The Spiritual Man Series
Following the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, He literally walked this earth in fellowship with His disciples for forty days. Then the day came of His ascension into heaven when He was lifted up before their eyes. As His disciples stood looking steadfastly toward heaven, two (angels) in white apparel said to them, “This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1. 11)
The advent, or second coming of Christ, is what is known in the Greek as the parousea . It is announced in the following scriptures, and its reinforcement indicates a strong, very convincing argument that every believer must anticipate its coming…for good reason:
”That is how it will be when the Son of Man comes again (Parousea).” Mt. 24.39
“When the Son of Man comes again (Parousea), it will be exactly like the days of Noah.” Mt. 24.37
“For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again (Parousea).” 1 Cor. 11.26
“May He, as a result, make your hearts strong, blameless, and holy as you stand before
God our Father when our Lord Jesus comes again (Parousea) with all his holy people.” 1 Thes. 3.13
“May the Lord grant that he finds mercy on the day he comes again (Parousea). “ 2 Tim. 1.18
“Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and
soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again (Parousea). “1 Thes. 5.23
“Brothers and sisters, be patient until the Lord comes again (Parousea) .“ Jam 5.7
“…as you anticipate and hasten the coming (Parousea) of the day of God, when the heavens will be destroyed by fire and the elements will melt in the heat.” 2 Pet.3.12
The listing of these eight verses is purposed to emphasize the importance of the parousea, the anticipated return of our Lord. But it does not stop there, Parousea is not the only Greek word to draw attention to the return of Christ from heaven in glory. The Greek word apokalupsis, from which we get the English word apocalypse, which means the unveiling or uncovering is used:
“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 (apokalupsis) of Jesus Christ.” 1 Pet. 1.13
“and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed (apokalupsis) from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire,” 2 Thes. 1.7
Furthermore, the Greek word epiphaneia, from which the English word epiphany (appearing) is used:
“From now on the crown of righteousness is laid up for me, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but to all who crave His appearing (epiphaneia).” 2 Tim. 4.8
“Keep this commandment without stain or reproach until the appearance (epiphaneia) of our Lord Jesus Christ,” 1 Tim. 6.14
“Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing (epiphaneia) of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,” Tit. 2.13
“that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing (epiphaneia) of our Lord Jesus Christ,” 1 Tim. 6.14
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of His appearing (epiphaneia) and His kingdom:” 2 Tim. 4.1
I trust you are not wearied reading and examining these fifteen Bible verses all pointing to the promised return of Christ for one purpose, and that is to gather up His church, now in resurrection bodies of their own, and to usher in a new age, with a new heaven and new earth; central to all of this will dwell the Father and the Lamb. Many other events happen at this time as well, such as the resurrection for all, judgment, and the wedding of our Lord to His bride (today called “the Church,”) and the casting of the devil and his cohorts into the Lake of Fire.
Former and Latter Rain
Are you overwhelmed with so much Biblical emphasis on the second coming, this parousea? It is understandable if you are. James addresses the two advents of Christ, “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord (the Parousea). See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.” Jam 5.7 The early rain referring to the first coming of Christ, and the latter rain noting to the second coming. However great the importance of His first coming, as a babe, to execute the will of the Father upon the earth , culminating with His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, many times more the scriptures herald the power and glory surrounding the culmination of all things at His second coming; and, for good reason. Any time anything is repeated as such in the Holy Scriptures it is as a trumpet sounding, “Alert, take notice pay attention.”
One would think that with such an overwhelming emphasis on the Parousea, this pending return of Christ, that it would be central to today’s teachings and to the daily life of the Christian. But it is not. It is more often hidden away as some futuristic idea outside the realm of normal daily life, and thinking it has little affect on the walk of a Christian. All too often the concept is only captured in paintings and mythical apocalyptic style movies. The aforementioned scriptures are like a large diamond, each facet of which reveals His return in purpose, in glory, and in power. The anticipation of this upcoming spiritual reality should be a part of, and a driving force, in our daily lives, for this will be a time of meeting God face to face:
“For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” 1 Cor. 13.12
But then face to face. We, the redeemed of the Lord, will see in clarity and fullness of understand, all that is now invisible and intangible in the natural. There will be no intervening doctrines, rituals, or religious formalities; there will be no parables, similitudes, or things held in mysteries. God and Christ will be seen as they are; the promises of God, His righteousness and holiness, His divine nature and love for us, will all be manifested in fullness. There will be completeness in understanding of God’s purposes from the foundation of the earth. “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Mt. 24.34
The grace of God in Christ Jesus has saved us. In the former rain He has provided all that was necessary for this day of the Parousea. In Him we have gained the resurrection of our bodies and eternal life in the Kingdom of God. God’s righteousness in Christ has overshadowed us and “to the praise of the glory of His grace,… He made us accepted in the Beloved.” (Eph. 1.6) To this we humbly bow our knees in thanksgiving.
But in the Second Coming of the Parousea not only all is open before our eyes, but we are open before His eyes as well, as it is written,
‘For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” Heb. 4.12-13
But all things are naked and opened. All things in general as, with the Church, and all things in particular, as with individual believer, standing before the Lord are naked and open—certainly not an unclothed kind of nakedness but the deepest content of our souls are opened to Him, nothing is hidden. No one is excepted, in this manner all are bare, naked, unclothed, as the outward covering of our concealment is removed; all secrets are opened and manifested in His view. God the Son sees within the heart and without the character; all things are unveiled to Him, as by dissection. In the Old Covenant sacrifice under the Law the sacrificial beast was skinned and cut open so as every part within may be clearly seen whether clean or unclean. Here meaning that in righteous truth, even the most secret and inward thoughts of the heart, is opened and laid forth to Christ; everything He discerns clearly and fully. Even as Jeremiah the prophet writes, “He that made the eye, must see best. The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.” Jer. 17.19
A Time of Judgment and Reward
Him to whom we must give account. Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings. It is unimaginable, even in our present redeemed state, to fully conceive life in the age to come. For there we will have been made whole in spirit, soul, and body; we will be living on an ageless new earth with a new heaven; and with God and the Lamb dwelling in our midst in all their glory. Some may say, “well, we will cross that bridge when we come to it.” Others may speculate on the nature of this blissful life. Some will even fanaticize about it. Some may describe it according to their own wishful imagination. Quite honestly, the only thing we really know is that, “… now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” 1 Jn. 3.2 And that, in itself, is ample enough to know. But we are not completely ignorant regarding those times.
What we know for sure is that the second coming will be a time of judgment and a time of reward and loss of reward. An initial judgment is to separate the sheep from the goats, the saved from the unsaved. But now the Lord’s eye turns to the redeemed and judgment is made of their redeemed souls and what has become of them. Many parables relate to this, one quickly coming to mind. In this parable of Luke 19.11-27, Jesus describe a nobleman who went away to receive a kingdom. Before he left he called three servants to him and gave them each 10 minas (or talents, equivalent to three months’ work) to invest in his absence. The first servant gained five more minas and as a reward he was given authority over five cities. The second servant gained three minas and was rewarded to rule over three cities. The last servant made no investment in the ten minas given to him for fear losing them. The nobleman took the 10 minas from him and gave it to the one who gained five minas. Our Lord concluded by saying, “For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”
It is not difficult to see in this parable that the nobleman is Christ and we, the redeemed, are the servants. The ten minas is the grace invested into us as the indwelling Holy Spirit—to work in us a measure of His nature. Judgment is made at the return of the noblemen (Christ) and rewards, or loss of reward, is given to each servant (believer).
A Glimpse into the Age to Come
Most often people will cite Isaiah with thoughts of a blissful heaven for the prophet paints a serine image of an age of peace, safety, and contentment:
“And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, Nor decide by the hearing of His ears;
But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, And decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, And faithfulness the belt of His waist.
The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze; Their young ones shall lie down together;
And the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole,
And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord As the waters cover the sea”. Is. 11.3-9
As wonderful as this sounds, it but barely breaks the surface of life in the age to come on the new earth. Serenity does not imply idleness, nor does safety mean no responsibility. Leaving speculations behind, it is not at all scripturally unreasonable to anticipate activity around the throne of God, of a kind of fellowship with God and with our Lord Jesus Christ; nor is it far-fetched to consider both a union and fellowship with others in the Kingdom of God. I would consider things to not be static, but dynamic, perhaps having some kind of function and purpose in the Kingdom, even responsibility and oversight.
Following are some scriptures that give us a glimpse of this activity:
- Rev. 2.26-27—describes how Christ will give them power over the nations. This means involvement in the government of the Kingdom.
- Rev. 3.4—says that they shall walk with Me (imagine that) in white. To walk with Christ speaks of being in union with Him, close fellowship.
- Rev. 3.12—reads He will make the overcomer a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more—a functioning support in the spiritual temple, whereas God Himself is on the throne and the Lamb on His right side.
- Rev. 19.6-10—speaks of the Church becoming the Bride of Christ, which obviously implies an intimate corporate relationship Christ, being under His authority and care as a husband.
- Rev. 21.23-27—describes activity in and around the holy city of the New Jerusalem (which is actually not a place but the whole of the redeemed people,) entering and leaving its gates. Why entering and leaving? Activity! People doing things.
- Rev. 22.3—specifies that His servants will serve Him—given function and responsibility in matters of His Kingdom.
- Rev. 22.4—issue the promise His servants shall reign forever and ever. Reign? Over what, who, where?
- Rev. 3.21—promises that the overcomer will be granted to sit with Me (Christ) on My throne even as I overcame and sat down with My Father on His Throne—such honor, such exaltation, such granting into His glory.
The reward, you see, is far above us going to a place of peace, love, serenity and tranquility, but is actually the entering into the fullness of the Kingdom of God with a granted authority, function, responsibility; and involvement in all the “goings on” surrounding the throne of God and the Lamb. To each believer He will give to some degree of measure involvement in His Kingdom, to another perhaps more, to some less; but to all is given life eternal in the presence of God and the Lamb in glory, in holiness, in righteousness, and in the love of God forever and ever.
You Will Act Accordingly
One may ask why is this topic, the Parousea, presented here in this book, The Spiritual Man Series? What might it have to do with the spiritual maturity and stability of the believer? The answer is quite simple… we are shaped by our vision, by our perspective and by our anticipation of things to come. A proverb begins, “For as he thinks within himself (the heart), so he is.” Prov. 23.7 In other words, it is what we believe or “know” in our hearts that really shapes our lives. If I am convinced it is going to rain, I will bring an umbrella. If a child believes he will be rewarded for good behavior he will act accordingly; but if he really believes he could get away with something considered naughty he will also act accordingly. If I believe a thief is entering my home I will act accordingly. If I believe in my heart that doing a particular task will bring a reward, I will act accordingly. What I anticipate affects my behavior.
If I anticipate I am saved and heaven bound I will act accordingly, or if I am convinced that God has given to me these days to prepare my soul for His eternal purposes, I will act according. If I believe I could train for a ministry I will act accordingly, or if I believe that by faith I have been called into His service, I will act accordingly. If I believe being religious is necessary for salvation by keeping commandment, offering sacrifices, undergoing rituals and observing holydays, I will act accordingly, or if I believe that above all things, it is Christ in me, the hope of glory, I will so act accordingly. My vision or understanding of this world, the Kingdom of God, of this age and the age to come will shape and mold my life and prepare my soul for His eternal purposes.
If I believe that God has placed me into the church to be a pew-sitter and offer an occasional “Amen,” I will act accordingly, or if I believe the Holy Spirit is working in me to be a functioning member of the Body of Christ, I will act accordingly. I had an uncle the family named him “Tiger Joe.” He was an alcoholic brawling braggart and abusive to his family. He once said to me that God made him that way, that he believes, so he continues to act accordingly. What we believe in our hearts, what we perceive to be our destiny, what we are laid hold of by the Lord, shapes our thinking, our perspective on life and faith, and we act accordingly.
Pressing Towards the Goal
I trust this message on the Parousea, and the entirety of this book, The Spiritual Man Series, has broadened our understanding of the high call of God upon our lives, and of the Church, the Body of Christ. Once a vision has formed, and the eye of the spirit sees it even yet afar off, there commences a lifelong stretching forth, a pressing towards that goal. We can identify with the cry issuing forth from the heart of Paul. We can simply read this avowal and memorize it, committing it to our reservoir or knowledge, or we can be driven by the Spirit that instigated it in Paul, identify with it as the word of God, and be drawn into it; that our hearts be in union with his heart, and the heart of Christ and make it our own declaration; an acknowledgement before the Church, before our Lord Jesus Christ, and before God:
“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.” Phil. 3.12-16
To Christ be the glory in the Church.