Heaven Split Open - Part 2

Scripture: Acts 1:9-11, Revelation 1:7, Matthew 24:30
The Bible teaches that Jesus will return to this earth. But how will Christ return? There are many different ideas about this. But what does the Bible say? He went in a cloud and will return in the clouds. He was visible when He left and will be visible when He returns.
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Yesterday we began to explore the fascinating topic of Christ's return to this earth again in power and glory. We had discovered that tremendous demonstrations would attend the visible appearance of Christ in the clouds, at the end of the world. Today we search deeper into the Bible to determine more about the manner of that glorious event.

Let me give you a scripture that will forever settle the question of how He is going to come. It is a wonderful text in Acts 1:9-11: "And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 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."

You see, this was after the resurrection of Jesus. For forty days Jesus was with the disciples, and one day he said, "Come along." And He led them out through the countryside until finally they came to a little hill near Bethany. He was talking to them there, telling them some of the things important in the kingdom of God. Only His closest disciples were there. As He was talking to them, suddenly they noticed that His feet began to leave the ground. They looked at one another as if to say, "What's happening?" He was going up. They stood there speechless because He went higher, higher and higher until, the scripture says, a cloud received Him out of their sight. Can't you picture them? There was the Hope of the church. He founded it, and there He was, going away, disappearing into thin air. The poor disciples stood there trembling looking up just as far as they could, and finally a cloud just received Him out of their sight. I can picture them as they turned to one another, and then they noticed that standing beside them were two men in white apparel: angels,"Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing into heaven? this same Jesus shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven."

Friends, if that was all we had, it would be enough to tell us how He is coming back. How did He go away? Let's analyze it for a moment. POINT ONE: He went away in a cloud. He is coming back the same way. POINT TWO: He was visible. They saw Him. There He was, going up, up, up; and they were amazed. He will be visible when He returns, because the angels said so. POINT THREE: He will be real, bodily personal. I love that. He will be a real, lovely, personal Jesus. So many people have said, "Well, after the resurrection He was a ghost; He was a spirit." Don't you believe that. I invite your attention to Luke 24. We have here the story of Christ's meeting with His disciples AFTER the resurrection. You remember they thought He was dead. He came into the room and they were terrified and afrighted and supposed they had seen a spirit. They thought they were seeing a ghost. So He said to them, "Men, take hold of me. A ghost doesn't have flesh and bones as you see me have." And they took hold, and they still couldn't believe. Read it for yourself in Luke 24:39 and onward. So He said, "Just give me something to eat." They gave Him some fish and a honeycomb, and He ate it; proving that He was not a spirit, not a ghost, because it is a well-known fact that spirits do not eat. It will be that same Jesus, that One who led them out to Bethany and went up; flesh and bones, a real, personal Jesus.

Now let me review these points. He is coming back in a cloud. He's coming back so you can see Him. He's going to be real, bodily personal, on the authority of this Book. Who is going to see Him? Let me read you the text, in Revelation 1:7: "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him." I don't know how any combination of words could make it any plainer. Every single eye is going to see Him. Dear friends, a person may not even like that, but he is going to see Him. You may be an infidel, and deny the existence of God altogether, but you are going to see Jesus come back. You may be working down in the iron mines in the heart of the earth; but, at that moment when He appears, you will see Jesus. You won't tune in to Channel 6 or Channel 4 and have them say, "Flash! We interrupt all programs. Jesus has come back!" No. If you are living, you will see Jesus with your own eyes.

You say, "Well now, what about the wicked people that are living when Jesus comes back? Will they see Him?" Matthew 24:30 answers: "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." It says "all the tribes of the earth." I would like to note something else. The Bible even tells us what the wicked are going to say when He comes back and they are not ready. Revelation 6:14-17: "And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?"

Another fact about His coming is found in Matthew 25:31. Notice how clear and plain all these things are in the Bible. "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory." The Bible says when He comes back all the angels are going to be with Him. Heaven is going to be completely silent while the second coming of Christ takes place. You will read that in Revelation 8:1: "And there was silence in heaven." Completely silent. For every single one of the angels is coming along with Jesus. You ask, "Why do they come?" Matthew 24:31 answers: "And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." The purpose of the angels is to help fulfill Jesus' promise: "I come to receive you unto myself." Mothers that have had their little youngsters torn away from them by death will have them once again placed in their arms by the angels in that day. It will be a wonderful day. Families separated will be reunited by the angels as they hasten to the four corners of the earth to bring forth the redeemed. Yes, Jesus is going to take all the righteous with Him when He comes back.

Now notice the sequence pictured here perfectly in 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'd like you to notice what it says here. It says when Jesus comes back, He will be in that cloud, of course, and as the cloud nears the earth and stops, there will be a great shout from His throat. He will cry to those that are dead, "Awake!" and at that moment the graves of the righteous all over the world are going to be opened. They will come up. They will be changed and caught up into that cloud. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them. Notice the statement, "to meet the Lord in the air." That is very, very important. Since the Bible says that, we can be positive of one thing. It means just that. When the Lord comes back, that cloud will not touch this earth. He is not going to come down here and walk around. We're going to meet Him in the air. So you can be positive on the authority of this Book that Christ is not going to appear suddenly and be walking around in Los Angeles, or anywhere else. For at His second coming the cloud does not touch the earth. The redeemed of all ages will meet the Lord in the air.

Now I want to try in my very feeble way to picture that wonderful, wonderful reunion there in that cloud. I try to picture how it will be when the redeemed of all ages enter that wonderful cloud, and there we are, on our way to the Kingdom of God. I see the redeemed as we fall down at the feet of Jesus to adore Him and thank Him for the wonderful gift of His life for you and for me. Then a great song of salvation swells from that crowd as the redeemed of all ages sing praises to the Lord Jesus. Joy fills every heart and sweeps over every being. The song ceases and suddenly someone cries out, "Look!" We look down and see that the earth seems to be growing smaller and smaller. We then realize that the great cloud has begun to move and we're going toward the Kingdom of Heaven. I've tried to picture what it will be like there in that cloud with Moses, for he will be there, that great man of God who led the children of Israel out of Egypt with the Lord's help. I try to picture what it will be like to see Daniel there. I picture seeing a great, tall man across that cloud and I go over to him and say, "Crews is my name." He says, "My name is Adam." For he will be in that cloud, too, on that trip to the Kingdom of God. And there will be Peter, James, John, and Mary, the mother of Jesus. And, friends, YOU must be there, every single one of you. What a trip that will be! Then, finally, somebody calls to our attention a point of light overhead and we look heavenward. Away off in the distance we see a spot of indescribable glory. It becomes brighter and brighter, until suddenly we see bursting forth the beauty and shining glory of the City of God. I want to tell you, I wouldn't miss that trip for anything, would you? It is worth everything to be there, everything!

That will be a glorious day for God's people. There isn't a person listening that doesn't know of a little mound somewhere over on a hillside, where a loved one is resting. I am sure that all of us can think of a spot like that. It is with fond memories and deep sadness that we think of our sleeping loved ones; but if you should be in a cemetery on that glorious resurrection morning, you'd see that grave torn all to pieces as the gravestones are tipped over, and the redeemed of all ages come forth in eternal vigor and youth. All deformities are left behind. The Bible says at that moment He will change our vile bodies, and fashion them like unto His own glorious body. People ask, "How long will it take?" The Bible answers that. I Corinthians 15:52 says, "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye." No wonder Paul said, "Comfort ye one another with these words." But let me say just this: He is coming "in such an hour as ye think not," according to Matthew 24:44. Are you ready? Truly ready?

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