I will come again

by Phillip Wareham

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Let us, at the outset of this book, introduce the bridegroom and the bride, especially for the benefit of young believers.

The bridegroom is our Lord Jesus Christ. John the Baptist, when speaking of Jesus, said, “he that hath the bride is the bridegroom”, (John 3:29) and spoke of himself as the “friend of the bridegroom….rejoicing greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice”. (John 3:29) When speaking of leaving his disciples, Jesus said, “the days will come when the bridegroom shall be taken from them”.(Mathew 9:15) The church is called to be the bride of Christ. Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus concerning a man and woman being joined in marriage saying, “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:32) The church is to be joined, or married to Christ, to take his name, and, in this union, to be fruitful.

The Lord Jesus Christ has come to search for and woo his bride, has suffered cruelly on the cross to redeem and rescue his bride, and has given gifts to perfect and beautify his bride. When we have a bride and bridegroom, well, we all expect a wedding to take place. And this is exactly so. The day and hour has been set by the bridegroom’s Father, and this is still the day of his espousals. They are not yet husband and wife. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, “I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ”. (2 Corinthians 11:2) So the wedding day has been set, though we know not the date, and those who are already part of the bride are calling others to be included: “The Spirit and the bride say Come. And let him that heareth say, Come”. (Revelation 22:17)

The Lord Jesus Christ, our heavenly bridegroom, is coming again to this earth for his bride. He said so: “I will come again”.(John 14:3) The angels said so: “this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven”, (Acts 1:11) and there are literally hundreds of scriptures, both old and new testaments, referring to the second coming of Christ. This then, has been the hope and longing of every true saint for two thousand years since his death and resurrection. It is what we declare every time we break bread in remembrance of him. We do it only “till he come”. (1 Corinthians 11:26) It was the great longing of our Lord in that upper room when he said, “I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom”. (Matthew 26:29) It has also been the great longing of God the Father for a much longer time. When we read through the Old Testament, we often come across the phrase “in the day of the Lord” or “In that day,” which is God’s constant focus. No matter what the present situation he is dealing with concerning Israel, he always looks beyond to “that day”. In Zechariah we read: “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives”, (Zechariah 14:4) and again: “And the Lord shall be King over all the earth: in that day there shall be one Lord, and His name one”. (Zechariah 14:9) And “that day” is not far off.

The return of Jesus Christ to this earth, to put down all rebellion and lawlessness, to reign in peace and righteousness, and to abolish death, is no mere tack onto the gospel. It is an essential element of the good news of his death, burial and resurrection. Whether we fall asleep in Christ or are alive at his coming, it is the great hope and longing to be with him when He returns. In fact our redemption remains incomplete until these mortal bodies of clay are redeemed at that time, as Paul writes: “even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body”. (Romans 8:22-23)

The hope of the Lord’s coming again held a prominent place in Paul’s teaching and preaching. We see him writing to the young church at Thessalonica reminding them, “How ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead.” (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10) All included in the same message – turning to God, serving God, waiting for his Son. But I find quite often when the message is on the subject of Christ’s return, either an air of intellectual curiosity pervades or, on the other hand, a kind of carnival atmosphere. We certainly need to read carefully the many scriptures given to us, but we should not think that it is by our much learning and studying many books that we can reason it out. It is only by the Holy Spirit revealing to us the things of Christ that we can truly understand. As Jesus said to Peter: “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood has not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 16:17) And we cannot force the Lord to reveal things to us. Sometimes it requires patience, and we need to be like Mary who “kept all these things” and “pondered them in her heart”. (Luke 2:19) She did not have full understanding at the time, of the tidings that the shepherds brought, but as she kept and pondered them in her heart, bit by bit understanding came. As we meditate in his word, bit by bit the Lord gives us understanding and we rejoice when he does, as Jesus did when he said “I thank thee O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them unto babes”. (Matthew 11:25)

And whilst there certainly is excitement at the prospect of his near return, it surely must be tempered by a soberness at the rapid descent into spiritual darkness and depravity of this world prior to our Lord’s return, and the awesome scale of God’s righteous judgments poured out upon such a world. The prophet Malachi declared that, “the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth?” (Malachi 3: 1-2)Similarly John in the Revelation spoke “For the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? (Revelation 6:17) The Lord’s coming as a babe in Bethlehem, his virgin birth, his life, ministry, death and resurrection were all foretold in numerous passages of scripture and fulfilled in our Lord Jesus Christ. We can relate to those two disciples on the road to Emmaus, who were also reasoning together, whose sorrow and dejection was turned into joy, as Jesus himself, “beginning at Moses and all the prophets, expounded unto them in all the scriptures, the things concerning himself”. (Luke 24:27) They were sad because of unbelief, but when the Lord opened the scriptures to them, their hearts were tender, and he could reveal himself unto them, and their hearts burned within them. Contrast this to the group of Pharisees in Matthew 2:4-6 who knew the scriptures, who were able to advise Herod that the Christ would be born in Bethlehem, from Micah 5:2, but who could not recognize the Christ when he came, and argued with Nicodemus and told him to, “search and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.” (John 7: 41-52) They had the scriptures right but they were so wrong!

It seems to be only a few who were ready for the Christ when he first came. Ones like Simeon and Anna serving the Lord in the temple, the shepherds watching over their flocks, the ones who were willing to repent at the preaching of John the Baptist. Not many. Then what about the Lord’s people today? How many will be ready for the Lord’s coming again? This book, then, has been written with a twofold purpose. Firstly that all of God’s children will see their high, holy, and heavenly calling, that they will press towards the prize, that they will apprehend all that God has apprehended them for, that they might sing with Hannah, “He raiseth up the poor out of the dust and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory”. (1 Samuel 2:8) Secondly, as a warning trumpet to the proud and careless amongst his people.