Summary: Jesus’ Second Coming is rich news to those who are hurting. All the pain and suffering of our lives will not last forever. As one pastor recently said, “The promise of the second coming shows us the ‘good ole days are always ahead of us.”
Several weeks ago, I asked for your help in your choice of today’s sermon. Your top choice was “When Will Jesus Return to Earth?” But a little analysis of the results led us to understand that it was really only this early service that asked for this topic. So … in the next couple of services, the sermon will be on “What is the Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?” I recognize many of you will be studying Matthew 24 in just a few moments during Bible study. So, you will receive a “double-dose” of Jesus’ Second Coming today. But remember, You Asked for It ?.
Judgment Day is Good News
Tom Howard wrote a book some years ago called Chance or the Dance. He says either you have Judgment Day, which many of the religions of the world believe, or you don’t have Judgment Day. If Judgment Day is really true, that means everything means something. Follow the logic with me. If Judgment Day is really true, that means everything means something. Nothing is forgotten. Good deeds, bad deeds … everything means something. Or the other hand, if there is no Judgment Day… …if the planet just dies, if the sun burns out… … then human injustice goes on unpunished and nothing means anything. In essence, you have two choices … you have two views of life. Either everything means something, or nothing means anything. What is it that distinguishes those two views? Judgment Day. Judgment Day is very good news. Judgment Day means you will not be forgotten. God sees. God knows.
What is the Second Coming of Jesus? The New Testament repeatedly announces that Jesus Christ will on day return. Known as the Second Coming of Jesus, Christ’s return marks at least four aspects. Jesus’ Return marks the end of history where He destroys His enemies (Matthew 24:3). Jesus’ Return means He will raise the dead in order to judge the living and the dead (John 5:28-29). Jesus’ Return brings the faithful to their reward (Romans 8:17-18). Jesus’ Return sets in motion the new heavens and new earth (2 Peter 3:10-13).
Now, there are usually two emotions that are sparked when you consider the end times: intrigue and confusion. My hope is to turn down the volume on your confusion while turning up the volume on your intrigue. Today, I want to pull back the curtain on Jesus’ return with you by answering three questions concerning the Second Coming: What is the Second Coming, Why Should I Care about the Second Coming, and When is the Second Coming? To address our questions, I invite you to turn to 1 and 2 Thessalonians. It looks like Paul wrote these letters to believers in the church Thessalonica who were confused about their friends, other believers, who had died when they expected Jesus to return. Essentially, Paul says those who do before Jesus’ return are at no disadvantage from those believers in Christ who are alive at Christ’s return.
1. The Essence of His Coming
What is the Second Coming? The second coming is at its essence, Jesus returning. The angels predicted Jesus’ return (Acts 1:11). The apostles predicted Jesus’ return (Acts 3:20-21). And last by not least, Jesus Himself predicted His return (Matthew 24:30). With all this in our background, look at Paul’s description of the Second Coming in 1 Thessalonians: “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17)
The Second Coming is referred to as a “meeting in the air” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. The word “meeting” is the same word Jesus used to refer to His Second Coming in a parable: “But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’” (Matthew 25:6)
1.1 He Comes Personally
“For the Lord himself will descend…” (1 Thessalonians 4:16a) Jesus doesn’t send an angel or an apostle or a pastor, but He comes personally. Why make a big deal about the Second Coming? Because this is a personal coming of Jesus, it is not a deputy of Jesus or representative of Jesus. Instead, we can expect Jesus Himself. Three sounds will mark His arrival: a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God (1 Thessalonians 4:16b). All of this means He’s coming is a really big deal.
1.2 He Raises the Dead at His Return
Since the Jesus who is coming is the Jesus who died and rose again, He will also bring with dead who are now risen. When Jesus comes, we are told the dead will be brought back to life: “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep” (1 Thessalonians 4:14). Jesus said on one occasion: “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live” (John 5:25). “Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28-29). Just a Jesus spoke to Lazarus’ tomb after Lazarus had been dead three days when he said, “Lazarus, come out.” (John 11:43-44). Paul assures believers that the resurrection of dead believers precedes the gathering of believers who are still alive.