Ways to increase our longing for Christ’s coming
James Durham (1622-1658) was minister in Glasgow for only eleven years but left a considerable number of writings. One of the co-authors of 'The Sum of Saving Knowledge', he is best known for writing what is still regarded as the classic Reformed work on church unity, division and schism, 'A Treatise Concerning Scandal' as well as a highly sought after commentary on the Book of Revelation.
5 May, 2022

Perhaps we do not often pray, ‘Come, Lord Jesus.’ Perhaps it seems a difficult thing to ask. It is the final prayer of Scripture but does it appear in our prayers? Maybe we are even afraid to think or hear of Christ coming. For some people Christ’s second coming is associated with speculation and fear to some extent. For others it is not something that enters their thoughts very often. Still others only think about it when they are sick of the sin and suffering of this world. For whatever reason, few seem to be longing for that day. This can happen if our spiritual life is at a low ebb. Sometimes believers decline in watchfulness, their faith is not acting, and their love is not lively. So they are not in a fit posture for Christ’s coming. Yet the emphasis of Scripture ought to lead us to love His appearing (2 Timothy 4:8). “Even so, come, Lord Jesus”:  John Willison put it in this way: “Be frequently looking out and longing for Christ’s coming: as Abraham stood in his tent-door ready to go forth to meet the angels that were sent unto him, so should the believer keep himself in a waiting posture at this time. He should be like the loving wife, that longs and looks for the coming of her absent husband, according to his letters to her”. How can we increase our longing for Christ’s coming? Here are some ways.

James Durham helps us with this in the following updated extract by outlining ways we can increase our longing for Christ’s coming. First of all, he observes that for some who lack assurance or know they are not what they should be there are times we would like Christ to come, but they are afraid that we have not made peace with him properly. Believers like this want to be clear that they are friends with Christ, and to be in a better condition, before he comes. This is not a case of fearing Christ’s coming as such, but of desiring to be in a better state of readiness for his coming. The fear is about something in themselves, and yet there is a desire that Christ would come. These are entirely consistent.

Then again, perhaps there is love in our hearts to Christ and his coming, but we think nothing of it. It means so little to us. This will make us afraid of his coming. We are convinced theoretically that Christ’s coming is so desirable that they would choose it ahead of anything else, but in practical terms, our love is not as it should be. This should stir us all up to have our love more fresh and fervent, and avoid complacency.

For it is a bad sign when Christ’s coming is not valued, when there is no longing for it, and the heart is not desirous to hear of it. Do the Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come, Lord Jesus,’ but our hearts say, ‘Go’? This is certainly evidence of a poor spiritual health in believers, and of lack of love in unbelievers who altogether neglect to love Christ and long for his coming.

There are other bad signs too. For example, if we never think of Christ’s coming in a way that leads us to pray for it or long for it. Or if the thought of him coming back is distasteful and uncomfortable to us. Our soul would never go out to meet him spontaneously and joyfully, but would have to be hauled out. Believers are supposed to be ‘looking for and hastening unto the coming of the Lord’ (2 Peter 3:12), so that when he comes, there is nothing left to do but to embrace him. But instead there is a widespread problem – people live without any reference to Christ’s coming. They are not setting their affections on things above, nor seeking to make their peace with Christ, or obtaining clarity on their relationship with him, or walking so as there would be no quarrels between Christ and them.

Nor do we make much effort (whether by praying or by other means) towards the things that have to happen before he comes, such as the enlargement of his kingdom. Neglecting this reveals our lukewarmness. If there was love to Christ’s coming, his kingdom would be close to our hearts, and we would be more public-spirited, and not so selfish. A selfish mind will never desire Christ’s coming. Neither will those whose hearts are not quit of the world. We are exceedingly addicted to the things of the world. The level of complacency and the amount of temporising among us tells how much we are wedded to the world.

Here are ways to increase our longing for Christ’s coming.

1. Grow in faith

The reason we don’t take much interest in Christ’s coming is because we have such little faith in the great advantages that accompany his coming. We do not believe that his appearing will be as glorious and advantageous, and so full of happiness. We do not believe that at the dissolution of all these things there will be a full victory over all enemies, and no sin nor sorrow any more for believers. There is a faintness in the faith of believers which spoils the longing for his coming.

2. Grow in assurance

We have little longing for Christ’s coming because we have little assurance that Christ will appear for our own glory and happiness. While souls are under doubts whether they will get good from Christ at his appearing, they cannot long for it. If folks were clear about their relationship with Christ, and grasped that all the promises will be performed to them at his coming, they would long for it much more. When people have little desire for Christ’s coming, it suggests that what they think is faith is more like complacency than real peace with God. If you believed in Christ’s coming, and your own involvement in it, it is impossible but that your soul would cry out, ‘When shall the day dawn? When will he rend these heavens and come down?’ You would have a longing to be through time, and a holy impatience at any mishap that you thought might prolong the wait.

3. Increase your dissatisfaction with life here

We do not look ahead to Christ’s coming because we are too busy settling down as if our rest was here. This shows that we do not primarily place our happiness in Christ’s second coming, but instead expect our good things here and now. People have some plan about their creature comforts, and want that to come to fruition before Christ comes. They do not consider that the coming of Christ is the most noble plan, and that preparing for Christ’s coming lays the groundwork for a better portion to them and their children than all their attainments in the world.

4. Have more communion with Christ

We have little longing for his coming at the last day because we have little experience of his coming now, in the felt manifestations of his Spirit and presence to our souls. If people were clear about their relationship with him, and frequent in communion with him, they would long to see his salvation perfected. When we get fresh proofs of Christ’s sweetness and fresh views of his excellence, then we have longing desires to enjoy him immediately. Little of this makes little crying out for the living God, or for appearing before God. It must be that you don’t taste that God is gracious, otherwise you would long for his coming. If only you would taste and see how good he is! If you had even a little experience of his ravishing sweetness! When a taste of him is so delectable, sweeter than honey and the honeycomb, like hidden manna, what must the full harvest be? What must the completing of the bargain be like, when the down-payment is so sweet?

It should be natural believers to long for Christ’s coming

It is unsuitable in everyone, and especially in believers, that there should be so little desire for Christ’s coming, so little praying for it. Is it in keeping with the great advantages we profess to expect when he comes? Is it in line with the many promises we have, and our profession to have a right to them? No sooner does Christ promise, but John, or the Bride, has an echo for the fulfilling of it. Is it consistent with professing love to Christ, not to desire union with him, and the full coming of his kingdom?

Our desires should also be in proportion to our admiration for what Christ has done in order to make way for his second coming. He came in the form of a servant, and did what he did, and suffered what he did, to make way for his coming again, to take believers to glory.

So failing to desire Christ’s coming implies great weakness in our faith, great lack of love, great uncertainty in our hope, and great disrespect for Christ. We make no good use of the promise of his coming, and we do not know what it is to be comforted in it.

Let us then stir ourselves up to desiring Christ’s coming, both as a duty that is required of us and as a frame that is requisite in us. This is what I would urge.
(1) Love Christ’s coming so much that you would neither rise in the morning nor lie down at night, without expressing some desires for it.
(2) Put up more prayers for it. It may be a cause of his delay, and of delaying many things that are to happen before he comes, that there is so little diligence in praying for his coming, or the things that must happen in order for him to come.
(3) Take it more seriously as something so closely connected with the Lord’s honour and the thriving of his kingdom, and something by which we evidence a kindly sympathy with our Lord. Do not content yourselves to pass over it with a dry wish. Consider that it is presented here as a frame of heart that is of the Spirit, ‘The Spirit and the Bride say, Come.’ To the extent that you want yourselves to show signs of being the natural branches of this vine, and members of the body of which he is the head, and a part of his Bride, to that extent, I urge you, say, ‘Come, Lord Jesus.’

The coming of Christ is a ground of notable consolation to believers. Our Lord has said and confirmed it, that he is coming, and that he is coming quickly. Among all the many dark, obscure passages in the Book of Revelation, this is clear. He says he is coming quickly to judge the world, to raise your bodies, to make up the union between him and them, to solemnise the marriage, to bring you who love his appearing to the wedding. All that you have heard spoken of it shall be made good.




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