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The Blessed Hope
The Second Coming of Christ remains unto this hour as the Blessed Hope. It is the lamp that shineth in a dark place until the day dawns, and the daystar arises in our hearts. When we lose sight of the Blessed Hope of Christ's personal and imminent Return, we leave ourselves in darkness. We might as well turn off the light on a dark night and hope to see clearly, as to turn off the truth of the Lord's Return, and hope to see through the present darkness.
1. The Lord's Return is the Hope of the Church. There are some persons who imagine that the Church will convert the world, but that is absolutely contrary to God's Word. According to the Bible the Church is ever to be a suffering minority, a people called out from among the nations with but one hope set before it, and that, the hope of Christ's Return. Increasing darkness, moral disillusion, civic and social collapse, the rumors of wars, and distress of nations never upset the peace of the Church which knows the fact of the Blessed Hope.
2. The Lord's Return is the hope of Israel. During the twenty-three hundred years since the Children of Israel were led captive to Babylon, God's chosen nation has been trampled under the feet of the Gentiles. Israel is paying the price of her apostasy from the faith, and of her crucifixion of our Lord. However, it will not be forever that God's anger will be kindled against His people. The Lord promised Israel national forgiveness. A nation will be born in a day. At that time her heart will be made clean, and her hands will be washed with pure water. God also promised the national restoration of His people. They are coming from the east, the west, the north, the south, from all the nations whither they have been driven, and they are coming to dwell in their own land. God has also promised the national world-wide blessing which Israel will be in the day of Christ's Return. Then Gentiles will come to her light, and kings to the brightness of her rising. God, through His people Israel, will cover the world with the knowledge of the Lord, even as the waters cover the sea.
3. The Lord's Return is the hope of the physical earth. The earth and the beasts upon the earth are all under the curse. They are groaning and travailing together even to this day. God has promised, however, that the earth will be brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God. The plowman will overtake the reaper, the sower of seed, he that is gathering the grain. The mountains will melt with new wine. Instead of the thorn will come up the fir tree, instead of the brier, the myrtle tree. The lion and the bear will eat together with the cow and the ox. "They will not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain."
I. THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST A PURIFYING HOPE (1 John 3:1-3 )
'"Every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure."
1. The evil servant (Matthew 24:44-51 ). Here we have the story of the evil servant who said, "My lord delayeth his coming." The result was that the servant began to eat and to drink with the drunken. The lord came, and cut that servant asunder, and appointed him his portion with the hypocrites. "There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." It has always been true: the Christian, or the Church that forgets the Blessed Hope and postpones the Lord's Return will inevitably become world-centered and carnal in their lives.
2. The call to holy living. In Colossians 3:3-4 we read of that Blessed Hope, and in Colossians 3:5 the admonition is given that we mortify our members which are upon the earth. As the message of Christ's Second Advent grips the soul, the believer puts away anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication, and lying one to another.
3. The power of the Blessed Hope. In 2 Corinthians 5:9 , Paul's words are recorded, wherein he says, "Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him." When the imminent Return of the Lord stands before us we will be deeply concerned with all that we are, and all that we do, knowing that we must appear before the judgment-seat of Christ to receive the things done in the body.
II. THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST IS A PACIFYING HOPE (James 5:7-9 )
1. In last day scenes the Apostle James, was not slow to tell us, in the Holy Ghost, about certain conditions which would be present in the last times. The rich man is described, whose riches are corrupted, whose gold and silver is cankered. They had been living luxuriously while they held back the hire of the laborers who mowed down the fields. That certainly is an exact picture of what we have today; while thousands are half starved, and thinly clad, the rich are living in pleasure, and nourishing their hearts as in a day of slaughter. The result is that laboring men are banding themselves against the rich.
2. The Judge at the door. After James described the conflict between capital and labor which would dominate the last days, he addressed the saints, saying, "Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the Coming of the Lord. Behold, the Husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until He receive the early and latter rain." Then James added these words, "Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the Coming of the Lord draweth nigh."
In the next verse, James, the Lord's brother, gave this comprehensive statement, "Behold, the Judge standeth before the door." Thus it is that the Second Coming of Christ is the pacifying hope.
3. The coming joy. In John 16:1-33 the Lord is recorded as saying, "Ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice," It is only a little while that we see Him not, and then a little while and we shall see Him. The Book of Hebrews puts it this way: "For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come and will not tarry." We do not need to care for the present hour of suffering when we live unctionized by that Blessed Hope.
III. THE COMFORTING HOPE (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 )
1. The sway of death. In Romans 5:14 we learn how through the sin of one, death reigned. The death that was pronounced upon Adam fell also upon Adam's seed. The world today is one enormous graveyard. The message of Genesis 5:1-32 is "he lived, and he died." With the exception of two, Enoch and Elijah, that has been the role of every life. Death reigns.
2. The dead in the Lord. In Revelation 14:1-20 are these strengthening words, "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth." Although death reigns, physical death has never been able to hold the saint in its power. We can look the grave in the face and cry out, "O grave, where is thy victory?" Death to the saint has become no more than the door that leads to the life elysium. All die, but not all are held in the power of death.
3. The resurrection of the saints. When Paul sought to comfort the Thessalonians because of their dead, he urged them to sorrow not as others who have no hope. Then he told them that the living who remain until the Coming of the Lord shall in no wise prevent the saints who have died prior to His Return. The Spirit goes on to tell us through Paul that the dead in Christ shall rise first, and the living who remain shall be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air. Then the Spirit adds, "Wherefore comfort one another with these words." In a world under the sway of death we can hear the Apostle, saying, "I shew you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump."
IV. THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST IS AN INSPIRATIONAL HOPE (Acts 1:11 )
1. The great commission. In Matthew 28:1-20 we read the command of the Lord Jesus Christ to us to go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. When an array is commanded to march on any perilous undertaking the commander delights in addressing his army, thereby giving them inspiration and courage for their undertaking. He tells them that their country is counting on them. He tells them of the rewards that will be theirs if they have victory.
The Lord Jesus Christ gave a great command to preach the Gospel to every creature. This inspired His disciples to service. It was after He had gone up, but while they were still gazing into Heaven, that He sent down two shining ones to say unto them, "This same Jesus, * *, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into Heaven." It was under the inspiration of that Blessed Hope that the early Church labored and wrought.
2. The present occupying. In Luke 19:13 there is the call given to "occupy till I come." Then follows the parable in which Christ is described as going "into a far country to receive for Himself a Kingdom, and to return." At His Return He calls His servants before Him, and gives them their rewards. The real inspiration of service is the thought of the Lord's Return. Even now we can hear the Master saying, "Behold, I come quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be."
Dwight L. Moody, the evangelist, said that when the truth of the Lord's Return gripped his soul he was sent forth with an inspiration to preach the Gospel to lost men. The great power of missionary inspiration today is the Second Coming of Christ.
V. THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST IS AN ENCOURAGING HOPE (Titus 2:13 )
1. A saved people. Titus 2:11 of our chapter tells us how the grace of God appeared bringing salvation. We can remember the time when the Lord found us, and the Spirit wooed us. We can remember how our sins weighed heavily upon us until the Lord in mercy saved us. That hour of our salvation lingers with us yet.
2. A separated people. Titus 2:12 of our chapter gives God's call to the saved, and tells them that they should live denying ungodliness, and worldly lusts. That, however, is a negative command. Here is the positive: that they should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, The negative is turning our backs upon the old life and walk; the positive is turning our faces toward a new life and walk under the power of the Spirit.
3. The place of the expectant hope. If God calls us out of the world, and calls upon us to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, He does it urging us to live looking for that Blessed Hope, and the Glorious Appearing of our Lord.
The Lord knew that the saved would be a suffering people, therefore He urged them to be always looking for the Blessed Hope. How wonderful is that hope!
VI. THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST IS THE HOPE WHICH PROMISES ISRAEL HER SALVATION (Acts 15:16-17 )
1. The present scattering of Israel. In Matthew 23:1-39 is the startling statement which Christ spoke concerning His own chosen people: "Your house is left unto you desolate." During many centuries the Children of Israel have been driven from pillar to post under the feet of the Gentiles. During this hour of Israel's travail, the Lord is visiting the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His Name. However, Israel herself nationally has been sidetracked cast off by God.
2. The coming tribulation which awaits Israel. The Lord spoke of the great tribulation. That day is now hastening. It has been the day of Jacob's trouble, the day of the great indignation of God in which His wrath will reach its consummation in the judgments which shall befall the Jews. Israel has not yet drunk the dregs of the cup of her sorrows. There still remains the saddest hour.
3. The day of promise which foretells Israel's redemption. After the Gentiles have been visited, then the Lord will return the second time, and build again the tabernacle of David which has fallen down. The Word of God is plain. It says that blindness In part has happened unto Israel until the times of the Gentiles come in, and then it adds, "And so all Israel shall be saved."
The Lord Jesus Christ will come again. He will come as Zion's Deliverer, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob. This is His promise when He takes away their sins. Let no one think that God's promises will not stand. His covenant is unbreakable.
VII. THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST IS THE HOPE OF THE NATIONS (Isaiah 11:9 )
1. The great rebellion. In the second Psalm we read how the nations of the earth, and their rulers, will set themselves together, and the rulers will take counsel against the Lord, and against His Anointed. They will say among themselves, "Let us break Their bands asunder, and cast away Their cords from us." That Scripture is now being fulfilled before our very eyes. The spirit which controls the world, is the spirit of the negation of God, and the rejection of His Son. That spirit will hold sway under the rule and reign of the coming antichrist.
2. The great judgment. The Lord tells us of the tribulation as being a period not only when Israel will drink her bitter cup, but when the nations which have smitten Israel and denied the Lord shall be judged. The seals will be broken; the trumpets will be sounded; the vials will be poured forth, and the earth will reel to and fro as a drunkard. Men will hide in the dens and the caves of the earth, and will cry unto the rocks to fall upon them and hide them from the face of Him that sitteth in the Heavens, for the great day of His wrath will have come.
3. The great restoration. Following the judgment of the nations in the valley of Jehoshaphat, and the battle of Armageddon, comes a new era to the earth. God's judgments are always constructive. He will judge the nations, and the inhabitants of the earth, in order that they may learn righteousness. Daniel 7:1-28 describes the Son of Man coming in the clouds of Heaven, and we read of how there will be given unto Him dominion and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion will be an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and which shall not be destroyed. It is for this cause that we say the Second Coming of Christ is the hope of the nations. Under the reign of Christ the world will laugh out in gladness, and the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.
"THE BLESSED HOPE"
Hope transforms. Henry Howard, of the Inland South American Mission, after telling of the death of an Indian's babe, says, The next morning I went to perform the last rites over the little body, and as I took my place among the saddened and silent group on the hallowed knoll, where hoes, axes, knives and crosses mark the last resting places of those who have passed into the unknown, I saw the blessedness of the Gospel, and realized the need of it more than ever before. The people of our party, the Lord's people, were calm and silent, but close by there were mothers who had laid their loved ones to rest and who as yet knew not Christ, "The Resurrection and the Life." I shall never forget the scene. They leaped into the air like animals that had received a mortal wound, and with cries of anguish and baffled despair fell again with all their weight on the graves of their dead. That they repeated until they fell exhausted, and they lay with their faces to the ground, beating it with their hands, as though seeking in vain to hear voices now silent forever. I cannot describe the emotion that shook me, but God gave me power as I spoke of the hope so sure and certain in Christ, our blessed Redeemer. The Expositor.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Titus 2". "Living Water". https://studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent