Did you know that there are 318 New Testament references to Jesus' second coming? Jesus himself spoke often of his return, primarily in Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, and Luke 21. Immediately following Jesus' return to heaven, two angels comforted His disciples, saying, "This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11).
This is why most evangelical Christian churches make some official statement regarding the second coming of Christ. Our Nazarene statement reads, "We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ will come again; that we who are alive at his coming shall not precede them that are asleep in Christ Jesus; but that, if we are abiding in Him, we shall be caught up with the risen saints to meet the Lord in the air, so that we shall ever be with the Lord".
- We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ will come again (John 14:1-3, Acts 1:9-11)
- That we who are alive at His coming shall not precede them that are asleep in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
- If we are abiding in Him, we shall be caught up with the risen saints to meet the Lord in the air, so that we shall ever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:17-8)
What can we expect?
The Bible indicates that Christ's return will include these events:
- The heavenly father, having kept a watchful eye on the world situation throughout time, will determine when the appropriate time arrives.
- He will signal Jesus, His Son, to return bodily to earth accompanied by a mighty host of heavenly angels.
- Jesus will appear in the eastern sky, visible to believers and nonbelievers alike.
- His return will mark the end of time as we know it.
- Resurrection, judgment, and eternal reward or punishment will await everyone who has ever lived on earth.
(Adapted from Articles of Faith--A Small Group Study NPH 2008)
Matthew 25:31-46; John 14:1-3; Acts 1:9-11; Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Titus 2:11-14; Hebrews 9:26-28; 2 Peter 3:3-15; Revelation 1:7-8; Revelation 22:7-20 (New International Version)
When can we expect Christ to return?
When Jesus' disciples asked him for a timeline, he answered, "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority." (Acts 1:7). Some interpret this to mean we cannot construct a timeline unless we work hard at it. This is not the case. Jesus is urging us not to get caught up in end time predictions.
Dr. Frank Moore teaches in the School of Theology and Christian Ministry and is the Director of the Center for Faith and Culture at Olivet Nazarene University. He shares his experience and study of the second coming of Christ:
"A few years ago, a good friend was so convinced of Christ's immediate return that he watched the world news daily with bated breath, ready to announce his final prediction just moments before the actual event occurred. He preached on Christ's return every week. He's since gone on to be with the Lord, and we are still here on earth waiting. So the "when" question eludes an answer.
I took a class on the subject during my doctoral studies. Starting with the time of the early church and continuing through the present, we studied each generation of Christians who believe Christ will return in their day. Which generations did we study? Every generation from the first century until now. That's right! Every generation of believers throughout church history has believed Christ's return might be immediate."
Adapted from Articles of Faith: A Small-Group Study, NPH 2008
Predictions and Prophecies?
The first thing you may notice about this article of faith is that it makes no predictions and does not take an authoritative stance on particular prophecies.
- In the article of faith there is no statement concerning tribulation, the Antichrist's reign, a period of peace and prosperity, and a world involved in a battle known as Armageddon. While the Bible gives us many snapshots of things to come, it does not sequence them for us. We don't know how or what order all these events will transpire. The only thing we can say with certainty is that they will occur just as the Bible indicates.
- Dr. Frank Moore gives gives a very good illustration:After a family vacation, my wife, Sue, will hand me a stack of vacation photographs and say. "Organize these in sequential order for our photo album." Because I participated in the events captured on them, the task is simple. However, my friend Gary would have a harder time organizing the shots because he wasn't with us. The same is true of many of the prophecies we read concerning the return of Christ. We are not given a timeline. As good stewards of the Word of God, we must be careful to adhere to facts that are clearly revealed.
We are also careful to avoid the danger of turning prophecies into predictions. Watch this video and consider the dangers of using unclear and often veiled prophecies to predict future events. While Lee Strobel uses secular examples, it is easy to see the danger of using obscure Bible references to prove a theory about the end times.
How should we live?
If we are not sure when Christ is returning, how should we live?
- We should be ready. "Keep watch," Jesus said, "because you do not know on what day your Lord will come." (Matthew 24:42).
- We should live as if he could return any moment, being aware that he may not return in our lifetime.
- We should live in hopeful expectation. Many people fear Christ's return. If we are Christians, we have something wonderful to look foward to. We respond with John, "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus" (Revelation 22:20).
- We should live our Christian lives as salt (Matthew 5:13)and light (Matthew 5:14-16). There is a sense of urgency to see that we share the good news of Christ with as many as possible.
Mission to Philadelphia--Church of the Nazarene | 1707 Shelmire Ave. | Philadelphia | PA | 19111