HIS APPEARING (part one)
HIS APPEARING (part one)
2 Tim. 4:1: I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and kingdom.
Titus 2:13: Looking for the blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.
2 Tim. 1:10: … made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
We are told to look for his appearing. Indeed, according to Titus 2:11-13, the very reason we are saved by grace is so that we can look “… for that blessed hope and glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ”. But just how can we look for it? Should we peer daily into the blue sky to see if He will appear? Should we plunge into the Book of Revelation to see how the Lord shows up there? One place we can look is within our heart to ensure we truly believe the “blessed hope” which is his appearing and to prayerfully look for it. But what then? How can we, how should we, intensify our gaze for that which we long to see?
I prayed about this for some time before the Lord showed me the answer. As always the solution is found in the word of God. However, it is not just a matter of looking up concordance references to appearing. It is also a matter of “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). We should not read back into the truth of an earlier time that which has only been revealed in a later dispensation, nor should we confuse, by running them together, truths presented in scripture as separate parts of a progressive revelation, such as the Mystery. Failure to heed that latter injunction when reading 2 Tim. 1:9-10, for example, can lead to the mistaken conclusion that the great appearing has already taken place. The verse says:
(God) Who hath saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ who hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
Careful reading makes clear that it is not in person but in “his own purpose and grace” that the Lord is appearing. What’s more He is appearing in a new gospel which brings “life and immortality” to light. The “gospel” mentioned here is news – good news. It is truth that has never been revealed before. That’s why it’s news, and why it’s good.
Right now “life and immortality” are being brought to light as a spiritual reality that now can be experienced by faith through this new gospel for the first time since Adam lost them through sin in the garden of Eden. Thus the gospel referred to here is not a reference to some earlier gospel, as though a portion of that gospel’s truth had been hidden, but now is revealed. No, this is a new gospel in its own right. It is mistake to take new truth revealed by the Lord and inspired in scripture by the Holy Spirit and read it back into earlier truth.
Because of wrong church teaching when we read the word “gospel” we don’t think, as we should, of it being “news”. Rather we think of it as history, supposing that it refers backwards to a gospel outlined in time past, some details of which were “left out” when it was announced and now need to be filled in. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. The gospel always brings salvation, the minute it is believed (see 1 Thess. 2:13 and Eph. 1:13). It doesn’t need bits added to it. We should “study” to shew ourselves approved unto God (2 Tim. 2:15). And, if we study the word “gospel”, we find it is always related to the “present truth” which God dispenses to people at a particular time. For example, in Mark 1:15 Jesus came into Galilee saying:
The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye and believe the gospel.
The gospel then was that the kingdom was at hand and that they should repent of not believing it. Later in Acts 2:38 a different message was preached. No mention now of the kingdom nor of the need for belief in it; Jews were urged to “…repent and be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins”. For those guilty of the Lord’s death this was indeed the gospel, the good news for them at that time. It meant that they could be forgiven for their awful crime of crucifying their Messiah.
Consequently, we should realise that in 2 Tim. 1:9-10 a new gospel appears. It is also important to see that the verses do not speak of the Lord’s actual physical, personal and official appearing (Gk: parousia) in the throne of his glory in the heavenlies. That is yet to come. Rather they speak of the Lord’s appearing to us in the gospel of the grace of God. The actual official appearing, yet future of course, is our Lord’s grand unveiling as “…the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ”, when he will rule from heaven, as disclosed in Titus 2:13 and 2 Tim. 4:1.
Thus scripture teaches that the Lord’s appearing in grace, bringing to light the good news of life and immortality, is a necessary precursor to his appearing in his full heavenly glory. This is also made plain in Titus 2:11-12 where we are told that “… the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men, teaching us 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 Saviour Jesus Christ”.
Now the blessed hope is the truth that we will remade as immortal beings when our life, now hid with Christ in God, is revealed in glory (Col. 3:3). This unveiling will see our “vile body” is changed and refashioned to be like his body of glory. It is marked out as especially “blessed” because it those saints who, like the Apostle Paul, pursue the “high calling of God in Christ Jesus”, will be the first to attain to immortality.
Obviously, the glorious appearing is the Lord’s own appearing in glory which will bring in the most blessed and wonderful event to date on God’s event calendar. This is the much forgotten and overlooked Day of Christ (Phil. 1:6, 10; 2:16, 2 Tim. 4:1) when the full majesty of Christ Jesus as the great God and King over all in the heavenlies will be made known to all the world and, I believe, personally to every creature.
Careful Bible students will realise that his appearing in glory with his chosen saints draws to a close the unprophesied Mystery dispensation (Eph. 3:1-4) which “…in other ages was not made known to the sons of men”. Consequently, they will also realise that the Mystery truth of the Day of Christ now links up with prophetic truths that have been on hold, as it were, throughout the Mystery age. Consider, for example, the thrilling prophecy of Numbers 14:21:
“But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord”.
Surely, this glorious event still awaits fulfilment. Certainly it has not come to pass in the nearly 2,000-year duration of the current dispensation of grace. However, in the coming Day of Christ (mentioned seven times in the prison epistles) the Lord will reveal Himself so fully that every creature on earth will be personally shown the glory of His Majesty.
(To be continued).