His Return, Our Hope (Acts 1:10-11) | Jared Betts

His Return, Our Hope (Acts 1:10-11) – YouTube

The Surety of His Coming

            We come back to our portion of Scripture which first articulates our Living Saviors physical ascension from the earth to the throne of God. God displaying through this act the superiority of His Son by exalting Him above everything, and by giving Him all power and authority in heaven and on earth.[1] The ascension reveals that all things are in subjection to Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the only Sovereign, from whom, and for whom all things were created.[2] His physically being lifted to the heavens also confirms His redemptive work on our behalf.[3] It proves that He truly did put away our sin by the sacrifice of Himself, and that He truly did procure for us a righteousness that permits us to always live at peace in the presence of the Living God. His being carried in the clouds also establishes His ministry as our Great High Priest forever, because He always lives to make intercession for us, which should draw us to conclude with Paul, “If God is for us, who is against us?”[4] His ascension truly is our peace!

His ascension also prepares the way for our hope, which is that one day He will return for us. Hebrews 9:28 says:

28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.”

The surety of His coming is seen in our text today. It is testified by angels in Acts 1:9-11:

And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. 11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

He is coming back! Jesus Christ ascended from the Mount of Olives in the clouds, and one day He will return in the clouds with power and great glory upon the very same Mount just as Zechariah 14:4 says:

In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives.”

Jesus spoke of this day in Matthew 16:27:

27 For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.”

He said in Matthew 24:30 to the Sanhedrin:

30 And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.”

John said of Him in Revelation 1:7:

Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.”

We see three entities testifying to His coming again.

The surety of His return, however, is not found merely in words, but in the fact that He who died now lives never to die again. This is exactly what Paul declares to the Athenians in Acts 17:30-31:

30 Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

In other words, the resurrection does not just vindicate Christ as Savior, but as the Judge of heaven and earth. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 tells us that the day is coming when:

“The Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed.”

This day is coming, and it is imminent. It could happen at any moment. Jesus described the swift and unexpected nature of His coming when He said in Matthew 24:27:

27 For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be.”

He said in Mathew 24:37-39:

37 For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.”

Again, His coming will be swift and unexpected, and a torrent of divine judgment will accompany Him consuming all who do not know God and who do not obey His gospel. This is exactly why He states in Matthew 24:42-44:

42 Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. 43 But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. 44 For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.”

Pertaining to the timing of His coming, Jesus said in Mark 13:32-37:

32 But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. 33 “Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come. 34 It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert. 35 Therefore, be on the alert—for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— 36 in case he should come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!’”

He says in Revelation 13:15

15 “Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.”

Our concern today is not to examine the times to discern how near we are to His coming. Current events are of no use to us today. Our concern is to assess ourselves to see whether or not we are truly alert and ready for His coming. It is to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith, and to test ourselves to see whether Christ is in us.[5] To make certain of His calling and choosing us.[6]

In the end, our concern is not whether we deem our selves ready for His return, but if Christ deems us so.

Wise or Foolish? Good and Faithful or Worthless?

After Christ stressed the necessity of all creation being ready for He is coming at an hour when we do not think He will, He asks a question with an illustration in Matthew 24:45-51:

45 Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. 47 Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; 50 the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, 51 and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Make no mistake about it. Jesus is not talking about two believers. He is describing two people who outwardly appear the same but are vastly different inwardly. He reveals what distinguishes the two. The faithful slave is prepared and acts accordingly to what he knows his master desires. The evil slave is unprepared and continues in unfaithfulness without any fear of his master.

 The Lord then employed two parables of the Kingdom of God demonstrating that those who are truly His are marked by preparation for His coming and by faithfulness to His word resulting in action. There is The Parable of the Ten Virgins,[7] and The Parable of the Talents.[8] These two parables combined are the epitome of the truth that faith without works is dead.[9] They demonstrate that people can have all the outward appearance of being Christ’s. They can appear to be apart of His Kingdom. They can outwardly be classified as people looking for His coming, and as people who have been entrusted with His work, but they will be found not to be His, and they will be thrown out into outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. They are the worst thing anyone can be, self-deceived.

Christ’s parables of the kingdom of God speak of it externally. The visible church if you will. This is the entity that everyone sees. It is made up of good soil and bad soil, of wheat and of tares.[10] It is like a dragnet filled with good fish and bad fish.[11] It is filled with sheep and with goats.[12] It contains the found and the lost, the saved and the unsaved, the regenerate and the unregenerate, the believer and the unbeliever. It possess those who have entered through the narrow gate and are marching along the narrow way that leads to life, as well as those who have entered through the broad gate and are walking along the broad road which leads to destruction.[13] When Christ comes in His glory He will separate the two. Those who are His will enter into eternal life, and those who are not will suffer eternal disgrace and contempt forever cutoff from the life of God.[14]

            In the Parable of the Ten Virgins, they all appear to be looking for the Bridegroom, but five of them are foolish and five of them are wise because they brought enough oil anticipating that the bridegroom may tarry. When the bridegroom came, the wise entered into the wedding feasting with Him for they were prepared for Him. Though they had the appearance of knowing Him, the unwise were left out incapable of entering because He did not know them. The evidence that they did not actually know Him was that they were not prepared for Him.

            In the Parable of the Talents, three are identified as slaves of Christ, but only two prove themselves to be genuine because they did not waste the opportunity given to them while their master was away. They faithfully lived in anticipation of His coming by being good stewards with what He had entrusted them with. Their faithfulness with what was entrusted to them evidenced their preparation for the coming of the master. When he returned He, He said to them, “Well done, good and faithful slave.” The third slave, however, did nothing with what was entrusted to him. There was no action for the glory of the master he was supposedly waiting for. He squandered the opportunity given to Him, and when his master returns, he hears the words, “You wicked and lazy slave. Cast out the worthless slave.” The way one lives, reveals what one believes. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments.”[15] John says:

By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”

Many of us are familiar with the sobering truth found in Matthew 7:21-23:

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

Jesus says in Luke 6:46-49:

46 “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: 48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. 49 But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.”

He says in Luke 13:24-28:

24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’ then He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ 26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets’; 27 and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from Me, all you evildoers.’ 28 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being thrown out.”

Do you know Christ and are you known by Him? Those who know Him, and are known by Him, faithfully live for Him in anticipation of His coming striving not to squander what He has entrusted to them. Ephesians 2:10 says:

10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

Works do not earn salvation, they evidence it. Those who know Christ through faith are prepared, and those who are prepared strive to live their lives in accordance with His word to His glory. Those who do not know Him, foolishly live unprepared lives wasting the opportunities He has graciously given them. Are you ready and are you living in anticipation of His coming? Are you wise, or foolish? Will you hear well done good and faithful servant, or throw out the worthless slave?

Live in Anticipation of His Coming

John Calvin said:

“Let us not hesitate to await the Lord’s coming, not only with longing, but also with groaning and sighs, as the happiest thing of all. He will come to us as Redeemer.”

It was the 19th century Scottish Baptist Minister, Alexander Maclaren that said:

“The apostolic church thought more about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ than about death and heaven. The early Christians were looking, not for a cleft in the ground called a grave but for a cleavage in the sky called Glory.”

Live in anticipation of His coming. Living in anticipation does not produce apathy, but action. Work out your salvation in fear and trembling for it is God who is at work in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure. We who haven been freely given God’s eternal life, what are we doing with it? Have we laid hold of it yet? Are you growing in Christ? Are you conforming to His image more and more each day you live and breathe and have your being in Him? Does His imminent return produce in you a pursuit of His holiness? What does Peter say? 1 Peter 1:13-16:

13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’”

It was Jonathan Edwards that said:

“As God delights in His own beauty, He must necessarily delight in the creature’s holiness which is a conformity to and participation of it.”

Listen to the words of the Prince of Preachers, Charles Spurgeon:

“Christ will be master of the heart, and sin must be mortified. If your life is unholy, then your heart is unchanged, and you are an unsaved person. The Savior will sanctify His people, renew them, give them a hatred of sin, and a love of holiness. The grace that does not make a man better than others is a worthless counterfeit. Christ saves His people, not IN their sins, but FROM their sins. Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.”

Thomas Watson:

“It is absurd to imagine that God should justify a people and not sanctify them, He should justify a people whom He could not glorify.”

Christ’s greatest concern for you is your conformity to His holiness. What is yours?

Romans 13:12-14 says:

12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.”

Paul tells us why in Philippians 3:20-21:

20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”

1 Thessalonians 5:23:

23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Titus 2:11-14:

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, 14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.”

John says in 1 John 2:28:

28 Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.”

He says in 1 John 3:2-3:

Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

Romans 6:12-13:

12 Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”

Hebrews 12:1-2 says:

“Lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.”

In light of all of this, it is no surprise that J.C. Ryle said:

“I grant it costs much to be a true Christian. But who in his sound senses can doubt that it is worth any cost to have the soul saved? When the ship is in danger of sinking, the crew think nothing of casting overboard the precious cargo. When a limb is mortified, a man will submit to any severe operation, and even to amputation, to save life. Surely a Christian should be willing to give up anything which stands between him and heaven. A religion that costs nothing is worth nothing! A cheap Christianity, without a cross, will prove in the end a useless Christianity, without a crown.”

It was Paul that said in 2 Timothy 4:7-8:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

Fight the good fight. Finish the course. Keep the faith. Live in anticipation of His coming! Live to the praise of His glory in every area of your lives no matter how menial or mundane it seems to you, understand it is not. It is exactly where God would have you to render yourself as a living sacrifice Jesus says:

12 Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done…”[16]

2 Corinthians 5:10 says:

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”

Jesus says, “Yes, I am coming quickly!”[17] May our very lives, therefore, agree with our words as we longingly conclude with the one exiled on Patmos, who responded to Christ’s promise of His coming with these words, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”

[1] Matthew 28:18; Acts 5:31; Ephesians 1:19-20; Philippians 2:9-11; Hebrews 1:3-4; 1 Timothy 6:15-16

[2] Colossians 1:16

[3] Hebrews 10:12; 12:2

[4] Romans 8:31-34

[5] 2 Corinthians 13:5

[6] 2 Peter 1:10

[7] Matthew 25:1-13

[8] Matthew 25:14-30

[9] James 2:17

[10] Matthew 13:1-30

[11] Matthew 13:47-52

[12] Matthew 25:31-33

[13] Matthew 7:13-14

[14] Daniel 12:2

[15] John 14:15

[16] Revelation 22:12

[17] Revelation 22:20

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