The Second Coming and Missions
In Acts chapter one, Jesus ascended, and the angels said that Jesus would return. Jesus himself told us, “I go to prepare a place for you, and I will come again” (John 14:2).
This promise is a fact of history. The Second Coming is not a pipedream nor a story to tell little children, but a reality: Jesus will come again. He is coming back. The last words of our Lord Jesus in the Bible are: “Yes, I am coming soon” (Rev. 22:20).
The return of the Lord is imminent, but it is a qualified imminence. Jesus will return, I believe, within this generation. But there are certain conditions that must be fulfilled. We are privileged to “hasten” Jesus' coming by getting on with the task He has given us. In this way, by simply responding to the task, the conditions and the prophesies of His return will be fulfilled.
I want to stir you to action to fulfill these words God gives us and so hasten the return of the Lord. Here are five ways God wants us to prepare for the Second Coming.
1. Cooperate In Hastening His Return
In Matthew 24 Jesus gave many signs of His coming, and we can see an acceleration in the pace of these signs today. We are also seeing the Enemy's recognition that his time is short, as false teaching is spreading. For example, in 1987 the Mormons were able to reach more people than in the entire 158-year history of their religion. They saw 274,000 converts that year.
Are any of the signs of His coming specific? When Jesus was asked, “What is the sign of your return?,” He pointed to a specific sign and said: “This gospel of the kingdom must be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all peoples, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
Now the Church is starting to see that this task can be done. It's possible to penetrate the unreached people groups of the world to establish an evangelizing church, a witness in their midst, to get on with the task of proclaiming the gospel. God is giving remarkable strategies to reach these groups.
Look at it this way: We have the privilege to participate in something that signals the end of the devil, and that is why he hates this kind of message. That is why the devil attacks those who are working to fulfill the Great Commission. It signals the end of Satan's rule in the earth.
Peter writes of the Second Coming, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. What kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming” (2 Peter 3:9). Other translations say “hasten His coming.”
In other words, there is something we can do to bring that day nearer: We have an assignment, so let's give ourselves to things that really matter. We can be motivated by the thought that we are men and women on a mission. On the back of my station wagon I have a bumper sticker that says “On a Mission.” I'm on a mission to cooperate with God's purposes today to see the church restored and the nations—the ethne—reached. I believe that with each successive day, as we give ourselves to the task of seeing the church become what God intends it to be—a task force to reach the nations in obedience to the Master Plan, we are speeding the return of the Lord.
We must be involved with a local church body to be equipped and trained by leaders, to send and go, to respond in a Biblical way. We need to serve in the mission work already being done by our local church.
We need to be faithful in giving tithes and offerings instead of occasionally throwing in a buck, “tipping” the Lord. We need to give in a heroic, sacrificial way to see churches planted abroad. We need to intercede, to get up early and pray. By doing this we are cooperating and hastening the return of the Lord. We should live as if the Lord is coming back in a hundred years, but work as if He is coming back tomorrow. We should be prudent and responsible and seek God's plans for our lives, yet work with zeal and inspiration.
2. Crave The Lord’s Coming
We need to fight an attitude of casual indifference or nonchalance toward the Lord's coming. The New Testament repeatedly speaks of “longing for,” “looking forward to,” “loving” the return of the Lord:
“... As you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming” (2 Peter 3:12);
“But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth” (3:13);
“So, then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him” (3:14);
“... Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sin of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:28). Are you in that category?
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me, and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
Notice: “... to all who have longed for his appearing.” A special company of Christians are marked out by the fact that they have longed for the return of the Lord. Over 500 saw the Lord after his resurrection, but only 120 were with Him in that upper room.
You can nurture a craving. How can we nurture that craving for the Lord? Society nurtures cravings through advertising, by reminding us how our felt needs might be met. We see a billboard on the highway for a Big Mac, and we get a craving for a Big Mac.
When “the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God” (1 Thessalonians 4:16), all eyes will be on the One we have worshiped and longed for: the Lord Jesus Himself. Just think what that will be like. What you and I and previous generations have thought and dreamed about will finally be happening.
When I am away from my family for a few days and then return, my children run to me, yell “Daddy's back!,” and hug and jump on me. In the same way, if we grow to love the Lord Jesus more, we will want to see Him more eagerly. Consistently remind yourself that the Lord whom we have never seen will be right before our very eyes. That's how the craving begins.
Another thing that helps increase the craving is to realize that when we see Him, we will receive a brand-new body, not a body of humiliation and aches and pains like we have now, but a glorious resurrected body. Paul writes, “Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body”(Philippians 3:20-21).
All the people you love, as well as the heroes of the faith, will be there. Sickness, poverty, war, injustice, disease, suffering—all of that will be wiped out. The Lord will be living among his people, and Satan, his demons, and evil spirits will not be able to harass us anymore. No more accusation, no more condemnation, no more temptation. There will be peace and harmony and the presence of God. Put yourself in remembrance of these things. Long for His coming !
3. Cultivate Personal Holiness
God's grace “teaches us to say ‘no’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:12-14).
We must be aware that one day we will face the Lord, and we will be accountable for what we have done. This is a far-off reality, and that's where people can compromise. But if we know the Lord is coming back, we won't want to compromise. In churches where the return of the Lord is not considered imminent, people can get lazy and sloppy. But if we realize we will face Him, we are committed to be a holy people; we won't want to grieve the Holy Spirit.
There are consequences for sin. Look at what has happened to America's political and church leaders in their sexual immorality. We have to guard ourselves against immorality and all sin. We have to keep short accounts with God and confess our sins to Him regularly so that we can walk in holiness.
We are called to walk in loyalty as a church of solid relationships. If we have something against our Christian brother in the church, we don't share our grievance with others. We don't disguise it as a prayer request. We go to the brother and are reconciled. We don't tolerate disloyalty, slander, or gossip. We shouldn't live like this world or be conformed to it, but we should be transformed into a new way of life.
4. Continue In Prayer
We want to continue in more aggressive and intensified prayer. “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down by dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day [the close of the age and the coming of the Lord] will close on you unexpectedly like a trap” (Luke 21:34).
We as Christians have to be especially on guard about being weighed down by the anxieties of life. The last days aren't going to be “bad”; they are going to be mad. Times have gotten tough. You need to monitor what comes into your mind through the media; you have to be on guard about what your children see and hear. But we're not to respond by feeling weighed down in anxieties; instead, we are to learn to pray.
In Seoul, Korea, I visited Paul Yonggi Cho's church. At one point Pastor Cho said, “We are going to pray for the Americans. Let us turn and pray a blessing and intercede on their behalf for the favor of God in their lives.” All of a sudden the entire group of 20,000 believers in the auditorium turned and began praying. It felt like a wave coming over us. Aggressive, consistent prayer is essential. If we don't have that, things will backfire on us down the road. We need to devote ourselves to daily prayer and the study of the Scriptures.
5. Complete Your Assigned Task
“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You don't know when that time will come. It's like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch” (Mark 13:32-34).
“Each with his assigned task” means that we don't have to decide what we are going to do with our lives. We simply need to find out what God has purposed for us to do. Each of us has a destiny: “We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). God wants us to walk in the good works he has prepared for us. The scope of these good works is always within the context of our purpose, our task—as we witness for him in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth” (Acts 1: 8), as we are making “disciples of every people group” (Matthew 28:19). This is reality.
The day of Christ's appearing will never be repeated. You don't want to be dreaming about what you could have been or could have done. Instead, choose your destiny. Do what God intended for your life. Don't limit Him, and don't let the devil limit you. Your desire should be to glorify God and affect the nations as a result of your commitment to Him.
You can receive an audio cassette of Larry Tomczak's much-longer message on “The Second Coming and Missions” for $3.00 plus 50¢ postage and handling. To order, please send $3.50 per tape to: People of Destiny International, 7881-B Beechcraft, Gaithersburg, MD 20879.