I Thessalonians 4:13-15 I Thessalonians 4:13-15 13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
I Thessalonians 4:16-18 I Thessalonians 4:16-18 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
II Thessalonians 1:7-8 II Thessalonians 1:7-8 7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
II Thessalonians 1:9-10 II Thessalonians 1:9-10 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
Focus Verse Acts 1:11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
Focus Thought The second coming of our Lord is near. We should make sure we are ready.
Introduction Introduction Life is filled with returns—some happy, and some not so joyous. There are tax returns, election returns, and returns on investments. Swallows even return to Capistrano and turkey buzzards return to Hinckley, Ohio. Someone said, “What goes around, comes around.” Returning is a part of life.
Introduction The biblical “returns” are nearly always joyous. From Israel’s returns from exile or from idolatry or other forms of spiritual waywardness to the classic parable of the prodigal son returning home to the feasting and rejoicing prepared by the waiting father, returning is celebrated and associated with good times. The greatest return that has ever happened in the history of mankind is about to take place—the return of the Lord for His bride.
Introduction The Lord’s return has been the ultimate hope for every Christian believer across the centuries. The Old Testament looked for His coming in redemption, but the New Testament anticipates His return to reign and rule forever. Interestingly enough, for every verse in the Bible that deals with His first coming, three deal with His second coming. Jesus is coming again!
Introduction In this lesson it is important to recognize that the second coming of Jesus Christ will occur in two advents. First, Jesus will come to catch away both the living and dead who are in Christ Jesus. At this first advent of Christ’s return, He will not set His foot upon the earth; rather, believers will join Him in the air. At the time of the second advent, however, Christ will return to the earth with His saints, and He will plant His feet on the Mount of Olives, splitting the mount in two parts. (See Zechariah 14:4.) We will consider both advents of His return in this lesson.
Coming for His Bride I. Coming for His Bride The Lord is coming back for His bride, who will rise to meet Him in the Rapture.
The Catching Away (Rapture) I. Coming for His Bride (A) If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, then we believe that we have a living Savior. Believing this truth—our being convinced that Jesus not only died but rose again—is necessary for our salvation. Nowhere did the Bible say that Jesus slept for three days. He died and rose again! Because He defeated death, we should not fear death. He defeated it, and the hope of His return comforts the hearts of His people with the knowledge that He has broken the power of death.
I. Coming for His Bride (A) Whether we live or die, we have nothing to fear, for Jesus is going to come to receive us unto Himself.
I Thessalonians 4:16-17 “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (I Thessalonians 4:16-17).
I. Coming for His Bride (A) We should understand a principle concerning resurrection. When the body is resurrected, it is not going to be exactly like the one that was placed in the ground. It will be different—a resurrected body, a glorified body like the glorified body of Jesus Christ. There is much we do not know about that glorified state, but we do know that we shall be like Jesus (I John 3:2).
Philippians 3:20-21 “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Philippians 3:20-21).
I. Coming for His Bride (A) There also is the rapture of living believers who will be caught up together with the dead in Christ to be with the Lord forever. The Greek word for caught up has many meanings, one of which is “to catch away speedily.” It also means “to seize by force.” Jesus Christ will come in the air to catch away the believers—to take them out of and through Satan’s domain. (He is “the prince of the power of the air” [Ephesians 2:2].)
I. Coming for His Bride (A) Caught up could also mean “to claim for one’s own self.” That is Christ’s perspective of the whole thing. He will return to claim us for Himself, to take us out of this world. Living believers will suddenly be translated, and they will join the resurrected born-again believers in the air.
I. Coming for His Bride (A) While some will be caught up, others will be caught by surprise. Imagine the consternation and chaos on earth as multitudes of people instantly vanish. What chaos! What consternation upon the earth when that happens! All of those without Christ, however, will be left behind—even church members who have pretended to know Him.
The Rewards (Judgment Seat of Christ) I. Coming for His Bride (B) The Bible teaches that after the Rapture occurs, believers shall stand at the judgment seat of Christ. This judgment seat is only for the saved because the lost, self-righteous, and agnostic people will not be there.
I. Coming for His Bride (B) The words “judgment seat” come from the Greek word bema. The bema, an elevated seat or platform, was a part of the Greek arena for the Olympic games. On that elevated seat sat the king who would look down upon those who performed in the arena. As he watched, if he pointed his thumb up, the participants were doing well.
I. Coming for His Bride (B) However, if he pointed his thumb down, they soon lost their heads. Thus, the king would pass judgment from the raised seat or platform. After judging the events, the king would give out wonderful and glorious rewards to the participants as they knelt before the bema.
I. Coming for His Bride (B) Immediately after the Rapture, as Christians we will be judged according to our works as we stand before the bema of Christ. He will judge us on how well we did at living the Christian life. Christ Himself will judge the hidden things of darkness and the counsels of the heart. The Bible teaches that He will give crowns as rewards. (See II Timothy 4:8.)
I. Coming for His Bride (B) This will be a glorious meeting. As we have walked by faith on this earth, we have never seen the Lord physically. However, we shall see Him as He is in the Rapture (I John 3:2). Moreover, it is an eternal meeting, for “so shall we ever be with the Lord” (I Thessalonians 4:17). Death is the great separator, but Christ is the great reconciler. He puts it all back together. What a comfort is that thought!
I Thessalonians 4:18 “Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (I Thessalonians 4:18).
The Marriage Supper of the Lamb I. Coming for His Bride (C)
“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God” (Revelation 19:7-9). Revelation 19:7-9
I. Coming for His Bride (C) The Lord Jesus came in humility and poverty when He was born in Bethlehem’s manger. The Lord came in flesh through the Incarnation so that He could come to claim His bride. Unfortunately, He was scorned, misunderstood, and rejected by His own people—the Jewish ones whom He had come to make His bride. Consequently, Christ turned to the Gentiles to take out from them a people to become His bride, and the bride of Christ is now making herself ready.
I. Coming for His Bride (C) If we are in Christ Jesus—Jew or Gentile—we are part of that bride. What does it matter if others despise us? We should remember that we are His beloved bride. He loves us with an everlasting love, and one glad day He is coming to claim us to be forever His and to be with Him. Certainly, He is coming soon.
I. Coming for His Bride (C) The Scripture declares that we will sit down at the glorious marriage supper of the Lamb to celebrate the marriage of the Lord and His bride—the church. What a glorious time of celebration when we are united with the One who redeemed us, bringing us from rags to riches! What constitutes the meal is not that important; what is important is the fact that we are united with Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom, forever.
Coming to Rule and Reign II. Coming to Rule and Reign John mentioned a Battle of Armageddon where the armies of the earth will be gathered together for one final, climactic confrontation (Revelation 16:16). Now that the world seems to be on the threshold of this conflict, publishers have produced volumes to explain and expound upon it. The geographic location of this final battle is between Nazareth and the Mediterranean—the Plains of Megiddo.
Revelation 9:16 “And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them” (Revelation 9:16).
II. Coming to Rule and Reign This passage of Scripture mentions an army 200,000,000 strong sweeping over the Middle East. Joel prophesied, “I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat [Armageddon]” (Joel 3:2).
II. Coming to Rule and Reign Millions of Arab people have come to realize that neither the West nor Russia is going to help them destroy their foe, Israel. Perhaps they will call upon China to help, for it may be the only nation capable of mobilizing 200,000,000 fighters for an army. Such a conflict would naturally involve the West, however, as those nations probably would assist Israel.
II. Coming to Rule and Reign Whatever the scenario, this final battle will usher in the second part of Jesus’ coming. This time, He will come as the victor to set up His kingdom where He will rule and reign for one thousand years.
II. Coming to Rule and Reign Certainly, the Lord is worthy to rule and reign over the earth. “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:11).
Waiting for His Coming III. Waiting for His Coming (A) Watching We should be watching for the signs of Christ’s coming. Jesus never spoke of His return in terms of time, but He did speak of the conditions that would surround His return. We should busy ourselves in preparation for His return by studying to recognize the conditions of our day (Matthew 24:6-14), and we should leave the timing of His coming to Him (Acts 1:7).
III. Waiting for His Coming (A) There are numerous signs concerning this intriguing and frequently confusing subject. Jesus emphasized to His disciples that we know neither the day nor the hour of His return (Matthew 24:36). This fact causes many people to shy away from giving serious study to the Second Coming. Yet, His statement was only a warning against those who try to force God into a specific timetable for His coming.
III. Waiting for His Coming (A) Israel plays a remarkable role in this thrilling event. The prophet Zechariah recorded, “Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country; and I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness” (Zechariah 8:7-8).
III. Waiting for His Coming (A) This is an unequivocal, certain, and clear promise of the Jews’ returning to the ancient Holy Land and becoming a nation. On May 15, 1948, the world witnessed the fulfillment of that part of Zechariah’s prophecy.
III. Waiting for His Coming (A) Jeremiah the prophet also affirmed, “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; As yet they shall use this speech in the land of Judah and in the cities thereof, when I shall bring again their captivity” (Jeremiah 31:23). Today Hebrew is the official language after having fallen into disuse for centuries.
III. Waiting for His Coming (A) Jesus’ symbolism of the fig tree denoted noteworthy events relative to the Second Coming (Matthew 24:32). The fig tree symbolizes the nation of Israel, which is flourishing. However, Jesus did not mention fruit in the tree at this stage of history. There is little religion in Israel as pilgrims returning from there testify.
III. Waiting for His Coming (A) What is most baffling to Christian believers, who are aware of such prophecies, is that many modern Israelis see no religious or prophetic connotation to their existence today. A top official from that land stated, “We see only political meaning to our land.” There are tragically very few Christian believers (fruit) among the Jews.
III. Waiting for His Coming (A) Zechariah prophesied five hundred years before the birth of Jesus of Israel’s future repentance. (See Zechariah 12:10.) There also are similar passages in the writings of Hosea, Amos, Micah, and others.
III. Waiting for His Coming (A) The fact is that we are now a world blinded by our material and physical needs, plagued by political intrigue and pride. Our lifestyle is much the way that it was in the days of Noah. (See Matthew 24:38-39.) Corruption is prevalent, immorality is called the new morality, and wealth rules the earth. Immorality, drunken lifestyles, illegal drugs, murder, stealing, divorce, and other social maladies spell out the impending doom of God’s righteous judgment upon the wicked.
III. Waiting for His Coming (A) Scriptures predict a remarkable increase in knowledge as a significant sign of the conditions on earth at the time of Jesus’ second coming. (See Daniel 12:4.) Interestingly, more than one-half of mankind’s knowledge has been acquired in the past few decades. Moreover, 95 percent of all scientists who have ever lived are living and working today.
III. Waiting for His Coming (A) Mathematics, medicine, marketing, astronomy, biology, farming, archeology, space technology, and electronic communication are almost new fields because of recent and brilliant discoveries and advancements. However, it is only knowledge—not wisdom—that is predicted to precede Christ’s return.
III. Waiting for His Coming (A) The apostle Paul warned Timothy concerning the spiritual climate of the Second Coming in such detail that one would think he was living in our age.