The Promise of Jesus’ Return
The promise of Jesus’ return is one of the central tenets of Christian theology. But what does the Bible really say about Jesus coming back? Throughout the New Testament, we find numerous passages that speak of the second coming of Christ, the day of the Lord, and the ultimate fulfillment of God’s redemptive plan. For Christians, the promise of Jesus’ return represents the hope of our salvation and the assurance of our eternal destiny. In this chapter, we will explore the biblical foundation of this promise, examining the key texts and themes that underlie our understanding of Jesus’ return.
The Biblical Foundation of the Promise of Jesus’ Return:
The biblical foundation of the promise of Jesus’ return is found primarily in the New Testament, where we find numerous passages that speak of the second coming of Christ. Perhaps the most famous of these is found in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, which reads:
“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”
This passage, often referred to as the “rapture,” describes the event in which believers will be caught up to meet Jesus in the air when he returns. The emphasis here is on the personal, physical return of Jesus, who will come from heaven and gather his followers to himself.
Other New Testament passages that speak of Jesus’ return include:
- Matthew 24:30-31: “Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, 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. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
- Acts 1:11: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
- Revelation 1:7: “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.”
These passages, along with many others, provide a clear biblical foundation for the promise of Jesus’ return. The emphasis in these texts is on the personal, physical return of Jesus, who will come from heaven to gather his followers and bring about the final judgment.
The Significance of the Promise of Jesus’ Return:
The promise of Jesus’ return is significant for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it represents the hope of our salvation. As Christians, we believe that Jesus died for our sins and rose again, and that his return will mark the ultimate fulfillment of God’s redemptive plan. Through his return, we will be reunited with him in glory, and we will experience the fullness of his grace and love.
In addition, the promise of Jesus’ return also serves as a reminder of our ultimate destiny. As we live our lives here on earth, we are often focused on the here and now – our jobs, our families, our hobbies, and our goals. But the promise of Jesus’ return reminds us that there is more to life than what we see around us. It reminds us that our ultimate home is not here on earth, but in heaven, where we will be with Jesus forever.
- Overview of biblical passages that speak of Jesus’ return
- Emphasis on the promise of Jesus’ return as a cornerstone of Christian hope
- Explanation of the different ways in which Jesus’ return is described in the Bible (e.g. second coming, day of the Lord)
Signs of the End Times
Throughout human history, people have been fascinated with the end of the world. From ancient myths and prophecies to modern-day conspiracy theories, there is a long tradition of anticipating some cataclysmic event that will bring about the end of civilization as we know it. For Christians, the end of the world is not a matter of speculation or superstition, but a matter of faith. The Bible is clear that there will be a time when Jesus returns to judge the living and the dead, and that this event will be preceded by a number of signs and portents. In this chapter, we will explore the biblical teaching on the signs of the end times, examining the key texts and themes that underlie our understanding of the end of the world.
The Biblical Foundation of the Signs of the End Times:
The biblical foundation of the signs of the end times is found primarily in the New Testament, where we find a number of passages that describe the events that will precede the second coming of Christ. These signs are intended to help believers recognize the approach of the end times and prepare themselves for the return of Jesus.
Perhaps the most famous of these passages is found in Matthew 24, where Jesus describes the signs of the end times in detail. In verses 4-8, he says:
“And Jesus answered them, ‘See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.’”
Here, Jesus describes a number of signs that will precede the end times, including false prophets, wars and rumors of wars, and natural disasters. He emphasizes that these signs are just the beginning of the birth pains, and that there will be much more to come before the end.
Other New Testament passages that speak of the signs of the end times include:
- Luke 21:25-28: “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
- 2 Timothy 3:1-5: “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”
- Revelation 6:1-8: “Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, ‘Come!’ And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer. When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, ‘Come!’ And
- Exploration of biblical passages that describe signs that will precede Jesus’ return (e.g. wars, natural disasters, false prophets)
- Discussion of how these signs have been interpreted throughout history
- Caution against reading too much into current events as “proof” of Jesus’ imminent return
The Final Judgment
The final judgment is a central theme of the Bible. It is the culmination of God’s plan for humanity, the time when every person who has ever lived will stand before God to be judged. The final judgment is both a source of hope for believers and a warning to those who reject God. In this chapter, we will explore the biblical teaching on the final judgment, examining the key texts and themes that underlie our understanding of this important topic.
The Biblical Foundation of the Final Judgment:
The biblical foundation of the final judgment is found throughout the Bible, from the Old Testament prophets to the New Testament epistles. The final judgment is described as a time of reckoning, when God will judge every person according to their deeds.
One of the most important passages on the final judgment is found in Matthew 25:31-46, where Jesus describes the judgment of the nations. In this passage, Jesus says that he will come in glory, accompanied by the angels, and will separate the people of the world into two groups: the sheep, who will inherit the kingdom of God, and the goats, who will be sent to eternal punishment. Jesus says that the basis of this judgment will be how people have treated the least of his brothers and sisters: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40).
Other New Testament passages that speak of the final judgment include:
- Acts 17:30-31: “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
- Romans 2:5-6: “But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. He will render to each one according to his works.”
- 2 Corinthians 5:10: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”
- Revelation 20:11-15: “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
The Nature of the Final Judgment:
The final judgment is often portrayed in the Bible as a time of great judgment and wrath, when God will pour out his anger on those who have rejected him. However, the final judgment is also a time of great mercy, when God will reward those who have faithfully served him and have followed his commands.
Many people live in constant fear of the end of the world. We’ve also received letters from young people not wanting to enroll in Bible College because of these unhealthy beliefs.
One of the key themes of the final judgment is the idea of reward and punishment. Jesus often spoke of rewards for those who faithfully serve him, while warning of punishment for those who reject him.
- Examination of biblical passages that describe the final judgment that will occur at Jesus’ return
- Discussion of what the Bible says about who will be judged, and on what basis
- Emphasis on the importance of living in light of the judgment to come
Living in Light of Jesus’ Return
Living in light of Jesus’ return is an essential part of the Christian faith. Jesus himself warned his followers to be ready for his return, saying that no one knows the day or hour when he will come (Matthew 24:36). In this chapter, we will explore what it means to live in light of Jesus’ return, looking at key biblical teachings and practical applications for our daily lives.
The Certainty of Jesus’ Return:
The first step in living in light of Jesus’ return is to acknowledge the certainty of his return. The Bible teaches that Jesus will return to the earth at a time of God’s choosing. In Acts 1:11, the angels who appeared to the disciples after Jesus’ ascension into heaven said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
The return of Jesus is not a matter of speculation or wishful thinking; it is a certainty based on the promises of God. In 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, Paul writes, “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”
Living with a Sense of Urgency:
Knowing that Jesus could return at any moment should motivate us to live with a sense of urgency. In 2 Peter 3:10-13, Peter describes the return of Jesus as a time when the heavens will pass away with a roar and the earth and its works will be burned up. He writes, “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God?”
Living with a sense of urgency means living with the understanding that our time on earth is limited and that we have a responsibility to use it wisely. It means being focused on the things that matter most: loving God and loving others. In Matthew 22:37-39, Jesus says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Living with a sense of urgency also means being actively engaged in sharing the gospel with others. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus gives the Great Commission to his disciples, saying, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Preparing for Jesus’ Return:
Living in light of Jesus’ return also means preparing ourselves for his coming. This involves both spiritual preparation and practical preparation.
Spiritual preparation begins with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Salvation is a gift that is offered freely to all who believe in Jesus Christ and receive him as their Lord and Savior (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Practical preparation involves living a life that is pleasing to God.
- Practical application of the biblical teaching on Jesus’ return to everyday life
- Discussion of how the promise of Jesus’ return should shape our priorities, values, and behavior
- Encouragement to live with an awareness of the brevity of life and the urgency of the gospel
Will Jesus Really come back?
You bet! and we should be preparing for that wonderful moment even today!