30 Minute Radio Sermon - WAVG Radio 1450 AM

Clarksville church of Christ

February 25, 2001

Speaker: Richie Thetford

"Jesus Is Coming Again"

Hard times and dangerous situations cause many to focus on the second coming of Christ. This is just as natural as the desire to pray when death is very real. But we need a continual awareness of the fact that Jesus will return. We must also understand why He will return and what will take place at that time. In view of the numerous errors being taught there are elementary things about His second coming we must study. There is nothing that should grab the attention of serious people that is more thrilling than the fact that Jesus will return. He said to His disciples, "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 unto Myself; that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:2-3). The thought of His return staggers mere human minds. But it is nearly as staggering to the mind to reflect on the numerous errors men have disseminated about this subject. Please stay tuned for a study of this important topic.

Hello, this is Richie Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ welcoming you to another presentation of"What Is Truth?"The Clarksville church of Christ presents this program every Sunday at this same time. Our purpose is to teach the truth and nothing but the truth. We always urge you who listen to let us know if you find us teaching what you think is untrue. We do not want to be wrong. You are very warmly invited to visit our services today. At 9:30 A.M. we have Bible classes for all ages. At 10:30 A.M. and 6 P.M. we worship congregationally, and each Wednesday we meet for Bible classes at 7:30 P.M. Our building is located at the corner of Hale Road and Hwy 131 in Clarksville. We would be delighted to have you come and visit us today.

Please read with me from 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10: "... when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed."

That Jesus Christ is returning is beyond question. No one who believes the Bible can deny that He will come the second time. His return will be truly a second coming. The unknown author of the book of Hebrews wrote, "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 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" (Hebrews 9:27-28). The Bible is silent about a third coming. Advocates of the fanciful and imaginary "Rapture" have Jesus teaching a theory that demands a third coming of Christ. They recognize His first coming as the time described in the Gospel records. They think His second coming will be a secret mission in which He will whisk away the saints for a period of seven years of bliss. Later, they allege that He will return yet a third time with His saints to lead a literal army in a literal war to end all wars, which they call "The Battle of Armageddon." (The Bible does not use that description anywhere.) Yes, that's right -- that is top drawer premillennialism. Not only is it foolish to think of Jesus as a military commander-in-chief of a literal army, slaughtering thousands of people, it is patently wrong to teach a third coming of Christ.

Jesus promised He would return. "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 14:1-3). Notice that Jesus is not coming back to prepare a place here on earth. He said, "I go (not come again) to prepare a place for you..." Millennialists and the Jehovah's Witness Organization take issue with Jesus. They think He intends to make this planet a place of paradise and rule over an earthly kingdom with headquarters in Jerusalem. Such ideas are completely false. The dispensationalists need to get His going and comings correct.

The truth is simple. Jesus will return after He has prepared a place for the saints in heaven. He will return to take His own out of the world, never again to return. Listen again: "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" (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). If the saints will "always be with the Lord in the air" after being "caught up together" with Him in the clouds, there is no biblical basis for thinking this planet is scheduled to be their eternal home. The millennial theory makes this "always"amount to around seven years.

The apostle Peter heard Jesus say, "I go to prepare a place for you." By divine inspiration he wrote, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you" (1 Peter 1:3-4). Peter affirmed that Jesus went away from this planet to prepare a place, and to reserve it in heaven for the saints. But there are those who still believe this earth is the place Jesus intended to prepare for His saints. How sad!

There is no hint at all as to when Jesus will return. In our own community, just a few years ago, some of our citizens very excitedly set approximate dates for the Lord's return. They thought He would return in September of 1988. But He didn't. Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Jehovah's Witness Organization, set October 1914 as the date for Jesus to return and for this present order of the world to come to an end. Russell falsely prophesied that the imaginary millennium was to begin and thousands of people blindly followed that false prophet. When Jesus didn't come back in 1914 Russell, undaunted and unabashed, simply set the date up to 1918. He and his followers were convinced that the great World War I was Armageddon. But Jesus did not come back in 1918 and World War I was not this whimsical battle of Armageddon, was it? Russell died leaving behind followers who still hold to his false ideas and notions.

It is clearly written, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for (listen carefully now) you do not know when the time is" (Mark 13:31-33). If Jesus says, "You do not know when the time is," and we accept His word, that settles the issue. We are admonished to regard His return as ready to occur at any tick of the clock.

When Jesus returns He will not establish a kingdom on earth nor marshall a literal army for some carnal conflict with other nations. The kingdom has been in existence since the first Pentecost following His resurrection from the grave. That it was set up in the days of the apostles is clear. It is written, "Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power" (Mark 9:1). Notice that some would see it present -- back then it would exist. The kingdom was to be present in the lifetime of those who heard these very words fall from His lips. They were not disappointed. Jesus never modified this to say, "I am sorry, but there has been a delay -- we cannot set the kingdom up now. The Jewish nation is not ready to accept me as the Messiah." In fact, He did just the opposite. He continued urging people to get ready for the kingdom. He did not modify His kingdom to suit the people. He tried to modify the people of His day for the coming of His kingdom then. He continually told them the kingdom is "at hand." That means it was very near.

The kingdom was set up in Jerusalem. The time was Pentecost, one of the most important of Jewish festivals. Long before Jesus came to earth, a prophet of God interpreted a dream of an old pagan king named Nebuchadnezzar. The prophet was Daniel. He was called on not only to interpret but to describe the king's dream. He described it accurately. "You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome. This image's head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. ;You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth" (Daniel 2:31-35).

Next, Daniel gave a divine interpretation of the dream: "This is the dream. Now we will tell the interpretation of it before the king. You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory; and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all -- you are this head of gold. But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters all things; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others. Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter's clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay. And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay. And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever" (Daniel 2:36-44).

In Daniel's prophecy he shows that the statue represented four successive world dynasties. The first was Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar, the second, Medo-Persia under Darius and Cyrus, the third was Greece or Macedonia under Alexander the Great. The fourth, and last dynasty in the dream, was Rome under a succession of Caesars. Only four world empires are part of this dream. Each of them is represented by a metallic or partial metallic section of the gigantic statue. During the time of the "last kings" (Rome), Daniel affirms "the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed"and one that will "stand forever." What kings? The Roman Caesars. When did those live who were to see the kingdom of God come with power?" During the days of the Roman Caesars. The apostles were promised power when the Holy Spirit was sent upon them. Jesus said,"But you (the apostles) shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you" (Acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit came on them on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). Therefore, the kingdom Jesus promised did actually come into existence with power, witnessed by those who heard Him say it would come, on the day of Pentecost. Jesus returned to heaven to become Lord of Lords and King of Kings (Acts 2:36-37). The kingdom and the power Jesus promised became a reality on that great and notable day and has been in continuous existence since. It is foolishness to look for some future establishment of that which exists.

It is just as important to understand what will not occur when Jesus returns as it is to know what He will do. We have seen that Jesus will not set up a kingdom when He returns. The simple fact still stands that His kingdom exists. It has been in existence since the first Pentecost following His resurrection and ascension. There are those who will privately contest this statement. It is very unlikely they would challenge publicly what I am about to affirm.

There is nothing at all in the Bible that would support the unfounded allegations of those who believe Jesus did not set up His kingdom when He was here in the flesh. Their contention is not only not biblical, it is actually anti-biblical. One of the most widely read millennialists is Hal Lindsey. In his book, There's A New World Coming, he wrote: "For anyone who cared to investigate, there was no lack of evidence to show that Jesus was indeed the long awaited Messiah. Had the people received Him, He would have fulfilled the Kingly prophecies in their day in addition to the one regarding the suffering Messiah. But when the Jewish nation as a whole rejected Christ, the fulfillment of His kingship was postponed until the final culmination of world history. This is the subject of the Book of Revelation." (Page 30).

If the above assertion is true, Jesus actually made a false claim when He said, "All authority (power) in heaven and on earth is given to me" (Matthew 28:18). The millennialists would amend that to say, "Yes, Lord, you have almost all authority and power, but not quite all." They would have to attribute more power to the Jewish nation than Christ had. If the rejection of Christ as Messiah by the Jews caused postponement of His kingship, then all of God's plans and promises were suspended by the infidelity of a nation of people.

Numerous prophesies were given in the Old Testament that the kingdom was to be established when the Messiah came. Notice just one or two: "And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed" (Daniel 2:44). Earlier we learned that "these kings" of this prophecy refer directly to the days when Rome ruled the world. That was during the time Christ was on earth. God intended and promised to set a kingdom up during the lifetime of Christ and the apostles. But if the Jewish rejection cancelled it, which is more powerful?

Later, the same prophet said: "I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven, one like a Son of Man was coming and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him and to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and men of every language, might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed" (Daniel 7:13-14). This prophecy could only be true if, when Jesus came to the Ancient of Days (the Eternal Father) with the clouds (at His ascension) He became King. It is a simple matter to see that when Jesus ascended He became King. But His kingship was not postponed. Nor was it a kingship over a nonentity. He became King over His kingdom. That is why Paul referred to Him as "King of Kings, and Lord of Lords" (1 Timothy 6:15).

When John the Baptizer came, he proclaimed: "Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 3:2). Jesus preached the same message: "From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4:17). The expression "at hand" means "ready to begin" according to William Hendricksen in his fine commentary on Matthew, page 197. Other passages clearly show that "at hand" means very near or close. "And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples" (Matthew 26:18). Again, "Then he came to his disciples, and said to them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners"(Matthew 26:45). Again, Jesus said, "Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me" (verse 46).

One reason why there is so much misunderstanding of the kingdom is that many think of it in material or physical terms. Thinking of the Kingdom as a worldly organization causes many to reject plain simple statements from Christ. Remember that Jesus said to Pilate,"My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world then My servants would be fighting that I might not be delivered up to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm" (John 18:36). Further, Paul wrote: "For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit"(Romans 14:17).

That kingdom is the same as the church Jesus established. Paul wrote to the church of Christ at Colossae, and said: "For He delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins"(Colossians 1:13). Friends, if the kingdom has not been established there is no salvation, no redemption, no deliverance, no benefit from His shed blood, for these things are all directly related to being delivered from the power of the dark side into Christ's kingdom of light. The kingdom has been established; Jesus will not reign on this earth when He returns.

When Jesus comes again He will raise the dead. He said, "Do not marvel at this for an hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice and shall come forth. Those who did the good deed to a resurrection of life; those who committed evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment" (John 5:28-29). Notice very carefully that Jesus said that both the righteous and unrighteous will be raised in this"hour" when He returns. There is no thousand year span separating the two resurrections. In fact, there is only one resurrection mentioned. Two classes are mentioned, but it is the resurrection that will occur in the "hour" when Jesus returns. By the way, for those who take the Bible designation of time periods literally, this is really a problem, for they are the ones who argue that the "thousand years" in the Book of Revelation is a literal period of time. But they also believe that there is a thousand year span of time separating the resurrection of the righteous and the wicked. In a book of symbolism they take a time period literally, and in a book of plain fact they take a time period symbolically. They need to simply reverse their hermeneutical procedure. Paul wrote: "But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming" (1 Corinthians 15:23).

When Christ returns it will be a glad day for faithful servants of God. Paul wrote: "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?" (1 Thessalonians 2:19). If we truly believe He is to return there is a stability we are given by such a great promise. Paul wrote:"To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints" 1 Thessalonians 3:13).

Dear friends, the real issue for all of us is whether we will be ready to meet Him when He comes. We urge you to carefully consider your own condition right now and if you are not ready to meet Him, to go back to Heaven with Him for eternity, please do something about it now. Jesus said, "If you do not believe that I am HE, you will die in your sins" (John 8:24). He also said, "Except you repent you will all likewise perish" (Luke 3:13) and finally said, "Except a man is born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). Very simply summarized, Jesus said Believe, Repent, and be baptized for the remission of your sins, live a faithful life of service in the kingdom of God, and heaven, with all its grandeur and bliss is yours. Will you accept this offer from the King today?

This is Richie Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ thanking each of you for listening to this morning's broadcast and invite you to listen again next Sunday morning at 8:30 A.M. for another presentation of "What Is Truth?"