Why should a child of three, who for many weeks has been thinking and dreaming of Christmas trees and Christmas gifts, be asked if he loves the coming Christmas?
Why should a schoolboy be asked if he loves the arrival of summer vacation?
Why should a bride, standing at the marriage altar waiting for her delayed bridegroom, be asked if she loves her bridegroomís appearing?
Why should a faithful wife, awaiting the return of her long-absent husband, need to be asked if and why she longs for his coming?
Why should the church of Christ, which He calls His bride, not look for, long for and love the appearing of Christ, her Heavenly Bridegroom?
I am not a crank on prophecy. I preach more often on Christís first coming than on His second coming.
I live in a city where the second coming is seldom preached. I scan the church page and seldom see Christís coming announced as a sermon topic.
My text promises a special crown of reward for those who love Christís appearing. Many Christians will not receive this crown. They donít know much about His second coming because they seldom hear a sermon on the subject and they donít read the Bible to learn for themselves what it says about this wonderful event. Obviously, you canít love an event if you know little or nothing about it.
I read a sermon recently on Matthew 24:44 where Jesus said, "Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh." This sermon, printed on the front page of a denominational publication, was a call to salvation for the reasons that death might strike suddenly, another world war might suddenly break out, or some sickness or disaster befall us. But concerning the at-any-moment coming of Christ, there was not one solitary word!
Read my text again for yourself and see that the crown our Lord promised is for those who love His coming, not for those who deliberately ignore it.
I will set forth several reasons why I personally love the second coming of Christ.
I love it because
God so loves the coming again of His Son that He promises a special crown of reward to those who share this love with Him.
If you hear a man talking, talking, talking about fishing, then you know that he loves fishing. God must love the promised appearing of Christ when He has so much to say about it.
Almost one-fourth of the Bible is devoted to prophecy and the events connected with our Lordís return.
We believe baptism is important. Paul spoke of it fourteen times, and of the second coming, fifty times.
We believe the new birth is important. The Bible speaks of it nine times, and of the second coming, 315 times. The God who inspired the writing of the New Testament led the writers to mention the second coming once in every twenty-five verses.
Some preachers say little or nothing about it, but God has filled the Bible with this glorious truth. If you are ever inclined to criticize those who make much of the second coming, you had better include God Himself in that criticized group!
I want to emphasize what God emphasizes. I want to love what God loves.
Dr. F. W. Farr, speaking on this subject, says, "We should be concerned with what God says rather than with what man thinks; and God must think a great deal of this truth, else He would not have so much to say about it in His Word."
I love it because
They were "looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13).
Paul tells us the Thessalonians were waiting for the Son from Heaven (I Thess. 1:10).
The last prayer in the Bible is the heart-cry of the apostolic church, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." To this prayer I add, Amen!
For three centuries the hope of Christís coming burned brightly in the hearts of believers. Massillon tells us it was considered almost a heresy in the first three centuries not to be sighing for His return.
In later centuries this truth was neglected and almost forgotten, but in these latter days we have seen a revival of interest in the Lordís return.
Jesus taught in the parable of the ten virgins that on the eve of His coming a cry would go ringing through the churches, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh": it seems we are living in the time of the midnight cry. Despite the general apathy on this subject, there is a great and growing multitude of Godís people who, like the early Christians, are looking for and praying for the coming of the Lord.
Moreover, I love it because
Satan hates this truth and the mighty event it proclaims because it means his doom. When Christ comes, Satanís head will be bruised.
If the Devil had his way, Jesus would never come. He dreads the hour of his doom as it draws near.
Some professing Christians can hardly bear the mention of Christís coming. Thatís how Satan feels. I want to love what Satan hates; donít you?
Then too I love it because
Godís ways are not manís ways. Despite the many plain promises of what God will do and how He will do it, and because Bible prophecies do not coincide with what some men think God should do and how He should do it, these promises are either denied or explained away.
There are glorious promises of a literal, visible, bodily coming of Christ down to this earth. In our day this is being flatly denied by some who call themselves Christians. Said one attending a conference:
We chose "Christ, the hope of the world" as our themeÖ. When it comes to such things as the second coming, I am from Missouri. This coming again stuff is plain foolishness. How can a man with any intellectual honesty stoop to such nonsense?
At the same conference another liberal had this to say:
There is no warrant in the Scriptures for this doctrine which has plagued the church for nineteen centuries. When Paul in Thessalonians said that the Lord will descend from Heaven and the dead in Christ will rise first and shall be caught up with those who are left to meet the Lord in the air, he was just plain mistaken. As far as I am concerned, the writings of Paul do not belong in the Scriptures.
Such infidel vaporings are an exact fulfillment of the Scriptures predicting that "There shall come in the last days scoffers,Ösaying, Where is the promise of his coming?"
My friends, I am waiting for Godís promises to be fulfilled and fulfilled exactly as He said. The coming of Christ to resurrect and translate the believers, the Great Tribulation that will follow, the descent of Christ to this earth, the regathering and national conversion of Israelóevery single prophecy will be fulfilled and Godís holy Word vindicated.
It will be so because God says so.
But further, I love it because
John says, "And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure"
(I John 3:3). That is a natural result of belief in Christís at-any-moment coming. If to love the Lordís appearing led to careless living, to coldness of heart toward God and the saving of men, one could understand why some Christians would not love it. But when this truth helps us live a separated life, gives earnestness to our prayers, urgency to our preaching, and keeps our passion for souls warm and alive, then I love this truth for its salutary effect and marvel that any other Christian would not as fervently love it.
Said Dr. R. A. Torrey, one of the worldís greatest evangelists:
This leads inevitably to the question, "What constitutes readiness for the coming of the Lord?" Answer: Separation from the worldís indulgence of the flesh, from the worldís immersion in the affairs of this life, and intense, daily earnestness in prayeróis the first part of preparation for the Lordís return.
When I note that practically every great soul winner has been a lover of Christís at-any-moment coming, then I too, with them, want to love that event.
Dr. Munhall, an American evangelist who was used of God to add fifty thousand members to the Methodist church, and who all during his great ministry has preached Christís coming, said:
I could multiply instances of the practical and purifying influence of this momentous truth. Dr. John Roach Straton, valiant defender of the Faith, once said:
Entering the saloon one day and ordering his beer, the thought came to him: Suppose the Lord should come at this moment! He had lifted the glass, but before it reached his lips, he set it down again, paid for it, turned on his heel and left the saloon. For him, as for Dr. Straton, the blessed hope was a purifying hope.
I repeat: Any truth that makes men great soul winners and better Christians is a truth to be loved.
Yet again, I love it because
When Christ comes, He will establish on earth a kingdom of universal righteousness and will reign for one thousand years. This will be a different world with Christ present and the Devil absent.
For centuries men have prayed, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." Christís coming will be the answer to this prayer.
Universal righteousness will prevail, for we read, "The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Isa. 11:9).
Poverty and injustice will come to an end, for we read, "And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat" (Isa. 65:21,22).
This will be more like the kind of world God meant it to be. Who would not love the coming of such a day!
Then too I love it because
In the glorious Kingdom Age, wars will be abolished. It is the sin and greed of men that makes preparation for war necessary today. Nations have to defend themselves against international gangsters, murderers and aspirants to world domination.
But Christís coming will be the one great war that will end all wars. We read, "He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth" (Ps. 46:9). Isaiah tells us: "They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isa. 2:4).
Oh, what a day that will be! No more war! No more military serv-ice! No more training our boys to kill! It is necessary now, but not when Jesus comes.
In World War I, according to Field Marshal Robertson, 37 million died. In World War II, the death toll was 22,500,000. Who can forget the daily lists through four or five agonizing years of those "Killed in Action"? Parents bereft of sons, wives bereft of husbands, children bereft of fathers.
Now it is nuclear war, ballistic missiles! No wonder menís hearts are failing them for fear all over the earth. Thank God, the coming of the Prince of Peace will end all wars! How could any Chris-tian fail to love His appearing!
Finally, I love it because
Christís coming brings full redemption for the Christian. These bodies of ours, now mortal, must be made immortal. The dead bodies of the saints must be raised. This takes place in that glad moment when Christ comes in the air to take His people unto Himself.
This redemption of the body is that event for which the whole inanimate creation groans and waits (Rom. 8:22). Why would not we also long for it?
Paul describes this phase of our Lordís coming in I Thessalonians 4:16,17:
For one thing, we shall meet our loved ones gone before us into the presence of the King. I am thrilled with the thought of meeting some of mine.
Then too we shall meet all the great and godly believers of past ages and have fellowship with them. To ask me if I love His coming is to ask me if I would like to meet personally all the great Bible characters of Old and New Testament times, together with every Spirit-filled man and woman who has adorned Christian history down through the centuries. What a noble host of martyrs, reformers, preachers and evangelists with whom we are to have fellowship! And you ask me why I long for the hour of that meeting!
Sure, I know there is work to do for God here and now, but love for His coming does not lead to idleness or careless living. That slander needs to be nailed to the counter. Look around you at the servants of God who most long for Christís coming; they are numbered among the greatest soul winners to be found anywhere.
But the best is yet to come, for there is this above all: we shall meet our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and actually look upon His face.
Here is where words fail us. For men and women who, during a whole lifetime, have walked and talked with Christ by faith in His absence, now to stand in His actual presence, to mark His features, and to have Him address them by name personallyóthat will be an experience no words of man can ever describe.
In that ecstatic moment, when His word of welcome to you is spoken and this special crown of reward is being given, I trust you will be one of those who receive it, because you loved His appearing.