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Hope of Christ's Coming and the New Year

 


Well, the year 2013 has come and gone, and 2014 has begun. As a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, I believe that every year’s passing brings us closer to the Second Coming of Jesus. Here we are, more than 2,000 years after the first coming of Jesus with prophecy foretelling His soon return and the end of the world. Jesus, speaking about the signs of the times, said, “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” (Matthew 24:32-34)

Of all the generations that have come and gone since Jesus came the first time, our generation should be excited about the soon return of Christ. Yet it seems that, for some, the blessed hope of Christ’s 2nd Advent or appearing has been missing.

We just spent a season contemplating the First Advent of Jesus in Bethlehem as a baby. And, we will be marching through the months of January, February, and March considering the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, as part of the Liturgical Year or weekly Lectionary readings throughout the 2014 year. I remember asking an orthodox ministerial colleague of mine about why the Second Coming is not part of the Liturgical Calendar or Lectionary readings? He said, “Because it hasn’t happened yet.” I replied, “It won’t do a whole of good to talk about or prepare for the 2nd Advent after it has happened, will it?” In other words, what good were Christ’s birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension, if it doesn’t lead us to hope for the day of resurrection and immortality at His second coming? Paul says, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ raised from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterwards they that are Christ’s at his coming.” (1 Corinthians 15:19,20,23)

Some say that it is enough that Christ left us a good example of how to live and how to treat others. And I say, yes, that is very fine and spiritually practical for everyday living. But, we need more than just a good example. We need a Savior and a coming King. Yes, we need a Savior who bore “our sins on a tree” (1 Peter 2:24), who “tasted death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9), who “became sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21), and who was raised to life. But we also need a Lord who promises us that He will “descend from heaven” and raise “the dead in Christ” (1 Thessalonians 4:16), and “change us in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye at the last trump.” (1 Corinthians 15:51, 52,) We need more than just someone who tells us to turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, or love our enemies. We need someone who can raise us from the grave, one who can clothe our mortality with immortality, one who can “change this vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body” (Phil. 3:21); one who promises us a “new heavens and a new earth.” Jesus is that Someone who promises us all these things at His second coming. Anything that doesn’t end in the resurrection to eternal life isn’t good enough. Christ’s first coming makes certain the promise of His second coming. This is where our great hope for the future lies.

Consider the analogy of a rich father’s son or daughter being kidnapped and a ransom note delivered, demanding millions of dollars for their safe return. The father has no second thoughts about the worth of his children, and immediately makes plans to pay the ransom. Wouldn’t you think it strange if the father, after paying the ransom, didn’t want the return of the son or daughter? The spiritual application is just as puzzling when considering how strange it would be for Christ to come the first time, pay the ransom for our salvation with His own life, ascend to heaven, and not actually return to receive His own children. You might say that the second coming of Jesus puts the ED on redeemed. And that’s why John the Revelator’s last words are, “Even so, come Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:21).

I believe we should all be Advent Christians. But let’s not limit the “advent” to just the first coming of Jesus, and the Christmas Season. I also believe we should be fervently and expectantly looking for Christ’s return, and be preparing people for it. We know how central the first coming is to our identity as Christians. What Jesus did for us at the First Advent gives us great assurance and certainty of His Second Advent. So, no matter how many more days, or even years, pass by until Jesus comes, may the Second Advent of Jesus take on a new significance in 2014.

 

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