- Why has Jesus not come back yet?
- What will it be like?
- How should we live while we wait?
Why Jesus not back yet
The criticism of the false teachers was ‘He’s not come back, so you are talking rubbish’. But for God, 1000 years is like a day and a day like a 1000 years. We live in an instant society – instant coffee, pot noodle , ‘a watched kettle never boils’. But God is outside of time – He’s eternal – so, for God, it’s not a long time since Jesus ascended, or until He will come back.
The greater reason is this: God’s heart is that all should repent, 1 Tim 2:4; Ezekiel 18:23 and 33:11. It doesn’t say everyone will, but that is God’s heart.
An explanation of this is the idea of God’s perfect will and His permissive will:
- Perfect will – He desires all to be saved
- Permissive will – God chooses sometimes to not get what He wants, in order to get something He wants more – a people He can love, who chose Him. Who wants automatons and robot love?
One day He will come back – and it will be a surprise. A thief doesn’t let you know in advance when he will burgle your home. God’s love is in the delay – He wants multitudes to come to Him and be part of His family.
What will it be like?
Cartoons show us as angels on clouds playing harps. I’m not altogether sure most Christians have a much better theology!
If we die before Jesus comes back:
- as a believer – your spirit will be with Him in paradise/heaven
- for a non-believer – their spirit will await judgement in
When Jesus comes back, there will be resurrection of the dead and judgement. Then He will restore the earth, a new earth; and the dwelling place of God, heaven, will be on earth – Rev 21:1. It will be breath-taking and wonderful.
How should we live as we wait?
Judgement day is coming – the earth and the works done on it will be burned up, to be replaced by a new earth. Peter is addressing false teachers who are devoted to the world and use their freedom for sensuality – 2:2, adultery – 2:14, materialism – 2:3, and deny that Jesus will come back. So Peter’s answer is ‘He will be back and all that you’re devoted to will burn’.
There will be two judgements:
i) Revelation 20:11-15 – But you will escape judgement if your name is in the Lamb’s book of life – salvation by grace alone through faith alone.
ii) Romans 14:10-12; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 – What you have done, your works, will be burned up – purified in the refiners fire. 2 Corinthians 3 involves reward and loss of reward – which is why ‘once saved always saved’ isn’t a licence to sin.
How to live well – v.11- holy and godly lives
Brennan Manning wrote a book called The Ragamuffin Gospel. He was originally Richard Manning, but changed his name. When he was in the Marine Corps during the Korean War, he was dropped behind enemy lines in North Korea. And there he and his group of soldiers were bravely working their way to try to establish a forward position. He and fellow soldier, Ray Brennan, were the two guys who were sent in front of the rest of the group.
As they went forward they would look for the enemy soldiers; they would establish a forward position so that all of the rest of the guys could come forward. And at one point they were resting as they waited for the other soldiers. And then Richard describes what happened next. He says, “We were passing a chocolate bar back and forth, Ray Brennan and myself. Ray took the last bite when a grenade lobbed by an undetected North Korean landed squarely in the centre of the bunker. Ray was the first to spot it. Almost nonchalantly he flipped the candy wrapper aside and fell on the grenade. It detonated instantly. His stomach smothered the explosion. And I was completely unharmed and untouched. He looked up at me and he winked and rolled over and died.”
Richard Manning said he came back from the war in Korea knowing that Ray Brennan gave his life so that he might live. He changed his first name from Richard to Brennan, so that he might never forget that the life he lived was bought with a price, and that he might live a life worthy of the sacrifice that was made for him.
How do you live in response to a love so great that someone lays down their life for you? You take their name! You are Christians. And you seek to live a life that honours the sacrifice that was made for you – in worship, in praise and in daily living.
That is in the power of the Spirit – 2 Peter 1:3 – dying to self, putting off the old, renewing your mind and serving God.
We live to hasten Jesus’ return
A key indicator for Christ’s return is that the gospel will go to every tribe – Matthew 24:14. This ties in with God’s wish that all should repent. We can hasten the return of Christ by helping others find this amazing grace we have found.
Have you noticed how we all are wired differently and have different giftings. I love that. There’s no one way to reach people for Jesus – because the people we want to reach are all different too.
- For Jan and I, it’s hospitality – parties and getting people to do what they are good at in team, to have parties and build friendships that lead to salvation – serving, telling their story, inviting friends, using power gifts and witnessing.
- Andy & Jenny are running the Gateway Walkers – a great way to make friends and spend time together in God’s creation.
- David, Greg and Ivory are looking to use the power and prophetic gifts on the streets to heal the sick and prophesy over people.
- Pete & Adam do street church – out there most Saturdays, worshipping and attracting people to the presence of God.
- Loads are involved in Celebrate – a super ‘servant evangelism’ event, serving the town. Notice how that event uses people’s diverse giftings – serving, power and so on.
- The Job Club is another great way of sharing Jesus.
It is so good to see many different ways that people are seeking to reach others. Some of those may excite you, because that’s the way you are wired and for others you may think ‘No way José!’. Get involved with the one that suits you. But get out there, bringing the love and power of Jesus, so we can see many new disciples made and hasten the return of Jesus. And we get to enjoy eternity in perfection!