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What About the Second Coming?

God's great mystery about our salvation and reconciliation was revealed to us when He sent Jesus to live among us. In Colossians 1:22, Paul says "But now He has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation." Ephesians 1:7-10, Colossians 1:25-27, and Romans 16:25-26 give us more insight into the mystery.  The mystery includes the amazing news that the risen Christ will return to earth someday. The disciples were told "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). As Christians, we profess this Truth in the Apostle's Creed ("...from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.") and in the Communion ritual ("Christ has died; Christ is risen, Christ will come again."). Yet, we tend to not dwell on the Second Coming.


We are naturally curious about when Jesus will return, but the Bible tells us that God does not reveal His exact timing to us (Matthew 24:36, Acts 1:7, 2 Peter 3:8-9). Jesus said "Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." (Matthew 24:44). God, however, has given us some clues about His timing.  We are told that just before Christ returns, there will be a period of tribulation (Matthew 24:3-21), changes in the heavens and earth (Acts 2:19-20, Luke 21:25-28, Matthew 24:29-30), and that the antichrist ("the Lawless One", who promotes evil, deception, and lawlessness) will be revealed (2 Thessalonians 2:3, 8-10, 1 John 2:18). Could some of these signs be present in our time? The Bible does reveal how Jesus will return. He will return in glory! According to 1 Thessalonians 4:16, "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud cry of summons, with the shout of an archangel, and with the blast of the trumpet of God." 


Most importantly, the Bible also reveals what will happen when Jesus returns. God has delegated all judgment power to Jesus (John 5:22), and Jesus "will reward each person according to what they have done." (Matthew 16:27). Those who have repented and died as believers and followers of Christ will be raised from the dead.  After the faithful dead are raised, they and the faithful living will receive new, transformed, imperishable bodies and receive the reward of eternal life with God (1 Corinthians 15:50-54, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, John 5:24-25). Simultaneously, Christ will usher in the Kingdom of God on earth (Luke 21:31, Matthew 16:28, Mark 1:14-15).  The faithful will be saved.  But those who have not believed in Jesus will not escape judgment and will not be saved.  Jesus said "There is a judge for the one who rejects Me and does not accept My words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day." (John 12:48). The unfaithful will "perish" and be condemned to a penalty of eternal death (John 5:28-29, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9, Mark 16:16).


 So as followers of Jesus, we believe that He will return to earth and that He will hold us to account when He comes. We also believe that natural death is not the end of our lives and that we will experience "resurrection of the body and life everlasting" when He returns.  The Disciple Group suggests that you take time to reflect on the Second Coming and that you take to heart the words of caution spoken by Jesus in Revelation 22:12: "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done." We should take Him at His word and "be ready." And consider anew the familiar words of John 3:16, which reveal "the why" of God's great mystery and remind us that our faith is the vital key to our reward: "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."