He prophesied, "'Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him'" Jude 14, One thousand years before Christ, the psalmist spoke of the Lord's coming to gather His people, saying, "Our God shall come, and shall not keep silent; a fire shall devour before Him, and it shall be very tempestuous all around Him.
He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that He may judge His people: 'Gather My saints together to Me, those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice'" Ps. Christ's disciples rejoiced in the promise of His return. Amid all the difficulties they encountered, the assurance this promise brought never failed to renew their courage and strength.
Their Master was coming back to take them to His Father's house! The Guarantee the First Advent Provides. The Second Advent is closely tied to Christ's first advent. If Christ had not come the first time and won a decisive victory over sin and Satan Col.
But since we have the evidence that He "appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself," we have reason to believe that He "will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation" Heb. Christ's Heavenly Ministry. Christ's revelation to John makes it clear that the heavenly sanctuary is central to the plan of salvation Rev.
The prophecies that indicate that He has begun His final ministry on behalf of sinners add to the assurance that soon He will return to take His people home see chapter 23 of this book. The confidence that Christ is actively working to bring to consummation the redemption already accomplished at the cross has brought great encouragement to Christians who are looking forward to His return.
The Manner of Christ's Return As Christ spoke about the signs that would indicate that His coming was near, He also indicated concern that His people not be deceived by false claims. He warned that before the Second Advent "'false christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
Forewarned is forearmed.
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To enable believers to distinguish between the genuine event and a false coming, several Biblical passages reveal details of the manner in which Christ will return. A Literal and Personal Return. When Jesus ascended in a cloud, two angels addressed the disciples, who were still gazing up after their departed Lord: "'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'" Acts In other words, they said that the same Lord who had just left them—a personal, flesh-and-blood being, not some spirit entity Luke —would return to earth. And His Second Advent would be as literal and personal as His departure. A Visible Return.
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Christ's coming will not be an inward, invisible experience but a real meeting with a visible Person. Leaving no room whatsoever for doubt as to the visibility of His return, Jesus warned His disciples against being taken in by a secret second coming by comparing His return to the brilliance of lightning Matt. Scripture clearly states that the righteous and the wicked will simultaneously witness His coming. John wrote, "Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him" Rev.
An Audible Return. Adding to the picture of a universal awareness of Christ's return is the Biblical assertion that His coming will be made known by sound as well as sight: "The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God" 1 Thess. The "'great sound of a trumpet'" Matt. There is no secrecy here. A Glorious Return.
John the revelator portrays the glory of Christ's return in a most dramatic way. He pictures Christ riding on a white horse and leading the innumerable armies of heaven. The supernatural splendor of the glorified Christ is apparent Rev.
A Sudden, Unexpected Return. Christian believers, longing and looking for Christ's return, will be aware when it draws near 1 Thess. But for the inhabitants of the world in general, Paul wrote, "The day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, 'Peace and safety! And they shall not escape" 1 Thess.
Some have concluded that Paul's comparison of Christ's coming to that of a thief indicates that He will come in some secret, invisible manner. However, such a view contradicts the Biblical picture of Christ's.
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Paul's point is not that Christ's coming is secret, but that, for the worldly minded, it is as unexpected as that of a thief. Christ makes the same point by comparing His coming with the unexpected destruction of the antediluvian world by the Flood. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man'" Matt.
Though Noah had preached for many years about a coming flood, it took most people by surprise. There were two classes of people living. One class believed Noah's word and went into the ark and was saved, the other chose to stay outside the ark and the "'flood came and took them all away'" Matt. A Cataclysmic Event. Like the simile of the Flood, Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the metal image depicts the cataclysmic manner in which Christ will establish His kingdom of glory see chapter 4 of this book. Nebuchadnezzar saw a great image whose "'head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay.
Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth'" Dan. Through this dream God gave Nebuchadnezzar a synopsis of world history. Between his day and the establishment of Christ's everlasting kingdom the stone , four major kingdoms or empires and then a conglomeration of weak and strong nations would consecutively occupy the world's stage.
Ever since the days of Christ interpreters have identified the empires as Babylon B. During the fourth and fifth centuries A. Through the centuries, powerful rulers—Charlemagne, Charles V, Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm, and Hitler—have tried to establish another world empire. Each failed, just as the prophecy said: "'They will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay'" Dan Finally, the dream focuses on the dramatic climax: the setting up of God's everlasting kingdom. The stone cut out without hands represents Christ's kingdom of glory Dan.
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Christ's kingdom is not to exist simultaneously with any human empire. When He was on earth during the sway of the Roman Empire, the stone kingdom that crushes all nations had not yet come. Only after the phase of the iron and clay feet, the period of the divided nations, would it arrive. It is to be set up at the Second Advent when Christ separates the righteous from the wicked Matt.
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When it comes, this stone or kingdom will strike the "'image on its feet of iron and clay'" and "'it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, '" leaving not a trace of them Dan. Indeed, the Second Advent is an earth-shaking event. The Second Advent and the Human Race Christ's second advent will touch both of the great divisions of humanity—those who have accepted Him and the salvation He brings, and those who have turned from Him.
The Gathering of the Elect. An important aspect of the establishment of Christ's eternal kingdom is the gathering of all the redeemed Matt. When a head of state visits another country, only a few persons can be part of the welcoming party. But when Christ comes, every believer who has ever lived, regardless of age, gender, education, economic status, or race, will participate in the grand Advent celebration. Two events make possible this universal gathering: the resurrection of the righteous dead and the translation of the living saints.
The resurrection of the dead in Christ. At the sound of the trumpet announcing Christ's return, the righteous dead will be raised incorruptible and immortal 1 Cor. At that moment the "dead in Christ will rise first" 1 Thess. Resurrected ones reunite with those who sorrowed at their departure. Now they exult, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? It is not the diseased, aged, mutilated bodies that went down into the grave that come up in the resurrection, but new, immortal, perfect bodies, no longer marked by the sin that caused their decay.
The resurrected saints experience the completion of Christ's work of restoration, reflecting the perfect image of God in mind, soul, and body 1 Cor. The translation of the living believers. When the righteous dead are resurrected, the righteous who are living on the earth at the Second Coming will be changed. At Christ's return no group of believers takes precedence over any other believers.
Paul reveals that the living and transformed believers "shall be caught up together with them [the resurrected believers] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord" 1 Thess. So all the believers will be present at the grand Advent gathering, both the resurrected saints of all ages and those who are alive at Christ's return.
The Death of the Unbelievers. To the saved the Second Advent is a time of joy and exhilaration, but to the lost it will be a time of devastating terror. They have resisted Christ's love and His invitations to salvation so long that they have become ensnared in deceptive delusions see 2 Thess. When they see the One they have rejected coming as King of kings and Lord of lords, they know the hour of their doom has struck. Overwhelmed with terror and despair, they call upon the inanimate creation to shelter them Rev.
At this time God will destroy Babylon, the union of all apostate religions. The leader of this confederation—the mystery of iniquity, the lawless one—"the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming" 2 Thess. The powers responsible for enforcing the mark of the beast see chapter 12 will be cast "into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.
The Signs of Christ's Soon Return The Scriptures not only reveal the manner and object of Christ's coming, they also describe the signs that tell of the nearness of this climactic event. The first signs announcing the Second Advent took place more than years after Christ's ascension, and others have followed, contributing to the evidence that His return is very near.
Signs in the Natural World. Christ predicted that there would "'be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars'" Luke , specifying that "'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in heaven will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory'" Mark In addition, John saw that a great earthquake would precede the signs in the heavens Rev. All of these signs would mark the end of the years of persecution see chapter The witness of the earth.