by Rick Martin
Originally published in
The Christian Informer
WITH THE YEAR 2000 fast approaching there is much talk about the second coming of Christ. It is a subject that has always received a lot of attention. Many religious leaders of the past have tried to predict the time when Christ would return. There are many different views with regard to the end time and the return of Christ.
In 1833 William Miller began to teach that he had figured out when the Lord would come. He predicted that on October 22, 1843, the Lord would certainly come. With this prediction he started a movement called the Second Advent Movement. Some 50,000 people left mainline religious groups of that day to enter this movement. When October 22, 1843 arrived it is said that some people got on the top of their houses or barns to get a running start to meet the Lord in the air. When midnight came, the Lord had not returned. Miller then said that he had made a mistake in his addition and that Jesus would return the following year. Of course, that day too came and passed without the return of our Lord.
William Miller would have done well to read the Bible. Passages such as Matthew 24:36, Matthew 25:13, and 1 Thessalonians 5 tell us "The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night." Thieves do not ordinarily write you a letter or call you on the telephone to let you know they are coming. Jesus said, "In such an hour as ye think not, the son of man cometh" and that no man knows the day nor the hour when the Lord shall come.
In 1874, Charles T. Russell began to teach the Millenial Dawn Movement and to set dates for the Lord's coming. Those who followed him in the Watchtower Society have set various dates through the years, only to see these dates come and go without the return of the Lord. We see that it has not just been modern televangelists setting dates but many people have been interested in what they call "the last days."
Hebrews chapter 1 mentions the " last days" in which Jesus is to be the spokesman for God. Many people say that the "last days" are about to come. Such people are mistaken because the "last days" are aleady here. We are living in the "last days." In Acts 2, Peter quotes what the prophet Joel had said eight centuries earlier about what would come to pass in the last days (Acts 2:16-17). Beginning in 1 Timothy 4:1 and in 2 Timothy 3:1, Paul warns Timothy about what is happening in his day, which he calls the "last days" and he warns him to be on guard. When men base their teaching about the coming of Christ on the concept that he will come in the last days and that they will soon be with us, they are misapplying the Scriptures. No one knows when Christ will come, and we have been in the last days for nearly 2000 years. The "last days" refers to the Christian era, which began with the death of Christ.
Men try to predict the time of His coming, but the fact is no one knows. The only thing we know is that He is coming, and since we do not know the day or hour, it is imperative that we always be ready.
There is a lot of teaching today that he will come again to do a number of things: to end the Battle of Armageddon, to set up His throne in Jerusalem, to sit on David's throne for a thousand years. What does the Bible say about this?
Notice a statement made about Christ nineteen centuries ago. Luke 1:32-33 says, "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end." This is speaking of the first century onward. Psalm 24:9-10 says, " Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory." Daniel 7 says that when the Son of man passed through the clouds unto the ancient of days, he would receive a kingdom. In Acts 1 Jesus ascended from Mount Olivet, he passed through the clouds unto the Ancient of Days, and he received a Kingdom. The everlasting doors of heaven opened wide to receive him home. In Revelation 17:14, which was written at the end of the first century, he is referred to as the "King of Kings and Lord of Lords"--written in the present tense. 1 Timothy 6 says the same thing. He is reigning now over his kingdom.
We are told that when Jesus comes again every eye shall see him (Revelation 1:5). In Ephesians 1 we are told about the power God gave him when he raised him from the dead, that he is sitting at the right hand of God and all things have been put under his feet. How could Jesus have more power than that? He is not coming back to show his power or that he is a king, or to establish a kingdom. The apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15 that Christ is reigning now and shall reign until the last enemy, death, is put under his feet. Then he will take the Kingdom and deliver it up to God. The end of time is not going to be when he takes possession of the kingdom, but rather at the time he will give it up. This is the opposite of premillenialism. He is not even coming back to earth. We are told in 1 Thessalonians 4 that Christians will meet him in the air. According to 2 Peter 3 this earth and all the works that are in it shall be burned up. Hebrews 1:12 tells us it will be rolled up like an old garment and cast aside.
What exactly will occur when the Lord returns? Listen to the Lord himself (John 5:28-29), "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." This passage along with Acts 24:15 affirms that there will be one resurrection of dead, composed of both the good and the bad. 2 Thessalonians 1:8 says, "In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." If he is going to take vengeance on unbelievers when he comes, how can there be two resurrections as some say?
In the Great Commission according to Matthew's account, Jesus told his disciples to preach the gospel to the end of the world and then said, "I will be with you." If the "tribulation and rapture" theory taught by so many is true, then this statement of the Lord cannot be true, nor can his command be obeyed. According to that theory the righteous will be raptured seven years before the end of the world.
The Bible nowhere teaches the concept of a secret rapture. 2 Peter 3:10, "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." That certainly does not sound like it will be secretive or quiet.
Some televangelists talk about a restoration of physical Israel. What about this theory? A strange thing about the premillenial theory is that it gives special advantage to Israel. Romans 10:2 says, "For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek; for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call on him." Romans 2:11 says, "For there is no respect of persons with God." To claim that partiality will be extended to a certain race of people when Jesus comes is in direct opposition to what was accomplished at Christ's first coming.
This theory has as its basis Romans 11, but once again, the Scriptures are misapplied. Romans 11:26-29 says, "And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance." When Paul talks about the Deliverer that would come he is quoting Isaiah 59:20. When Isaiah wrote it seven centuries earlier it was future tense, but when Paul quotes it, he speaks in the past tense. The saving would come through the redeemer out of Zion. Jesus came out of Zion; notice Romans 15. Jesus was raised to reign over all men as he came out of Zion. Anyone who is going to be saved will be saved through Jesus Christ.
When Paul speaks of "Israel" in Romans 11 he is referring to the church. In Romans 2:28 he says, "For he is not a Jew which is one outwardly." Romans 9:6-7 says, "Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, in Isaac shall thy seed be called." Galatians 3:7 says, "Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham." "All Israel" means those who believe in Jesus Christ, both Jew and Gentile. The Jews were taken out of the way to open the way for Gentiles to come in. Believers which make up the true Israel of God will be saved.
When Jesus comes, he will not be able to be more of a Savior than he was the first time. The only things left for Jesus to do when he returns is to gather his saints and to pronounce condemnation on unbelievers.
Jesus has already established his kingdom. Colossians 1:13 tells us that the church at Colosse was in "the kingdom of God's dear Son"; the seven churches of Asia were called a kingdom of priests under God (Revelation 1:6; 5:10). If you are in the church, you are in the kingdom.
The second coming of Jesus Christ will certainly be a great event. We need to do everything in our power to be prepared for His return.
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