Can you think of a more shocking news story, could anything be more spectacular than the return of Jesus Christ?
To the average person of this world today, the idea of Christ returning to earth is nothing more than a fable, and has nothing to do with the realities of life. Yet this earth contains millions of professing Christians who expect Jesus Christ to return, but as we all know they are widely divided among themselves as to why, when and how He will return.
Now, just before His death and resurrection, and before He departed from the Mount of Olives almost 2,000 years ago, Jesus promised: “I will come again” (John 14:3).
Just moments after Christ’s ascension, the apostles were assured by two divine messengers that Jesus Christ would be back. “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). What these angles did was to confirm Jesus’ promise that He would come again and told the manner of His return.
The early New Testament Church believed what Christ said, and they taught His message to others. Edward Gibbon said this about the early church in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: “The ancient and popular doctrine of the Millennium was intimately connected with the second coming of Christ. As the works of creation has been finished in 6 days, their duration in their present state, according to a tradition attributed to the prophet Elijah, was fixed at 6,000 years. By the same analogy it was inferred that this long period of labor and contention, which has now almost elapsed, would be succeeded by a joyful Sabbath of a 1,000 years; and that Christ, with the triumphant band of the saints and the elect who has escaped death, or who had been miraculously revived, would reign upon earth till the last and general resurrection.”
This is what Elijah and the early New Testament Church taught, and this is what we, the Church of God New World Ministries teach today, but this truth was gradually rejected, just like it is today.
Gibbon goes on to show that the fact Jesus would come a second time to intervene in world affairs came to be regarded as an error. Within a century and a half after Christ’s ascension, it was treated as a profound allegory, not to be taken literally. The doctrine that Christ would return to rule the earth was at length rejected as the absurd invention of heresy fanaticism.
The world today continues to ridicule the idea of Jesus’ return. The return of Christ lies at the very heart and core of the true gospel of the Kingdom of God.
Millions of professing Christians still expect the second coming but have different concepts about the time and manner of His return. Three of the major principles or ideas are (1) The Post-Millennial Coming (2) The Secret Rapture) (3) The Spiritual Coming.
Around the 1700’s an English clergyman put forward the idea that Christ’s second coming would follow the millennium (the 7th Day Adventist) and this is when God’s Kingdom would be set up.
The second idea that has been taught and accepted by millions of people is the secret rapture (the word secret is no longer used), they teach that Jesus Christ is coming in two phases. (1) To take the church to heaven, to escape the coming great tribulation. (2) This is Christ’s public return at which all of mankind will be able to see Him.
The problem is that the New Testament Church never heard of it, nor did anyone else until around 1830 when it was taught by a few people and later popularized in the Scofield Reference Bible.
The third common idea is that Christ has already returned. They teach that Jesus Christ came the second time on the Day of Pentecost as the Holy Spirit. The Kingdom was the church, so all the churches today constitute the Kingdom of God.
Here is the problem, this type of kingdom would not fulfill dozens of prophecies and this theory also ignores that Paul and all true Christians still looked forward to the return of Christ and His Kingdom long after Pentecost.
Just what is the truth about the return of Jesus Christ? There is only one way to find out, and that is to let Christ Himself tell us.
“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” (Matt. 24:26). Mark 13:21 tells us the same thing. Christ was telling His apostles and us today, that people would claim that He has already returned, which is exactly what the people of the Spiritual Coming teach.
Notice II Thess. 2:1-2 “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him. That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as that the day of Christ is at hand.”
This verse is somewhat misleading; other translations render this more accurately as “has come.” Now read verse 3; “Let not man deceive you by any means; for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perditions.” The word deceive means to seduce or beguiled, seduce means leading astray as from duty. Beguile means to charm or divert.
Paul was warning the church that before Jesus Christ would return, there would be a defection from the truth (falling away). Christ tells us that this would happen before His return Matt. 24:4, 11, 24; Rev. 6:2.
Christ who is the revelator of the Book of Revelation tells us that there will be two white horses; one white horse is symbolic of false ministers and prophets claiming to be Christ or His Church. The fact is that the perversion of God’s truth marks only the beginning of a long sequence of events covering almost 2,000 years culminating in the return of Jesus Christ.
As Jesus stood before Pilate He said this: “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). So how is it possible that anyone can claim that all of the churches of this world constitute the kingdom of God?
This world or its systems that Christ spoke of encompasses all that is characteristic of the age of man. History has shown us that churches of this world have engaged in political struggles, ruled empires, and caused the shedding of much blood, especially during the Middle Ages. Now if all of these churches constituted God’s Kingdom, then that Kingdom is part of this world and Jesus Christ did not know what He was talking about.
Jesus Christ plainly stated: “My kingdom is not of this world,” the Kingdom did not begin at that time, but His Spiritual Church did begin on the Day of Pentecost in 31 A.D.
In Acts 1:6-7 the disciples wanted to know if Christ would at that time restore the kingdom of Israel “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power.” The disciples were to receive power, and what were they to do with this power?
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; an lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19-20).
This power was given to them to be witnesses to the world of Christ’s resurrection and to teach all nations the ways of God. I Corth. 15:50 proves that the kingdom of God could not be established on the earth yet. The last time that I checked the people who attend the churches of this world are still flesh and blood.
What about the concept that Jesus will come after peace and harmony has been established for a 1,000 years. What does the Bible have to say about this?
“Surely their valiant ones shall cry outside. The ambassadors of peace shall weep bitterly, the highways lie waste, the traveling man ceases, he has broken the covenant he has despised the cities, He regards no man” (Isa. 33:7-8). These verses tell us that the world will not be at peace, but in chaos.
“We shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:10). When will this happen? “They lived and reigned with Christ for a 1,000 years” (Rev. 20:4). The Bible shows that Jesus Christ does not come after the 1,000 years of perfect human rule, Christ is coming back to abolish all human governments and to establish the Kingdom, the rule of God, and this is why Jesus returns. Now if the saints are to rule with Christ for 1,000 years, then it is obvious He must come before the 1,000 years begins.
“Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable because He was near Jerusalem, and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately” (Luke 19:11). What was Jesus’ response? “Therefore He said, a certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return” (v. 12).
Where does Christ go to receive this kingdom, in heaven, or on the earth?
“I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days (The Father), and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed” (Dan. 7:13-14).
Now we know that the nobleman is Jesus Christ, the far country is heaven and the servants are true Christians. This parable covers the time of Christ’s ascension to heaven until He returns to establish the Kingdom of God, now the servants or true Christians must do two things before Christ returns: (1) Become profitable by increasing their talents, (2) fulfill the end time commission of Matthew 24:14 and Matthew 28:18-20.
Christ made it plain that the gospel of the Kingdom of God must go to all the nations before His coming. In Matthew 24 and Luke 21 and Mark 13 these chapters give a set of events that would take place before His return.
Will the return of Jesus Christ be expected? “For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.” What period of history did Jesus compare His return? “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matt. 24:37). Now after all the preaching Noah did, did the people expect God to intervene? Read verses 38-39. Now with all the preaching that is done today, will people expect God to intervene? Read verse 39 again.
Will members of the Body of Christ (the saints) know when Jesus Christ will return? “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (Matt. 25:13). Now some people think that this means only the apostles. “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect,” “Then Peter said to Him, Lord do You speak this parable only to us, or to all people” (Luke 12:40-41)? Now notice Christ’s reply: “And the Lord said, who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom the master will make ruler over his household to give them their portion of food in due season.” “Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes” (vs. 42-43).
Christ was speaking of our generation, those that are alive when he returns, now we may not know the exact hour, and day or year, but Matthew 24:32-33 tells us we can see it is very near the door.
Just how will Christ return, will he come silently, invisible, or as a thief in the night. Is He returning secretly to rapture away His church?
Notice what Paul wrote to the Thessalonian Church “The day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night” (I Thess. 5:2). A thief usually comes at night when people are away or asleep, he catches them unaware, off their guard, he surprises them, if people knew when a thief was coming they would prepare themselves, so it is with the second coming of Jesus Christ. He is not coming invisibly; anymore than a thief comes invisibly, however, Christ will come unexpectedly. In fact, Christ’s coming will be likened to an element of surprise.
Christ describes a tremendous noise which will rend the air at His return, it is at this time that He gathers His elect, true Christians. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. 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” (Matt. 24:29-31).
The Bible not only tells us that a tremendous noise will rend the air, but a tremendous shout will occur. This is the time that the saints will be caught up to be with Jesus Christ.
From these verses we can see that Jesus’ return will not be secretly or invisible at all. In Matthew 24:27 and Rev. 1:7 everyone that is left on this earth alive will see Him.
There is only one 2nd coming, but people just don’t believe God’s Word. The resurrection of the dead takes place at His return, (I Thess. 4:15-16), and this resurrection occurs at the exact moment the trumpets blow in verse 16 that occurs in I Corth. 15:52. Now this same trumpet that is blown in these two scriptures is the same trumpet that is blown in Rev. 11:15. Jesus Christ will return and the saints will be resurrected at the mighty blast of a trumpet and it will be heard by all on the earth.
Who will Christ bring with Him upon His return? Zechariah 14:5, last part, “And all the saints with Him.” Is this not what Paul says in I Thess. 3:13 and 4:13-14? Now do the saints return from heaven or just from the atmosphere of this earth, I Thess. 4:16-17?
What will Christ do when He returns? Jesus Christ came to this earth almost 2,000 years ago as a meek Lamb to be killed for the sins of mankind. This time He will be wrathful, angry against all evil, He will use His power to change the ways which have caused all the sorrow and suffering on this earth.
Read Rev. 6:17 and compare it with Zephaniah 1:14-15; 2:2-3 and Isa. 13:6-7. Most people have heard very little about the Day of the Lord (not Sunday) and yet the Day of the Lord is mentioned in more than 30 different prophecies in the Old Testament and the New Testament. The wrath of the Day of the Lord manifests itself in the 7th trumpet plagues which are unleashed consecutively over a period of months. Read chapters 8 and 9 and 11:15-19 of the Book of Revelation. These trumpet plagues will culminate in the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ. God will be angry at the sins of mankind. He is coming to punish in love, otherwise we humans would destroy all life.
The returning Christ will be forced to deal with the nations of this rebellious world in the only language they will understand, overwhelming force. The glorified Christ is coming in all the splendor, and power and glory of God to stop escalating wars, nuclear mass destruction, human pain and suffering. He is coming to usher in peace, abundant prosperity, happiness and joy for all mankind. Are you prepared for the dramatic return of Jesus Christ?