The In Between

Polar Express

As we are celebrating Christmas, the First Advent of Jesus, I am coming to better understand something — the connection of the First Advent to the Second Advent of Jesus. This connection is meant to impact everyone who lives in between.

 

The First Advent

God spoke through the prophets of the Old Testament to tell us there would be a First Advent, a baby was to be born, a son was to be given, Isaiah 9:6 (note the son was given because He existed eternally before the baby was born). The First Advent was about plainly making the Father known to us (John 1:18) in order to plainly invite all who will to be rescued, John 3:17, 12:47.

As Jesus spoke during His First Advent, He said His Father did not send Him into the world to judge the world, John 3:17. During His First Advent, while speaking to the religious leaders, Jesus said He was not judging anyone, John 8:15. During His First Advent, Jesus said He did not come to judge those in the crowd who do not keep His sayings, that He did not come to judge the world, John 12:47.

 

The Second Advent

Jesus said of Himself that there would be a Second Advent. He will come again, John 14:3, 18; 21:22. Jesus said there will be a last day when He returns to the earth, a day that includes judgment, John 12:48. Jesus continued in John 12:48 by saying those who reject Him and do not receive His sayings would be judged on this last day.

Jesus said He is the One given authority to execute this judgment, John 5:27. The Apostle Paul, following the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, spoke to Timothy of Jesus who is to judge both the living and the dead at His coming and appearance, 2 Timothy 4:2. Jesus is even now (according the Apostle Peter) ready to do so, 1 Peter 4:5. Jesus will come as Judge and King, and those who have rejected Him and His sayings will be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10-15), separated forever from Jesus’ offer of rescue, Matthew, 25:41, Revelation 20:10-15.

 

Two Advents equal knowledge now of the In Between

To combine the teachings of the two Advents of salvation and judgment is to know how to live in between. Salvation is what is to be going on in the in between, before the judgment arrives.

 

Saved from What

The word translated saved or save can mean one of three things, depending on context:

1. Saved from the power of sin having control over me now, 1 Corinthians 1:18, Titus 2:12

2. Saved from the penalty of sin when I physically die, Romans 5:9, Titus 2:11

3. Saved from the presence of sin throughout eternity, Romans 5:10, 2 Timothy 4:18, Titus 2:13

It is the second usage of the word that Jesus is referring to in John 3 and 12.

Knowing that Jesus would come again, and come as Judge according to His spoken words (John 12:48), motivated Paul to tell as many people as possible to receive Christ Jesus as Messiah before His return. It is not only the imminence of the return, but also the loss of opportunity to trust in Christ, that motivated Paul to tell the Good News of Jesus, Romans 13. It is this same imminence, coupled with the loss of opportunity that is to motivate us to live righteously in between.

Understanding the connection between the two Advents is of great value to correctly responding to everyone who lives in between. For example, have you ever openly expressed your concern about a specific unrighteous behavior, and how it leads people down the wrong pathways in life, only to be opposed with questions like these, “Now, is that what Jesus would do? Shouldn’t we love people by getting along?” Recently, these questions were proposed to me as if I should apologize for being intolerant of suffering due to sinning.

When I heard the questions, I stopped talking and thought about what had been said to me, (while also choosing to not address the contradictory legalism of the WWJD theology). While thinking it occurred to me these questions are based upon an understanding of only the First Advent, and a partial understanding of that as best — Jesus did not come to judge. However, in order to interpret each Advent we need to understand them both; first to understand what it is to be rescued and second what it is to be judged. Both are everlasting realities.

 

Two Advents Will Equal the Closed Door of Rescue

The First Advent plainly displayed the way to God for all to see. Messiah Jesus will return a second time, and with Him will come judgment. At the Second Advent God will not extend to man another opportunity to make peace with Him. The Second Advent will plainly usher in the closing of this opportunity to be at peace with God now and forever.

 

The In Between is an Earthbound Offer

We, who live now in the in between, have a unique opportunity in history. It is during this season, also known as the Church Age (Jesus spoke of this interval, Matthew 16:13-20. The Church Age is the interval, Matthew 21:42-43), that God desires all to come to repentance, to a rescuing knowledge of Him, 2 Peter 3:8-9. God has given us the message of both Advents to complete what we need to know about His offer of rescue. His imminent return and judgment are each relevant to how to live in between.

As we consider an essential purpose of the Second Advent (judgment), we, too, will perhaps understand the essential nature of speaking out for Jesus. It is not unreasonable, and even right to believe a loving God would have those who trust Him to oppose sinning and sin while living in between the two Advents.

The in between is time given to graft in as many believers as will receive God’s present, earthbound, offer to be rescued, Romans 11:11-27. There will be no other offer of reconciliation from the loving God. Be reconciled to God in Jesus. Receive His offer of salvation, John 3:17. Make the choice to do so, John 12:47.

“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29. Joy to the World! 


1 Comment

  1. Great words at an important time. Thanks for sharing your heartfelt thoughts!

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