Loving the Second Coming and the Assurance of Salvation
Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await him.
In my recent message on this text I asked, “How can we be sure that our sins are forgiven and that we will be safe in the judgment?” It says that Christ “has been offered once to bear the sins of many.” How can I know I am among the “many”? It also says that Christ “shall appear a second time for salvation.” How can I know that this refers to my salvation?
I answered: The “many” are defined at the end of the verse. The “many” are “those who eagerly await him.” These are the ones Christ is coming to save. And he is coming to save them because he has “borne” their sins.
The first time he came to deal with sin. The second time he is coming, not to deal with sin, but to save us from the wrath of God’s judgment. The first time he came to purchase our salvation by bearing our sins. The second time he comes to apply our salvation by shielding us from the wrath of God. Hebrews 10:27 describes the “judgment” the writer has in mind, namely, “a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.” This is what Christ is coming the second time to save us from. Christ bought the first time what he gives the second time—safety in the judgment.
Now the question before us all is: Are we included in the “many” whose sins he bore? And will we be saved by his coming “for salvation”? The answer of Hebrews 9:28 is, “Yes,” if we are “eagerly awaiting him.” We can know that our sins are taken away and that we will be safe in the judgment if we trust Christ in such a way that it makes us eager for his coming.
There is a phony faith that claims to believe in Christ, but is only a fire insurance policy. Phony faith “believes” only to escape hell. It has no real desire for Christ. In fact, it would prefer if he not come, so that we can have as much of this world’s pleasures as possible. This shows that a heart is not with Christ, but with the world. That is not saving faith. “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37).
So the issue for us is: Do we eagerly long for the coming of Christ? Do we want to see his kingdom established and do we want to be reunited to him in closer personal fellowship? Or do we want him to wait while our love affair with the world runs its course? That is the question that tests the authenticity of faith.
So let us be like the Corinthians who were “awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:7), and like the Philippians whose “citizenship was in heaven, from which also [they] eagerly waited for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).
And let us remember the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 4:8 that “there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved his appearing.” That’s the issue for us. Do we love his appearing? Or do we love the world and hope that his appearing will not interrupt our worldly plans? Eternity hangs on this question.
Longing for the Lord with you,
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org