Summary: How can a Christian make sure we will stand before Christ with confidence when He returns?
As John concludes his thoughts on fellowship with God, he speaks of Christ's return. It'll be a day of rejoicing or regret, depending on the quality of our fellowship with God in this life. John reminds us that . . .
1. Jesus will appear.
Hebrews 9:24-28 refers to three appearings of Jesus.
A. The past appearance of our Lord.
Hebrews 9:26 says, "But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself." Jesus came appeared to offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins.
B. The present appearance of our Lord.
In Hebrews 9:24, we are told, "he entered heaven itself, now to
appear for us in God's presence." Appearing before the throne of the Father, Jesus "ever lives to make intercession for us" (Hebrews 7:25).
C. The future appearing of our Lord.
Hebrews 9:28 says, "he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him." We call this the 2nd coming; and as surely as He appeared the 1st time to pay for sin; and as surely as He now appears before the throne to intercede for us; He will surely one day appear to all when He ushers in eternity!
Unfortunately, we find ourselves living in the day spoken of in 2 Peter 3:3-4: "First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, 'Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.'"
Even many believers find themselves, though they wouldn't deny the return of Christ, nevertheless living as though His return isn't anything to concern themselves with. Yet, the fact remains, that Jesus is one day returning! He has told us He'll return and He'll keep His Word! What should be our attitude toward the fact of our Lord's return?
1) We should look for His return.
"So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming." - Matthew 24:42 (NLT)
We should not only be waiting, but watching for our Lord's return.
The difference between waiting and watching is illustrated by a story told about the return of four sailors from several days at sea. When they came to shore, the wives of three of the four were there to greet them. The fourth sailor went home, where he was greeted by his wife who said, "Welcome home. I've been waiting for you!" The disappointed sailor replied, "That's nice. But it would have been nicer if you had been watching to greet me when I returned."
2) We should love His return.
"There is reserved for me in the future the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved His appearing." - 2 Timothy 4:8 (HCSB)
Mom baked a chocolate cake and gave her son strict orders not to touch it. But temptation got the best of him. He decided mama wouldn't mind if he had just one piece. Then he decided it was OK to have another; and before he knew it, he'd eaten the whole cake. About then, mama came driving up in the yard. Now, he loved my mama, but he did not love her appearing!
3) We should live for His return.
"We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that
wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed." - Titus 2:12b-13 (NLT)
Bank examiners come by unannounced to check on banks. They come unexpectedly. So the folks who work in the banks have to be in an attitude of readiness because the examiner might come at any time. Likewise, we ought to live with the Lord's return in mind.
2. We could be ashamed.
Christ's return should be a joyous occasion, but it won't be for some. We know why it won't be joyous for unbelievers; but John says it will also be a day of shame for some believers. Jesus warned of this in Mark 8:38, as did Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15.
The phrase, "may be unashamed before Him" could be translated, "will not shrink in shame from Him." When Jesus returns, some Christians will be so embarrassed about their inconsistent lives, that when they see Him, they will shrink in shame. If Jesus were to come today, would you shrink in shame and embarrassment before Him?
When Eisenhower was president, he vacationed in Denver, Colorado. There was a 6 year old Denver boy who had incurable cancer. He expressed his wish to meet President Eisenhower. One day, Eisenhower arrived in his presidential limousine. He came to the front door and knocked. The father opened the door, wearing blue jeans, an old shirt, and a day's growth of beard. When he saw the president, he was speechless! Eisenhower took the boy out to the limousine and talked with him for a while. Then he shook his hand and left. When the father would recount the story, he would say, "And to think, there I stood in my blue jeans, my old shirt, and a days growth of beard. What a way to meet the president!"