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Return of Christ

25th May 2008, mgh

 

4) Coming with Eternal Life

The Apostle John encouraged believers to remain faithful and be ready for Jesus' 'coming'. He also states that Jesus will be in a recognisable form and that the redeemed will know him and 'be like him'.

And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that does righteousness is born of him. (1John 2:28)
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (1John 3:2)

When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he reminded them that Christ was the first person to gain eternal life and at 'his coming' to the earth, the faithful would then receive eternal life. He makes the poignant comment that there is little in life to offer us except death, and our only hope beyond this life comes through our association with the promises through Jesus.

If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. (1Corinthians 15:19-23)

Paul's anticipation of life eternal and his confidence in the return of Christ is expressed to Timothy as he realises his life is almost over, but he expects Jesus' 'appearing', at a future time.

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2Timothy 4:7-8)

Paul wrote to the Thessalonians describing aspects of Christ's return. Jesus will come with power, 'in flaming fire taking vengeance' and will destroy those who oppose him. God has a plan with the earth and Christ and his saints will carry out God's will and bring peace to the earth.

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 that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. (2Thessalonians 1:7-10)

Peter, speaking to the Jews after Jesus' resurrection and ascension, told them that what had happened had been prophesied by all the prophets. Jesus was their long prophesied Messiah and King, whom they had rejected, and he would return to restore the kingdom to Israel and free them from their oppressors. In AD70 the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Jews were scattered throughout the nations and persecuted. In 1948 their homeland was partially restored to them following Hitler's Holocaust in WW11. There are Jews today, in the modern nation of Israel, who still await their Messiah to set them free from their modern day oppressors.

Repent you therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.
For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall you hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. (Acts 3:19-24)

When we seek to find out the reward that awaits the faithful, it is not only life eternal, that is immortality, but a role in teaching people and ruling over the mortal population that survive the calamities of the war and earthquake, when Jesus returns to subject the nations to God's will.

And they sung a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for you weere slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And have made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. (Revelation 5:9-10)

On several occasions in his letters to Timothy, Paul refers to the return, that is the 'appearing', of Jesus and the necessity for obedience .

That you keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: (1Timothy 6:14)

Paul also gives information about the reason for Jesus' return to the earth. This is as a judge, the judge of the living and the dead. To judge the dead requires a resurrection of the dead, those responsible that knew of Jesus.

I charge you therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; (2Timothy 4:1)

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