THE APOSTLES’ CREED
I believe in God the Father Almighty
Maker of heaven and earth;
And in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, our Lord;
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Crucified, dead and buried;
He descended into hell
The third day He rose from the dead;
He ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
“Men of Galilee, 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 1:11
From heaven to earth, to death, life and back to heaven; we have looked at Jesus, God’s Son. We have one last perspective from which to consider Him, that of the returning King. Have no doubt: Jesus will come again! The prophets of old foretold it, Jesus Himself proclaimed it and generations of God’s people have kept their eye on the eastern sky, watching for His glorious return.
In the days following Christ ascension to heaven, the Holy Spirit came and anointed Jesus’ followers, filling them with extraordinary power and boldness to proclaim the Gospel. And proclaim it they did! Acts 2:41 says “About three thousand were added to their number that day,” and verse 47 says “The Lord added to their number daily.” As the number of believers grew, both the Roman government and the Jews began to see these Christians as threats to their positions, and so began the great persecution. Christians were being oppressed, tormented, tortured and put to death. They began to run for their lives, and, providentially, spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ as they traveled. No matter where they went, persecution, oppression and hatred followed at their heels. Jesus sought out great men of the Christian faith to encourage His followers, men like Peter, James and the writer of much of our Christian Doctrine – Paul. Oddly, Paul, at one time vehemently hated the Christians, but an encounter with Christ changed his life and his mission, now he was the Lord’s “chosen instrument” (Acts 9:15).
In his first letter to the church he established in Thessalonica, Paul wrote extensively about the second coming of Jesus Christ. Listen to the passion in his words as he wrote: “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 together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thess. 4:16-17). This was great news to the weary and oppressed Christians – and it is good news for you and me. We may not have enemies literally chasing us from our homes and threatening our lives – though in many non-Christian nations, this is a real threat – but we do have an enemy who is harassing and threatening us, oppressing us and condemning us. Satan is as real an enemy to you and me as the Romans and Jews were to the early Christians. The day is very likely coming soon when government and societal oppression and persecution will be a real-life threat for Christians in this nation.
How will we persevere? The same way they did. By reminding ourselves of Christ’s promised return. Paul closed his commentary about the Lord’s coming by saying, “Therefore encourage each other with these words” (1 Thess. 1:18) Jesus has promised to come again, to raise the dead in Christ to life and to call the living to Himself. He will bring judgment against those who have oppressed and persecuted His people. He will bestow His glory on those who received Him as Lord and Savior. This is what Paul meant when he said, “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Cor. 4:17).
When Jesus came in His first Advent, He came as a helpless baby, lived as a humble servant, and died as the suffering Savior. But when He returns He will come with power and authority, and there will be no doubt that Jesus Christ is LORD.
Hear the words of the Old Testament prophet Zechariah – “The day of the Lord is coming… On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west. The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and His name the only name” (Zech. 14:1, 4, 9-emphasis mine).
Hear the glorious words of Philippians 2:9-11: “Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (emphasis mine). This is the hope of the early Christian, and this is our hope today.
Oh I pray that you know Him as your Lord and Savior. I pray that the promise of His return fills you with hope and joy and the strength to persevere in this life. I pray that when the King of kings and Lord of lords returns in all of His great glory, that you will join me in proclaiming,
“My King has come! Oh, praise the name of Jesus! My King is here!”
God of my heart, You have promised to return for me, and Your word is as sure as Your name. Be my hope and my vision as I wait for that glorious day! Amen