Thursday, November 10, 2011
The Day of Christ Jesus
"For I am confident of this very thing,
that He who began a good work in you
will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."
In the opening words of the book of Philippians, Paul encourages this young church in their faith by giving thanks to the Lord for them and telling them that he is confident that God would continue to work in their lives until the day of Christ Jesus. So my question this morning is this: When is the day of Christ Jesus?
Well, considering that this letter was written after Jesus ascended into heaven, the particular day Paul is referring to is not the day Jesus died or the day He resurrected. Contextually that wouldn't make sense. So there is a future day that is considered the day of Christ Jesus, agreed?
The Old Testament sheds light on this topic through a concept called the "Day of the Lord." If you did a word search on this phrase and read the passages containing it, you would find that the Day of the Lord is a terrible day of wrath that was prophesied would come upon the world. It is a day of darkness and trembling, a day when the sun refuses to shine and the earth quakes like never before. It is the day when God Almighty brings His holy wrath upon sinful man and shakes the earth to its core. Upon closer examination, you would find that it is not a 24 hour day, but a time period of great destruction.
And it's not an isolated concept. You will find it in the writings of Isaiah, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Zephaniah, Ezekiel and Malachi. It is also not isolated to just the Old Testament.
Moving into the New Testament, not only is it called the Day of the Lord, but Paul in I Corinthians 5:5 adds the name of Jesus to it - "I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." Now that the Messiah has been revealed and the church has been established, we know who the "Lord" is - it's Jesus.
In the first letter to the church at Thessolonica, Paul connects two very important future events. In chapter four, he describes the gathering of the believers in the air to forever be with the Lord - today we call this the rapture. In chapter five, he goes on to explain that the day of the Lord and the gathering are simultaneous events. The day of salvation for the church and the day of great destruction have the same starting point. So the Lord removes His church and brings judgment in one fell swoop.
This is a point of great dissension in the church today, as the prevalent teaching says that the church is raptured or gathered long before the Day of the Lord begins. But this is wishful thinking on the part of believers, for Jesus Himself warned of great persecution and tribulation in His teaching on the last days in Matthew 24. Knowing that the wrath of judgment would not fall on His children, Jesus still warned that great difficulty would come before His return.
Now, let's get back to this Philippians verse. If the day of Christ Jesus is the Day of the Lord, then this verse harmonizes Jesus teaching in Matthew 24 and Paul's teaching in I Thessalonians. You see, Paul is encouraging this young congregation that God would faithfully continue to perfecting them, sanctifying them, right up until the Day of the Lord occurs, the day when the church is gathered as a bride to be joined with the Groom, and the wrath of God would then fall on the unregenerate world.
This verse does not say "...will perfect it up until six or seven years before the day of Christ Jesus." No, it says "...will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." God will perfect His work in His children right up until the day He brings His wrath upon the earth. At that point, His church is gathered to Him, new bodies are given and the corrupt flesh of this present earth is removed eternally and the work of restoration is perfected, completed.
Just something to chew on this morning...