February 07, 2011
by Pastor Chuck Swindoll
Titus 2:13; Revelation 19:11-21
The other evening my wife and I were enjoying a quiet conversation together. We were sipping some fresh-perked coffee, the house was unusually still, and there were no plans to go anywhere that evening. It was one of those cherished moments you wish you could wrap up and reserve for later use when it’s really needed again.
Almost out of the blue, our discussion turned to the subject of Christ’s return. I found myself tracking that thought further than I had in months. Cynthia and I chuckled at some comments we each made about letting the folks in the tribulation worry with the hassles that we have to handle now—like cleaning out our garage or landscaping the backyard! We also smiled together contemplating the joys that will be ours to share throughout eternity with family and friends in the body of Christ.
As time passed the balance of that evening, I kept returning to the reality, “He is coming back. What a difference it will make!” It is remarkable, when you stop and get specific about it, how many things we take for granted that will suddenly be removed or changed. Think about that . . .
It is also amazing what an overhaul job that does on our scale of values . . . the stuff we tend to cling to and gloat over and want more of. Christ’s return has a way of smashing our idols of materialism and shoving us back to the basics. How much time we spend on things that need our attention . . . but would abruptly blur out of focus at the sound of the trumpet! I realize a lot of so-called, “heavenly minded,” weirdos have done some dumb things by going to extremes over prophecy. But God said to me that evening, “Loosen your grip, my son . . . remember that the bottom line of everything is eternity with Me.”
Is it a waste of time to focus on the Lord’s coming? Quite the contrary! It’s biblical. It’s what Titus 2:13 says we ought to do:
Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.
When was the last time—on your own—you meditated on Christ’s coming? If you’re like most, it’s been too long. People who are more practical than mystical, who are realistic rather than idealistic, tend to do that only at funerals and following near-death experiences. Most of us are here-and-now thinkers much more than then-and-there people. But Scripture says we are to “comfort one another” with information about Jesus’s return for us (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18). It says these truths form the very foundation of a “steadfast, immovable, always abounding” lifestyle (1 Corinthians 15:50–58).
Our Bible is full and running over with promises and encouragements directly related to the return of our Lord Christ. I just checked. It’s not just hinted at; it’s highlighted. It’s an obvious theme of New Testament truth. You can’t read very far without stumbling upon it, no matter which book you choose. In the New Testament alone, the events related to Christ’s coming are mentioned more than 300 times. His return is certain!
Critics have denied it. Cynics have laughed at it. Scholars have ignored it. Liberal theologians have explained it away (they call that “rethinking” it), and fanatics have caused many to shrug it off. “Where is the promise of His coming?” many cynics still shout (2 Peter 3:4). The return of our Savior will continue to be attacked and ignored and denied. But there it stands, solid as a stone, soon to be fulfilled, offering us hope and encouragement amidst despair and unbelief.
“Okay, swell. But what do I do in the meantime?” I can hear a lot of pragmatists asking that question. First, it’s best for you to understand what you don’t do. You don’t sit around, listening for some trumpet blast. You don’t spend each day staring up into the sky, looking for a break in the clouds. You don’t whip out a white robe and tie yourself to a huge helium-filled balloon with angels painted all over it. And for goodness sake, you don’t announce a hard-and-fast date because of “the signs of the times”! Please.
You do get your act together. You do live every day (as if it’s your last) for His glory. You do work diligently at your job and in your home (as if He isn’t coming for another ten years) for His Name’s sake. You do shake salt out every opportunity you get . . . and you do shine the light . . . and for sure, you remain balanced, cheerful, winsome, and stable, anticipating His return each day. Other than that, I don’t know what to tell you.
Except, maybe, if you’re not absolutely sure you’re ready to fly, you get your ticket fast. As long as they are available, they’re free. But don’t wait. About the time you finally make up your mind, the whole thing could have happened, leaving you looking back instead of up.
What good is a ticket if the event is over?