Christ's second coming is one of the most important teachings of the Bible. This belief that our Saviour will return to establish an everlasting Kingdom on the earth is indeed our blessed hope. The Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith has always taught and cherished this precious doctrine. A generation or so ago it was not a popular teaching of the major denominations. In recent years, however, more and more churches are adopting the second coming as one of their doctrines.
Recently, while explaining to a lady our distinctive teachings, I told her that we believed in the second coming of Christ. She said, "I thought all churches believed that!" I think she was right. At least, nearly all churches have their own interpretation of second coming scriptures. If we discussed our views with these other churches, we would probably discover that we differ widely in our understanding of the second coming. Many people believe that Jesus will come, but they are confused about how he will come. The purpose of this article is to expound the Bible teaching of the nature of Christ's coming.
Jesus will come personally. Jesus is a real, living person. After His resurrection, Jesus came to His apostles, "to whom also he shewed himself alive after his suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days" (Acts 1:3). This same person then ascended into heaven, "while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight" (Acts 1:9). At that very moment, two men in white apparel told the apostles that "this same Jesus" would come again some day. (Acts 1:10, 11) We are convinced that the same Jesus who taught by the Sea of Galilee, healed the multitudes, prayed in Gethsemane, died on the cross, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, this same Jesus will come again personally to earth.
Some people of the world think that "there is a great day coming" but have no idea what will happen on that day. Others, by reading signs of the times, feel that the end of the world is coming but fail to recognize that Jesus is coming. The Scriptures warn us to be looking for the personal return of Jesus. Note the words of Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, "The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with a voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God." We must be looking for the Lord Himself. Too many people are looking for an event, not a person.
Jesus will come literally. Some destroy the beauty of the second coming of Christ by denying that He will come literally and by teaching that He comes in a spiritual way only. They say that when you are converted, or when you spread the gospel, or when you do a good deed, or when you abolish an evil, then Jesus comes again and that is the only way that He will ever come. This whole theory is refuted by Acts 1:11, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." How did Jesus go into heaven, spiritually or literally? Jesus will return in like manner and in the same way.
After His resurrection, Jesus proved to His disciples that He was not a spirit or a ghost but had a real body. "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have" (Luke 24:39). When Jesus ascended, He had the same physical body. He will return with the same body.
Jesus' ascension and descension are made real to us by the fact that the surroundings of both events are very real. Jesus ascended in a cloud (Acts 1:9) and He will return in the clouds (Mark 14:62). Since the clouds are literal, Jesus will come literally also. Jesus ascended from the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:12) and will return to the very same spot (Zechariah 14:4). The Mount of Olives and Christ's return are both very literal. We wait anxiously for Jesus to appear literally and real as life in our midst. We rest confidently in the promise that "we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2). O happy day!
Jesus will come visibly. "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him" (Revelation 1:7). Jesus will not come secretly. Everyone on earth, every eye, will see Him "coming in a cloud with power and great glory" (Luke 21:27). Don't be fooled by those who say that Christ has already come. I for one have not seen Him, and I am sure there are no others who have witnessed the visible return of our Lord. Furthermore, the Bible promises that several other events will occur when Jesus returns.
Jesus will raise the dead, judge the wicked, establish the Kingdom, destroy sin and death. Have these things happened? No! Then we are certain that Jesus' coming is still future.
In the Scripture passage (Matthew 24:27), Jesus warns us not to believe false teachers who will try to tell us that Christ is already here. Then Jesus describes the true nature of His coming, "For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (Mathew 24:27). As lightning stretches across the sky and is visible to all, so Christ will come through the skies and "every eye shall see him."
Jesus will come unexpectedly. In fact, He compared His coming to the unexpected entry of a thief into a house. First Thessalonians 5:2 says, "Yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night." What does this mean? Does it mean that Jesus will come to steal? Is He a criminal? No. It means that Jesus will come when we least expect Him. We usually don't expect a thief to break into our home. If we did, we would sit up all night waiting to catch him. So the world slumbers on, not realizing that Jesus will come suddenly and without warning.
Why doesn't the world expect Christ to return? Some scoff at the teaching of the second coming and console themselves by saying that the world has not changed much since the creation. Consequently, they do not expect many changes in the future. (2 Peter 3:3, 4.) Others believe in the second coming but are so busy with cares of this life that they do not have time to think about it. Jesus warned these people that His coming would catch them unawares. "For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the earth" (Luke 21:35). He compared the last days to the days of Noah and the flood when people lived in merriment and carelessness up to the very minute the rains begin to fall (Matthew 24:37-39.) Then it was too late! This is the reason Jesus will come like a thief in the night.
The Christian must be ready to receive his Lord at any time. We have no idea of the day nor the hour when Jesus will come (Matthew 24:36, 42), so we must always be prepared. When do you think Jesus will come? I think He could come at any minute. I have heard some say that the Lord could not possibly come this year because not enough prophecy has been fulfilled. This is a very dangerous attitude! If we do not expect Him, the Lord could surprise us as quickly as He will the world. Remember the words of Jesus, "Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh" (Matthew 24:44).
Jesus will not come as a thief to Christians who are looking for Him. Our country is constantly on the alert for enemy airplanes. Volunteer sky watchers gaze into the heavens every minute of the day and night and report any strange aircraft. How much more important it would be if we maintained a constant vigil for Jesus to come. Are you a sky watcher for Christ? Watch and be ready! Jesus will come!