We live in the time between the first and second comings of Jesus. It’s a time when we are joined to Jesus by His Spirit but awaiting his final coming. At His coming we will dwell in His personal presence. When Christ appears for the second time, those in Christ who are dead will be raised and along with those who are living in Christ will be transformed to share in the reality of the new heavens and earth where God personally dwells.
To live effectively and productively in this present age, Christians should be focused on eternity while making the most of the life they have in this present world.
Jesus told a number of apocalyptic parables in Matthew 25 that describe what should be our attitude and subsequent behavior regarding the Second Coming of Christ. Each of these parables highlights a particular behavior/attitude we should possess in anticipation of the Apocalypse:
- The Parable of the Ten Virgins is about Vigilance. Ten virgins take their lamps and go to meet the bridegroom. Five are foolish and take their lamps but do not take extra oil with them while five are wise and take oil in jars along with their lamps. When the bridegroom arrives at midnight, the foolish ones have left to go buy oil for their lamps while the wise virgins are ready and are admitted to the wedding banquet. The foolish virgins come later but the bridegroom does not admit them to the wedding banquet. “Therefore, be alert, because you don’t know the day or the hour” (vs. 13).
- The Parable of the Talents is about Stewardship. A man leaving on a journey entrusts his property to his slaves, giving five talents of money to one, two to another and one to another, each according to his ability. The slave with five gains five more and the slave with two gains two more, but the slave receiving one hides the money in a hole in the ground. When the master returns and settles accounts with them, the slaves receiving the five and two report they gained the same amount back and the master rewards them accordingly. The slave burying his money returns it and the master rebukes him for not making any interest on his money and gives his one to the slave with ten. “For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have more than enough. But from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him” (vs. 29).
- The Parable of the Sheep and Goats is about Accountability. When Christ the King comes in glory He will judge all nations by separating people one from another as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. He rewards those on his right with co-ownership of His Kingdom because they helped Him when they helped a person in need. He sends those on His left into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels because they did not help Him when they did not help a person in need. “Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me either. And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (vs. 45-46).
The Second Coming of Christ opens the finale in the cosmic drama of God’s redemptive plan for His universe. The climax of this drama is that the current created order is replaced with a newly created order–a new heaven and earth not unlike the world we are told God created in the beginning in Garden of Eden because it is a world in which God dwells with His human creation (Revelation 21:1-4). Heaven and earth will come together so that the dwelling place of God is no longer in heaven but on earth among His redeemed people.
Anticipation of Christ’s appearing helps Christians remain alert and attentive to how they use their time and resources in this life.
The bottom line is that we must live life like it matters for eternity, because it does!
But our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20, HCSB).