Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Apocalypse

SATURDAY, MAY 24, 2008

From "My Daily Bread" (SEE HERE)

The Apocalypse

"...who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time...These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed...Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed." (I Peter 1: 5, 7 13 NIV)

"God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus." (II Thessalonians 1: 6-8 NIV)

The above inspired words of Peter and Paul, two eminent apostles, speak of the coming "Apocalypse of the Lord Jesus Christ." Christians are waiting for Christ to be "revealed from heaven." The word "revealed" is from the Greek word "apokalypsis" from which we get our transliterized word "Apocalypse." There is, of course, a wide difference between the denotation of the word and the modern connotation that is often given to it.

The word "revelation" is a good English equivalent for the Greek word "apocalypse." Another word, perhaps even better, would be the word "unveiling." The Greeks used this word for "unveiling" of statues, or other great works of art, as we do today in similar formal showings (unveilings). In a "revelation" or "apocalypse" there was a disclosure of what was previously hidden or out of view.

The Lord Jesus Christ has already had one apocalypse, having been revealed from heaven once before when he entered the world through miraculous birth of the Holy Spirit and conception in the womb of the blessed virgin Mary. This was his first "coming" or"appearing," his first "apocalypse." 

The word "apocalypse" ("revelation") is used frequently in conjunction with two other words, the word "parousia" ("coming" or"presence" or "arrival"), and the word "epiphania" ("epiphany" or"appearing").

In both cases, whether it concerns his first or his second coming, these three words are used, and denote primarily his physical bodily presence, his personal appearing on earth, his becoming visible to the eye.

Christ was once on earth. He was here in the flesh and was visible to men who talked with him, touched and handled him. But, he has gone back to heaven. We are therefore without his bodily presence. We look by faith to his return, the time when we shall see him with our physical eyes. For now the record is - "whom having not seen you love." (I Peter 1: 8) We have the testimony and records of those who were eye and ear witnesses of him.

Christ is now absent, except that he has sent the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Father and the Spirit of the Son, to be his vicar on earth. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ, for he testifies of Christ and reveals to our minds the things of Christ. (See John 14: 26; 15: 26; 16: 13) Further, Jesus promised his disciples that he would "be with them always, even till the end of the age," so he must be"here" in the person of the Holy Spirit, his representative. And yet, as blessed as is the joy of possessing the Holy Spirit, and of being reborn by him, and taught and led by him, we still long for the day when Christ is "revealed" again "from heaven," when Christ is fully glorified as earth's king, and when all believers in Jesus are also revealed and glorified with him.

From the above words of the apostles, the day of the Lord has a different effect on two different classes of people. Those who have rejected Christ and the gospel message will find that Christ will be revealed from heaven in order to execute the judgments written against them, bringing tribulation and the effects of divine wrath upon them. That is one side of the Apocalypse and one that gets the most attention. Yet, the other side of the glorious Apocalypse of Christ is that he will appear to eternally exalt and bless the believer in Jesus.

"Hear the word of the LORD, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name's sake, said, Let the LORD be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed." (Isaiah 66: 5 KJV)

Notice that the appearing of the Lord, his apocalypse to men, is "to the joy of those who tremble at his word," while it is "to the shame or disgrace of the hypocrites."

"Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light." (Amos 5: 18 KJV)

Again, the same coming of the Lord is a boon for one group of people and a doom for others. For some the return of Jesus will be a time of great joy, light, and abounding life, but with others it will be a time of woe, darkness, and loss of all joy. Every person is called upon to respond to the divine interrogative that says to each sinner - "to what end (purpose or destiny) is my coming for YOU?" Will it be a curse or a blessing for you? Will you be confident when he appears, or will you tremble in fear of your impending judgment?

"Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed." (I Corinthians 1: 7 NIV)

"Eagerly waiting" for the Apocalypse! Anxious for the coming of Jesus! Every believer says, in his heart, - "even so come quickly Lord Jesus." (Revelation 22: 20)

Why does the Christian fondly anticipate the day of Christ's "unveiling" and "reappearing"? Why is it so important for him? First, salvation, he realizes, is mostly future. What the believer in Jesus now has, in and by the Holy Spirit, is but a "foretaste," but it is such a taste of things to come that makes the soul pant for the full course meal, for the day of perfection and glorification, both of his Master and himself.

It is in the day of Christ's second Apocalypse that the bodies of all the redeemed will be raised and raptured to greet the Lord on his descent to earth!

"But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. "It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed." (Luke 17: 29, 30 NIV)

Again, the Apocalypse is that which will be "dreaded" by the Christ rejecting world while it will be joyously welcomed by those who have accepted Christ as the Savior of the world. This single day will spell doom and disaster for the wicked unbelieving world, while it will bring unending joy to the Christian.

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed." (Romans 8: 18, 19 NIV)

"But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed." (I Peter 4: 13 NIV)

To "participate in" the "sufferings of Christ" now, by identifying oneself with him, as his disciple, is to assure oneself of "participating in" the great homecoming party planned for the redeemed! Peter spoke of the "grace" that will be given to all the saints at the time. While the unbeliever is being "disgraced" by the Apocalypse, the believer will be gloriously "graced" forever by it.

"To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed." (I Peter 5: 1 NIV)

"sharer" or "participant in" the coming glory of rule of Christ! Of that superlative display of grace and power! It is the day of Christ's crowning, of his coronation, of his receiving "honor" and "glory."

"The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John." (Revelation 1: 1 KJV)

This is the divinely given title to the last book of the bible. It is the only book of the bible that is taken up with one subject - "The Apocalypse of Jesus Christ." It is a book dealing solely, in all its varied aspects, with the second coming, or reappearing, or coming Apocalypse of the Lord Jesus Christ.

"Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God. Don't you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness." (II Thessalonians 2: 1-12 NIV)

This passage speaks of the glorious Apocalypse of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is connected with what Paul calls the "day of the Lord," that day when he undergoes his own unique unveiling to the world. But, what is also unique about this passage, is the fact that Paul speaks of the Antichrist, or "man of sin," or "son of perdition," as also coming (parousia) again and having a day of his reappearing or "apocalypse." Christ will be revealedarrive here, or be present here once again, but so also will the "son of perdition." He will come again, and he will appear once more. Also, notice, that the coming of Antichrist, or his apocalypse, is prior to the coming of Christ, or his apocalypse.

Friend, are you ready for the coming of the Lord Jesus?

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