What is Advent? Advent is a season of the church year in which we look forward to the second coming of Christ and remember His first coming. We remember with joy His first coming when Jesus was laid in a manger. We look forward with joy to Jesus' second coming when He will judge the living and the dead. In His first coming Jesus took on flesh to redeem us from sin, death, and the devil through His death for us on a cross. In His second coming Jesus will gather His own unto Himself and reveal the fullness of His salvation. He has come. He is coming again. His coming means salvation for all who believe. The season of Advent helps Christians live our lives in view of these great realities.
We look forward to the second coming of Jesus. Jesus tells us we should "be ready" for His return (Matthew 24:44). He says, "keep awake" (Matthew 24:42), and "watch" (Matthew 25:13). No one knows when Jesus will return (Matthew 24:36). He could come at any hour. When He comes we must be ready! Those who are not ready for the return of Christ will be eternally punished (Matthew 24:48-51, Matthew 25:7-13). Those who are ready will be welcomed into the unending joy of their Master (Matthew 25:20-23).
How can you be ready for the second coming of Jesus? By faith. Faith is trusting in Jesus as Savior. If you trust in Jesus as your Savior then you are ready. To trust in Jesus as your savior is to believe God is pleased with you, not because of what you have done, but because of what Jesus has promised and done for you. He has lived a life of perfect obedience to God the Father for you. For your sake He suffered and died for the forgiveness of all your sins. He is risen again from the dead that you might have life in His name.
Jesus, along with the Holy Spirit, makes us ready for His return. We cannot make ourselves ready on our own. Jesus causes us to be ready by creating faith in our hearts when we hear His Word (Romans 10:14-17), and when we receive His promises in Christian baptism (Acts 2:37-39). This faith, which God creates, always clings to Jesus and His promises. This faith is strengthened when we hear and remember what Jesus has done for us. But as a fire dies out for lack of fuel so faith dies in the hearts of men who no longer hear the Word of God. Such people sever themselves from the vine. They wither and die (John 15:6). Not all who are baptized are ready for Christ's return! Likewise not all who have once heard the Good News of Jesus and believed are now ready for Christ's return. Baptism is a false comfort for those who are currently unrepentant and who are comfortable in their sin, but for those who repent and have sorrow over their sin the promises in Jesus, so freely given in baptism, are a wonderful comfort. Those who are ready are those who currently trust in Jesus. Jesus promises, "God so loved the world He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). If you are not ready, but you would like to be ready, then repent. Say unto Jesus, "Lord I am a sinner. Forgive me. Help me. Lead me." Jesus prepares us for His return through the regular hearing of His Word, through giving us His body and blood to eat and drink, through fellowship with other believers and through prayer. He prepares us together in His church. Those who neglect these are like servants who forget their master is coming, or who no longer believe he will return.
We remember in Advent that Jesus came to us as a child. We remember that God is with us through Jesus to save us, forgive us, and love us. We remember that He is coming back to bring us home. May you have a blessed Advent as you live in the light of His coming.