Sanctification and the Second Coming – Titus 2:13-14

The subject of Christ’s Second Coming was dear to the heart of the early church and had a prominent part in the apostles’ teaching and preaching. In the history of the church, this subject has been like a clock’s pendulum, swinging from one extreme to the other.

  • After first centuries to the extreme of being forgotten
  • Revived shortly after the Reformation
  • To other extreme of setting dates for Christ’s return
  • Has come back to a balanced, biblical view, though both extremes are still present today

Perhaps because of these “pendulum swings” and/or the challenge of understanding prophecy this doctrine of the Second Coming often is not given the “air time” it deserves. Is it fair, though, to ignore a doctrine because of the actions of fanatics? There have been fanatical responses to almost every major doctrine of Scripture. Does that keep us from preaching about Jesus Christ, the unity of God, justification, or sanctification? No!

As the pillar and support of the truth (1 Tim 3:15), it is the church’s responsibility to pull such doctrines out of the muck in which they’ve been degraded and lift them back to the exalted place the Scripture gives them.

Note the place that Paul gives it here! In Titus 2:11-14 he provides the basis – why – Christians should live godly lives. Part and parcel of the grace that saves and sanctifies is constantly, continually, and eagerly looking for Christ’s return. You must live a godly life while looking for Christ’s return.

Jesus Christ is God and Savior, 2:13b-14

This is one of the clearest verses in the English Bible of the deity of Christ – “our great God…Christ Jesus.” Because Jesus was 100% God and 100% man, he could provide a sacrifice for sins that was 100% satisfactory to God. No sinner can ever – in this life or eternity – make a final satisfaction for sin. Only Jesus Christ the God-man accomplished that!

In addition to redeeming believers from sin, he reclaims them for his service – “to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” No longer serving self and Satan, believers are saved by Christ to zealously live for Christ.

Jesus Christ is Coming Again, 2:13a

Christ’s Coming is the “Blessed Hope”

The Second Coming of Christ is clearly taught throughout the Bible by the prophets (Zech 14:3-4), Jesus Christ (John 14:2-3), the angels (Acts 1:11), and the apostles (Acts 3:19).

“so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him” (Heb 9:28)

Christ’s Return has Two “Stages”

In the first “stage” of Christ’s return Jesus will come in the air for church age saints. This is called the rapture (Latin for “snatch”), and is taught, for example, in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. Church age saints will be “caught up…to meet the Lord in the air.”

In the second “stage” of Christ’s return Jesus will come to the earth with his saints. This is called the revelation, and is taught in Revelation 19:11-16. If you compare these two passages you will see an obvious difference between them! The Second Coming of Christ will be:

  • Visible – seen by the church at the rapture, by the world at the revelation
  • Sudden – “I am coming quickly” (Rev 22:7, 12, 20)
  • Imminent – at any moment, no predicted events requiring fulfillment (1 Thess 1:9-10; Titus 2:13; Heb 9:28)

Christ’s Coming is Anxiously Awaited by Christians – “looking”

There is a vast difference between looking ahead and looking over your shoulder!

When you’re looking ahead, you see what’s coming, do all you can to move “faster” toward the objective, and have a positive, anticipating attitude. When you’re looking over your shoulder, you have an attitude of fear, move along slowly because you’re not watching where you’re going, and are more concerned with evading than anticipating.

In this context, believers are reminded that God’s grace not only brings salvation, it teaches them what not to do and how they should live. Can you honestly say you are eagerly anticipating Christ’s return while indulging sensual fleshly desires? Are you striving to be sensible, righteous, and godly? Continually looking for Christ is a helpful perspective on living life in this world (cf. Col 3:1-4).

What would you think of a bride who on the day and time of her wedding was

  • Dating another man?
  • Sleeping?
  • Rummaging through a dumpster or garbage can?
  • Sewing?

We would say the first and third activities are definitely wrong and out of place. But is there anything sinful about sleeping or sewing? No, but they are not things that the bride should be doing at that point in time! she has a more important thing to attend to!

In like manner, the church is called the Bride of Christ (cf. Rev 19:7-8). There are things that Christians should never involve themselves with as such are not appropriate of Christ’s Bride. There are also activities or pursuits that – while not evil in and of themselves – should not occupy our time. There are more important things to do!

What’s going on in your life? Is your life characterized by a real desire to see Christ? How are you spending your time? What are you doing that you shouldn’t be doing? What are you not doing that you should be doing?

Are you looking and ready for Christ’s return? He is coming!

Pastor Greenfield preached this message Sunday morning, July 22, 2007