Albert N. Martin
Colossians 3:4, “When Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested [the Second Coming], then shall we also be manifested with Him in glory.”
Turn with me, if you will please, to 2 Peter chapter 3. This will be one of the passages to which reference will be made in the opening-up of the Scriptures. 2 Peter chapter 3, and I shall read in your hearing the first 13 verses.
“This is now, beloved, the second epistle that I write unto you; and in both of them I stir up your sincere mind by putting you in remembrance; that ye should remember the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and the commandment of the Lord and Saviour through your apostles: knowing this first, that in the last days mockers shall come with mockery, walking after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? for, from the day that the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.’ For this they wilfully forget, that there were heavens from of old, and an earth compacted out of water and amidst water, by the word of God; by which means the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: but the heavens that now are, and the earth, by the same word have been stored up for fire, being reserved against the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
But forget not this one thing, beloved, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness; but is longsuffering to you-ward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing that these things are thus all to be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy living and godliness, looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God, by reason of which the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? But, according to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”
The apostles were commanded to preach the realities of the death and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and the remission of sins offered to sinners in the light of that accomplished redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
However, we have seen in our study of Acts chapter 1—particularly verses 9 to 11—that these same apostles beheld their risen Lord ascend up into heaven, and they heard the united voice of the two heavenly messengers, “This same Jesus who is taken up from you into heaven shall so come in like manner as you beheld him going into heaven.”
The first thing that we did in seeking then to establish the fact that the doctrine of the Lord’s return was foundational in apostolic ministry is to go to six passages in the New Testament which, each one independently and together collectively, make it abundantly clear that eagerly awaiting and loving the return of Christ was a vital element of normal, New Testament Christian experience.
As that experience was molded and shaped by apostolic ministry, as surely as Christ crucified and risen from the dead was an essential element in faith and shaping Christian experience, so likewise the fact that the One who died and rose would come again physically, visibly, in power and in glory at the end of the age was such a dominant note in their ministry that when we pull back, as it were, the surface of the belief system and the experience and the whole ethos of apostolic churches, we find that this conviction of the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus was vital, it was an essential part of their faith system, and their Christian lives were shaped and molded by this eager awaiting and loving the return of the Lord Jesus.
Well, having established from those six texts that conviction concerning the return of Christ in glory and power was an essential part of normal, New Testament Christian experience, I then sought to answer the question: why? Why do true believers who are in a healthy, spiritual state eagerly await and love the return of the Lord Jesus?
I submitted to you that in my understanding of the Scriptures there are at least four parts in the answer to that question.
True believers who are in a healthy, spiritual state eagerly await and love the return of Christ because they long to experience and to see the completed salvation to which they and the whole Creation have been predestined.
Secondly, because they long to experience and to see the ultimate defeat of all of the enemies of Christ and of His Church.
Thirdly, because they long to see the public and universal acknowledgement of the true identity and the official position of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Fourthly, because they long to see and to be with the object of their faith and love.
Now, in the course of preaching these things in five sermons we’ve examined many passages dealing with the return of our Lord and the things that will take place at His return. However, before moving on to several messages to highlight the many ways in which the truth of the Second Coming—I don’t use the words “the doctrine of the Second Coming,” though it is a doctrine, but it is the truth—the reality of the Second Coming brings to bear upon Christians motivational pressure. If we look at the whole Christian life as a circle, we can demonstrate that from the hub of that circle going out in spokes, touching every place in that circle, the reality of Christ’s return exerts motivational pressure upon the whole circle of Christian life and experience according to the New Testament.
One respected commentator has said, “It is the most dominant reality in motivating the people of God.” I will not go that far; I believe the cross is the most dominant. But I’d be prepared to say this take a close second. That He died for me and rose again is central; that He is coming again in power and in glory is second only to the great truth that He loved me and gave Himself for me, so that even when I remember Him in the way of His appointment—as oft as I eat the bread and drink the cup—I declare the Lord’s death till He come. Cross and crown and clouds are joined together in the thought, concentration, even of the Lord’s table.
As to the event of the Second Coming—it is certain to occur. That’s the first issue that we want to address: as to the event of the Second Coming—it is certain to occur.
Secondly, as to the place of the Second Coming in the history of redemption—it is central and climactic.
Thirdly, as to the precise time of the Second Coming—for us it is imminent, indefinite, and unknowable.
Fourthly, as to the results of the Second Coming—they are manifold and clearly revealed.
Bible References: Colossians 3:4; 2 Peter 3:1-13