Don’t Go Back!

The comings of Christ are often confused.  He is to come a second time to receive His own as He also will return to judge. But He first came  (in a non-physical manner) in the endtime (of the OT era) at the destruction of Jerusalem, which was also the introduction of the New Testament era. These two comings must be understood as separate events. The first coming is mentioned in such passages as Mt.16:27, 28. Clearly, there were some listening to Jesus who would live to see that coming (as it says in v. 28).

But there are other passages to consider as well. One of these is Mt. 26:57-63. Obviously, those who would “see” the event (the coming indicated by the destruction of Jerusalem) would not live until the second coming. They “saw” that He was seated at God;s right hand by the events that occurred.

Take one more: Luke 17:20-36. The clue you need to determine which coming is in view may be found in vs. 31-32. Persons on housetops and in the fields are told not to come down or return home,  They must “get out of Dodge” immediately! Why would anyone need to be told this if he were already rising in a new body to meet Jesus in the air!

These are but samples of the two comings, which you must learn to distinguish if you would make sense of prophecy.

Christ Is Coming

Just as the promise of His first coming to judgment in the destruction of Jerusalem occurred in 70AD exactly as predicted in the Olivet Discourse, so too, the Second Coming of Christ is certain to take place. Why hasn’t it happened sooner? Peter tells us that God is waiting until all that He intends to save will be gathered into the fold (2 Peter 3:9). If He had come 150 years ago, for instance, you would never know what it means to spend eternity with Him in joy and bliss. Not having been born–obviously—you would not be saved. Indeed, you would not exist at all. So, stop wishing and praying that Christ will return; He’ll come when He is ready to do so—there are others with whom you may fellowship in heaven someday who will thank you for it!

At the second coming, believer, you will be caught up into the air to meet the Lord as He returns (1 Thessalonians 4). The word “meet” is a very special word, used only here and two other places in the New Testament (once in Mt. 25) and the once in Acts 28). Why are believers to be “raptured” (snatched up into the air)? This word tells us. As the Christians went out on the road to Rome to greet Paul as He was being taken to prison to accompany him into the city in honor, and as the virgins went out to meet the bridegroom and accompany him back in honor of that occasion, so too, as the term means, Christians rise to meet the Lord in air to accompany Him in honor as He comes to earth.

Notice the occasion is at the time when believers are resurrected (1 Corinthians 15).  They will receive a body like Jesus’ glorious body to replace the old corruptible and mortal one (Philippians 3: 20, 21). In the ascent into the air to meet the Lord, we immediately recognize one of the new capacities that our have glorified bodies will possess—one that Jesus manifested in His ascension—namely, the power to arise into the air! What a glorious anticipation for those of us with our present weak, sickly, corruptible bodies!

But the great thing will not be our renovated bodies—it will be the coming of Jesus—and the fact that we will actually be able to accompany Him in His honor as He descends! Don’t you think that all eyes will be on Him—not on our new bodies! The point always to remember is that it is His coming that is the importance of this event not our going! This is the Day of the Lord; the Day of His revelation, the Day of days in the future. And, as such we should anticipate it!

Blooming Fig Trees

Down our way the dogwoods and redbuds have nearly finished blooming and a sudden untimely hail-storm dashed their few remaining flowers to the ground. Temperatures are still up and down, and the wind is moderate. It’s truly early springtime! But my fig tree hasn’t yet put forth shoots, let alone begun leafing!

Jesus said, “When they (fig trees) put forth leaves you can see and know yourselves that summer is already near” (Luke 21: 30 CCNT/P). Was He pointing to a sign of His second coming? NO! Two verses later, He explained, “Truly, I tell you that this generation won’t pass away until all of this[1] happens” (v. 32).

Why, then, will Christians misuse the verse about the fig tree to refer to an event that is future when it already occurred in 70 AD?

Again, we hear people teaching that when Jesus warned of a sudden coming by saying not to come down from the housetop or in from the field to get any valuable items, He was referring to the rapture. If so, how foolish that warning would have been! Can you imagine believers ascending into the air to meet the Lord who are trying, instead, to get back into their houses somehow to retrieve things they want to take with them?

Much foolish talk is going on today. It is not when people are saying “wars and rumors of wars” that we should look for the bodily return of Jesus. Paul made it clear that He would return when the world is saying “peace and safety.” That is when we can expect Him—not before (1 Thessalonians 5:3). Be careful what teaching you accept—read the entire context to see what is really in view.

[1] Including the leafing of the fig trees.

Revelation

Then, there’s the Book of Revelation.time

Studies have shown it was written about 67-69 AD. That it was before the destruction of Jerusalem (70AD) is clear since in the book the temple is still standing, and one of the major portions of the Revelation is devoted to the description of the Roman invasion of Palestine that ended in the destruction of the temple and the city. During this horrible event over 3 million people were killed. No wonder Jesus spoke of it as a time that was not like any other before or after!

At the outset, the book tells us that the “time is at hand.” The same words were repeated in the final chapter. The book was not to be sealed as was the book of Daniel (in direct contrast to what was said there in the last chapter of his prophecy). Daniel’s material, in part, was for the far off future. So it was sealed until “the time of the end” (of the Old Testament period). Because, in contrast, Revelation spoke of times that those who first read it would live to see, John was instructed not to seal his book—and, note the reason given: “for the time is at hand!”

The list of Roman rulers, culminating in Nero Caesar (666), was contemporary. The angel tells the reader that the woman was sitting on the city of seven hills (everyone knew Rome that way). Moreover the angel calls it the great city that is reigning over the rest of the earth. That the book is contemporary, and (except for the 20th and 21st chapters) not still future, is clear from the internal evidence.

If you want to learn more, read my book, The Time is at Hand.

A Key to the Book of Revelation

A key to the two-part nature of the Book is found in chapter 10, verse 11:

You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings.

After the letters to the seven churches, there are two great sections to the Book:

Section One: The First Enemy of the Church and its destruction.

Section Two: The Second Enemy of the Church and its destruction.

This verse stands between them.

If the second section deals with all sorts of peoples of various languages (hint, hint), what do you think the first section deals with?

Just a few thoughts to get you searching. Have fun!

What the World Needs Today

Here is what the Thessalonians had to say about Paul and his associates when they came to town:

These men who have turned the world upside down have come here too.   Acts 17:6 (HCSB)

They were wrong, of course.

“Wrong? How so?”

They had it backwards; or, might I say, upside down?

“What are you talking about?”

Simply this: these preachers were not turning the world upside down; they were turning it right side up!

“Oh.”

Ever since Adam, things have been upside down because of man’s sin. When the Gospel is preached, and people believe, for the first time they begin to live as they were intended by God to live. Of course, not perfectly so.

“No one is perfect; as Jesus was. Will believers ever become perfect?”

Yes.

“When?”

When He returns to earth and transforms us into the perfect creatures he intends us to become.

“When is that?”

It is the next thing on God’s given agenda.

“Date?”

No one knows the date. We are to be ready for it to come whenever it does.

“Do all of these wars and rumors of wars indicate that it is near?”

No—just the opposite.

“Really? There’s talk like that.”

I know, but it is not biblical.

“Please explain.”

Can I let Paul do so?

“Sure.”

OK. Here’s what he says:

About the times and seasons[1] . . . when they say ‘peace and security,’ then sudden destruction comes on them (I Thess. 5:1, 3 HCSB).

“Oh!”



[1] Of what he had been discussing in I Thess. 4.

What We Look Forward To . . .

Is the resurrection of the body!  Too often we speak of waiting to go to heaven. True, upon death genuine believers will in their spirit be “with Christ” in paradise (as he told the thief on the cross).  But as much as that is fine and wonderful, it isn’t our ultimate hope.

No, we “eagerly wait for a Savior the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body . . .” (Philippians 3: 20, 21: HBSC). That is more than heaven—indeed, we will live in a new body in a new heavens and new earth (2 Peter 3:13) in which righteousness is at home. Think of it—believer, some day, you will have a new body like His!

It was a body that rose from the dead, walked through doors, ascended into heaven and sat on the right hand of God (where it is today).

On that resurrection day, your body will rise to meet Him in the air, in order to escort Him to earth.  You will then enjoy all the privileges of living in a perfect body in a perfect world! That is heaven, all right: heaven on earth!

What Is the “Blessed Hope?”

It’s our being caught up into the air to meet Jesus at His coming, of course.”

WRONG!

“Wrong? Why I read about this in Titus 2:13. How can you say that?”

Easily: by reading the passage; and not reading anything into it.

“Explain—”

I’ll let the passage do so:

We wait for the blessed hope and (better, “even”[1]) the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Do you get it? What we wait for isn’t what happens to us—it’s what happens to Jesus: the important thing isn’t our going; it’s His coming.

And it’s not just His coming—but how He will come. He will appear in a glory that makes it clear to all who He is: God as well as Savior.

In that day we who know Him won’t focus on ourselves—we’ll focus on Him! It would seem wise to do so now, as the Great God and Savior, as well as then, wouldn’t it?



[1] He Greek word “KAI” can mean either and or even.

Your Brother, The Son of Man

From now on the Son of man will be seated on the right hand of God’s power.                                         (Luke 22:69)

When Jesus said this, He was making an incredibly strong statement about the place in the world that He would assume in the very near future as the God-man. When He stated this fact to the elders of the people, assembled as the Sanhedrin, He was officially declaring to them what they fully understood, that He was the One Who was about to fulfill the long-awaited prophecy of Daniel 7. That He was the Messiah.

To Him would be turned over “all authority in heaven and in the earth,” as He later explained to the Twelve when He charged them to disciple all nations. This reception of authority happened when He came with clouds to the Ancient of days to receive power and glory and authority to rule.

This was a stupendous claim—the Son of Man, a human being—raised to the ultimate place of power at the Father’s right hand! If false, He should have been convicted; if true He should have been worshiped. It is true, and means, therefore, that a human being-one of us—is at the right hand of God. Think of that astounding fact!

Jesus began reigning as the God-man upon His ascension and is reigning still. Indeed, He will continue to do so until He puts down all of His enemies-the last of which is death. If you have trusted in Him as Savior (see other blogs in the archives to understand the way of salvation), you have taken your place along with Him as a fellow heir to all the promises of God, one whom He is not ashamed to call His brother (Hebrews 3; 11).

He is the firstfuits of those who will be raised from the dead to eternal life. He is the One in Whom all that we were incapable of doing as sinners was accomplished perfectly so that, being “in Him,” we are counted (reckoned) to be just before the Judge of the universe since His righteousness is reckoned to us.
You have much to rejoice about, Christian. Sure things go wrong here-very much so. But in His time, all will be set straight. And, at that time, you will enter into all of the joys, privileges and love that will be realized when you shall see Him as He is. There is much to look forward to. Remember that fact when things get tough here.

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Going Back?

In Mt 24: 18  Jesus warned that his disciples would not return from the field to get something he left indoors.  This is supposed to happen at the second coming of Christ, according to many interpreters. But if that were so, how silly the warning would be. Why? Because here would be people with glorified bodies, able to rise into the air to meet the Lord as He comes.  Who would care about any such things? He would be so transformed that his interest would be in the Lord, his new body, resurrected people, etc.  Obviously, then, the passage doesn’t speak of the second coming, but of the destruction of Jerusalem.