Every Christian is blessed to have the Word of God, incarnate and glorified, ruling and reigning from the throne of God in heaven. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who is the divine logos, is the righteous judge of all the earth (Gen 18:25). The Word of God in written form is brought to the people of God on the earth by the Spirit of God (2 Pet 1:20–21).
The Spirit of prophecy has revealed some essential aspects regarding the end things. Christians give thanks to the Holy Spirit for both inscripturating these revelations of the eschaton and for teaching the saints of God these matters in every generation. We remember our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world, today, who do not have a copy of the Bible. Those who are persecuted or even killed for having one also receive our prayers.
For us who live in the freedom secured by our Christian fathers, at the founding of our nation, we must learn all we can about the things to come. Central to our learning about the second coming of Christ is Paul’s epistles to the church of the Thessalonians. Paul had preached the Gospel to what would become a church plant of new believers who had heard the Word of God and by God’s grace…believed.
The Apostle to the Gentiles taught eschatology to this congregation. When Timothy later returned from them, he brought questions based on their concerns. Some questions pertained to the return of Christ Jesus at the end of the age. Paul did not want them to be uninformed about the glorious appearing, nor does God want us, today, to be ignorant in these doctrines.
The return of King Jesus will happen on the Day of the Lord, a day only known to God the Father, as Jesus taught His disciples in His Olivet Discourse (Mt 24–25; Mk 13; Lk 21). For God’s chosen people, redeemed by Christ Jesus and regenerated by the Holy Spirit, it will be a glorious day of salvation. This is the day our souls will be conjoined with glorified bodies, transformed in the twinkling of an eye at the resurrection to life (Jn 5:28–29; Rom 8:30; 1 Thess 5:9).
The dead in Christ will be resurrected, first. Those still alive and in Christ will be joined together with the resurrection saints, in order to be caught up to meet the Lord in the air at His coming. As King Jesus descends from heaven with His holy angels and saints, our focus turns to those unbelievers outside of Christ. The day of salvation for the saints is a day of wrath for sinners resurrected from the dead unto judgment (Jn 5:28–29).
The Day of the Lord is the Judgment Day, for all who were ever conceived in their mother’s womb. Words that describe this day for wicked rebels are: terrible, awful, terrifying; etc. The surprise of sudden destruction is equated to a thief robbing someone at an unexpected time. The world, who cannot receive the Holy Spirit, will already be writhing with labor pangs.
As the Romans tried to pacify the people of the empire with “peace and safety” mantras or as the false prophets of Israel proclaimed “Peace! Peace!” there is no peace on this day of wrath. No one will escape the Great White Throne of God’s judgment, on which Judge Jesus will issue sentences to those who rejected His Word of warning. The unrighteous must pay for their sins under the eternal punishment of God in the fiery hell of the lake of fire.
In contrast, the sons of light will receive crowns at the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor 5:10), the reward of faithful service to our God and Father. Knowing on that day that all our good works were performed for us by God’s Spirit (Is 26:12; Ps 57:2; 138:8; Phil 2:12–13), we will cast our crowns at the feet of Jesus, who alone is worthy to receive honor, glory, and dominion (Rev 4:10).
While it is yet called, “today” we must remember our position as sons of the day, that is children of God. While our neighbors remain with unbelieving hearts in this present evil age, spiritually indifferent to the things of God, let us be different. Godly ones are commanded to be holy, set apart from this perverse generation. We live in the Holy Spirit; therefore, we must walk by the Spirit in order to live in a manner worthy of our calling to be sons of God.
Preparation is both Jesus and Paul’s insistence. Like virgins waiting for the arrival of a husband, so we do those expedient things that keep our blessed hope steadfast. Pleasing God with the faith afforded to us, we work out our salvation as a labor of love, in reverence to Christ our King.
Our work of faith, in love for Jesus, means the trials of various persecutions will come to all who live godly in Christ Jesus. Christians suffer for the sake of God’s elect, and we count it all joy because we demonstrate the joy of allegiance to Christ and His church in doing so. Christ died for us (Rom 5:8; 1 Thess 4:14; 5:10); and His beloved die to our selfish flesh in the desire to please Him who loved us and gave himself for us.
The future is very bright for those who put on the whole armor of God, today. Fiery darts may fly from the evil one, but faith, love, and hope remain as our defense against his wiles of cruel hate. We will soon live together with Christ Jesus our Lord, in mansions of glory, in the heavenly Zion of New Jerusalem, in that better country called “heaven on earth.”
Our task is the same, today, when it comes to the sound doctrine of end things. It is not to sensationalize what we know or cause our brethren to be afraid. Instead, we preach Christ crucified, coming again. He who delivers us from righteous wrath will gather us — to present us holy and blameless as His bride to God the Father. Thus, we comfort and encourage one another and play our part in building up the body of Christ as sharers in Christ. Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Spokane Valley, Washington
September 26, 2023