Advent: Jesus Turned Up and will Show Up
December 22, 2016 | by: Dave Maniquis | 0 Comments
Posted in: Theology
The church is now fully in the season of Advent which began on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. For most churches in the West, Advent is the beginning of the church year. The word itself derives from the Latin adventus which means arrival, approach, or coming. Some interesting synonyms are: birth, appearance, materialization, and occurrence. I particularly like these two: turning up and showing up. At Christ’s first Advent He definitely “turned up” in fulfillment of prophecies, types and shadows in the Old Testament.
So, the traditional focus of this church season is to prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ; His first advent 2,000 years ago. And also, the anticipation of His Second Advent in the future (see blog: 52 Words Every Christian Should Know – Word 49). So, there’s a dual emphasis. This duality comprises God’s revealed truth that in Christ all creation is in the process of being, and will ultimately, reconciled to God. This dual focus is meant to show that Christ has already come and present in the world today and that He has promised to come again in power to judge sin and then restore all things (Philippians 3:20; Colossians 3:4). Thus, Advent includes the themes of each person answering to Jesus for their faithfulness to His Gospel, the genuineness of their relationship to Him, judgment on sin for all peoples, and the wonderful hope of eternal life in the presence of God for those who are truly His own (1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Timothy 4:8; Hebrews 9:18; 10:25).
This all falls under the Christian theological basis for Kingdom ethics; which means holy living as a result of our love for God, for Jesus, for the Holy Spirit. This is where, a Christian must, to use the hot word of political discourse nowadays, pivot, from not only celebrating God’s breaking into the world via the Incarnation but also living a certain way. The bottom-line is a life that is congruent with who you are inside with how that is played out in everyday living; with the deep sense that we “live and have our being” in an in-between reality—the done-deal Jesus’ first Advent and the expectant second Advent when history will be consummated according to God’s given Word. If we believe this revealed truth then it’s imperative to live the Great Commission that we hear about during Sunday sermons, Bible studies, and small groups in our respective churches. This kind of gospel living isn’t limited to four weeks of reflection and tradition, as magnificent and Christ-honoring our Advent season is. Rather, it has 365 seasons all year long. You see, when Jesus says “love the Lord your God with all your heart” and to “love your neighbor as yourself” it entails an uncluttered love for God and an unconstrained love for others during all seasons, all months, all weeks, each day. We are to live this out as lights to an unbelieving world and, in the meantime, and are assured Jesus’ return--pure and simple.
This comes from one primary source, the knowledge of which is, unfortunately, falling by the wayside today even in evangelical circles: the Bible. Now I don’t mean to be a bummer and put a damper on everyone’s Christmas “holidays.” Nevertheless, I often wonder if the expectancy and anticipation of Christ’s return really registers with many Christians since we are called to be a particular way if we have come to believe what Paul reveals, “If you declare with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9) Okay, what then? Well, the Apostle John expresses it incisively, “And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. (1 John 2:28)
These Spirit-breathed words are meant to lead the believer to know what pleases God, what He hates, and everything in between. This comes by being biblically informed and having prayers infused with that knowledge—both intellectually and emotionally. Through His written Word, God reveals His mind and heart to us, yes, even in the modern church. As a Christian my mind and heart is to harmonize with His. I can only stay on track with this through reading, studying, talking about God’s written Word, and praying it while I await Jesus’ Second Advent.
It is of such a profound comfort to know, and believe, that obedience to God’s revealed will in Scripture is the source of all joy since I’m assured that Jesus will “show up.” And that is, indeed, a Merry Christmas.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Dave Maniquis is a Teaching Elder at Restoration Church. He holds a BA in History from Rutgers University and an MA in Biblical Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary. He enjoyed a 23-year career in the U.S. Government, working and traveling extensively in Western and Eastern Europe. He has been a Christian for most of his adult life and has been involved in church planting, overseas as well as here in Port Orange, teaching the Bible and speaking into others’ lives with the Gospel. He is married to Maureen and they have two wonderful sons, Dylan and Evan.