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When He Appears

by David Johnson

IMG_0666(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Broadcast)

The title for this lesson is, “When He Appears” and the text is taken from the New Testament book, the epistle of 1 John chapter three verses two and three. Listen to the Word of God. ‘Dear friends, now we are children of God and what we will be has not yet been made known, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself just as he is pure.’

What a beautiful passage.

You have probably heard that one of the major criticisms of prophecy and even especially unfulfilled prophecy, yet future, is that it is not practical. It is not applicable to my every day life. And that belief is simply not true. Every passage, for example, of the second coming of Christ includes practical, personal application as closely associated with it. Prophecy is revealed not just to stir our imaginations and expectations. God intends prophecy also to challenge our attitudes and actions and lifestyle in our every day life to be in line with the Word and the will of God. And that, of course, includes the present as we look into the future. And, of course, it is our future. It is personally applicable according to Bible scholars and especially regarding future unfulfilled prophecy, there are at least five potentially life changing influences that better understanding of Bible prophecy can have on our individual hearts and minds and wills every day including today and tomorrow.

For example, number one, Bible prophecy can have a converting influence. Well, how is that? Well no person knows how much time he or she has left on this earth. As to what can happen today or tomorrow, for example, personally, whether we live or die, whether we are in a terrible car accident or not or have a heart attack or what have you and also, of course, those that are in Christ or outside of Christ we don’t know exactly, certainly, prophetically, whether we are in Christ we will be caught up, but if we are outside of Christ we will be left behind when the Lord comes in the air. And so regarding his coming in the air, regarding our mortal lives on this earth, prophecy, in particular unfulfilled future prophecy can have a converting experience or converting influence.

Are you ready to face eternity with God or eternally apart from God? Is Jesus Christ your, my personal Savior and Lord or not? We need conversion. We need commitment to Christ before we die or before he comes in the air as to whether we are left behind or we are caught up to meet him in the air. Our sin separates us from a absolutely holy God. And only uniquely Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and Lord can cancel our condemnation through faith in Christ and his work on the cross that he earned our salvation. We cannot work or earn it for ourselves.

For example, in 1 Peter chapter three and verse 18 it says, in part: For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous to bring you to God. And so future unfulfilled prophecy reveals to mankind what is coming upon this world, terrible, catastrophic times. And the signs are lining up just as Scripture predicts. Prophecy, therefore, should have a converting influence today, now, to respond to Christ’s invitation, to receive him before it is too late.

I remember a young man who told me many years ago that one of the primary reasons that he became interested in the gospel. in the saving power of the gospel through Jesus Christ. through the Word of God. by the conviction of the Holy Spirit. was prophecy and, particularly, future unfulfilled prophecy. That prophecy intrigued him and interested him to eventually to hear the gospel and receive Jesus as his personal Savior and Lord. That prophecy made the different that God used prophecy to bring him to the Lord. And so prophecy, unfulfilled prophecy certainly can have a converting influence.

Secondly, prophecy has a caring influence, because understanding prophecy includes the knowledge of a coming Judge and the wrath of God towards sinners not under the blood of Christ. So as caring Christians we should be reminded, for example, of 2 Corinthians chapter five and verse 20 that says: We are, therefore, Christ’s ambassadors as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you. We beg you. We urge you on Christ’s behalf to be reconciled to God.

So what is the application? Christians should care, care about family, care about friends, even foes, to get right with God before it is too late. We should care, because eternity is forever. And to be in Christ is to have salvation to be with God for eternity. But to be outside of Christ is to be everlastingly separated from God in a place of eternal destruction. Do we care? Prophecy can have a caring influence and better understanding of prophecy concerning the things to come should fuel our caring for others as to their eternal destiny.

Thirdly, prophecy can have a cleansing influence. It should produce a lifestyle of holiness and purity, not worldliness, not to be polluted or defiled by this world.

In 1 John chapter three in verses two and three it says, in part: We know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And then in verse three tied to this prophetic future prophecy when he appears it says everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. So when Jesus Christ returns for his Church in the air to catch us up to be with him, that is, when he appears we shall be like him, glorified, perfected, body, soul and spirit. In the meantime, however, today, tomorrow and every day, every day living, in the meantime since we know that this is coming that he is coming, that he is going to appear, we continue daily to conform our behavior to match our belief, ongoing cleansing of our mind and hearts and wills. Jesus Christ is returning soon. It is immanent. It could happen at any time. So when he appears, how and where will he find us? This should have a great influence of a daily cleansing influence when we do sin. When we mess up, we fess up and ask God to forgive us. We want to be spotless in Christ Jesus. We have his righteousness, but we also have the process of sanctification in which we strive, we struggle to remain pure, to purify ourselves as an ongoing process.   And so prophecy can have a cleansing influence. And we need to share this with other Christians, other Christians that are not living as they should be, perhaps carnal Christians or weak Christians or novices or new Christians, backslidden Christians, because prophecy can have a cleansing influence, just as prophecy can have a caring influence as we care about others and their eternal destiny.   And certainly, prophecy can have a converting influence as prophecy is a tool that can bring people to the gospel.

Fourthly, prophecy can have a calming influence. Do you remember the calming words of Jesus in the gospel of John chapter 14 and verses one through three? Jesus said to his disciples, to his apostles as he was telling them that he was about to leave them: Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. Verse three. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you also may be where I am.

This old world is getting worse and worse on all fronts. There is plenty of trouble to go around for all of us. We have problems individually, personally. We have problems in our families, in our communities, in our nation, in our world. We deal with all kinds of emotional and economic, physical and spiritual concerns. And we often need to recognize that the Word of God, that Jesus Christ, that the Holy Spirit can have a calming influence even regarding the fact that prophecy that is shared in Scripture, unfulfilled future prophecy, that things are going to get a whole lot worse. The signs of the times are bringing that to fruition all around us all the time. And widespread depression even in our modern technological advanced society is on the rise.

Jesus Christ gives Christians three main points in this passage in John chapter 14 verses one through three to calm us in the storm that is raging around us. First it is the person. Jesus Christ is returning personally to take his own home. But we need to be in Christ Jesus. But this should have a calming influence on us, because we are not going to be in this world forever. We are going to be taken out. Jesus Christ is returning personally to take us home. The person of Jesus Christ can calm us in this prophetic truth.

Secondly, there is the place. God the Father’s mansion in heaven beats even Hawaii all to pieces. It is going to be paradise for eternity eventually into the new heaven and the new earth and the new Jerusalem.

Thirdly, there is a precious promise. Believers can be with Jesus where I am forever. And we can take that to the bank and we don’t need FDIC. We have God’s word on it, the Lord, L O R D, has said it. And so the person, the place and the promise even at his return to take us home can have a calming influence on the believer as we deal with all of the difficult things in this world.

Fifthly, prophecy can have a controlling influence on our service while we wait. The apostle Paul after revealing the truth regarding the coming of Christ and our resurrection bodies Paul wrote regarding our in the meantime service in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 and verse 58 that says: Therefore, my brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

You see, knowing that the Lord is returning and will judge our deeds done in the body which need to be done to the glory of the Lord, not ours and for his kingdom, not our convenience, this should control our service, can have a controlling influence on our labor, on our work for the Lord for his name’s sake. Daily, regularly as a practical personal application for each of us individually all service in the Lord counts. It is not done in vain and will be rewarded at the judgment seat of Christ for those things done while in the body for his sake and for the sake of the kingdom. Knowing the Lord’s coming soon should cure inconsistency in Christian service. No Christians should be spiritually unemployed, because as waiters waiting for the Lord, we are also still workers.

So deeper study of prophetic Scripture is important to better understand God’s plan for our future. And for those that we would bring with us as the Holy Spirit works through us, because it is the Holy Spirit that actually convicts. And as God causes them to be born again, born from above, born anew. But we must not get so caught up with the plans that we forget the welcoming. I mean, as we study, we should also be willing to move from the planning stage to the welcoming stage. Jesus Christ is returning soon. Are we ready? Have we told everybody that is not in Christ Jesus? We all need to be ready to welcome Jesus back. Are we on the welcoming committee? Because prophecy can be converting and caring and cleansing and calming and controlling of our service as we await the Savior. Do you realize that it is estimated that there are 1845 Scripture verses regarding the second coming of Christ, many more than the prophecies regarding the first coming of Christ? So do you think that this teaching is important? Do you not think God put all of this as part or the Word of God if it was not important? Obviously it is.

None other than John Wesley wrote these words, quote: The Spirit in the heart of the believer says with earnest desire: Come Lord Jesus, end of quote. So as you and I go to bed tonight and the next night or the next, do you ever think that before I awaken Christ may return for me, me personally, individually, intimately. Is that not applicable, practical? Do you not think that this is important? Obviously it all is. And all of God’s Word is truth and cannot be broken. And all of it is God breathed, inspired of God and all of it is useful for training and teaching in righteousness. And so we can always remember that the Word of God is precious and we can share even prophecy with others. And that prophecy can even be a tool used to bring someone to the gospel, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ that they can be saved before it is everlastingly too late.


                                   David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, IN.

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The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10