When Christ Comes: The Beginning of the Very Best
By Max LucadoWord Publishing, 1999 | ISBN 0-8499-1298-9
Reviewed by Merle Harton, Jr.
Christians tend not to spend much time with two of the most important works in ScriptureGenesis and Revelation. The first tells us where we came from, and how we lost fellowship with the Father and landed in a fallen world. The second tells us where we are going and how this fallen world will be finally and unalterably transformed. In each case, though, the books speak differently: While Genesis is simple and literal, Revelation is so complex and allegorical as to suggest the impossibility of a literal version. Between the two books is the story of Jesus Christ and the transforming power of his presence on earth and in the lives of Christian believers. Lucado's sensitivity to this message lingers long after we put down his book, and it is from the weighted center of Scripture that he focuses his attention. Christ's message is first one of uplifting hope, and so too is the aim of the Epistles. If there is any irony here, it is that John's Revelation was also written to encourage the Christian in hope. Lucado takes all of this to heart and creates a finely crafted proclamation of assurance and expectancy.
If Lucado's book could be put into an alembic, the distillation of his thought would result in these few words: "Trust in God; do not be troubled by the return of Christ." Christ left to prepare a place for us. Like servants waiting for their master's return [Luke 12:35-37], we need to be vigilant and patient, and to position ourselves for his return. Christ's return is not a riddle, but both a promise and a day to be anticipated.
Lucado's aim is not only to help us understand why Christians anticipate the Second Coming, but also how to anticipate it. In the process, Lucado outlines the significance of Christ's resurrection and answers many questions about the end times. Why will Christians be judged? Lucado discusses this. What will be judged? He discusses this, too, revealing also how Christians, during judgment, will find genuine delight under God's grace. Why was Revelation written in forbidding allegory? Because John saw Christ as he is, and could find no other way to articulate the intense images of the vision he received on the island of Patmos. There is a wonderful explanation of Christ's wedding parable and its relevance to the Second Coming. If Lucado shares with us the purpose and characteristics of hell, and the sad destiny of those who do not know Christ, he balances that with Scripture's vision of a future life without illness, life without sin, and life in intimacy again with the Father.
Few books that touch on the end of the world manage to fashion a clarifying message in quite the way Max Lucado has done here. His purpose is to use the return of Christ to encourage our hearts, and in this he succeeds. He is also successful when he turns to the New Testament's last book. After Lucado's abbreviated but revealing treatment, the many dark and difficult images in John's Revelation actually become less distant, less frightening, and instead more awesome.
This is a book for both the mature Christian and the new, and it is rich in scriptural imagery and insight. If you read only one Max Lucado book, read this one.
Copyright © 1999 by Merle Harton, Jr.
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