How do you say Maranatha?

“Maranatha” is the joyful exultation of the Apostle Paul written at the end of 1 Corinthians, which is translated, “Our Lord, come.” How many times a day do you find yourself thinking, “Maranatha!”? If you’re like me, it isn’t too often if at all.

This past Sunday morning I began teaching on the topic of eschatology in our adult Sunday school class. I have a semblance of confidence when teaching soteriology or ecclesiology because I have studied these things so intensely, but not so with what the Bible says about the last things – eschatology. So I started the teaching series with what I was fully convinced of – that one day Christ will return. What is sad is that I must define what I mean by those words. What I mean when I say that, “one day Christ will return” – is that some day in the future Christ will come to earth again in the same physical body with which he left and that this appearing will be visible. Many in liberal theology would say that the second coming of Christ is just allegorical, which is a flat out denial of the words of Christ and his apostles. Others will say that although his appearing will be literal, it will be invisible and mysterious. That is also a denial of what is written in the New Testament. When it comes to the return of Christ, I take the words of Christ and his apostles at face value and refuse to deny what the writer’s of the New Testament make so plain: Christ’s second coming is going to be physical and visible.

So why study Christ’s return? In the adult Sunday school class we began studying 1 Corinthians in October of 2006 and it was my assumption all along that we would just continue in our study by going on to 2 Corinthians. However, I had been convicted about my lack of knowledge regarding eschatology for a few years and I could never really pinpoint why it was that I was not very interested in the study of last things.

Then as I studied the Sovereignty Psalms I came to Psalm 98 where the psalmist commands us to sing a new song to the LORD (a very eschatological command – there are a couple of places in Revelation where it is said that people will be singing a new song when the end times come and Christ returns). Here was my conviction as I communicated it in my sermon

Psalm 98:7-9. Take in the meaning of these words – the Psalmist is saying that it is not just us as a people who are to be about singing and making joyous noise before the King. The entire planet, both the animate and the inanimate join together in this song before the LORD. And why is that? It is because of that word in v. 9 – “for”. We saw it in v. 1 and now we see it again in v. 9. In v. 1 we sing a new song “for” he has done marvelous things. Now in v. 9 all of creation joins together in joyous song “for” he is coming. The King is returning and when that happens the victory will be complete. His rule and reign and his kingdom will be fully realized. That should give us reason to sing for joy and join with all creation to celebrate the one who holds all things in his hand. Do you look forward to the time when He returns? One of the songs that we sing together that blesses me the most is It is Well. I think about that last stanza that Horatio Spafford wrote: “And LORD haste the day when my faith shall be sight, the clouds be rolled back as a scroll. The trump shall resound and the LORD shall descend even so it is well with my soul.” The Apostle Paul puts it like this – 2 Tim. 4:7-8, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 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 also to all who have loved his appearing.” Do you love his appearing? Again the Apostle Paul writes this in Titus 2:11-14, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” Is his appearing your blessed hope?

I recall John Piper telling about a conversation he had with his 12 year old daughter at Pizza Hut. He said they were talking and at one point he looked out the window and said I can’t wait for Jesus to come back. His daughter looked at him and said, “Daddy, I want to get married.” He knew exactly what she was saying, and I know what she was saying and you know what she was saying. I want to see my kids grow up and maybe get married. I want to be a grandpa. I want to see a great work of God in and through this tiny church here. There is so much I want, Jesus can you just hold off for a few more years? In essence, what I’m saying is that I love my life here on earth just a little bit more than I love your appearing LORD. The problem I find in my own heart and I’m pretty sure you’re not that much different than me is that the time I spend thinking on the blessed hope I have in the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ doesn’t even begin to compare with the time I spend pondering my own personal goals and my own self-fulfillment. How would we live if we would count all things as loss next to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus and looking to the day when he will set all history right WHEN HE RETURNS.

My hope and my desire is that as we study Christ’s return together as a Sunday school class we would begin to dwell on His return. My hope and desire is that we would begin with the Apostle Paul to see Christ’s return as our blessed hope and so love His appearing.

5 comments so far

  1. Jenn on

    Glad I will be able to be in your class in a few weeks!

  2. Leslie on

    I hope you’re planning to post some lessons here. I’ve been reading Reymond’s eschatology chapter in his New Systematic Theology and some of my questions are still unanswered.

  3. blbarber on

    Thanks for commenting. I do plan on posting the lessons. This was the first but not in it’s entirety. Please let me know what your questions are that are unanswered. I have not seen New Systematic Theology. I’m mainly working from Grudem’s Systematic Theology.

  4. Christina on

    Just yesterday, my 11 year old son was asking me some questions about end times. I recommended that he read Revelations, and I would look for a commentary for him (and me!). Do you have any suggestions? Evan reads at a high school level but is still just 11 and sometimes he doesn’t understand what he reads if it’s too over his head. Thanks.

    A friend of mine named her daughter Maranatha so that everytime someone said her name they would be reminded, “Our Lord come!”

  5. blbarber on

    I would say don’t limit yourself to Revelation. I would actually start with what Jesus himself says about his return in the gospels and Acts. That is where our study is going to begin. Then we are going to move into Paul’s writing – 1 Thessalonians and 1 Corinthians. Our pastor is preaching through Revelation now and I’m sure he’s using John MacArthur’s commentary, which comes in two parts. I’ve never read it, but Sproul’s book – the Last Days According to Jesus, could be a good place to start as well.

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