Christ’s Return

1 Thessalonians 5:23

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Note that this Epistle has a reference to the Lord’s return in all five chapters.  Let us look at them for a moment.

1 Thessalonians1:10 – “to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”

1 Thessalonians 2:19 – “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?”

1 Thessalonians 3:13 – “so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.”

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 – “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.  For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.  Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 – “But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you.  For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.  For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.  But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.  You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.  Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night.  But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.  Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”

  • In the passage in chapter 4 Paul settles the distinction of those who are alive and those who have died at the Lord’s return.  In Paul’s day most expected Christ’s return very soon, in their life time, but at this point the saints were beginning to die and their hope was in grave question.

2 Corinthians 5:8 – “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,”

Acts 1:11 – “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

Matt 24:30 – “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”

  • Some confusion exists as to the end time and Christ’s return.  They are two separate events.

  • 1 Thessalonians speaks in detail of the coming of Christ for the saints
  • 2 Thessalonians speaks of the coming of Christ in judgment.
First ComingSecond Coming
Christ comes to claim His brideChrist returns with His bride
He comes in the airHe comes to the earth
Tribulation followingMillennial kingdom established
Immediate departure of saintsMultiple signs precede
Message of comfort givenMessage of judgment given
Change is a mysteryChange is predicted throughout Bible
Believers are judgedGentiles and Israel are judged
Israel’s covenants not yet fulfilledIsrael’s covenant is fulfilled
Believers only involvedAll people are involved
The church received into the presence of LordIsrael brought into kingdom age
  • If we are planning on being a part of the first of Christ’s return, His return for the Church, then we had better not ignore the admonition of Chapter 4.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-12 – “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit. “But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing”

1 Thessalonians 4:18 – “Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

A Thief in the Night

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.  Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.

  • Watch and pray
  • Watch, you do not know the day
  • If you are a farmer and
  • You want to reap corn, then plant corn
  • You want to reap soy beans, then plant soy beans
  • You want to reap wheat, then plant wheatIf you want to be  a factory worker, then work in the factory

BUT, if you want to be a witness, then be a witness whether you are a farmer, a factory worker, a housewife, a professional, a college student.  No matter what, BE A WITNESS.

Be fruitful, bring in a great harvest to the kingdom.

Be helpful, lift others up, Christian and non-Christian.

No wonder that Christ’s return is of importance to the Christian faith, as approximately one out of every thirty verses in the Bible mention this teaching.  The coming of Christ, as told in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke are not the coming I am speaking of in this message.  Christ’s return is mentioned in 318 references in 216 separate chapters.  Entire books, for example, are 1 and 2 Thessalonians.  Entire chapters, including Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, are devoted to it.

  • Christ’s return is the theme of the Old Testament prophets.  The careful reader will quickly note that they sometimes merge the two comings so that it is not at first apparent that there are two comings, yet the teaching is there.

1 Peter 1:11 – Searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 

  • Jesus Himself bore constant testimony to His coming again.

John 14:1-3 – Let not your heart be troubled; you believe 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 to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 

John 21:22 – Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” 

Look more thoroughly to Matthew 24 and 25, Mark 13 and Luke 21.

  • The angels bear testimony to His second coming in:

Acts 1:11 – Who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” 

  • The apostles faithfully proclaimed this truth:

Acts 3:19-20 – Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before. 

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 – For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 

Hebrews 9:28 – So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. 

1 John 2:28 – And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. 

Jude 14-15 – Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”  Jude 14-15

  • The church is told to look forward to this great hope that we have in His second coming:

Titus 2:13 – Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. 

2 Peter 3:12 – Looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 

  • His second coming is a teaching from God’s Word that proves to be the greatest incentive to living a consistent Christian life.

Matthew 24:44 – Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. 

Luke 21:34-36 – But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” 

1 John 2:28 – And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. 

1 John 3:3 – And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 

One question we should ask ourselves in all areas of life, especially some “gray” areas, is, “Would I like to have Christ find me doing this when He comes?”

  • His second coming is a great comfort to all believers.

1 Thessalonians 4:14-18 – For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.  For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. 

  • Some scoffers say it is not going to happen.  Why would something so comforting and helpful to the believer be spoken against?  There are many reasons some have for believing that lie from Satan.
  • The unreadiness of the individual and, in general, the church
  • Preconceived ideas
  • Extravagant or non-scriptural predictions as to time
  • Lack of knowledge of the Scriptures
  • Failure of the church to teach on this subject

2 Peter 3:4 – Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 

Hopefully we will not be caught asleep, not awaiting His return as the Jews were when they rejected His first coming.

  • What is meant by the phrase, “the second coming?”

Acts 1:10-11 – And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” 

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 – For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 

Revelation 1:7 – Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. 

Some mistaken ideas for the meaning of Christ’s second coming include:

  • His coming at the death of a saint
  • The coming of the Holy Spirit
  • The destruction of Jerusalem

There is a distinction of Christ’s coming for His saints (1 Thessalonians) and coming with His saints (2 Thessalonians).  These two books, if studied, will answer many questions.

He comes for His Church, the Bride of Christ, to remove us from this sinful world.  Following this event a time of great distress, in Scripture called the Great Tribulation, and following this period of approximately seven years He then returns to bring judgment upon all the world.

Many efforts by saints and sinners alike have been put forth to set dates concerning His return.  The best answer that I can scripturally give to you is simply, “Soon, be ready.”

Some of the signs we can readily see that point to His return are:

  • Great apostasy and departure from the faith

1 Timothy 4:1 – Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons. 

2 Timothy 3:1-5 – But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away. 

Luke 18:8 – I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” 

  • Time of great heaping up of wealth and possessions

James 5:1-9 – Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you. Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.  Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! James 5:1-9

  • Time of great missionary activity

Mark 13:10 – And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. 

Revelation 5:9 – And they sang a new song, saying:  “You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation. 

  • Return of the Jews to Israel

Deuteronomy 30:1-3 – Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God drives you, and you return to the Lord your God and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul, that the Lord your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the Lord your God has scattered you. 

Zechariah 14:1-4 – Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, and your spoil will be divided in your midst.  For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; the city shall be taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished.  Half of the city shall go into captivity, but the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city.  Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle.  And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east.  And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south. 

Zechariah 12:2-3 – Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.

Be ready.  He’s coming soon!  Do not be caught unaware.

Serving for God’s Glory

1 Peter 4:7-11

But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.  And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”  Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.  As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.  If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

 

Romans 13:11-14 – And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.  The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.  Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

That phrase from Peter, ”The end of all things is at hand…” and the other phrase from Romans “knowing the time,” simply refers to Christ’s return.  His return is nearer at hand than what we realize.  Oh, I know we have all heard that many times.  But it’s true. 

Satan has lulled the church world into a stupor, into an almost unconscious state where many are going through the motions, what the scripture calls “a falling away” and are only in a state of religiosity.  One of the ways Satan has deluded our minds about Christ’s return is keeping us occupied with other things. 

 Christ Jesus is returning and He is coming with His archangel, Michael, blaring a trumpet loud and clear.  Those who are in the grave, the dead in Christ, your loved ones and mine, all will hear that trumpet blast.  They shall rise from their grave, their mortal bodies that were racked with pain and sickness and lay undisturbed for months or years will suddenly come to life in a jolt more powerful than any electrical current.   They will burst through that concrete vault and that casket that is closed and secured tightly plus six feet of earth more powerful than any bullet train or atom bomb.  They then will burst through the atmosphere to meet Him in the air and continue on through the pearly gates into that abode promised for those who are His. 

At the same time those who are alive and in Christ will be caught up to meet them in the air.  I do not know how much of a time lapse between these two events but according to scripture I believe it is immediate.  In other words when the graves are bursting open for our loved ones, who have died, and may be even yet in the funeral home or hospital will be gone and those in Christ will be gone as well.  And we all know where they will have gone. 

In other words, those still living will not have time to ponder their fate if they are in a state of sin and will not have time to make ready.  His coming will be instantaneous and the ones who are not ready will not have a clue at that particular moment.  Some of man’s imagination pictures toppled tombstones, disturbed grave sites, cars and planes careening off the road driverless, doctors missing suddenly while in the middle of surgery, people talking in conversation and all at once one of the parties are gone.  Just as those who witnessed the flood in Noah’s day, there will be an almost immediate recognition around the world that something has happened, but many will be without a clue.

Right now, about one billion people around the world call themselves Christian.  How many of them will, in fact, be ready for lift off, is anyone’s guess.  But, Christ knows their name, because their names are in the book.  Is your name in the book, that is, The Lamb’s book of Life or is your name in the other book…the one who has the recorded names and deeds of all those who are not ready and who according to the Word must give an account?

That second phrase in Romans, chapter eleven, simply tells us to WAKE UP.  Are you spiritually awake?  Are you aware of any area in your life that might give you a hesitation of whether or not you will be ready or not?  The Bible tells us we have approximately 70 years of life on this earth.  Some of you have already passed that number.  But think of it, on a time line, 70 years is but a blip compared to the approximate 6000 years this earth has been inhabited since Adam and Eve were created. 

What is your eternal destiny?  Where you will spend eternity?  He that has an ear, let him or her hear?  What is the Spirit saying to you?  Is there an area of your life that does not measure up to what God requires?  It is not about the church or your friends or family.  It is about you.