Joy to the World! The Lord is Come!
One might recognize the title of this letter to be the same as a hymn that we hear often during the holiday season, which traditionally occurs, in America, between Thanksgiving Day and the first of the new year. Another tradition of the Christian world during this holiday season is the telling of the story of Jesus birth as recorded in the Bible in the book of Luke, chapter 2. TV stations and churches throughout the land feature programs depicting the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and many plays are produced centering around the birth of Christ. In Luke 2:8 we hear the angel of the Lord exclaim to the shepherds tending their flocks Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people, for unto you is born this day in the City of David, a savior which is Christ the Lord. In reading the account in Luke 2 it is worthy of notice that the announcement of the saviors birth was not made to the world at large, in whose most vital interest he had come, nor even to Israel as a nation, the chosen people of God, but it was made only to a few devout, Jewish shepherds who were watching their flocks by night. The grand truth was to be received by faith, and it was sent through humble human agents, who were the honored instruments in Gods hand.
The angels message was good tidings of great joy to all peoplegood tidings being another translation of our word Gospel. How beautiful the thought that the Gospel is really and truly good tidings. The tidings are of redemption, restitution and everlasting life for all who will accept this blessing on the terms that it is offered, which is faith in Christ as the redeemer and full repentance of sin, which of necessity implies the forsaking of sin and cultivation of righteousness. Christ was born to be a savior and he gave his life a ransom for all.
We cannot emphasize too strongly the fact that the Scriptures teach that he gave his life. We are not to believe that Jesus lived, that Jesus died as all now die, but that he died sacrificially, the just for the unjust that he might bring us to God. (1 Peter 3:18; John 10:17)
These good tidings this miracle of divine goodness and mercy to fallen and doomed men met a cold and indifferent reception. The Jewish people in general, though made aware of the fact that a savior had come and its importance to all people, showed little faith or interest in it as a whole, and it is written in John 1:11 that he came unto his own people [the Jews] and they received him not. However, the jubilant heavenly angels were capable of appreciating what fallen men could not appreciate and they broke out with a heavenly melody as recorded in Luke 2:13-14 saying glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will towards men.
We as Christians rejoice also, especially as we remember that all of the blessings and privileges are ours because of the great redemptive work accomplished by Jesus Christ whose entrance upon that work is celebrated by Christmas Day. We cannot agree that this is the proper day for celebrating the birth of our dear redeemer, but must insist, along with a growing number of Bible scholars and historians, that it was around October first. Nevertheless, since Christ did not tell us of his desire to have us celebrate his birthday, but commanded us to remember his death, at the Last Supper (Luke 22:19) on the eve of the Jewish Passover, it is quite immaterial upon which day that event, of so great importance to all, is celebrated. Upon this day, December 25, so generally celebrated, we may properly join with all whose hearts are in the attitude of love and appreciation towards God and towards the Savior. One so great, whose birth, death and resurrection from the dead mean so much to the human family, may be remembered and celebrated any day, every day, by all who may appreciate what he has done for our race. Since the majority of Christian people have become accustomed to celebrating December 25th as our Lords birthday we make no protest but join with all in celebrating that day with rejoicing of heart, giving gifts and remembering one to another, thus copying divine favor, which gave to mankind the Son of God as a gift of mercy and love for our redemption.
A careful study and examination of the Scriptures will show that although our Lord was on earth for 33 and one-half years, the accounts as recorded in the New Testament concentrate on his earthly ministry which were the last three and one-half years of his life. It was during these years that his birth, death and resurrection took on a new and grander meaning as Jesus made some of the theretofore mysteries and plans of God known to his chosen disciples. It soon became known to the disciples that one of the purposes of Jesus appearance on earth was for the selection of a chosen class of followers to make up his Church or the called out ones. Jesus started the Church with the selection of 12 disciples that he taught separately from the world by the use of parables and dark sayings so that the world, hearing, would not understand. Matthew 13:10,11
During his presence on earth, Jesus often spoke to his disciples about going away and returning to earth again. This is stated plainly in John 14:1-3 and in parables in Luke 19:12-15 and Matthew 25:14-31. Additional testimony was given to the disciples by angels or messengers sent of the Lord that the faith of them might be strengthened that the Lord would indeed come again. (Acts 1:9-11) That the Lord would come again was so definitely established in the apostles minds that they often spoke and wrote of the second coming. As a matter of fact, it is the great event to which they and all other true followers of the Lord have looked forward. See 1 Cor. 1:7; 15:23; 1 Thess. 2:19; 2 Thess. 2:8; James 5:7,8; 2 Peter 1:16; Acts 3:19-21; Phil. :20; 2 Tim. 4:6-8 and Rev. 22:20.
That the Lord Jesus is to have a kingdom of righteousness, that Jesus Christ is to be the great King of that kingdom, and that he is to come a second time for the purpose of reigning is so abundantly established by scriptures that all possible doubt is removed.
However, one important question for us to determine from the Scriptures is how he comes. We must have an open mind and believe that the Bible testimony concerning the manner of our Lords return is conclusive. A careful examination of the Scriptures will disclose that the Bible does establish definitely and reasonably the manner of his return.
Many Christians believe that the Lord will come again in the body in which he was crucified and which has the nail prints upon it and that such is to be visible to the human eyes. But the words of Jesus disprove this conclusion. When talking to his disciples just before his crucifixion (John 14:19) Jesus said: Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more, but ye see me, because I live, ye shall live also. Thus he establishes the fact that his disciples will see him as he is but that the world at large will see him no more.
But why is this true? We answer, because Jesus was raised from the dead, not as a human being, but as a spirit being with the divine nature. Jesus gave his human life as a ransom forever. He did not get his human life back three days later. As a reward for his faithfulness in laying down his life, God, his father in heaven, has given him a glorious body which no man has seen, nor can see. (1 Tim. 6:15,16) There is scriptural proof showing that not one of the different bodies in which Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection was his glorious body, but that such bodies were created by him for the purpose at hand.
1 Peter 3:18 and 1 Cor. 15:45 tell us that Jesus was put to death as a human being, raised a spirit being. 1 John 3:2 shows that the body in which Jesus will appear is not his human body. He says: It doth not yet appear what we shall be, butwe shall be like him. Jesus is no longer human, but divine, therefore we could not expect human eyes to see him. St. Paul in 2 Cor. 5:16 wrote: Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.
After his resurrection, Jesus was exalted and given a name above every name. The Apostle Paul again writes in 2 Cor. 3:17 that the Lord is that spirit. In John 3:4-8 Jesus explains to Nicodemus the characteristic of the spirit saying: Except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the spirit is spirit. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou heareth the sound thereof but canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the spirit.
Seeing then that Jesus Christ is a glorious spirit being with the divine nature and that as the wind cannot be seen, but comes and goes, a spirit being can also come and go without being seen by human eyes, could it be that our Lord could be present even now and yet not be observable by any natural eyes seen only by the eyes of faith to those watching and waiting? Could it be? This is precisely what we believe a careful and prayerful study of Gods Word will reveal.
For an in depth explanation of all the scriptures presented herein and the conclusions drawn, as well as a discussion of other scriptures that appear on the surface to contradict these conclusions, such as every eye shall see him Rev. 1:7, and 1 Thess. 4:16,17 which some refer to as the Rapture, contact us for the free booklet entitled Our Lords Return. You may be surprised to learn that the Lords Prayer which millions have prayed down through the centuriesthy Kingdom come, thy will be done is in the process of being answered now. Contact us for your free copy today.