Light for the Last Days

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One of the things which I believe in is that the Bible is a historical book. As well as being a book which tells us about God, it describes things which have happened and things which will happen; it describes God’s interventions into human affairs.

These interventions happen at times when God changes, particularly, what we call the ‘changes in the dispensation’, when you have events like the Flood, the Exodus, the Coming of the Lord Jesus, and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, which will be one of God’s greatest interventions in human affairs and will bring in a new age, a new age in which Jesus will reign and will have an eternal Kingdom.

A lot of the church ignores this, which is, I believe, a big mistake. First, because there’s a huge amount of scripture about it, as we shall see, in both the New and the Old Testament, and also, because it’s the only thing that is going to give you hope in our world; because, if you take this out, frankly, there is no hope that the world is going to be sorted out by our political or religious leaders. The world is only going to be sorted out by the Lord Jesus coming back.

We’re going to continue looking at the subject of the Apostles Creed which I’ve been doing over the last few months. We’re up to this fifth section, and we’re looking particularly today at the words in the Creed which say:

He will come again with Glory to judge the living of the dead and of His Kingdom there will be no end.

The subject of the Second Coming, I believe, one of the most relevant subjects to look at in our time.

We’re living at a time of immense danger in the world. You can see wars in Ukraine, potentially in Taiwan also, in Israel, the Middle East. Right now, there’s troubles in Gaza, with Iran, North Korea, all kinds of powers involved: Russia, America, nuclear armed, and we’re also seeing a food crisis, a financial crisis, an energy crisis, all kinds of things coming down the line which are making people ‘afraid of what’s coming on the Earth’.

And, in the midst of all this, a growing Antichrist spirit unleashed in the world. I watched the transmission of the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony. It was quite an incredible performance celebrating every culture, every diversity except ours. It had somebody saying something about the glorious of the holy Qur’an, but nothing about the Bible.

And it ended up with a bull being trundled onto the thing and people bowing down and worshipping this immense bull, representing the Bull Ring in Birmingham that looked like a bit of Baal worship.

People saw a connection there with the Antichrist spirit and you can see this coming on the world and people remaining totally blind to what’s going on.

Yet, it is happening, and we believe that Jesus is coming again and therefore we have a hope in Jesus Christ.

One of the things which I believe in is that the Bible is a historical book. As well as being a book which tells us about God, it describes things which have happened and things which will happen; it describes God’s interventions into human affairs.

Historical Accuracy of the Bible—Archaeological Discoveries | JW.ORG

These interventions happen at times when God changes, particularly, what we call the ‘changes in the dispensation’, when you have events like the Flood, the Exodus, the Coming of the Lord Jesus, and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, which will be one of God’s greatest interventions in human affairs and will bring in a new age, a new age in which Jesus will reign and will have an eternal Kingdom.

A lot of the church ignores this, which is, I believe, a big mistake. First, because there’s a huge amount of scripture about it, as we shall see, in both the New and the Old Testament, and also, because it’s the only thing that is going to give you hope in our world; because, if you take this out, frankly, there is no hope that the world is going to be sorted out by our political or religious leaders. The world is only going to be sorted out by the Lord Jesus coming back.

Therefore, we have the blessed hope of Jesus’ return.

We’re going to look at that today as we go through this subject of the Creed. Now, just to remind you, we have been looking at the Apostles Creed which tells us important things about what we believe. I’ll just go through the things we’ve already looked at:

  • We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all that is seen and unseen.
  • We believe the world didn’t come about by a series of accidents over billions of years, it came about when, in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
  • We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one being with the Father, through Him all things were made.
  • Jesus is not just a prophet, a good man, He is God made flesh, He is the Eternal one who became man and dwelt amongst us and revealed the true God to us. He was not made, He has always existed, He’s been here from eternity to eternity, and
  • For us and for our Salvation, He came down from heaven by the power of the Holy Spirit, He became incarnate from the virgin Mary and was made man.
  • He became fully man as well as fully God when he became incarnate (in born in the flesh) from the virgin Mary so he was fully God and fully man.
  • For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate, He suffered death and was buried, and, on the third day, He rose again in accordance with the scriptures. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
  • For our sake He came down to the earth and was crucified, died on the cross, and suffered death and rose again from the dead to give eternal life to all those who believe in Him.
  • Those were the historical events, they happened in time and space. They’re not just stories people made up, they are things that happened and which we can believe in.

And we’re coming on to what we will study today. It says,

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His Kingdom will have no end.

He will come again in glory.

The Creed doesn’t give much detail on the Second Coming. It tells you three things about the return of Jesus. It says,

  • He would come again with power and glory
  • He would judge the living and the dead, and
  • Of His Kingdom there will be no end (He’ll have an eternal Kingdom)

Let’s have a look at those things and see if they’re backed up by the scriptures.

Jesus said,

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 14.3

He makes a statement in John’s Gospel I will come again.

He’ll take you, that is, ‘you who believe in Me’, to be with Him.

Therefore, if you believe in Jesus, you’re going to have an experience at some point where you’re going to be taken to be with the Lord. Either you’re taken in death, or you’re taken at the time of Jesus’ return, at the rapture of the church when He will take the living to be with Him.

Rapture

in Matthew 24, He’s asked the question:

“Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

Matthew 24.3

And He gives a series of signs which are written down in Matthew 24, which tie up with events which are taking place now.

And, at the end of it, He says,

29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 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.

Matthew 24.29-30

At the end of the time of trouble, which is coming upon the earth, it says that Jesus the Messiah will come. This time not as a suffering servant, but this time He’ll come with power and great glory.

He comes, this time, in quite a different way from the way in which He came the first time.

And he says,

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

Matthew 24.44

The conclusion Jesus tells you from the prophecies concerning His Second Coming is that you should ‘be ready for Him’, ready for Him to come at any time, that you’ll be ready to meet with Him.

When Jesus came the first time, He came in a tiny, different manner from the manner in which He’s going to come at the Second Coming. The first time He came, He laid aside His glory, His majesty.

Philippians says,

7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

Philippians 2.78

Jesus humbled Himself and became as a man who was then put to death on the cross. But, all the time, He was always God, He didn’t lay aside His divinity, but humbled Himself to become man brought amongst us.

In that, He was fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 53 of the suffering servant Messiah where it says,

3 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4 Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53.3-6

And it goes on to say,

For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.

Isaiah 53.8

That’s what happened. And it happened in fulfilment of the Bible prophecy of the First Coming of the Messiah. He came this time, the first time He came in humility, having laid aside His divine power in order to be this suffering servant, to redeem us through His death on the cross. And He has fulfilled that prophecy to the letter.

The fact that Jesus fulfilled prophecies concerning His First Coming exactly, encourages me to believe He will also fulfil the prophecies concerning His Second Coming.

When He comes the second time, He’s coming in a different manner from which he came the first time. The scripture says, He will come with power and glory, He will judge the world in righteousness, and He will judge the world according to how we have responded to the Gospels.

This has been the message of the church from the very beginning.

When you look in the Book of Acts, you’ll find that, from the very beginning, the apostles preached both the First and the Second Coming of Jesus the Messiah.

In Acts chapter 1, as Jesus ascended to heaven and they went up on the Mount of Olives, they saw Jesus depart from them, taken up in a cloud. And, as they were looking, the angel said to them Acts chapter 1 verse 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.”

Acts 1.11

So, the same Jesus who was taken up into heaven is going to come back. But He’s going to come back in a different way from the one He came the first time.

I said, when He came the first time, He came in humility, having laid aside His glory, and He came to be born in the way that we read about in the Gospels.

When He comes the second time, He comes in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.

How did He go into heaven? He went into heaven in the cloud.

The cloud represents the glory, the Shekinah, the Glory of God which means that, when He comes a second time, He’s coming with the glory cloud, in the Glory of God, coming this time not as the suffering servant but as the reigning King, with all power at His disposal.

The apostles preached this in Acts chapter 3. You see, Peter is preaching, and he says,

18 But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. 19 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,

Acts 3.18-19

Otherwise, ‘now is the time to repent’ so you can receive the Holy Spirit and live a new life under the power of the Spirit.

20 and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, 21 whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.

Acts 3.20-21

Peter is saying that Jesus has been taken into Heaven until the time of the restoration of all things.

Some people say that the restoration of all things means the restoration of the church to its original glory, but I don’t think that is the case. I think the restoration of all things is the restoration of all the Prophecies of the Old Testament concerning the reigning King Messiah.

Therefore, there is a time when Jesus can be held in the heavens until the time of His return, at which point, you will see the fulfilment of the rest of the prophecies of the Old Testament concerning the reigning King Messiah.

Moving on to Acts chapter 17, Paul is preaching in Athens and says to the Athenians,

30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

Acts 17.30-31

In other words, one reason to repent is because, one day, Jesus is going to come back again. He’s going to judge the world in righteousness and, even if you’re not alive at the time when He comes back, you’re still going to stand before Him. There is a time when He’s going to judge the world in righteousness according to how we have responded to the Gospel.

Therefore, understanding the Second Coming is also integral to us understanding the need to believe the Gospel so that we’re ready to meet with the Lord.

Moreover, you see that the Second Coming is in all the Epistles.

We just remembered the Lord in the breaking of bread. If you look in 1 Corinthians chapter 11 verse 26, it says,

26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.

1 Corinthians 11.26

Otherwise, there could be a time when you don’t do this anymore because Jesus has come back.

Therefore, you don’t have to remember His First Coming, you’re now with Him at his Second Coming. He even says that there are basic things of our faith which will change at the time when Jesus returns.

And, in Thessalonians it says,

16 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. 17 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. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 4.16-18

This is one of the controversial matters. But Paul says here that ‘there’s a time coming when the dead in Christ will rise’, then ‘the people who are alive at that time will be caught up to meet the Lord as he comes in the in the air’ and thus, ‘we will always be with the Lord’.

You’ll meet with the Lord.

This event is sometimes called the Rapture of the Church.

Rapture

And it says that the first stage of the Second Coming of Christ is that those people who are alive at this time will be called up to meet Him as He comes in the cloud of the in the air.

Later, there’ll be a time when we’ll come back with Him to the earth.

One of the big issues which I’m not going to get into in great detail is whether the rapture comes before, in the middle, or at the end of the Tribulation.

Rapture

I believe it does come before the Tribulation. We should be ready at all times. But, whenever it takes place, it is going to happen. There’s going to be a time when people will be taken out of this world to meet with the Lord.

The rapture will be a life-changing experience for everybody because your body will be changed, you will no longer have this body which is subject to sickness and death; you’ll have a new body which will never get sick and never get tired, and never get old. And you won’t need glasses and you won’t need to go to the dentist or the hospital because you’ll have a perfectly healthy body which is something to look forward to, isn’t it?

And it’s something which the Bible says is going to happen. We might think that sounds fanciful, but, if the Bible says it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. So, believe it!

Tony Pearce

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