desire to look into.”1 Peter 1:10-12 NKJV
For us, the first coming of Jesus is living history—precise fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. We now live in hope of Jesus’ second coming. That event will also occur in the fullness of time, according to God’s schedule.
Hope can be defined as “the expectation of something desirable, or having confidence in a future event.” It is not wishful thinking, like buying lottery tickets.
“Now faith is the substance [realization] of things hoped for, the evidence [confidence] of things not seen.”Hebrews 11:1 NKJV
Hebrews 6:19 tells us the hope that is set before us is an anchor for our souls because Jesus, our forerunner, has already entered into the presence of God.
The Holy Spirit inspired the Bible to be written in such a way that believers in every generation, in every era of history, would have reason to live in the expectation of the return of Jesus Christ. Only God the Father knows the exact time when Jesus will return for His church.
Peter wrote of the scoffers who would come on the scene, questioning the purposes of God…
“Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.'”2 Peter 3:3-4 NKJV
Peter goes on to explain the reason for this apparent delay—
“But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousond years as one day. the Lord is not slack concerning His promise,as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”2 Peter 3:8-9 NKJV
We will consider five ways the Scriptures speak to us about the hope we as believers have in the return of Jesus Christ.
It is a Certain Hope
God is a God of purpose: He does not say, “I might” or “I’ll try,” but rather “I will.” He speaks and His word is fulfilled.
- In Joel 2:28 God said, “I will pour out my Spirit,” and He did.
- In Matthew 16:18 Jesus said, “I will build my church,” and He is.
- In John 14:3 Jesus said, “I will come again,” and He will. (Note how often the declarative mood is used by Jesus in John 14.)
As Jesus was ascending into Heaven two men in white apparel stood by and said,
“Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”Acts 1:11 NKJV
He will not be a different Jesus. See the words of Jesus…
“If anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. For as the ligtning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.”Matthew 24:23-27 NKJV
It will not be a spiritual or symbolic return, but a physical return, a visible return, in like manner as He went into heaven.
When Jesus returns to this earth to establish His millennial reign every eye will see Him.
“Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him.”Revelation 1:7 NKJV
This is referred to as the revelation of Jesus Christ.
When Jesus returns for His bride, the church, He is coming for those who are looking for Him, as we read in Hebrews 9:28, “To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”
His return is getting closer each day—and His return was so real to Christians in past years. This song4 reminds us of this fact:
Years of time have come and gone Since I first heard it told, How Jesus would come again some day; If back then it seemed so real, Then I just can't help but feel How much closer His coming is today
Jesus is coming again. We need to purpose in our hearts to be ready and watching.
It is a Blessed Hope
“Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.”Titus 2:13 NKJV
It will be blessed in comparison to our present life:
- We have abundant life now (see John 10:10; Psalms 16:11; Psalms 84:11)
- There is glory to come (see 1 Cor 2:9; Eph 2:7; Phil 3:20-21; Heb 13:14)
It will be even more blessed for those who suffer for their faith in Jesus:
- Many Christians in other parts of the world have endured such persecution that some wondered if they were experiencing the great tribulation. Jesus said, in Matthew 24:21, “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.”
- Proverbs 4:18, “But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.” The darker the circumstances, the brighter the light shines. Fanny Crosby5 wrote these words:
Oh the children of the Lord have a right to shout and sing, For the way is growing bright and our souls are on the wing.
It is a Comforting Hope
We are instructed to comfort each other with this hope.
“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, comfort one another with these words.”1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 NKJV
It is a Purifying Hope
The knowledge that Jesus could return at any moment is an incentive for us to live holy lives before God. “Beloved, now are we children of God, and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”—1 John 3:2-3
John W. Peterson wrote about this in his song6, “Jesus is Coming”…
O it is a blessed hope to those who know the Saviour, blessed in the many joys that it will usher in. Purifying hope that has the power to change behaviour, Keeping from the world's defilement and sin.
As we live in the hope of the return of Jesus Christ we will want to be holy and blameless before Him because He has made it possible by His provision. Hebrews 12:10, “…that we may be partakers of His holiness.”
1 Thessalonians 3:13 tells us that God’s purpose for us is to establish our hearts “blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.”
It is a Motivating Hope
Many scriptures admonish us to watch and be faithful in what God has appointed us to do. The hope of Christ’s return motivates us to live uprightly and to be actively serving the Lord.
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and wordly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.”Titus 2:11-15 NKJV
We are not just putting in time…
“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he come, will find so doing.”Matthew 24:45-46 NKJV
Doing what? Doing whatever his master asked him to do; being faithful.
There is no promise in Scripture that we will escape persecution. This was a truth I remember discussing with my father a number of years ago. He strongly believed, as I still do, that we need to distinguish between the wrath of man and the wrath of God:
- Persecution is the wrath of man (under the obvious instigation of Satan). Jesus said in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Psalm 76:10 says, “Surely the wrath of man shall praise you [God]…”
- The Great Tribulation will be the wrath of God, with special meaning for the nation of Israel; it is the 70th week of Daniel. 1 Thessalonians 5:9 says, “God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” In Revelation 3:10 Jesus spoke to the church in Philadelphia saying, “Because you have kept my command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”
An interesting (and sometimes controversial) question was asked by Jesus in Luke 18:8, “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”
- Matthew Henry’s Commentary7: “In general…he will find fidelity among men” (fidelity = “faith” or “faithfulness). “In particular, he will find few that have faith concerning his coming.” “Where is the promise of His coming?”— 2 Peter 3:4
- I do not believe this was a question asked in desperation. This is the same Jesus who said “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” I do believe it is a rhetorical question for us to answer as individuals. For my part, I am determined to be found faithful when Jesus comes for His church.
- We are not looking for the anti-Christ; we are looking for the blessed hope.
- We are not called to self-preservation; we are called to evangelism. There is an end-time harvest to bring in. God is not willing that any should perish.
- Jesus is coming back for “a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.”—Ephesians 5:27
- The church will go out in a blaze of glory: washed in the blood of Jesus, clothed in His righteousness, filled with His Spirit, and walking in His anointing.
From my earliest childhood, I was taught to live as though Jesus could return at any moment. That truth is still as real to me as it ever was. I will close with words of a chorus8 that the Lord gave to me several years ago:
"He's coming again in clouds of glory He's coming to catch His bride away Be ready and watching for His coming; Our Lord Jesus is coming again. It may be at noon time or at evening, It may be the dawning of the day; Be ready and watching for His coming; Our Lord Jesus is coming again."
Jesus is coming again! Be ready! Be busy! Be faithful!
Ken Dynna is forever thankful for his heritage. His family experienced the faithfulness of God. There was always ministry in music, preaching, and visitation, so he still holds memories of such things.
He graduated from Central Pentecostal College in 1965 and completed his Bachelor’s of Theology in 1988. He’s been blessed with the opportunity to visit many churches from Western Ontario to BC—ministering.
Ken married his wife Heather in 1967, and together have two grown daughters, both of whom live in Vancouver.
Ken and Heather attend the Regina Apostolic Church. In 2004 he was ordained by the Apostolic Church of Pentecost.
Notes & References:
1 Good News Bible—Second Edition, © 1992 by American Bible Society. Used by permission.
2 New Century Version, © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
3 A free restating from the King James Version by the author. Any similarity to any other version or translation is purely coincidental.
4 Redemption Draweth Nigh, Gordon Jensen, © 1970 Silverline Music, Inc., assigned to Goldline Music, Inc. 1971.
5 Glory of God Hallelujah, Fanny J. Crosby, © Public Domain.
6 Jesus Is Coming, John W. Peterson, © 1972 John W. Peterson Music Company.
7 Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Matthew Henry (1662-1714).
8 He’s Coming Again, Ken Dynna, © 2001 Ken Dynna.