Our Savior came to earth and “became flesh and made his dwelling among us” about two thousand years ago. This is called His incarnation. But this divine Person had already existed for all eternity past. He was known as “the Word,” the second person of the holy trinity. As the apostle John wrote, “the Word was with God, and the word was God.” He was with God the Father through all eternity past. We know His earthly, God-given name as “Jesus” (Matthew 1:21).
Not only was the Word (Jesus) “with” God, but the Scripture also declares that He “was God,” thus declaring Jesus’ full deity, which is reinforced by dozens of other Bible verses. And in His unlimited, omnipotent divinity, Jesus the Word created all things (vs. 3). The apostle Paul confirmed that God the Father “created all things by Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 3:9).
The Old Testament prophet Micah foretold the future coming of the Messiah from the town of Bethlehem, where Jesus was born centuries later (Matthew 2:1). Like the apostle John, Micah proclaimed Jesus’ eternal preexistence, by saying of Him that His “goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” So out of eternity past, at a point in time some two millennia ago, our Savior came from heaven to earth. Here’s how.
An angel from God announced to Joseph that Mary, the woman Joseph intended to marry, was pregnant. The angel explained that this was a miraculous fulfillment (“from the Holy Spirit”) of Isaiah’s prophecy (7:14) that a virgin would conceive and bear a son, who would be known as Immanuel—that is, “God with us.” Let us never under-evaluate Jesus. He came to this earth not just a great man, but “God with us.”
Except for a brief mention of Jesus at age twelve (Luke 2:41-52), the New Testament is silent about the years after Jesus’ infancy up to His 30th year. Then at age 30 He began His public ministry, which continued for about 3-1/2 years until His crucifixion. During this brief but spectacular ministry, Jesus preached the gospel of God’s kingdom, taught in their synagogues and out in the open air, and healed every sickness and disease among those who came to Him in faith. His ministry was so remarkable, and so many believed in Him, that the jealous Jewish leaders rose up against Him and convinced the Roman governor to have Jesus crucified (Matthew chapter 27). Unwittingly, the resistant Jewish rulers had played right into God’s plan for the redemption of mankind by His Son’s death on the cross.
Thanks be to God, Jesus did not stay in the grave! He rose from the dead, spent some weeks on earth with His closest followers, then ascended back to heaven (Acts 1:1-11). And this, wrote the apostle Paul, is the very essence of “the Gospel”—that is, that Jesus was crucified and “died for our sins … was buried … [and] was raised on the third day.” As the apostle Peter wrote, Jesus “bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). In a word, Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection provided salvation and reconciliation to God the Father for all who would come to “repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21).
The resurrected Son of God ascended back to heaven and took His rightful place at the right hand of God the Father. There He reigns as “Prince and Savior” and offers forgiveness of sins and eternal life to all who will come to the Father through Him.
From His enthroned position in heaven, Jesus poured out on the early Church the promised baptism with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5,8; 2:1-4). He continues to provide this mighty Holy Ghost baptism to believers today, since “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
In His death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus secured complete salvation for all time for those who come to Him. And this salvation is not just for our future in heaven, but it is effective for us today—body, soul, and spirit. To that end, at the Father’s right hand in heaven, Jesus “always lives to intercede” for us. In worship and prayer we can come boldly to the throne of grace to receive His help in our times of need (Hebrews 4:16), for we have a divine Intercessor in heaven, Jesus the Son of God.
As we faithfully live out our lives in the Lord’s service on earth, we can happily look forward to the “blessed hope,” the Second Coming of Christ. As the Scripture so marvelously describes it, “the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 16-17). The verses just below show us the amazing things that happen at that Second Coming of our Lord Jesus.
When he comes to earth this second time, those who belong to Him will be “raised imperishable … raised in glory … raised in power … raised a spiritual body.” And the believers “who are still alive” on the earth at that moment will experience the same glorification of their bodies. At that spectacular moment in time, Jesus “will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:20-21).
All the believers raised and caught up to meet Jesus at His coming will enter into the Millennium with Him. Remember, His second coming is “down from heaven” to earth. And the resurrected believers will enter with Jesus into a thousand-year period of blessedness where we will “reign with him” on the earth. By contrast, those alive on earth at His Coming who did not turn to Jesus in faith and repentance during their lifetimes will incur the wrath of His judgment. The apostle Paul wrote that “Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8, KJV).
The Millennium, the 1,000-year reign of the saints on earth with Jesus, is now over. There comes “a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away” (Revelation 21:1, KJV). God comes to the new earth to live forever with His redeemed people—“God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God” (21:3). In the Bible’s closing chapter (Rev. 22), we see the throne of God and of Jesus, with the river of life proceeding from it. God the Father and the Lamb of God, Jesus, will be forever with the redeemed of all ages. “His servants will serve him. They will see his face” (22:4). And together with the Father and the Son, in immortal, glorified bodies the people of God “will reign for ever and ever” (22:5). The final and eternal fulfillment of “victory in Jesus!”
©2016, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.