Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Return of Christ, by Martin Lloyd-Jones

The Return of Christ
By: Martin Lloyd-Jones

Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.
—Acts 3:19–21
In this one sermon here in Acts 3, we have a very wonderful summary of what constitutes the essence of Christian preaching. Why should we be interested in that? As we have seen, it is because of the state of the world in which we live and because of our own state and condition by nature. None of us would be considering this were it not that we had found life hard, full of problems and trials. We have tried everything else and have found it to fail. We know that what the world has to offer is no solution, and we want to know what the Christian church has to say to us and to the whole world in which we live. In a world that in so many respects is collapsing all around us, it is urgently important that we should know exactly what the Christian message is and what it has to offer us. And in this sermon the apostle gives us the answer.
We saw in our last study how Peter expounded the meaning of the death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, “the Holy One and the Just” (v. 14). We have seen how he told the people in the temple court that Christ’s death was God’s way of giving them forgiveness, giving them an opportunity to have their sins blotted out. But Peter had more to say, he did not leave it there; and it is very important that you and I realize that the Gospel does not end at that. It starts like that. The first need of every human being is to be reconciled to God. But then the apostle went on to say that what Jesus had done so far was only a part of what He was going to do. What had already happened was not the end of God’s plan and purpose. There was more to follow; indeed, the bulk was to follow.
It is very interesting to me to notice the way in which the apostle preached to the people. You see, he made use of the miracle. He said: “This man … whom ye see and know” (v. 16). Peter kept on reminding them of that, and of course they all did know him. This poor fellow had been placed at the gate every day, and of necessity everybody knew him. As they went into the temple through the Beautiful Gate, they had to pass him. Peter made use of this: He said in effect, “You are amazed to see this man now walking and leaping and praising God. But the questions you must concentrate on are these: What made him as he was, and what is the meaning of his healing? I want to try to show you,” said Peter, “that what happened to that man is but a foretaste of what will happen to the whole universe.” And that is the theme to which I now want to call your attention.
The healing of the lame man is but an illustration of what God, in Christ, will do to the whole cosmos. In other words, we must realize that a part of the preaching of the gospel message is that salvation is not merely a personal matter; it concerns the entire universe. The personal is a vital part, but it does not stop at that; it is included in a greater whole. Peter in effect put it like this: “Jesus is the Christ, which means that He is the Messiah; He is the one appointed by God, foreordained by Him before the foundation of the world, to lead a great move of deliverance. He is a leader. He is a Savior.” And Peter went on in a very interesting manner. He said:
Moses truly said unto the fathers, A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that Prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.
Acts 3:22–24
Peter was saying that the Lord Jesus Christ was not only foretold by Moses but was prefigured by him. Moses was the great leader who led the children of Israel out of the bondage of Egypt to the Promised Land of Canaan. He did not have the privilege of actually taking them in, but he took them to the River Jordan, and all they had to do was cross it. He was the appointed leader, God’s man to lead this people from captivity to liberty, to a land flowing with milk and honey. But as Moses himself had said: “The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me” (Deut. 18:15). The work of the Messiah was to lead the whole universe from bondage to paradise. That is how the apostle works out this great statement, and it is a vital part of the preaching of the Gospel.
Here, then, is the message: God has a plan for this world, this whole universe in which we live. In Christ it will be delivered and restored. But here come the great questions: When will this happen, and how will it happen? And the answer given by the apostle comes as a direct challenge to the modern world. This is what men and women not only do not accept but dislike and reject with scorn and contempt. The answer is that this deliverance lies in the future. It is apocalyptic. It is a great event to which the whole of creation is moving.
Let me put this in its modern context. People heartily dislike this “otherworldly” view, as they call it. They ridicule it and call it “pie in the sky.” “Ah,” they say, “people in the past used to talk about the next world, this wonderful future world, and they sang about golden harps and golden streets and so on. But, of course, we’ve grown up, and we no longer believe in that kind of thing. What we want is a message that will help us in the here and now. We want something this-worldly. It’s no use telling us that something marvelous and wonderful will happen sometime. What we want is a message that will put this world in order while we are in it and give us some sort of security and happiness. And,” they say, “surely that is the real Gospel. The Gospel is something that teaches us how to reform this world, how to put things right by legislation, sociological movements, education, and things of that kind.”
This has been the popular theme of the twentieth century. It used to be known as the social gospel, but it goes under many names. It is the belief that Christianity is just a view of life, a view of the social order, and a set of principles. So all we have to do is persuade the statesmen and employers and trade unions to put these things into practice. “In this way,” people say, “we’ll get rid of our problems. We’ll reform the world. We’ll have a happy society. We’ll get them to destroy the bombs and banish war. We’ll have a great league of all the nations of the world and will all live happily ever after.” They may not be so sure about the “happy,” but they say, “At any rate we’ll not be bothered by wars. We’ll have plenty of time to go drinking and dancing and gambling and doing the things that really make life worth living.”
That is about it, is it not? But I want to show you that this is a complete denial of the Gospel. That is my first objection to a social gospel. It is the exact opposite of what was taught here by the apostle Peter. Notice what he did: Having reminded his listeners of the tragedy of their denial of “the Holy One and the Just,” he said, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” And then immediately Peter took them to this: “And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”
There is not a word in Peter’s sermon about reform. There is not a word about going out to preach the Gospel in order to make people live better lives or to influence the imperial government of Rome in order to get these things put into practice. No, no, that is not how Peter preached. Remember, here is the first preacher in the Christian church; here is the authentic summary of this great message, and what a wonderful opportunity! The crowd had gathered, they wanted to hear, and Peter told them something that is in the distant future. Now this was not only true of the preaching of the apostle Peter but was equally true of the preaching of our blessed Lord and Savior. Our Lord never claimed to have come into the world to reform it. He never said the world was going to get better and better; indeed, He said the exact opposite. He said:
As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.… Likewise also, as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold … but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven.
Luke 17:26, 28–29
Our Lord said that evil men would get worse and worse. And He said, “And when ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be” (Mark 13:7). So the apostle Peter was but repeating what he had heard from the lips of his Lord and Master. Our Lord held out, as the only hope, something that He was yet going to do.
We find exactly the same thing in the preaching of the apostle Paul and in all his epistles, as Peter himself said in his second letter. Talking about the coming day of the Lord, Peter wrote, “… even as our beloved brother Paul … in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction” (3:15–16).
And if you read in Acts 17 the little summary of Paul’s sermon in the city of Athens, you will find that Paul preached precisely what Peter preached here. We find this throughout the New Testament, and as Peter reminds us, it is also the great message of the Old Testament. The prophets, too, spoke of a great future age when the lion shall lie down with the lamb and when the wolf and the ox shall eat straw together. It is the universal message of the whole of the Bible.
So the modern idea that Christianity is just a movement for world reform and that it is mainly political and social is a complete denial of the teaching of the Scriptures. That is what makes it so tragic. Not only that, but, second, this teaching is entirely disproved by history. Christianity has been in this world for nearly 2,000 years, and it has not reformed it. History is against this modern idea. History has been a matter of ups and downs, advances and retrogressions.
To me, this is the most important point of all. I imagine there is no one single consideration that stumbles so many people with regard to the Christian faith as this very thing that we are considering together. If Christianity is a movement for world reform, if the business of Christianity is to get rid of war and to teach people how to live together and to solve labor and industrial problems, if it is just a social, political program, then the man of the world makes this point, and he is perfectly entitled to do so: “All right, that’s why I’m not a Christian. That’s why I don’t believe your message. Christianity has been going for nearly 2,000 years. It claims that it will put the world in order and that it will get rid of all our problems. But after 2,000 years of preaching—and the church has been in control in many centuries and could do anything she liked—look at the state of the world! I’m not interested,” says the modern person. “Your Christianity has proved to be a failure. There’s nothing in it. It doesn’t work. It’s all right as idealistic talk, but in the actual world of practicalities it has nothing to give us. If Christianity is true, then why in this one [twentieth] century have we already had two world wars, and why are the nations behaving as they are? It’s impossible. It’s ridiculous.” And of course that is a perfectly valid argument, and the people who misrepresent Christianity as a social, political program have no answer to give.
But Christianity has never promised to be a vehicle for world reform. There is no statement anywhere in the Bible to that effect. The tragedy of this false view of the Christian message is that it cannot explain the past centuries; it cannot explain the state of the world today; it has nothing to tell us with respect to the future. It is utterly bankrupt. The proponents of a social gospel can only go on repeating that people must be persuaded to accept this ethic. They must enter politics. They must organize this and that. Though nothing has come of it, there is nothing to do but to go on doing it. Such a view is hopeless.
Of course, it sounded very plausible and very likely in the nineteenth century, but at that time the world really seemed to be advancing toward perfection. There had not been a very serious war since the Napoleonic Wars. There had been the odd incident, like the Crimean War, but that was local. The whole world seemed to be settling down to a great advance, and in 1859 Darwin came along with his theory that was going to prove it. He said in effect, “I found this law in biology, and it works out everywhere.”
Then came Thomas Huxley who said, “This is not only biologically true—it is true all along the line.” Herbert Spencer, the philosopher, added that this was a principle of the whole of life. Everything is advancing, moving steadily in the direction of perfection, he claimed. The poets caught the fire, and Tennyson sang about the parliament of man and the federation of the world—the glorious age that was coming. I admit that it seemed very plausible then, but how anybody can believe anything like that now passes my comprehension. This twentieth century has shattered such a view; it has ridiculed it and made nonsense of it. Nothing is so discredited as this whole notion that man and the universe are moving in the direction of perfection by a process of evolution. This century has smashed that idea once and forever. There is no explanation of history along that line. Is it not time that the world began to listen to the apostle Peter? Is it not time that the world began to listen to the authentic Christian message? Peter said in effect, “You want to know what this is all about? You look at this man and see him walking, leaping, and praising God. He was paralyzed, so you ask, ‘What is this?’ It is a picture, a parable. This will happen to the whole universe.”
How?
“Well,” said Peter, “this same person, the one you thought you had got rid of, is the key to it all. ‘He [God] shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive [retain, contain] until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.’ ”
What does all that mean? Well, let me expound the phrases to you. Again my task is very simple. I just have to underline the headings used by the apostle Peter himself. Here is the first phrase: “whom the heaven must receive.” Peter had just told the people that this Christ did die on the cross on Calvary’s hill, and he told them why Christ died. Then, as we saw, he reminded them that Christ did not remain in the tomb. “Ye … killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses” (v. 15).
But Peter took it a step further. Not only was there the Resurrection, but something else followed after forty days—the Ascension: “whom the heaven must receive.” Go back to the first chapter of Acts and you will find our Lord talking to the disciples and telling them to stay at Jerusalem, where they would receive power “after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” Then we are told, “And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight” (v. 9). The Ascension, too, is a part of the preaching of the Gospel.
When Peter said, “whom the heaven must receive,” in effect he was telling the people, “We are not only witnesses of His resurrection—we are witnesses of His ascension.” Many sections of the church observe Ascension Day. It happened ten days before the Feast of Pentecost, which we call Whit Sunday. It is a part of the preaching of the Gospel to say that Christ was taken up into heaven. And the New Testament Scriptures tell us that after He ascended, He passed through the heavens into heaven itself and took His seat at the right hand of God, in the glory everlasting, and He is seated there still.
We know a good deal about what our Lord is doing in heaven. We know He is reigning. Before He ascended into heaven, He told His disciples, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach [disciple] all nations … teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:18–20). Here is the Christian philosophy of history. Do you want to understand the modern world? Do you want to understand the last 2,000 years? Do you want to know the future of this world and of the human race? I can tell you—and not because I have had a vision or because I claim to have had some unusual understanding, but because it is all here. The Christian message gives the only explanation of history. It is that this same Jesus is seated there at the right hand of God’s glory in the heavens, and He is ruling.
What else is He doing? He is calling out a people for Himself. He sent these disciples and said in effect, “I leave My message with you. You are going to be witnesses to Me. I am going to give you power to enable you to speak and testify to what you see and what you know and what you have experienced. I am sending you to Jerusalem, to Samaria, to the uttermost parts of the earth. I am sending you to tell the universe that I am the Son of God and the only Savior.” And our Lord has been doing that ever since. From that moment until now, He has been calling out a people, and He has been forming a new kingdom, the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven.
That is the story that begins in this New Testament and is continued in the long history of the Christian church. Throughout the centuries, this Gospel has been preached, and men and women individually, sometimes in small companies, have had their eyes opened. They have seen it. They have believed it. They have been separated from the world and became members of the church, members of the body of Christ. They have started living a new life with a new hope. They have lost the fear of death and of the grave. They are enabled to conquer sins that used to defeat them. And this is still going on. He is still sending out His messengers. Men and women are still being converted and renewed.
But the apostle went on to say there would be an end to that process: “whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things.” When will that be? Well, he tells us: “He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you.” Have you ever realized this? Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, will come back into this world. I have already told you how He ascended into heaven in the sight of these men on Mount Olivet. Do you remember the sequel? “And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:10–11). That is exactly what Peter was saying. The heavens would retain Him until God sent Him again. Where to? Back into this world! This is the very heart and center of the cosmic message of the Christian Gospel, the Christian evangel.
How will our Lord come back? This is what the angels said to the disciples: “In like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” He will come visibly. He will come bodily. Ah yes, but it will be very different from His first coming. He will not come as a helpless babe but as the King of kings, as the Lord of lords. He will come riding the clouds of heaven surrounded by an innumerable host of holy angels. This is a part of God’s plan, and it is an essential part of the Christian message.
I am simply expounding Peter’s sermon to you—this is not my theory. It certainly is not the theory of modern man. Not only do people today not speak like this, they laugh at it and ridicule it. Of course they do! They laughed at Jesus Christ when He was in the world. They would not believe that He was the Son of God, “the Holy One and the Just.” Who is this fellow?” they said. “Who is this impostor?” But He made the lame man walk. As they then ridiculed the first coming, they now ridicule the idea of the Second Coming. Peter has already said it for us in his second epistle where he refers to “scoffers” who say, “Where is the promise of his coming?” (3:3–4). “You Christian people with your talk about the Second Coming, for nearly 2,000 years now you’ve been saying that the Son of God is going to come back into this world, but where is this promised coming? The whole world looks as it’s always looked. Everything is the same as it’s always been. What’s the use of talking about this? When is He going to come?”
Do you remember Peter’s answer? “You think you are clever,” says Peter in effect, “because you think that God is like you. You count your days and weeks and months and years. ‘But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day’ (2 Pet. 3:8). I do not know when He is coming,” says Peter; “there is only one who knows, and that is God Himself. All I know is that Christ will come. God will send Him. God is not finished.”
Why will God send His Son back into this world? The answer is: For the “restitution of all things.” If you prefer, you can translate “restitution” by the word “restoration.” God is going to send His Son back into the world to restore, reconstitute, all things. He has promised to do this, says Peter, from the foundation of the world. He has said so through all His holy apostles and prophets. He will send His Son back again in order that everything may be restored.
“What do you mean?” asks someone.
Well, if you really want to understand history, if you want to know why the world is as it is today, if you want to know whether there is any hope for the world, listen as you have never listened in your life. Here is the only explanation. God will send His Son back into this world so that everything shall be restored. This is prefigured, as Peter says, by Moses and the children of Israel of old. The children of Israel were God’s people. He had called Abraham and led him to the land of Canaan. But owing to a famine, they had had to go down to Egypt; and there, after the days of Jacob and Joseph, they had been maltreated and had had a very hard time. They had lost their freedom and their greatness and were slaves groaning in a foreign land. But God sent a deliverer called Moses, and he, the prophet of God, led them out, in spite of all difficulties, to the Promised Land. And, said Peter, when God sends the one who was prefigured by Moses back into this world again, He will send Him into it in order that all things may be reconstituted, regenerated, restored.
The apostle Paul expressed that in a great and striking phrase in the first chapter of his epistle to the Ephesians: “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: that in the dispensation of the fulness of times he”—God—“might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him” (vv. 9–10). That is the principle.
Christ will come back to reconstitute the universe, but why does it need to be reconstituted? Ah, here is the question, and here is the relevance of all this to you and to me. This world in which we are living is not the world as God created it. He made it perfect. There were no thorns in it, no briars, no illness, no paralysis, no disease, no death. It was perfect, paradise; and man and woman were perfect in it, made in the image and likeness of God. So why is the world as it is? Why is a man born lame? Why have we had two world wars? Why is the world in its madness heading for a third? Why are they making these bombs? Why is there jealousy and envy and malice and spite? Why is there tension among the nations? What is the cause of it all? There is but one answer. It was all caused by the fall of man. The devil tempted Adam and Eve. They listened and fell and brought chaos upon themselves and upon the whole universe. When Adam and Eve fell, humanity suffered in every respect. From thereon men and women suffered spiritually. They lost the face of God; they lost original righteousness; they lost God’s peace; they lost His happiness; they lost His joy; they became afraid. Internal conflicts began, and they could trust no one. Not only that, the whole cosmos suffered.
The apostle Paul has put this in a memorable statement in the eighth chapter of the epistle to the Romans. This is what the modern world does not know but needs to know: “I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.” Furthermore, “For the creature [the creation] was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope” (vv. 18–20). This means that creation itself “also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (v. 21). Adam and Eve were the lords of creation, and God put them in the universe to manage it for Him. When they fell, the universe fell too, and God cursed the ground. That is when diseases came in. That is when paralysis came in. That is when thorns and briars came in. That is when wars and murder came in. That is when all that makes life a hell came in.
The world has been upset; it is turned into chaos. It is a place of disorder, a place of trouble. It is cursed. But when God sends His Christ, His Son, again into the world, He will send Him back into it to put it right again—this is the “restitution of all things.” The world at the moment is being partly governed by the devil. He is “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4). He is “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2). That, and not lack of education, is the explanation of the condition of the world. The most educated men and women in this country are as bad as the most illiterate. Oxford and Cambridge are not free from sin—why, the problem is acute there. An inquiry is having to be made because those students, the best brains in the country, are living on drugs, “having a kick,” they say, committing suicide. Our hearts should break and bleed as we think of them. This is not a problem of knowledge and of education. Can you not see, this is a world that is being governed by Satan. There is disorder, license, lust, passion. The world is upside-down. But God will not allow the devil to have the final victory!
So what will happen? Oh, you say, preach Christianity and you will gradually educate people. But will you? It has been tried for 2,000 years, but that is the very thing that does not work. It never will succeed because man is so rotten that he must be born again. No, no, there is only one hope—it is the coming back of Christ. He will come back and will judge the world in righteousness, and not only will He condemn all who have died in evil and sin and who have rejected Him and what he offers them, but Satan will finally be destroyed. Christ, while He was in this world, already defeated the devil. That enemy is already in chains, but he will yet be destroyed with an everlasting destruction. The devil and hell and evil and sin and all that is against God will be burned with a holy fire until there is nothing of any of it left, and there shall be “new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Pet. 3:13).
And, blessed be His name, Christ will restore the whole universe. Paul says, “We know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” (Rom. 8:22). The day is coming when “the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21). What does this mean? Paul tells us: “The earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God” (Rom. 8:19). These “sons” are the men and women who have believed the Gospel throughout the centuries. They are the people who have listened to this message and have accepted it though the world has ridiculed it. They have become fools and have been made wise. They have been the laughingstock of the world but are children of God; and when He comes and reconstitutes the whole cosmos—not only this earth but Mars and Jupiter and the sun and the moon and all the universe—it will all be restored to its original, absolute perfection. And you and I who believe in Christ, whose sins have been blotted out, we too shall be reconstituted, our spirits shall be perfect, and we shall know Him even as we are already known.
And, wonder of wonders, this transformation will apply even to our physical bodies. We long and look for the Savior, says Paul to the Philippians, “who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Phil. 3:21). “Look,” said Peter in effect in his sermon, “you are interested in this miracle. Here is a man born lame, yet now standing, walking, leaping, praising God. But the whole universe will be the same, and the children of God will walk and leap and praise God in this renovated universe.” Death is caused by evil and sin and rebellion against God, but He will come and destroy it all, and the world will be restored to its glorious, original perfection, and all who believe in Him shall be like this man. Here is a specimen. Here is a sample, an illustration. There shall be no more sighing, no more sorrow, no more sickness and disease. God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. There shall be no more death. It will be glory and everlasting glory. There will be nothing wrong, nothing reducing the glory. It will be absolute and eternal and entire.
That is future history—and that is Christian preaching. This world is not going to get better and better; it is much more likely to get worse and worse. But let this world do whatever it wills, it cannot make any difference to the plan and the purpose of God. In His own appointed time, in the fullness of time, as He sent His Son the first time into the world, He will send Him again. He will destroy every enemy of man and of God.
Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
Doth its successive journeys run,
His kingdom stretch from shore to shore
’Til moons shall wax and wane no more.
Isaac Watts
As certain as we are alive today, these things will happen.
So I say to you what Peter said to those people in Jerusalem of old. The problem for you is not to try to understand miracles; it is not to be bothered about your intellectual difficulties. The problem for you is this: Are you ready for this great event when the Son of God will come in His righteousness to judge the whole world and send to everlasting destruction those who have not believed in Him? That is your problem. For He is coming. The only hope for this world is that the Son will deliver it from “the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” Nothing matters but this.
So in light of this, what is this world, what is even death itself? It is nothing. The one thing that matters is that we should know Christ, that we should be reconciled to God. Listen to Peter: “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (v. 19). Then you will become the children of God, and you will begin to wait for that great day. That is what the apostle Paul and others also exhorted those early believers to believe and to do. Paul writes to Titus:
The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
2:11–14
If you believe these things, says Peter in his letter, “What manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.… Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation” (2 Pet. 3:11, 14).
But let us end with a word from the apostle John, the companion of Peter on this famous occasion when the miracle was worked. This is how John puts it: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:2–3). Forget your great intellect and all your supposed intellectual problems. Face your relationship to God and your eternal future, and believe on this Son of God who was crucified and died that you might be forgiven and who, blessed be His name, said just before He left this world:
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
John 14:1–3
Repent, if you have never done so, and believe on this crucified, risen, ascended, glorified Son of God with whom you can spend your eternity in the glory, in the “new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” God will triumph over the devil and hell and all His enemies. Christ will reconstitute all unto the glory of God. Make certain that you will be part of that and enjoying it forever and forever