One of the fundamental truths taught in Scripture is the 2nd coming of Jesus. Although no one knows when He will return (not even the Son – Mark 13:32), we know that when He does, it will be an amazing spectacle that every eye will see (Revelation 1:7). Paul wrote, “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 together 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 Thess. 4:16-18, NIV84).
As encouraging as the thought of Jesus’ return is for the faithful, as wonderful it is that we can look forward to the day when all of the cares, concerns, pains and sorrows of this life will end, as excited as we are to depart and be with Christ, the truth is that, for some, it will also be a terrible day. “God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10). While the saints will rejoice, millions of people will cower in absolute terror at the sight of Jesus coming in the clouds with fire, accompanied by His army of angels. These will quickly realize that God’s awful and eternal wrath will soon be poured upon them.
The idea of “everlasting punishment” is not a comforting one. The Bible says that such a fate will include “weeping and gnashing of teeth”, eternal fire and torment. Revelation 21:8 called it “the fiery lake of burning sulfur”. Jesus called it a “fiery furnace” in Matthew 13:50. No sane or rational person would willingly choose to go to hell for all eternity yet, in fact, that’s exactly what many do when they ignore God and His commands. These choose enjoying the pleasures of the world and being lord of their own lives rather than submitting themselves to Lordship of King Jesus the Christ. In doing so, they show their true ignorance of the both the warning of God and the reality of hell.
James asked one of the most meaningful questions ever in James 4:14: “What is your life?” Then he gives the answer, “You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” In other words, James was saying that in the timeline of history, we are hardly even a blip. Yet, even more important is this thought: As nothing more than a mist or vapor, we can vanish at any moment. In other words, life is short. It is very short. And the time we have to make sure our relationship with God is right is short as well. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 6:1,2, “As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” The day of salvation has come. The time is now. As a Christian, have you heeded the warnings and have prepared yourself for this day, making sure that you didn’t receive God’s grace in vain?
Of course, the day of salvation is also near for those who haven’t obeyed the gospel. That being true, we can easily see the urgency in sharing with non-Christians the saving message of Jesus. This, then, makes me wonder: Since we are all ‘commissioned’ to win souls, if we don’t put in the effort to do so, does that constitute receiving God’s grace in vain? I have to believe that it does, and if that’s the case, then we must shake off our complacency and have a renewed passion to share the gospel message of salvation with those in our circle of influence.
The day of salvation is at hand. Are you ready? What is your life?