1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”
5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day He was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles He had chosen. 3 After His suffering, He showed Himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while He was eating with them, He gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.”
6 So when they met together, they asked Him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
9 After He said this, He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid Him from their sight. 10 They were looking intently up into the sky as He was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? 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.”
The greatest event in the history was the coming of Jesus into the world. God came near, or as CS Lewis puts it, “God has landed on this enemy occupied world in human form.” Each year at Christmas time we are reminded of this amazing miracle – that God came as one of us into this world. And yet, there is another very important event in the future, the greatest of all future events, the second coming of Jesus.
This is a quote from a Christian magazine article printed in 1989: “Biblical prophecy provides some of the greatest encouragement and hope available to us today. Just as the Old Testament is saturated with prophecies concerning Jesus’ first advent, so both testaments are filled with references to the second coming of Christ. One scholar has estimated that there are 1,845 references to Christ's second coming in the Old Testament, where 17 books give it prominence. In the 260 chapters of the New Testament, there are 318 references to the second advent of Jesus - an amazing 1 out of every 30 verses. Twenty-three of the 27 New Testament books refer to this great event. For every prophecy in the Bible concerning Christ's first advent, there are 8 which look forward to His second!”
Jesus came to this earth in human form. He was put to death on a Roman cross. He died, was buried and then He rose from the dead. He remained on earth another forty days and then ascended back to heaven where He now reigns as Kings of Kings and Lord of Lords. But one day He will return. He will be back, and we can be certain of this. During His lifetime He fulfilled more than 300 ancient prophecies about Him. On the day He died He fulfilled 29 of them. God has always kept His promises, and one of them which has yet to be fulfilled is the second coming of Christ. It hasn’t happened yet, but we can know this with absolute certainty: He will return.
If we believe the Bible, we cannot doubt the certainty of His return. He Himself said in John 14, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” His words could not be any plainer. Two angels told the apostles as they stood watching His ascension, “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.”
The apostle Paul wrote often about the second coming of Jesus. In 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 he wrote, “This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with His powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of His power on the day He comes to be glorified in His holy people and to be marvelled at among all those who have believed.”
Peter wrote in his second letter to the Church, “The day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.” The book of Revelation at the end of the Bible begins with this promise: “Look, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of Him. So shall it be! Amen.” (Revelation 1:7) I could go on, because there are many more, but the message is clear: Jesus Christ will return.
We are living somewhere on the timeline between the two comings of Jesus. He came once two thousand years ago and He is coming again someday. But the purpose and the means of His second coming will be radically different from the first.
The second time He comes, He will not come to warn, teach, or invite. He did that when He came the first time. When He was here the first time He
said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” He won’t say that the second time.
He is not coming back to set us an example of godly living. He did that the first time. Jesus has already given us a perfect example. We don’t need an example again. When He comes again He is not coming to die for our sins. Never again will He have to agonise in prayer over the looming cross in the Garden of Gethsemane. Never again will He be beaten with a whip. Never again will He carry His own cross to Golgotha. Never again will they drive those nails into His hands and lift up the cross and leave Him there to die. Jesus died once for all sins – past, present and future, and He will not die a second time.
So why then, is He coming again? He is coming for His Church. He is coming for His people. He is coming to raise the dead. John 5:28-29 says, “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come out - those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.”
When He comes the second time, according to Matthew 25, all the nations of the world will be gathered before Him for judgment. Acts 17:31 says God has appointed a day when
He will judge the world in righteousness.
The first time Jesus came, He arrived almost unnoticed, except by a few who recognised Him. Ever since then there have been those who have doubted and scoffed that God would do such a thing, but when He returns there will be no more doubts. In the words of Philippians 2:10-11, the day is coming when “at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Did you know that there are no atheists in hell? Everyone who is there and everyone who is going there knows beyond any doubt that Jesus Christ is Lord. Their eternal problem is that they made that confession too late.
This is why Jesus is coming the second time: To separate the saved from the lost. He will reward the saved and the lost will be separated from God forever. The words of 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 again: “This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with His powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of His power on the day He comes to be glorified in His holy people and to be marvelled at among all those who have believed.”
Where is heaven? I don’t know. But we do know it will not be on this earth because Peter says when the Lord comes again this earth and everything in it will be destroyed. It will not be here - it will be somewhere else in another place or dimension.
When Jesus comes, He is coming to receive those who have chosen in this life to love, serve, obey and worship Him. At His return all who have rejected Him will be turned away to everlasting torment. This may not be a particularly popular message, especially at this time of year, but I make no apology for it. God has always kept His word, and His word clearly warns us about this place called hell. In fact, it is well documented that Jesus spoke more about hell than He did about heaven, so how can we ignore it?
The mere fact that we might not like the idea of a literal place called hell, and the fact that so many people are offended by this idea is not going to change the reality of its existence.
Jesus came the first time to bring a message of hope and peace. He came to offer His life as an atoning sacrifice for those who choose to believe in Him. That’s one of the reasons we call the time between the two comings of Jesus the ‘age of grace’. There is still time to turn to Him and accept His gift of salvation, but time is running out.
So when will He return?
The Bible does not tell us. Through the ages men have set dates, but each one has come and gone. Matthew 24:36 tells us that no-one except God Himself knows the day. Not even the angels know. What we do know is that He will come without any warning. 2 Peter 3:10 says, “the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.” Jesus Himself said in Luke 12:40, “You must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.”
If you love and serve Jesus, you have nothing to fear. As Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:8, “there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day - and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing.”
If you have confessed with your own mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, you have nothing to fear and everything to look forward to, but if you have not, you have every reason to fear. The alternative to eternal life with God in heaven does not bear thinking about. If you have yet to turn to Jesus, I beg you to stop wasting precious time.
None of this will make any sense though, until you have decided for yourself how you view the Word of God – the Bible.
Do you think that it is the Word of God, or just a collection of man-made stories passed down through the ages?
For some, it’s just not in fashion to believe in the Bible. We are branded as narrow and naive if we do.
You might also be among the group of people who say, “Well, maybe not all of it is true.” And you decide that there are some Bible teachings or commands that you can ignore or just disobey completely. And a lot of people are doing exactly that. Even people who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ.
It is an important question, isn’t it? “What do you think about the Bible?”
And what do you think of Jesus? Do you really believe that He is the only begotten Son of God? Or do you feel that He was just a good man, a good teacher, but that’s about all?
There are many people who believe that you don’t have to believe the Bible, and that you don’t have to believe everything that is written about Jesus. You can just believe some of it.
But in the Christian faith there is no middle ground. You either believe that this is the infallible Word of God, or you don’t believe that it is the Word of God at all.
You either believe that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God or you don’t believe that He is a Son of God at all.
It’s all or nothing.
So what do you believe? If you believe that the Bible is the revealed Word of God, and if you believe that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, then you believe that the resurrection and the ascension are facts, not fiction.
The Bible is right. Jesus really is the only begotten Son of God. He really did die on that cross. He really was buried in that tomb. He really did rise from the dead. He really did ascend to be at the right hand of God. He really is making intercession for us. He really is preparing a place for us. And one day He really will come back.
The big question is this: Are you ready for His return?
Stuart Briscoe tells the story of a man in his community who was not a Christian, but was a very jovial and popular character who never took anything seriously. He attended a funeral of a friend, and on the way out of the Church he playfully punched Briscoe on the shoulder and said with a laugh, “So I wonder who’s next?” Stuart Briscoe goes on to say, “And it was him. The very next day.”
Are you looking and longing for Jesus to return? Would you like Him to come today? Would you be ready if He came today? What if He had come last night? Where would you be now had Jesus returned last night?
There is no greater truth that should have a greater effect on how we live our lives than the truth of the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Just two days ago we celebrated the first coming of Jesus. It’s a story we’re so familiar with, and God entering our world in human form is a crucial part of God’s plan of salvation for mankind. Without the manger in Bethlehem the plan would be incomplete. And there is an equally crucial part of that plan that is yet to be fulfilled – the return of Jesus. His birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension and return. It’s all the same story. All of these pieces make up one puzzle. Jesus has promised to return, and He will.
The second last verse in the Bible says, “Come, Lord Jesus.”
Are you ready to say those words? Do you want Him to return today? Are you ready for His return?