Study 6 THE CHRISTIAN’S BLESSED HOPE
THE LETTERS TO TITUS AND PHILEMON
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: Titus 2: 13)
The Christian’s ‘blessed hope’, referred to in Titus 2:13, is the imminent, personal return of the Lord Jesus Christ. The word ‘hope’ in the New Testament does not imply uncertainty; it means a ‘joyful and confident expectation’, based upon the promise of our Lord Himself (John 14:3). The signs of the times suggest that the coming of the Lord is imminent; the Bible clearly indicates that His coming will be personal.
This is a thrilling subject, yet sadly there are many Christians who are not looking for the return of the Lord. In this study we want to suggest seven reasons why every Christian should be familiar with and should rejoice in the ‘blessed hope’ of the coming again of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1. BECAUSE THIS SUBJECT SO INTIMATELY CONCERNS THE LORD JESUS HIMSELF
We must beware of becoming more occupied with the event than with the Person who is coming! Scattered throughout the Word of God there are scores of details concerning the time, manner and place of His return; but the most thrilling aspect of the whole subject is that HE is coming - our Lord Jesus Himself! Three special New Testament references emphasise this:-
- (1) The Saviour’s Declaration - John 14:3 - ‘I…’
- (2) The Angel’s Confirmation - Acts 1:9-11 – ‘This same Jesus…’
- (3) The Apostle’s Explanation - 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 – ‘The Lord himself …’
As it is the Lord Himself who is coming, we as His followers should not only be familiar with the fact but also be on the look out for Him.
2. BECAUSE THIS SUBJECT SO DEFINITELY RELATES TO EVERY BELIEVER
Every Christian is going to Heaven, but how are we to get there? The ’spirits’ of the ‘dead in Christ’ are already with Christ, ’which is better by far’ (Philippians 1:23); but we are not going to spend eternity as disembodied spirits (2 Corinthians 5:3-4); one day we shall have a new body like His own. But how and when will this take place? 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 makes it clear that the resurrection of the dead in Christ and the transformation and translation of all living believers takes place at the second coming of Jesus Christ.
3. BECAUSE THIS SUBJECT COMPLETELY DOMINATES BIBLICAL REVELATION
Many of the Old Testament prophecies are taken up with the final triumph of Christ and of His reign. They were not fulfilled at His first coming, when He came as a babe in weakness and when He suffered and died for us; they await fulfilment at His second coming. Again, there are many more prophecies in the Old Testament relating to the second coming of Christ than to His first coming. The subject of the second coming of Christ dominates biblical revelation! If we acknowledge the authority of the Bible we must be convinced about the glorious fact of His return, and when we come to the New Testament, the second coming is mentioned 318 times, or approximately once in every 25 verses!
4. BECAUSE THIS SUBJECT POWERFULLY AFFECTS CHRISTIAN CHARACTER AND CONDUCT
If we believe that Jesus is coming again, we shall be different in what we are and do. There is no greater incentive to holy living than the truth that at any moment He may return. When we believe this it is:-
- (1) an incentive to WATCH (Matthew 25:13).
- (2) an incentive to SEPARATION (Titus 2:11-14).
- (3) an incentive to PATIENCE (James 5:7-8).
- (4) an incentive to CONTINUE IN HIM (1 John 2:28).
- (5) an incentive to DILIGENCE (Revelation 3:11).
- (6) an incentive to PURITY (1 John 3:2-3).
How carefully we would live and serve if we did so in the light of His coming!
5. BECAUSE THIS SUBJECT RADICALLY INFLUENCES CHRISTIAN SERVICE
The truth of the second coming of Christ spurs us on to faithfulness and gives our service a sense of urgency; moreover, it safeguards us against a wrong objective in Christian service. If we believe Christ is coming, we shall pray and work for the evangelisation of the world and the completion of the Church (Acts 15:14-18), which is God’s plan for this dispensation.
6. BECAUSE THIS SUBJECT OBVIOUSLY RELATES TO WORLDWIDE EVENTS
The second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ is the only solution to the problems and perplexities of our collapsing civilisation. No man, politician, government or scientist can solve the present situation - but God has a solution. His Man, the Man Christ Jesus, will come from the throne of Glory and will set up His reign and rule of righteousness, and all the signs of the times - religious, political, industrial, commercial etc. – point to the fact that His coming is very near.
7. BECAUSE THIS SUBJECT PERFECTLY CURES THE TROUBLED HEART
It is significant that our Lord’s promise to return is set within the context of His promise of Heaven and His desire that we should have hearts free from trouble (John 14:1-3). We need to understand and apply this cure for troubled hearts. Is there anything more comforting than this glorious truth of His assured and near return? - look up 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18.
The ’blessed hope’ of the Christian is the imminent, personal return of the Lord Jesus Christ. To each one of us who loves Him He says, ’Yes, I am coming soon’, to which our hearts respond, ‘Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!’ (Revelation 22:20).