We have a very wonderful set of promises given to us in the New Testament. We who believe the Gospel have before us a bright future indeed. It could surely be said that the Christian is a person of destiny.
Again and again in the Scriptures, we have the marvelous hope which belongs to the Christian described for us. One of those passages is the Apostle Pauls careful treatise on the return of Christ found in his letter to the Thessalonicans. As a marvelous source of confidence and reassurance concerning the future, Paul writes to us all saying, But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not precede them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord (I Thess. 4:13-17). Confidence in Christ is a great gift from God and it comes by paying attention to what God has said to us in the flawless Scriptures of the New Testament. Several points of confidence are readily found in this portion of the Word of God.
1. Christ will come again. The reader should never doubt ever again that the Lord Jesus is coming back one day.
When we think of it, this promise lends courage to face every other consideration in life. The Christian may speak of pain, problems, loneliness, despair, poverty, desertion, and dozens of other things which may take place in this human life. None of them, however, is serious and ought never to be the object of human despair. Why? Because Jesus is coming again. Nothing will prevent His return and He will wipe away all tears and erase forever any cause for anxiety.
We should note that a person who believes the Gospel has a very wonderful privilege going for him. He can make a claim about himself that the world cannot. He can say, Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is (I John 3:2). When we think for even a moment what Christ was like, we are thrilled and humbled at this promise which states the nature of a Christian. Jesus Christ was marvelous in thought, word, and deed. He was certainly the most beautiful and marvelous human being who ever lived. He possessed the power to move the universe and the wisdom whereby He could become the master of everything.
The astonishing fact that now emerges from the Bible is that Jesus Christ gives that wisdom and that power to each one of us who believe in Him. We shall be like Him (I John 3:2) is a blessing and capability beyond our imaginations.
When we anticipate the return of Christ, let us remember also that:
2. Christ will bring past believers with Him. We will see Mom and Dad again. We will greet long departed friends, loved ones, acquaintances, and neighbors, and meet many for the first time. Yes, we will greet the Apostle Paul, Peter, James, John, and great numbers of others who have believed the Gospel. Long have we wondered what earlier members of the body of Christ were like. Soon, we shall know! But remember, they will know about us as well. We will learn that separation is never permanent for the Christian. There will be reunions aplenty and banquets galore when together He takes us to heaven.
3. We, therefore, will not sorrow for those who have gone before. The human sorrow, when one Christian leaves for heaven and another stays behind awaiting the resurrection, will be past. We may leave behind many disappointments in this world only to learn that they were Gods appointments. Then shall we know, even as we are known. Who can describe such an experience? The promised joys of heaven are certainly one of the reasons why we should rejoice while yet we live in this disappointing world. Disappointments do not exist in heaven.
But rather, it is the place of total joy, perfect happinessand nothing will be able to catch our attention except the will and the pronouncements of God. Heaven will always present the perfect harmony between what is and what ought to be. So marvelous is this that the Scripture promises that the perfect fulfillment of every desire and every wish will be the reality that we face in heaven. A little reminder here is appropriate. Some people speak of Christians and say, He is so heavenlyminded that he is of no earthly good. It is well to never listen to gross and presumptuous people such as that. Probably more than 90 percent of the Christians of our world are in just the opposite condition. They think so much about earth that heaven almost escapes them. They may have dropped already into the level of being merely a nominal Christian because they have thought too little about heaven. What will heaven be like? is a fair and expected question for every believer. The answer is, It will be wonderful beyond description.
4. Living Christians will join with the resurrected saints. When describing Christians, the Apostle Paul notes that some are alive and some have fallen asleep in Christ. No matter, for we will be caught up together and meet the departed saints in the clouds. From that meeting we will together go to meet God and ever be with Him. Note that Christians who have died will rise first. God is, therefore, reminding us that the dead are not forgotten and His first act upon His return will be to look after them. He, therefore, demonstrates to all that death is not the end of everything. No indeed, it is the simple and joyous transition from this world to the world to come. Christ, who can do anything, has chosen to arrange it this way.
In fact, Christ spoke of this very thing when he said, 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 you may be also (John 14:2-3). Many human arrangements are marvelous indeed. If this be true, what must be the splendor that is being arranged for us when we get to heaven. As the song says, I have a mansion just over the hilltop and this is wonderfully true. There are no tar paper shacks in heaven, but rather a living environment that is splendid beyond description. Inevitably connected with our going to heaven is a marvelous place to live, beautiful quisine to eat, great fellowship to enjoy and a hundred other beautiful things that defy description. Surely the result in each one of our lives should be bright expectation.
5. This begins eternity with Christ. From this point on, there is no separation of any kind between the believer and His Lord. To be with Jesus even for a moment is ecstasy beyond description. That being the case, what it must be to be with the Lord Jesus forever? Think of the experience of the disciples when they met the Lord Jesus and walked with Him on the road to Emmaus. This Scripture says, their eyes were opened, and they knew Him; and He vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the scriptures? (Luke 24:31-32). The Christian is well-advised to waste little time on other things and spend as much as possible being with Jesus Christ and listening to Him open the Scriptures. Not to know what the Bible says about the return of Christ, the Scripture calls ignorance. Time spent with the one who possesses all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge is a worthy investment.
If Jesus is coming again, which He is, perhaps we should cancel a few more of our earthly involvements in order to hear what He has to say. Concerning our attitude in times like these, the Scripture tells us that we should be constantly looking up awaiting the Savior.
How do we prepare for that marvelous transition to heaven? The first and greatest step is to be sure that we know Jesus Christ as personal Savior. If you doubt that you are a Christian, remember that the Scripture with earnest simplicity says, For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). Everlasting life and a home in heaven comes from believing in the Lord Jesus. When we are a Christian, we begin to anticipate with joy that which is largely indescribablethe wonderful thing of being with Christ. We love His appearing, we look for Him. We wait for Him. We watch for Him. None of these attitudes are a waste of time but rather the custodians of our admiration of the Lord Jesus.
One word of advice then. Because Jesus Christ may come at any time to take His own home to be with Himself, every one of us should be ready. Do the things now you will be proud of when Christ comes again. Live the life today that will be to your credit when you arrive at eternity. Being with Christwhat a day that will be!
From the writings of Dave Breese
Destiny Newsletter continued