Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Celebration of Advent

About once a year some guru predicts that the world will end on a certain date. Usually this person will gather a following of people who may even sell their possessions and place the income at the disposal of their leader as they wait for the date to arrive. Every such prediction is false. Jesus said, "Of that day and of that hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven nor the Son, but only the Father" (Mark13:32).

That these predicted dates come and go leads the world to ridicule the very idea that Jesus Christ is coming again to judge the world, and will bring it to a close as we know it. However, the Bible clearly teaches this. Jesus said, "I will come again" (John 14:3). The Apostle Peter wrote, "The day of the Lord will so come as a thief in the night and the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up" (II Peter 3:10).

In the Advent season, the church affirms through the Scripture readings the Second Coming of Christ and the final Day of Judgment. It reflects the teaching of John the Baptist who pointed people to the final judgment so they would prepare in repentance for the first coming of the Savior. "The ax is laid to the root of the tree; every tree that does not bring forth good fruit is cast into the fire" (Matthew 3:10). The Apostle Paul also said, "We must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ to receive the things done in this body" (II Corinthians 5:9). On that day every human being will have to give account of all thoughts, words, and deeds.

The Advent season is also an opportunity to review some of the many promises that God would send the Savior of the world. Every ill and fear of humanity falls under two words: "sin" and "death". God promises to deal with these by sending His Son who would be called, "The Lord our Righteousness". He would be born of the virgin and called Immanuel, meaning "God with us". The Advent season points us to the birth of the one who is called "Jesus", because He would save His people from their sins.

The Advent season also reminds believers that Jesus Christ comes to them through the teaching and preaching of the Word of God and the Lord's Supper (in which Jesus says, "This is my body given for you...This is my blood of the New Testament shed for you for the remission of sins.") Through these means He allows us to "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." Through the same means He comes and takes away the sins of the repentant believers in Christ today, so on the Judgment Day they will stand holy and blameless in His sight (Col. 3:22).