“Searching the Seven Churches”
The Comings & Goings of Christ – (Revelation Chapter 1 Verse 1-3)
Throughout the New Testament age, from the ascension and exaltation of Christ until his return, i.e., the millennium, he is coming and going. Until that is his final return in glory. This, of course, gives us a proper New Testament sense of urgency, which the Post-Millennium position robs the church of. His coming is not primarily apocalyptic, the final one. All his comings, sometimes in judgment and sometimes in salvation. He came to New York City back in 2001, where many were very quickly hurled into eternity. He came in an earthquake to Japan and New Zealand not long back, he came in judgment. When he next comes to the United Kingdom, how will he come, in salvation or judgment? I don’t know, I’m not a prophet, just a preacher, but I know what we deserve. But he is sovereign, he does as he pleases in the kingdom of men. But if he comes to our land, or nearer still, if he comes to you, will he find you ready? What if he comes tonight? For we are told when he comes, he comes quickly, “Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book” (Revelation 22:7). So there is a sense of urgency, the need when he comes to be found in a state of grace. You make the claim to have benefitted from the redemptive work of Christ, you say he died for my sins, he arose from the dead to justify me, well then submission to his Lordship is due. Both presently, now and for the future, “watch, therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore, be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods” (Matthew 24:42-47).
The imminence of God’s kingdom includes the present, “the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). The kingdom is at hand because the King has come. That kingdom rule of Jesus stretches throughout the millennium and finishes of course with his final return in glory. Finishing with the grand finale, the last one, when he comes to judge the world in righteousness. So he comes and he goes, however, and whenever he comes, are you ready, are you in a state of grace? Are you living with that sense of urgency, living on the spiritual edge? In spite of the view of the false prophets, we live in the midst of death. For this is a world of death, every news bulletin demonstrates this, death on every page, it’s all the world can produce. The world is not improving as they would have us believe, the world will not smile upon the Christian Church, and approve of her. We are taught in this book of Revelation that we, the servants of the Lord, are to wait patiently in the midst of the suffering, the misery, and the death. And hopefully too, knowing that this world is not our final destination, even though many a Christian lives as though it were. We are just pilgrims, we are just passing through, the Christian’s hope is not for and in this world as we know it now, but the blessed appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ. And the blessing is particular, it is not general, it is to the obedient (v3). Those who have obeyed the gospel and lived in obedience to God’s word. It’s not just the hearers, but the doers of his word (James 1:22).
(© James R Hamilton, written Summer, 2011)