The Two Appearings of Christ
In Hebrews 9:27,28 the Bible says, "As it is appointed for men to die once, but after that the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time apart from sin for salvation." The passage speaks of Christ's two appearances on earth. He appeared a first time and He will appear a second time. We now live between these two appearings. There are two great links that unite, connect and tie the earth to heaven and heaven to earth. They are the two appearings of Christ. When the world revolted against God and God had been defied by His creatures, a great gulf was opened between God and mankind. The first appearing of Christ was like a bridge that crossed that chasm and made a a way of access from God to man and man to God. At these two points a sinful world is drawn into closest contact with our gracious God. Jesus Christ is herein as seen opening the door of heaven which none can shut, by means of which the Lord is beheld as truly Emmanuel, God with us. By faith and obedience we first look TO Jesus, and then by faith look FOR Jesus. As for our Lord's first coming, there lies our rest and hope. The Sacrifice He offered once has put away our sin and made our peace with God. As for His second appearing there lies our hope and joy, for we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. In this study I want to bring before you those two appearings of the Lord. The Bible t says, "He has appeared," and again, "He shall appear."
Let us consider first the words, "Now once at the end of the world, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." We read of once He did this, but there will be no second. He appeared once to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. This He has done, and He will never, never, ever repeat it. Christ has appeared once and He will appear again but not for the same purpose. On His first appearing fix your thoughts, for the like of it will never be seen again. The Old King James version says Christ appeared at the end of the world; the New King James says He appeared at the end of he ages. Both translations mean one and the same thing. Peter said the church began on earth in the " last days." The church age is the last age on earth. The Christian religion represents the last period of human existence, and it has lasted for 2,000 years. But when the Christian religion ends, that will be the end of the world, the end of the earth, and the end of time. The Bible divides all time into three divisions: from Adam to Moses; from Moses to Christ, and from Christ to the end of the world.
Jesus was a long time in making His first appearance. He did not come until the Jewish religion was about to end, and that included thousands of years. Where was Jesus during all this time? He existed with the Father and the Holy Spirit as the second person of the Godhead, a member of the Divine three in the Trinity. The apostle John verified this fact by saying, "Without Him was not anything made that was made." He did not appear on earth until one night an angel hastened from the skies and let the shepherds know that unto them was born in Bethlehem " a Savior who is Christ the Lord." Then a great number of the heavenly host discovering that one of their number had gone before them on so wonderful an errand, were swift to overtake him, and they filled the night skies with these words, "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace goodwill to men." Well might
they rejoice, for the Divine Son of God now had appeared on earth. In the manger He could be seen with human eyes and and handled, for the Word was made flesh and dwelled among us. God was now incarnate in the flesh. The One who dwelt with the Father forever unseen, now appeared within n the bounds of time and humble shepherds saw Him and adored Him. By Gentiles He was seen from distant countries, for wise men from the East beheld and worshiped Him whose star had lead led them to Bethlehem. We know so little about the experiences of Mary, Joseph and the young child Jesus . I wonder a about that journey they made to Egypt to protect the life of Jesus? It must have been specially difficult a for new mother to make such a journey either by camel or donkey. What was their home life while Jesus was growing up? Wouldn't you like to know? Because the scriptures are silent about much of Jesus' early life, all we have are myth and speculation. As He grew up the children of Nazareth beheld Him as a child obedient to His parents. At age 12 the Rabbis and Priests beheld Him in a visit to the temple and were astonished at His knowledge of the Old Testament scriptures. His own brothers lived with Him, slept near Him, ate with Him in the same house for many years. At the age of 30 He was first made known to Israel by the witness of John the Baptist, and the descent of the Holy Spirit on Him at His baptism.
God bore Him witness as He went up and down the hills of Palestine preaching the good news that the kingdom of God was about to begin on earth and preaching salvation to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He went about doing good, healing the sick, opeing blidnd eyes and raising people from the dead. He lived the life of a poor man and had no place to lay His head. He was seen of angels for they came and ministered to Him. He was seen of demons for they trembled at His word. He dwelled among men, and they beheld His glory. He was the revelation of God to men, so that He could say, "He who has seen me has seen the Father." He was made more manifest by his death, for in his crucifixion He was lifted up from the earth that all might behold Him. He was exalted on the cross even as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness on purpose that whoever might look at it might live. There and then hanging on the cross Jesus opened those four fountains of cleansing blood which were made to flow by the nails from His head, His hands, His side and His feet. High on the cross the Savior hung without veil or curtain to conceal Him as they concealed God from view in the Jerusalem temple. Forthwith from His side flowed blood and water. That blood flowed back through history and covered all sins to Adam and Eve. Once in the end of the world He appeared to put away sin and that included all sin that had been committed for over 4,000 years and even until He wll appear the second time. I know of no appearance that could have been more complete. He moved in the midst of the crowds; He spoke to men and women one by one. He was on the mountain and by the sea. He was in the desert and by the sea. He was both in the house and in he temple. He was everywhere accessible. My text expresses it it in the fullest sense, " Once in the end of the world the Lord appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." This is the greatest event in history; the invisible God has appeared in human form and put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. That was the first appearing.
We come now to look at the rest of the text. Christ appeared the first time to put away sin. Next the inspired writer says, "Unto them that look for Him He shall appear the second time without sin unto salvation. Yes Christ Jesus will appear the second time, but not for the same purpose as the first appearance. His next appearing will be of the most open character. He will not be visible in some quiet place where two or three are met together, but He will appear as the lightening is seen in the heavens. At His first appearing He could be looked at and gazed upon, touched and handled. His second appearance will quite as plainly manifest by and by among the sons of men. However, the observation of Him will be far more general than at His first coming. Every eye did not s ee Him when He came the first time, for He did not travel out of Palestine except when as an infant, all unknown, He was carried down to Egypt. But when He comes the second time all the nations of the world shall behold Him. All that are in the grave shall rise to see Him, both saints and sinners, believers and unbelievers, the lost and the saved. Those who happen to be alive when He appears shall never die but be absorbed in this greatest of spectacles. Before His judgment seat all must appear.
One the surprising things said about His second appearance is that it will be apart from sin and for salvation. What does it mean His second coming will be apart from sin? It means He will not come to offer Himself as a sacrifice for sin. His relationship to the guilt and forgiveness of the human race has ended. He does not come as a sacrifice for sin. We have seen that once He offered Himself without spot to God that sin might be put away from mankind. But wen He come the second time He will have nothing to do with that sin that was laid upon Him and carried with Him to the cross. He does not come to be the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. That He was at His first appearance. He will bring no sin offering at his second appearing At this time He will have nothing further to do with all the sin He once bore. At this time He will be under no obligation to mankind. At this time He will have re-assumed His ancient glory He had in heaven before He gave it all up to become a man. It will be His glorious appearing. What a spectacle this will be! Write it on your hearts; when He comes the second time, it will be apart from sin.
I close with one more thing said in the text. We are told , " to them that look for Him," his appearing will be "unto or for" salvation only. That is, the salvation He brings with will be only for them that look for Him. These words necessarily imply that the salvation that He will bring with Him does not apply to mankind in general. Most people rejected Him when He appeared one earth the first time to Israel, and most of mankind has rejected Him after He returned to heaven and established one religion on earth for all races and all nations. To this day most people on earth are not looking for Him to make a second appearing. They do not believe He arose on the third day and forty days later ascended to heaven. These words, "To them that look for Him" are extremely important words. Therefore the salvation Christ will bring with Him does not apply to a world that has no faith or confidence in Him. The words, "To them that look for Him" refers to faithful Christians .
What is this salvation that the Lord will bring with Him when He appears the second time? When He comes in the fullness of His glory there will remain no more sin upon His people. He will present His bride to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing. As He will come apart from sin, so the glorified church will be without sin. What a glorious appearing this will be! At this time He will display the perfect salvation of all those people who put their trust in Him. He will come to celebrate the great mystery of mercy over sin. He will come to have all His enemies put under His feet, including Satan, all the fallen angels, all all false churches, all false religions and religious enemies.. Today He fights, biy He fights through Christians , and when He comes the second time the battle will be ended.
But I believe that the salvation primarily intended here is the resurrection of the dead and the glorious bodies faithful Christians will have, bodies like unto Christ's own glorious body. In I Corinthians 15 Paul reveals that God will give us a body as He pleases. The body is buried a corruptible body that decays and rots in the grave; but it will be raised an incorruptible body, incapable of decay, imperishable and immortal. It will be raised an eternal body. Also the r body is interred below ground in dishonor, having lost its short-lived attractiveness while it lived, but it will be raised in glory which would appear to be its beauty and attractiveness. It is to be fashioned like unto the glorious body the Son of God now has in heaven(Philiippians 3:21). It is buried in weakness, unable to see, speak, walk, hear, or love. Nothing is more absolutely powerless than a corpse. It will be raised in power. The future body will be endowed with faculties and abilities of which we now have no conception It is placed in the tomb a natural body; but it will be raised a spiritual, heavenly body. We know what a physical body is, but we have no idea what spiritual body is like. This comprehends all that has been said.
Now notice that this appearing and this salvation will chiefly belong to those who are looking for Him. It will also belong to those whose lives were cut short before the time of accountability. I wonder how many in the New Testament church are looking for Christ to come. Are you looking for Him to come?. Are you waiting eagerly for Him to come?. Is it something you look forward to with expectation? Are you among th number who are watching, looking and waiting? I will tell you what it is to look for that second appearance. It is to love Christ, to love Him so that you long for Him as a bride longs for her husband. The church is His bride, and the word of God says, "Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." May we all be in that number.*
*This message is a reproduction of a sermon preached by Charles Spurgeon in the
Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, England in the 1800's. I believe this sermon deserves
to live and not die with the passing of time. To this end I have included it among the
collection of sermons on my Website. I hope you enjoy it."