Do you want to know the future? We dare not commit idolatry and consult the stars, the spirits or the lines on our hands but we do have a sure path to knowing the future by looking through the scriptures and discovering what they teach. I’ve titled the message “The end is near” but it could just as well be titled “The beginning is near” because the end of this age is the inauguration of the next age in which Jesus rules. This morning I want to help you be holy. This morning I want to help you transfix your minds on the return of Jesus Christ.
The Return of Jesus Christ.
One of the doctrines which is most frequently argued over but which also has potential for causing either peace or unrest depending on your viewpoint is the selection of doctrines concerning the return of Jesus Christ. Christians on every level argue about the end times. There are historicists, preterists, futurists, idealists, Premillenialists, post millenialists, amillenialists, pre- tribulationists, post- tribulationists, mid-tribulationists and mixtures of all these staring each other in the face and arguing that they have the right grasp on the future. It’s the kind of theological brouhaha that has caused more than one joker to declare themselves pan-millenialists; clarifying that they believe it will “all pan out in the end.”
But there’s no point in taking a completely agnostic view of the return of Christ however because the bible taken literally teaches absolutely that Jesus Christ will return. Far from being a hidden doctrine in the scriptures, the return of Christ is mentioned more than three hundred times in the New Testament. In the gospels alone whole chapters are given to it.1 The return of Christ is a major focus in both Thessalonian letters and of course Revelation is largely concerned with the return of Christ and the final judgement.
Technically speaking I am referred to as a dispensational-premillenial-pretribulational-futurist. What that means is, that I have come to the conclusion that the scripture indicates exactly what is displayed in that video.
Jesus Christ will come back at any moment to remove his church from this earth – before the world endures the coming of the wrath of God. He could come back in twenty years, 1 year, 1 month, 1 week or today. Once the church is removed in the Rapture2 the Holy Spirit will be removed from this world opening up the pathway for one called “antichrist” to come. He will deceive most of the entire remaining world to follow him and eventually even to worship him as god.
When the church is gone, an intense period of judgement lasting seven years will begin upon the earth. It will be centered on the middle east – and more specifically centered on Israel. All of the judgements of God at this point will be intended to bring Israel to repentance and redemption. So horrible will be the deception of the enemy and the judgements of God that all the world would be destroyed if God did not cut the time short.
At the end of that seven year period of Tribulation, Jesus Christ will set foot upon the mount of olives3, and usher in a period of 1000 years where he will reign as king of Jerusalem and the world sitting upon the throne of David. At the end of that 1000 year or “millennial” kingdom, Satan will be released from bondage and will lead one final rebellion against the Lord which will be crushed immediately.
Following the final judgement, Jesus Christ will remove his crown – hand it to his Father so that God may be all in all thus ushering in eternity.
The return of Jesus Christ is a certainty expressed in Scripture. As it it is discussed in the Bible there is some ambiguity between passages that refer to the rapture and passages that refer to The return of Jesus Christ as King of the earth. But that is because often prophesies which are separated by years in occurrence are not separated in the text even by a comma. We have an example of that truth when Jesus sat in the synagoge to teach and he took the scroll of Isaiah and read from Isaiah 61:1-2
“??The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed, ?To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”(Lk 4:18-19)
But he did not continue reading the sentence, he stopped in the middle of it. The rest of the sentence continues:
“And the ?day of vengeance of our God; To ?comfort all who mourn, To ?grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The ?oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.” (Is 61:2-3).
But Jesus didn’t finish reading that sentence because it has been separated thus far by 2000 years. This much however is clear. When Jesus returns he will return in power and glory:
He will Return In Power
Concerning this, A.W. Pink wrote, “At His first appearing He was here in weakness and humiliation, but at His second He shall come in power and glory. When He was here before He was “despised and rejected of men,” but when He comes back again every knee shall bow before Him and every tongue confess His Lordship. When He was here before He paid tribute to Caesar, but when He returns He shall reign as King of kings and Lord of lords. When He was here before His personal ministry was confined to the land of Palestine, but when He returns “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14).” 4
When questioned by the chief priest Jesus replied, “you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” (Mark 16:42)
In Matthew 24, one of the longest sections of “eschatology” or “last things” teaching in the gospels Jesus spends quite a lot of time promising to return in power and glory.
There will be no doubt on the day that Christ returns, “Has he really come back?” That question will not even pass the lips of men when he returns. Because the coming of Christ will be obvious.
His Return Will Be Obvious
In Matthew 24:23-28 Jesus warns his followers not believe it when someone says “Here’s Jesus, or there’s Jesus.” “For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the son of man be.” (Matthew 24:27)
If you remember the disciples on the hill watching Jesus ascend at the beginning of the book of Acts you will also recall that the angels came and told them that Jesus would return in the same way that they watched him leave (Acts 1:11).
But for all of this we are not given any indication as to the time of his return. We know only two things.
His Return Will Be Unexpected
Matthew 24:36 is just one of many passages which inform us , “Of that day and hour no one knows, not event eh angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” Don’t know day or hour.
In Matthew 25:13, “Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.”
Or how about the final words of Christ in Acts 1:7 “it is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority…”
Despite the abundant clarity of scripture, it hasn’t stopped the date setters. The plain and simple fact is that we don’t know when Christ will come back. As I shared with you last week though, when he comes he will be coming to judge the earth, and he will be coming to resurrect or transform every Christian.
His Return is Imminent
Very closely related to the idea that Christ’s return is to be unexpected is that His return is imminent. It could literally be any day, any moment. Back in Matthew 24 again we read: Matthew 24:37-42.
Philippians 4:5 reminds us that the Lord is near. Revelation 1:3; 22:7, 12, 20 all inform us repeatedly that the Return of Jesus is imminent in that it could happen at any moment.
Since, therefore we’ve heard that the return of Christ is near, what should we do about it?
In 2 Peter 3:10-12 we read this:
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! “
As we wait for the certain return of Jesus Christ what are we to do? The tendency of some to hunker in the bunker: let the sinners be condemned while we whimper in the corner waiting and hoping that Jesus will pull us out of this big old nasty world full of sinners. But Christians don’t belong inside the castle, we’re supposed to be storming the gates of hell and knocking them down.
When the disciples wanted details and dates in Acts 1 he told them it wasn’t for them to know the times God has set, their task and our task is to be Christ’s witnesses.
As in 2 Peter 3 reminds us – the knowledge that Jesus is coming back should move us towards holy conduct and godliness.
Turn and look at 1 John 3:3. That passage tells us that the result of anticipating the return of Christ is purification. If we know that Christ is coming, and we pay attention to the verses that tell us that our lifeworks will be judged and rewarded accordingly than we are going to strive even more to be holy, because our God is holy. Since he has fixed a day and we don’t know when it is, it is best for us to always be ready for it.
Finally we are to be waiting. We are told to “Watch therefore and pray.” The Lord is coming back. And it would be good for his servants if they are found alert and waiting for his return.
The return of Jesus is certainly going to happen, we don’t know when but we do know it is imminent. A huge number of times, Jesus tells us that he will return. Even our most comforting verses are laced with the return of Christ “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 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 14:2-3, NASB95)
Where’s the main point of comfort in that promise? It’s in being with Christ. It’s in the knowledge that Christ is coming back for those who believe in him.
Let us then wait for his return with expectancy. Let us strive for holiness. And by all means, because the time is short – let us remember that our first task on this earth is to be a witness for Jesus Christ.
Maranatha! Come Quickly Lord Jesus!
1Matt. 13, 24, 25; Mark 13; Luke 21
2Rapture is a name which results from the Latin translation of “caught up” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17
4Arthur Walkington Pink, The Redeemer’s Return (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2005).
Thank you and God bless you this week.
I always desire your prayers, and I pray for you upon my every remembrance of you.
I want to encourage you to begin praying for your own pastor, tell him that you pray for him. And continually do so. Your pastor is on the front lines of an intense spiritual war. Sometimes he gets wounded, and to whom does the doctor go for medicine?
Encourage then, and strengthen your pastor. He is human, with failings and frailties just as you. Pray for him as he ministers to you; “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12 NLT)
May the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ continually bless you with spiritual insight into his great word which is able to make you wise to salvation!
Pastor Thomas C. Black
Fame Evangelical Church
Moweaqua, IL. 62550
Jesus Came to save you, have you asked him to save YOU?
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Copyright 2007 By Thomas C. Black