Lord's Day Evening Meditations December 28, 2003

Titus 2:13

"That Blessed Hope"

"Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." The way time is passing by brings the subject of the Lord's coming to mind this evening, what Paul called our "blessed hope." In the beginning God put lights in the heavens and said, "Let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years." Gen. 1:14. Time is an integral part of this creation, and God has set markers to measure it as it goes by. We are approaching another such marker as this year draws to a close. One of these years, or days, will be the last one, and then, as far as we are concerned, "Time shall be no more." It is an important element just now, and it is bringing us closer and closer to our "blessed hope." What is "that blessed hope"?

"And if I go and prepare a place or you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." John 14:3. That promise - "I will come again," is our "blessed hope," the expectation of His coming to receive us to Himself. Notice that He didn't say, "I'll take you to heaven." No, He'll come to receive us to Himself, because as we sometimes sing:

Yet it must be, Thy love had not its rest

Were Thy redeemed not with Thee fully blest.

He came to this earth, and served and died and rose and has returned to glory where He maintains the interests of His own down here, but He will not be satisfied until His redeemed are with Him where He is. Are we satisfied to remain here, or are we, like Him, waiting anxiously and longingly to be with Him? O that we might be in the condition of soul described in the poem:

I wake in the morning with thoughts of His love

Who is living for me in the glory above,

Every minute expecting He'll call me away,

And that keeps me bright all the rest of the day!

But the moments speed forward, and on comes the noon,

Yet still I am singing, "He'll come very soon."

And thus I am watching from morning till night,

And pluming my wings to be ready for flight!

We waited for Him this year and He hasn't come yet; He still might come before the year is out. If not, we will wait for Him next year. What a blessed thing it is to have this hope before us! What must it be for those who don't know the Lord, who don't have any such hope before them. What must it be like to have no future, no anchor, no certainty beyond the immediate present? Through faith in Christ, and purely by the grace of God, we look forward to leave this place of trial and sorrow to be with the Lord Jesus, and like Him forever. This sheds a light and gives a character to the life of a believer that cannot be found in the world.

Our Lord's promise in John 14 is that He will come, but He didn't say when. A reason for this is that He wants us to be expecting Him at any time. The hope of the Lord's coming is designed so that those who wait for Him always expect Him in their lifetime. The Apostle Paul expected Him in his time. The Thessalonians believed in Christ and "turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven." We have many books of valuable ministry, written by brethren who lived years ago, and we often find them referring to the Lord's coming as being very near. As believers, we do not expect to die; we expect to go directly to be with Him.

But if He will not be satisfied until He has His redeemed people with Him, why is He waiting? We are now in the time of "the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ." Rev. 1:9. To the assembly at Philadelphia He said, "Because thou hast kept the word of My patience" (Rev. 3:10), which I believe means keeping His word in the time of His patience. That is the time that we are in now - the time of the "patience of Jesus Christ." When He was here He was the "Man of sorrows"; now He is the Man of patience, and soon He will be the Man of glory. But now He is the Man of patience. He knows all that is going on down here, in the world, and amongst His people, most of which is contrary to His holiness and to His love, and yet He is waiting . . . waiting. Why?

When Peter confessed Him as the Son of the living God, the Lord revealed to him something that He had not made known before. He said, "I will build My church (assembly)." That was before He died; He hadn't begun to build yet. The building began on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit came down from heaven and baptized all the believers at that time into one unit, referred to in various ways as His church, His body, or His bride. The building has been going on since then - "And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; in Whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord." Eph. 2:19 - 22. That temple is composed of all the truly saved since the day of Pentecost. Notice that it is still growing; it isn't finished yet. When the last living stone is put in place and the temple is complete, then He will come and take His redeemed ones to be with Himself.

What will determine the moment of His coming? It is not the fulfillment of certain prophecies, for there are no prophecies that need to be fulfilled before He comes. It is not even the state of the world or of the church. You hear people say, "Things are so bad, surely He must be coming soon." No, what will end the time of His patience so that He then fulfills His promise is the completion of "His church," His bride. When every one who is to be saved, in this time of grace, has been saved, then He will come and call His people to be with Himself.

Every saved person is a living stone in that "holy temple in the Lord." Are you a living stone in that building? If you are not saved and the Lord came while we are here tonight, you'd be left here all alone, with the door of salvation closed - forever too late. Solemn thought! Let me say a word to you younger ones here who have grown up hearing these things all your lives. Have you taken these things in and truly believed them, or have they become so familiar to you that you just tune them out? Have you truly repented of your sins and received the Lord Jesus as your Saviour? If not, do it now, tonight. Don't put it off any longer. I know that I have said this many times, but one of these times will be the last one!

"And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand." Read Rom. 13:11 - 14. "Our salvation" spoken of there is not the salvation of our souls; it is the moment of the Lord's coming to take us out of this world of trouble. So, "Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed" means that if you were saved 5 years ago (or 10, 20, or 60), then you are that many years closer to the moment of the Lord's coming than the day you were saved. That is what time is doing to us - bringing us closer and closer to that wonderful moment. Yes, "The night is far spent, the day is at hand." "That blessed hope" should have a very positive effect on our hearts and lives.

When He does come, how will it happen? Read 1 Thess. 4:15 - 18. Notice that Paul wrote this "by the word of the Lord." It will not fail! To the Lord a thousand years are as but one day, so it isn't yet even two days since He said, "I will come again." In verse 15, "shall not prevent then which are asleep" means will not "go before" those who have died. Those "which sleep in Jesus" and "we which are alive and remain" will all go to meet the Lord together. Paul and the Thessalonians expected to be among those "which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord," but it was not for their time. Believers we know expected to still be alive when He came, but they have fallen asleep. So now we are the ones who "are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord!" He will give the call; those asleep in Jesus will rise in their changed bodies and we will be changed, all in "the twinkling of an eye," to be "caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air." Are you ready, are you waiting, are you watching for "that blessed hope"? S.L.