Fundamental #5: The Return of Christ

preacher repentAs a high school sophomore, I never thought I’d see my junior year. I remember wondering why I should even bother with homework. An evangelist named Jack had blown through Chicago at the McCormick Place Exhibition hall. My Sunday School Class went.  Jack and his accordian playing wife told us that Jesus was going to come within the next few months… it was that imminent.  So I disinvested from my future. If you haven’t had a similar experience, you don’t know Jack.

Can you understand why I’m cynical about date-setters? We had a guy (not from our church) put leaflets on all the cars in our church parking lot, setting a date for the 2nd coming of Christ. He had all kinds of complicated calculations based on Bible verses.  Well, his date came and went, and no Rapture. No nothing.  A month later, he put out new leaflets with pretty much the same calculations and a different date.

That’s how to stay in business!

I guess Jesus meant it when he said no one knows the hour. Truth is, no one knows the era.  I’m good with that.  Maybe morning, maybe noon, maybe evening, and maybe soon… Jesus is coming again.   Live as if you’re going to live a hundred years, but be prepared to meet Jesus tomorrow.

I came of age in The Late Great Planet Earth era. A perennial best seller.  The Left Behind series still sells tens of thousands of books every month.  Christians sure love their prophecy!

I believe in the second coming of Christ. I believe that coming will be literal — he will come to earth in a body, just as he ascended to heaven in a body. In that coming, Jesus will bring world history to its fitting and ordained conclusion.

The return of Christ gives history a beginning, a middle, and an end. Without it, the world and its inhabitants float along till the sun burns out, in random streams of poopiness.  Meaningless.

Here are some Scriptures for your perusal: Job 19:25,26; Mt 16:27,28; 23:39; 24:1-51; 25:1-13,19,31-46; 26:64; Mr 8:38; 9:1; 13:1-37; 14:62; Lu 9:26,27; 12:37-40; 17:22-37; 18:8; 19:12,13,15; 21:5-36; Joh 14:3,18,28,29; Ac 1:11; 3:20,21; 1Co 1:7,8; 4:5; 11:26; 15:23; Php 3:20,21; 4:5; Col 3:4; 1Th 1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:15-17; 5:2,3,23; 2Th 1:7-10; 2:1-3,5,8; 3:5; 1Ti 6:14,15; 2Ti 4:1,8; Tit 2:13; Heb 9:28; Jas 5:7-9; 1Pe 1:7,13; 4:13; 5:4; 2Pe 1:16; 3:3,4,8-14; 1Jo 2:28; 3:2; Jude 1:14,15; Re 1:7; 3:11; 16:15; 22:12,20 (click “more” below to see them all printed out for your meditation).

The return of Christ throws a monkey wrench into our actuarial tables of doom. You might figure an 80-100 year life span… BUT… the return of Jesus can cut that down till this afternoo…

Be ready. I believe in the Immanent Return of Christ.  There is no way to take the Bible at face value and deny Christ’s return.  That’s why it’s such a fundamental belief… it is the only fitting denouement of the story that is Jesus. To deny the second coming is to deny the authority and/or clarity of Scriptures.

““And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:3, NKJV.

“who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”” Acts 1:11, NKJV.

Part of that complex of end-time  events will be a final evaluation for believers in Jesus. This is hugely important, and we neglect it.  The shape of your eternity depends on the shape of your ternity… er… your time on earth.  Your decisions in this life determine the level of reward and blessing you experience in eternity. We won’t be equal in heaven.  I posted on that a long time ago… click (Jesus, the Great unEqualizer, 3 parts).

Honestly now, does anyone want me to review the millenarian and rapture positions?  Show of hands please.  Anyone? Anyone?

No one?  Great.  Let’s skip it.

Let’s just look to heaven… our redemption draws nigh.

Okay… okay..  Sign up for the Wiseguys! Newsletter… I’m going to send out an 8 page lesson on the pre-trib, pre-mil end times scenario.  It’ll go out on Monday, so sign up today.  Don’t get all excited about debating, because… forget-about-it…

Here are all those Bible verses, from Nave’s Topical Bible, about the 2nd coming….

Job 19:25* For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth;
Job 19:26* And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God,
Mt 16:27* “For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.
Mt 16:28* “Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”
Mt 23:39* “for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’”
Mt 24:1* Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple.
Mt 24:2* And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”
Mt 24:3* Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
Mt 24:4* And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.
Mt 24:5* “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.
Mt 24:6* “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
Mt 24:7* “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.
Mt 24:8* “All these are the beginning of sorrows.
Mt 24:9* “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.
Mt 24:10* “And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.
Mt 24:11* “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.
Mt 24:12* “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.
Mt 24:13* “But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
Mt 24:14* “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
Mt 24:15* “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand),
Mt 24:16* “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
Mt 24:17* “Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house.
Mt 24:18* “And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.
Mt 24:19* “But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!
Mt 24:20* “And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.
Mt 24:21* “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.
Mt 24:22* “And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.
Mt 24:23* “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it.
Mt 24:24* “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
Mt 24:25* “See, I have told you beforehand.
Mt 24:26* “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it.
Mt 24:27* “For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
Mt 24:28* “For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.
Mt 24:29* “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
Mt 24:30* “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Mt 24:31* “And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

All from the New King James Bible… NKJV.

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6 thoughts on “Fundamental #5: The Return of Christ

  1. Great stuff, Bill…

    You mention rapture and 2nd advent, and many evangelical believers embrace these terms synonymously — that is, that they are one and the same event. Whether or not you believe these are the same (or different events), the point is the same — i.e., we celebrate that our Lord is going to return. This is the area we must emphasize in our fellowship. After all, our mutual love for one another is our mutual testimony to the unbelieving world.

    One reason (among many) that I embrace the view of the rapture as a separate event (from the 2nd advent) is from Romans Chapter 11. Paul explains that Gentiles and Jews now participate in the same olive tree (i.e., Jews are the “natural” tree into which the Gentiles are grafted as “wild” branches). The meaning here is that Gentiles (as much as Jews) have direct access today to the righteousness and eternal life of God. The floodgates of God’s grace are wide open to the entire world.

    In vv.25-26 of this same chapter Paul mentions “until the fulness of the Gentiles has come.” That is, after this point, Israel is going to be “saved.” That is, the nation of Israel (and not just Jews, so to speak) is in reference to a political entity comprised of ethnic Jews in a certain geographical location of the world.

    Does Paul’s reference in v.22 suggest that the “wild” olive branch (Gentiles) will be broken off one day? In other words, will there be a time in the future that the grace of God will be restricted only through the agency of the nation of Israel (i.e., the olive tree will no longer possesses the grafted “wild” branch)…?

    This may imply the rapture. That is, the Body of Christ is removed from the earth (comprised of Jews and Gentiles), and the remaining seven years (until the 2nd advent) is the time of purging and purification of the nation of Israel for the millennium. Thus Israel is going to be “saved” (v.26). The world is judged in the meantime with little to no grace of God to the world (outside of Israel and its evangelists), because the “wild” branch is broken off. The initial cadre of believers in the world during the “Tribulation” then will be comprised of racial Jews – Christians I might add – who are not members of the Body of Christ (like us), but will share in the New Covenant as much as we do today. Thus they are going to be “Christians,” because the Old Covenant of Moses was displaced by the New Covenant at the cross. The whole business of Jews and Gentiles participating in the Body of Christ (as a single olive tree in Romans 11) was a complete mystery, or blackout, in previous divine revelation (Ephesians 3). In fact, the complete consummation of the New Covenant will be the millennium, or 1,000 years immediately following the 2nd advent… At that time, the Body of Christ will be married to the bride, Israel. That is, the entire elect of God of all ages will unite!

    Let me invite others to question and/or provide comments. We must emphasize that we believe our Lord is returning, and that is the incontrovertible truth we embrace. (This is exciting stuff!) Let us use Bill’s blog in order to encourage one another and to strengthen our faith… In other words, if you disagree with me, please be nice!!! (smile)

    Grace,
    Joseph

    • Hey Joseph: I LOVE YOU!! No kidding! I don’t hear very often at all that the Body of Christ will marry the bride – Israel! What I do hear is the Body of Christ will marry itself, the Church. Right on, man, and I loves ya!

      Of course, we’ve both trying to figure out what Scripture says, so we could be wrong, right? What I agree 100% is Jesus IS coming again, and I want to be ready, willing, and able to be “surprised” again by His advent! Yeah! Even so come, Lord Jesus!

      Thanks, Dr. G, for bringing this topic to your blog. I can’t wait to read what you’re going to say!!

  2. I know, if you had written the real name of the musical instrument Jack’s wife played, people would have wondered what you were writing about. But remember, it was called the “accorgan.” (Emphasis on the “ACK”!) I even bought the album. What a nerd!

    Anyway, even a more respected scholar like a John MacArthur can succumb to world events. I was just listening to a sermon of his on Daniel from 1979 in which he almost predicts the second coming based on what he thought was a certain-to-come war against Israel.

    It’s going to happen, we know. But nobody was searching mangers the first time, so, He’ll have to surprise us the second time, too.

  3. Based on the belief in the “inequality of heaven” (different levels of reward based on our earthly life), I wonder how you explain the millions of people (Christian or not) who never had a chance to live a full life? And we can consider anything from abortions to wars to cancer, etc. If our position in heaven is based on our performance here on earth, doesn’t that presuppose that we all have an equal performance oppurtunity? (I’m not talking about talents, upbringing, environment, etc.; I’m talking about our time here.)

    Justin

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