Rom. 13.11 thru 14 He is Coming
The Savior is coming!
Have you ever anticipated something so much that you thought you were going to die? When we are looking forward to something, we manifest all kinds of feelings, from anxiousness to excited ness and everything in between.
This is not a political ad and I am not telling you this because of the politics but simply because it is one time in my life when I recently felt anticipation like I haven’t for a long time. I remember going to see President Bush just before the election. My family and I went to Queenie Park to see him after the debate here in town. We waited four hours. We watched different speakers, a band, and then the debate, before he made his way over to the park from where the debate was held. When he was getting close to the park the Secret Service became very active as they scanned the auditorium and checked the President’s pathway through the building. Then they lowered the lights and began playing some kind of “build up” music, apparently for his entrance. We were all getting very excited. As a Secret Service agent attached the Presidential emblem to the podium it struck me that now the President of the United States was going to speak there, and they had to prepare it for him…the most powerful man in the world. I can remember telling my wife that I felt chills on the back of my neck when the lights went down and the music began to play. This was a joyful kind of anticipation. Then the music seemed to loop around and just kept on playing the same tune over and over. Some of the crowd would break into a chant of “four more years” then this would slowly subside as he still didn’t seem to be coming in. The crowd was patient, yet we all seemed to be on the verge of impatience.
1. We Anticipate His Coming!
I remember anticipating Christmas like that. This was especially true as I was being read “The Night before Christmas.” The stockings had been hung, as in the story, and the tree was a shimmer with lights. I can remember my mother reading to me and my mind being consumed with wonder of what would happen the next morning. I could hardly sleep! I would flirt with the idea of sneaking out of my room in the middle of the night to see what was happening. My childhood memories, of not being able to wait for the night to end and for the morning to come, remind me of this text.
We have a strange way of anticipating the coming of Christ. Are we ready? Do you feel ready for Him to come? Are we excited? Are we even anxious? Have we prepared for his arrival? Do you ever feel like you are asleep at the wheel as a Christian? That you are just going through the motions and posing, but…you know in your heart you aren’t in line with what God would have you doing. We are born anew…yet has the newness faded, or have we fallen asleep?
2. Sometimes We Are Distracted From
I became a Christian at age thirty. When I did, I was renewed through my baptism. I confessed to a loving savior that could finally forgive me for all the sin that I had committed through those thirty years of life! Through confession with my pastor and at the Lord’s altar I felt as though a tremendous burden had been lifted off of my shoulders and lay at the feet of Jesus. This was fourteen years ago and many things have happened in my life since then. Unfortunately…I have sinned again since then. There have been days when this “new sin” has weighed me down. I have felt in my heart that, now that I am a believer, I should know better than that! This makes me feel as though I have fallen backwards. Or that the Spirit, which had entered me in baptism, might have left me. I felt that this “new Christian” had fallen asleep in darkness. I pray that He will come to me at those times. Times like…when I have had an argument with my wife and cannot find it in myself to go to her and ask for her forgiveness. I feel as though something else has taken control of me as I stand on being right and I play the game of “no talking until one of us cracks.” Do you ever have days like that?
3. Paul Warns Us Of Darkness !
I believe Paul was trying to wake the Romans from this kind of a sleep in our passage for today. Paul warns us of darkness! To appreciate the context of this call, we must look at the rest of his letter to the Romans. He had just laid out an exhortation on the conduct expected of a Christian and the traits to be exemplified. In the immediately preceding section of chapter 13, Paul delineates the role of a Christian in his relationship with the government as an ordinance of God. He speaks of righteousness practiced through faith in the body and with a government established by God. He continues this theme by bringing our attention to the commandment, “love your neighbor as yourself.” He exhorts that we must pay the “continuing debt to love one another,” and this includes all people as a fulfillment of the law.
Paul appeals to the Romans to not step backwards into the life of darkness, but put aside the deeds of darkness in preparation for His coming. This appeal includes a list of actions that typify immorality from a Christian perspective offering a contrast between the world and the life of a believer. This is a general classification of a sinful life known in the world of the Romans at the time. He exhorts for them to live Godly lives in light of the certainty of the close of the present age. In the midst of all of these exhortations about Christian living, Paul offers a vision of the future coming of Jesus that, because of this hope, must change the way they live now.
He calls them to “put on the armor of light.” But what is this “armor”? It can be translated as a weapon and as both an offensive and defensive armor. It refers to “the weapons of righteousness” from 2 Cor. that are given in the time of God’s favor, the day of salvation, of the present age of grace between the two comings of Christ.
In Eph. 5:14 we read, “…for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: ‘Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’” This also deals with “light” and “waking up.” We see again the urgency to arise and this brings in the light of Christ that we see in Romans. In both we will be given life through the light of Christ. He is exhorting us to clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ and avoid the darkness of a fallen world.
4. God Has Told Us He Is Coming !
Now Paul gives us good news between the lines of all of this urgent warning of darkness. He tells you about your close proximity to the second coming of Christ, to your salvation and its promise. God has told us He is coming! Paul assures you that the “night is nearly over.” He encourages the Romans with the hope of their salvation being closer now than ever before. He reminds them of the excitement of the coming savior. He now raises our eyes to the larger perspective that shapes our Christian living in a climactic way. This is the knowledge that the creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. We celebrate this anticipation and the focus on His coming especially during this Advent season.
5. We Can Anticipate With Joy In Jesus!
The only way the “armor” could work is if Christ has already won the victory over sin through His death and resurrection. We are not frightened by the world around us and our slips in the darkness, because we know the love of Christ! We can anticipate with joy in Jesus! Our salvation is sure because we are first buried with Christ in baptism and then raised anew with Him, our savior. At baptism, we sometimes have a white garment that we put on the child and the alb is the basic white garment of all Christians, our baptismal clothing. This symbolizes the righteousness of Christ. When Paul is talking about being clothed in Christ, he is describing the righteousness that is ours in baptism. In the Word of God we are told of salvation and the anticipation of something that will bring us closer to God and the comfort of being under His headship in His kingdom in heaven. The salvation that brings a time that we can worship the Father in spirit and truth unhindered by the temptation of sin.
Christ has already won our victory over sin, darkness, death and this evil age. He has awoken from the sleep of death for us. Without Him, and our dying and rising in baptism with Him, we could not awaken. Through His work on the cross we are able to recover from our slumber and walk with Him awaiting His return. Even though we have been waiting two thousand years and the Romans were waiting only twenty-five years, the promise is still the same. He is coming, and the time is nearer now than ever before. His glory is hidden in His suffering on the cross today for many. The glory of the Son of Man will be plainly manifest when He returns. We may have fallen backward into the darkness of sin. But Paul tells us earlier in His letter to the Romans that all fall short of the glory of God. He tells us that we are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. It is through Him that we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the Glory of God.
I must say it was quite something to be as close as we were to the President of the United States, but I am sure this can be no comparison to the joy of being with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Creator of the universe.
May the grace and peace of our Lord be with you always. Amen.