THE SECOND COMING (Short version, July 2019)
READINGS: 2 Peter 3: 1-13 & I Thessalonians 4:13 – 5:2
In 1895, Herbert George Wells wrote a book that was to spawn a series of books, films and fantasies. The book was called: “The Time Machine”… The machine allowed someone to travel back and forward in time.
If you owned a time machine… Which part of your life would you like to go back and re-visit? And which would you avoid!
When my late father was in hospital some 4 or 5 years before he died, I noticed that he was very upset. When I asked him the reason, he replied: “I was thinking about happier times”.
It’s one thing to have the opportunity to return to the PAST… but would you be happy to go forward in time and find out what awaited you tomorrow and in years to come?
- God told King Hezekiah (through Isaiah the prophet) that he had fifteen more years to live… How awful, as he saw the clock ticking down!
- Doctors told a man who attended a local Chapel that he had a certain amount of time to live. He replied by saying: “I shall live as long as God determines; not one day more, not one day less.”
My father used to add to any statement about the future: “If I’m still here”…but towards the end of his life, he didn’t say it any more… perhaps the prospect of his own death was becoming too real!
- A man I know complained to me that he didn’t have much life expectancy at his age … he was 59 years old!
- While taking the dog for a walk, another man I know commented in all seriousness that he was “living on borrowed time”… not because he was ill but because he had just reached his 70th birthday!
- Well, guess what? There’s a sense in which we are ALL “living on borrowed time”!
The future is largely a mystery … but one thing we can know about for certain is the SECOND COMING to earth of Jesus Christ
THE SECOND COMING is an integral part of God’s eternal plan of salvation
During Christ’s Ascension, the angel said to the disciples who were gazing into heaven that this same Jesus will return in the same way that you saw Him go (Acts 1)
- The disciples were bewildered… little wonder!
- God’s ways may seem strange… but there’s a master plan at work
God’s timing is perfect
In 2 Peter 3:9 we read: “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise”
For “just at the right time, Christ died for us”, so at ‘just the right time’ he will return for those who love Him … for those who are waiting for Him and ARE HAPPY TO SEE HIM.
As we read in Hebrews 9: 28… ‘He will come again, not to deal with our sins but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him’
Can that be said of you & me?
God’s patience is limitless… but when the end time comes, events will move at the speed of thought…
Like a thief appearing in the night.
The knowledge of what will happen on that Day could trouble us…
The heavens will disappear with a roar
The elements will be destroyed by fire
The earth and everything in it will be laid bare
But Jesus offers us reassurance … “I will come again and take you to be with me, so that where I am, you may be as well”
A Jehovah’s Witness once told me that he had no assurance about the future: “I hope so” was all he could say when I asked about heaven… but we have assurance for our salvation … hope beyond this life
It’s a bit like a playgroup worker who tells a child not to be upset because mummy or daddy will be coming back for them…
- Sometimes the parent leaves an item with the child (such as a handkerchief) as a keep-safe for the child to look after until the parent returns
And so with us:
(a) Christ has left the Holy Spirit with us as a guarantee of His return
(b) Meanwhile, he relies on us to look after Kingdom business while He is away… empowered and guided by the Holy Spirit
If we don’t have a role to play while we await His return… we may as well go to heaven right now!
After their predictions about Christ’s return failed to materialise on several occasions, the Jehovah Witnesses concocted a story that Christ has already returned invisibly! But the Scriptures tell us that: “every eye shall see Him”
As for the precise time… we read in Revelation 22:14…
“Behold I am coming soon…” but only Father God knows what is meant by “soon”
THE EVENTS OF THE LAST DAYS
This is an area of great controversy…but let’s look at some basic and indisputable facts as the Bible reveals them…
- The Second Coming will be personal
- “This same Jesus…”
- The Second Coming will be visible … Thus, in Colossians 3 v 4…
And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.
As the song goes:
“We shall see His lovely face, some bright golden morning”
3) There will be a resurrection of believers AND unbelievers
- We often speak of Christians rising to meet Him…but in fact all the dead will be raised.As Jesus teaches in John 5:
I tell you for certain that the time will come, and it is already here, when all of the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen to it will live! … Don’t be surprised! The time will come when all of the dead will hear the voice of the Son of Man and they will come out of their graves. Everyone who has done good things will rise to life but everyone who has done evil things will rise and be condemned.
NOTE THAT ACCORDING TO JESUS’ OWN WORDS (rarely quoted!)…
- All the dead will hear His voice…so those who have never had a chance to hear the Gospel may have a chance to do so on that Day
- Those who listen will live…so God is determined to wait until the very last second to allow people chance to repent & believe
- The way that people have lived their lives WILL matter …
Good works can’t BRING salvation but should be the fruit OF salvation
There will, however, be ‘signs’ of Christ’s imminent arrival…
Matthew 24 v 14: The Gospel will be preached to all nations.
Luke 21 v 24: Jerusalem will be free of Gentile control.
1 Timothy 4 v 1: There will be a huge increase in spiritual activity
2 Peter 3 verses 3, 4/Jude 18: We will see an increase of scoffing and mockery of the establishment
2 Peter 2 v 1: We will see the introduction of destructive heresy
2 Thessalonians 2 v 3: The Man of Lawlessness will be revealed(i.e. lawlessness will increase)
Daniel 12 v 4: There will be an increase in knowledge
Luke 21 v 9: There will be wars and revolutions
SO IS THE RETURN OF CHRIST NEAR OR FAR AWAY?
I leave you to decide!
One thing is sure: it’s closer today than it was yesterday!
And as we wait, how should we behave?
- We should be watching and waiting, not caught out when He comes… Praying, as if everything depended on God… Working as if everything depended on us!
- We should take our responsibilities as Christians seriously… If we are serious, God will take us seriously and provide opportunities to speak for Him and oppose evil… We do what God calls us to do; He will do the rest!
- We should be joyful, prayerful, thankful, open to the Spirit, eager for God’s revelation … testing everything; holding firmly onto good things; avoiding every kind of evil.
- We should be ready to face persecution… In this country, persecution is most likely to take the form of ridicule & contempt
In all these things, the most crucial thing to remember is that He is coming for those who are ready & eager to meet Him
Is that you? Is that me?
You may not own a time machine … but you CAN change the future by changing the present! By putting your trust in Jesus Christ TODAY, you can change today and TOMORROW and forever!