In this [our living hope] you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:6-7, ESV; all Biblical quotations are from the ESV)
Yesterday evening the Life group which meets in my wife’s and my home considered the second coming of Jesus Christ guided by chapter 16, “The Second Coming,” of Jesus: The Life and Ministry of God the Son–Collected Insights from A. W. Tozer, Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2017. The chapter consists of a short introduction, four titled sections, and three Reflect questions. Here I’ll summarize the introduction and each of the sections and pose the Reflect questions.
Tozer opens the chapter by asking, “Are you ready for the appearing of Jesus Christ or are you among those who are merely curious about His coming?” (Tozer, Jesus, page 139) He condemns preachers and Bible teachers who encourage curious speculations about Christ’s second coming and fail to stress the need for “loving His appearing” (Tozer, Jesus, page 139) and claims that every passage in the New Testament which speaks of Christ’s second coming is directly linked with “moral conduct, faith, and spiritual holiness” (Tozer, Jesus, page 140). He closes the introduction by observing that 1 Peter 1:7 (quoted above) links the testing of our faith with Christ’s second coming.
In the King James Version I Peter 1:7 has “at the appearing of Jesus Christ” instead of “at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Noting that “appearing” or a form of it occurs frequently in the KJV, Tozer observes that the original word from which the English was translated has about seven different forms in the Greek. He says that among those seven forms are three particular words that together may have these meanings: “manifest; shine upon; show; become visible; a disclosure; a coming; a manifestation; a revelation” (Tozer, Jesus, page 141).
Referring to cults whose prophetic scheme rests upon the words “appearing” or “revelation” or “manifestation” or “disclosure” and distinguishing between them, Tozer warns against giving any thought to a cult which tries to build on a word’s shade of meanings. He concludes the section by exclaiming, “The appearing of Jesus may mean His manifestation. It may mean a shining forth, a showing, a disclosure. Yes, it may mean His coming, the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Tozer, Jesus, page 144).
Returning to Earth
In this section Tozer considers where this appearing of Christ will take place. Noting that those to whom Peter wrote were Christians on this earth, he says that common sense tells us that this appearing could only be on this earth. He also says that since Peter wrote in AD 65 the appearing of Christ would be sometime after AD 65.
In this section Tozer argues that if “appearing” is going to mean what it universally means, the future appearing of Jesus has to be much the same as it was when he appeared on the earth the first time. Thus Jesus will appear as a man, although as a glorified man, to living people as he first appeared.
Strengthen by the Word
In this section Tozer returns to an idea that he’d expressed in his introduction to the chapter, “The Word of God was never given just to make us curious about our Lord’s return to earth, but to strengthen us in faith and spiritual holiness and moral conduct” (Tozer, Jesus, page 148). In support of this he quotes from 1 John 3:2-3, “When he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”
1. Do Tozer’s words on Christ’s second coming line up with what you have thought of it?
2. Are you joyfully anticipating the second of Christ, or do you find yourself conflicted at times with earthly desires?
3. Are you preparing for Christ’s return? What would it be like for you to prepare?