All These Things - Part 1

Scripture: Matthew 24:27-30, John 14:1-3, Revelation 1:7
Predictions have been made about the exact date of the coming of Christ. But all these predictions have failed. So, will there be a second coming of Jesus? The Bible says many things about knowing that day is drawing near.
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A few years ago, the late Elizabeth Steen, a 28-year-old Richmond, California, housewife brought thousands of her fellow Californians into a state of near panic by predicting that on April 14, 1969, a series of catastrophic earthquakes would destroy the coastal area of California. Kooks, cultists and hippies gave the prophecy maximum coverage with a rash of pop songs like "Where Can We Go When There's No San Fransisco" and "California Earthquake." Curt Gentry thrived on the proceeds of his "The Last Days Of The Late Great State of California."

When the doomsday arrived, reportedly 10,000 people gathered at 5:10 am in downtown San Fransisco, and when nothing happened, many made obscene gestures in the direction of God.

In the summer of 1988 a book was circulated by the hundreds of thousands giving 88 reasons why the world would end between September 11 and September 13. Large groups around the nation waited in joyful expectation of a snatching away of the saints on that date. Apparently, the failure of the predictions did not dampen the zeal of those who had made earnest preparation for the last day on earth. For a few months, the book was almost a best seller, but suddenly, after September 13, it was dead in the water. Unfortunately, millions were probably made more skeptical than ever about the beautiful Bible teaching of the second coming of Christ because of that ridiculous publication and its flawed attempt to pinpoint the day of Christ's appearing.

A far more reliable source than any of these, the Bible itself, has predicted a spectacular event that would bring the present world system to an end. Here is what Jesus said in Matthew 24:27, 30, "For as the lightening cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be... 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."

The second coming of Christ is one of the most important and most frequently mentioned themes in the Bible. It is dealt with some 1,845 times in the Bible, 313 of which are in the New Testament. It is the theme of 17 Old Testament books and one epistle in the New. In fact, seven out of every ten chapters in the New Testament make reference to the second coming. Whole passages of the last half of the Bible are given over exclusively to its discussion.

Paul calls it the "blessed hope." Remember the computer we mentioned in our last broadcast that held out no hope for a doomed world? The second coming is the hope the computer didn't figure on. Jesus, speaking of His second coming gave this prescription for a troubled world: "Let not your heart be troubled: ye belive in God, believe also in me. 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 ye may be also." John 14:1-3.

This text tells us one reason that Jesus will return, to take His faithful people home. but there will be an effect of His coming on all people. Revelation 22:12 says it this way: "And behold I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." In other words, Jesus is coming to settle accounts. His faithful people will be taken to heaven, but the wicked will be profoundly affected also. Now, let us notice together some of the details which God has revealed, relative to the return of Christ.

(1) He is not coming alone. "...the Son of man shall come in His glory, and ALL THE HOLY ANGELS WITH HIM, then shall He sit on the throne of His glory." Matthew 25:31. Of course, the hosts of heaven will accompany Him! They are interested in us, for all through history their work was cut out for them as they ministered to the needs of mankind. They are not to be left out when this old earth reaches its climax!

(2) Everyone on the earth will see Him come! Listen: "Behold He cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see Him..." Let no one tell you that the return of Christ is to take place in a corner. To show the tremendous, world-circling event this will be, Jesus gives this graphic description: "...for as the LIGHTNING cometh out of the east and shineth even unto the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." Matthew 24:27. Did you ever try to close your eyes tight, under the covers on a dark, stormy night and still see that lightning flashing? No wonder the Scriptures predict, "...and EVERY EYE shall see Him..." Revelation 1:7.

(3) He will resurrect His sleeping saints! Here we have the basic reason for His promised return. "I will come again... that where I am there ye may be also..." John 14:1-3. Even though His children sleep in the dust of the earth, His call will reach their slumbering ears! Listen: "...and the Lord Himself shall descend with a shout...with the trump (trumpet) of God and the dead in Christ shall arise first..." 1 Thessalonians 4:16. As the TRUMPET sounds, the "dead in Christ" will hear that mighty call, the graves will be broken open and His children will arise in newness of life! An amazing thing then takes place. Even though they were laid to rest worn and ravaged by disease, then in the "twinkling of an eye" this "mortal will put on immortality" and the "corruptible bodies" will put on "incorruption." 1 Corinthians 15:51-54.

(4) He will take His living saints, too. Back to our text in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17. Look at this next verse: "Then we which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them (the resurrected)... to MEET THE LORD IN THE AIR: and shall we ever be with the Lord." My friend, did you see those three words? You may forget whatever else I bring to you later, but don't forget those words "in the air..." Never forget, when Christ descends the second time, He will not touch the earth, but His children will be caught up to meed Him, "IN THE AIR."

This statement can well protect you from being deceived one of these days. Jesus warned that before the end "false christs and false prophets" would appear. Scripture warns of a false "coming" prepared by the wicked one himself. The Christian who does not fully know his Bible will be deceived, for the impersonator will go about this earth in imitation of Christ's work when He was in old Judea. Never forget that any "christ" walking this earth in these latter days is a deceiver, even though the large part of Christendom may be deceived! Jesus clearly stated His warning, "Behold I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, behold he is in the desert, go not forth, behold he is in the secret chamber, believe it not...for as the lightning cometh out of the east and shineth even unto the west, SO SHALL ALSO THE COMING OF THE SON OF MAN BE." Matthew 24:25-27. How much more explicit could He be?

And yet, I hear from many pulpits today the philosophy that the "coming of Christ" is a spiritual coming, a coming into the heart of the individual. Others say that it is a "coming for the saints when they die." No, my friends, death is not, and never has been the gateway to heaven! Death is the "wages of sin." Romans 6:23. Some years ago, the theologians met in Evanston, Illinois, to discuss the teaching of the Bible relative to the "second coming." It became immediately apparent that a clear line divided the modernist from the fundamentalist who takes the Scriptures for what they say. One minister said, "The second coming enters the realm of mythology, imagery, and poetry..." But what says the Bible? "...This same Jesus...shall so come in like ye have seen Him go into heaven." Jesus said, "I will come again...that where I am, there ye may be also..." Does that sound like mythology?

He went away literally, not figuratively, and He will return the same way. He went away personally, arising from their very midst as they walked and talked together. He went away visible, He was "taken up" and they all watched with amazement!

My friend, the return of Christ will be a personal, visible, earth-shaking, noisy, grave-robbing revolution of everything we know at present! No wonder Paul calls it "that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." Titus 3;13. It means reunion with the parted, health for the sick, sight for the blind and hearing for the deaf. It means youth for the aged, beauty for ashes, life for the dead and immortality for the mortal. It means peace for the troubled, rest for the weary, gladness for the sorrowing and crowns for crosses. Yes, it means light for darkness, harmony for discord, and eternal inheritance in the kingdom of God for all God's ransomed children! No wonder at all that Paul calls it the "blessed hope."

Friend, time is running out for this old planet. Everyone knows it. The men who invented the atomic bomb publish a journal, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. On every issue the cover is the same, a clock with its hands pointing just minutes to midnight. The time is adjusted slightly occasionally. Perhaps a few minutes forward when a new nation develops the bomb, perhaps a few minutes back when a treaty is signed. But always the clock reflects these men's belief that the world is minutes from a midnight of destruction. Rather a dismal picture, isn't it?

Fortunately for a believer in the second coming, although he knows the end is near, he does not look at it with the defeatist attitude of minutes to midnight, but rather the hopeful outlook of minutes to morning, the glorious morning of the return of Jesus Christ. Why should a Christian be fearful of the coming of Christ? I can understand why the wicked will run screaming to hide from the event. Revelation 6 tells how they will cry and pray for rocks to fall on them and hide them from that overwhelming moment. Try to get the picture clearly in mind. There will only be two groups in that day, the prepared and the unprepared. Actually, they are the saved and the lost. You and I will be in one of those two groups without fail. We could not avoid it if we sought with all our influence and money. That is an appointment which no man can postpone or avoid. How is it with you today, friends? I would like to share a solemn thought with you today. I know it is shocking, but it is just as true as it can be. Every person in the world right now is either saved or lost as far as God is concerned. Why do I say that? I mean this, friends, that if Jesus came right now you would either be taken or you would be left. You would be saved or lost. There will be no third class of people at His coming. There are no second prizes in this race we are running. We get everything, which is eternal life, or we lose everything, and get death.

Ask yourself right now whether you are ready or not, will you? It might help you to do what Jesus commanded when He said, "Be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh."

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