Summary: The 2nd coming of Christ is a major theme in the Bible. In 2 Tim. 4:8 Paul talked about the reward that awaits “all who have loved His appearing.” Do I love and eagerly await the coming of the Lord? This sermon explores 4 characteristics of those who do.
Do I Long for Christ’s Coming?
Richard Tow 8/14/16
In 2 Tim. 4:7 Paul was approaching the end of his life. He has been imprisoned by Nero and knows that he will be executed.1 He writes in verse 7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”2
The Greek word translated “appearing” is epiphaneia.3 We get our English word epiphany from it. Do you love the coming, the future manifestation of the Lord of Glory? As I read Paul’s words in 2 Tim. 4:8, I asked myself that question. Frankly, it stirred some concern in my heart. I believe in the second coming of Christ. No question about that. I preach the second coming of Christ. But do I love His appearing? Is this something that captures my thoughts and affections?4 Do I yearn for the day of His appearing? The NIV says “longed for.” Am I longing for the Lord’s coming?
As I talk about the coming of the Lord this morning, I am including the rapture, the resurrection of the just, the wedding of the Lamb, and the return of Christ to set up His throne on the earth. I’m not limiting my comments to any one piece of all that. My purpose is to address the attitude of my own heart toward those events and hopefully stir your love for His coming.
Years ago the Church talked a lot more about the coming of the Lord than it does today. Today more time is spent on techniques for succeeding in this life. That’s not necessarily wrong; but are we neglecting something extremely important? There are over 2,000 references to Christ’s second coming in the Bible (1845 in the OT and 318 in the NT). For every prophecy on the first coming, there are eight on the second coming.5 Those verses are power-packed messages of hope and encouragement to the believer. Aren’t you glad the Bible tells us how this will all end? And the good news is, in the end, we win!
What kind of person loves His appearing?
1. A person CONFIDENT in his relationship with the Lord.
Notice the assurance Paul exhibits as he comes to the last days of his life. He is not hoping he will, in the end, be saved. He is not apprehensive about his death. He knows exactly where he stands. He refers to the Lord as “the righteous Judge” and fully expects to be crowned with His approval. Where does this confidence come from? First, it comes from His faith in what Christ has done for him—faith in the sacrifice of Calvary. Paul is not depending upon his own righteousness when he stands before the Judgement Seat of Christ. In Phil. 3:9 he specifically says that he wants to “be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.” There is no way we can have the confidence Paul shows in our text if we are trying to gain God’s favor by our own works. Our faith must solidly rest upon the cross. Our faith must be in the sacrifice Jesus made of Himself in our behalf.
In His first coming, Jesus came to put away sin. He has done that for us. Therefore, by faith we can stand righteous before God and rightly expect His blessings. But Paul’s faith was also lived out in practical, everyday obedience to the Lord. He allowed the grace of God to work change in his life. In Titus 2:11-14 he writes, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”
The grace of God teaches us (1) how we’re to deal with the world (2) how we’re to live (3) what our orientation in life should be. First we’re taught to deny ungodliness (which is simply leaving God out) and worldly lusts (which included all the greed, immorality, and selfishness) of the world. Second, we are to live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.” We are not to be intoxicated with the things of this world. We are not to be drunk with wine wherein excess that leads to debauchery. Instead we are to be filled with the Holy Spirit.6 We’re to be sober-minded, thinking straight. We are to live righteously in our relationships with other people. Love our neighbor as ourselves. Do justly and love mercy. We are to live godly. Stay in touch with the Lord. Include Him in everything we do. Abide in Christ and draw your strength from that relationship.