The coming of the Lord is a great encouragement – a blessed hope, and should be a longing in our heart to see Him. We should have bold confidence that when we do it will be a gathering of great rejoicing! (titus 2:13)
The “blood” moons, regardless of what you think of them will at least cause you to think of the coming of the Lord (whether or not you think they’re related.) (Lk 21:11) I worry because I know some believers who do not like to think about the Lord’s coming because they’re afraid to meet Him. Some believe He’ll be angry with them. This is not how we should feel in grace.
I was under false teaching at one time that caused me to believe that there was a slim chance that the Lord would be happy to see me. I came to believe that I would undergo severe discipline at His hand when I see Him if I don’t meet certain qualifications in this life. This belief sucked the joy out of my Christian life. You’re not going to be very likely to draw near to the Lord if you think He’s upset with you!
Prior to Paul’s teaching on grace, the two aspects of the Lord’s coming that had been revealed:
The salvation of Israel for them to inherit their kingdom.
His return to judge the nations.
The best word to describe this aspect of his coming maybe cataclysmic. This aspect in the scripture is called “The Day of the Lord” and is spoken of quite fearfully. For example, Isaiah 13:6 :Wail, for the day of the LORD is near; as destruction from the Almighty it will come!”
Amos even says pronounces “woe” upon those who long for this day: Woe to you who long for the day of the LORD! Why do you long for the day of the LORD? That day will be darkness, not light.
Yet, the new testament speaks of the Day of Christ, a slightly different term, that is an object of rejoicing and great joy for believers. I would recommend studying the difference between these two terms: Day of the Lord and the Day of Christ.
In Matthew, Mark and Luke’s descriptions of the coming of Christ in glory, there was no revelation of:
- the nature of the regenerated sons of God,
- the secret “catching away” of the bride,
- her transfiguration as she puts off the corruptible body and puts on the new glorified body that the Lord has prepared for her. (1 Cor 15:52)
- The idea that there would be many sons of God who were conformed to the image of the Son and glorified with Him
These things were part of a hidden mystery – the secret of the ages, according to Paul.(Romans 8:28,Col 1:26-27) This is the destiny that awaits those that belong to Christ today. The Day of Christ refers to this manifestation of the sons of God.
When this change occurs, (when the Lord catches His church up to meet Him in the air) (1 Thess 4:17), this will be the most delightful event that has ever occurred in the universe. God will inherit the end-product of all His work. (Eph 1:18) According to Paul the entire universe is eagerly anticipating the revelation of the Sons of God. (Rom 8:19)
When we see the Lord, we will have been transfigured.(Phil 3:21) All sin will be gone, all spot and blemish and we will be exactly as He is in nature and appearance.(1 Jn 3:2) This is God’s inheritance and His delight!
The sons of God will cause the angels to break out in praise to the glory of God’s grace. This is the grace which first caused us to be made acceptable in Christ through redemption, and is the same grace that will fully qualify us to reign with Him. (Eph 1:5-6)
This is the group that Paul said were chosen from eternity past and predestinated to be the glorious children of God, upon whom God will “show forth the riches of His grace by lavishing kindness on them in the ages to come.”(Eph 1:4,Rom 8:27-30;Eph 2:7) We can’t even imagine the incredible things that are in store for those who love Him(1 Cor 2:9).
Justification through faith in Christ has Already Qualified us for that Day
This entirely a grace project from start to finish! (Rom 4:13-16) So many are oppressed and depressed beacuse they believe they must do something to qualify them to “inherit” this glorious condition (called the Kingdom). But actually there is nothing required but to believe in Jesus Christ.
I was taught for awhile that receiving eternal life and inheriting the kingdom were two things. Justification didn’t prepare us to inherit – we had to “grow” to a certain extent. But Romans 4 clearly teaches that Abraham was justified in order to inherit the world, and that this was by promise – by grace, and not by works. Abraham was the father of faith and is our pattern. Paul is saying that the inheritance is secured and guaranteed for all who believe in Christ. (Rom 4:16; Heb 6:13-19; Gal 3:29)
We were already qualified by the Father in Christ, and have already been transferred into the Kingdom of the son of His love. (Col 1:12-13) We may not be qualified to inherit the kingdom now in our present state, but Paul tells us that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor 15:50). Only that which is incorruptible can inherit, and this change will occur instantaneously and simultaneously for the entire church. The dead will be raised and we who are alive and remain will be caught up to meet them, and changed. then we will ever be with the Lord. This teaching is supposed to be a great comfort to the believers in the Church. (1 Thes 4:18)
False Teaching Tells us we are not Qualified.
There is a teaching that flat out contradicts all of this – that Christians will not inherit simultaneously, but those who have not been “perfected” or “overcome” or been “faithful” in this age will in fact be put in outer darkness during the millenium and weep and gnash their teeth. Some say that this is for a punishment, others say that this is for further “growth”. But there is no further growth beyond being glorified! All of the Epistles say that when we see Him, we will be as He is. Also the scriptures tell us clearly that those who are caught up to meet Him will be with Him evermore (they are after all His body). No more seperation. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. The teachings that support the idea of “outer darkness” come from places in the synoptic gospels, which do not have the body of Christ in view. That group is still a mystery in those passages! When we take on a view, we need to compare it with what we know about our position in Christ, and what we know of grace. Does it match?
Rewards Await Us
Now to be sure, Paul did talk about the judgement seat of Christ. (Rom 14:10, 2 Cor 5:10). This is a judgement only for believers in the Church, and is a test of our works here – of their quality and nature. Any work that stands the test will receive a reward.(1 Cor 12:-14). So in addition to being glorified and having Christ himself manifested in us and seeing the Father face to face, (which in itself is the chief reward) we have the possibility of other rewards. There are crowns mentioned in the scripture. Did you know that there is a crown just for loving His appearing? (2 Ti4:8) There is a crown for enduring trial. (Jmes 1:12)
When we think about these rewards, we need to remember the generosity of Our Lord.(Mt 20:14-15) Remember when He said that the one who gives a glass of water to a prophet in the name of a prophet will not lose his reward? (Mar 9:41) The Lord remembers all of our tears,(Ps 56:8) all of the times we have cried out to Him, the times we ‘ve struggled through unbelief, the times we’ve told Him we love Him, the times we told him that no matter what it looks like we believe in Him. He remembers also any service we have ministered to others. (Heb 6:10)
I believe there is the possibility of suffering loss at the judgment seat of Christ (meaning to not have a reward), but I believe there will be many joyfully suprised people laying crowns at the feet of Jesus.(Rev 4:10) Crown or no crown, nothing will diminish or increase God’s love for us, or His joy at a the long awaited treasure of His heart being put on display (the many sons of God.)
The Bible teaches us to be alert and to watch for the Lord’s coming. In the synoptic gospels its a warning. Remember, in those gospels, the revelation of the glorious sons of God who are conformed to the image of Christ and are the Father’s inheritance is still a mystery. But especially in Paul’s epistles where this mystery is made known, the coming of the Lord is a great encouragement – a blessed hope, and should be a longing in our heart to see Him. We should have bold confidence that when we do it will be a gathering of great rejoicing! (titus 2:13)