Now we come to the time in the Word of God, which is really the highlight of worship because we start in worship with the truth. We worship the Lord in spirit and in truth. And we’re in a series called “Heaven on Earth.” It’s just a brief series on the church, which we have designated as heaven on earth. This is the taste of heaven on earth, the only taste that anyone can ever have. This is all of heaven the earth will ever know. Until our Lord returns, we are heaven on earth. It should be manifest both to us and the world around us how different we are than they are. We come now to what is essentially part 4, and it looks like it won’t be the last one; I’m not sure how many there’re going to be. But this one is a very important one.
A number of years ago I went to Kazakhstan, vivid memories of flying about thirty-five hours. I don’t know how many times I changed planes across the world to arrive at Kazakhstan. I think it was about six o’clock on a Monday morning, and I had been invited to come and speak to the first pastor’s conference after the breakup of the Soviet Union. There were about 1,600 or 1,700 pastors. It had never happened before. They were now able to gather, and they poured into a large auditorium in Almaty in Kazakhstan, and they asked me to come, and they asked me to teach on the church. They asked me to teach, I think, six days, Monday through Saturday, basically all day long with a Russian translator. I think I had four translators; I wore them out going day after day.
But about midway through this amazing week—and, of course, I was staying with a sweet widow lady who had very meager things to offer me. I remember she waited in line a long time to buy a little piece of horse meat to feed me; and there was some rice and the ubiquitous potatoes that are part of the diet in that world. But it was a wonderful time with these dear saints, who were looking at life in a different way because they had come out of such dire oppression since the Bolshevik Revolution. And now there was a new sense of freedom.
Well anyway, I was going day in and day out for hours talking about the church. And on Wednesday, I remember vividly, the leaders called me in a room, and they said, “We have a question.” I said, “Sure.” They said, “When do you get to the good part?” Well, that was a bit discouraging, actually. By then I was probably twenty hours into this thing. So I said, “Well, I don’t know. What is the good part?” to which they immediately responded, “What the Lord has planned for us in the future.”
I can think back—in feeding these people, it rained all week, which was good, because they had bowls, massive cauldrons in the back of the church catching the rain, and they threw whatever they could find into the bowl and heated it up; and we ate rain soup with vegetables and potatoes all week. It’s a tough, hardscrabble existence for those people for sure. And so they wanted to know about the good part. And I said, “What’s the good part?” And they said, “That’s the part about, ‘What is Jesus planning for us in the future?’”
If you lived in that world, you would understand that that was on their minds and on their hearts. And that is the good part, folks. That is the good part. That is the best part. They were right. So on Friday, I spent the entire day going over all that the Lord has planned for us in the future and how He’s prewritten history.
And that, of course, led me to talk to them about all the features of the return of Jesus Christ to this world. He will return. Clearly, the angels in Acts 1 said to the disciples who were watching Him as He was taken up from the earth in a cloud into heaven, and they said, “This same Jesus will come in like manner as you’ve seen Him go.” He’s coming back in the clouds of heaven. That is made explicit in Daniel chapter 7, that when Christ returns, He’s coming in the clouds; and He gave sort of a preview in reverse at His Ascension.
Jesus is coming back. He will bring about the culmination of history, the culmination of the history of the universe, and the history of humanity in His hands. And this, then, is the culminating truth in the foundational theology of the church. It’s hope for the return of the Lord Jesus to deliver His people safely into His earthly kingdom, to establish His rule on the earth, and to reign and rule and judge for a thousand years. That is the future plan; and after that comes the new heaven and the new earth.
This is a foundational truth and has immense implications for us. We’ve talked about four other cardinal doctrines regarding the church: the church and election, which shows the role that God plays in the church by choosing before the foundation of the world those who will belong to Him. We talked about the church and identification, or union—the church’s union, meaning every believer is united to Christ. We talked about the church and purification; that is the work of the Holy Spirit. And we also talked last time about the church and revelation, and that is the Scripture, which is at the heart of everything.
So we come to this final point: the church and restoration. The church and restoration. And we could offer a few words in that place, but that seems to fit, at least in my own mind.
So we’re going to talk about the Second Coming. And I know that for most people, that doesn’t seem to be a very important truth. I admit it’s been abused and misrepresented through the years. It’s also more likely been ignored and left in some unnecessary confusion by many in ministry, and therefore many Christians. The Lord expects us to know exactly what He has revealed, and to be accountable for it, and not so that we can glorify Him alone, but so that we can live in hope, so that we can live in hope.
This should be the best news for a believer. This is at the heart of your worldview, your view when you look forward into the future. Christ is coming. He has already written the end of the story of humanity, the end of the story of this planet earth, the end of the universe story. It’s already written. It’s been written in the pages in Scripture. It’s revealed to us clearly; we can follow it detail by detail and know exactly what is going to happen.
As I frequently do, I decided to look into some material and find out what the common ideas are about the end of the world: How is this world going to end? How is the earth going to end? And what’s going to happen in the final chapter of humanity? And I read the most bizarre, the most ridiculous, the most nonsensical, fictional, far-fetched notions of the people who think in cartoons, I guess. I also read what the scientists have to say about how in a few billion years the sun is going to do this, and the Earth is going to do this in response, and the whole universe is going to collapse—and on and on it goes. And people honestly live in fear about that. They live in fear about that.
Look, I have no fear about what’s going to happen in the future; I know what’s going to happen in the future, and I know the earth is not going to be destroyed by Satan, it’s not going to be destroyed by men, it’s not going to be destroyed by any human power or powers, it is going to be destroyed by Christ. It is going to be judged first and then destroyed by Christ, which frees me up to drive my car, and I’m so thankful for that. I have nothing to do in my gas pipe, and my exhaust has nothing to do with the end of the world, I just want to remind you about that, and neither does yours. But if you concoct all kinds of wacky stuff about that, you can terrify people enough to have power over them, to control them. You control them with fear.
So we have come to the good point. This is the good point. This is the end of the story, and this is really the best part of the whole story, how it ends. I mean, it’s the whole reason for the redemptive history that is laid out in Scripture and our part in it. It’s the church and restoration, what’s coming: the kingdom and the Second Coming.
Now the Bible is neither vague nor equivocal regarding Christ’s return. In the Old Testament there are about 225 prophecies that related to His Second Coming. About half that many relate to His first coming. So that is a theme of the Old Testament double the times that His first coming is referred to; His Second Coming is prophesied.
And in the New Testament there are about 330 references or prophetic illusions to the Second Coming. It’s a staple of biblical revelation and biblical doctrine. But in spite of the extensive revelation with regard to the return of Christ, there is so much confusion and so much skepticism.
In 2 Peter chapter 3 and verse 3, Peter writes this, and he’s really telling us what is true not only of those in his day but in our day as well: “Know this first of all, that in the last days”—and that would include the days we are alive—“in [these] last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming?’” They’re taunting Bible-believing Christians and saying, “So where is Jesus? Two thousand years have gone by; He hasn’t come.” This is the scorn they heap on those who have such a foolish hope.
For they say, “Ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” This is the principle of uniformity: Nothing has ever changed; it’s always been the same. We have never had this kind of cataclysmic judgment in the past, and we certainly aren’t to expect it in the future. This is folly. They treat it with scorn and mockery.
However, “When they maintain this,” verse 5 says, “it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.” Oh, they forgot one cataclysmic event that destroyed the entire human race, with the exception of eight people, and that is the Flood in Genesis.
So all things have not continued as they were from the beginning. The world was destroyed by water. But verse 7 says, “But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved” not for water, but “fire”—next time it’s going to be destruction by fire—“kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” And if you think it’s been a couple thousand years, and you’re doubting whether that’s absolutely going to actually going to happen, verse 8 is for you: “Do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.” There’s no sense of time in God’s domain.
What’s He waiting for? Verse 9 says He’s “not slow about His promise,” He’s “patient . . . not wishing for any to perish but all to come to repentance.” He’s waiting until all the elect have been gathered in. But the day will come. Verse 10, he says, “The day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar, the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, the earth and its works will be burned up.”
Down in verse 12 he says, “The heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!” Essentially, an atomic destruction. The whole planet and the whole universe is made up of atoms, and it will explode in an unimaginable destruction by God’s hand.
That’s what you should fear. You shouldn’t fear the folly of men. If you’re a Christian, your faith is in the Word of God, right? And so there’s no fear from the words of men. You shouldn’t be subject to that. They’re the ones who should be terrified.
And for some, they are terrified about the future, but they are terrified for the wrong reason. They’re terrified, according to popular understanding, what may happen from global warming or whatever it is, or some kind of heavenly body smashing into the planet. You’ve heard all of that. Their fears are basically unfounded because we have the message from the Word of God.
But look at Luke 21:25, “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars,” “there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men”—and this looks forward to the return of Christ—“fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory,” terrifying the world. Revelation says they’ll cry for the rocks and the mountains to fall on them and hide them from the face of the One who is coming.
“But,” verse 28 says, “when these things . . . take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Our redemption is connected to the Second Coming of Christ. For the world it is the final judgment; for us it is the final act of redemption.
So for the church, we have to live in the light of that. I mean, we get to live in the light of that, I should say. We are looking for Christ. We are looking for Christ. Let me help you see that. I’m going to use a few passages just to give you the biblical picture that will establish in your mind this glorious truth of Christ’s return.
Turn to Matthew 24. And I can remember going through Matthew 24 and 25, just a massive, epic sermon by our Lord on His Second Coming. But what triggered the discussion of His Second Coming comes in verse 3, “[Jesus] was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’” They knew there would be an end to everything, and they knew it was connected to His coming.
So they asked this question, and He goes through and answers, starting in the beginning of chapter 24, that goes all the way through chapter 25. We can’t cover it all, but drop down to verse 29, the highpoint: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” That’s how it ends. After the Tribulation, when the creation is completely disrupted, and Christ appears and comes with power and glory to establish His kingdom.
Go down to verse 42. Here’s a response: “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming”—you do not know. “Be sure of this, that if the head”—this is an illustration—“if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.”
People are afraid of the wrong thing. They’re afraid of some kind of natural phenomenon or some kind of man-made phenomenon which will bring about the end. No, the one who brings about the end of it all is Jesus Christ Himself. He is the one to be feared.
But for believers, look at John 14. For us—you remember this. Jesus gathered with His disciples in the upper room. John 14:1, “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.” Why would you be worried and troubled? “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
What is terrifying to the world is joyful to us, right? Christ is coming back, having prepared a place for His own in His presence in the glory of heaven, and He will come to take us home. This is the believer’s hope, and we’ll see more about it in a moment.
But one other passage I would just mention to you is Revelation 1. These are just sort of central texts that speak of the Second Coming. In the book of Revelation, which is essentially the chronology and the character and the circumstances surrounding Christ’s return, we see in verse 4 John is writing to the seven churches in Asia: “Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the [sevenfold Spirit] before His throne, and from Jesus Christ”—and then he, introducing Christ, describes Him this way—“the faithful witness”—the prototokos—“the [premier one from] the dead, the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood—and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
And then in verse 7, “Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen”—let it be. Let it be. And then the Bible ends. The Bible ends on that note, the last of Revelation 22. This is the final word, verse 20 of Revelation 22, “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all. Amen.” All of Scripture closes with a definite statement that Jesus is coming and He’s coming quickly, and His people respond by saying, “Let it happen.”
So we’re not looking for any demonic source to destroy the earth or any cosmic source to destroy the earth. We’re not fearful of some green beings, aliens floating around in the air who may come and destroy us. We’re not fearful that man, no matter what he does, could bring about the end of human history. You can’t alter human history one split second either individually or collectively. The whole human race can’t change the story of the end. We’re fully informed on that.
And there are people who are fearful. The whole world lives in fear. They ought to live in fear; fear of death paralyzes them. And so some kind of—you hear this a lot—some kind of existential threat terrifies people, a threat of the unknown. You hear the politicians use that all the time: “This is the existential threat.”
The only existential threat that people need to be worried about is the return of Christ. And the New Testament writers then, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, call the church to live in anticipation of that. And again, it just doesn’t seem to be important to Christians. They get so caught up in the world, they just don’t seem to be living in the light of the Second Coming of Christ. They seem so earthbound, even self-centered.
So let’s take a little look for a few moments on what the New Testament epistles say to us. First Thessalonians 1. Now we’re the church. First Thessalonians chapter 1 gives a description of the church in Thessalonica. It was a wonderful church. They were basically known by the “work of faith,” the “labor of love,” “steadfastness of hope in [the] Lord Jesus,” as chapter 1, verse 3 says.
The gospel had come to them with power and the Holy Spirit and conviction. They became imitators of the apostles and of the Lord. They received the Word even though there was much tribulation. They received the Word with joy. They became examples of the believers. They sounded forth the Word of the Lord, really, in every place. And verse 9 sums up the character of this healthy church: “They themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God.” That’s a statement of the transformation of the sinners into saints: You “turned . . . from idols to serve a living and true God,” and look at the next phrase in verse 10, “and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.”
The church is living in the waiting period, anticipating the return of Christ from heaven. He is the one we are looking for. He is the one who will bring everything to its final end.
Also, as long as you’re in 1 Thessalonians, look again at chapter 4, verse 16, I read it earlier. But it says, “The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
What is our comfort? Our comfort is we know the end of the story, and our Lord is coming back for us. He’s in charge of the culmination of human history; and we are encouraged because we are to be rescued from the wrath to come.
Chapter 5, again, of 1 Thessalonians, verse 2, “You yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” But look at verse 4, “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of [the] day. We are not of night nor of darkness.” And verse 9 of chapter 5, “God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining [final, full] salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you are doing.”
So we’re waiting—I love that—we’re waiting for His Son from heaven like the Thessalonians were. This is repeated in many places in the epistles, and there are just a few select ones that might be an encouragement to you.
In Titus chapter 2, “The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,” and verse 13, “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and purify a people for Himself for His own possession, zealous for good works. These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.”
Don’t let anybody knock you off the subject of the return of Christ; this is the believer’s hope, this is the believer’s hope. We are waiting for the Son of God to come from heaven and deliver us. We have no reason to fear any human activity or demonic activity, natural activity to bring about the end of this life as we know it; that’s all preplanned in the purpose of God.
In Hebrews chapter 9, verse 28—I’m just giving you some of the verses, there are many others. But in Hebrews 9:28, this is wonderful: “Christ also”—this sums up His two comings—“Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many”—He came the first time to be a sin-bearer, to die—“Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.” Again, that same idea: We’re waiting; we’re waiting, we’re looking for Him.
And He comes the “second time for salvation without reference to sin.” In other words, to complete the salvation that He already paid for at the cross, the final aspect of our salvation, even our glorification. Such marvelous truths; it all waits for us.
First Peter 1:13, “Prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” We’re waiting for Christ to be revealed. Fix your eyes on Him.
And then going back to 2 Peter for just a moment, and that third chapter, verse 10: “The day of the Lord will come like a thief [in the night], the heavens will pass away with a roar, the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, the earth and its works will be burned up.” And then the implications of that in verse 11, “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way”—in this cosmic implosion—“since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness”—here it comes again in verse 12—“looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!” Verse 14, “Then, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless.”
We’re going to have the opportunity to live a life in anticipation of Christ’s return; and if it really grips our heart, it really captivates us, it’s going to comfort us, it’s going to motivate us to godliness, holiness, sanctification in conduct and speech and attitude, because if you know He’s coming and you don’t know when He’s coming, you want to make sure when He does come you’re the kind of believer that you should be.
So the calling of the church, then, is to live in the light of the return of Christ. We’re not trying to solve the earth’s problems, we’re not trying to solve society’s problems, we’re not trying to solve the planet’s problems; that can’t be done. You can’t do anything to change the calendar of God; nor is there any power that can overthrow God’s plan and purpose. We are here waiting for the Lord from heaven.
Now His return has a number of elements to it. First of all, the Lord Jesus will return in the air—and this is the trigger for all of it—He returns in the air to snatch away His church, as we saw in 1 Thessalonians 4. This is called the Rapture, from a Latin term “to catch away.” And following that event when the church is caught away into heaven and the church goes to heaven and meets with the Lord and has the marriage supper with their Bridegroom, Christ, all hell breaks loose on earth. The restraint of the church is out of the world. The earth is overrun by hell’s forces, demons belching out of hell; sin dominates the world. Satan’s forces are in charge. Satan even leads the world through a man called Antichrist, who makes covenants with Israel and breaks them, who takes absolute control over the world, and turns out to be a wicked and murderous individual. So the Lord takes His church out, all hell breaks loose in the world, and during that same period of time God begins to judge the world; the judgments are laid out in Revelation 6 through 18.
At the end of that Tribulation, after the Tribulation of those days, as I read you from Matthew, after all the terrible, cataclysmic, catastrophic judgments of Revelation 6 to 8, there will be at the end a massive, world-war battle of Armageddon, as it’s called, in the land of Israel, as the forces of the world will gather to fight against Christ. At that point, Christ Jesus will return from heaven with His raptured saints, with His glorified church, with the holy angels, to destroy all the wicked, and to set up His kingdom on earth for a thousand years. That is precisely how the book of Revelation lays out the future, and that is the overall view that as believers we have to have.
So we’re looking for Christ, we’re looking for Him. We’re not looking for some physical or natural disaster to end history. Oh, look; I mean, there’re going to be those kinds of natural disasters. We all die. We’re going to die one way or another. But as far as the end of this planet, we have the record of how it’s going to end. It’s going to end at exactly the split second when the Lord determines for it to end. It’ll be proceeded by the Rapture of the church, the pouring out of divine wrath in the Tribulation. At the end of that time, Christ returns with His holy angels and His saints, and He establishes His earthly kingdom and reigns for a thousand years. At the end of that thousand years, Satan is released from having been bound for the thousand years. He’s released for a little while to collect all of the unbelievers in a final rebellion, which is stamped out by God’s power, after which God Himself will destroy this earth and this entire universe, and replace it with new heavens and a new earth in which there’s only righteousness and where the righteous will live forever. That is what the Bible lays out; I’m just kind of giving you a summation of it.
So the next event on God’s calendar is the snatching of the church. That’s the beginning of the end. It will not come by what people fear most, it will come by what they seem to fear least. This generation of people don’t seem to think they should fear God, or fear Christ, fear divine judgment. But that’s exactly what they should fear. He’s coming, and He’s coming to judge the ungodly. For us, we wait with joy and anticipation.
Titus 2, the statement I read earlier. This is such a beautiful statement of it. We live—in verses 12 and 13—in godliness, and we shun worldly desires. We “live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” That is not finished until He returns.
The promise of God demands the return of Christ. The promise of Christ demands that He return, Mark 14:62, “You will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” That’s Christ’s own words.
Yes, the promise of God: “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “that I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a king shall reign and prosper and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.” That’s God’s promise.
The testimony of the Holy Spirit affirms it. Every scripture that speaks of His Second Coming is inspired by the Holy Spirit. The plan for the church demands that He return. He is the Bridegroom coming to collect His bride; Revelation 19 lays it out. The corruption of the world demands that He comes. In John 5, Jesus said, “There’s going to be judgment in the future. I’m going to come and bring about devastating judgment.”
In 2 Thessalonians, there is a powerful, powerful section of chapter 1, verse 7; talks about Jesus being “revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, to be marveled at among all who have believed—for our testimony to you was believed.”
For us, it’s a glorious day; for the world, it is flaming, divine retribution. The promises of God demand that Christ return. The words of Jesus demand that Christ return. The testimony of the Holy Spirit in Scripture demands that He return. The plan for the church demands that He return to take His bride to be with Himself; 2 Corinthians 11:2, He’s coming to get His bride and take her to glory.
The corruption of the world demands that He comes to judge and destroy the ungodly. The future of Israel demands it. There is to be a time in the future when Israel is brought into the promises of God by virtue of the New Covenant. The vindication of Christ Himself as the triumphant King demand it. The last chapter of Jesus will not be the one that ended at the cross. This is the final glory of Christ. The destruction of Satan demands it as well. The Son of God appeared to destroy the devil, destroy the works of the devil.
So Christ is coming, and I’ve just kind of laid out all these scriptures just to give you that one strong conviction. We have to live in the light of Christ’s coming. Hold lightly to the things of this world. “Set your affections on things above and not on things on the earth.”
And one more passage as we now come to the Lord’s Table: Luke 22. Luke 22. It’s the time of the Passover with Jesus and His disciples. And if you look down to verse 16 He says—they’re about to be introduced to this wonderful new ordinance, the Lord’s Table. In verse 16, He says, “For I say to you, I shall never again eat [this meal]”—this Passover—“until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” That’s amazing.
Our Lord is instituting something. This is the first time it had ever been celebrated. He instituted it in the upper room before His crucifixion. He said, “I’ll never again participate in this with you until the kingdom comes.” Christ is saying one time, “I will have Communion with you, this night and never again, because I’m going away; and it won’t be until I come back that I’ll have Communion with you again.” Verse 18, He says it another way: “I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.”
So when Christ returns, He will have Communion, celebrating His own cross with His redeemed people. He said, “Until I come, you do it.” He only was there one time. He instituted it; never had Communion again. But He will when He comes back. And until He comes, He calls on us to celebrate Him at the Lord’s Table.
Father, we are so blessed to be given such a vast, incomprehensible revelation of the future. What a gift. What a profound blessing. What an unparalleled mercy. And as we come to Your table, may we understand the beauty of it, the wonder of it—the simple bread symbolizing Christ’s body which was sacrificed for us, the cup symbolizing His blood which was shed for us. We know He is gathered in our presence. We know He’s with us; He inhabits the praise of His people; but we would long for the day when He can sit down with us at the table, as He did that night, and have the Lord’s Supper with His disciples.
That day will come, it will come. He will do this in His kingdom on earth with His own. What a magnificent moment that will be. But until then, Lord, He wanted us to come to this table to celebrate His death for us, and to live in anticipation of the future when He comes to live among us again and rules this world. We are so profoundly grateful for the salvation that He has purchased for us, and the salvation that He will bring to its complete fullness when He returns. May we be able to say with the apostle, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
I’m ready. I have nothing to fear. I’m in Christ; Christ will hold me fast; and I wait, and I wait with hope, and I wait with joy, and I wait with comfort, and I pursue godliness and righteousness as I live in this world, to honor the One who’s coming, my Bridegroom, to take me to be with Him forever. And all because of the cross, we can have this relationship with Him. Thank You, Father, for the gift of salvation in Christ.
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