Spring 2015


Is This the Crowning Day?

Anticipating Jesus’ return

By Ruth Westerholm

I know a man who would wake up in the morning and say, “Well, Lord, I’m still here. That means that You are with me. Someday I will be with You.”

That’s quite a way to start the day, isn’t it? Is this the day that Jesus will come and we will be with the Lord? Is this our reference point for the day?

Scripture tells us that we (are to) “live by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). On what should our faith-vision be focused? The apostle Paul’s focus was on the return, the appearing, of our Savior Jesus Christ. And His return occupies a lot of ink elsewhere in the New Testament. The EFCA Statement of Faith itself says:

We believe in the personal and premillennial return of our Lord Jesus Christ. The coming of Christ, at a time known only to God, requires constant expectancy and, as our blessed hope, motivates the believer to godly living, sacrificial service and energetic mission (Article 9).

Years ago this was a regular theme in church. Why aren’t we talking about it now?

Perhaps we aren’t talking about the Lord’s appearing because of what we see around us: war, terrorism, Ebola and natural catastrophes. We want to hear that the Lord will keep us safe.

Maybe we aren’t talking about the Lord’s return because we simply have enough on our plate to deal with in the present. Or maybe we’re reluctant to talk about His return because of hermeneutics or theological confusion. (Those who attended Trinity Evangelical Divinity School when I did learned a variety of possible interpretations for when Jesus Christ would return.)

Or it could simply be that we’re focused on our mission: making disciples, teaching them to obey, being Jesus to a needy world—even righting wrongs. But this focus can lack the motivation that the Lord gave us for the mission.

When He appears

In all of Paul’s writings he used the Lord’s return as motivation for holy living. Paul wrote to Titus: “The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared… . It teaches us … to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people … eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:11-14).

The apostle John wrote that we should “continue in Him, so that when He appears we may be confident and unashamed before Him at His coming” (1 John 2:28).

John said further that “when He appears we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).

I love to think about those first moments when I will see the Lord Jesus in all His glory. The apostle John explained that we can feel confident and unashamed at His coming (1 John 2:28). That is, we will not be thinking, Ooops! So it’s really you? And there is also a hope in my heart that somehow—despite falling at Jesus’ feet, like every other recorded instance of someone seeing Him in His glory—I will also sense a continuation of our previously cultivated intimacy.

Looking for Jesus’ return changes the way I look at life now. Nothing that I might want or want to do is important if it wouldn’t bring joy to my Savior or magnify His glory when I see Him. My mission is to bring delight to the Lord Jesus on His coronation day.

Very soon we will share His glory. We will be with Him. We will be like Him.

An eternal glory

There is an inheritance being kept in heaven for us. Although we may have to “suffer grief in all kinds of trials,” these same trials will prove our faith genuine and will result “… in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:7).

I am virtually crippled as I consider persecuted believers around the world. My heart cries out for their relief. I know that God answers prayer, but He has also given us His Word “so that we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6: 18-19).

Paul described a time when he, too, was at a breaking point. But his eternal perspective was of future glory, which diminished his light and momentary troubles. Those troubles were achieving “an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

Imagine the satisfaction of the Father when all of creation recognizes and honors the Son for His role in the redemption and restoration of all things—when “every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11).

So between today and that day, believers are exhorted to set their vision, their “hope fully on the grace to be given when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:13). “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory (Colossians 3:4, emphasis mine).

Soon, very soon, we will see the exalted Lord of Glory, King of kings (Revelation 22:4). We will share His glory. We will be with Him. We will be like Him. He promised to return and He always keeps His promises. Oh come, Lord Jesus.

Ruth Westerholm is a member of Branford (Conn.) EFC. She graduated from TEDS and is a member of the EFCA Ministerial Association.