Study 3 WRONG VIEWS OF THE SECOND ADVENT
Because many have wrongly interpreted the truth of the second advent, it is necessary that we understand exactly what the Bible teaches. All scripture passages which predict the fact of the second coming of Christ are in perfect harmony. They all make it clear that He will come again literally, personally, visibly and in His present glorified body. There are details and aspects of this truth about which it would be foolish for us to dogmatise, but concerning the fact that He will come again in person (1 Thessalonians 4:17), and that His second coming will be as literal as was His first coming (Acts 1:11), there can be no doubt at all. This being the case, it is a simple matter for us to eliminate the mistaken and erroneous views of the second advent which are current today.
Please read John 14:1-3. What did our Lord mean when He said, “I will come back”?
1. He was not referring to His “spiritual” presence which He guaranteed in the experience of every one of His children.
It is wonderful to have the promise of Christ’s presence, but how much more wonderful it is to enjoy the experience of it! Old Testament believers had the promise of the Lord’s presence, as we learn from Psalm 23:4 and Isaiah 43:2; and the last promise our Lord made before His ascension was Matthew 28:19-20. We are right in deriving much comfort and inspiration from a present realisation of the truth of Hebrews 13:5-6, but this is not what our Lord meant when He said, “I will come back.” When He ascended, His followers saw Him go up into Heaven and then suddenly – read again Acts 1:10-11.
2. He was not referring to the coming and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
In John 14:18, we have the promise of the Lord Jesus concerning the coming of the Holy Spirit, which promise was fulfilled when the Holy Spirit was poured out from on high on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). In a new and a wonderful way the Lord Jesus “came” to His waiting disciples, but this was not the fulfilment of His word recorded in John 14:1-3 – “I will come back.” Just pause and remember that the promise of His return was repeated many times after Pentecost, so Pentecost could not have been the fulfilment of the promise. It is “the Lord Himself” who is coming (1 Thessalonians 4:16), and “we eagerly await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20) – not the Holy Spirit.
3. He was not referring to the wonderful experience of conversion.
In a very real sense the Lord does come to us when we receive Him as our Saviour (John 1:12; Galatians 2:20); but this is not to be confused with the promise of His second advent (Hebrews 9:28). Look up 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10. These believers at Thessalonica had been converted and were serving the Lord, but they were also anticipating the return of their Lord. The reference here is not to people being converted, but to the sure and certain fact of the personal return of Christ.
4. He was not referring to the death of the believer.
It is quite true that we need have no fear of the dark valley or of death itself, because the Lord who has conquered death will be there with us. We can join with David in saying – Psalm 23:4! But death is still an enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26). We are not to hope for death, but for the Lord’s return (Titus 2:11-13). Please study John 21:21-22 (and compare verses 18 and 19), and you will see the distinction between death and the second coming. Then again, the second coming cannot refer to death because some Christians will never die
(1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:17).
5. He was not referring to some historical event that had no connection with His personal, bodily return.
Some have taught that Christ returned at the destruction of Jerusalem (AD 70); one modern heretical sect teaches that He returned in 1844; some teach that He came in 1914! – look up Matthew 24:30 and 26:64.
6. He was not referring to a gradual improvement which would take place in this world and would eventually usher in His coming.
This “diffusion of Christianity”, as some have called it, is gradual, whereas the scriptures always speak of Christ’s return as sudden and unexpected – look up Matthew 24:27,36,42 and 44; 1 Thessalonians 5:2 and Revelation 3:3.
7. He was not referring to a return which would be for only some of His people, but for all His people.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, all the “dead” saints are to be raised, and all the living ones too! There is no hint of a partial or selective rapture – look up 1 Corinthians 15:23 (last five words), and look up 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, and notice the second “all” in verse 51. The Bride, for whom the Bridegroom is coming (Ephesians 5:22-23), is composed of every believer (Matthew 25:6). It is for every truly born-again, blood-bought child of God that the Lord will come again, and John 14:3 tells us what He is coming for; He is coming to take us to our Heavenly Home. Who among us is worthy that the Lord should come again and receive us unto Himself? – but that is where His grace is so wonderful!
I am waiting for the coming
Of the Lord who died for me;
Oh, His words have thrilled my spirit,
I will come again for thee.
I can almost hear His footfall,
On the threshold of the door,
And my heart, my heart is longing
To be with Him evermore.