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The Second Coming of Jesus Christ

 

 

When the World Ends: (Part I)

by Rev. Jerry Lepasana

 

1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 (NIV)
15 According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.
16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
18 Therefore encourage each other with these words.

Since we are about to enter the last quarter of 2012, I am anticipating that there will be an increase in hype about the end of the world due to the doomsday predictions associated with the Mayan calendar which claims the world will end on December 21, 2012. Some people have theorized that the Mayan people, who were so advanced with their astronomical knowledge, have made calculations and foresaw that by the said date all life on earth will end because of a catastrophic disaster caused by the planetary alignment of the Sun and the Milky Way’s black hole. According to them, this alignment will directly result in dreadful events like sun flares, earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions, and other calamities. But will all these really take place on December 21? Is there a reason for us to even be worried?

As far as I am concerned, I absolutely believe that the world won’t end on December 21 this year. How can I be so sure? As a student of the Bible, this is not consistent with what is taught by the prophets and apostles. If you take what they have written, there are some very specific events that must take place first before the end of the world. Our topic this morning, which is the second coming of Jesus Christ, comes as the very first in the sequence of events in the last days.

Before I dive into our topic, I just want to encourage all of us to be watchful of the times and be more familiar with the prophecies concerning the last days. When John wrote the book of Revelations, he reminded believers about this truth.

Revelation 1:3
Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

The word, “Revelation,” comes from the Greek word,Apokalupsis,” which simply means “to uncoveror “to unveil.” In other words, God has taken the time to unveil to us through prophecies what is going to happen in the future. So it is to our advantage and blessing when we are do three things concerning prophecies:

  • We read them
  • We hear them
  • We take them to heart

This is the reason why I am truly excited about this entire series, When the World Ends, because I know we will be blessed in learning prophecies together.

Let’s begin with the first event that must take place.

I           THE PROPHECIES ABOUT IT:

The second coming of Jesus Christ is a prominent subject in the Bible. It has been referred to around 1, 845 times in the Old Testament and 318 times in the New Testament. The first coming of Jesus Christ into the world is now a historical fact. No one is able to deny it. However, even prior to His first coming, His birth, life, and death were all prophesied. The same could be said about the second coming – all the prophecies relating to it will certainly be fulfilled. With all the prophecies about it, I would like to particularly highlight the following:

  1. A. By Jesus Christ

John 14:1-3
1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.
2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

These words came from Jesus Christ during his last supper with His disciples prior to being arrested and crucified. Imagine the reaction of the disciples upon hearing from Jesus for the first time that He was about to leave them. I’m sure Jesus anticipated that there would be some confusion and uncertainty on the part of the disciples, so He inserted the promise of the second coming – “I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

Now, If Jesus himself had promised it, it will surely come to pass. He will always be true and faithful with all His promises.

  1. B. By the Angels

Acts 1:10-11
10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them.
11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

During the ascension of Jesus Christ in Mt. Olives, 120 of His followers were with Him. As they were all watching Him go back to heaven, they were surprised to see two angels standing with them telling them about the second coming. Don’t miss these words from the angels – “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” In other words, when Jesus returns to earth it will be as visible and as glorious as the ascension. All the believers will personally see Him.

II         THE PHASES OF IT:

For many years, Bible scholars were confused why there were some passages about the second coming that don’t seem to agree. Some statements talk about Jesus coming for His own, and then you will find verses saying he will come visibly to the whole world. Or there are statements about Jesus judging men in general, and then some say, He will judge the works of believers. After years of studies, Bible scholars came into agreement that there are two phases of the second coming.

  1. A. The Rapture of the Church:

The first phase of His coming is described by the apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18. This coming is primarily for the church, and He will come to meet His church in the air – “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”

Notice that at this coming, Jesus does not come all the way to the earth. Rather, He gathers all the Christians in the air. All the dead in Christ will rise from the dead, and those who are here on earth will be caught up or suddenly removed from the earth. This is where we get the idea of rapture. It comes from the Latin word rapturo, which means to catch away. Jesus mentioned this truth in Matthew 24:40-42.

40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.
41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.

Imagine you could be working with people who do not know Jesus Christ; once the rapture takes place; you will suddenly disappear from there and will be transported to where Jesus Christ is. That’s exciting, but terrifying to all those who will be left behind. On this basis, Christ says, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”

How quick will all this transpire? 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 provides us the answer.

1 Corinthians 15:51-52
51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed–
52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

The key words are – “in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye.” Some estimate that a blink of an eye takes 1/50th of a second. This plainly shows that everything will happen very fast. So you cannot wait until the last minute to prepare. We better prepare today while we still have time.

  1. B. The Revelation of the Church

The second phase of Christ’s coming will take place after 7 years of tribulation. Notice what Jesus said:

Matthew 24:29-31
29 “Immediately after the distress of those days “‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’
30 “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.
31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

If the first phase is for the church and only believers will see Him, the second phase is to defend Israel at the battle of Armageddon. This time, He will go straight to the earth and His feet will stand on the Mt. of Olives.

Zechariah 14:4
4 On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south.

Remember that the angels in Mt. Olives during the ascension of Christ stated that He will return in the same way they have seen Him go. This will be its fulfillment. Everyone in the world will see Jesus Christ returning from heaven just as Revelation 1:7 declares it.

Revelation 1:7
7 Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.

Prior to the invention of satellite television and internet, skeptics have brushed off this verse calling it absurd. But, all of us today know for a fact that this is completely possible.

Yes, Jesus is coming again. If you miss the rapture, you will still have a chance to join Him, but you will have to go through the 7 years of tribulation here on earth. A few Sundays from today, we will talk about how dreadful that time will be. Once you have learned it, I guarantee that you won’t want to be a part of it.

III        THE PURPOSES FOR IT:

Lastly, when the apostle Paul wrote to Titus and mentioned the second coming of Jesus Christ, He referred to as our blessed hope (Titus 2:13). I believe the only way we can have the same perspective is when we know at least some of the purposes of Christ’s coming.

  1. A. The Resurrection of the Believers

Going back to Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:52, in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be change,” you find a very clear teaching that our resurrection will happen in the second coming. There are some who have died in the Lord who are waiting to receive their glorious bodies; while there are those who will no longer experience death because they will be alive when Jesus returns. For those who are alive, their corruptible bodies will be transformed to incorruptible ones. All believers will receive a body similar to that which Jesus possessed after His resurrection.

Philippians 3:21
21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

Therefore, it is a blessed hope because we will receive a body that is no longer subject to diseases, decay, and death. This body is designed to live forever.

  1. B. The Recognition of the Believers

Today, it is so easy for unbelievers to laugh and reproach those who claim salvation in Jesus Christ. In the second coming, it will be a time of vindication for Jesus Christ and His followers.

Matthew 24:30 (NIV)
30 “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.

1 John 3:2-3 (NIV)
2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.

  1. C. The Rewarding of the Believers

Last, but not the least, Jesus Christ will judge the works of the believers and give them appropriate rewards. No, this judgment will not be to deal with the sins we have done against Him.

John 5:24
24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.

Hebrews 10:17

17 Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”

Instead, this judgment will be to reward believers for how they served the Lord with their time, talents, treasure.

2 Corinthians 5:10
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

The word used by Paul for judgment seat came from the Greek word Bema seat. Those who were living in Paul’s time were aware that Paul was referring to the seat where the Roman emperor sat during athletic events. After every competition, all the winners stood before the bema seat to receive their rewards.

In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus beautifully illustrated this truth by using the parable of the talent. The story was that a rich master was going away for a long journey. Before he left, he entrusted his three servants with his talents, representing great amounts of money. After he returned, he called all the three servants to give an account on how they have used their talents. The bottom line is that the first two servants who used their talents faithfully were commended and rewarded.

Matthew 25:21, 23 (NIV)
21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

However, the one who was unfaithful was condemned. All of us who truly know Jesus Christ must aspire to receive high commendations when we stand before our judge. The Bible clearly conveys that our faithfulness today will give us the confidence to stand before Him at judgment day.

1 John 2:28
28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.

Are you excited to see our Savior? I know we are closer than ever to His second coming. Let’s do our best to prepare by living faithfully for him and helping others to find salvation in Him. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that His coming might be today!

 

It May Be Today

There is a message written in the Word of God for me,
My Savior put it there to ease my load of care.
I read, “Let not your heart be troubled, I will come again,
That with me you may be through all eternity.”

The Christ I love is coming soon,
It may be morning, night, or noon.
My lamps are lit, I’ll watch and pray.
It may be today, it may be today.

So many hearts are broken here, so many tears are shed
But Jesus brings sweet peace, this message brings relief.
He’ll come again for those he loves.
The clouds will part someday,
And Jesus will break through, I’m going up, are you?