Christ's Second Coming
"And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, "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."
Those words were spoken by two men (angels?) nearly 2000 years ago as Jesus ascended into heaven. They give a clear, unambiguous message. On the basis of those words and many other O.T. and N.T. promises, Christadelphians have always believed and taught that the literal return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth is vital to the fulfillment of the purpose of God as expressed in the scriptures and it is a central part of the true Christian hope.
During his ministry, Jesus preached the good news of the Kingdom of God (Matthew 4:23; Mark 1:14; Luke 8:1) and he left his followers in no doubt about his second coming. In Matthew 16:27 he said, "For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works." (We will mention that reward in the conclusion.) On another occasion he spoke to some who thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately. To help them understand that he first had to go to heaven and how they should occupy themselves during his absence, he told them a parable. "A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return." (Read the full parable in Luke 19:12-27) Jesus often spoke of "the coming of the Son of Man," (Matthew 24:27, 30, 37, 39, 48; 25:27; 26:64.)
During the forty days after his resurrection, Jesus taught his apostles more about the Kingdom of God, which they obviously understood would be the restored kingdom of Israel. (Acts 1:3, 6.)
After the ascension of Jesus to heaven, his apostles travelled through the civilized world preaching the dynamic message of his resurrection from the dead and the hope of his eventual return to the earth to establish God's kingdom. The N.T. book of Acts records some of their work. Some have counted over 300 references in the N.T. to the return of Jesus to this earth.
In Acts 2:24-31, the apostle Peter spoke of the resurrection of Christ and quoting from the O.T (Psa 16) showed that King David (the author of the Psalm) foresaw this event and it was the centre of his hope because God had promised him a descendant who would sit on his throne forever. (2 Samuel 7:12-16; 23:5; Psalm 132:11) The angel Gabriel gave this message to Mary also when she was told she would have a son. (Luke 1:30-33) These promises require Jesus to rule from Jerusalem, (the site of David's throne) over the house of Israel. That is why the return of the Jewish people to their own land and their becoming a nation again (1948), as clearly foretold in Bible prophecy, is an important step (and a vital sign) in the preparation of the world for the return of Jesus. Peter then referred his hearers to another writing of David (Psalm 110:1) to show that Jesus had only gone to heaven until his foes are subdued. (ie. when Israel repents) Acts 2:34-35, "For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: 'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool." ' NOTE , there is a limit to the time Jesus will be at God's right hand, then God will send him back to earth as Peter explained in Acts 3:19-21, "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He (ie. God) may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began."
Note Peter's authoritative use of the Old Testament , using several quotes in Acts 2 and stating in Acts 3 that "God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began," concerning this great event. It is unfortunate that the O.T. is neglected by many Bible readers, for it contains so many promises of a kingdom God will establish on this earth, promises which can only be fulfilled by the second coming of Christ to rule as world king.
Other N.T. writers frequently spoke of the second coming of Christ, eg., it is mentioned in every chapter of Paul's first letter to the believers at Thessalonica. 1 Thessalonians 1:10, ".. to wait for His son from heaven."; 1 Thessalonians 2:19, "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?" ; 1 Thessalonians 3:13, "... at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints." ; 1 Thessalonians 4:16, "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout... "; 1 Thessalonians 5:23, "...may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
SO WHY IS CHRIST COMING?
He is coming to consummate the purpose of God by establishing God's Kingdom on earth and eventually filling the earth with God's glory (Numbers 14:21). The Bible is full of prophecies concerning the return of Jesus to the earth and the vast changes he will bring about by his righteous rule. Here are some details of the work Jesus will do when he returns to earth :-
- He will raise from the dead and judge those who have known his message and so are responsible to such judgement. (2 Timothy 4:1; Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Daniel 12:2)
- He will set up God's kingdom on earth and will establish his throne in Jerusalem, its Metropolis. (Luke 1:31-33; Jeremiah 3:17; Zechariah 14:9; Isaiah 2:3; Matthew 5:35)
- He will execute judgement on those nations who resist his authority and he will compel them to submit. (Isaiah 2:4; Psalm 2:9-12; 2 Thessalonians 1:8)
- He will extend his kingdom to cover the whole earth and after reigning for a thousand years, which is the last stage of the world's redemption, he will deliver the kingdom to God the Father. (Daniel 2:44; 7v27; Psalm 72:8; Revelation 11:15; Revelation 20:4; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28.)
WHEN WILL CHRIST COME?
We cannot be sure for Jesus himself said we will never know the exact time of his coming. (Matthew 24:36) However we are given many signs to indicate when his coming is near, such as:- the return of the Jews and their becoming a nation again; world fear; widespread political and social unrest, and particularly in the Middle East. Read the words of Jesus and his warning to be prepared. (Luke 21:24-36.)
This hope of Christ's second coming is the Bible answer (and the only answer) to the perplexing problems facing the world today and sets before us the wonderful prospect of a world at peace and at one with God. Then the petition Jesus taught his disciples to pray in the Lord's prayer will be fulfilled, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:9-13)
These Bible teachings about the second coming of Christ are not given to us merely to inform us of what the future holds. We are meant to use this knowledge to prepare ourselves for his coming . We mentioned earlier that at his coming, "he will reward each according to his works." (Matthew 16:27) We read in Romans 6:23, "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Believing in God and His promises, followed by a life of serving Him and His Son can bring this gift of immortality. In Revelation 22:12 we have the words of Jesus Christ, "And behold, I am coming quickly, and my reward is with me, to give everyone according to his work."