Jesus is coming again!
Hope in the Bible expresses certainty -something we look forward too – not merelysomething we wish for. Titus 2:13 says: “we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ”. Many aspects of this Blessed Hope sincere believers still puzzle over, but the vast majority of evangelical Christians believe that Jesus is coming, personally,visibly, powerfully, suddenly and (for most) unexpectedly, to consummate the work of redemption. As Christians we should not be caught unawares. We should be living holy lives.
How Will He Come?
The Bible declares that Christ’s coming will be personal. Jesus himself is our hope! Not some philosophy, or ideal. He is the fulfilment of God’s plan. He said he would come again (John 14:3). The angels promised “this same Jesus” who went up into heaven will come again (Acts 1:11). Paul says, “the Lord himself shall descend from heaven” (1 Thess4:16). The same Jesus who walked upon this earth, and who died and rose again, ascending up into heaven, shall return in person, not just figuratively.
His coming will be visible.
Jesus told his disciples: “For as lightening that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matt. 4:27). Revelation 1:7 says,”every eye shall see him”. His coming will be in power and glory. The angels promised that he would come “in the same way” (Acts 1:11). It was in the clouds that Jesus was taken away (Acts1:9). He will come again “in the clouds of heaven” (Matt. 26:64, Mark 13:26, Rev.1:7). The clouds speak of his coming in Divine power and glory (Dan. 7:12-14, Psa.104:1-3). (Matt. 24:43, 1 Thess. 5:2, 2 Pet.3:10, Rev. 3:3).
His coming will be sudden and unexpected. Jesus will come unexpectedly, “like a thief inthe night” (Matt. 24:43, 1 Thess. 5:2, 2Pet. 3:10, Rev. 3:3). The world will be unprepared for his coming. It will be “as it was in the days of Noah”. People will be going about the ordinary business of life (Matt. 24:37-41). While they are saying “`Peace and safety’, destruction will come on them suddenly” (1 Thess 5:3).Christians however are to watch and be ready (Matt. 24:42,44). The day will not surprise us. We are to be alert and self controlled (1 Thess 5:4-9).
Why Must He Come?
The Bible is specific as to the purposes for which he is coming. Much about this important New Testament doctrine is obscured, however, by the tendency of many Christians to see our death, rather than his coming as the climax of history. Jesus comes to finish his mediatorial work. Christ died to reconcile God and us. He continues his “mediatorial” work, interceding for us at the right hand of God in heaven. When he comes he will rule until he hands over the kingdom to his Father that “God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:24). He comes to raise the dead. Christ died to save us from sin and death. His work on Calvary will be consummated only when he comes again, the dead are raised, and “Death has been swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor. 15:54-56). He comes to give life to the righteous. At his coming not only will the dead be raised but we who believe and are left alive will be transformed into his image. Paul says, “Listen, I tell you a mystery: we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed” (1 Cor. 15:52). John says that “when he appears we shall be like him” (1 John 3:2). Only at his coming will we be changed so as to be fully like him. He comes to judge the world.
God has appointed a day in which he will judge all people, by his Son (Acts 17:11). We must all appear before the Judgement Seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10). Everyone will get their reward but only when he comes again (Rev. 22:12). He comes to punish sinners. After Judgement Christ will see retribution visited upon the wicked. They will be punished with an everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord (2 Thess 1:9). This is the second and everlasting death (Rev. 20:14). He comes to establish God’sKingdom. A succession of human emperors andempires – Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome -will finally be succeeded by the everlasting kingdom of Christ and his saints (Dan. 7:13-14, 18). He comes to make heaven and earth new.The “new heaven and earth” is associated with the kingdom in the Old Testament (Isa. 65:17, 66:22). It is associated with the coming of Christ in the New (2 Pet.3:13). Jesus himself said, “I am making everything new” (Rev. 21:5). God’s plan is to have a societyof immortal, perfect beings living in relationship with him on an earth restored to its Edenic purity and perfection. This plan will be fulfilled when Jesus comes again (2 Pet.2:13, Rev. 21&22).
Jesus is coming, but when?
The Bible says his return is “imminent”. We do not mean his return will occur soon, only that it may. Three things make an event imminent: 1) it is inevitable, 2) its timing is uncertain, and 3) it is always possible. (If not any day, then in any believers life time!).Now, either the Second Coming is inevitable or God is not God. Nobody knows exactly when Jesus will come. Many have attempted to set a “date” for his Coming. This is wrong. Nobody knows. But it is possible (some say it is likely) he may come soon.The early church knew that Christ could not return until the Comforter had come (John14:26) and the gospel was preached in all the world (Matt.24:14). Peter had to die (John21:18-19). Jerusalem had to fall. A great persecution and apostasy had to take place (2 Thess 2:2). But the Comforter did come (Acts 2). The gospel was preached (Col.1:23). Peter died. Jerusalem fell. The secret power of lawlessness was already atwork (2 Thess 2:7). Jesus himself left open the possibility he might come before the death of the apostle John (John 21:20-23). Israel is a nation in the Land again. Certainly Jesus could come – and soon.
Why So Long?
Jesus could come any time. Why does he wait so long? “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise as some understand slowness. He is patient with you not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). We are able to “speed its coming” – perhaps by the work of evangelism (2Pet. 3:12).
Careless speculation has given preaching on the Second Coming a bad name. Some say it is irrelevant and divisive. But God intended the hope of Christ’s Second Coming to inspire us to action here andnow. Our second Advent hope should make us: Like the owner of a house guarding against a thief,
READY(Matt. 24:44). Like a servant awaiting the return of hismaster,
WATCHFUL(Mk. 13:35). Like a servant investing on behalf of his master,
HARDWORKING (Lk. 19:13). Judging nothing, MERCIFUL (1 Cor. 4:5). Keeping the commandments of Christ,
OBEDIENT (1 Tim.6:14). WAITING for him to bring salvation (Heb. 9:28).
PATIENT, Like a farmer waiting for his land to yield a crop (James 5:7-8).
CONTINUING IN HIM (1 John 2:28). The Second Coming, preached on and believed as God intended it to be, is the inspiration we need to live holy lives (1 John 3:3, 2 Pet.3:11).
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(c) Copyright 2008 David Burge, Advent Christian Conference of New Zealand Inc, www.acconz.org.nz