James, generally considered to be the half brother of Jesus, spoke of the coming of the Lord (James 5:7-8). The Lord had already come, been crucified, buried, rose and ascended into heaven (Acts 2:36). Yet, James speaks of a coming of the Lord that is yet future for those to whom he is writing. He says that they should patiently wait for it as does the farmer that waiteth the fruit of the earth. Thus, James is speaking of a second coming of the Lord. It has been estimated that there are over three hundred references in the New Testament to the fact that the Lord will come again. It has also been suggested that the theme of the Old Testament was that the Lord would come, the theme of the gospels that the Lord had come and the theme of the remainder of the New Testament that the Lord would come again. Such is surely the case. It is also true that there are varying doctrines and teachings concerning this second coming and the events that are associated with it. We wish to consider at least a few things concerning this topic.
Let us consider the purpose of the second coming of the Lord. We will start by pointing out that the Lord is not coming again to set up His kingdom on earth. Though this is a commonly held belief, it is foreign to the Bible. When questioned by Pilate, just prior to His crucifixion, Jesus told him, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence” (John 18:36). Let it also be noted that the kingdom of the Lord had already been established and people added to it during the time that the New Testament was being written. Jesus had Himself said, “Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power” (Mark 9:1). Paul wrote, “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:13). Jesus rules now, He is King of kings and Lord of lords (I Tim. 6:15), He is Lord (Acts 2:36; Luke 6:46) and He now has all power and authority (Matt. 28:18). What the New Testament teaches concerning Christ and His kingdom is that He will rule over it until He returns and that He will then “put down all rule and all authority and power” and will deliver “up the kingdom to God” (I Cor. 15:24-25).
Since Jesus is not coming again to set up His kingdom, then why is He coming? The New Testament clearly teaches that Jesus came to first time as the Saviour. When the angel first came to Mary with the news that she would be the vessel used for the virgin birth prophesied of by Isaiah (Isa. 7:14), she was told that her son would be called “Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21; Luke 1:31). Peter preached that “God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). When the Lord comes again, He will be coming not as the Saviour, but as the Judge! Paul told those of Athens, “Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:31). Peter told Cornelius and those gathered at his house that he had been commanded to “preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead” (Acts 10:42). To Timothy, Paul wrote, “I Charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom” (II Tim. 4:1). And, don’t forget the words of Paul to the Thessalonians, “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and they obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Thess. 1:7-8). There is no doubt about why He is coming the second time.
When the Lord comes again there will be a resurrection of the dead (John 5:26-29; I Thess. 4:16-17). There will be a judgment, with Christ sitting upon the judgment seat (II Cor. 5:10). And then, each and every soul will hear either, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34), or “Depart from me ye curse, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41).
So, when will the second coming be? Let us let the scriptures answer the question for us. Jesus said, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matt. 24:36). Though the Lord is longsuffering and has not yet come again, “the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night” (II Pet. 3:9-10). The real question is not when will He come again, but are you prepared for that coming? Once the bridegroom comes and the door is shut, it will be too late to enter (Matt. 25:1-13).
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