Is This For Real?
We'll claim the promise of His Spirit (Luke 1 1:13) as we discover more of Jesus' promises.
We know God will give us truth and wisdom by His Spirit, and that we also may receive the gift of joy as a fruit of the Spirit of God. We may have this by maintaining an awareness that Jesus wants us, chooses us, to be heirs of His will.
We read before of His will that we be united as "One" (recorded in John 17). Let's examine more thoughts expressed by Jesus in that prayer.
"Father, I want those you have given me to be where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world." John 17:24
Gifts Already Received
We've already studied how God sends the Holy Spirit to develop His image in us by writing His holy, righteous and good law in our hearts. He gave us the weekly Sabbath rest so we could remember to release all our burdens into His creative hands. We could trust Him to create within us a new nature, a whole new attitude, by His Spirit. In the same way, we could trust Jesus to rid us of the weight of our past sinful record and our old nature. He repeatedly declared us free from guilt and eternal death, making us once again "one" with God by the blood He shed through His death: that is the miracle of His forgiving grace. All these gifts are available as we continually choose to accept Him as our Savior and Lord. This "oneness" in spiritual fulfillment of His will is expressed in John 17:23.
"I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." John 17:23
They Saw Glory
We can see His will fulfilled spiritually, but how can we see the literal fulfillment mentioned in John 17:24 and actually see His glory? Matthew 17:1-9 tells the story of how Peter, James and John saw His glory when Moses and Elijah came and talked with Jesus.
Since Jesus said He was praying for us as much as He was for the people around Him, this text has meaning today as well:
"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message..." John 17:20
How Are We Going To See His Glory?
Let's start with this promise made by Jesus:
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." John 14:1-3
Sounds very literal, doesn't it? A lovely place is being prepared for us right on His Father's estate. Will this be something we imagine, or something as solid and real as it sounds?
The Same Way-For Real
Another promise, making it clear He meant all this literally, was given by two angels when Jesus left this earth from Palestine in A.D. 31, just after He had promised His followers the powerful gift of the Holy Spirit.
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky?
This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven." Acts 1:9-11
Going Or Coming
Christ "lifted off" this earth, apparently without the space vehicle we humans are obliged to use. He was joined by a cloud (of angels?) as He disappeared from view. Two angels stayed near His human friends, to assure them they would see Him return as clearly and literally as they had seen Him leave!
Another promise tells us the return will not only be visible, but will be accompanied by the glory that He expressed was His will for us to see.
"For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
"At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other." Matthew 24:27, 30, 31
Still More Glory
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory." Matthew 25:31
What About Those Who Died?
All the disciples who saw Jesus ascend to heaven in A.D. 31 have died. Can that promise the two angels gave be truthful, or has God changed His mind? How can dead men see Jesus come?
Knowing how much Paul wanted to see Jesus' return, for instance, his friends would have been sad to have had to bury him after his death. The whole situation might have seemed hopeless and disappointing, if there had been no other powerful promises to explain the future.
Was It Hopeless?
Paul and the other disciples evidently understood that there still was hope. God spoke a promise to us through Paul, so that we might know and be encouraged also:
Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For 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, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
This explains how Jesus' last will and testament of John 17:24 is to be fulfilled literally: He promises to return in a blaze of glory, and we will be united with Him for eternity in His very real kingdom of glory (even as we are with Him now, in His kingdom of grace).
What A Joy There Is For All Who--
*Believe Jesus Christ is God in human form.
*Believe and accept His death for them, individually. *Believe and accept the writing of His ten commandment law of creative love on their heart.
*Believe His blood covers and cleanses their sin-filled record and lives.
*Believe He lives now in heaven, constantly providing them with mercy and grace. *Believe they are, even now, spiritually one with the Father through Jesus' sacrifice; and anxiously await His literal return in glory for them. *Believe He has a lovely place waiting for them on His Father's estate.
*Believe He loves them enough to make power available to enable them to love and tell others about Him.
If you believe these Bible statements, then looking forward to going to a new home with Jesus when He comes will be a source of real joy for you.
A Dual Role
In Old Testament times, the people didn't realize they were hearing prophecies of a dual role for the Messiah, even though prophecies such as Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 spoke of the promised Messiah's suffering. The people seemed to tune out the predicted problems and tune in only to the promises of a reigning king of power and glory. They didn't seem to know the Messiah would suffer for them or that they needed to prepare to meet Him. Finally, the people were given one last call to prepare for the Lord's first coming. As the angel told of the work John the Baptist was to do, he said:
"He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.... And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." Luke 1:15, 17
Then Jesus Came
Then Jesus began His public ministry. He lived, He died, He rose from the dead. He wanted His followers to understand that everything prophesied about Him was true. The kingdom of glory was coming, in the right sequence in time. But, the disciples were not celebrating the success of His victory over sin and death; they were confused and discouraged. So Jesus gave them a Bible study!
He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. Luke 24:25-27
Jesus will come to this earth again. This time, it is not John the Baptist, but each of us who has been invited by God to help people prepare for Him.
He's not coming this time as a baby destined to suffer later. This time He'll come openly as a king on a throne, in a blaze of glory, and even wake the dead!
Read the Bible's description of the "last days" before Jesus' second coming to see how they fit the time we're living in now. We read of such days as:
*When people could actually be capable of destroying the earth:
"The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great and for destroying those who destroy the earth." Revelation 11:18
*When life all around is corrupt:
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God--having a form of Godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. 2 Timothy 3:1-5
*When there is social injustice:
Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.
Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near. Don't grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! James 5:3-9
*When terror of the future is common:
"There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."
He told them this parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.
"I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
"Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap." Luke 21:25-34
*When the gospel is preached to every nation:
"And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." Matthew 24:14
An opportunity of a lifetime is before us, as we allow God's Spirit to speak through us to prepare the world for His soon return.
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