Standing Firm Until Christ’s Return

“You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near” (James 5:8 NIV). We stand firm until Christ’s return by being filled with the Spirit, ministering the gifts of the Spirit, and praying in the Spirit.

Times of Refreshing

After the Apostle Peter healed the lame man at the temple gate, he preached to the astonished witnesses, saying,

19 “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,
20 and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.
21 He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.”
–Acts 3:19-21 NIV

Before Jesus returns to restore the earth to God’s original plan, Peter prophesies that “times of refreshing” would “come from the Lord” (v. 19). The Wuest NT says will come “epoch-making periods of spiritual revival and refreshment from the presence of the Lord.”

The word “refreshing” is the Greek anapsuxeos, meaning to strengthen, refresh, relieve; recovery of breath, to cool by blowing. It is used only here in the NT. Jesus told Nicodemus, “The wind [pneuma: Spirit] blows wherever it pleases” (John 3:8 GW), resulting in spiritual regeneration and revival.

The Last Days

We see this refreshing wind on the first day the Holy Spirit was poured out on the followers of Christ, when Peter quotes the prophet Joel:

17 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.'”
–Acts 2:17-18 NIV

Since Pentecost, we live in the age of the blowing Spirit—the last days. Through repentance, conversion, and the baptism in the Holy Spirit, we prepare for the return of the Lord, that Great Day (Zeph. 1:14).

During these last days before Christ’s return, God promises “epoch-making periods of spiritual revival and refreshment from the presence of the Lord.” He has waves of revival, fresh breezes from the Spirit, to bring many into the Kingdom before the door on this age shuts (Matt. 25:10-13).

Spiritual Gifts Prepare Us for Christ’s Return

Because of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, we are endowed with gifts and graces of the Spirit to endure till the end. Paul greeted the Corinthians this way:

2 To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours: …
4 I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.
5 For in him you have been enriched in every way—in all your speaking and in all your knowledge—
6 because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you.
7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.
8 He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
–1 Corinthians 1:2,4-8 NIV

The sanctified who call on the Lord’s name have received grace (charis) and have been “enriched in every way”—especially in “speech and knowledge of every kind” (GW). This refers to prophetic utterance, speaking in tongues, and revelation knowledge (1 Cor. 13:1-2).

This “confirmation”—meaning to make stable and secure—comes from the charismatic baptism in the Spirit and the gifts the Spirit imparts.

21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us,
22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
–2 Corinthians 1:21-22 NIV

Wherever he went, Paul testified of Christ in the power of the Spirit by signs and wonders (Rom. 15:18-19; 1 Cor. 2:4-5; Heb. 2:4).

Through the baptism in the Holy Spirit, the Corinthians (and all those who have received the fullness of God’s Spirit) lacked no spiritual gift. (Paul discusses these gifts in chapters 12-14.)

But note in 1 Corinthians 1:7-8 that moving in the gifts of the Holy Spirit is linked with:

  • Eagerly waiting for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed
  • Remaining strong to the end
  • Being kept blameless until the day of Jesus Christ

By ministering to one another through spiritual gifts, we encourage and strengthen one another to endure (1 Cor. 14:3-5,12,15,26,31; 1 Pet. 4:10). This is also true of “praying in the Spirit”—praying in tongues.

Praying in the Spirit

20 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.
21 Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
–Jude 1:20-21 NIV

Praying in the spirit:

The baptism in the Spirit, moving and ministering through the gifts, and praying in the Spirit preserve and prepare us for Christ’s return and full salvation. In these two verses from Jude, we see the Father, the Son, and Spirit, as well as faith, hope, and love.

When the Perfect Comes

8 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.
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. …
12 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.
13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
–1 Corinthians 13:8-10,12-13 NKJV

In these last days, the age of the Spirit, we have the adoption as children, the seal of ownership, and the grace gifts to strengthen ourselves and one another in love. Although the gifts are imperfect reflections of the glory to come, they will keep us until the Perfect arrives—the day when we will see Him face to face.

2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.
–1 John 3:2-3 NIV

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