Bruce Collins, Evangelist

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Does it really Matter?

Meditation for the week of January 26, 2013

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  (Titus 2:11-13).

The Lord has come.  Paul writes to Titus and tells us that the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  But those who are saved are looking for a second coming of the Lord.  It is called a blessed hope and a glorious appearing or epiphany.  The Bible is clear that the Lord is coming for His Saints to deliver them from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10).  But just when is that going to happen?  We do not know when the day or hour of the events associated with the Lord’s coming again will begin.  But I believe we know the order of those events.

I once had a Bible discussion with a group of believers on the Lord’s coming and had distinguished between the rapture of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) and the revelation of the Lord to the earth (Revelation 1:7).  One is a coming that comforts the saints and one is a coming that causes the inhabitants of the earth to wail.  I had said that I believed that the Lord would rapture the Saints before the events of Revelation 6 begin.    Those events are associated with the what is commonly known as the seven years of tribulation on this earth after which the Lord reveals Himself to reign for a literal thousand years.  However, some think that the tribulation period and the thousand year reign of Christ are symbolic and that they are not literal periods of time.  These people would believe that the church is the kingdom of God on earth and that we are presently in the thousand year reign of Christ.  This is an amillennial point of view.  Generally they also assume that the church has replaced Israel and the covenants made to Abraham are now applicable to the church.  As we discussed several other views of the Lord’s return, one of the participants in the discussion said he held to a pan-millenniel view.  He explained that his view of the Lord’s return held that it would all pan out in the end.  It didn’t really matter which view we held.  At one time I would have agreed, but today I would vehemently disagree with this approach.  Our view of the Lord’s return does matter!  It affects whether we preach the simple Gospel or whether we are out to change an unbelieving world to act in a righteous way.

Most of the Protestant churches that came about as the result of the Reformation period as well as the Catholic Church hold to the amillenniel point of view.  That means that instead of our citizenship being in heaven (Philippians 3:20), believers are an earthly people, much like Israel.  Instead of believing that the Lord could come at any time to deliver us from an ungodly world, this view holds that we are here to try to change the world into something righteous.  The mission of the church in the amillenniel view is the reformation of the nations (particulary of the United States) through confronting the culture and through politics.  While these people often say that their mission is the Gospel and that they are evangelical, their programs and writings deal more with “living right” and with political issues than with the Gospel that saves sinners.  Their charge to Christians is to get involved in the world and “make a difference.”   Nothing is said about Scriptural separation from the world.

I realize that we have dual citizenship in a sense.  We are citizens of heaven but we live on earth and on earth we have responsibilities.  According to our verse for today, Christians are to deny self and live morally.  It does not include the mandate to make the unbeliever deny self and live morally.  Other passages are clear that we are to speak against evil with the purpose of convicting individuals of their sin so that we can fulfill the great commission which is to “make disciples, baptize them and teach them all things (Matthew 28:19-20).”

I do believe that the first thing that the Lord does when He begins the events associated with His second coming is to deliver those of us that are saved from His wrath that is about to be unleashed on an unbelieving world.  I believe that coming is one of comfort and is a blessed hope.  Nothing needs to happen prophetically for the Lord to come as the blessed hope after which He comes to set up His kingdom.  I believe that Christ will then reign for a literal thousand years.  We live in a world where Satan is still not bound and where iniquity does abound.  Trying to reform a  world of unbelievers without individuals being blessed and changed by the new birth is a lost cause.  When the Lord sets up His kingdom, then and then only will the world be a righteous place.

Bruce Collins

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