What does it mean to be ready for the Second Coming of Jesus and why does it matter?
When I was in my early 20s I was a heavy drug user. Occasionally I would use a cocktail that included psychedelic drugs like Ecstasy and LSD mixed with inhalants such as nitrous oxide. While I was under their influence, these cocktails often resulted in my entering into a semiconscious, dream-like state. I cannot remember most of the drug-induced visions (if you want to call them that) but the ones I do remember all had spiritual themes.
Sometimes I felt like I was floating in heaven. Other times I felt like I was being pulled into deep darkness and had to fight to stay in the light. Strangely enough, although I felt far from God, in those moments I vividly remember always choosing the light just as a deep darkness tried to sweep me away. I would then “wake up,” fearful of death that seemed right around the corner and hoping there had to be more to life than the way I was living.
Have you ever felt that way in your own life? As if the curtain is opened to your inner consciousness, and you are a spectator watching the battle between good and evil being waged in your own mind?
After one of those moments, I was particularly shaken and I called the only Christian friend I knew. I poured out my heart to her and then picked up the journal she had given me a year earlier and began to write. I had never written in a journal before, but something compelled me to pick up a pen and start writing. And write I did. Nothing I wrote would classify as religious, but the writing became a spiritual journey, nonetheless. I was journaling my pain, loneliness, and longing for love in a way I never had before.
Maybe you have never journaled or have only used journals to record historical events in your life, but there is something cathartic about writing one’s feelings and emotions. While it is not the true solution to the maladies of our heart, it does release the pressure and allows us to think and reflect on what is really going on inside us.
This proved to be true for me. For nearly a year, I wrote faithfully in that journal. The good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of who I was as a person were on full display. Unfortunately, once again I found myself at a party under the influence of psychedelics. Once again, I had a revelation — but this time the revelation was different. This time it wasn’t just me, but everyone in the room was included. They all fell down and it was as if I alone was left standing. As I looked up, it was as if I was experiencing the Second Coming of Jesus in that moment. Intuitively, I knew right then and there what it meant.
I had read it before in the Bible:
Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Revelation 6:14–17)
Who Is Able to Stand?
Can there be a more important question asked by those living on the edge of time?
Do you know the answer?
One thing I knew in the moment of that revelation was that I was not ready to stand, and yet somehow, I did stand.
I did not fall with those around me. It was just me and Jesus in the room together, and He was looking at me with outstretched arms saying, “This doesn’t have to be your future. If you follow Me, you will see Me come again… and on that day you will be able to stand. But for that to happen, you have to turn away from this life that you are living.”
I had to make a choice.
We all must make a choice.
If we want to be ready for Jesus, we must be made ready for Jesus. Ironically, it is only Jesus that can make us ready to meet Him face to face one day.
The psalmist said it this way:
Clean hands and pure heart — what does that mean?
Are the Scriptures really saying that only those who have been fully cleansed and purified will be able to stand before the glorified Son when He comes again?
Maybe you have heard it said that God knows your heart and that is all the matters in the end. But the Scriptures do not support that commonly held belief.
Intentions are not the same as actions and consistently we find that God looks not only at our hearts but also our hands. What are our hands doing and where are our feet heading?
Jesus said it best:
Profession of faith is not a substitution for obedience.
Consumed in the Presence of God
One of the metaphors used consistently throughout the Bible to describe God is that of fire:
"For our God is a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:29).
How can the Creator of all life at the same time be a consuming fire? Clearly God does not consume everything He touches. The God who holds all things together in the universe, by the power of His Word, does not also have a split personality that delights in watching it burn.
So, there must be something specific that is consumed in the presence of God. And that thing is sin.
It is only because of sin that we no longer stand in the presence of God like we once did in the innocence of our Eden home.
And what is sin? Sin is the transgression of the law.
It is both a condition and an action. It dirties both the heart and the hands.
We are sinners because we sin, and we sin because we are sinners. It is a vicious cycle that can only be broken when both our heart and hands are cleansed by God.
This polluted state of being prevented Moses himself from seeing God when he asked, “show me Your glory” (Exodus 33:18).
But he [God] said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” And the Lord said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen. (Exodus 33:20–23)
If God is an all-consuming fire, what is different about the people who are able to stand before Jesus when He comes in the clouds with the glory of the Father and with ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands and thousands of angels with Him?
We already read that when the wicked see Him, they turn and run to the rocks and the hills to hide themselves from the face of the Lamb.
But what about the living righteous — why doesn’t He consume them too?
The prophet Malachi gives us some insight after he asks the same question that we are trying to answer:
I hope you see it now — the fundamental difference between the two groups on the earth on the day of Christ’s Second Coming.
The righteous allowed God to consume their sin when they invited Him into their heart. His presence living in them refined them in the fire of affliction here on earth so they are purified when He comes for them.
Revelation describes this group as the bride of Christ:
“And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, 'Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.' And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints" (Revelation 19:6–8).
She has clean hands and a pure heart. She has allowed God into her heart and allowed Him to live His life through her own. And now she is ready to live in His presence throughout eternity.
The wicked on the other hand are not ready for Jesus because they did not allow Him into their heart. They cling to their sin and sin clings to them. Since they do not allow Jesus to consume the sin from within them while they have the chance, in His presence they are now consumed with their sin.
Picture the scene now in your own mind.
“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS" (Revelation 19:11–16).
One day soon, Jesus is going to come again.
What Side Will You Be On?
That night, at a party and under the influence of drugs, I made the choice that I wanted to be ready for Jesus. But I couldn’t stop asking myself the question, why me?
Why, Jesus, would You go through all this trouble of reaching out to a college dropout and drug addict who was doing nothing with life other than selfishly living for himself?
And the only answer that kept coming back to me was love.
Even though it was the revelation that got my attention, it was love that got my heart.
I finally began to realize the answer to all the questions I had been asking for a year since I had started writing in my journal. It was God all along.
The longing that I could not fill with all the pleasure-seeking the world could offer was filled in a moment with God
I went to bed that night with a peace in my heart I had never experienced before. In an instant I was a new creation. The old had gone and the new had come.
The journal became a written testament of the change within me. In the middle of the book, I wrote out the revelation of that night so I would never forget, and then continued writing until the journal was full.
The first half — my life before.
The second half — my life after.
Call to Action
Friend, that is all it ever takes for any of us. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, when you surrender your heart to God He will come in and consume all the sin out of your life.
The things you once hated, you now love; the things you once loved, you now hate. It is truly a miracle of God
So, who is able to stand? Only those who have been consumed by the fire of the love of God.
All scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.