The Second Coming of Jesus Christ
By Rev. Jack Howell
The Second Coming of our Lord is a very interesting and often controversial topic among Christians, as there are many views regarding His return. Some say the Second Coming takes place at death; some say He returned in 70 CE, when Jerusalem was destroyed by Rome; some say His Return will be secret and invisible. Some New Age cults claim He has returned as some New Age Avatar or Guru. One cult claimed He returned invisibly in 1874, then later changed the date to 1914, while its offshoots cling to the 1874 date.
In order to gain a proper understanding about the manner of the Lord’s return, we need not look to the doctrines and traditions of men, but unto the inspired, written Word of God, for it has much to say about how our Lord will return. Let us therefore, turn to God’s Word to solve the puzzle of our Lord’s return.
The Promise of His Coming Again
That Jesus will return, there can be no doubt among genuine Christians, for He Himself promised to return.
“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3). Ignorance of when and how the Lord will return has resulted in scoffers claiming He will not return, and that this has proven Christianity to be false. These have unwittingly fulfilled one prophetic sign regarding His Second Coming, and thus brings us closer to the time of His return: “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Peter 3:3-4). These scoffers and ridiculers are blind to the fact that every moment that the Lord delays His return is in fact, an act of mercy upon the unbelievers, for when He returns, it will be to execute judgment upon them. Thus every minute He delays His return, is another opportunity for the unbeliever to repent of his sins and accept Jesus Christ as His Savior and Lord.
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
When Will The Lord Return?
Nobody knows the time of our Lord’s return. Many have speculated and set specific dates for His return, only to be disappointed and humiliated when the date came and went without His return. The “Great Disappointment of 1844” comes to mind when Baptist preacher, William Miller claimed to know the date of the Lord’s return and gathered quite a following, only to face disgrace and ridicule when he was proven to be in error. A more recent example is that of a book entitled, Eighty-Eight Reasons Why The Lord Will Return In 1988 written by a NASA engineer who thought he had the date all figured out. He succeeded in convincing large numbers of Christians that he was right. Many sold their all property as the month and day in 1988 approached. Many quit their jobs. On the day that Christ was expected to return, TBN gave its employees the day off so they could be with their families when Christ returned, and ran reruns as its programming. When Christ failed to return on the expected date in 1988, the Christian community suffered much ridicule. Many who believed in this date lost their faith in Christ and returned to the world in disgrace.
Those who claim to know when the Lord will return are liars, for Jesus Himself said: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36). Thus, anyone claiming to have figured out when Christ will return is presumptuous and claiming knowledge that only God the Father has. Furthermore, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power” (Acts 1:7). Those such as William Miller and the NASA engineer, who had good intentions, should have paid heed to God’s Word regarding when Christ will return.
What The Second Coming Is Not
The Second coming of Christ is NOT the New Birth as some teach, for at conversion, the sinner comes to Christ, but at the Second Advent, Christ comes for the saints (Matt. 11:28; Isa. 1:18; 1 Thess. 4:16-17)
The Second Coming does NOT take place at death. In fact, it is just the opposite, for it brings the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:51-54; 1 Thess. 4:16-17; Matt. 24:30,31; Job 19:23-26; Jn. 21:21-23).
The Second Coming did not take place at Pentecost as some suppose, for on that day, "another comforter" was given, namely the Holy Ghost (Jn. 14:16-17; Acts 1:8; 2:1-6). In fact, more than 50 times after the Day of Pentecost the promise of the Second Coming of Christ is repeated.
It did NOT take place in 70CE as some suppose, for the destruction of Jerusalem resulted in a scattering, rather than a gathering of God's people (2 Thess. 2:1; Matt. 24:31). The Book of Revelation was written some 20 or 30 years after the destruction of Jerusalem, and it contains the promise of His Return.
It is NOT the spread of Christianity as some suppose, for this is a process, whereas the Second Coming is an event (1 Thess. 4:16-17; Rev. 1:7; 6:14).
It is NOT invisible as some have taught for scripture clearly states His Return is visible (Rev. 1:7; Matt. 24:27,30; Acts 1:11). In fact, Jesus Himself warns that there would be false teachers claiming that He had returned invisibly and that we are not to believe them (Matt. 24:23-26). His Return is NOT secretive as some have supposed as these same scriptures point out.
The Manner Of The Lord’s Return
There is a great deal of confusion and speculation as to the manner of Christ’s Return. Some hold that He returns to resurrect the dead saints then immediately afterward, establish His Millennial Kingdom on the earth. I do not believe the scriptures support this view. In the first place, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 does not say that the Lord will set foot on the earth. Rather, this verse says He comes in the air for His saints. This is the first stage of His two-stage Second Coming, known as the Rapture of the Church, in which all genuine Believers will be caught up into the air and taken to heaven. The bodies of the dead in Christ will be resurrected first, then we which are alive at that time will be caught up and taken to heaven to escape the wrath to come that is about to be unleashed upon planet earth. Following the Rapture, seven years of tribulation will come upon the earth as a result of the Antichrist taking over the world. (See Daniel 8:23-25; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12; Revelation 6:1-17; 13:1-18; 17:1-18). Some say that the trumpet blast of 1 Thessalonians 4:16 will be heard by all here on earth. I don’t think this will be the case at all. In the first place, the trumpet call takes place in heaven, beyond the range of our hearing. In the second place, it is a signal to the angels who will accompany Jesus at the Rapture, that it is time to go and gather the saints from all parts of the earth (Matthew 24:31). It is not a signal to anyone here on earth, so there would be no reason for anyone on earth to hear the trumpet call.
It is during the second stage of His Return that Jesus comes back with the saints and defeats the Antichrist and his forces at the Battle of Armageddon. It is during this second stage of His Return that He sets foot on the earth (Zechariah 14:1-4) and does battle with the Antichrist and his forces (Revelation 16:16). This battle results in their defeat, whereupon Christ will establish His 1000 year reign upon the earth (Daniel 12:1; Zechariah 14:9-21; Revelation 5:10; 19:11-21; 20:6). After the 1000 years have ended, Satan will be loosed one final time to tempt the offspring who are living during the Millennial Reign. Those who choose to follow Satan will gather with him one final time for one final, decisive battle against Jesus Christ and the armies of heaven (Revelation 20:7-9). This battle results in the ultimate defeat of Satan and wickedness and his confinement forever in the Lake of Fire along with all unsaved mankind (Revelation 20:10-15). Afterward, a New Heaven and a New Earth will come into being. This New Earth will be the eternal home of the Triune Godhead (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21-22) and redeemed mankind.
Note: The interpretation given in this series is shared by many Christians. It may or may not be exact in all details. It is but one of many possible interpretations of scripture regarding the Second Coming of Christ, and is the one I believe most closely fits the events outlined in scripture.