Loving Our Lord’s Appearing
“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” II Tim. 4:6-8
There are so many important events in human existence. Many things that take place over the course of our lives are inter-related and share in importance. This is true both in the natural and spiritual realms. Between birth and death there are many special times. With our growth we experience graduations, promotions, there are weddings and parenthood, to name a few. But God would focus our affections especially upon one event with many related aspects.
AFFECTIONATELY ANTICIPATING: The scripture throughout and especially the New Testament make it very evident that Jesus’ second coming is joyfully anticipated by the triune God. Oh, let us consider it well! Is this event just a passing fancy with us, or are we appreciating the fact? Let us, with joy, welcome His returning! God’s Word spells out for us many aspects of the attitude and actions of those truly loving our Lord’s appearing. Two predominate features of such motivation are the desire to take all that the Lord has for us, knowing that our Father yearns that we claim and enjoy it all. Then there is, also, the desire to bring our Lord all the joy and glory possible, even here and now.
The Apostle Paul’s life gave evidence of his love of the Lord, and His coming for him. For he fought a good fight of faith, and powerfully urged faith’s followers, sons in the faith to do the same in laying hold of eternal life (I Tim. 6:12). He also finished his course, completed his race. The Lord set a special race before Paul (Acts 20:24). He does the same for us. Paul’s race and our running affects others. Staying on course proves the sincerity of our love for the Lord’s appearing. Paul was indeed a great example to us in “keeping the faith.” He embraced the promises, maintaining a wholehearted trust. He faithfully held fast that which was omitted to his trust. I am glad to realize that he continued in the faith and wasn’t moved away from the hope of the gospel (Col. 1:23). Thank God, we are divinely equipped to do the same.
A CROWN LAID UP: We read often in the epistles of things “laid up,” being “laid hold of.” We read in Col. 1, of the hope laid up for us in heaven and in Heb. 6:18,19 of the hope set before us being laid hold of. Then also, having that hope as an anchor of the soul. We show that we esteem something worth having by going after it. When we by faith, reach forth to apprehend that for which we are apprehended, we are also anchored or held on course. We have the high privilege of “keeping” the Word of our Lord and keeping the Word of His patience and “holding fast that which we have that no man take our crown” (Rev. 3:8-11). A crown is often given as reward, symbolic of one who is successful, victorious, winning the championship. In scripture, a crown also signifies authority, the right to reign. The crown of righteousness laid hold of by Paul is also offered to us. God’s Word makes it very clear that there are some well defined rules for crown winning.
“If a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully” (II Tim. 2:5). “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible” (I Cor. 9:24,25). The Apostle Paul continues with the thought of the possibility of being disqualified as a crown winner (Vs. 26,27). But with all the rules given for running, the predominate word given for motivation is our love for the Lord, and His return.
DENY HIM NOT: Some other outstanding characteristics of real crown winners may be seen in such quotations as; “Faithful unto death; Thou hast not denied my name.” “It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself” (II Tim. 2:11-13). Suffering, in identification with Him, will certainly be rewarded by reigning with Him. We are making a terrible choice if we deny Him the headship, Lordship of our lives. It is out of our deep love for Him that we do whatever we do, in His name, for His glory, giving thanks unto the Father by Him (Col. 3:17). But to deny Jesus the throne of our heart, is to have Him deny us a throne in heaven. Paul didn’t deny the Lord complete access to his life, nor complete control on his course (Phil. 1:20,21; Acts 16:6-11; 20:24). This must be true of us.
EXPECTANTLY EXERCISED: “Love” is an action word. Loving our lord’s appearing is something wherein we are to be spiritually involved. This being quite the opposite of being lax or indifferent. Motivated by the preeminent love, we greatly enjoy sharing the sweet memorials of our dear Lord’s shed blood and broken body and joyously glorying in His victorious resurrection.
PERSONALLY PREPARING: The preparations we make, the provisions we take prove what is more and most important to us. Is it the love of our self, or of His person? Is it your pleasure or pleasing Him? Is it your comfort or comforting His people? When the Lord speaks of making up His jewels, in Mal. 3:16,17, those that will adorn His throne, He speaks of those that are thinking of and talking about Him. A woman truly in love spends most of her time thinking and talking about the man she is about to marry. The bridal company of believers have their minds stayed upon Him as they prepare for that glorious day. They are also submitting to the necessary “needlework” in putting on their wedding garment (Ps. 45:10-15). Personal preparation for that glorious day, in love of the Bridegroom’s appearing, has us assembling more frequently as we see the day approaching, and worshiping more fervently.