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Someone Cares Series
Jesus Returns to Earth
The second coming of Jesus was the great theme of the apostles. It is estimated that one in every 25 verses of the New Testament speaks of this event. But Satan has sought to confuse people so that they will not be ready to meet Him. Before Jesus' first coming in Bethlehem, Satan was successful in confusing the Jewish people by causing them to misapply the prophecies of His second coming to His first coming. As a result few were ready to receive Him. Now He is apply the prophecies of Jesus' first coming -- such as the 70th week in Daniel 9 -- to His second coming. And again it is working effectively to deceive! Let us see what the Bible says about Jesus' second coming.
1. Before Jesus returned to heaven, what did He promise?
"Let not your heart be troubled: ye 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 ye may be also" (John 14:1-3).
Jesus promised that He would come again to receive us unto Himself -- not before, is some secret rapture, as some people are teaching today. The object of Christ's departure was the opposite of what the disciples feared. It did not mean a final separation. He was going to prepare a place for them that He might come again and receive them unto Himself. While He was building mansions for them, they were to build characters like His. Heaven could no longer appear to them as an indefinite, incomprehensible space filled with intangible spirits. They now looked upon it as their future home where mansions were being prepared for them by their loving Redeemer.
2. How will Jesus come?
"And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1:9-11).
While the disciples were gazing upward to catch the last glimpse of their ascending Lord, He was received into the rejoicing ranks of heavenly angels. As these angels escorted Him to the courts above, they sang in triumph. The promise of Christ's second coming was ever to be kept fresh in the minds of His disciples. This same Jesus whom they had seen ascending into heaven would come again, to take to Himself those who here below give themselves to His service.
3. Will there be counterfeits of Jesus' second coming?
"Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. 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 lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (Matthew 24:23-27).
As a result of this warning from Jesus, it behooves us to be diligent students that we may know what is according to the Law and the Testimony (Isaiah 8:20). Every variety of error will be brought out in the mysterious working of Satan. There will be false dreams and false visions which have some truth, but lead away from the original faith
4. How can we know when the real Christ has come?
"And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other" (Matthew 24:30, 31).
Jesus is coming soon and will come with power and great glory. He is coming with His own glory and with the glory of the Father. He is coming will all the holy angels with Him. While all the world is plunged in darkness there will be light in every dwelling of the saints. They will catch the first light of His second appearing. The unsullied light will shine from His splendor and Christ the Redeemer will be admired by all who have served Him. While the wicked flee from His presence, His followers will rejoice.
5. What work of judgment will Jesus do at His coming?
"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: ... Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: ... And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal" (Matthew 25:31-34, 41, 46).
When Jesus comes the second time all the holy angels come with Him and He will sit upon the throng of His power. Before Him will be gathered the people of all the nations and He shall separate the righteous from among the wicked, whom He destroys. It is not until the personal coming of Christ that His people receive the kingdom. The students of God's Word may confidently expect to find this most stupendous event to take place in human history clearly pointed out in the Scriptures of truth.
6. What historical event did Jesus use to illustrate this separation?
"But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left" (Matthew 24:36-41).
No one knows the day nor hour that Jesus will come, only the Father knows. Jesus has given signs of His coming and He says we may know when He is near even at the doors. One of these signs is that the conditions of the world will be similar to those in the days of Noah, just before the flood. People will be so involved in festivities and reveling, having such a loose regard for the sanctity of marriage, divorcing and remarrying, that His coming will happen unexpectedly, just as the flood in Noah's time. The wicked will be destroyed. When the reasoning of philosophy has banished the fear of God's judgments, when religious teachers are pointing forward to long ages of peace and prosperity and the inhabitants of the world are absorbed in their rounds of business and pleasure, planting and building, feasting and merrymaking, rejecting God's warnings and mocking His messengers -- then it is that sudden destruction cometh upon them and they shall not escape.
7. While we cannot know the hour, can we know when Jesus' coming is near?
"But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober" (1 Thessalonians 5:1-6).
Though no man knoweth the day nor the hour of His coming, we are instructed and required to know when it is near. We are further taught that to disregard His warning and refuse or neglect to know when His advent is near, will be as fatal for us as it was for those who lived in the days of Noah not to know when the flood was coming. Paul speaks of a class to whom the Lord's appearing comes unawares. There are in the world today many who close their eyes to the evidences that Christ has given to warn men of His coming. Paul teaches that it is sinful to be indifferent to the signs which are to precede the second coming of Christ. Those guilty of this neglect He calls children of the night and of darkness.
8. Will Christ's coming be secret and silent, as a thief in the night?
"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. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?" (2 Peter 3:10-12).
Jesus' coming will not be secret, but the time of His coming is not known. It will terrify the wicked. The hand of Omnipotence is at no loss for ways and means to accomplish His purposes. He could reach into the bowels of the earth and call forth His weapons, waters there concealed, to aid in the destruction of the corrupt inhabitants of the old world. In the bowels of the earth God has reserved the weapons that He will use to destroy the sinful race. Let us strive to be Christians in every sense of the word and let our dress, conversation and actions preach that Christ is formed within, the hope of glory and that we are looking for that blessed hope and glorious appearing of Jesus.
9. See if you can answer these questions from the following passage: (a) At Jesus' second coming, what will happen to the righteous who have previously died? (b) What will happen to the righteous who are still living? (c) Will His coming be silent?
"For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend 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 so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words" (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18).
Those who have loved Him and waited for Him, He will crown with glory and honor and immortality. The righteous dead will come forth from their graves and those who are alive will be caught up with them to meet the Lord in the air. They will hear the voice of Jesus, sweeter than any music that ever fell on mortal ear, saying to them, your warfare is accomplished. The same power that raised Christ from the dead will raise His church and glorify it with Him, above all principalities, above all powers, above every name that is named not only in this world but also in the world to come.
10. What will happen to the kingdom of the world when Jesus comes?
"And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever" (Daniel 2:44).
The prophecy of Daniel pictured the glory of Christ's reign over an empire which succeeds all earthly kingdoms, and said the prophet "It should stand forever." Nebuchadnezzar's mind had been profoundly influenced by this vision and by the thought that the Babylonian Empire, universal though it was, was finally to fall and other kingdoms were to bear sway; until at least all earthly powers were to be superseded by a kingdom set up by the God of heaven, which kingdom was never to be destroyed.
11. What will happen to the wicked at Jesus' second coming?
"And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;" (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).
When the divine presence was manifested upon Sinai, the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire in the sight of all Israel. But when Christ shall come in glory with His holy angels, the whole earth shall be ablaze with the terrible light of His presence. ("Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people" (Psalm 50:3, 4). A fiery stream shall issue and come forth from Him, which shall cause the elements to melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
12. Will everyone who claims to be saved be taken to heaven when Jesus comes?
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Matthew 7:21-23).
These people may profess to be followers of Christ but they have lost sight of their leader. They may say Lord, Lord, they may point to the sick who are healed through them and to other marvelous works and claim that they have more of the Spirit and power of God than is manifested by those who keep His Law. But their works are done under the supervision of the enemy of righteousness. The people here described who make these pretentious claims, apparently weaving Jesus into all their doings, fitly represent those who claim modern sanctification but who are at war with the Law of God. Christ call them workers of iniquity because they are deceivers having on the garments of righteousness to hide the deformity of their characters, the inward wickedness of their unholy hearts.
13. What should we do to be ready for that day?
"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works" (Titus 2:11-14).
It is a universal principle that whenever one refuses to use his God-given powers these powers decay and perish. Truth that is not lived, that is not imparted, loses its life giving power, its healing power. Hence the apostle's fear that he might fail of presenting every man perfect in Christ. Paul and his fellow workers proclaimed the doctrine of righteousness by faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ. They presented Christ as the One who, seeing the helpless condition of the fallen race, came to redeem men and women by living a life of obedience to God's law and by paying the penalty of disobedience. The Law, obeyed, leads men to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world. The Spirit of God is freely bestowed to enable every man to lay hold upon the means of salvation. Men fail of salvation through their own willful refusal of the gift of life.
Jesus' second coming will be a sudden, all-encompassing surprise to the world, at which time all will be eternally separated -- some for everlasting destruction and some for eternal life. Is the glorious appearing of Jesus your blessed hope? Do you want Jesus to redeem you from every lawless deed, and to write His law of love and righteousness in your heart, so that you will rejoice to see His face?
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Ministry of Jesus"
Page created: 7/26/98 Updated: 08/09/2006
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