The Sensational Return of Jesus Christ!
Here is the amazing truth about the return of Jesus Christ. No news story could be more shocking. No headline could be more spectacular than Jesus Christ’s return! To the average person, the idea of Jesus Christ returning to earth is a fantastic fable that has no bearing whatsoever on the realities of life. Yet millions of professing Christians still expect the second coming of Christ though widely divided among themselves as to why, when and how He will appear.
The Promise of Christ’s Return
Over 1900 years ago Jesus Christ promised, “I will come again” (John 14:3). The early New Testament Church believed what Jesus said, and taught His message to others. Notice what Edward Gibbon said about the early church in his famous history, 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 the creation had been finished in six days, their duration in their present state, according to a tradition attributed to the prophet Elijah, was fixed at six thousand years.
By the same analogy it was inferred that this long period of labor and contention, which was now almost elapsed, would be succeeded by a joyful Sabbath of a thousand years; and that Christ, with the triumphant band of the saints and the elect who had escaped death, or who had been miraculously revived, would reign upon earth till the time appointed for the last and general resurrection” (Gibbon, vol. II, page 546, 1899 edition). But the truth was gradually rejected!
Gibbon shows that the fact Christ 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 regarded as- not to be taken literally. The doctrine that Christ would return to rule the earth “was rejected as the absurd invention of heresy and fanaticism” (ibid., p.547) The world today continues to ridicule the idea of Christ’s return. Nevertheless, this message lies at the very heart and core of the true ‘good news’ of God’s coming World Ruling Government!
Three Common Ideas
Among the millions of professing Christians, who still expect the second coming of Christ, there are hundreds of differing concepts about the time and manner of His return. The three principal ideas are the “Post-millennial Coming,” the “Secret Rapture,” and the “Spiritual Coming.”
It was not until about 1700 A.D. that an English clergyman put forward the idea that Christ’s second coming would follow the Millennium- the time during which His Kingdom was prophesied to rule the earth. But those who maintain this idea are finding it increasingly difficult to believe that modern man can ever achieve worldwide peace and prosperity without the intervention of Christ’s “strong hand” (Isa. 40:10). Man is now literally on the brink of blasting or polluting himself-and all life on earth-from the face of this planet! That fact alone should tell us why-and partly WHEN-Christ must return.
The “Secret Rapture”
The second common idea accepted by millions of professing Christians is the “Secret Rapture.” According to this belief, Jesus will return to this earth in two phases. First, He will return secretly to whisk away all true Christians to heaven to protect them from “The Great Tribulation.” Therefore, it is believed that the Church’s promised place of safety is not on this earth, but up in heaven. The second phase is believed to be His “public” coming at which time all will be able to see and hear Him.
But the rapture theory is actually an even more modern invention than the post-millennial theory. The early New Testament Church of God never heard of it. Nor indeed had anyone else until about 1830, when it was espoused by a few people in Britain and later popularized in the famous Scofield Reference Bible.
Those first few advocates of the rapture theory fervently believed that they were living in the last three and one half years of earth’s history. When that length of time was exceeded and Christ still had not “caught them away,” they were forced to alter their doctrine to a general expectancy that Christ might return-unannounced-at any moment! From those few people the doctrine of the “Secret Rapture” has spread to nearly all Protestantism.
Is Christ Already Here?
The third common idea is that Christ has already returned. Many assume that Jesus came the second time as the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. His Kingdom was the Church He founded at that time, say the proponents of this theory, and therefore today all the churches together constitute the “Kingdom of God.”
But such a kingdom would not fulfill dozens of plain prophecies. Also, this theory ignores the fact that the Apostle Paul and other early true Christians still looked forward to the second coming of Christ and His Kingdom long after that particular Pentecost! What is the TRUTH? Let’s begin to prove the facts about Jesus Christ’s dramatic return with our own eyes… in the Bible!
Has Christ Already Come?
Let’s notice the warnings of Christ Himself concerning His promised return.
2. Did false teachers proclaim that very idea after His resurrection? II Thes. 2:1-2. (The King James rendering, “is at hand,” in verse 2 is misleading. Other translations render this more accurately as “has come.”) Did the Apostle Paul emphatically refute this false assumption? Verse 3.
3. Did Paul go on to warn that there must yet come a further falling into error before the return of Jesus Christ? Same verse. Did Jesus also speak of this as something that had to occur before He returned? Compare Matthew 24:5, 11, 24 with Revelation 6:2.
COMMENT: Jesus, the Revelator (Rev. 1:1), used the symbol of a rider on a white horse to picture false ministers and prophets claiming to represent Christ or His Church. The real Christ comes on the white horse described in Revelation 19:11. Notice that Christ pictures Himself as returning with a sword-the Word of God (Rev. 19:15; Heb. 4:12)-whereas Satan’s counterfeit is pictured with a bow in his hand (Rev. 6:2).
Notice, too, that the perversion of God’s truth marks only the beginning of a long sequence of events (covering over 1900 years) culminating in Christ’s return and the establishment of the Government of God.
4. Before His resurrection, did Jesus make it clear that His Kingdom was not at that time, nor would be, “of this world”? John 18:36. Therefore, could any or all of the churches of this world constitute God’s Kingdom, as so many seem to think? Same verse.
COMMENT: This “world” or system (Greek cosmos) encompasses all the characteristics of the age of man. And certainly, as history reveals, the churches are a PART of this age. They have engaged in political struggles, ruled empires, caused the shedding of much blood, especially in the Middle Ages. Therefore, if the churches constitute God’s Kingdom, then that kingdom IS a part of this world.
Jesus stated plainly: “But now is my KINGDOM not from hence” [did not begin at that time]-though His spiritual Church (Matt. 16:18) did begin on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). So Jesus Christ Himself emphatically DENIED, in advance, the FALSE CONCEPT that later formed the basis for church-political dominance in the Middle Ages.
5. When asked by His disciples if He would restore the Kingdom in their day, what did Jesus reply? Acts 1:6-8. But were they shortly to receive power that was NOT of a political nature? Verse 8. What were they to do with this power? Same verse and Matthew 28:18-20.
COMMENT: Notice that the apostles were not given to know the time of the establishment of the Kingdom, but were to receive God’s Spirit on Pentecost. Jesus’ disciples did not at that time receive political power to rule the nations. But they were to receive spiritual power that would enable them to “teach all nations." While Jesus Himself was away, He promised He would be with them and their successors in spirit only until the end of this age until His return to set up the Kingdom of God on earth.
6. What scripture proves that the Kingdom of God could not have been established on earth yet? I Cor. 15:50. Would you say the people attending the various churches are still flesh and blood?
When Christ WON’T Return
Another and more modern concept is that Jesus will come AFTER peace and harmony permeates the earth for a thousand years. Could this possibly be true in the light of the Scriptures?
1. What does Acts 3:21 tell us concerning the restoration of all things?
2. When Jesus returns, what will the ambassadors of peace be doing, and what will the general condition of the earth be like? Isa. 33:7-8.
COMMENT: Obviously the earth will be in chaos – not at peace- before Christ returns!
COMMENT: The Bible shows that Christ will not come after a millennium (1000 years) of perfect human rule. Since resurrected Christians will reign with Christ for a thousand years, He must come before the thousand years commence!End-Time Commission Must First Be Fulfilled
COMMENT: In this parable the “nobleman” refers to Jesus. The “far country” is heaven, to which He returned after His resurrection, and the “servants” are true Christians.
COMMENT: Plainly, the parable in Luke 19 confirms this.
COMMENT: The good news of the coming Kingdom of God must go to all nations before His coming!
Can We Know the Exact Time?
Jesus also made it very plain that He would return after a fixed sequence of events. He gave an outline of these events as it is recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. You should read Matthew 24 and note all the events which were prophesied to occur before Christ returns.
1. Will God’s intervention in world affairs and the second coming of Christ be expected? Luke 21:35.
2. To what period in earth’s history did Jesus compare His return? Matt. 24:37. Did the people before the Flood expect God’s intervention? Verses 38,39. Will people today expect God’s intervention and the second coming of Christ? Same three verses.
3. Will those who are watching and preparing know the day and hour of Christ’s return? Matt. 25:13.No.
COMMENT: These words of Jesus have often been taken to mean that only the apostles would not know the day or the hour, but that we in these last days would know it. This is NOT true!
4. Did Peter ask Jesus if He meant only the apostles would be unable to know the day or the hour, or if He meant all-even those of us today-would not know? Luke 12:40-41. What was Jesus’ reply? Verses 42-43. Is Jesus’ warning especially for the generation-those alive “when he comes”? Notice again Jesus’ reply in verse 43.
COMMENT: How plain that Jesus’ meant- His servants -of this generation would NOT know the day or the hour!
5. Since we cannot know the day and hour, can we know very nearly the actual time of His return? Matt. 24:32-33.
COMMENT: Jesus had already given in this chapter the signs that would precede His second coming.
How Christ Will Return
How will Christ return? Will He come silently, invisibly, as a “thief in the night?” Is He returning to secretly “rapture” away His Church?
1. What does I Thessalonians 5:2-3 say is to come on the world as a “thief in the night”? Are we to be vigilant so this period of upheaval-the “day of the Lord”-doesn’t catch them unawares? Verses 4-6.
2. And yet is Christ also pictured as coming as a “thief”? Rev. 16:15. Does this mean He will return secretly-invisibly?
COMMENT: That’s a fair question. But here’s another question to ponder: When thieves or burglars rob a home, do they come invisibly? Of course not!
Jesus Himself explained: “Watch therefore: for you know not what hour your Lord does come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be you also ready; for in such an hour as you think not the Son of man comes” (Matt. 24:42-44).
And so Jesus likened His coming to a “thief” in respect to the time of His coming and the element of surprise!
COMMENT: Obviously Christ’s coming will NOT be a secretive event at all!
To Come VISIBLY!
COMMENT: The Greek word astrape used in Matthew 24:27 may mean the lightning of thunderstorms, or any brilliant illumination. Now what brilliant light “comes out of the east and shines even unto the west”? Can you see the sun? Christ’s presence will be “as the sun Shines in its strength” (Rev.1:16). It will be obvious nobody will miss it.
2. Will He return “in like manner” as He left? Acts 1:10-11. What was the manner of His leaving?-was He “seen” until He disappeared in the clouds? Verse 9. Will He at His return again become visible “in the clouds”? I Thes. 4:17.
3. Finally, what does Zechariah 14:4 have to say about Christ’s return to that same Mount of Olives, near Jerusalem? Then He will not make a “near miss” and turn right around and go back to heaven for three and one half or seven years, will He? Obviously not!
COMMENT: Christ’s visible, advertised, unmistakable coming is plainly described in the Bible-in great detail-but there is not one word mentioning a secret, preliminary “rapture” of Christians to heaven!
Only ONE “Second Coming”!
Some will still contend that this visible and audible coming is the second phase of Christ’s return. Here is more proof that this idea is utterly false!
1. Does the resurrection of the dead in Christ clearly take place at His return? I Thes. 4:15-16. Does it occur at the exact moment the trumpet sounds- “trump” mentioned in verse 16 blows? I Cor. 15:51-52.
COMMENT: Some will claim that, the last trumpet mentioned in I Corinthians 15:52 is different from the seventh or last trump mentioned in Revelation 11:15. But notice in Revelation 11:18 that John was inspired to write that the seventh trump is the time of the resurrection! John is describing the same momentous event Paul did in I Thessalonians 4 and I Corinthians 15. We see that Christ will return and true Christian’s will be resurrected.
Significance of the Greek Word “Parousia”
Those who insistently adhere to the rapture theory claim the Greek word parousia, translated “coming” in Matthew 24:27, does not mean “coming” at all. They say it refers to His “secret nearness,” so that when Jesus’ disciples asked Him for the “sign” of His coming, they were actually asking for a sign of the “rapture.” What about it? The scriptures we have studied already have clearly shown the manner and approximate time of Christ’s return. But what about this word parousia? Does it really indicate a preliminary SECRET coming?
1. The Greek word parousia (number 3952 in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible) is translated “coming” in many different scriptures. I Thessalonians 3:13 is one example. Does this verse say that Christ’s parousia is “with” all His saints? Then could it possibly be referring to a secret coming for His saints three and one half or more years before He returns openly “with” them?
COMMENT: Wouldn’t you think that after Christ had gone into such detail to answer the disciples’ questions (Matt. 24:3) that He would have at least mentioned the “rapture” or His “invisible presence”? But no such mention is found in this chapter or in all the Bible!
COMMENT: Christ’s coming to execute judgment is His parousia-
His visible “coming” to this earth!
Where Will Part of The True Church Be Protected From the Tribulation?
COMMENT: Here we find that before Christ’s coming a time of great trouble is going to occur on earth. These verses show that Christ will not return until after the Great Tribulation and AFTER great heavenly signs occur!
COMMENT: This is exactly what true Christians did before Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D. But this prophecy, remember, is DUAL. It also gives those in Judea at the ‘end time’ instructions about what to do when the “abomination of desolation” is set up. If there were to be a “secret rapture,” Christ’s followers would not have to be concerned about either the winter or the Sabbath or invading armies!
3. Did Jesus believe in “rapturing” His followers out of the world to protect them? Or did He anticipate another means of protection- on the earth? John 17:15.
4. Does Christ promise to keep the overcomers of His Church safe in the “hour of temptation”- the coming Great Tribulation? Rev. 3:10.
COMMENT: Notice that the “earth” helps the “woman.” No mention here
of heaven, or of a rapture! Obviously, the “saints”-God’s Church-will be
on the earth during the Great Tribulation- not up in heaven as those
of the rapture theory believe! But Christ promises the “saints” a place
of safety- on this earth. Take note, however, that not every member of the true Church of God will
have qualified for this protection, and will have to go through
Who Returns With Christ?
When Christ returns to the Mount of Olives in the same manner as He departed (Acts 1:11), He definitely will not be alone. Notice who will come with Him:
2. Did Paul speak of Christ’s coming with those resurrected or changed, I Thes. 3:13; 4:13-14. Do they return from heaven, or just from the atmosphere of the earth- the clouds into which they will have risen to meet Him? Chapter 4, verses 15-17.
COMMENT: Those changed to spirit will be drawn to meet Christ in the air, but will then come down immediately with Him to the earth.
COMMENT: When Christ came to the earth the first time He was scourged, mocked and abused (John 19:1-3). But when He returns as King to set up His World Ruling Government, He will return with great power (Matt.)
What Christ Will DO When He Returns
Jesus Christ came over 1900 years ago, when He comes again, He will use His power to change the ways which have caused all the sorrow and suffering on earth.
COMMENT: Most people have heard little or nothing about the “day of the Lord”- and yet the day of the Lord is described in more than 30 different prophecies scattered throughout both the Old and New Testaments.
COMMENT: The “Day of the Lord” is mentioned in the seven “trumpet” plagues which come over a period of months (Revelation, ch 8; 9; 11:15-19) and culminates in the second coming of Christ. (Rev. 15:1 and chapter 16).
COMMENT: Christ will SAVE the human race ALIVE! (Matt. 24:22) He is coming to punish in love, otherwise, all life upon the earth would be destroyed! The name Christ means Savour in the Greek language!
5. Will the nations of the world also be angry at this time? See Revelation 11:18 once again.
COMMENT: This world doesn’t want to change. Man desperately wants to preserve the society he has established upon this earth. Men do not want God to intervene. Instead, they want peace on their own terms- even though man’s ways to peace lead inevitably to more wars and eventually cosmocide.
When Jesus Christ comes to stop world suicide, the nations will quickly drop their own quarrels. The remaining joint military forces of the world will then turn their efforts against Christ and attempt to fight and destroy Him! Christ will be forced to deal with some nations in the only language they understand- overwhelming force! Men will at first have to be forced into trying the way of life that leads to happiness!
What Is “Armageddon”?
“Armageddon” is a term everyone has heard. World leaders and scientists frequently use this Biblical term when speaking of the inevitability of nuclear war, the destruction of mankind. Yet few know what Armageddon really is!
Like most other topics of Biblical prophecy, what is popularly taught about this subject has been generally accepted without question. And as with most other Biblical subjects, people have been turned away from the truth and led to believe fables! When World War I broke out, many excitedly proclaimed “This is the Armageddon war!” Then a generation later many assumed that World War II was the war that would end with “Armageddon.”
Now the commonly accepted idea is that “Armageddon” is the last battle of a coming war between the Western democracies on the one side and Russia and China on the other, attacking Jerusalem; with the British and American armies defending it. And at the precise instant of this battle, it is believed, the second coming of Christ occurs.
But is this really what Biblical prophecy foretells? You may be surprised at who will be fighting who at Christ’s coming, and where! Make no mistake. World War III is on the way! World Wars I and II were merely forerunners of the UTTER DESTRUCTION which will break suddenly upon the nations. This time it will be so bad, only the second coming of Christ will be able to SAVE human life from extinction.
That’s why God commands us to “watch” (Luke 21:36) to watch world news so we may be AWARE of the fulfillment of Bible prophecy, and to be accounted worthy to ESCAPE the nuclear holocaust soon to fall upon this heedless, world!
1. In what is the wrath of God “filled up”? Rev. 15:1.
2. What are these ‘plagues’ compared to? Rev. 15:7. Some translations use the word “bowl” instead of vial. Upon what will they be poured? Rev. 16:1. Will they cause great suffering upon unrepentant men? Verses 2-11.
World’s Armies Assemble
1. Against whom will the earths leaders fight? Rev. 17:14. We have already seen that the “lamb” is Jesus Christ.
3. Are they responsible for gathering the armies of all nations together? Rev. 16:16.
The proper translation of the Greek of Revelation 16:16 should be as follows: “And THEY gathered them together…” This verse is sometimes rendered incorrectly “And he gathered them together…” Notice the battle is actually stirred up, not by men or nations alone.
4. What will they do to cause the armies to gather? Rev.16:14.
5. Exactly where do the armies of the nations GATHER TOGETHER in preparation for the great battle against Christ? Turn again to Revelation 16:16. Then where does the actual battle take place? Zech. 14:2.
COMMENT: The nations will marshal their armies at a place called Armageddon. “Armageddon” is not an English word. Rather it comes from the Greek rendering of the Hebrew name Har Megiddo. (The Hebrew prefix “Har” means hill or mountain.) Megiddo was a strong fortification dating from ancient times, situated approximately 55 miles north of Jerusalem. The mound that remains is a few miles south east of Haifa- a natural port and industrial center providing ideal facilities for landing troops.
The ruins of Megiddo are located on the edge of the plain of Megiddo, an oval-shaped valley once called the Plain of Esdraelon, but now commonly called the Valley of Jezreel. It is a large flat area ideal for the assembling of military equipment and personnel. The Hill of Megiddo was strongly fortified as long ago as the days of King Solomon (I Kings 9:15). It was a literal fortress rising above the surrounding plain. The fortress Hill Megiddo serves as a type, or forerunner, of the bristling armaments that shall soon envelope the whole surrounding area.
Historians have said that more battles have been fought in the Valley of Jezreel that anywhere else on earth. However, when Christ returns the armies will only gather here. From this natural staging area they will advance southward toward Jerusalem to fight against Him. The final battle will then take place near Jerusalem!
The Great “Battle of God Almighty”
1. What is the name of the climactic battle that determines WHO WILL RULE the earth? Rev. 16:14, last part.
COMMENT: The battle that ensues will reveal whether man or God shall rule the earth for the next thousand years. It is called the “Battle of That Great Day of God Almighty”- often incorrectly called the “Battle of Armageddon.”
2. This battle is described in Revelation 19:11-21. Who shall fight who? Verses 14, 19. Will Russia fight against British and American armies, as so many have assumed? Or will it be the armies of a union of nations from the “east” (Rev. 16:12) And the armies of “the whole world”- many of them led by the symbolic “beast” and “false prophet”-attempting to fight against Christ? Turn to Revelation 16:13-14 once again.
COMMENT: The nations, already engaged in an all-out struggle for world domination, will see an invasion has come to intervene in human affairs. These nations will prepare to do battle with and attempt to destroy Christ and His armies!
COMMENT: “Jehoshaphat” means “Judgment of Jehovah” [or more correctly, “Judgment of the Eternal.”] (Peloubet’s Bible Dictionary). The focal point of the battle will be in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, also called the “valley of decision” in the Bible. This valley is a deep ravine having very steep sides. It borders the city of Jerusalem on the east. According to Unger’s Dictionary of the Bible, the Valley of Jehoshaphat, which is situated between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives, is now known as the “Kidron” Valley (page 564).
Zechariah 14:1-4 says that Christ will fight the earth’s armies when He returns and stands upon the Mount of Olives.
Christ Is Coming Soon!
Awesome times are ahead. It may seem incredible, but Bible prophecy is very plain. You’ve seen that God, through His Prophets, Apostles and Servants, has revealed a sequence of events leading up to the dramatic return of Jesus Christ. These events are as certain to occur as the rising and setting of the sun!
Therefore, you need to “watch and pray” (Luke 21:36). Keep up with world news, study these scriptures asking God that you may be “accounted worthy to escape” the coming time of great world trouble!
You have clearly seen that Christ will come visibly, and with great power to save mankind from itself. His dramatic coming will begin the 1,000 years of peace and prosperity for all nations.
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