Hope of the Ages

Scripture: Titus 2:11-13, John 14:1-3, Matthew 25:31-34
In an age of pessimism, we as Christians can look forward to the blessed hope and not live in fear. The Bible not only predicted the first coming of Jesus, but clearly teaches that He will return again. Why is He coming? How will He come and how can we be ready?
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At the beginning of this twentieth century a spirit of optimism filled the hearts and minds of multitudes around the face of the globe. The industrial revolution of the last century promised a wonderful future of prosperity, plenty, and peace for all men. Some even stated that we were entering the millennium of peace, a utopia upon earth. War was to be a thing of the past. Never again were the nations of this world to enter into conflict to domineer one another. Instead, they would clasp their hands in a common bond of world peace.

But today that spirit of optimism has turned to a spirit of pessimism. The hopes of man have been dashed upon the rocks of despair. Instead of peace and serenity, there is war and upheaval. Man looks fearfully into an uncertain future. He stands amid the turmoil of our present world disorder, distressed and perplexed for the things that are coming upon the world.

With the Christian things are different. Amid all the uncertainties and confusions of this age the Christian has something which make him optimistic about the future. Through the eyes of faith he sees beyond the present hopelessness of this age into a glorious future promised to him in the Bible. What is this hope that the Christian has which grips his heart and causes him to move forward with joyful anticipation into the future? We read it in Titus 2, beginning with verse 11 and on to verse 13: "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." This then is the hope of the Christian - the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ, the blessed hope of those who trust in Him.

There are two great focal points in the plan of salvation that the Bible reveals. In Hebrews 9 verse 28 Paul states: "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he apear the second time without sin unto salvation." Here we find the first advent of Christ into this world to offer Himself as a sacrifice, to bear the sins of men; then also the second coming of Christ to complete the plan of redemption for lost man.

The first advent of Jesus into this world was heralded by the prophets of ancient time. From Adam and Eve God's children looked forward to the time of the fulfillment of the promised sacrifice of the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world. Many are the prophecies that deal with His first great entrance into the world. Micah, the fifth chapter, verse 2, predicted that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem of Judea. Daniel 9:25, 26 predicted the very year that Christ would begin His earthly ministry. Isaiah 7:14 predicted that Jesus would be born of a virgin. Zechariah 9, verse 9, predicted the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Psalm 22:16,17 prophesied the death of Christ as an atonement for man's sins. In Hosea 6:2 we read a prediction of the resurrection of Christ, victorious over death. These and all other predictions of the Old Testament dealing with the first advent of Jesus were fulfilled exactly as predicted.

To complete the plan of redemption Christ, of necessity, must return to the world the second time, and the Bible is not silent on this great subject. In fact, it is mentioned more than any other doctrine in the entire Word of God, 1,518 times in the Bible. Going way back to the time of Enoch, the seventh from Adam, we read his prophecy: "Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints." Abraham looked forward to a better country whose maker and builder was God, a country that would be established at the second coming of Christ. Job looked forward to the time when he would be awakened to life eternal when Jesus, the life-giver, would return to this world. David predicted: "Our God shall come and not keep silence." Isaiah, the gospel prophet of the Old Testament, over and over again predicted that Jesus would come back to this world the second time. The apostles of the New Testament testified over and over again of this, their hope, the blessed hope of the coming of Christ. But the greatest promise of all is the promise of Jesus Himself. In John 14:1-3 we read: "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." And so the Christian today rests his hopes upon the promise of Christ to come to this world again to receive him unto Himself.

The signs of our times point unmistakably to Christ's soon return. But today we want to answer a few questions regarding the second coming of Christ. Why is He coming? How is He coming? How can I be certain that I will be ready when He comes?

First of all, why is Jesus coming again? He is coming to put an end to suffering and sin and shame. He is coming to complete the plan of salvation. As we read in Hebrews 9, verse 28, "Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." So Christ is returning to this world again to bring the gift of everlasting life that He made available by His death on the cross. You see, the life, the death, the resurrection, the ascension, and the intercession of our Saviour does not avail if Christ does not return to this world again to complete the plan of redemption by granting the reward of everlasting life.

In Matthew 25 we read: "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory . . . Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Verses 31, 34. God grant that we will be among those who receive this cordial invitation of Christ's to come and inherit His eternal kingdom at His second advent.

Now we are brought to the question, How will Christ return to this world again? In what manner may we expect to see Him return? Jesus tells us in Matthew 24, verses 23-26, how He will not return. "If any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. . . Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not." Jesus indicated here that His coming will not be something done in a corner revealed only to a few, for in the very next verse He indicates that it will be a world-wide spectacle to be seen by all mankind. "For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." Just as the lightning flashes across the darkened sky, so the heavens will become brilliant as the King of kings and Lord of lords descends to earth.

In Matthew 25 and verse 31 we read: "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory." Yes, Jesus is coming in His own glory and the glory of the myriads of the heavenly hosts as well. You will recall that when just one angel appeared to the soldiers at the resurrection of Christ, they fell as dead men because of the brilliance of the glory of the angel. Just imagine what it will be when the myriads of angels, ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands, surround the Lord in a great display of heavenly glory at the second coming of Jesus. It is hard for us to comprehend the magnificent splendor as the heavens become ablaze with the glory of our King as He makes His triumphal entry into this world again.

We turn now to Acts 1 and read verses 9-11. Here we discover the manner in which Jesus will return to this world. Acts 1:9-11 we read, "And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight, And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." And so, just as the disciples stood upon the Mount of Olives that day and saw with their eyes Jesus ascending into heaven, we will be able to behold Christ returning to this world again. For in like manner, we are told, He will return. In Revelation 1:7 further testimony is given to this fact, "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him."

In 1 Thessalonians 4:16 we read the testimony of the Apostle Paul: "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God." Yes, the trumpet will sound and the voice of the archangel will be heard echoing throughout the length and breadth of the land heralding His victorious return to earth.

Yes, Jesus is coming again and He is coming soon. In Matthew 24:32,33, Christ records a parable. Said He, "Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When the branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors." Just as sure as we see the blossoming peach trees or apple or pear trees, we know that summer is near; just so when we see the fulfillment of all the signs of the end of our age as given by Christ Himself, we know that His coming is near; even at the doors.

What a glorious moment that will be! We read in Matthew 24:30,31: "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." Jesus is coming to gather His elect from around the circle of the world. Are we among His elect today? How can we be assured that we are ready for this glorious advent of Christ? In II Peter 3:10 the Apostle states: "The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." Then in verse 14 he says: "Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless." Here, then, are they who will be ready and prepared to be received as the elect of Christ when He comes the second time. They are at peace with their God and their fellowmen. They are without spot and blameless, for every stain of sin has been washed away in the blood of the Lamb. They stand clothed in the righteous character of Christ Himself, having surrendered their hearts, their lives to Him, they walked in the light of truth from His Holy Word.

There will only be two groups when Jesus returns. The first group is the unprepared. In Revelation 6 we read from verses 15 and 16: "And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb." Yes, professed Christians and sinners alike will be found among this group who have not accepted by faith the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ their Lord and who are now calling for the rocks to fall upon them to hide them from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne. They cannot bare to behold the glory of the face of Jesus Christ for it lays bare the shame of their sins.

But then, there is the other class. In Isaiah 25 and verse 9 we read: "It shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation." These are they who do not fear to behold the face of their Redeemer, but rejoice as they recognize that this is their Christ, their Saviour, and that He is coming for them.

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