Confidence in Christ’s Coming
January 2, 2011 / No. 3548
Dear Radio Friends,
Another year gone. And another beginning. Another year closer to the coming of Jesus Christ.
How sure, how confident, are you that He will come? As we look ahead to yet another year of time, how anxious are you for the return of our Lord? The year of our Lord 2011 is upon us. Time has quickly passed. Christ has not yet come, as some have predicted He would. He will not come until all the signs that give birth to His second coming are fulfilled. Does that stop you and me from faithfully looking for and longing for that coming?
The return of our Savior is exactly what ought to be the light of the new year and the hope of all of God’s saints. We should continue to pray in 2011 for the coming of our Savior.
God’s Word in Hebrews 10:35-37 teaches us: “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” It is this Word of God we wish to have in our hearts and souls as we begin a new year.
So we ask the question again: How confident, or how sure, are we that Christ returns? We live a godly life in order that when Christ returns we will not be ashamed. We spend our lives fighting against the sins of this world and seeking those things that are above. We battle hard against our fleshly lusts. But to what avail? Christ has not come as He has promised. Has our perseverance and faith been in vain? Does Christ really come? Today, let us renew our faith in the coming of Christ.
Faith—the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. In faith, we must not place our confidence in things seen but in things not seen. Christ has not come yet, just as He, for thousands of years, did not come initially in His birth in the old dispensation. Yet, just as the saints waited then patiently in faith for their Savior, so also must we. The just shall live by faith. We are encouraged in the passage we consider in Hebrews today not to draw back from our looking for Christ, but to wait patiently in this year to come.
When we make a promise to another person, we declare to him that he can, of a surety, expect us to do something. We pledge. We give our word. We almost vow that we will bring about what we have specified. When we do, then our word is sufficient. Other Christians know that what we promise we will do. That is the nature of a promise. It is a surety, or pledge, that what has been spoken will truly come to pass.
The passage we consider speaks of such a promise in verse 36. “For ye have need of patience,” the writer to the Hebrews tells us, “that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” This promise is not one that man makes. It is God’s promise to His people. It is a promise of God’s covenant. You see, God has established with His people in Christ a covenant. That covenant is the bond of friendship and fellowship into which God enters with His people. From eternity God has chosen a people that He would call by His name. And as these saints are born into this world, God becomes their sovereign friend and companion. He is a God unto them. They are the people that He favors, cherishes, and loves.
Well, to those whom God binds to Himself in such an intimate way He makes certain promises. I know the passage we consider refers to only one promise. But in different places the Bible speaks of promises, in the plural. Here are a few of those promises. God promises us, for example, in the Scriptures that His church will be as many as the stars in the sky in number, and as the sand by the seashore. God also promises us that He will lead His church to the heavenly land of Canaan, there to dwell with Him in perfect fellowship forever. Or, again, God promises His church and His people that He will never leave or forsake them. That is a promise that God gives and of a surety keeps. He guards and leads His church unto their final salvation when they, a throng that cannot be numbered, will stand before Him in heavenly glory.
But there is one promise that is central to all these promises of the covenant. It is a promise by which God’s covenant is brought to its completion, to its perfect end. That promise is given in verse 37 of Hebrews 10. “For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” That, truly, is the central promise God gives to you and me and His church of all ages. Behold, Christ comes! That was a promise, first of all, given to the Old Testament saints. To them the promise was also given: Your Messiah comes. And, in faith, in confidence, God’s elect few in the Old Testament looked for that coming of a Savior. They longed for it. Why? Because they knew there was no fellowship with God unless that Savior would come. They knew the church would not be gathered and saved, that it would not have a place in heaven, unless that Messiah should come.
That Messiah, after all, is the Savior. He it is that must deliver you and me from our sin and guilt and reconcile us to God. Otherwise we would remain only as aliens to the covenant and its promises, strangers to God. Sin would remain a barrier that would keep us from the fellowship and friendship of the holy and just God. Christ had to come. And Christ had to die on the cross and be raised again in order for our salvation from sin to be secured. Christ had to come and pay the price of our sin in order that all of our guilt might be removed and we might have a right to eternal glory. Salvation depended upon that first coming of Christ.
But salvation depends also upon His second coming. We in the new dispensation have the same promise that the saints of old had then. Christ comes. And He comes to bring salvation to His church. I know that salvation has been secured already at the cross of Christ in His first coming. In principle, all that is needed for us is found in the cross of Christ. But are we presently, totally, free from sin now? Do we experience in this world the highest possible fellowship with our sovereign Friend? Does the church stand united in its praise of God and the Lamb? No. The final fulfillment of our salvation comes when Christ returns on the clouds of glory. So God makes us a promise, a pledge—Christ comes.
Notice the surety of that promise in the passage we consider. “He that shall come will come.” The Bible does not waver as far as this promise of God and of Christ to their church is concerned. Christ shall come. There is no doubt about it. Christ shall come because God has promised it. That means that it is a part of His immutable counsel. In other words, God has established the coming of Christ from before the foundations of the earth in His eternal counsel and plan for all things. This second coming of Christ is set by God eternally as that moment of the very fulfillment of His purpose for all things.
How sure then is the second coming of Jesus Christ? Well, how strongly do you believe in God Himself? Your faith in God and in our Savior will determine how strong your faith is in Christ’s second coming.
As we enter into the year 2011, dear friends, we hear the Word of God say to us, “For yet a little while.” It will not be long now. It is but a short amount of time. Soon, very soon. And He that shall come will come.
And He will not tarry. That is the promise of God to us as we look into the year 2011. Christ will not be slow in His coming. God will not be lax as far as His promise to us is concerned. Right now all things are being accomplished exactly in order to bring about that coming of Christ. God, who is not willing that any of His people perish, but that all should come to repentance, is gathering His church toward that end. And when everything is ripe in history, in nature, and in the church, then we must look up, for our redemption draws nigh. Christ does not tarry.
I know the doubts that can creep into our hearts as we contemplate this promise of God. How long ago was this epistle written to the Hebrew saints? Some 2,000 years. The word of God to God’s people then was, Yet a little while. Now, 2,000 years later, the same word comes to us and says, “Yet a little while.” From our human perspective, it seems as if Christ tarries. Is this promise that God makes really so sure? In our impatience, our confidence in Christ’s return can be shaken. As a result, our faith can begin to waver. And we cease to do the will of God. This passage we are studying speaks of that in verse 36: “For ye have need of patience.” The writer to the Hebrews is concerned that God’s people do not grow weary in well-doing because they are no longer looking for the coming of Christ.
That concern is certainly a legitimate one, because this is exactly what happens to God’s people when they grow impatient and lose confidence in Christ’s return. “What’s the use?” they say. “Christ is not coming today. He’s not coming tomorrow. I’m wasting my time in constantly fighting to do God’s will in my life.” Is that not often our reaction, if not consciously, at least sub-consciously? Fighting the good fight of faith is so wearisome. Day in and day out we must mortify the old man of sin in us that is so attracted to the things of this world and the pleasures of sin.
We are told in God’s Word that this earth is not our home; that we are only on an earthly pilgrimage; and that we must seek heaven that is our home. But Christ does not come. And final glory is not ushered in. And then, too, the things of this earth are so real and attractive. Why must I constantly have to say “No,” to myself and not enjoy the things of this present world? Why do I constantly have to live a life of holiness? Why keep up with the good works? Why keep coming together with fellow saints? Why constantly look, when Christ is simply not coming? And as a result, we cast away our confidence. Our faith in Christ’s return and the fulfillment of all the promises of God—we throw it away from us. We turn our back on God and on His Word, and we draw back into perdition, the writer to the Hebrews tells us.
Or we might say, “At least Christ will not be coming in 2011. Why worry about it this year? I will worry later on when it calls for worrying. This year yet I can carry on in my earthly pursuits. I can follow after my sinful lusts. I can indulge in this world. Because there is no way that Christ can return in 2011. And if Christ does not return, then I will not be ashamed at His coming. Maybe later I can again take up doing the will of God.”
This is especially a common way of reasoning when we are young. We think, then, that life goes on forever and that we will have plenty of time later to get serious about life. Let me remind you of what God’s Word says about all this: Christ is coming in 2011, though He may not arrive. For that reason we receive the exhortation of our text: “Cast not away therefore your confidence,” do not discard your trust and conviction that Christ comes soon. On the contrary, we must be reassured again in this year that our Savior comes in judgment. That must be our determination as we face a new year. We must focus our assurance on that fact. And we must again determine to live in that assurance: Christ is coming, and I must prepare myself once again for that coming. I must be busy living a life of holiness. I must be exercising myself spiritually so that I will not lose myself in the things of this present world. I must not allow my confidence in Christ’s coming to grow dim and vague.
When that happens, we are casting away our confidence. And how easy that can become. But listen. We are not those who draw back into perdition, are we? We are those who believe to the saving of our souls. We cast away our confidence only when we become so very impatient. And this is why we are reminded in our text that we need to have patience. We lack it. We have need of it. Listen. We are the children of the culture in which we live. We, too, sad to say, are affected by the society in which we live. Everybody in our society is in a hurry. Everybody. We are so busy that at times our heads whirl. That busyness, in itself, of course, is not bad for us or our families. But as a result of this we have become the most impatient of all societies. When we desire something, we want to have it right now. We have no patience. We go to a store to pick up an item for our house and we are annoyed if that store does not have it. We do not want to place it on order. We want it now. And if we have to wait in line, then we can become very vocal about the poor service the store is giving us.
That impatience can be translated often times to our waiting upon the return of Jesus Christ. We do not wish to spend too much of our time waiting and looking. We have better things to do here below. There is the here and the now to worry about. We do not have time for our thoughts to drift back once in a while to Christ’s coming. Instead of sitting back at the beginning of this year and regrouping and planning how in this year we are going to seek more the coming of Christ, we plunge blindly into the new year and into whatever it is that confronts us at that moment. We do not look much beyond.
We have need of patience—calm, steadfast, unwavering waiting on the Lord. This patience brings quiet, brave endurance. Oh, yes, we will have to go about our everyday tasks as God commands us. But we will begin to look at these tasks in a bit of a different light. We will not view the things of this present world as that which endures, or as an end in themselves. We will use them, we will view them, only as a means that we can use in this life to sustain us until we receive what does endure.
And sin? We must fight that once again in this year. We will commit ourselves again to a life of holiness, that we need not be ashamed when Christ appears. Patient confidence—that is what we need in 2011.
If we remained confident in Christ’s coming, then, we are told in our text, this has great recompense of reward. The term “recompense of reward” means very simply that the returns that we receive by remaining confident are wonderful and great. God gives us something in return for the confidence we exhibit. We are rewarded greatly for the patience we show in looking for Christ’s return. So the idea of verse 35 of our text is this, that we by all means not cast away our confidence, for the returns are fantastic.
What are the returns? What is the reward if we confidently look for the coming of Christ in this year to come? It is the reward of God’s grace in this life. God will direct us in the way of faithfulness to His cause and kingdom in this world. He will grant us the necessary grace in this year to combat our sin and to persevere in the faith. God will grant us the confidence to come boldly unto His throne of grace in time of need to find comfort. God will grant us the grace to live a life that is consecrated to holy service—a life that is pleasing to Him and one of which we need not be ashamed when Christ appears.
That already is a reward in itself. It is a great reward. What more do we need as we walk through this world of sin? God’s grace is always sufficient for us in every aspect of life. Especially as we look for the return of Christ.
But here is the greatest aspect of our reward. When we in patient confidence wait for the coming of Christ, then we will do the will of God. And having done the will of God, we shall receive the promise, and we shall see that promise fulfilled. I know that at the end of time I will behold the coming of Jesus Christ and that He shall indeed call aloud and raise the dead. I know that I will stand before Him in judgment and be declared righteous in the blood of Christ for all to see and all to hear. I know that the wicked will be judged worthy of condemnation on account of their sin and unbelief. And I know that I, together with all of God’s children, will experience the highest expression of God’s love and fellowship imaginable in heaven.
It is then that God’s covenant will ultimately be fulfilled. Then all the promises of that covenant will be established forever. The church of Christ will be an innumerable throng, living together in the promised land, a land flowing with milk and honey. That will be the greatest of all rewards. Let us long for that day in this year to come, fellow believers. “For yet a little while and he that shall come will come.”
God keep us faithful unto that coming.
Let us lift up our hearts in prayer.
Our gracious Father in heaven, we come to thee in prayer at the beginning of this new year, to ask of Thee that Thou wilt so work in our hearts that we might ever look for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, so that our thoughts might be on the things of the kingdom of heaven. And as we look for that coming, grant that we might pattern our lives after that coming. Forgive us of our own weaknesses and failures. Strengthen us anew for today and for this year to come. We ask these things for Jesus’ sake alone, Amen.