ChristadelphianBooksOnline
Rick O'Connor
The Things Of The Kingdom And The Things Of The Name
Exceeding Great And Precious Promises

CHRIST’S RETURN AND OUR RESPONSIBILITY

The Second Coming of Christ

There are literally hundreds of references in the Bible to the second coming of Jesus Christ. This shows that it is a vital part of God’s plan which we cannot overlook.

After Christ’s resurrection, he was seen by the disciples for “forty days and was speaking of the things pertaining of the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:5)

They asked him in v.6: “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”

They hadn’t grasped that he was to go into heaven in order to receive title to the kingdom and then return. He therefore tells them in v.7. that only God knows the time for the establishment of the kingdom.

They then watched him being taken from their sight into heaven. Though they did not know how long he would be away, two angels assured them of his return:

“Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven, This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, SHALL SO COME in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11)

The last book of the Bible confirms his return:

Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him...” (Revelation 1:7)

Peter declared:

“...the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ ...whom the heaven must receive UNTIL the times of restitution of all things” (i.e. the kingdom of God) (Acts 3:19-21)

In 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 we see that when Christ returns he will firstly raise the dead in Christ.


Resurrection the Gateway to Life

Jesus Christ died, was buried and rose again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). He declares:

“I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore and have the keys of death and hell” (Revelation 1:18)

All men sin and die and were it not for Jesus Christ they would remain forever dead without hope (read 1 Corinthians 15:16-21). There is an order of resurrection:


The doctrine of the resurrection is clearly taught in both Testaments. The prophet Daniel states:

Many of then that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2)

Also look at Isaiah 26:14 and contrast it with v.19. Resurrection for some is clearly taught.

Jesus spoke of a coming day of resurrection:

“The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live...all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:25,28,29)

Resurrection was the hope of both Abraham and David, and will be the only way they can receive the promise God made to them. In John 11 we have a moving account of the resurrection of Lazarus. In v11;13 Lazarus is spoken of “as sleeping” - this is the Scriptural term for those who die having the hope of resurrection. Martha, a sister of Lazarus, confesses her faith in Jesus (vv21-22). Jesus tells her Lazarus will rise again (v23). Her response is a confession of her understanding of the resurrection “at the last day” (v25). Jesus tells Martha (vv25-26) that HE IS THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE - those who die believing in him will not remain dead eternally. As a demonstration of this he raised Lazarus from death (vv43-44). Truly he holds “The keys of death and hell” (Revelation 1:18).


Judgement and Reward

When Christ returns he firstly raises the responsible dead and judges them. (2 Timothy 4:1-2)

We already saw in Isaiah 26 and Daniel 12 that not all the dead are raised. Those who are responsible (i.e. answerable) to God’s judgment are raised. (see Romans 2:6-16) Verse 16 points out they are judged according to the gospel. Both 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4 speak of “the dead in Christ” being raised. Why?

God will not judge someone as being unworthy of something he knew nothing about. That judgment is on the basis of the gospel, is again clearly shown in John 12:47-48 - they will be judged according to the word.

Christ is the Judge (John 5:22) because being son of man he knows that which tempts man (John 2:25).

There will be a bar of judgement before which the accountable must stand. The secrets of their hearts will be revealed (Romans 2:16, see also 1 Timothy 5:24). We must give a personal account before the Judge. (Romans 14:12)

Having been bodily raised (there is no other type of resurrection) they will receive through the body (“in body” 2 Corinthians 5:10) according to their deeds. (2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 2:2,6) This means that sentence, or acquittal, will be the result.

The reward for the acquitted is eternal life. (Romans 6:23; 1 Corinthians 15:52-54; 2 Timothy 4:6-8) These will be united with the Lord Jesus Christ. (Revelation 19:7)

The rejected will be sent from the presence of Jesus Christ in anguish (“weeping and gnashing of teeth” - see Luke 13:28). For them is reserved the second death. (Revelation 20:6)

All of these passages relate to a personal judgement, but God will also judge the world because of its wickedness:

“God has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he has ordained, whereof he has given assurance unto all men in that he has raised him from the dead.” (Acts 17:31)

“...for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” (Isaiah 26:9)

This global judgement will follow the personal judgement. Peter says:

“Judgement must begin at the house of God.” (1 Peter 4:17-19)


The Kingdom of God

God’s purpose with the earth is to fill it with His glory. (Numbers 14:21) The return of Jesus Christ is essential to achieve this result.

He is to be the King on the throne of David. (Luke 1:32; Isaiah 9:7) Those judged worthy will rule with him. (Matthew 19:28; Revelation 5:9-10)

The nations, unaware of his return (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3), prepare for war. (Joel 3:9) The Bible speaks of Russia’s moves for world conquest in Ezekiel 38. The great battle of Armageddon will be God’s means of disciplining the nations. (Revelation 16:14-16)

The ownership of Jerusalem will be a key factor in initiating this war. (Zechariah 12:2-3) All nations will be drawn into the land of Israel to settle the issue. (Zechariah 14:2) The result will be the outpouring of God’s fury (Ezekiel 38:18) and his exaltation in the eyes of the nations. (Ezekiel 38:16,25; Revelation 19:15)

God will destroy those who would destroy the earth (read carefully Revelation 11:18). This is described as a sacrifice in which the justice of God in His vengeance upon the nations is acknowledged. (Ezekiel 39:17,19)

Daniel spoke of the overthrow of a great image by a stone as representing the overthrow of the kingdoms of men by the kingdom of God:

“In the days... shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed... it shall... consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” (Daniel 2:44)

“The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and His Christ.” (Revelation 11:15)

The duration of the kingdom is spoken of as a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4,6) Jerusalem will be the governmental centre of the world. (Micah 4:2)

A temple will be built at Jerusalem for the nations to worship there (“a house of prayer for all people” - Isaiah 56:7) and the nations will be called to come up and worship. (Zechariah 14:16) If they do not respond to this decree they will be punished. (Zechariah 14:17-19) Most will willingly respond:

“Come let us go up ... to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” (Micah 4:2)

The economies of the nations will be adjusted to a rural basis

“They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Micah 4:3-4)

In that day God will remove the ignorance of the nations.(Isaiah 25:7-9) The same prophet tells us that wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of his times. (Isaiah 33:6)

The scriptures abound with a picture of the conditions that will exist in the kingdom. Note the following points:

  1. a rejoicing in Jerusalem and being joyful in the Jews (Isaiah 65:18)
  2. a just and equitable rule for all classes of society (Psalm 72:2,12,13)
  3. lasting and true peace (Psalm 72:3,7)
  4. increased life expectancy (Isaiah 65:20)
  5. a secure inheritance (Isaiah 65:21-22; Micah 4:4)
  6. an abundance of food (Psalm 72:16)
  7. godly reverence and continual prayer (Psalm 72:5,16)
  8. these conditions are summarised as all nations being blessed in Christ (Psalm 72:17)
  9. the result is the purpose for which the kingdom was established - “the earth filled with God’s glory.” (Psalm 72:19)

A glorious picture of the results of the kingdom is seen in Revelation 21. Just a few of its expressions are listed below:

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow or crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21:4, read also vv23-27)

What a glorious hope the Scriptures offer! What a wonderful privilege to inherit the Kingdom with Abraham’s and David’s seed, even the Lord Jesus Christ!


The Kingdom Restored

The Kingdom of God was established in the past in Israel - and will be established again in fulfillment of God’s promise to David, 2 Samuel 7:10-16.

This promise guarantees:

To establish both kingdom and throne of David and his “seed” for ever
(vv 12,13,16)

Bible testimony is clear that the Kingdom of God existed in the past on this earth. In fact, the Kingdom of Israel was the Kingdom of God:


When Christ returns and restores the Kingdom of God:


It is clear that Christ’s coming Kingdom is on this earth because:


As a result of the establishing of the Kingdom of God by Christ:



The Condition of Mankind in the New World Order under Christ

Isaiah 65:16-25 describes the blessings of mankind under Christ:

v16
Former troubles forgotten


vvl7-19
A new world order centred on Jerusalem a source of happiness to all


v20
Sickness and death held at bay


vv21-23
War and rapine will not rob God’s people of God’s blessings


v24
God will hasten to respond to His people’s appeals for help


v25
All nature will be pacified. Hurt and destruction will cease.


Christ’s Return and Your Responsibility

Mankind perplexed, in anguish, with no way out - death - Luke 21:25-36

Christ will return to punish wickedness and rescue the world from itself - Acts 1:11; Revelation 1:7; Acts 17:31

This hope comforts true disciples of Christ - 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 5:2,23. 2 Thessalonians 1:7; 2:1,8; 3:5

Summary of Judgement

Christ will raise his disciples from death - John 5:25,28; John 11:23-26; Daniel 12:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:22-23; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17

All, good and bad, disciples judged by Christ - 2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:12; 1 Timothy 5:24-25; Romans 2:6-16

Faithful rewarded eternal life; wicked punished with eternal death - Daniel 12:2; Romans 2:6-10; Matthew 25:31-46

God Shall Judge in Righteousness

God the judge of all - Hebrews 12:23

Christ, judge of men appointed by God - Acts 17:31; John 5:27

The criterion for assessment of behaviour - the Word of God - John 12:48. The ecclesia first to be judged - 1 Peter 4:17. All responsible, both living and resurrected, are judged - Romans 2:6-16; 1 Thessalonians 4:16. Both righteous and wicked are arraigned - Matthew 25:31.

All give a personal account of their deeds - Romans 14:12.

Secret thoughts and deeds are then brought to light - Romans 2:16; 1 Timothy 5:24; 1 Corinthians 4:5. Christ judges according to our deeds - 2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 2:2,6. Rewards and retribution affect us bodily - 2 Corinthians 5:10.

The righteous rewarded with eternal life - Romans 2:7; Matthew 25:46. The disobedient rejected and cast back into the world Matthew 25:44-46; 22:13 to perish in World War III then raging - Matthew 25:41 cf. Revelation 19:20.

The likely place of Christ’s judgment seat - Sinai – Habakkuk 3:3; Deuteronomy 33:2; Psalm 68:17. A specific place appointed - Romans 14:10. Concealed from the world - Isaiah 26:20.

Believers are not to judge each other - Romans 14:10; Matthew 7:1. But, each believer should judge himself - 1 Corinthians 11:31-32.


The Kingdom of God is Among You:

Does the Bible support the view that the Kingdom of God is not geopolitical, but “spiritual” or in believers’ hearts?


BUT CONSIDER:



Christ Will Return from Heaven Personally – Bodily - Visibly



Christ’s Return and the Kingdom of God



Our Hope, but not Our Home, in Heaven

John 3:13
No man hath ascended up to heaven, but... the Son of Man ...


Acts 2:34
David (a man after God’s own heart - Acts 13:22) is not ascended into the heavens


Psalm 115:16
The heaven, even the heavens, are Yahweh’s: but the earth hath He given to the children of men


John 13:33
Whither I (Jesus) go, ye cannot come... and if I go... I will come again... that where I am, there ye may be also - John 14:3-4



The Essential Steps to Salvation

God’s call by the gospel - 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14

Belief of the gospel - Romans 1:16-17

Baptism into Christ - Mark 16:15-16

A life of faithful obedience - Romans 6:1,11-19

Gracious bestowal by God of immortality on all whom Christ judges to have fulfilled the first four steps - 2 Peter 1:2-11


Personal Responsibility

The God who calls us is our Creator, Owner and Master - 1 Timothy 6:15. His command is law and absolutely binding on us - 2 Peter 2:21; Psalm 105:7-10; Acts 17:30. God’s command is to believe the Gospel and be baptised - Mark 16:15-16; Acts 10:47-48.

Any who do not believe will be held guilty and condemned - Mark 16:16; John 12:47-49; Romans 2:1-5,12; John 9:39-41; John 15:22,24; Amos 3:2; Luke 12:47-48; Acts 24:24-25.

Any who understand the Gospel yet refuse to obey it will be resurrected to face Christ’s judgment - John 12:48; Romans 2:1-5,12-16.

But those obedient to the Gospel will be rewarded with far exceeding blessing - Romans 2:6-7, 2 Corinthians 4:17-18.

God richly blesses us with strength to obey, persevere and overcome - Philippians 2:12-13 Ephesians 3:14-20; Romans 8:31-39.


Believing the Gospel

We were created to please God - Revelation 4:11

We please Him by hearing and obeying His Word - 1 Samuel 15:22-23

So belief of the Gospel is an indispensable condition for salvation - Romans 1:15-17; Hebrews 11:6; 1 Corinthians 15:1-2


Baptism is the Essential Consequence of Faith

Mark 16:15-16; Acts 8:12; 2:38-41; 10:48; 8:38; 1 Peter 3:21

Baptism introduces us into Christ - Matthew 28:19; Galatians 3:27

By it our sins are “washed away” - Acts 22:16

Baptism is essential to righteousness - Matthew 3:15

The form of baptism is immersion - John 13:26; Luke 16:24

Hence it depends on “much water” - John 3:23

Baptism signifies death, burial and resurrection to a new way of life - Romans 6:1-7 And it demands a change in all who believe Ephesians 4:21-24


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