Study 9 THE CHRISTIAN’S BLESSED HOPE
DAYS OF HEAVEN UPON EARTH
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: Titus 2:1-15)
The Christian’s ‘blessed hope’ is referred to in Titus 2:13: it is the imminent, personal and (I believe) pre-Millennial return of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The word ‘hope’ in the New Testament does not imply uncertainty, as when we say, ‘I hope so!’ The Greek word means ’a joyful and confident expectation’, and this hope is joyful and confident because it is based upon the promise of our Lord (John 14:3). All the signs point to the fact that the Lord’s coming is imminent; the scriptures clearly predict that His coming will be pre-Millennial - that is, that He must come before there can be any Millennium.
This is a thrilling subject, yet there are many Christians who, through ignorance of the scriptures or prejudice, are not expecting and looking for the return of the Lord. Let us consider some reasons why every Christian should be familiar with the ’blessed hope’ of the coming again of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1. First, because this subject concerns the Lord Jesus Himself.
It is most important to beware of the danger of becoming more occupied with the event than with the Person who is coming. Scattered throughout the Word of God there are scores of thrilling details concerning the time, manner and place of His return, but the most thrilling aspect of this whole subject is that HE is coming - our Lord Jesus Himself! Three N.T. scriptures especially emphasise that it is our Lord Himself who is coming:
- The Saviour’s Declaration - John 14:2 – “I…”
- The Angel’s Confirmation - Acts 1:9-11 – ”This same Jesus …”
- The Apostle’s Testimony - 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 – “the Lord Himself…”
Yes, the Lord Himself is coming, and therefore we as His followers should not only be familiar with this fact but we should also be on the lookout for Him.
2. Second, because this subject relates to every believer.
Think of it this way: Every Christian is going to Heaven, but how are we to get there? The souls of the ”dead in Christ” are already with Christ, ”which is far better” (Philippians 1:23); but we are not going to spend eternity as disembodied spirits (2 Corinthians 5:3); one day we shall have a new body like His. But how and when will this take place? The answer is - at His coming again! 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 will take place at the second coming.
3. Third, because this subject dominates biblical revelation.
Do you realise what a large proportion of the prophecies of the Old Testament 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 and when He suffered and died for us; they await fulfilment at His second coming. Also, there are many more prophecies in the Old Testament relating to the second coming of Christ than to His first coming. Therefore the subject of the second coming dominates biblical revelation! If we acknowledge the authority of the Bible we must be convinced about the fact of His return, and when we come to the New Testament we find, as one Bible teacher has said, that the second coming is mentioned 318 times, or approximately once in every twenty-five verses!
4. Fourth, because this subject affects Christian character and conduct.
If we really believe that the Lord Jesus is coming again we shall be different in what we are and what we do. There is no greater incentive to holy living than to be convinced that at any moment the Lord Jesus may return. Those who hold the doctrine of the second coming find their belief to be-
- An incentive to PURITY (1 John 3:2-3)
- An incentive to SEPARATION (Titus 2:11-14)
- An incentive to PATIENCE (James 1:3-4)
- An incentive to CHARITY (1 Corinthians 4:5)
- An incentive to CONTINUING IN HIM (1 John 2:28)
How much more carefully we should live in the light of His coming!
5. Fifth, because this subject influences Christian service.
Some have said that to believe in the second coming of Christ would take away the motive for service and for evangelistic endeavour - but the truth of the second coming of Christ spurs us on to faithfulness and colours all our service with a deep sense of urgency; and it safeguards us against a wrong objective in Christian service. If we do not believe Christ is coming, or if we believe His coming is post-Millennial, our objective will be the conversion of the world, which is not God’s plan in this Dispensation. But if we believe Christ is coming soon we shall pray and work for the evangelisation of the world and the completion of the church (Acts 15:14-18).
6. Sixth, because this subject relates to worldwide happenings.
The only solution to the problems and perplexities of our collapsing civilisation is the coming again of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. No man, politician, government or scientist can solve the present situation, but God has a solution. His Man, “the man Christ Jesus”, will step down from the throne of Glory and will set up His reign and rule of righteousness, and all the signs - religious, political, industrial, commercial … point to the fact that His coming is very near.
7. Seventh, because this subject cures the troubled heart.
It is very significant that the promise of our Lord’s return is set within the context of His promise of Heaven and His desire that we should have untroubled hearts (John 14:1-3). How we need to understand and apply this cure for troubled hearts! Is there any more comforting truth than His assured and near return? Look up 1 Thessalonians 4:18.