What Should Authentic Christians Look Forward to in the Future?

August 29, 2016 at 8:57 AM

secondcoming2The obvious and clear answer to the question asked by the title of this article is that we can and should look forward to spending our eternity with Jesus once we leave this life. That’s the “far” answer, the one that lies ahead for all authentic Christians who know Him and who have received salvation from Him, through faith alone. In fact, the overall tone of the entire Bible is one that focuses on the culmination of all things. Moreover, John gets very specific in pointing out that as we focus on the physical return of Jesus one day, the very focusing on that event goes far in “purifying us” by causing us to separate our hearts and minds from the things of the earth.

Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that whenever it is revealed we will be like him, because we will see him just as he is. And everyone who has this hope focused on him purifies himself, just as Jesus is pure, (1 John 3:2-3).

The truth is that this “hope” John speaks of is not a hope that is meant when someone hopes to pass their final exams to graduate, or hopes that things will work out for someone, or hopes that nothing goes wrong with a car that’s on its last legs. There is an implied chance of failure in those things and in that usage. The word “hope” here literally means to anticipate or live with the anticipation that something will come to pass.

A child is told that soon, the family will take a trip to Disneyland. The date is given. The parents even put the date on the calendar so that the child can see it and look forward to it. The day comes when the family packs the car and drives to Disneyland. The child is overjoyed because of what they anticipated has finally dawned. They had no reason to doubt their parents’ promise. They merely had to wait for it and in their case, they knew the day and hour.

Christians do not know the day or the hour of our departure. We do not know when we will breathe our last breath (nor do we know when the Lord will finally and physically return to this earth), but we “hope” or anticipate that day and understand that when it comes, we will be ushered into the very Presence of our precious Lord and Savior. That is the promise of God’s Word (Proverbs 12:28; Daniel 12:1-4; John 3:16;  5:24; 11:25; 14:6; 1 Corinthians 15:26; Romans 8:37; see also Hebrews 9:27; 1 Peter 2:24; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:20-21; 2 Corinthians 8:9, etc.).

We also know from Scripture itself that Jesus will return physically, bodily one day to do battle with Antichrist, the epitome and embodiment of physical evil at the end of this age. This “battle” will last but a very brief moment as the Lord destroys Antichrist with the breath of His mouth.

However, the one who holds him back will do so until he is taken out of the way, and then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will destroy by the breath of his mouth and wipe out by the manifestation of his arrival, (2 Thessalonians 2:7b-8).

Antichrist will stand no chance in that coming contest. He will be utterly destroyed. Though the timing of our Lord’s return to earth is unknown, we know that it will usher in the end of the coming Tribulation/Great Tribulation, which is a period of seven years in length. In fact, this coming seven-year period of time represents the last seven years of human history and the final seven years of the revised Roman Empire as explained throughout the book of Daniel and parts of Joel, Revelation, and others.

We also know that the Bible tells us His coming to catch up the saints is imminent and will occur sometime before the seven-year period of the Tribluation/Great Tribulation begins. This means it could literally occur at any moment. Of course, there are those who disagree over the meaning of the word “imminent,” but the plain sense of Scripture indicates that Jesus’ return to “catch up” his own could literally occur at any moment. For more information on this, the reader is encouraged to read through the page that outlines Our Beliefs.

As is expected, there are numerous opinions on the Rapture, the Tribulation/Great Tribulation, the physical return of Jesus (and whether or not it has already happened as a “spiritual” event), but over the years of careful study, we have concluded that the Rapture will occur prior to the start of the Tribluation/Great Tribulation, where Jesus steps out of the 3rd heaven to call up His own to receive Him and there, we will be forever with our Lord.

Now we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so also we believe that God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep as Christians. For we tell you this by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not go ahead of those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, 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, who are left, will be suddenly caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words, (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

The above section is one of the clearest texts in Scripture that highlights the fact that Jesus will descend or step out of the 3rd heaven to call up all who are His, those who have authentic salvation. On that day, there will be many who are left behind who thought they were Christians, but in fact were not. They may have attended church regularly and led Bible studies, but there was no true spiritual conversion as outlined in John 3 and elsewhere. They had never become “born again” or “born from above” and simply (and unfortunately), imitated what they thought was Christianity. You cannot put Christianity on from the outside. An inner spiritual transformation/transaction is required and the Lord knows who are His and those folks who are not will be left behind.

This, in my opinion, is why it is so exceedingly important to study prophecies in Scripture. The Lord has taken the time to include many prophetic events throughout His Word and the ones that have come to pass have come to pass exactly as God said they would. Why would we doubt His Word on those which have not yet come to pass?

As we focus our minds on the reality of fulfillment of future prophecy, it should cause those things of the earth (and pointless) to fall away. We should experience a great shift in our thinking. We should – as the apostle John states in 1 John 3 – “purify” ourselves. John is not referring to our legal status or standing before God, which is something God Himself does for us when He sees the requisite faith in us. That has already been taken care of when we become authentically saved. When that happens, among other things, our filth, our unrighteousness, is exchanged and in place of that filth, we receive the perfect righteousness of Jesus, Him of whom we place our faith.

Philippians 3:9 – And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith…

2 Corinthians 5:21 – For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Galatians 2:16 – Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

1 Peter 2:24 – Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

Romans 1:17 – For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

Romans 4:3 – For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Galatians 2:20 – I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Romans 3:22 – Even the righteousness of God [which is] by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

Romans 4:22-24 – And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was IMPUTED to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be IMPUTED, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.”

There are many other Scripture verses that could be referenced here. Only authentic Christians receive this imputed righteousness that belongs to Jesus and is applied to our “accounts.” There is nothing we can do to earn this in any way, shape, or form (and that includes being water baptized or taking communion). Ephesians 2:8-10 (among numerous other passages), makes this completely clear.

For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them.

What does the text above say? Does it say that “some” works help save you? Does it say that “one” work saves you? No, the only thing that opens the door to God allowing us to receive salvation is our faith. Faith in what or whom? Faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ who died in our place, giving Himself for us so that we would have the opportunity to receive eternal life from Him and because of His perfectly sinless life as God the Son.

In fact, please note that authentic Christians are Jesus’ workmanship. In other words, though we are certainly expected to be obedient to Him in all areas of life (though we will often fail and sometimes fail miserably), ultimately, it is Jesus who gets us from point A to point B; the beginning of our faith to the end of it. This is exactly what the writer of Hebrews tells us:

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith… (Hebrews 12:2a)

Jesus initiates or begins our faith and carries us through to the end of it when we will be with Him in glory and no longer need faith because faith will become sight (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:7; 13:12). We will not need faith in heaven because everything will be plainly seen and understood. As Paul notes in 1 Corinthians 13:12, we now live in a realm where the reality of God and His eternal realm is like trying to look through a darkened, but somewhat translucent glass. We cannot make out the full reality or detail, so we are left to have faith in these things. One day, we will see things as they are without any barrier in the way.

One of the things Paul constantly dealt with during his adult life as an apostle were individuals who, one way or another, tried to add to the Gospel. This was the biggest problem he faced. Oftentimes, Satan would bring his false teachers and false prophets in to attempt to confuse people into thinking that believing in Jesus was great, but more was needed. This was anathema because it devalues the completed work of Jesus.

Paul’s biggest fight was against Judaizers who tried to teach new converts to Christianity that they still had to obey the Mosaic Law. He also dealt with Gnostics who taught that there was a secret knowledge that Christians had to learn in order to gain “full” salvation. The apostle Paul was adamant and vehement in rejecting their lies.

Authentic Christians (as opposed to professing Christians) – are fully saved by grace, through faith, in the finished work of Jesus (Isa. 53:4-12; John 1:29; Eph. 2:8-9; I John 2:2) – are regenerated by the Holy Spirit (John 1:12; 3:3-7, 16; Acts 2:38; 17:30; Rom. 3:21-28; 2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:22-23), justified by God because of our faith in God the Son (Rom. 3:21-28; 4:1-8; 5:1-2; Gal. 2:16), sanctified, a continuing process whereby the individual Christian is progressively transformed into the image of God the Son (Ps. 19:7-11; John 3:2; 17:17; Acts 20:32; 1 Cor. 15:51-54; II Cor. 3:18; Eph. 5:25-26; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 John 3:2), and finally, preserved by God in eternal security based on nothing the individual Christian does as a work (Matt. 7:19-29; John 5:24; 6:37-39; 10:27-30; Rom. 8:38-39; James 2:14-26; 1 Peter 1:3-5; I John 3:7-10).

This is all-too important to ignore or treat with disdain. We Christians have tremendous reasons to “look up” and understand that our citizenship is not here on earth, but in heaven. John tells us that as we focus our hearts and minds on the eventual return of our Lord and the culmination of all things by Him and His eternal power, many cares and concerns in this life will fall away.

These truths, as we have set forth in this article, represent only some of what we fully believe the Bible teaches. It is not up for debate. If you have chosen to reject these truths that is certainly your prerogative. However, we will not waste time trying to convince you. Jesus didn’t even do that. Those who rejected Him walked away and He never chased them down or tried to debate with them to win them over. He certainly mourned over some of them and even grew angry over the hard-hearted attitudes of the religious leaders. However, though God, Jesus was unable to change their minds and opinions about who He was and the truth that He embodied. He did not waste His time arguing or debating. He simply stated truth and let the chips fall where they fell.

Right now, the political arena and all the social problems the world faces are increasingly in upheaval. We can wring our hands over whether this person or that one becomes the next president of the United States. We can worry about these things or simply let God do the worrying and believe me, He’s not. He will be glorified even if our candidate for president is not elected. He will bring glory to His Name in spite of the evil that appears to be running rampant and growing throughout society.

God in Christ will be glorified even though truth is passé. Lies are now seen as truth. It is all unfolding as He has told us it will unfold. Why should we worry? Why should we fret? The truth is that God has not forgotten us and neither has He somehow lost the ability to rule over His Creation. He rules. He reigns.

Take comfort in the fact that God is in charge of all things. His power is exceedingly great and His plans will not be thwarted, including His plans for you. He is praiseworthy. He alone is God. Look to Him. Focus on these truths and allow them to take your mind off things that make you fear and doubt.

Entry filed under: Atheism and religion, christianity, Demonic, devil worship, dispensationalism, eternity, israel, Judaism, Life in America, new age movement, Political Correctness, Politically Correct, Politics, Pretribulational Rapture, rapture, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation, second coming. Tags: , , , , , .

Using Scripture in the Argument or Debate You CAN and SHOULD be as Healthy as Possible

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