By Mike Ratliff
“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Matthew 24:36-44 ESV)
Jesus Christ is returning to this earth. However, if you look at the havoc the enemy is causing in the visible Church in our time it would appear that many, if not most, professing Christians are unconcerned about it. When certain Christian leaders can dismiss clear teachings from God’s Word and replace them with what the unregenerate want to hear then we must know that they do not believe that what the Word of God teaches us is literal in any sense of the word. Instead, they go on about in their lasciviousness in utter disregard for what awaits those who are guilty of making light of the direct commands of God. However, our Lord made it very clear in His Word that He was returning and with Him He will bring both reward and judgment.
When Christ returns He will not appear the way He came the first time. He was born into poverty and came from obscurity into His ministry in the 1st Century AD. No, He will not come that way when He returns. His “second coming” will be a royal visit. It will be both personal and physical as we read in the passage I placed at the top of this post as well as in these passages (Acts 1:11; Colossians 3:4; 2 Timothy 4:8; Hebrews 9:28). It will also be visible and triumphant as we see in the following passages.
And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:34-38 ESV)
This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering—since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 ESV)
When He returns, Christ will make an end to history. The dead will be raised and He will judge the world (John 5:28,29). He will impart to God’s children their final glory (Romans 8:17,18; Colossians 3:4). Our Lord will then deliver the kingdom and become subject to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:24-28 ) in that He has completed the plan of God assigned to Him for redeeming the elect. The elect will honor the Lamb who opened the book of God’s salvation (Revelation 5).
We learn in the following passage that Christ’s coming will be a descent from the sky. A trumpet, a shout, and the voice of the archangel will herald it.
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 ESV)
Those who have died in Christ will be raised, and Christians living on earth will be caught up to meet our Lord in the air. This will end life on earth as we know it. Those in Christ will enter into unbroken communion with God. Some teach that Christians will be taken out of this world for a period after which Christ will return to earth a third time for the real “second coming.” This view lacks scriptural support.
What about the period between Christ’s first and second comings? Does God’s Word tell us anything about what takes place during what many refer to as the “Church Age?” It does not give us any method or way to determine even a approximate date for Jesus’ second coming. We learn from the New Testament only that there are ongoing processes ordained by God that concern the Gentiles coming to faith(Matthew 24:14) along with many Jews before Christ’s return (Romans 11:25-29). It also tells us that false prophets and false christs will plague the Church (Matthew 24:5,24; 1 John 2:18,22; 4:4). Unfortunately, there will also be apostasy from the faith and tribulation for the faithful (2 Thessalonians 2:3; 1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; Revelation 7:13,14; cf. 3:10). We also learn that the “man of lawlessness” must come onto the scene (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12). However, we cannot deduce a date for our Lord’s return through any of this (Matthew 24:36).
What we do know for certain, however, is that our Lord’s return will be a tragic disaster for those who are not ready (Matthew 24:36-51). The Christian should mediate on and pray a great deal about our Lord’s return. Those who know Him and serve Him should be anticipating His return with great joy. This should help us and encourage us to continue in our present Christian service (1 Corinthians 15:58). We should live our lives in such a way as to be ready to meet Christ at any time (Matthew 25:1-13). My brethren, if we allow the temporal to rule our lives then we will live just like the world does instead of how we should as Christians whose eternal destiny is far above the experiences of this life.
Soli Deo Gloria!