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End Times Doctrine
Second Coming of Christ
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Outside the doctrine of the Rapture, which is actually the first event in the return of Christ, it is this very doctrine, “The Second Coming of Christ,” that has historically been one that is near and dear to hearts of believers.
More than that, it is part of most Protestant and Evangelical churches’ statement of faith, like Foursquare, which our church, Living Waters Fellowship, is a part of. So important is this doctrine that it comprises the fourth square in the foursquare logo revealing how vital it truly is. The fourth square is the symbol of a crown, which represents Christ as the soon coming king, and in Foursquare’s statement of faith it says, “We believe that the second coming of Christ is personal and imminent.”
This same doctrine was also part of the early church’s statements of faith found in both the Nicene and the Apostle’s Creed.
Maybe this is why Satan has been trying to bring confusion surrounding it through the coming of false Christ’s, false prophecies, false teachings, and false dates, which is probably why they are false.
Some people spend their entire lives trying to find out everything they can about the end times and the second coming of Christ. They’ve got charts and graphs. They can tell you who the two witnesses will be, who the Antichrist is and where he lives, and what the menu’s going to be at the marriage supper of the Lamb (Just kidding, but I’m sure Angel Food Cake will be served).
And the reason it is so beloved and studied is because there’s nothing in this world that gives hope to an exhausted heart like the return of Christ. There’s nothing that stirs the soul like knowing that one day we’ll be with Jesus!
There are a lot of places in the Bible that speaks about Jesus’s return, but I think Paul’s statement to the Thessalonian Church helps explain it the best. Paul is saying that he wants us to understand the importance of this event. Actually, he says he doesn’t want us to be ignorant about it, but I was trying to putting a positive spin to his admonition.
Paul is responding to a misunderstanding that had caused a lot of grief to the church in Thessalonica. Paul had taught that Jesus was coming again to gather His people, that is, the church, in order to be with Him forever.
But after some time had past, and Jesus not returning as soon as they hoped, a few of them started to die. And so they mourned wondering what was going to happen to their loved ones who had died. Were they going to miss the Second Coming?
Paul must have felt heartbroken. So, he wrote in order to bring them comfort. So let’s take a moment and read what the Apostle Paul wrote concerning this most precious promise.
So, as I have asked you to turn in your Bibles to 1 Thessalonians 4, let’s read verses 13-14.
“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 NKJV)
After Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection, the disciples, and over 500 people saw Jesus ascend into heaven in bodily form and heard what the angelic messengers 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.” (Acts 1:11 NIV)
This was then heaven’s statement of faith, which is still to be realized. It was this hope that sustained them through the many trials they faced, as it should sustain us today.
Now, to have a second coming, there must have been a first. What were these two and the purpose?
The Bible speaks of the two comings of the Messiah. The first time He comes will be as a suffering servant to die for the sins of the people, which is seen in Isaiah 53.
“For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken.” (Isaiah 53:8b NKJV)
We can also see this same outcome concerning the coming Messiah in God’s prophecy of 70 weeks found in the book of Daniel.
“And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself.” (Daniel 9:26 NKJV)
And then the Bible talks about the Messiah’s return to this earth as a conquering king as found in the book of Revelation.
“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True … and His name is called The Word of God … And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:11-16 NKJV)
But there is a verse in the Old Testament that reveals these two comings. It’s found in the book of Zechariah, where we are told that the inhabitants of Jerusalem will see the Messiah at His second coming and recognize that He had come once before, that is, He came a first time, and that He was no one less than Jesus whom they had rejected and put to death. How will they know that it was Jesus, and now is Jesus, they will recognize Him by the pierced marks on His hands and feet. And it says that they will mourn, because they realize that Jesus was and is the Messiah, and the purpose of His first coming was to set them free.
“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.” (Zechariah 12:10 NKJV)
But going back to what the angels said to the disciples at Jesus’s accession, what we learn is that God is promising Jesus’s return.
A Promised Return
The promise made by God through these angels is a promise that was understood and looked forward too by many. But it doesn’t stop people from scoffing and mocking it.
Peter in his second letter wrote, “In the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’” (2 Peter 3:4 NKJV)
But just because He hasn’t returned yet doesn’t mean that he won’t. In fact, the promise of His return goes all the way back to Job.
Job said, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God.” (Job 19:25-26 NKJV)
And then there is Jesus Himself, whose word is always true, and what He said was that He was indeed coming, but not at a time when people would expect,
“You also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:44 NKJV)
And why will it come unexpectedly, because the people will be oblivious to His return, because they will be going about their lives as if nothing is ever going to happen, and that nothing will change, or as Jesus pointed out that that it will be like the days of Noah where people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, that is, until the day Noah entered the Ark (Matthew 24:38).
A Glorious Return in Troublous Times
Jesus said, “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” (Luke 21:27NKJV)
It will definitely be a glorious return for those upon the earth, because all those who will be upon the earth at that time will be going through great trials and troubles.
Now, some people will deny that Jesus will return, others will doubt, dismiss, and even debate it, but that doesn’t change the fact that He will return. In Matthew 24, Jesus was talking about how bad the times will be when He returns by making the comparison of His return to the times surrounding the great flood, or the days of Noah.
“But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” (Matthew 24:37 NKJV)
The Bible described what that time looked like saying, “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways.” (Genesis 6:11-12 NKJV)
And so, what we see about the return of Christ is that it is going to be personal, visible, and sudden; but it will also be a promised and glorious return in troublous times.
Now, as we looked at the fact that there are two comings of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the second coming has two aspects or parts.
The first is that which is known as “The Rapture.”
This is seen as part of what Paul said to the church of Thessalonica as he continues in chapter 4, verses 15-18 to give them hope and comfort.
“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 NKJV)
Now, I have actually taken time to speak about this specifically in an earlier teaching on the end times. It can be found on our YouTube Channel, at the following link https://lnkd.in/gPsDnUf
But for our time, let me give a short synopsis, which surrounds what Paul says in verse 17.
“Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” (1 Thessalonians 4:17a NKJV)
The word “Rapture” isn’t found in Scripture, which is why many discount this aspect of Jesus’s return. But while the English word isn’t found, it is there along with the concept. What’s important to understand is that the word is derived from the Greek word Paul uses for “caught up.” It is the word “harpazo.” Now when the Bible was translated into Latin, the word they used was “raptus,” which is where we get the English word, “Rapture.”
The word expresses suddenness and violence, a snatching away as it were. In the Greek it means “To steal, carry off, to snatch away by force with no resistance offered.”
The teaching of the Rapture is found in many places throughout the Bible, but the place where it is best described is found in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.
“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52 NKJV)
Now, as part of the Second Coming of Christ, the Rapture will come prior to the time when Jesus steps down upon this earth, and that’s because all believers will meet the Lord in the air. Therefore, like the Second Coming, no one knows the day or the hour of the Rapture as well. But it hasn’t stopped people speculating and building doctrines around this event.
It is also believed that this will occur either prior to or in the midst of the seven year time of Tribulation, which is God’s time of judgment upon the earth, as found in both the Old Testament Book of Daniel, and the New Testament Book of Revelation.
And it is after this seven years of tribulation that Jesus will come again and step down upon the Mount of Olives and redeem all Israel unto Himself as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, and then set up His millennial, or 1,000 year reign, which is seen in Revelation 19-20, and this is then the second coming of Christ. .
The prophet Zechariah speaks of this saying, “And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west … And the Lord shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be—‘The Lord is one,’ and His name one.” (Zechariah 14:4a, 9 NKJV)
And it is then at this time that our glorious reunion will be complete.
This is the climax and the Christian hope. There, in the presence of the Lord, we will be beyond the reach of evil, pain, and suffering. Heaven will be the place of the greatest reunion of all time, with people “from every tribe, tongue, kindred, and nation” (Revelation 5:9).
That’s the glorious prospect for the future, but we don’t know when it will be, and so we need to get back to the present and get ourselves ready, living our lives knowing that Jesus can return at any moment.
And so the question is: “Are You Ready?”
Let me end with Jesus’s last words spoken in the Bible. He said, “Surely I am coming quickly.
And to this we add our voices to the Apostle John’s, “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20 NKJV)
Wednesday Evening Bible Study