The doctrine of “the Second Coming,” which speaks of a bodily return of the Lord Jesus Christ, has been the most elevated of Christian doctrines. It has been raised to such a high degree that if anyone spoke anything contrary to it they would immediately be branded as a heretic. It is ironic that it is so revered and yet most don’t live like they really believe it. The problem is that it tends to become a pet doctrine to many Christians; as a result it is often misused and abused. Some would not want to hear this, but there is a teaching of the Scriptures that is more important. That teaching also deals with the coming of the Lord, but not in the sense of a bodily return. What I am speaking of is a spiritual coming of the Lord within us so that we can take on His nature and become as He is. Let me give you an example.
Romans 13:11 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.
Henry Alford, Dean of Canterbury 1857-1871, makes this statement in his writings concerning this verse of Scripture. “A fair exegesis of this passage can hardly fail to recognize that the apostle here, as well as elsewhere, speaks of the coming of the Lord as rapidly approaching.”
Actually, Paul is not speaking of a literal coming of the Lord here at all. In fact, one would have to be asleep to see it as such. The next three verses explain very well what Paul is speaking about here.
Romans 13:12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.
The Lord Jesus Christ is our salvation, but He is not our salvation apart from us. Apart from us He is our salvation in provision. He is our salvation when He is in us; that is, when we have taken on His nature and we are as He is. That kind of relationship is the “day at hand” that Paul is speaking of in this verse. It is not at hand for everyone, but only for the ones Paul speaks of as “us” when he says, “Let us cast off the works of darkness.” If he is speaking to you, then you are a member of the “us.” If you are not casting off the works of darkness, then you are not part of the “us.”
The “works of darkness” are found in our human nature. They are what Paul calls the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21. The life and presence of the Lord is the “Light,” and as He comes forth within us the Light of His presence shines forth eliminating the darkness. The “armor of light” is the presence of the Lord that protects us from the works of darkness.
When Paul says that “the day is at hand,” He is not talking about a bodily coming of the Lord but the relationship we will have with Him when He comes forth within us. And so we have the prophetic Word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. I Peter 5:19.
Romans 13:13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.
This verse describes the asleep-life where the works of darkness are found.
Romans 13:14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
Put on Christ! Put on His life! Take on His nature! Christ in you is the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). You don’t have to throw away your teachings of a bodily return of Jesus Christ. He can do that at any time He desires, but if He does and you haven’t put on Christ you won’t be a happy camper. Your salvation does not depend on “the Second Coming” doctrine so much as it depends on your becoming as He is, and that is done by Him coming forth in your life.
Copyright © 2005 by Henry DuBose