“To some extent the degree to which we actually long for Christ’s return is a measure of the spiritual condition of our own lives at the moment. It also gives some measure of the degree to which we see the world as it really is, as God sees it, in bondage to sin and rebellion against God, and in the power of the evil one.” (1 John 5:19) Dr. Wayne Grudem – Systematic Theology
Christmas is about hope. “Long lay the world in sin and error pining. Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.” Jesus’ first coming gives us perfect hope only when we grasp what it points to: His second coming…“looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13) Our ultimate hope is the second coming of Christ and being with our Triune God and all our saved loved ones in a perfect new heaven and new earth with perfect new bodies in sinless perfection forever and ever and ever. At His first coming our Lord Jesus set us free from the penalty of sin (hell) and the power of sin (Rom. 6-8) but when He returns He will set us (and all of nature) free from the presence of sin and all the effects of sin. But sadly many people still put most of their hope for joy and happiness in this life, in this fallen world, and seldom think about and long for Jesus’ return. Contrast this to what Paul says about this life compared to heaven. “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Cor. 15:19) “And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new (sinless) bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it). But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.” (Rom. 8:23-25) “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men (at Jesus’ first coming), teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:11-13) “I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.” (Phil. 1:23) “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” (2 Cor. 5:8) “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day-and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Tim. 4:6-8) In these verses we see Paul looking for, longing for, groaning for, eagerly waiting for, desiring, and preferring to be with the Lord. Even Abraham and the OT saints “longed for” heaven (Hebrews 11:16) and John by the Spirit urges us to pray for Christ’s soon return. “Even so, come Lord Jesus.” (Rev. 22:20) So why should we long for Jesus’ soon return?
1) “The whole world is under the control of the evil one.” (1 John 5:19) And Scripture says evil and wickedness will increase and go from bad to worse. (Matthew 24:12; 2 Timothy 3:1-13) Life since the Fall is called “this present evil age” (Gal. 1:4) and evil and suffering will not end until our Lord returns and establishes His kingdom where “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Rev. 21:4) Just one sad example of why we should long for Christ’s return is that thousands of children across the world are starving to death (estimates from 18,000 to 21,000 a day) and our best efforts of God’s church have not been able to remedy this sad (and evil) situation. That along with the almost unspeakable evil done every day (child molestation/sex-slaves) should cause us to beg for our Lord’s soon return. We are in a war of life and death and it will not end until our Lord returns. We want all wars to end and especially the war against Satan, sin, and death. “Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast (the Antichrist) and the false prophet.” (Rev. 20:10) “The Lord will settle international disputes; all the nations will convert their weapons of war into implements of peace. Then at the last all wars will stop and all military training will end.” (Isaiah 2:4)
2) All of nature is cursed. “For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” (Rom. 8:21-23) Beginning with the Millennial Kingdom (Revelation 20) and going into the eternal state (Revelation 21-22) our glorious future will include a new heaven and a new earth and all the good things of earth we are familiar with and greatly enjoy– but a purified and perfect earth. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth.” “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:1, 5) Imagine the most beautiful spring day you have ever experienced, especially after a particularly long, cold, gray winter season. The “new earth” will be like an eternal spring – “The mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and the trees of the field will clap their hands.” (Isaiah 55:12) The greenest grass, the greatest variety of flowers, colors and aromas we can hardly imagine; the majesty of the mountains and the bluest skies of the new heavens. And no more strip malls, strip mines, or strip joints. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.” (Psalm 19:1) Every day all of God’s renewed creation will proclaim the glory of our Great God. (See Amos 9:13-15; Isaiah 11:6-9)
3) Even on our best day we still have to deal with the flesh and sin that grieves us and our Lord. “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do-this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” (Rom. 7:19-20, 24) The closer we get to Jesus (spiritually) the clearer we see our sinfulness and the more it grieves us. That is why a godly saint like Paul called himself the chief of sinners near the end of his life. (1 Tim. 1:15-16) We want to be at last and forever the pure, sinless bride without spot or wrinkle for our pure and perfect Bridegroom. (See 1 John 3:2-3; also see Eph. 5:27)
4) The world hates the Lord Jesus. “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.” (John 15:18) And the reason the world hates Jesus is because He accused them (the unsaved) of doing evil and resisting His moral light and truth. (John 3:19-20; 7:7) Others ignore or belittle Jesus and many religions reduce Him to a human being as a prophet or good moral teacher. This should break our hearts every day. I want to see Jesus come so He will finally get all He deserves. Only when He returns will He and our Father receive all the glory they so greatly deserve. “Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: “To him who sits on the throne (God the Father) and to the Lamb (God the Son) be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.” (Rev. 5:13-14)
5) As believers we do not belong in this world anymore and things of the world grow increasingly less satisfying because we long to be with our Lord and with the family of God who loves Him, and in our true home. The Bible says we are strangers, pilgrims, sojourners, and exiles here on this fallen planet because God has set eternity in our hearts (Eccl. 3:11) and we can’t wait to be there. The deepest longing of our heart, the dream of all dreams, really does come true and we can’t wait to be home at last.
6) All of God’s promises to the nation of Israel will be realized in the millennial kingdom which merges into the eternal state. All the nations of the earth will observe and praise Israel’s glory in righteousness. (Isaiah 62:1–7) Israel’s glorious, God-given light of righteousness in the millennium will draw all nations to her. (Isaiah 60:1–3) Believing Jews will be restored to Israel with wealth and glory in the millennium for God’s honor. (Isaiah 60:4–9) All the nation of the earth will serve Israel in the millennium, embracing Zion as the city of Yahweh. (Isaiah 60:10–14) The wealthy, glorious, righteous international supremacy of Israel in the millennium will overlap into the eternal state. (Isaiah 60:15–22) http://www.wordexplain.com/millenniumcharacteristics.html
7) There is absolutely nothing a lover desires more than to be with his/her beloved (even exceeding righteous joys and desires such as marriage, family, grandkids, etc.). So even the greatest blessings in this life should never dampen or compete with our passion to be with our Lord the Lover of our soul and to see His righteousness cover the earth and the whole world giving Him the glory He so deserves. Before Jesus’ first coming, the OT saints longed for the Messiah to come even as a young maiden longs for that special one to come into her life. Zacharias recalls with hope the prophecy of the coming Messiah. “He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of his servant David, just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago.” (Luke 1:69-70) When Jesus came at His first advent, we who put our trust in His soul-saving work at Calvary become engaged to Him. (That is one reason Jesus never married. He is engaged to us, His bride to be.) But what in-love, engaged couple does not long for the wedding day and the joy of communion for years to come. Likewise, if we don’t regularly anticipate our marriage to Jesus (Rev. 19:6-8) and the bliss of heaven with our Lord, then our engagement to Him will lose its passion and joy. Yes He is with us in Spirit now but a lover longs to be with his/her beloved face to face. This is what is known as the beatific vision (beatific means blissfully happy) – beholding our Lord Face to face, literally, seeing God. “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27)
If the above list doesn’t create or accentuate your longing for our Lord’s return, the following list of the “no mores” in heaven should. Taken from the list of the “no mores” in Revelation 21-22 (i.e., no more tears, no more death, etc.) Steve Lawson compiled an expanded list of “no mores” in heaven. “There will be no funeral homes, no hospitals, no abortion clinics, no divorce courts, no brothels, no bankruptcy courts, no psychiatric wards, and no treatment centers. There will be no pornography, dial-a-porn, no teen suicide, no AIDS, no cancer, no talk shows, no rape, no missing children, no drug problems, no drive-by shootings, no racial tension, and no prejudice. There will be no misunderstandings, no injustice, no depression, no hurtful words, no gossip, no hurt feelings, no worry, no emptiness, and no child abuse. There will be no wars, no financial worries, no emotional heartaches, no physical pain, no spiritual flatness, no relational divisions, no murders, and no casseroles. 🙂 There will be no tears, no suffering, no separation, no starvation, no arguments, no accidents, no emergency department, no doctors, no nurses, no heart monitors, no rust, no perplexing questions, no false teachers, no financial shortages, no hurricanes, no bad habits, no decay, and no locks. We will never need to confess sin. Never need to apologize again. Never need to straighten out a strained relationship. Never have to resist Satan again. Never have to resist temptation. Never!” (Steve Lawson, Heaven Help Us!: Truths about Eternity That Will Help You Live Today)
“There shall no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His bond-servants shall serve Him; and they shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads” (Revelation 22:3-4) “Even so, come Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20)
O Come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.
Wishing you and your family a God-blessed Christmas and New Year, Len and Kristen