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Celebrating Christ’s Two Advents

The earliest Christian observances of the Advent-Christmas season had more of a dual meaning than we tend to think of today. Advent was designed to remind Christians that Jesus came and is coming again. His first coming is the down payment or proof of his final coming. God kept his first promise, so we can be sure that he will keep his ultimate pledge. As Ryan Reeves points out, “The Latin word adventus was the translation of the Greek parousia—a word used for both the coming of Christ in human flesh and his Second Coming. Advent, then, always tended to focus on both.” Today it seems most of the focus is on remembering Jesus’ first coming, which of course is fine, but it really is an incomplete view.

The incarnation of Jesus two thousand years ago was the fulfillment of the beginning of God’s final consummation. The coming of the second Adam long forecasted from Genesis 3:15 by way of the “Seed” and traced through centuries in the Old Testament, came when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Jesus’ arrival inaugurated his kingdom, and we look forward to its finalized, glorious establishment in the age to come. Living this side of Christ’s first coming places us in a time of Christ’s kingdom expansion. Despite all the turmoil in the world and the apparent outward difficulties Christians suffer, Christ’s kingdom advancement is undaunted. Christ’s kingdom isn’t limited by the number of church buildings there are or by what the latest Pew research poll reports. Christ, by His Spirit, and through the witness of his true Church, is spreading the world over. We should not think that oppression or persecution will extinguish the Church. Often, such persecution is the seed of the Church in a given area. It should not surprise us that missiologists estimate there are at least one hundred million Christians in China, a place in the world where the most state persecution against Christianity occurs. Presidents, governors, and prime ministers cannot stop King Jesus from gathering and growing His Church.

Our personal experience or current situation as Christians in a country that is growing more rebellious toward God and more hostile to Biblical Christianity is not an accurate gauge concerning the success of Christ’s Church. The issue is not whether we see cultures getting Christianized as such, but rather, is the Gospel being preached in more and more places and are people believing on Christ? The “Christian” numbers in America have always been inflated. Tough times will work to purify the Church and a purer Church will bear a more effective evangelistic witness. Pressure on the Church tends to cause Christians to hone in on the simple, main thing – Christ and his Word. This may in fact be where true Christianity in America may find itself shortly. In such a case, preaching the stark, clear, bold, Gospel of the forgiveness of sins through Christ is worth whatever antagonism it stirs.

A homeland hostile to our faith is a tragic thing for sure. No one wants opposition or oppression for being faithful to Christ. Nevertheless, if remaining faithful against hostility becomes our lot, we can be sure it is all part of God’s kingdom expansion plan and look forward to Jesus’ final coming. This is the spirit of John in Revelation when he says, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” The first coming of Christ happened amidst all sorts of improbability and hostility. Despite real attempts to stop the birth of Christ or even to kill him after he was born, God’s plan could not be stopped.

Christ will continue, slowly but surely, calling his elect to himself. At some point, when the fullness of time comes and all of God’s elect have been saved, the Lord Jesus will come again. Do not doubt for a second that we are on the winning side. The first advent of Christ began a kingdom work that is building to the eventual point of His final coming.

As sure as Jesus Christ has already come, He will come again, but His final visitation will be in full, unstoppable glory.

Let us celebrate this advent season with a dual consideration. Yes, we will contemplate all that God orchestrated to bring Jesus to earth the first time, two millennia ago. But we should also have our spiritual eyes on what His first coming confirmed – that His promises are true, and He is surely coming again. Once again, Ryan Reeves is helpful on this dual focus for Advent –
“One notable lack in modern Advent celebration, though, is the twin focus of both the Incarnation and the Second Coming. Both of these themes make Advent instructive, not only historically but also in terms of Biblical theology. We are not a people who merely look to the one moment God broke into history. We await His coming again in glory when the King’s reign shall be on earth as it is in heaven”.

In the Lamb,
Pastor Tony

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