The return of the Lord Jesus Christ is mentioned 318 times in the 260 chapters of the New Testament, or once in about every 25 verses. The first person who preached about it was Enoch, the seventh direct descendant from Adam, Genesis 5:21; Jude 1:14. The last words of the Lord Jesus Christ in the New Testament are about His return, Revelation 22:20. Almost every one of the 27 books of the New Testament mentions it. It is therefore a very important subject.
The Lord Jesus Christ Himself will come again before He begins to rule over the earth for 1000 years.
The New Testament is divided into four parts: the Gospels, the Acts, the Epistles and Revelation. Let us look at verses in each of these parts.
He told His disciples that He was going away to prepare a place for them, and that He would come back to take them to be with Himself, John 14:2,3. He made this promise to comfort them on the evening before His death. Some people believe that this promise refers to the day of Pentecost; others say it means that the Lord comes to each believer when he dies. Let us therefore ask, ''How may we know that Christ did not refer to Pentecost?'' We know that He was not thinking of Pentecost because most of the verses telling of His future coming were written after Pentecost.
Read Acts 3:20, 1 Corinthians 1:7, and 2 Thessalonians 1:7 and answer these questions:
The Lord did not mean 'death' when He spoke about His return. Death is just the opposite to the Lord's return. Christ's coming will change all that death has done to the bodies of God's people for the past 6,000 years!
Our Lord must return Himself. He promised He would and He cannot break His Word.
We now turn to Acts, [a] book of history in the New Testament. In chapter 1 verses 9 to 11, we see the One who is coming again. The Lord Jesus will come back the same way He went to heaven. Just as Isaac personally went out to meet Rebecca, his bride (Genesis 24:63-67), the Lord Jesus Himself will come again for His Church. This is what the Church is hoping for and looking forward to, Titus 2:13.
There are three reasons:
1. To show that His claims were true. After the high priest put Him on oath, at His trial, the Lord Jesus said (A) that He was the Son of God, (B) that He would sit on the right hand of God, and (C) that He would come again on the clouds of heaven, Matthew 26:64. He said these things several times while He was on earth. He will come back to show that He spoke the truth.
2. To take believers to heaven. He will take all true believers, both Old Testament saints and those of the present Church age. You will find more details about this in 1 Corinthians 15:51-58; Philippians 3:20,21; and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. Be sure to read these verses which explain the Saviour's promise in John 14. This event is called the Rapture of the Church. It will take place in secret and very suddenly. The Lord will select His own people and leave all others here on earth.
3. To rule over the world. The second coming of Christ will have two parts. He will first come in private (at the Rapture) and later in public.
His first coming was in two parts also, first in private and then in public. He came privately to Bethlehem and was welcomed only by some shepherds, the wise men, and a few other people. Then He came publicly when He entered Jerusalem as King and thousands of people saw Him, Matthew 21:1-9.
At the private part of His second coming, all dead saints will be raised, all living saints will be changed. The Lord will meet them in the air and take them to heaven with Him, 1 Thessalonians 4:17. Later when He comes in public, He will not come only to the air, but to the earth, and He will stand on the Mount of Olives, Zechariah 14:4.
One day the Lord and His disciples were on the Mount of Olives and He told them that He would come again on the clouds of heaven together with all the angels and all His people, Matthew 24:30; 25:31; 1 Thessalonians 3:13. This will take place at the end of the Great Tribulation. The wicked rulers of the world will have to stop persecuting the small group of Jewish believers because Christ will save His people.
Christ will then judge all the nations of the earth, Matthew 25:31-46. All those who have rebelled against God will be sent off to eternal punishment, together with Satan, their leader. Christ will set up His Millennial Kingdom with Jerusalem as the capital city, and He will rule over the earth for a thousand years, Revelation 20:1-6. Read also Isaiah 2:1-5; 4:2-6; 11:1-9; 35:1-10; Amos 9:13-15; Micah 4:3. These verses will tell you more about the Millennium.
We should always remember that the Lord might come at any minute; this will lead us to live pure and holy lives, 1 John 3:3. We hope that He will come soon, and this hope will make us more patient, James 5:7,8, and will help us to pray, 1 Peter 4:7. It will help us to earn a crown, 2 Timothy 4:5-8, it will fill our hearts with peace, Philippians 4:5-7, and keep us preaching the message of Christ, 2 Timothy 4:1,2. We should always keep busy in our work for the Lord, for He is coming soon to examine us and reward us for our service, 1 Corinthians 15:58.