SECOND COMING OF CHRIST
What about the second coming of Jesus Christ? What are we to believe about this event which is so stupendous that it will stop time and merge us into eternity? The coming of Christ from heaven will mark the end of human history and cause the heavens to roll up like a scroll. The Bible clearly teaches that there is to be a second coming of Christ. If the value of a teaching is to be judged by the number of times it is mentioned, then surely the second coming of Christ must be a very important doctrine in the New Testament. In spite of the fact that the Bible contains hundreds of references to the return of the Lord, most people know very little about the detailed scriptural teaching on his subject. Jesus himself plainly taught that He would come again, and his teaching is based on his integrity and honesty. In John 14:1—3 Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” Scripture refers to his future appearance as his second coming. Hebrews 9:28 says, “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” We learn from this passage that we are not to look for a third coming. Every passage in the New Testament concerning his future coming is a reference to a single event, and that event is the second conng of christ. If there is to be a third coming shortly after the second coming let men clearly show us where the Bible says so. We will not accept man's word for it. I read in the Bible of a second coming but nothing whatsoever of a third coming. At the moment of His ascension back to heaven, two angelic beings said to a group of disciples, “You men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). This scripture determines not only the fact of his coming but the mode of his coming. The Lord is to come in like manner as he went into heaven. He went up personally, bodily, and literally in a cloud, and he shall come as he went. Furthermore, his coming will be universally visible. Only a few saw him at the first coming but every eye shall see him at his second coming. Jesus himself revealed this fact in Matthew 24:26,27, “Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightening comes out of the east, and shines even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” This same fact is affirmed again in Revelation 1:7, “Behold he comes with clouds; and every eye shall see htm; and they also who pierced him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.” There is a widespread but erroneous belief that Jesus Christ will come secretly and rapture away the church. This belief is a human tradition or speculation which originated in the mind of man and not in the Bible. This idea directly contradicts the scripture that says every eye shall him, and Jesus said do not believe anyone who teaches any kind of a secret coming. If you believe in some secret coming of Jesus you have already believed something which Jesus told you not to believe. I affirm the fact again that the second coming of Christ will not be secretive in any possible way but universally visible. If you are a Bible believer, the evidence I have presented establishes the second coming of Christ as an incontrovertible fact. If you do not believe the Bible as fact and truth, it wou1d have been better for you not to have been born, for when Christ does come back it will be terrifying to meet him as a stranger and unprepared to meet your God. It would have been better not to have been born than to go through that experience. The second important thing to know about the second coining of Christ is that we do not know when he will come. Much of the majestic truth about the second coming of Christ has been confused by the quacks and those who set dates who have speculated on this in their preaching. William Miller, a preacher from Vermont, predicted that the second coming of Christ would take place on the night of March 21, 1843. On that night alarmed people dressed in long flowing white ascension robes, climbed to the roofs of buildings, and waited in graveyards for the Lord's coming. Bitter disappointment resulted when midnight came and went. The date was reset for one year later, March 21, 1844, and when that failed it was set again for October 22, 1944. Sadly enough the Millerite movement is not the only attempt by man to set a date for the second coming of Christ. Preachers are still alarming people today by saying there are signs pointing to the end of the world in the next few months or years. The crisis in the middle East, the development of the European Common Market, the spread of Communism, the establishment of the nation of Israel in 1948, and the present war in the Middle East are all said to be signs that Christ will come in our generation. In addition, ancient and false theories about a thousand year reign of Christ on earth when he comes back are being popularized and widely circulated. Now all of these supposed signs of the end of the world contradict a very plain passage in the Bible. Jesus uttered an important statement relative to the time of his second coming in Matthew 24:36, “But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” What a remarkable statement! When the disciples asked Jesus, “When will the world come to an end?”, he bluntly replied, I don't know” (Mark 13:32). In Om the light of this Bible passage, we can authoritatively say that no man has a right to set a date for Christ's coming, and to do so is to ignore the plain teaching of Christ on the subject. There are others who readily admit we cannot know the day and hour of hi$ coming, but they maintain we can know when his coming is near. This is really another form of setting dates. To assert that Christ will come in our generaton or in a certain number of years is also setting dates. No man knows when Christ will come in terms of days, months, or years. Those who proclaim that the end of the world is near base their speculations and don signs which they think Jesus revealed would take place just before he returned. Jesus may indeed return in our generation, but there are no signs to indicate that he will. The truth of the matter is that there are no signs given in the Bible of the second coming of Christ. But what about the signs which Jesus mentioned in Matthew 24? Those who attempt to prove that the en4 of the world is near always refer to the signs of Matthew 24. The key to understanding Matthew 24 is in the first three verses which say, “And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple, and his disciples came to him to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them,”Do you not see all these things? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down”. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, say. ing, “Tell us when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the world?” Jesus astonished the disciples with the announcement that the temple of Jerusalem was to be destroyed. This shocking statement brought forth two questions from the disciples. The first question was, “When shall these things be?” This question pertained to the destruction of the temple. The second question was, “What shall be the sign of your coming and of the end of the world?” It is to greatly err, not knowing the scriptures, to assume that Jesus was dealing in this chapter only with the question of his coming and the end of the world. The Lord first answered their question regarding the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. He gave them clear, unmistakable signs by which they could discern the approach of the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. These signs were given in Matthew 24:4—22. Jesus spoke these words in 33 A.D. and Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D. Hence the signs he mentioned were to transpire in the next 27 years. The signs to precede the destruction of Jerusalem were as follows: 1. False saviours claiming to be the Messiah would arise(4,5). 2. Wars would occur among nations in the Roman Empire which would affect the peace of Judea (vs. 6,7). 3. There would be terrible earhquakes, famines, and pestilence(v. 7). 4. Christians would suffer great tribulation, resulting in persecution and even death. This would caue some Christians to betray one another(vs. 9,10). 5. Many falseprophets would arise deceiving Christians, and causing their love for Christ to grow cold(vs. 11,12). 6. The message of the Christian religion would be preached to the whole world before the end would come for Jerusalem and the temple(v. 14). The words, “then shall the end come” in v. 14 do not refer to the end of the world, but to the end of Jerusalem. 7. The most immediate sign before the destruction of Jerusalem was to be the Roman army standing in ~he city of Jerusalem (Matt. 24:15); Luke 21:20). When they would see this final sign, they were to flee into the mountains no matter where they were, whether in the house or in the field. Obviously, there would be no need to flee to the mountains at the second coming of Christ and the end of the world. The signs of Matthew 24 refer to the destruction of Jerusalem and not to the second coming of Christ. This fact is settled beyond all dispute in Matthew 24:34, “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” There are no signs given in Matthew 24 to signal the near approach of the second coming of Christ. This is in accord with the statement of Jesus that no one except God the Father knows the day and hour.
We have learned first that Jesus is coming back from heaven. Secondly, the Bible has informed us that there is no way of determining when he shall retirn. The third matter of interest are certain great events associated with the second coming of Christ. What is to happen when Jesus returns from heaven? The Bible is very clear on this matter. One great event connected with the second coming of Christ is the general resurrection of the dead, both good and bad. All dead people will come to life at the very same time, regardless of character. It is a widespread belief that there will be, two resurrections a thousand years apart. Some theorize and speculate that the righteous will be resurrected a thousand years before the unrighteous : will be resurrected. A little study will help us here. These speculators say that the unsaved will be resurrected on the last day, but the saved will be resurrected a thousand years before the last day. This contradicts plain statements in the Bible. In John 5:28,29 Jesus said, “The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” This verse asserts that “all” in the graves shall hear the voice of Jesus in the same "hour”. These words clearly indicate that there is to be one general resurrection of the lost and saved, occurring at the same time. Moreover, there are four clear Bible statements to the effect that the saved will not be resurrected a thousand years before the last day. In John 6:40 Jesus said, “And this is the will of him who sent me, that everyone who sees the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” Jesus promised to raise up Christians at the last day. Now if Christians are to be resurrected 1000 years before the last day, this statement would not true. It is stated four times in John 6 that Christians will be resurrected on the last day, and that means the last day of human history(Joh4 6:39,40,44,54). It is very true that the Bible speaks of two different resurrections, but one is a spiritual resurrection and one is a literal resurrection. I agree with those who believe the first resurrection is spiritual and pertains to man's spirt, whereas the second resurrection is literal and pertains to man's body. The first resurrection is mentioned in Ephesians 2:1, “And you he made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” When Christ raised from a death of sin to a new life in Christ, that was our first resurrection. If not why not? This was written to Christians who were said to be dead morally and religiously before they became Christians. This is a figure of speech describing their sinful life and unresponsiveness to God. God compares people who live in disobedience to Him to dead people who cannot feel, see, or talk. But when they~ became Christians God raised them from a death of sin to the Christian life. The spiritual resurrection of the Christian is referred to in John 5:24,25 and Romans 6:11. Only Christians have experienced the first resurrection. But the second resurrection is a resurrection of bodies. Revelation 20:12 says, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” Revelation 20 does not teach that there will be two bodily resurrections a thousand years apart. It is admitted by all Bible students that Revelation 20 is likely the most difficult chapter in the Bible. However, Revelation 20 should not be interpreted in such a way as to contradict plain passages of the New Testament. The plainly teaches that the bad and good will be raised up at the same time. The thousand year reign of Christ in Revelation 20:6 must refer to some period in church history which will come to an end before the second coming of Christ. Another notable event associated with the second coming of Christ is the takiz!g up of the kingdom of Christ from the earth to heaven. The Bible says in I Corinthians 15:22—24, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his nwn order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he stifill have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.” This passage clearly proves that the kingdom of God will be on the earth at the time of the second coming and will be taken up to heaven at that time. Of course, the kingdom of God, the kingdom of Christ, and the Church of Christ are all one and the same organization (Colossians 1:13). Moreover the kingdom of Christ has been on the earth ever since 33 A.D. when it was first established. The departure of the church from the earth is more fully described in I Thessalonians 4:16,17, “For the Lord himself shall descènd from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and caught up together with them in the clouds, and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” We learn here the very important fact that at the second coming of Christ he will not step even his foot on this earth. The Bible distinctly says that Christians will rise from ~he earth and meet Christ in the air. Before rising to meet Jesus in the air, the dead in Christ will be resurrected and immortalized before the living Christians are changed for an immortal existence. The wicked are raised from the dead at this time also , but they remain on the earth to await their fate. Thus we learn that the final judgment of the entire human race occurs at the second coming of Christ. Jesus will not establish a kingdom on the earth at his second coming. Contrariwise, he will take his kingdom up to heaven when he comes, and we shall be with hin in heaven forever more. Millions will be disappointed who hold the erroneous belief that Jesus will come secretly and take the church to heaven and will come again seven years later to Israel to sit on David's throne. Jesus will come to take away his church but will not come seven years later to be a king on the earth. There would have to be a third coming for that to happen, and the Bible does not teach it. The Jews missed the Messiah when he came, and this tragedy has been repeated by the Gentiles. The Gentiles recognized the Messiah when he came but missed his kingdom. The Messiah began his reign on the earth in 33. A.D. . and the Kingdom of God has been on earth ever since that date. But most of the religious world has missed this great truth, and are looking for Christ to set up his kingdom at the end of the world. The kingdom has been here for centuries, but millions of people don't know about it. If you do not know that the kingdom of Christ is now on the earth, your soul is in eternal danger. . If Jesus should suddenly come today, and you are not in his kingdom, you would not go to heaven. Only the citizens of his kingdom will rise to meet him in the air, and that will leave on this earth only the wicked of all ages who will probably perish in the fire that is to destroy the universe. The Bible says in 2 Peter 3:10, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”