Future Benefits of Grace
Awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God isfaithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1:7b–9)
God’s grace not only provides past and present benefits, but also future benefits. God has saved us by His grace; He presently empowers us with gifts of His grace; and He guarantees the final fulfillment of His grace. The best is yet to come. The faithful believer cannot help being eschatological. We are grateful for past grace, we seek to be responsible in using present grace, but our greatest joy is looking forward to future grace. We watch, we wait, and we hope for the Lord’s next coming, His final coming. We have work to do on earth, gifts to employ for the Lord. And as long as He has work for us here, it “is more necessary” for us to remain. But to enter the future life, to be forever with Christ “is very much better” (Phil. 1:23–24) because our true home, our true citizenship is in heaven (3:20). We are constantly feeling the tug of that world to come. We are awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are looking for Jesus to come. We are confident He is coming, and we know it could be soon.
The Greek word apekdechomenous (awaiting eagerly) means to wait with eager anticipation and also with activity. It is not idle, passive waiting, as when sitting on a street corner waiting for a bus. It involves working while we wait and watch and hope. We know that God takes care of His own. We wait eagerly, but not anxiously. We live in a hopeless world, and often we cannot help grieving for it, as Jesus grieved over Jerusalem (Luke 13:34). But the world’s hopelessness does not steal our hope. We can say with Paul, “I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day” (2 Tim. 1:12). It is that very day which is the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. The revelation refers to His manifestation without the veil of humanity He wore in His incarnation. At His next coming He will be fully revealed in blazing splendor.
We look for the coming of our Lord for at least five reasons.
it means christ’s exaltation
The revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ will bring His long-due and eternally deserved exaltation. He will finally be crowned “Lord of lords and King of kings” (Rev. 17:14). He has been generally neglected, humiliated, despised, and rejected for 2,000 years since His first coming. His second coming will end that, for then “every knee [will] bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth” (Phil. 2:10). He will not come the second time as sin-bearer (Heb. 9:28), but in His full glory and honor and majesty (Rev. 4:11; 5:12).
it means satan’s defeat
The Lord’s return will bring Satan’s final defeat, humiliation, and punishment, which he deserves, just as Christ deserves and will then receive exaltation. Satan will no longer be “the ruler of the world” (John 14:30) or “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2). He will be bound for a thousand years, released for a little while, then chained and thrown into the lake of fire for all eternity (Rev. 19:20; 20:10).
it means justice for the martyrs
The Lord’s return will bring retribution against all who have persecuted and afflicted God’s faithful people. In his vision of the seal judgments, John “saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, wilt Thou refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’ ” (Rev. 6:9–10). Vengeance belongs to the Lord (Deut. 32:35; Rom. 12:19), and when the Son returns, God will take that vengeance—long deserved and long delayed. “For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire” (2 Thess. 1:6–7). They fully deserve it.
it means the death of christ rejectors
Christ’s return will bring the death of all who have rejected Him. “When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire,” He will deal out “retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thess. 1:7–9). The Lord is coming to judge those who have hated and rejected Him, for they deserve it.
it means heaven for those who believe
For all who have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, His coming will mean heaven for all eternity. Unlike Satan’s defeat, justice for the martyrs, and death for Christ rejectors, our gift of heaven will be totally undeserved. That is because we are under God’s grace. In ourselves we deserve the same fate as they; but in Christ we are granted forgiveness, redemption, holiness, and life everlasting in the presence of the unfading glory of our Lord.
When Christ returns He will confirm, or establish, us as blameless before His heavenly Father. When we enter heaven we will not have all our sins and shortcomings flashed before us for everyone to see, as we sometimes hear in popular theology. Christ will affirm before the eternal throne of God that we are now counted blameless. Only then will we be confirmed blameless, made blameless, actually be blameless—settled and secured in blamelessness for all eternity.
When the day of the Lord Jesus Christ comes, He is going to present to the Father “the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless” (Eph. 5:26–27). The bride will be forever “a pure virgin” (2 Cor. 11:2).
We are sure of this grace—past, present, and future—because God is faithful. The Greek order is inverted (“faithful is God”), because that form is more emphatic. God is faithful to His sovereign will—through whom you were called. When God calls someone to salvation, He is faithful to that call. Thus our future glory at Christ’s appearing is certain, for whom “He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified” (Rom. 8:30). It is helpful to note that in Paul’s epistles the call of God is always seen as an effective call that produces salvation.
We are saved because God wanted us saved, and we stay saved because God does not change His mind about that desire. We had no part in God’s original desire to call us, and we can do nothing to change it. If He called us when we were lost and wretched, He surely will not cease to be faithful to that call now that we have come into fellowship with His Son. The word koinonia (fellowship) also means partnership, oneness. We are secured to glory by being one with God’s beloved Son. We entered the kingdom by grace and we will be kept in the kingdom by grace.
Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonian church was, “May the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 5:23). It was a prayer that he knew with all certainty would be answered, a prayer not of request but of acknowledgment, as is clear from the following verse: “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.”
8 At the beginning of his thanksgiving section Paul praised God because of his saving grace given to the Corinthians in Christ Jesus. Now he assures these believers that the Lord Jesus Christ has the power to keep them in that grace until the very end of their lives. Thus, when they appear before his judgment seat (cf. 2 Co 5:10) on “the day of our Lord,” they will be “blameless” (cf. also Col 1:22). The word “blameless” (anenklētos, GK 441) is a legal term that denotes what a judge might say to an individual of the charges brought against him or her. Without using the technical forensic language found particularly in Romans and Galatians, Paul is referring here to our justification by faith—i.e., God’s declaration that we are righteous in his sight, not because of anything we have done but because of the righteousness of Christ imputed to us (Ro 3:21–31; 8:1–4; Gal 3:6–14).
1:8 / The final clause of Paul’s complex Greek sentence functions as a confessional statement. The grammar is ambiguous, however, and interpreters debate whether the remark in this clause is about the “Lord Jesus Christ,” who was named at the end of verse 7, or about God, who has been the unstated subject of a number of passive verbs throughout the preceding lines. The clause begins with a word that may be translated he or “who” (Gk. hos). The niv translates the verb that follows this subject as “keep strong,” although it is the same verb that was translated “confirm” in verse 6. The passive form of the verb in verse 6 assumed God for a subject, thus God was the one who did the confirming, but Paul could have shifted his point of view so that now in verse 8 he has “the Lord Jesus Christ” in mind as the one who sustains the Corinthians. Even if this is the case, he would still understand that God was the one who was acting in and through Christ in relation to the Corinthians. While the easiest way to read verse 8 would be to translate the subject as “who,” in reference to the immediately preceding Greek words “our Lord Jesus Christ,” the declaration that follows in verse 9, “God is faithful,” may be an indication of Paul’s intended subject in verse 8. The creation of a separate sentence that begins with “He” in the niv and the nrsv accurately reflects the ambiguity of the Greek (the rsv reads “who” in reference to Christ and does not begin a new sentence at v. 8). Whether Paul means to speak here of God or of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Corinthians should gather that the basis of their security is not with themselves or their endowments, but with the divine action (of God or Christ) on their behalf.
Paul continues the eschatological emphasis that was registered in verse 7 as he speaks of the Corinthians’ being kept strong to the end. Here Paul has in mind the endpoint of time as we know it in our earthy existence. Paul thought and taught that he and the Corinthians (and all others) lived at the juncture of two ages (see the Introduction, p. 15, and 10:11)—“the present evil age” (Gal. 1:4) that had started to pass away with the cross of Christ (see 1 Cor. 7:31b) and the new age, the “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17) or “kingdom” (see 1 Cor. 15:24), that had begun but that would not be fully present until the coming of Christ (Phil. 3:20; 1 Thess. 4:13–18; 5:1–11; see 1 Cor. 15:23–24).
The outcome of the Corinthians’ being kept strong is that they would be blameless on the day of [the] Lord Jesus Christ. The language here is part of a legal metaphor that depicts being without guilt in relation to the law. The implication of this image is that the Day of the Lord would bring judgment at the end. The reference to the Day of the Lord Jesus Christ takes up language and thinking from the ot (Ezek. 30:3; Joel 2:31; Amos 5:18, 20; Zeph. 1:14–16), although in the ot texts the one who executes judgment on the Day of the Lord is the Lord God, whereas here Paul plainly understands that one to be the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul preserves the theological vision of the ot and gives it christological focus that makes the promise of the Day of the Lord all the more specific and real.
Finally, Paul’s unswerving confidence in the Corinthians’ future is remarkable, for from the remainder of the letter one sees that he faced grave problems in the life of the Corinthian congregation. Yet Paul’s remarks in this thanksgiving show that whatever confidence he had for the outcome of the problems in Corinth was based in God and God’s working among the Corinthians through the Lord Jesus Christ, not in the Corinthians themselves. Indeed, Paul’s declaration of confidence in God concerning the Corinthians should have directed the attention of the Corinthians toward God and away from themselves.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1984). 1 Corinthians (pp. 19–22). Chicago: Moody Press.
 Verbrugge, V. D. (2008). 1 Corinthians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, p. 263). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Soards, M. L. (2011). 1 Corinthians (pp. 26–28). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.