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Dear Christian: the Gospel has a Future Tense

February 22, 2023


If you know your world history then you most likely know the significance of June 6, 1944. During the end of World War II, the allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy which were occupied by Nazi Germany at the time. June 6, 1944 is now widely known as D-Day, marking the beginning of the end of the Third Reich's totalitarian regime. But it took almost a year of intense fighting before the long-awaited V-E Day arrived; and on May 8th, 1945, to the great joy of millions of people, the Germans surrendered and World War II finally came to an end! 


D-Day and V-E Day are famous events from the pages of history that I think help us better understand the full scope of our salvation as Christiansand to see just how intimately this salvation is connected to both the first and second comings of Christ. Jesus came into this world to save His people from their sins (Matt. 1:21). The shadow of the cross is already looming over the manger in Bethlehem on that first Christmas. Jesus was born to die for our sins as our merciful substitute. And if you belong to Jesus today, you can be sure that Jesus has graciously saved you from the penalty of sin all thanks to His death and resurrection. That’s our salvation in the past tense; Jesus has fully accomplished this great redemption!  Your testimony may be very different from mine, but every true Christian can say “the Spirit of God Almighty has opened my heart to believe in Jesus Christ by faith; for me he came, for me he died, for me he rose again.” Jesus’ finished work of salvation is our D-Day, dear believer. So our greatest response today is to praise God and rejoice in His kindness to us!


But as we do that, we are still awaiting V-E Day: salvation in the future tense! Oh, it is coming on a certain day! Peter talks about how God in His great mercy has not only caused us to be born again but He’s also at work today sustaining our faith “for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5). Likewise Paul in Romans 5 talks about the relationship between our justification and our glorification; we already have a right standing with God because of the blood of Jesus shed for us; therefore, we will be saved by Jesus (future tense) from the wrath of God (v.9).  


Jesus will return one day… and when this happens, the church will experience an infinite degree of joy unlike anything we’ve experienced before! In His first coming, Jesus achieved our salvation; in his second coming, he will complete our salvation. We will rise from the dead and we shall all be changed (1 Cor. 15:51)! These bodies which are subject to viral infections, cancer and old age cannot inherit the kingdom of God (15:50); but our risen Savior will give us new, resurrected, imperishable bodies (15:53)… and this is how we will enjoy God’s presence for the next gazillion years! We will be free from the curse of sin, the presence of sin and the last great enemy, death (15:54-55). This is our salvation in the future tense when Jesus comes again!  


It is true that to live is Christ and to die is gain (Phil.1:21). We love this promise, we find deep comfort in this verse; this is one of those passages we often hear preached at the funeral of a loved one who knew Jesus. However, because Jesus has said he will return, there is so much more than dying and going to heaven to be with Jesus. Our sovereign God has planned something infinitely bigger and more glorious with our salvation, dear Christian; so we need to adjust our expectations accordingly. The second coming is a very practical doctrine if we take the inexhaustible blessings of eternal life into consideration! 


But I must warn us of something here and it’s got everything to do with the return of Jesus. Because the opposite of salvation according to our Bibles is condemnation. When Jesus returns one day in glory, he will sit on his throne and before him will be gathered all the nations, every single person who has ever lived in history (Matt. 25:32). The authority to judge the world in righteousness belongs exclusively to our Lord Jesus Christ and no one else. Jesus Himself affirms this in John 5: “The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son,” (v.22); “he [the Father] has given him [Jesus] authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man” (v.27). There will be nowhere to hide when the risen Christ comes again: every single one of us will stand before Jesus to receive an eternal verdict. 


It’s a sobering scene in every way; according to Revelation 20, Jesus will execute his judgment by opening the record books of heaven. This is crucial to understand… there is every indication in the Bible that our God is all-seeing and all-knowing, and He is meticulously keeping count of absolutely everything: every thought, every emotion, every word spoken from our lips and every deed is under the careful scrutiny of the One who is Lord of heaven and earth. Dear reader, it would be naive to think we can get away with anything. I turn 40 this summer but I’ve been a Christian long enough to have heard and seen many unpleasant things in the church. One thing that always baffles me is this: why is it that we deceive ourselves thinking we can say a little lie, we can live in unrepentant immorality,  we can slander and gossip about other Christians behind their backs? “Nobody saw it, nobody should know about it, great!” And we congratulate ourselves… Friend, you can have all the fun playing that game for a little bit but the reality of Jesus coming back means you are playing a losing game today; that much is clear in Scripture. Christ will judge us with His perfect justice according to what we have done. Sin will have no place to hide!


But that’s not all… because there’s another book that Jesus will open in Revelation 20: The Lamb’s book of life. The word of God tells us that “if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (v.15). Imagine standing before the judge of the universe when he comes back outside of Christ, still guilty in our sins, having spent a lifetime failing to give God the glory due His name; imagine Jesus looking in your eyes and informing you that your name was never written in the book of life. Do you want to know what the scariest four words in the Bible are? Jesus speaks them in Matthew 7 in his famous Sermon on the Mount: “I never knew you…” (v.23). Honestly, the worst nightmare does not even come close to what awaits unrepentant sinners: eternal conscious punishment in hell that will go on forever! I will be the first to say this is a difficult truth to believe; however, at the end of the day, it is a biblical doctrine. But as long as you are alive today and since Jesus has not returned yet, there is still time to flee from the wrath to come. If you are not a Christian reading this, salvation can be yours today… freely, completely, eternally! However, you must first recognize your sins against God, you must hate your sin at its root to confess them to God, you must turn away from your sin, leave it all behind and run to Jesus by faith trusting him as your all-sufficient Savior. He will welcome you and wash you with His blood and he will give the entire treasure trove of His salvationpast, present and futureso that you can have eternal hope.


This excerpt is from Pastor Sam’s sermon preached on December 24, 2023 (Jesus is Coming Back). You can listen to the sermon in its entirety at: https://www.cbcgoderich.com/copy-of-sermons-1

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