News

Updates and information from around GSO

Jesus Christ Came, and He Will Come Again

At the close of 1 Corinthians 16 in a letter where the Apostle Paul addressed numerous problems, he concluded with the appeal, “O Lord, come!” (16:22, NKJV). Christ’s first coming brought the kingdom of God “at hand, near” (Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:15). But we, like the Apostle Paul, await the fullness of that kingdom when Jesus Himself returns.

November and December 2017 conclude our emphasis on our core value of Christ’s Kingdom. Through this year, we have considered the IPHC as “a Place of Hope and a People of Promise” in light of this kingdom. We studied the kingdom as revealed in God’s purposes in creation, Israel, and the life and teaching of Jesus. Now, it is appropriate that we focus on Christ’s return as we enter the Advent Season.

The 13th IPHC Article of Faith reads, “We believe in the imminent, personal, premillennial second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:15–17; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 3:10–14; Matthew 24:29–44), and love and wait for His appearing (2 Timothy 4:8).”

The Article of Faith is a relatively simple statement affirming the central teaching of the New Testament about the second coming of Jesus Christ. “Imminent” implies a nearness that is measured by God’s timetable, not our efforts to determine dates.

“Personal” makes explicit the New Testament conviction that “this same Jesus . . . will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). We do not await a new idea or a new revelation. We await the same Person who was born of the Virgin Mary, died, buried, rose again from the dead, and ascended into heaven. We await Jesus of Nazareth, the eternal Son of God!

We confess that it is Jesus who will return to bring perfect peace on this earth. This future history is called the Millennium and it is described in Revelation 20. While we do everything we can to be instruments of peace, justice, and love in our times, we do not believe that humankind is capable of living free of the destruction and limitations of sin.

Only Jesus is able to bring about that reality. That is why we are “premillennial” in our view that Jesus Himself will return and usher in this longed-for reality.

This year Advent begins on Sunday, December 3, and concludes on Sunday, December 24. I love the Christmas season. I love the lights, the traditional Christmas carols and the excitement of children. I love the wealth of Scripture related to Christ’s first advent, from Isaiah to the records in St. Matthew, St. Luke, and St. John. I love listening to Scripture when I hear Handel’s Messiah.

But I know that something is missing. We sing of light, love, and peace on earth, but the twenty-four-hours-a-day news broadcasts remind us that we have not arrived. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” describes this reality. Written on Christmas Day 1863, it reflected Longfellow’s personal sorrow related to his son’s battle wounds during the American Civil War.

Though major victories had been won by Union armies in 1863 at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, the outcome of the war remained in doubt. Thousands of families in the nation were grieving over the deaths and wounds of their sons and daughters. Longfellow penned these lines as he reflected on the war:

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
their old, familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet the words repeat,
of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
the cannon thundered in the South,
and with the sound the carols drowned,
of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
the hearth-stones of a continent,
and made forlorn the households born
of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
for hate is strong, and mocks the song
of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
the Wrong shall fail, the Right prevail,
with peace on earth, good-will to men.

The 13th Article of Faith concludes with “we love and wait for His appearing.” This is not an expression of escape. Our love expresses God’s love for the world and the redemptive purposes of the body of Christ in the world.

Our waiting is not a passive disengagement from the righteous struggle each generation faces. Our waiting is an active waiting of engagement. The resurrection of Jesus means that our labor is not in vain (see 1 Corinthians 15:58). The second coming of Jesus means our love and waiting will be worth it!

 

By Doug Beacham

 

This article was published in the November 2017 issue of Encourage magazine.

Photo Credits: thinkstock.com

Leave a Reply