Summary: Jesus first coming was to seek and save the lost, teach and heal. Christ’s second coming is mentioned more than 300 times in the New Testament an average of every 25 verses.The real issue is that He is coming back and we need to be ready.
Joke: "Repent, the End of the World is Nigh!" was preacher Nathaniel Evans constant theme. One day, as he was walking, he came to a big lever in the middle of nowhere, just by the side of the road. 'Pull this to end the world' said the sign on it. Nathaniel saw this as the perfect spot for him to preach. All was well, until there were so many people, and so many cars, that the road was nearly blocked: then a big 18-wheel rig came down the highway, and couldn't stop in time. He had two choices: either run over Nathaniel, or run over the lever and end the world. As he explained later to the Highway Patrol pointing to the red smear on the road that once had been Nathaniel Evans, he said "Better Nate Than Lever."
For some this question evokes thoughts of famine, wars, disasters. Of course according to the Mayan calendar the world was suppose to end a few weeks ago. Many look at the world with its wars, Middle East, Iran and nuc’s, North Korea’s ICBM’s, school shootings, global warming, our nations drought, Superstorm Sandy, world economy, the fiscal cliff, and Washington gridlock thinking we must be at the end. The underlying question is, ‘Are these the circumstances that precede the return of Christ?’
I. Is Jesus Coming Back?
Jesus first coming was to seek and save the lost, teach and heal. Christ’s second coming is mentioned more than 300 times in the New Testament an average of every 25 verses.
Acts 1:9-11 After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. 10 As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. 11“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!” NLT
Why is Jesus coming back? The bible tells us that “Jesus is the one appointed by God to be the judge of all -- the living and the dead”, Acts 10:42. How will this happen?
Matt 25:31-33 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left. NLT
So, believers are welcomed into heaven, while unbelievers will go to eternal punishment (vs. 46). There is a heaven and hell. (more in two weeks). Hell is eternal separation from God. Jesus is returning to judge all and we will be held accountable for our life. Accepting or rejecting Jesus will determine whether He will accept or reject us.
II. When Does Jesus Return?
Video: Thoughts on the end times (1:00, sermonspice.com)
Are we living in the end times? YES. I believe that Jesus could return at any moment. The end times really began when Jesus ascended into Heaven as the NT writers were already looking for His return.(1 Peter 4:7, He 1:1-2, Phil 4:5, James 5:8). I know some don’t like this answer and want me to pick apart Daniel and Revelation. Every generation has looked at the circumstances that they were in and thought that these are what precede His coming. What circumstances?
Matt 24:4-8 Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, 5 for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. 6 And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. 7 Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. 8 But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come. NLT
So, all have thought their generation could be the one. Were they wrong to think Jesus would come? Here is what Peter said to mockers as they believed Jesus return was imminent:
2 Peter 3:8-9 But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. 9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. NLT
God wants all to come to Him. He created time, lives beyond time and is not bound by time. So, a checklist is not how we determine if it is time for His return. 2000 years seems a long time for us to wait but it is not long for God. The real issue is that He is coming back and we need to be ready.