Here I am, sitting at my computer in an airport terminal two days before this article is set to go live and I have a blank page.
As I look around, I see a lot of people. The guy with the fedora, the young woman skyping her fiancé, the guy with the enormous backpack for hiking, and countless others. I am wondering right this moment a question that a myriad of other writers has asked. If Christ came back right this very second, which of these people would be raptured?
As we examine the promises of God this month, the vast majority of them are good…but many have a “catch” of sorts. God will always love us—that is unconditional. He will always forgive us. But Scripture lays out clearly that if we follow God’s commandments, we will be counted as righteous and if we do not we will be counted as wicked. It is further laid out that there are certain benefits given to the righteous that do not come to the wicked.
Today’s article is actually a joining of two promises:
God will save us if we earnestly seek Him.
Jesus is coming back.
These two are quite similar, but there are also some differences. The following is just a quick chart of some differences:
Jesus is coming back God will save us if we earnestly seek Him
– Hope for Christians – Hope for ALL mankind
– Future – Past/present
– Physical salvation – Spiritual salvation
This is just an extremely short list, but I want to use these three differences as a springboard for this article. Let’s take a super-quick look:
Who is the hope for?
Promises imply hope. If you are not catching the general theme of the month yet. Promises give us something to look forward to, anticipate, and get excited about. So this hope that we have—what is it? Well, put simply, our hope is Jesus. Now our hope, mind you, is not rotting in some tomb—no, Peter calls it our LIVING hope. When Jesus came to earth, there was an initial surge where they thought he would deliver them from their political distress and set up his kingdom right then and there. After Jesus made it pretty clear that he was here to bring spiritual liberation and not political relief, they turned on him.
Through this turning on him, he was killed, making himself the perfect sacrifice needed to provide salvation for every person in the world, both present, and future. Then when he rose again three days later, he proved that not even death could hold him. The hope that is available to ALL mankind is that JESUS SAVES. There is absolutely nothing that Jesus cannot save you from. His sacrifice covered every sin that you ever have committed or will commit. The hope that we have is that if you will just accept this gift that Jesus sacrificed his life to be able to give you, then you will get to spend eternity with him.
The promise of his returning is like a more specific promise. It is the completion of the promise of salvation to those who will accept it. He is saying, “Hey, I told you guys all about this promise of salvation…and now I’m going to come back for all of those who listen and accept salvation.” It is also when he will set up his kingdom (depending on your eschatology, you may be freaking out at me right now—just understand I’m saying that at the end of time, he will set up his kingdom. That sound better?).
When does this hope come?
The hope that Jesus is coming back is—and pay attention to the phrasing here—a present hope of a future event. So the return of Jesus, the salvation from earthly troubles, it is all going to happen in the future, but it affects us in the present because it fills us with a hope. Would you run a 5k if you knew that at the end some guys would beat you up? Conversely, would you run a 5k if you knew that when you finished you would be lifted up on people’s shoulders and they would take you out to eat and pay for the whole thing? I bet you would run the latter 5k with much more energy and vigor than the first one.
What type of hope is this?
This is the hope of deliverance. God will deliver us from the bondage of our sins. In Jeremiah 32, Jeremiah says that God will save us from hands that are too strong for us. The chains of sin are too strong for us, so God steps in and offers to break the chains for us. I like how Romans 5 puts it:
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” – Romans 5:6-10, ESV
You see the escalation here, “while we were still weak…”, “while we were still sinners…”, “while we were enemies of God…”
God rescued us by sending his Son to die for us. And he did this while we were weak, sinful, enemies of God. This is the hope, the gospel (or “good news”) that Christians around the globe work tirelessly to spread. This hope is one of spiritual deliverance, but it also alludes to the coming physical deliverance that will come through the Rapture.
I think as we transition into incorporating this promise into our daily lives, we should see two things:
There is truly joy in serving Jesus. There is a joy in being part of His family as one of His own redeemed children. There is a joyous hope that we have that He is coming back again to take us all to the home that He has prepared for us.
- Desire to spread the joy
We have this great hope, this living hope who has paid the price for all our sin and ransomed us from the shackles of our trespasses. I truly believe that if we grasp the significance of what God has done, we will not hesitate to be out telling others about it. In fact, I think if we truly understand what God has done for us, we will be intentionally seeking out opportunities to tell others.
This has been a long article, but I pray it gives you a glimpse into what God has done for us and fills you with hope, joy, and the desire to tell others.