Saturday, March 23, 2013
P2 - F.O.C.U.S on Christ's return
James 5:7-8 "Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand."
In yesterday's blog we considered the five benefits of focusing on Christ's return. We used the acrostic F.O.C.U.S to see why you and I should be focusing on the second coming of Jesus Christ:
1. Fights against worldliness. James 5:1-6
2. Operates endurance. James 5:7-8
3. Calms the saints. James 5:9-11
4. Undergirds the prayer-life James 5:12-18
5. Strengthens evangelism James 5:19-20
We unfolded the first reason from James 5:1-6, noting that James' warnings against coveting this world's riches was cast in light of what he writes inn James 5:7-8. Fixing one's mind and heart on the hope of the Lord's soon coming will provide the antidote against worldliness. (1 John 3:2-3) In today's blog we will consider other benefits of focusing on Christ's return -namely f.o.c.u.s on Christ's return because it....
Operates Endurance. James 5:7-8
As we noted already, these two verses are the key to unlocking the whole chapter. As you go down through the rest of the chapter, you will see reference to endurance in James 5:7-11:
"Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 9 Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. 10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful." (ESV)
All the calls to "patience", "steadfastness" and "establishment" echo their way throughout James' words. Whenever I set the watch of my heart according to the Lord's second coming, the grace for waiting and patience will never be in short supply. To reinforce this benefit of focusing on the Lord's return, James illustrates his point by highlighting the endurance of Job.
Having the endurance of Job
So why was Job so patient and enduring in his faith? one simple thought: the Lord's future coming. In Job 14:14 Job is asking the questions as to whether or not the resurrection is a reality. In Job 19:25-27, after much suffering at the hands of his supposed "friends", Job states - "For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth. 26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, 27 whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.My heart faints within me!" (ESV) James' reference to Job is one of the earliest references we have of anyone commenting on the future return of Jesus Christ. If we take into account that Job was most likely a descendant of Esau, we may very well have record of a man who lived in the days of Jacob.1 Job was able to endure to the end because of the fact he gleaned His hope from the promise of seeing His redeemer in resurrected flesh.
So focusing on the second coming of Jesus Christ aids us in the fight against worldliness and enables you and I to operate in endurace. Lets consider one more benefit of fixing our f.o.c.u.s on Christ's return from James 5...
Calms the saints. James 5:9-11
James writes in 5:9 "Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door." We as Christians have got to be so careful in how we treat one another. Whenever we lose our focus either off of Christ's first coming or second coming, we become too pre-occupied with ourselves and this world. Soon we develop a spiritual short-sightedness which leads to an unsettledness. Anxiousness can set in, leading to rash decisions and ungodly treatment of other fellow believers. As Christians, we not only need to anchor our hearts to the accomplishment of Jesus' ist coming - Calvary, but also fix our minds on his second coming. If we can view ourselves and one another in light of eternity, our treatment of one another and state of our hearts can radically change for the good.
This spiritual short-sightedness that results from not focusing on Christ's return is highlighted in another Bible book written by James' brother Jude. The next to the last book of the Bible, the Book of Jude, is dedicated to contending for the truth of scripture and not getting to tied down to the things of this world. Jude urges his readers to rest their faith in the coming Christ, rather than in the things of this world - and to fight the good fight of faith. What Jude dedicates his entire book to, James uses this fifth chapter to underscore - namely that only by focusing on Christ's soon return can the saint calm their heart.
James' use of the imagery of the "Judge standing at the door" is designed to purify the saints and to develop the fear of God - since the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. (Proverbs 9:10) Romans 11:22 tells us "Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God's kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off." An increased awareness of Christ's second coming produces in the saint a surge for godliness and a desire for His coming. 2
1. Conservative Bible scholar Gleason Archer dates the account of Job back to at least 1200 b.c. On page 465 of his book: "A Survey of Old Testament - Introduction 2nd edition", Archer cites findings from cuneiform inscription of a Babylonian account that tells a similar story of a "Babylonian Job" going through trials and sufferings. Archer concludes that the Babylonan account is most likely based off of the original material of Job, which would make the Biblical Job a far earlier record.
2. For the child of God, consideration of the black cloth of God's Justice causes a renewed appreciation for the diamond ring of His mercy. Paul writes in Romans 2:4 "Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?" Whenever I get my eyes off of myself and my eyes back on Jesus and His second coming, I find a calm and assurance. (John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:18)