Keeping Time with Jesus: Chronos, Kairos and the Second Coming – Part 3

http://theworldofmore.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/world-of-more-time.jpegI don’t know if you realize it, but the central hope of the early church, a hope they could not stop going on about, one that saturates the New Testament and shaped the entirety of their lives, is one we hardly ever pay more than lip-service to in the contemporary church.

I mentioned last post a wave that will never stop flowing, a kairos moment to end all chronos.  This hope is that wave, that moment.

This hope is the second coming of Jesus Christ.

When was the last time you heard a sermon on the second coming?  When was the last time you read a book, studied, thought about, or had a conversation over a glass of wine concerning the second coming?

Every gospel account records Jesus’ promise that he will come again.  Luke records in the book of Acts how the church began with promise that Jesus would return just as the disciples had seen him go up into heaven.  This hope riddles the sermons of early church, the letters of the apostles.  It is the central hope demonstrated in the physical symbol of communion – the universal act of worship of the whole church throughout time.

Often we focus on the cross and resurrection of Jesus (and these are a worthy focus!) but they lose all meaning when we ignore the promise of the second coming of Jesus.

If every kairos moment we’ve talked about so far is a moment where heaven invades earth, where God moves and chronos pauses – how much more significant will it be when Jesus returns for good?

So what is the second coming?  What will it look like, what will happen? 

When we talk about something as huge as this there is inevitably a large amount that remains mystery.  Over this there are different views held by people who equally desire to respect and learn from Scripture.  But there is still much that we can know clearly from the Bible, and that most orthodox Christians agree on.

  1. Jesus is coming back.  When he comes everyone will see Him and He’ll come bodily, not just as a spiritual force or a good principle.  Look at Acts 1:11 or 1 Thess 4:16.
  2. His coming will be sudden.  We won’t know when it happens.  Jesus himself described it as ‘coming like a thief in the night’…not because he is a thief, but because he will come just as unexpectedly.  Matthew 24:44.
  3. All Christians should eagerly long for Christ’s return.  Paul describes the Christian life as training to live sober, upright and godly lives in this world, awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and saviour Jesus Christ (Titus 2:12-23).  We’re to keep faithful in the chronos as we await this ultimate kairos – our blessed hope.

What happens when Jesus comes back?

http://www.waynegrudem.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/bible-doctrine1.jpgWe know two things for sure.  Both are huge topics that I urge you to study if you never have.  Something like Wayne Grudem’s Bible Doctrine is a great, user-friendly place to start and one that has inspired this post.

First, there will be a judgement, and then there will be a New Heaven and a New Earth.  These are incredible truths that needs a bit more looking into.  We’ll continue with a post tomorrow – keep your eyes peeled!

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A few helpful resources

Here are a few resources I’ve found incredibly helpful in listening to God and getting to know what living for Him looks like. I’ve given a brief description plus a link to their websites (apart from one link to Amazon for the ‘Jewish Study Bible’) – enjoy!

5 Great Books!

5 Great Books!

1. ESV Study Bible

I love this Bible.  It has a brilliant balance of good scholarly thinking and accessibility.  Excellent introductions to each book of the Bible, good notes throughout, and some really useful and interesting essays on everything from how the canon was formed to Christian views on bioethics.  Every morning I use this for my daily Bible reading.  I like to use a Bible without any notes alongside and then have this close by to refer to.

2. The Message

Another great and probably familiar resource.  The Message is an interpretation of the Bible in contemporary language.  It isn’t a direct translation so you definitely want to read a more accurate version of the Bible alongside, but I find this incredibly helpful for getting a fresh view on some very familiar passages.  It was written by Eugene Peterson and came from trying to write particular scriptures in a way that people could readily understand for a group of people at his church.  I would recommend this for both new Christians just getting to grips with the Bible and for those who have been around for a while who want some fresh inspiration.

3. The Jewish Study Bible

Something I came across whilst at vicar school.  This is a study Bible with introductions to each book and comments by passages, but from a Jewish perspective written by Jewish scholars. For obvious reasons it does not include the New Testament!  I find it a useful resource for getting a sense of how the Old Testament texts were and are understood by Jewish thinkers rather than just from a Christian perspective.

4. Common Prayer – A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals

I used this every morning for quite a while and loved it.  This is a collection of contemporary liturgy from missional communities.  The main feature is morning prayer for every calendar day.  These have prayers, a song, readings from scripture, and (my personal favourite) a reflection on a hero of the faith.  These range from ancient saints to contemporary Christians and from the well known to the obscure.  There is often a short bio plus some thoughts or an extract from their writings or prayers.  Also, every month there is a particular theme and some suggested reading that ties into the daily prayer for that month.  Using liturgy in daily time with God is great for finding words you might never find on your own, being part of a community by sharing in common prayers, and establishing a pattern of prayer.  This really is a great resource either for daily use or simply to dip into for inspiration as I do now.

5. God’s Generals

There are a range of volumes of ‘God’s Generals’ books by Roberts Liardon – the one pictured was a Christmas present.  Essentially they are short biographies of Christian heroes, often from more recent years and people you may know little about.  When we read the Bible we see how God has moved incredibly in a whole number of people’s lives, but He hasn’t finished yet.  Not long ago I became aware how little I actually knew about people who have been used by God in recent years to do amazing things.  I’m talking about a host of people from John Wesley to C.J. Parham and Billy Graham.  These books give short and accesible biographies that I personally find challenging and inspiring.

So there you go, 5 books that have hugely blessed me over the years and I hope might be an encouragement for you too.  If you’ve already used any of these then I’d love to know what you thought about them.  More than that, I’d love to know if there are any resources that you’d add to the list – books (or other media!) that have helped you learn more about God and draw closer to Him.

So why not add to the list or offer your thoughts by leaving a comment?