And in our humanism we believe God’s job is to make us comfortable and prosperous and answer all our prayers. Our reluctance to hear anything that might challenge, inconvenience or discomfort has us switching channels in denial.
But, even accepting all that about human frailty and its outworking, for the life of me I still can’t condone, comprehend or even begin to understand the apparent reluctance of Christians, churches and preachers to get fired up about the return of Jesus Christ. Why is it such a hot potato? To acknowledge that it is a “touchy” topic is a gross understatement!
How come it seems so outrageous, even in Christian circles, to suggest that His Return is something we can realistically anticipate? Obviously, we just don’t believe!
How should we pray? asked the disciples. Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdome come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Thine is the Kingdom. The Power. The Glory. Forever and ever. Amen!
Clearly there is no question about it. God’s ultimate desire, His prophesied will, is the “return” and “rule” of His Son, Jesus! Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. The absolute fulfilment of all scripture and prophecy revolves around the Second Advent, the Kingdom dispensation and the millennium.
It is God’s will that Jesus returns bodily to govern. Believe it! Pray for it! Get excited about it! The twig is budding and summer is near. The signs are all there. Deception and false prophets abound. And as we discern this truth, the excitement in our Spirit should be hard to contain. It should be bubbling over!
Deep down should be that joy and confidence that comes from a firm faith that knows that God has not lost control for one single second and that all is on track. What is written in the last few chapters of the Book of Revelation will come true, word for word.
And yet, we stutter and stammer. Ifs, ands and buts abound! Indeed, the hope of Christ’s coming is almost dead. It has become an “oh yeah, I almost forgot” type of doctrine. The devil’s ministry is reaping its rewards. For years and years Satan has been undermining the issue of Christ’s return. His constant nagging -- “it’s 2 000 years now, surely you don’t think there’s any truth in that rumour?” -- is bearing fruit.
Certainly the world’s cynicism has added to the apathy. A longing and yearning to see Christ has burned out in the church and has been replaced by very poor substitute, a type of doctrinal familiarity that is broadly called “eschatology!” Why this passivity and lukewarmness?
Perhaps it has to do with popular fundamentalist theology that is all about the “utility” of the Cross, meaning that the “work” of Christ and the benefits to us has eclipsed the person of Christ. What He did for me is more important than what He is to me. It’s about a self-serving relationship. Sadly, it’s all about I, me and myself, my blessings and my ministry!
Or else Christians are so comfortable in this world that they have little desire to leave it. They have found themselves a “comfort zone” type of Christianity that tells them that the earth is their playground, not the spiritual battleground that it really is! Religion has become jolly good entertainment, so why hurry for heaven? Christ has done the suffering, let’s enjoy the benefits. It is good fun at our spiritual country club.
Or maybe they have been led to believe that we Christians are going to take over the world, reconstruct it and have total dominion. They have thus become totally committed to a form of faith that is more akin to strident triumphalism!
The Bible tells us God’s Son Jesus will fulfil two awesome functions. The first has been accomplished, His death at Calvary, paying the price for sin and restoring our spiritual link with God the Father in Heaven. He is the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world!
But secondly, He will “return” and “rule” and finally “bring judgement” on all dissidents, banishing them to hell and damnation forever!
Jesus’ death ushered in the “dispensation” of Grace, the Church Age, this Time of the Gentiles. Studying scripture we find that God has worked with man through various dispensations. The first was the dispensation of “innocence” (Genesis 1:26-3:6) when man was given “dominion” and placed in a “blessed” state. But disobedience brought divine judgment, namely spiritual death.
Then came the dispensation of “conscience” that ended with the Flood! Next was “human government” that led to power and self-glory with the Tower of Babel providing the judgement in that the separation of mankind into cultures and nations brought great division and disunity. That continues!
Then came the covenantal promise to Abraham as the father of all believers. God promised to bless all nations through the Seed, Jesus! This continues to the end of history. The dispensation of the “law” was for Israel. God had revealed His Mind to Moses, and the observance of the Sabbath was the signature.
Then there is the dispensation of “grace” when, thanks to Jesus, God, by His Spirit, changes the minds and hearts of people when they get “born again.” This is the New Covenant and culminates with the “rapture!”
Finally there is the “kingdom” dispensation with the return of the Jew’s Messiah and the finish of all things as we know it. A new Heaven and a New Earth!
God has thus demonstrated every possible way of dealing with mankind. We are specifically concerned with the last three: the “law” -- being able to study God’s mind; “grace” -- being taught, led, nurtured by the Holy Spirit; and we earnestly await the “coming” of His Kingdom! This will be ushered in with the “rapture” when the “real church” is taken away, the Spirit is removed and all chaos reigns on earth like never before. Even worse than now! Believe it.
Then Christ returns, and governs with a rod of iron. That’s the real millennium! A thousand years of Jesus. It is the fulfilment of all prophecies and promises to the Jews. Yes, a Ruler and a King.
Now it is not surprising that the devil, the god of this age, is very anti all this stuff. He has certainly done everything in his power to oppose this doctrine. Dispensing “surely-not” doubt, the devil has done much to undermine the Gospel.
The Bible promises us that in the end times -- and sure enough we are right there -- there will be much deception, delusion and apostasy. False prophets will abound and should be recognised by the fact that they are promising everybody peace and prosperity!
But they will fool the elite, meaning that it will be church leaderships who get sucked into the deception plied by these false ministries. Just how scary is that?
The visible church itself will contain wheat and chaff; sheep and goats; good and evil intermingled. The early disciples wanted to do something about separating believers and unbelievers but Jesus said that feat would only be accomplished at the bitter end with the Holy Spirit and the angels. Until then, a type of “dual development” would continue unabated, like it or not.
The “Great Apostasy” is a falling away from truth and accommodating compromise and worldliness from church pulpits. Acceptance of an “all-roads-lead-to-God” type of philosophy will be born out of nominal religionists and inter-faith unity and activity will be strenuously encouraged by politicians and community leaders. Churches will seek to be more “relevant” with political and cultural correctness being the major guideline.
In this process the church will succumb to the inevitable compromise that will render it powerless in terms of spiritual authority. A man of lawlessness will be revealed, the Anti-Christ. He will be a worldly hero.
But clearly the spirit of the anti-Christ is already hard at work. Lawlessness is not just anarchy, robbery, rape and murder but it is also outright rejection of the truth of Jesus Christ, casting aside God’s holy Word and openly flouting obedience to His commands.
We already see much outright rebellion against the Bible of God. We just refuse to hear about a God of judgement. Vast masses probably believe, or certainly want to believe, that sin is just a normal part of being human and doesn’t really incur wrath, penalties or judgement.
You certainly would not be a rich man if you got a dollar every time a modern church preached sin, repentance or the Second Coming. You would be begging in the streets!
God’s Kingdom will be ushered in by the Lord Jesus Christ. He will not share His glory with anyone! The world will be a mess, despite the efforts of the Union Nations or iconic presidents or statesmen.
But there will not be much we can do about it. What has been prophesied in the Bible will take place, so clearly Christians are called to “go to Ninevah,” like God told Jonah. We know he ran away and tried to avoid the tough mission of preaching to a lost world, but finally God got him back on track.
God had profoundly reminded Jonah, in the belly of the whale, that it is about preaching the uncompromised truth. It is about the true, full Gospel -- the second coming, sin, heaven, hell, repentance and judgement. The “second coming” is far more than just an “interesting” expectation or a climactic ending to human history. The whole purpose of Bible prophecy is to warn us, to challenge us morally and prepare us spiritually for the time to come. It is a grand climax that brings the programme of God to its highest point --the ultimate fulfilment. It is the key to the progress of scripture. It is the central theme of Old Testament prophecy. Jesus is coming again to blow the final whistle on an unholy, godless mess.
Jesus is coming to rule. Thy Kingdom come! Thy will be done! Come, Lord Jesus.