Acts 1:1-11 (NLT)
“In my first book I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit. During the forty days after his crucifixion, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God. Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?” He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. “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!”
The story of Jesus does not end with the resurrection.
He appears for forty days to his disciples.
He ate with them.
He talked with them.
He taught Scripture to them.
After those forty days he ascended into heaven where he sat down at the right hand of God.
God did more than raise Jesus from the dead.
He has exalted him to His own right hand, the place of all power and all authority from which Jesus will come again.
I want to put several questions before you today.
1. WHY ISN’T THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST TAKEN SERIOUSLY?
a) Because the resurrection is not regarded as fact.
It’s difficult to believe in a returning Christ when one still has the picture of a dead Christ, a dead Christ who is not coming back.
Only a living Jesus can return.
Jesus is alive.
A living Christ is a returning Christ.
b) Because there has been such a long time elapse between the resurrection and this present moment.
After all it’s been well over 2000 years since that earth-splitting event on the first Easter week-end.
We remember though the word of the apostle Peter that a day with the Lord is as a thousand years.
Using those kinds of calculations Jesus has only been gone into heaven for two days on God’s timetable.
Just two days.
Martin Luther used to say,
“I live as though Jesus Christ died yesterday, rose again today and is returning tomorrow.”
I’m glad that the Lord has taken a long time to return.
That He gave me a chance to get to know Him!
And you may in your own lifetime too be grateful that the Lord has delayed his coming.
It’s made it possible for you to be included in that number.
Another reason why the Second Coming may be disbelieved is that,
c) Because there has been at times a lack of credibility among Christians due to the speculative emphasis upon the Lord’s return.
So many books written of speculative nature, naming the AntiChrist, the False Prophet, and the beast of Revelation, etc…
These writings have many times discredited the biblical teaching on the Second Coming.
The Lord here specifically tells his disciples that we not only won’t know the date but the times are in his hands as well.
And that it is not for us to know.
Let us not be driven away from the biblical teaching of the Lord’s return by a lack of credibility on the part of some.
Another reason why the Lord’s coming may not be believed is that
d) Because we might prefer that our lives not be interrupted.
C. S. Lewis puts it this way,
“The doctrine of the Second Coming may be to some people intolerably frustrating. Perhaps you were going to get married next month. Perhaps you were going to get a raise next week. Or perhaps you were on the edge of a great discovery and now of all moments Christ may come again!”
Ever felt that way?
I suppose the church when it is in ease and not having any persecution would just assume that Christ not return.
It’s when it’s suffering that we say “I wish Christ would come and get me out of this.”
I would like to say this.
Whatever it is that you wish to experience, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ will be better.
When it happens you’ll not want to trade a thing – even marriage for the Second Coming of the Lord.
Another reason why the Second Coming of the Lord is disbelieved is
e) Because it seems scientifically impossible.
Look at the Scripture we’ve read today.
The Lord is simply lifted up into heaven.
And He will simply return from heaven.
Then picture the fact that we sent men into the space, on the moon, around the earth and what was involved in that.
Then look at Jesus.
He simply went up.
And he didn’t go into orbit either.
He went all the way!
Not in the dim recesses of ten thousand light years out there somewhere.
He’s not still traveling ten million light years later.
But in an instant he stepped from this earth, completely outside of his creation, past all the galaxies, past the distances of space flung into space by his own fingers, he stepped out of all of that into the very presence of God. In a moment.
We look at that and say, How can that be?
We don’t understand that scientifically.
There are a lot of things people didn’t understand a few years ago that we’re understanding now.
It seems to be that when we’re with the Lord we’ll understand all of that too.
God in Christ is way ahead of us in the ascension and in the return.
Our bodies are going to be made like Christ.
Faster than the speed of light is the speed of God.
Another reason why the Second Coming of the Lord may not be believed is
f) Because we may not be ready to meet Him when He comes.
And who wants Christ to return if you’re not ready to meet him?
There are things we can do about that.
2. WHY IS THE LORD RETURNING?
a) Because He said he would.
Jesus is a person of integrity.
When I give my word to somebody I intend to keep it.
When Jesus gives His word He not only intends to keep it but He has the power to keep it.
He’ll be true to his own nature and his word.
He said He would and He will.
Another reason why he’s coming back
b) Because He plans a deliverance for us.
There are some things He’s going to deliver us from.
He’s going to once and for all deliver us from death.
– He will deliver us from death.
Alexander McClaren the great Scottish preacher said this,
“The early church thought more about the second coming of Christ than about death or heaven. They were not looking for a cleft in the ground called a grave but for a cleavage in the sky called glory. They were not looking for the undertaker but for the upper-taker.”
He comes to deliver us from the awful wrath of God,
– He will deliver us from the anger of God.
1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 (NLT)
For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.
– He will deliver us from the curse.
That is the bondage that mankind is in because of his fall into sin.
A bondage which has brought tears and mourning and crying and death and pain and isolation.
The Lord is coming also,
c) Because he wants us to be forever with Him.
When we will see Jesus all the weights, burdens, short-comings and problems of this life will vanish in an instant!
Whenever you’re tempted to have fears of what is going on in the afterlife and what happens after death there need be no fear if we know who’s on the other side!
Jesus is there and He wants us to be with Him forever.
Not only is Jesus there and coming for us but He’s preparing a place for those who love Him.
2 Timothy 4:6-8 (NLT)
As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.
There’s a tremendous degree of difference between preparing a place and preparing a place for someone you love.
Anybody can prepare a place – anybody can clean house.
But to prepare a place for someone you love.
He said to his disciples, I go away and prepare a place for you. And he is in love with us. The place that he’s preparing is tremendously special.
1 Corinthians 2:9 (NLT)…
That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”
But God has already revealed it to us by the Holy Spirit.
Christ is returning, because he wants us to be forever with him.
Another reason why Christ is coming again is,
d) Because without His coming we cannot go on developing our God given potential.
Death catches us in that potential.
Our bodies grow old while our minds are growing better.
That’s a strange anomaly, paradox!
That just when we’re getting wise and smart and mature and knowing how to love it seems like it’s all over.
It doesn’t make sense.
Indeed it doesn’t, as someone has said,
“I wonder what I was begun for when I am so soon done for.”
The Lord says that’s not the case at all.
He’s coming that we might be forever with Him and be made like Him for we shall see Him as he is.
1 John 3:2-3
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
If you picture heaven as a boring place where you sit around in a rocker all day and sing hymns and songs, you have the wrong idea of heaven.
There is a sense in which heaven will be the expansion of the personhood that God has allowed us to be when He created us in His own image.
Within a chicken’s egg there is a life.
But it is a shut life.
The wings are in the shell but they are shut up.
There is a sense that now we are in that shell waiting for the wider life which Christ will bring for us.
It doesn’t make sense that death should be the end of everything that we are!
It doesn’t make sense that we should be this complicated a mechanism, and then we just disappear into oblivion, nothingness!
God has planned that we should live eternally!
God has not created us in his image to bring us to a place to be smashed in a thousand pieces.
He intends for us to develop the potential that he’s placed within us.
His return is a way, if we have died, of our being translated to be with him.
Or if we are alive when he comes of being caught up to meet him so we can continue.
Lastly Christ will also return,
e) Because He will establish His eternal reign of justice.
To pass sentence in judgment upon our lives as believers, on unbelievers, on the antichrist and false prophet, upon Satan himself.
Isaiah 9:6-7 (NLT)
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!
Without knowing what is at the end of life would be like trying to play a football game without a goal line or goal post.
The Lord has told us that Heb will return.
What must our response be to the knowledge of Christ’s returning?
I think it’s a very simple response that can be summed up in three words:
TO BE READY!
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘When I come again will I find faith on the earth?’
What better response can we have than a response that says, Lord we’ll be here.
We’ll be ready to meet you.
What must we do to be ready to meet the Lord when he comes again?
Some people make no preparation for eternity, the most important trip of all.
The basic question about eternity and being right to meet the Lord is simply is our heart right with God?
Have we received Jesus Christ into our life as Lord and Saviour?
If the Lord were to return today, do you have the confidence that you would meet him?
That confidence doesn’t come because you’re a good, perfect person.
(When asked that question, people are so ready to tell you why they are worthy on their own!)
It comes because on the hill called Calvary, Jesus the perfect man, the perfect God man too your place and mine and bore our sins in His body on the tree and proved that He was our sin bearer and the one that would be our bridge to God.
He proved that by rising again from the dead.
He says if you will believe in your heart and confess it with your lips you will be saved.
You’ll be part of that bride of Christ, which waits for him to come again.
This hope galvanizes us, purifies us, prepares us.