One verse that has stumped me since pretty much the first week I
belonged to Jesus is I John 3:2. “We know that when He is revealed, we
shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” I’ve been working on
what that methodology would look like for 40 years. Finally, (Eureka!) I
figured something out. It’s not as much procedural as it is personal.
What we are now, as Christ- followers, is, according to John, God’s children. And what we will be when this transformation happens is something that has not been revealed.
Which is unusual, actually, because as Christ-followers much more was revealed to John’s audience (and us) than had been revealed to the nation of Israel in the Old Testament era. To the nation of Israel God spoke out of the smoke and from dark clouds.
And that one time from a burning bush. Paul described the difference in Christ in Second Corinthians 3:14-18:
For until this day the same veil remains un-lifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Despite the revelation we have received, as the church, the Greek makes it clear, we the church have been the precious little detail about the event. In Greek, “It hat not yet at any time been visibly manifested what we will be. We’re a first.”
There have been multiple raptures already, actually. But this rapture—one that includes our translation into the spitting image of Jesus– is a first. Body, mind, and spirit.
But now God speaks through Christ. And His appearing will be the agent of full spiritual maturity, complete with a spiritual body.
Which will happen, according to the last few verses of I John 2, at His coming. Specifically, when He returns for His bride, the church.
But we still don’t know what, exactly, that will look like. Or what, exactly, the agent of change might be.
Praise God we get a big old hint in First Corinthians 13:8-12.
Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
The key is remembering that the moment in question is specifically when Jesus comes to finally be united with His bride. And –not to put too crass a spin on it—doesn’t that verse in II Corinthians sound like it could have come from one of those romance novels a lot of women like to read?
As the church, the Bride of the Messiah, we will finally know our husband completely. As well as He has known us. And since He chose us to be His bride, since before the beginning of the world, He knows us pretty well.
Eureka! That’s the agent of change! We will be like Him because we will finally know Him, and in our union with Him, be changed into His image.
We all know a couple who after many years of marriage, seem to start to look more like siblings than mere spouses.
It’s like that. Except in this marriage, it occurs in a twinkling of an eye followed by eternity at His feet.
It is personal.
And that comes across from other passages in a less encouraging way. For believers, the scenario depicted in Scripture is pure, unadulterated joy. A bride’s first step down the aisle; a moment she’s waited for all her life.
For the rest of the world population? Trouble on the horizon. Scripture describes it pretty thoroughly:
For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. Matthew 24:21
Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Matthew 24:9
Listen, the day of the LORD! In it the warrior cries out bitterly. A day of wrath is that day, A day of trouble and distress, A day of destruction and desolation, A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of trumpet and battle cry. Zephaniah 1:14-16
Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, Cruel, with fury and burning anger, To make the land a desolation; And He will exterminate its sinners from it. For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not flash forth their light; The sun will be dark when it rises And the moon will not shed its light. Thus I will punish the world for its evil And the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud And abase the haughtiness of the ruthless. Isaiah 13:9-11
And those outside Christ, not hearing wedding bells, will—sometime later when they see Christ, will have a totally different reaction:
And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. Zechariah 12:10
Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. Revelation 1:7
Come Quickly, Lord!
But while there’s still time… Lord Jesus in this new year, Let every soul I know hear from me that you died to take away their sins.
I made up a motto for myself this year: While we wait—don’t hesitate.
Hokey, but I need to stay focused!