Christ Is Coming Again! Lift Up Your Heads!
Since Christ took His place of expectancy within the veil, and assigned us our place of expectancy without the veil, all present duties and spiritual exercises have henceforth an onward look, an advent adjustment, like the needle to the pole. "The solemn Maranatha resounds throughout the Scriptures, and forms the keynote in all their exhortations, consolations, warnings" (Van Oosterzee).
Holy Living Urged
Holy living is the inspiring motive thereto: "…that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:12-13).
Endurance under persecution and loss of goods is encouraged. This is the language of the exhortation: "Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward…for yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry" (Heb. 10:35,37).
Patience under trial is encouraged in the Christian. The admonition is: "Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh" (Jas. 5:8).
Sanctification Set Before Us
Sanctification is set before us for our diligent seeking. The duties leading up to it culminate in this: "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess. 5:23).
Diligence Pressed upon Pastors
Diligence in caring for the flock of God is enjoined upon pastors. This is the reward: "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly…and when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away" (1 Pet. 5:2,4).
Is fidelity to the Gospel trust charged upon the ministry? This is the end thereof: "…that thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Tim. 6:14).
And again: "I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom, preach the Word" (2 Tim. 4:1-2).
New Testament Key
Space would fail us to cite further passages having the same objective; they so abound that we may say that the key to which the chief exhortations to service and consecration are pitched in the New Testament is: "To the end He may stablish your hearts unblamable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints" (1 Thess. 3:13).
Duty – that which is due – is less insisted on in the Gospel as a motive, than is reward – that which may be attained. As for the imminence of death as an inspiration to devotedness, we never find it once mentioned. It is the advent of the King of glory: "Behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be" (Rev. 22:12). It is not the advent of the king of terrors that constitutes the incentive to Christian earnestness.
However low the note which is struck in God’s discipline of His people, it is always keyed to a lofty pitch to which it is certain to rise; and if, as in one familiar instance, the inspired discourse drops to the ground-tones of death and doom – "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Heb. 9:27) – it is only that in the next verse it may mount immediately to the exalted strain to which the whole New Testament is tuned: "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation" (Heb. 9:28).
Massillon declares that "in the days of primitive Christianity, it would have been deemed a kind of apostasy not to sigh for the return of the Lord." Then certainly it ought not now to be counted as something strange to "love His appearing" (2 Tim. 4:8) and to take up with new intensity of longing the prayer which He has taught us: "Even so, come, Lord Jesus" (Rev. 22:20).
Amid all the disheartenment induced by the abounding iniquity of our times; amid the loss of faith and the waxing cold of love within the Church; and amid the outbreaking of lawlessness without, causing men’s hearts to fail them for fear, and for looking after those things that are coming on the earth – this is our Lord’s inspiring exhortation: "…look up and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh" (Luke 21:28).
Revised and condensed from the book Ecce Venit by A. J. Gordon.