“He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” - Philippians ch1 v6
The message of the New Testament centres upon what Christ has achieved.
That is, he died on the Cross, was raised from the dead, and was established as Lord and future judge.
We are included in what Christ has done, because we belong to him, and we are therefore “washed, sanctified, and justified”.
In the absence of the old barrier of sin, we have entered into a new relationship with God.
In this new relationship, we began a new life, which ought to be a different kind of life.
Nevertheless, we are still engaged with sin in our daily lives; “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us”
(1 John ch1v8)
So the final consideration is the completion of that work in ”the day of Jesus Christ”.
The future hopes of the Old Testament come to a climax in “the Day of the Lord”, when the Lord is expected to express his full power and remove
what is wrong from the world.
Jesus himself spoke of “the Day of Judgement” (e.g. Matthew ch11 v24).
This would come under the authority of the “Son of Man”; “You will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming with the
clouds of heaven” –Mark ch14 v62
But he also called himself the Son of Man, so his disciples and the church which followed them understood that he was talking about himself;
“He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that he is the one ordained of God to be the judge of the living and the dead” (Peter, in
Acts ch10 v42).
“[God] has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed” (Paul in Acts ch17 v31).
“We must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians ch5 v10).
So that is what is meant by “the day of the Lord Jesus”; “When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire”
(2 Thessalonians ch1 v7).
What does this mean for those who belong to Christ?
In the first place, it means “vindication”, gaining safety from the evils of this world.
“Will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night?” (Luke ch18 v7)
That is why they are waiting and hoping for this event;
“Christ… will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Hebrews ch9 v28).
“Be patient therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord” (James ch5 v7).
Paul almost defines the church as those waiting for Christ to return.
“Our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a saviour” (Philippians ch3 v20).
“You turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead” (1 Thessalonians
“…as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians ch1 v7).
The word “revealing” offers a slightly different metaphor from “coming” and “returning”.
It makes the point that he has been here all the time, acknowledged by his own people while the rest of the world remains oblivious.
(I see this as the real meaning of the “thousand year kingdom” in Revelation ch20)
This “revealing” is something which will take place in a very sudden way.
We are told that the Day of the Lord will come “like a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians ch5 v2), a phrase echoed in 2 Peter and Revelation.
That is, it will be unexpected.
In the words of Jesus, the coming of the Son of Man will be “as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west” (Matthew ch24
v27). In other words, it will be unexpected and sudden and instantly recognisable by the world as a whole.
Paul uses the phrase “in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians ch15 v51).
The transition into the state of Christ’s “Return” will be immediate and instantaneous (which rules out the long and gradual process which some
interpreters like to imagine).
It also means that those who belong to Christ will be “gathered in”.
“Then he will send out his angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the end of heaven” (Mark ch13 v 27).
“Many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew ch8 v11).
The most dramatic image of the in-gathering is found in 1 Thessalonians;
“The Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command… And the dead in Christ will rise first, then we who are alive, who are left,
will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet them in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians ch4
This is the only kind of “rapture” which the New Testament describes.
On that occasion, Paul expects to be feeling a degree of satisfaction about his own contribution to the assembly;
“… you can be as proud of us as we can be of you, on the Day of the Lord Jesus” (2 Corinthians ch1 v14).
“For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you?” (1 Thessalonians ch2 v19).
From a different angle, the day of the Lord Jesus is “the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgement will be revealed” (Romans ch2 v5)
Yet “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is Christ, who died, yes, who is raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God,
who intercedes for us” (Romans ch8 vv33-34)
We may see him as our defence counsel in the heavenly court; “We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John ch2 v1).
Therefore there is no need for us to fear the judgement of the Lord. We can leave that to others, because “perfect love casts out fear”.
“In this is love perfected with us, that we may have confidence for the day of judgement” (1 John ch4 vv17-18).
Indeed that is the original meaning of “salvation”; because we are “justified”, reconciled with God, through the death of Christ, “we shall
be saved by him from the wrath of God” (Romans ch5 v10).
But the promised final state goes beyond the merely being saved from wrath.
“Henceforth 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 to all those who have loved his appearing” (2 Timothy ch4 v8).
I believe there is a promise here that we will finally be in full harmony with God’s will, which is what “righteousness” means.
And this will have been God’s doing.
“He will sustain you to the end, guiltless
in the Day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians ch1 v8).
The completion of the process would be part of the final transformation which we are expecting at the return of Christ and the “redemption of our
bodies” (Romans ch8 v23).
In other words, the supposed work of ”Purgatory” would be accomplished “at a stroke” in the resurrection event itself.
“May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus
He who calls you is faithful, and he will do it” (1 Thessaloniansch5 vv23-4).
“So we shall always be with the Lord”.
edit on 1-2-2019 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)