THE APPEARING OF GOD'S LOVE
To make an appearance is to actually be someplace physically. If we are told to appear in court, that means our presence is required. The same is true when we were told to go to the principal's office during our childhood days. Even worse was being called into the presence of your mom or dad. You always knew how mad they were by the manner in which you were called. When you were called by your full name (first, middle, last) there was trouble ahead.
Scripture speaks to us about the appearing of our Savior, and the love that led to His appearing. In the much quoted passage of John 3:16 we are told of God's love, and the appearing of Jesus as our sacrifice because of that love. The appearing that is mentioned here is in general terms for it reveals the availability of God's love for all men. Jesus did not die for just a few men, but for the whole world.
Paul speaks of those who have loved His appearing. In reading this passage in 2 Timothy 4:8, I was struck by the past tense of Paul's reference to the appearing of Jesus. Most often you will read this passage and think of the second coming of Christ. But Paul didn't speak of those who will love His appearing, but who have loved His appearing. It is not the second coming that Paul has in mind but another appearance that has already taken place.
So we must ask ourselves when did that appearance take place? To answer that question we turn to Paul's letter to Titus. In the third chapter of Titus, verse 4, Paul cites the appearance of the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind. In the context of this verse, Paul is writing to Titus about godly living and reminds us of our foolish ways and how we used to live. Our foolishness was revealed in how we deceived ourselves into thinking all was well when indeed it wasn't. We were disobedient and slaves to our passions, following, and even pursuing, the cares of this world.
But then something wonderful happened. The appearance of God's kindness and love came through the gospel, that good news that is able to change our lives through the regeneration that takes place when we put aside our disobedience and give ourselves to God. This washing of regeneration and the renewing by the Holy Spirit takes place as we are clothed with Christ, as we put Him on in baptism. When we came into contact with the gospel, we came face to face with God, and He was able to appear to us as we listened to that wonderful story of His love.
The appearing of God is no longer a general revealing of His love's availability, but now a personal appearing to those have come face to face with Him through the gospel. The brethren cleansed of their sin by the washing of regeneration (vs. 5) are those who have loved His appearing. They are now His covenant children and are indeed longing for His second coming.
There are many, some reading this article, who know that God's love is available. How many have actually allowed His appearance to take place? Each heart must answer. The good news is that God is always ready to appear when we decide we really need Him in our lives. Rodger