Fight for Joy! Blog
Where Jesus Changes Everything
Do You Love His Appearing?
"In the future there is laid up 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 loved His appearing" (2 Timothy 4:8). I just returned from the twentieth annual meeting of the Pre-Trib Study Group Conference (www.pre-trib.org). The meeting took place at the Sheraton Grand Hotel near the Dallas/Fort Worth airport. This was my third trip, having also attended in 2007 and 2008. The conference was academically stimulating with several papers presented by various scholars on the Rapture and Pre-Tribulationism. Perhaps the most challenging paper for me personally was Dr. Paul Wilkinson’s paper on "The Rapture and Evangelism." Dr. Wilkinson is a British scholar from England who challenged everyone attending to be about the task of evangelism in light of the any moment return of Christ for His church. The banquet on Monday evening featured Dr. Ed Hindson from Liberty University. Afterwards I was privileged to enjoy a brief visit with Bill Koenig, a White House correspondent and director of World Watch International news agency (www.watch.org). Tuesday evening included the traditional current events presentations dealing with current events in light of Bible prophecy. Although this is perhaps the highlight of the whole conference for me, this year I slipped out after the first speaker in order to have dinner with Jack Kinsella of the Omega Letter (www.omegaletter.org) and other Omega Letter friends. When all was said and done my mind kept coming back to Paul’s words to young Timothy in 2 Tim. 4:8, which I think is summed up with this question: Do you love His appearing?
Of all the reasons we might long for and love Jesus’ return for His church, three remain in the forefront of my thinking. First of all, I want to be where Jesus is. He said, "I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:3). As believers, we should long to be with Christ above all else. I think our longing to be with Him is a sure sign we treasure Him more than anyone or anything this world has to offer. Do you long to be with Christ? Do you love His appearing? Secondly, although Christ’s death has set me free from the power of sin, I long to be free from the presence of sin. Paul wrote, "For in hope we have been saved" (Rom. 8:24). This hope includes not only the redemption of our bodies but also freedom from the very presence of sin. Personally, I cannot even begin to fathom being free from the presence of sin. But such freedom is coming and it is coming at "the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus" (Titus 2:13)! Finally, God has promised a great reunion in the sky for those who love His appearing. The Bible says, "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus" (1 Thess. 4:14). Imagine that—our loved ones who are "asleep in Jesus" will come with Him when He appears. Asleep here simply means those who have died in the Lord. They are now with Jesus—where we long to be—and one day they are coming with Him when He comes for His church.
So what’s the bottom line? Simply put, it is this: Do you love His appearing? Do you long for and pray for the return of Jesus for His church? Or, are you busy with and focused on the cares of this world? I am amazed at the focus of Christianity today, particularly in our own country. It seems the church is more interested in the things of this world rather than Christ. We see it in so-called Christian programming where the focus is on health, wealth, and prosperity. We see it in books where the authors seem more interested in our best life now and becoming a better you. There doesn’t seem to be much interest in holy living and longing for Christ’s return. It is no wonder. Even Paul promised, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths" (2 Tim. 4:3-4). Here’s the test. Are you accumulating for yourself teachers in accordance with your own desires who promulgate what may on the surface sound and feel good but in reality is nothing more than myths? Or, do you treasure Christ above all and love His appearing? "Fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 1:13).
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