The Imminent Return of Jesus Christ
The Imminent Return of Jesus Christ
In thinking about the Imminent Return of Jesus Christ, I want to begin with the verses that relate to us the events at the Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. We read in Acts 1:9-11, “And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, 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.”
These are the events that follow upon the heels of the Great Commission and the Words of Jesus Christ at the beginning of this chapter. These are the things that take place upon the last sight that the Disciples and the Church have of their Beloved Saviour. The Words that the Lord Jesus left with His disciples; the charge that He gave to His Church; the hope that He planted in their hearts; these have continued from that time, even to the present time. Spanning the globe to wherever the people of God are, and filling the hearts of God’s faithful servants in every generation, is the hope and the expectation of the Imminent Return of Jesus Christ. Even down to our day and time – this is the Hope of the Christian – the Return of the Lord Jesus Christ and the events that accompany His Return when He catches away His people – both the living and the dead. The Dead in Christ shall be raised, and then both those who are raised, and those who are still alive, will be caught up in the clouds to meet with, and then to be with, Jesus Christ!
It is in this hope and expectation that we labor and love in the Cause of Christ. We have so much to look forward to, and we have so much to recompense to our Saviour. What He did for us in His first Coming – to save our souls; and what He will do for us when He comes again – to take us to be with Him. This is our inspiration, and this is the very essence and meaning of our existence in this world – or at least, this should be the case.
Let’s think for a while today about the Return of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us consider the manner of His Coming, and the affect that His Coming – and our expectation of His Coming – should have in our lives.
Merriam-Webster Online defines Imminent as ready to take place; hanging threateningly over one’s head. I like to consider this, in a positive way, as we consider the Return of the Lord Jesus Christ. Certainly, it is threatening when considered from the perspective of the unsaved; but it is very promising when considered from the perspective of the saved.
A passage that verifies the fact that the Return of the Lord is Imminent, is found in Rom. 13:11-12. “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.” We are also instructed in the Epistle of James, “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.” (Jas. 5:7-9.)
I like the many times that we are exhorted to be Patient. You know, when we are told to be Patient, as we wait for the Coming of the Lord, we are not to be Patient in such a way that would manifest a certain Depressing and Exhausted waiting. No, we are to be Patient in this way: we are to be Eagerly Anticipating the Return of the Lord – but not be overly disappointed when He doesn’t come on any particular day. Our Patience should be of such a Nature that Anxiously and Eagerly Expect the Lord’s Return. The reason that we are exhorted to have Patience, is because the Lord wants us to constantly and fervently Expect His Return, and therefore He want us to demonstrate Patience when the Eagerly Anticipated Event doesn’t occur. He doesn’t want us to stop Expecting His Return; and He doesn’t want us to get Tired and Give up; but He wants us to Incorporate Patience into our Eager Anticipation. Remember, we are His Servants, and therefore we are at His Disposal, and we are Subject to the Times and Places that He has Appointed. Peter tells us, “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2Pet. 3:8-9.)
Waiting doesn’t mean to Stand Around
Notice from our text verses, that the two men ask the disciples, “…why stand ye gazing up into heaven?” I would like to consider this question while also noticing what the Lord admonishes us to be doing, when He spoke of His Return. We read in Mt. 24:42, “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” Then we read in Mt. 24:44, “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” And we read further in Mt. 24:46, “Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.” So, when we put all of these verses together, we see that the two men questioned the disciples about why they were gazing up into heaven. And the Words of the Lord make it clear that we are to be Watching (Mt. 24:42); Ready (Mt. 24:44); and Doing (Mt. 24:46). So, though we are told to Watch and Look, this doesn’t mean that’s all that we do – especially physically. Our manner should be to be always Looking for and Expecting the Return of the Lord, but our lives should be busy about Working and Obeying.
We read in Mt. 9:37-38, “Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.” And then we read the Words of the Lord in Jn. 9:4, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh when no man can work.” These verses indicate that there are some tasks for us to fulfill, and there are some responsibilities that we have to tend to until the Lord Jesus Christ returns.
It is true that we should also, as we Eagerly Anticipate the Lord’s Return, refrain from Evil. We are told in Rom. 13:11-14, “And that knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.” Once again, here find the illustration of Light vs. Dark. In a sense, it is Dark while we wait for the coming of the Lord. I know that Jesus previously has referred to the fact that we must labor while it is day. But Jesus is making reference to the fact that men cannot work in the dark – and we cannot work on this earth once we are removed from it. Paul is telling us that True Light will come with Jesus Christ – for He is the Light. And, since we so Eagerly Anticipate and Await the Coming of the Light (Jesus Christ), shouldn’t we, while we are here on this earth, live lives that are spent seeking the Light and the things of the Light, rather than seeking the Darkness and the things of the Dark?
The Jesus that comes back will be the “Same Jesus”
I like the way that our text verses tell us, “…this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as he have seen him go into heaven.” When we concentrate on the fact that it is the same Jesus that returns unto us, it gives us great joy. The same Jesus that loved and cared for His People while He was here on this earth, is coming again! The same Jesus that was willing to Live, Bleed, Suffer, and Die for His People, is coming again! We don’t have to worry about Him changing His Mind, or changing His Attitude – He will return as the same Jesus. Heb. 13:8 tells us, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.” As the One Who loves Us, Died for us, and keeps us in the Beloved. He has done so much for us, and He will not stop now!
What we can say about the Saviour in His Second Coming, is that in His Second Coming He will come to Judge. I know that in His First Coming He came to Save. “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matt 1:21) Jesus Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost. He didn’t come, the first time, to judge, but to save. Indeed, men are fully capable of condemning themselves! But we need God to save us! Now that the salvation – the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins – has been accomplished, when He comes again, the judgment of the world will be on His agenda. In His Second Coming, He will come as the Judge of all the Earth. “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31)
The same Jesus is both Saviour and Judge. Sometimes we forget that He is Judge, and think only of His role as Saviour. But let us not forget that He will Judge the quick and the dead at His Appearing. This same Jesus Who loves us, is coming back for us. He will judge the world for their rejection of Him, but He will rescue and retrieve His people who are destined to be forever with Him. We, too, belong to Jesus – just as certainly as did Peter, James, and John. We love the Same Saviour! We are saved and redeemed by the Same Saviour! We will be forever with the Same Jesus!
The “Like Manner” of His Return
I believe that our text verses make it clear to us that Jesus will return in the Clouds, just as He Ascended up into the Clouds. Remember, our text verses tell us that Jesus “…shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” And our text verses tell us that Jesus, “…when he had spoken these things, while they beheld he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.”
It behooves us to be reminded that our salvation – and our Saviour – is not of this world. Though He condescended to take upon Him flesh, and though He lived, suffered, bled, and died as a man in this world; still, He is God, and His Place is in Heaven. It is to Heaven that He has gone, and it is from Heaven that He will come again. The Apostles and the First Church watched as He ascended into Heaven, having accomplished Salvation for each of those who are ordained unto Eternal Life. Those who are alive at His Coming – Oh, may that be you and I! – will witness His Return from Heaven, and see Him passing through the skies, as He rescues us from this sin-cursed world, and takes us to where we belong – in the Presence of the Son of God and the Saviour of Men!
Because of the Words that the Lord Jesus Christ uttered as He prepared to ascend into Heaven; and because of the words uttered by the angels after the Lord had departed into the clouds; we must eagerly, patiently, and diligently anticipate the Return of the Lord, and look for His Coming in the Air. We read in 1Thess. 4:16-18, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” The Lord Jesus Christ told the people to expect something from above. He said, “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Lk. 21:27-28.)
I want to close by making some practical application of these versed and teachings concerning the Imminent Return of Jesus Christ.
Undoubtedly, if you believe that the Return of Jesus Christ is Imminent; and if you believe that when He returns you will be taken up out of this world; and if you believe that you will give account for your actions in this life; how important it should be for you to Follow and Serve the Lord Jesus Christ! To follow Him today! To follow Him tomorrow! To follow Him all the days that intervene between now and His Coming Again!
In a previous point I mentioned how that when Jesus returns He will return as a Judge. Well, did you notice that in some of the verses that I used, the writer was even addressing the saved? Remember that Paul charged Timothy (who was a saved individual and even an elder in the Church) that the Lord Jesus Christ will “…judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;” (2Tim. 4:1.) And Paul also told the Corinthians, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it b good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.” (2Cor. 5:10-11.) At some point each of us will stand before the Judgement Seat of Christ. At that time we will give account of ourselves and of our labors and of our devotion unto Jesus Christ. He is the Hope and Expectation of every Christian. But, I wonder, how many times have you and I let other desires, and other hopes, and other aspirations intrude upon our faith and service unto God? It would behoove us to do more, and to be more of what God would have us to do and be. His Return is upon us! Redeem the time!
Still, though the nearness and the expectation and the certain abruptness of His Coming should be a motivation for us to serve Him; the best motivation, and the sincerest service should be rendered as we demonstrate an eager desire, and a hopeful demeanor, and a joyful countenance at the prospect of Jesus Christ coming unto us to take us to be with Him. What a joy is ours! How happy we should be! Our Saviour loves us and is coming for us! Not all the world and death and hell and Satan and all his demons, can take away this hope and joy, nor prevent the Saviour Coming Again for His beloved people! Look up, Brothers and Sisters! The time draws near! Let us Rejoice and Anticipate His Coming!