A popular topic among Christians and a controversial one, is the “End Times,” for instance, whether Christ will return secretly and rapture the church before the Great Tribulation. But Christians agree that a final and public “coming” of Christ will occur and this is when God will judge mankind. For Christians this is great news. But for those who have not received God’s forgiveness in Christ, this is not good news at all.
The Greek word for “coming” is parousia. It is used in the New Testament in many places to refer to the second coming (or return) of Jesus Christ. His “first coming” occurred when he became a human being, lived a perfect life and died on a cross for our sins. He then rose from the dead and ascended to heaven. Before he left, Jesus promised that we would “come again” to gather his people and to judge the world.
The parousia of Jesus Christ is good news to Christians because Jesus promised that when he returned, he would take his people to be with him and God the Father. In John 14:3, Jesus said: “I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (NIV). We know from Revelation chapters 21-22 Jesus will take Christians to the New Jerusalem, where they will live forever in the presence of God and where all sin, sickness and sorrow will be gone. Christian’s have hope that even when going through the darkest times, their future reward will make their current problems seem insignificant. Paul wrote in Romans 8:18: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
But the parousia of Christ is bad news for many. The reason is that we have all sinned. If I bear the punishment for my own sins, I am in big trouble because the penalty for sin is separation from God. Since God is eternal, that separation is eternal. Thus, if my sin problem is not taken care of, the parousia of Christ is the bad news, because I will be cast away from God’s presence forever.
But God has provided the solution for my sin problem. Jesus paid the penalty that our sins deserve. Those who turn away from sin and put their faith in Jesus Christ as their sin bearer receive forgiveness of sins and can live in God’s presence. When Jesus returns he will welcome them into his eternal kingdom.
Until Jesus comes, people still have an opportunity to turn to Christ and have their sins forgiven. But when Jesus comes, that door will be closed and we will face the judgment. May we all face God with confidence that our sins have been taken care of in Christ. At the end of the book of Revelation, John’s final words are a prayer: “Amen. Come Lord Jesus.”
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