Until He Comes
Jesus is coming soon. So what should His church be doing in the meantime?
“I want your room cleaned up before I get home!” Sound familiar?
Parents often leave directives like these for their children before leaving the house. The kids might get the job done—but usually it’s right before their parents return.
Too often we also put things off until the last minute. Because Jesus’ return for His church is imminent (He could come at any moment), we should live as if He will come today; and as we wait, we should obey His two key directives: to make disciples and to remember.
Before the Lord Jesus ascended to heaven after His resurrection, He spoke of “the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). Naturally, the apostles had a pressing question: “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (v. 6). Jesus’ answer was both assuring and direct:
It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (vv. 7–8).
Like the apostles, we, too, would love to know when Jesus will return—first to rapture His church to heaven and then to establish His promised Kingdom. Yet Jesus told the apostles not to concern themselves with when He will return but, rather, with what they should do until He returns. He wanted them to know they would receive the promised Holy Spirit and become His witnesses.
As born-again believers in the Lord Jesus, we are to live in anticipation of His coming—abiding in Him, bearing fruit for Him, and glorifying Him. “So you will be My disciples,” He said (Jn. 15:8).
Unfortunately, our world revels in sin and is a faithless place with little love for God. But we are to be His witnesses, living for Christ, teaching the truth, making disciples, and expecting grief in return. Jesus said,
If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. . . . If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. Whoever kills you will think that he offers God service (vv. 18–20; 16:2).
Yet God has given us the Holy Spirit, “the Spirit of truth” (v. 13), to help us. Jesus said, “He will guide you into all truth; . . . He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you” (vv. 13–14). In turn, we are to declare His truth to everyone—Jewish and Gentile—making disciples as we live in obedience to Him. Immediately before His ascension, Jesus gave this directive:
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Mt. 28:19–20).
We are to work diligently for the King of kings until He takes us home (cf. Lk. 19:13).
In the upper room where the Lord shared His final Passover meal with His disciples, Jesus added to that holy day’s significance by introducing what we know as communion: He took the unleavened bread, broke it, and gave the following directive: “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me” (Lk. 22:19).
We must never forget the unparalleled sacrifice the Lord Jesus made for us. He left His glory in heaven to eventually become the final, once-for-all sacrifice for our sin under the Mosaic Law. All the Levitical sacrifices over the centuries merely covered sin temporarily until the one, perfect sacrifice could remove it entirely (Heb. 9:23–28). Jesus gave His life so that we might have eternal life through faith in Him.
He arose from the dead because He is God, as evidenced by His prayer: “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (Jn. 17:5).
The apostle Paul emphasized our obligation to remember Jesus’ great sacrifice: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Cor. 11:26). We should always remember these six key truths:
→ We were condemned sinners and enemies of God. “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezek. 18:20). “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). We are unworthy and deserve death—eternal separation from God.
→ Christ was our substitute and paid the penalty for sin. “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed” (Isa. 53:5). The Messiah endured our punishment, as Isaiah prophesied more than 700 years prior to Jesus’ birth.
→ All who are born again belong to Him and are kept by His great power. God, “according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance . . . reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith” (1 Pet 1:3–5). We cannot save ourselves, nor can we keep ourselves saved. God does both for us.
→ Someday, we will see Him face to face. “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 Jn. 3:2). Today we walk by faith. Someday, we will walk by sight.
→ Jesus is coming for His church: “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself” (Jn. 14:2–3). The apostle Paul called this event “the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Ti. 2:13).
→ He is with us always and gives us peace. “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33). The peace God can give us through Christ transcends everything, including war, persecution, illness, and heartbreak.
Until He returns, we should be known by our love for one another as we gather in our churches, bear one another’s burdens, and forgive one another as Christ forgave us (Col. 3:12–17). Paul’s words to Titus, a young pastor, should encourage us:
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 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 (Ti. 2:11–14).
May we be found faithful as we make disciples and remember what Jesus did for us, echoing the words of the apostle John: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20).