Five Ways the Return of Christ Motivates Our Obedience

“I confess my disappointment that so much teaching about the last days is focused on the order of events.” So writes John Frame in Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief. Frame continues,

In my view, when Scripture tells us about the return of Christ, it doesn’t give us this information so that we can put it on a chart and watch the events as they pass by. That would be catering to our intellectual pride, among other things. Why, then, does Scripture have so much to say about the last days? So that we can reorder our lives in the light of Jesus’ coming….So far as I can see, every Bible passage about the return of Christ is written for a practical purpose—not to help us to develop a theory of history, but to motivate our obedience.

Frame expounds on five ways the doctrine of the Second Coming motivates our personal, daily obedience to the Lord.

  1. The return of Christ should re-order our priorities (see 2 Pet. 3:11-12; 1 Cor. 7:26). “Since God is going to destroy the present earth and replace it with a new heavens and a new earth, what sort of people should we be? The implicit answer: not people who care a lot about material things, or the pleasures of this life, but people who are passionate about the kingdom of God, which will remain for all eternity. That’s not to say that there is something evil about material things, only that we should be using them for God’s purposes, not just our own.”
  2. If we are eager for Jesus to return, then we should purify our lives (See 2 Pet. 3:11-12). “Every Christian not only should believe in the return of Christ, but should be eager for it to come. At the end of the book of Revelation, the church prays, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20). But if we are really so eager for Jesus to return, so eager for the new heavens and new earth, we should be seeking to be as pure as we will one day be in God’s presence” (see 1 John 3:2-3).
  3. The return of Christ encourages us to remember that our labors for Him are not in vain. “Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:58, ‘Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. That’s a great comfort in the midst of difficulty. The things of this world are going to be burned up, but our labor for the Lord will bear fruit for eternity.”
  4. Our ignorance of the time of Jesus’s return implies that “we must be ready at any time for his return (Matt. 24:44, 1Thess. 5:1-10; 1 Peter 1:7; 2 Peter 3:14). When he comes, we want him to find us busy in our callings, in the work of the Great Commission.”
  5. When Jesus returns, we will receive our reward, which should motivate us to good works here and now. Many Scriptures emphasize this: Matt. 5;12, 46; 6;1-4; 10:41-42; Rom. 14:10; 1 Cor. 3:8-15; 9:17-18, 25; 2 Cor. 5:10; Eph. 6:7-8; Col. 3:23-25; 2 Tim. 4:8; James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4; 2 John 8; Rev. 11:18, Again, God doesn’t expect us to do our duty merely for duty’s sake, but to do our duty with full understanding that our Father will reward his children, not only in this life (Mark 10:29-30), but in eternity as well.”

From the biblical emphasis, Frame comes to this conclusion: “The main reason that God speaks so much in Scripture about the return of Jesus is that this doctrine purifies the hearts of his people. May he use it to purify you and me, as we continue on our journey to glory.”

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