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Loving His Appearing

by Julius Hovan

Hovans(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

It is a joy to welcome you to this broadcast of Words of Life today. We are glad you have tuned in. Previously we saw that Paul had said he was ready to depart. He was making a final offering of himself to God and he knew he would be soon losing his life to the Romans who would chop off his head. And his desire was to be with Christ. That desire was soon to be realized. His faithful life is recounted in that seventh verse as we read, “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith.” What a testimony that is. Verse 8, “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge shall give to me in that day and not to me only.” This is good news for you and for me as well. He will give not to just Paul, but to me also if I am among those who love his appearing. Your hope can be the same as was the hope of the apostle Paul.

Let us consider this morning in this verse by the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy four and verse eight, let us consider “henceforth.” That is, what is down the road? What is ahead of us? Paul said for him at the appearing of the Lord Jesus there would be a crown of righteousness. Here is the reward promised for right living. And may I suggest to you the reward for right living is more righteousness? That is the promise of God.

In one sense God rewards us in kind. An interesting study is the many references in the Word of God to many other crowns, the crown of life, there is a crown of rejoicing, there is a crown of glory. But here Paul speaks to us of the crown of righteousness. And to be able, like Paul, to come to the end of our life and to come there with confidence and hope and to know there is laid up for ‘me’, as Paul said, this crown of righteousness. It can be for you. The apostle Paul has seen it come to pass.

Henceforth. What does your future hold? What is going to be your destiny when you step out into eternity from this life? Notice, if you will, Paul refers to this ‘righteous judge’, this one who will make a decision as to whether Paul will receive this crown. A righteous judge, a judge who is not swayed by some attorney or lawyer or some philosophy or by money under the table, but a righteous judge. It indicates to us, first of all, that many decisions had been made against the apostle Paul that were unrighteous. He was, even as he wrote these words, in a Roman prison because he had been falsely accused. But he knew there was coming this righteous judge, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Scriptures specifically state for us God raised Christ from the dead to be the judge of all of the earth. And God’s appointed judge will not be unrighteous. He will make no mistake. If I have the blood of Christ covering me and have been washed from sin, I will enjoy the hope of eternal life. For those who have not come under the precious, saving blood of Christ, Jesus can only make one decision regarding their eternal destiny. He is going to judge according to righteousness, the righteousness he provided for us with his blood. I have no personal righteousness. I don’t have enough goodness that God would reward me with such a crown and with eternal life. But I I have the confidence and the hope of receiving this crown. Listen to the apostle in Romans three beginning with verse 21. “But now apart from the law there is a righteousness of God that has been manifested, witnessed by the law and the prophets.” Well, what righteousness is that? Verse 22. “Even the righteousness of God that comes through faith in Jesus Christ unto all of them that believe.” There is no distinction.

I don’t know what your nationality is this morning. This broadcast goes into many parts of the world. I don’t know what your skin color is. None of that matters to God. He offers to all this righteousness and he makes no distinction because of your race or your color. Verse 23 puts it this way. There is our word “all” again. “For all have sinned and all fall short of the glory of God.”   So I am in trouble with God. I have no hope, no righteousness. But the next verse, verse 24 tells us our hope is in being justified, made right with God freely by his grace, not through law keeping, but by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. And so it is there that righteousness comes. And what a precious, precious thought it is, indeed. There is going to be given a crown of righteousness. There is going to be a righteous judge who decides who gets that righteousness. Paul tells Timothy in 1 Timothy one and verse 12: “For which cause I suffer all these things, yet I am not ashamed for I know whom I have believed and I am persuaded he is able to guard what I have committed unto him against that day.”

Everything Paul had done, every good deed, every bit of suffering, he had sent on ahead to the Lord and God was going to keep it against the day of his rewarding. And so he closes 2 Timothy one with these words. “The Lord grant unto him to find mercy in that day.” Paul knew that he himself would find such mercy in that day. There is, indeed a day, a day appointed by God, when believers will be called before this righteous judge. We will see our works and they will be judged. Some of them will be burned up. They weren’t very good works. They were wood and hay and stubble. But there will be those good things, those things done with a right attitude and a right motive and we will be richly rewarded. How precious the crown of righteousness, a righteous judge in that day. Who is going to share in that? Those who love the appearing, the second coming, the return again of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul says it is not just for him. It is for all of us, 2000 plus years later. Oh, how important it is, my friends, that we love the appearing of the Lord Jesus. We have set our love upon him. We have loved him and we do love him and we desire his appearing. Even the fact of Paul’s fast approaching death did not dim that hope one bit for this great apostle Paul.

How terrible it is to go through this life and not have the hope that Paul is able to have as he approaches the end of his life. In contrast to Paul’s hope, as he says in the 10th verse of 2 Timothy four, “Demas forsook me, having loved this present age.” He didn’t love the appearing of Jesus, Demas didn’t. He loved things. He had a draw to the world instead of to God and what a sad picture it is, indeed, for him. We are admonished to not set our mind on earthly things, but on things that are above. For there is no hope. There is no loving of the appearing of God to those who don’t have this. Only terror.

Paul, in the book of 2 Thessalonians, wrote about the coming of the Lord Jesus. In chapter one we see the seriousness of verses seven, eight and nine, when he said to those who were afflicted to rest with us at the revelation, the appearing, the coming. Paul says we must wait and expect the revelation of our Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels, of his power in flaming fire, rendering vengeance to them that do not know God, to them who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. He says they will suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might. What a sad picture. How different that is from the words which the apostle Peter gave us in 1 Peter chapter one and verse 13 as he wrote to those Christians scattered all over the world, “Gird up the loins of your mind. Be sober. Set your hope perfectly on the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ”.

For some the coming of Jesus is a great hope, but for others there is only terror. Jesus came the first time as a babe in the manger. He came as the sacrificial Lamb. He is coming back the second time as a roaring Lion. He is coming back a second time and he will bring with him those who will render judgment in order to justify what he does in judging us.

Are we looking for it? Do we allow his love to mold our attitude, to create that tremendous expectancy? I love the verses in the second chapter of the book of Titus and I have asked that these verses be read at my memorial service when I die. Verse 13 says: “Looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ, the one who gave himself for us”.

What a blessed hope. Are you looking for it? Are you longing for it? Are you even praying for it to come? Some of you are likely in circumstances and situations that are very dangerous and you are being persecuted. Are you able to cry out with the writer, John, in Revelation 22, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus”. Or you would say with the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 16:22, “Maranatha”. Lord, come, is what that word means.

Paul was ready. Paul wanted the Lord to come in his lifetime. This was his own personal hope. Are you looking for the coming of Jesus? Are you longing for it? Are you prepared for it? Jesus said we must always be ready, for in an hour when we think not, the Son of man will come. Think about it. Those are serious words for us to consider today. It is our hope that you have given consideration to becoming a Christian if you are not already one. And if you are a child of God, you need to follow the admonition of the writer James, especially those of us who may be going through difficult times. James says in chapter five and verse seven. “Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.” There is the need for holding fast, the need for patience. He repeats it in verse eight, telling us to also be patient, to establish our hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

When things begin to fall apart, we look at the signs of the days in which we are living, the increase of evil, the horrors that are happening, the displeasure it must surely bring to our great God and the Lord Jesus. Surely the time is short before Jesus will be appearing again to take his Church out and to take us to glory to be with him. For the Christian, failure to wait and expect God’s time begins to cause us to doubt. We doubt the promises. We might even say that we are not sure he is coming or he is not coming in ‘my’ lifetime.” Or we might even reach the point where we will deny that Jesus will ever come again. Many do that today. Hebrews 9:28 puts it very simply, “He shall appear a second time”.

And so all of these verses that we have read in 2 Timothy chapter four give us a testimony from the heart and life and pen of the great apostle Paul. It touches on the main part of all that he had to say to the people to whom he ministered and to the young man Timothy. He talked about his life coming to its end. We must have confidence in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and be faithful in transforming and transmitting that message of hope and giving it to others. Be steadfast in our reliance on that blessed hope.

My friends, where is and what is your hope today? Have you received the gift of grace? Are you ready for the coming of the Lord Jesus? Have you the need today to take a step of faith where you find someone who can instruct you a little further? We will be glad to help you. Write to us and we can send you printed material or you can find a New Testament Christian where you live. You could turn to the Word of God yourself, the gospel of John, the book of Acts chapter two and read on through that great book and learn how you can become a New Testament Christian and have the hope of the coming of the Lord Jesus and everlasting life. So if you have not received this gift of such grace, we offer it to you by the authority of the Word of God.

Christian, are you faithful in transmitting what you have received as you have opportunity to give it to others? Is the blessed hope your blessed hope? Do you love the appearing of Jesus? Do you long for his coming? Are you even looking for it? Oh, my friends, we need to be ready so that we will receive a crown of righteousness from that great and righteous judge.

Someone has written these words:

Had it been possible in the apostles day to predict the centuries of delay that have, in fact, elapsed,

         the disciples might, indeed, still have waited for the Lord but watch they could not. And no thief

         in the night could have troubled their slumber. But for the heart, expectancy was needed and they

         were to watch because they knew not the time of his return.

And so it is that delay has now gone more than 2000 years. They didn’t know. They thought Jesus would come in their lifetime. We believe he will come in our life time. We know that possibility is there. We have looked at the signs that have been given and we understand that coming could occur for the Church at any moment. We hope that you are among those ready, waiting, watchful, and expecting the coming of our wonderful Lord Jesus, for that brings joy to the heart of any Christian.

We hope you will continue to tune in to Words of Life as we seek to bring to you the great hope of the gospel through our Lord Jesus. It is our prayer for you today in his name and amen.

 

Julius Hovan is minister of the Bohon Church of Christ, Bohon, KY.




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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

2 corinthians 1:3-4