The Second Coming of Christ
I recently had occasion to preach a sermon in Pakistan via Skype (with interpreter). I've adapted the sermon I wrote for a blog format (below).
Second Coming of Christ
The music video above is called "The Lord is Come". It is a song I wrote to try and express the tension between the wonderful hope, and the terrible judgment aspects of the apocalyptic scenario.
In the video, I also try to capture the imminence of Christ's return, by placing it in the here and now, and emphasizing speed and finality. I would like to explore this subject with you today.
The Second Coming of Christ is plagued by many false teachings. For instance, many people have tried to predict the date of Christ's return, only to be embarrassed as their predicted time came and went. The Bible clearly states in Matthew 24:36 "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father...
Jesus quickly followed that statement with keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come". We are not to have a casual attitude about his return or be in ignorance of it, we are to keep watch. There are signs we can look for, and we are not left in doubt or darkness about the manner of Christ's return. God's word is our guide.
Do we see these signs today? Daniel 12 says that at the time of the end "many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase." Up until recently, horse and buggy were the fastest means of travel, and books contained mankind's accumulated knowledge.
Now we have men running to and fro in planes, trains, and automobiles. We even have space travel. We've gone from books to supercomputers, and man's knowledge is doubling at a logarithmic rate. It's staggering when you think about how fast knowledge is increasing in these last days.
In Matthew 24, Jesus says that "nation will rise against nation", "there will be famines and earthquakes" and "many false prophets shall arise". There is no doubt that the frequency and severity of these types of events have increased dramatically in recent years. I don't need to spend time on this, it is in the news every day.
We are also told that "this gospel must be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations, and then the end will come." In the dark ages, the Catholic Church chained the word of God to Monastery walls and those who dared translate it into the common languages of the people were burned alive at the stake.
Now the Gospel travels at warp speed, bouncing off satellites, to reach the four corners of the earth. For example, I am in Canada, yet preached this message live in Pakistan via the Internet. In today's world, we have TV, radio, Churches, missionaries, books, leaflets, and Internet Ministries. We can see the Gospel going out to all the world, and doors are opening where no door existed before. Even in countries where persecution has historically been widespread and brutal, the Gospel is marching forward undaunted and unstoppable.
In Revelation 16:9 we see the sun given power to scorch people with fire. They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.
Did you know Greenland lost it's icecap in just a four-day period recently? Unprecedented heat waves are causing crops to dry up in America. All over the world heat records have fallen at an alarming rate, and power grids have collapsed under the extra demand. Is this man made global warming, or prophecy being fulfilled?
In Daniel 2, a rock comes to hit the feet and smash an image that represents the last day kingdoms of men. That rock is Christ and we are living in the toenails of time. A study of this prophecy reveals that the 10 kingdoms represented by the toes have been here for some time now.
Please do not ignore the signs that are all around. Don't let yourself become a scoffer, or be carried away by the pleasures and cares of this world. Don't join the ranks of the foolish virgins in the parable of Matthew 25 who were unprepared. The consequences are far too grave.
Matthew 24:38-39...'For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.'
For those of us who are awake and keeping watch, what type of event should we be expecting? We see signs that Christ's return is imminent, but in what manner shall Christ return?
For one thing, it is clear that this will not be a secret event. Matthew 24:27 says, "For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man."
The Bible teaches that every eye will see him. Christ won't be in some secret chamber, and you won't have to look for him here or there. His return will be obvious and unmistakable to all people everywhere.
Matthew 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."
Besides being obvious and unmistakable, the return of Christ will also be literal and physical, not symbolic, or only on a spiritual level.
Acts 1:9-11 the angels 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."
Again, this will not be a hidden or secret event and it will be literal, not symbolic. Some teach that Christ returned (spiritually) in AD 70 when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. This teaching is sometimes proposed by Preterists, but to be kind, it has inherent difficulties.
Besides being seen by all, and a literal physical event, Christ's return will be heard by all.
"We who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord." 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
Notice that the dead in Christ shall rise first, then we shall be raptured away. Note the words we who are alive and remain. At the end of time, who is alive and remains to be translated? It is those believers who survived until the coming of Christ.
In Matthew 24:29 Christ himself says it will be “Immediately after the tribulation of those days...they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Let me ask you something. If every eye shall see him, if all the tribes of the earth will be mourning, if he comes with a shout and the trumpet of God to raise the dead, does that sound like a secret pre-trib rapture?
The Bible nowhere teaches a secret rapture for the Church followed by another rapture for the Jews who convert later, during the falsified tribulation scenario of futurism.
The idea of a secret rapture is built on the mistranslation of a couple of verses, principally the famous “thief in the night passage”. However, if you read just a little further in this same passage, you find something interesting. Christ's coming will catch unbelievers by surprise, but not believers. We are given signs to watch for, and his appearance will not be as a thief in the night to us.
1 Thessalonians 5:4 - But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.
In a parallel passage, Peter confirms this has been taught and is known beforehand. Don't let deceit lead you astray.
2 Peter 3:17 - ...beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness.
God has given us plenty of warning and a general time frame when these events will occur, but during the counter-reformation, a great deception was foisted upon Christianity. Around 1590 a Spanish Jesuit named Francisco Ribera developed Futurism, which has become wildly popular today.
Now it is even taught by conservative Evangelicals and is perhaps the only view of end-time prophecy you have been exposed to. It may surprise you to learn that what is being taught almost everywhere today, was rejected by Protestant scholars for centuries. That should set off some alarm bells, and cause you to question what you have been taught.
Futurism has popularized (among other errors), the idea that a secret rapture occurs before the tribulation. It has supplanted the Historicist interpretation of the Reformers, which was the predominate Protestant view for hundreds of years.
There is no time for me to develop this further but may I recommend a wonderful book titled "The Blessed Hope" by George Eldon Ladd. It will take you through the prophecies in minute detail. Ladd was a highly respected scholar and Professor of New Testament exegesis and theology at Fuller Theological Seminary.
To recap, let's be clear. Jesus is coming literally and personally. There is a rapture, even though that word is not in the Bible. It is a word which simply means we will be caught away to be with the Lord. However, it will not happen secretly and it will not happen before the tribulation. It happens after the tribulation at the last trump.
We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." (1 Cor. 15:51-52)
We have already seen in 1 Thessalonians 4 it is Christ who returns with the trump of God and Matthew 24, confirms this will happen after the tribulation.
Why is this important? Why has the master deceiver worked so hard to promote futurism. It has three devastating effects. First of all, it destroys the beautiful time prophecy of Daniel 9 which proves beyond all doubt that Christ is who he claimed to be.
It also destroys the time frame of prophecy by pushing most of the events of Revelation into the future. In reality, the events of Revelation describe the era from the Apostles down to our day and only a small portion of these events remain to be fulfilled.
Furthermore, futurism creates a smokescreen for the anti-Christ system to operate, since it has everyone scouting the horizon for a future anti-Christ. Meanwhile, the real anti-Christ flourishes in our own backyard.
This system martyred Christians by the millions when it reigned during the dark ages. It continues to promote doctrines of demons and pagan traditions in the guise of Christianity and is famous the world over for raping children behind its altars. Still, the worlds political leaders lend it power and credence, immunity from prosecution, even their respect and worship. They have been beguiled by the whore of Revelation 17-18.
As the final events of earth's history unfold and the plagues of God rain down, don't let confusion and deception over end time prophecy undermine your faith. If you belong to the Lord there is nothing to fear, even though a secret rapture does not precede the tribulation.
The devil would like to confuse and deceive you into being frightened, but the wrath of God is coming upon the wicked, not the righteous. The saints will not be harmed, just as the children of Israel were delivered when the plagues fell on Egypt. Like Noah and his family were delivered during the flood, or when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed but Lot was spared. There was no secret rapture to deliver God's people during those past tribulations, yet they were spared. Likewise, have faith that God can deliver you during the end time.
2 Peter 2...the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment.
Tell me, is it the wheat or the tares who have something to fear at harvest time? It is the wicked who must fear the coming wrath of God.
Matt. 13: 30" Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters (Angels): First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn."
In this parable, does God not deal with the wicked before he gathers his children to his barn?
Has God's arm been shortened that he can no longer provide or protect? Do you believe we have a deliverer who can save you to the uttermost, no matter what the circumstances?
Acts 2:21"And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." Psalm 145:20 assures us, "The LORD preserveth all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy." Psalm 91:5-8 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
Choose this day whom you will serve and stand watch. For the people of God, this is a time for singing and rejoicing, not fear or confusion.
1 Chronicles 16:33 Then the trees of the forest will sing, they will sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth.
See the signs, recognize the time in which you live and rejoice. Luke 21:28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.
If you are among the people of God, do not be alarmed at what is about to take place, remember that God's wrath will pass you by.
Isaiah 26:20 says, Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by. See, the Lord is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins. The earth will disclose the blood shed upon her; she will conceal her slain no longer.
Revelation 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus