Why Study the Second Coming?
Why is it important to know what the Bible teaches about the Second Coming?
The most thrilling, glorious, momentous, and climatic event in all of history is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. No theme in Scripture is more timely and important than this.
Doctrinal error about this all important subject generates confused thinking and frustrated living. Knowing the truth about the Second Coming, however, is as an anchor that gives steadfastness and stability to our lives.
Some say, “It doesn’t matter what you believe about the Second Coming—just be ready.” But how can one be ready if one doesn’t know what to be ready for?
Clearly, “if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (1 Cor. 14:8). Actually, to say it doesn’t matter what we believe on any point of doctrine is like saying that the Bible is unimportant, that opposing views are compatible, that ignorance is bliss, that error is harmless, that believers cannot be deceived, and that God does not hold us responsible to know the truth and to teach it to others.
Contrary to what many claim, knowing the truth about our Lord’s return is not a secondary issue. Consider eight scriptural reasons why knowing the truth about the Second Coming is of utmost importance.
1. The Second Coming is a major theme in Scripture.
A noted Bible teacher has pointed out that the teaching of the Bible concerning the Second Coming occupies more space in God’s Word than any other one doctrine and that it is the dominant prophetic theme in both the Old and New Testaments.
There are more than 300 references to the Second Coming in the New Testament alone. It was also declared by nearly all the Old Testament prophets from Enoch to Malachi. Enoch, the seventh from Adam and the great-grandfather of Noah, was the first man to prophecy about the coming of the Lord. According to Jude 14-16, he prophesied how and why our Lord is coming.
The Second Coming was also declared by Jesus on many occasions, by John the Baptist, by the angels at Jesus’ ascension, and without exception by every New Testament writer. The promise of Christ’s return is the last message from our ascended Lord. He said, “Surely I come quickly” (Rev. 22:12). It is also the theme of the last prayer in the Bible: “Even so, come Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20).
2. Knowing the truth about the Second Coming is important because it is our blessed hope and the completeness of our salvation.
The Bible teaches that the hope of the believer is a good hope (2 Thess. 2:16); a lively hope (1 Pet. 1:3); a sure and steadfast hope (Heb. 6:19); and a blessed hope (Titus 2:13). It is the hope of our Lord’s glorious appearing (Titus 2:13); the hope of the resurrection of the body (Acts 23:6); the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:7); and the hope of glory (Col. 1:27).
The Second Coming is not only our blessed hope but also the completeness of our salvation. Jesus’ first coming—and His death, resurrection, and ascension—find their completion in the Second Coming. In fact, the day of His coming is referred to as “the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30). Believers await that day for the redemption of the body (Rom. 8:23; Eph. 1:14). It will clearly be the day when they will be “caught up” and “obtain” the consummation of their salvation (compare 1 Thess. 4:16,17 with 5:9). In Scripture, the Second Coming is associated with salvation or redemption more than twenty times (Luke 21:28; Rom. 8:23; 13:11,12; Eph. 1:14; 4:30; 1 Thess. 5:8,9; 2 Thess. 2:1,13,14; 2 Tim. 2:10; Heb. 9:28; 10:37-39; 1 Pet. 1:5,9; 5:10; Rev. 7:10; 19:1; Isa. 25:9; 51:6,8,11; 60:16; Hos. 13:14).
To illustrate: Paul exhorted believers 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 armour of light” (Rom. 13:11,12). Peter proclaimed that “we are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet. 1:5). According to the prophet Isaiah, at the coming of the Lord and the resurrection of believers, they will joyfully proclaim, “Lo, this is our God, we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the L ord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation” (Isa. 25:9).
Therefore, since the Second Coming is our blessed hope and the completeness of our salvation, every believer has the responsibility to know what the Bible says about this very important subject and to share it with others (1 Pet. 3:15).
3. Knowing the truth about the Second Coming is important because Jesus and the apostles associated it with every aspect of wholesome Christian living and service.
Scripture indicates that man’s actions are influenced by what he believes (2 Tim. 2:16,23; 3:1-7). For example, there would be a wide difference between the conduct of a ship’s crew who knew that they were heading for a definite destination, and a crew who realized that they were drifting aimlessly without a definite course or destination.
Throughout the New Testament, the promise of the return of Christ is always associated with how we are to live in the light of such a promise. For instance, Jesus, when telling of His coming to “reward every man according to his works,” warned about the danger of gaining the whole world and losing one’s soul (Matt. 16:26,27). Also, when Peter wrote about “the promise of His coming,” he exhorted believers with these words, “Be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless” (2 Peter 3:14).
In fact, Jesus and the apostles associated the Second Coming and related events with at least 47 aspects of Christian living and service. They are as follows:
• Abiding in Jesus Christ (1 John 2:28)
• Always abounding in the work of the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58)
• Approving those things that are excellent (Phil. 1:10)
• Comforting troubled hearts (John 14:1-3; 17:24; 1 Thess. 4:13-5:10)
• Confessing Christ before men (Matt. 10:32,33)
• Contentment—not being preoccupied with money and material possessions (1 Tim. 6:13-15)
• Denying ungodliness and worldly lusts (Titus 2:11-13)
• Doing all things without murmuring and disputing (Phil. 2:14-16; James 5:9)
• Doing good works (Matt. 16:27; 25:31-46)
• Doing the will of God (Matt. 7:21,24; Heb. 10:36-39)
• Enduring tribulation (Matt. 24:9-13,21-24,29-31; Luke 18:7,8)
• Evangelizing and warning men to repent (Matt. 24:14; Acts 17:30,31; Rom. 2:4-11; 2 Pet. 3:9)
• Exercising faith to meet the future no matter how dark it looks (Luke 18:8; 2 Tim. 4:6-8; Heb. 10:32-39; 11:32-40; 1 Pet. 1:6-8)
• Exercising oneself to always have a good conscience (Acts 24:15,16)
• Fighting the good fight of faith (Luke 18:8; John 14:1-3; 2 Tim. 4:6-8)
• Fearing God (Matt. 10:28; 2 Cor. 5:10; Heb. 12:28; 1 Pet. 3:17)
• Fleeing the love of money (1 Tim. 6:6-14)
• Following peace with all men (Heb. 12:14; 2 Pet. 3:12-14)
• Gathering together for Christian fellowship (Heb. 10:24,25)
• Growing in grace (2 Pet. 3:18)
• Growing in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:14-18)
• Guarding against being overcome with the cares of life (Luke 21:34)
• Guarding one’s speech (Matt. 12:36,37)
• Having hope, which stimulates service and sustains in time of trial (Heb. 6:11-19; 2 Pet. 1:19).
• Increasing in love one to another (1 Thess. 3:12,13)
• Living a holy and godly life (Rom. 13:11-14; Titus 2:12,13; 1 Pet. 1:13-17; 2 Pet. 3:10-14; 1 John 3:3)
• Living the crucified life (Matt. 16:24-27; Luke 12:32-40; 17:31-33; 21:34)
• Loving Jesus Christ and His appearing (1 Cor. 16:22; 2 Tim. 4:8)
• Mortifying the passions of the flesh, such as fornication, uncleanness, lust, evil desires, and covetousness, which is idolatry (Col. 3:4-6)
• Obeying the Word of God (Matt. 7:24-27; 1 Pet. 1:13-15)
• Overcoming sin and temptation (Rev. 2:25,26; 21:7)
• Partaking of the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:26)
• Persevering under trial (James 1:12)
• Practicing moderation (Phil. 4:5)
• Practicing patience (Heb. 10:36,37; James 5:7,8)
• Preaching the Word of God, not fables (2 Tim. 4:1-5)
• Persuading men in the light of the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10,11)
• Rejoicing when going through fiery trials (1 Pet. 1:7; 4:12,13)
• Refraining from judging others (Rom. 14:10-12; 1 Cor. 4:5)
• Seeking things that are above, not the things of earth (Col. 3:1-5)
• Showing Christian love and hospitality, without grudging (1 Pet. 4:8,9)
• Showing faithfulness in the use of time, money, and opportunities as one who will give an account (Matt. 25:14-30; Luke 12:41-48; 19:11-27)
• Showing faithful stewardship of the Gospel (1 Cor. 4:1-5; 1 Pet. 5:24)
• Visiting the sick and the imprisoned (Matt. 25:34-40)
• Warning men that the Day of Judgment is coming (Matt. 3:7; Acts 10:42; 2 Cor. 5:10,11; 2 Tim. 4:1-8)
• Watching and praying (Matt. 24:42; Mark 13:33-37; Luke 18:1-8; 1 Thess. 5:6; 1 Pet. 4:7)
• Winning souls (Dan. 12:2,3; 1 Thess. 2:19,20)
Each one of these 47 aspects of Christian living are given in the context of the Second Coming. Therefore, since the hope of Christ’s return should make our present living more holy, diligent, and useful, we can be assured that this is a vitally important subject.
4. Knowing the truth about the Second Coming is of utmost importance because it is the key to grasping related doctrines of the Bible.Many essential doctrines of the Christian faith are related to the Second Coming.
Since one lie needs to be covered up by additional lies, having an incorrect view of the Second Coming is not only to be deceived by one lie, but by a whole web of lies. In other words, to be in error about the Second Coming is to be in error about related doctrines that are essential to the Christian faith.
These related doctrines include the following:
• The Lordship of Christ (Matt. 26:63,64)
• The bodily resurrection of the dead (John 5:27-29; 6:39,40,44,54)
• The glorification and rapture of the Church (Matt. 24:31; 1 Cor. 15:51-54; 1 Thess. 4:13-17; 2 Thess. 1:7,8)
• The Day of Judgment (Matt. 12:36,37,41,42; John 12:48)
• The Day of the Lord (1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Thess. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:10)
• The kingdom of God (Matt. 8:11; 13:37-43; 25:34,46; Luke 13:23-30)
• The great tribulation (Matt. 24:21-24; Luke 18:1-8)
• The Antichrist (2 Thess. 2:1-12)
• The marriage supper of the Lamb (Matthew 25:1-13; Rev. 19:7-9)
• The binding, loosing, and destruction of Satan (Rev. 20:1-10)
• The 144,000 (Rev. 7:1-8; 14:1-5)
• The thousand-year reign of Christ (Rev. 20:1-10)
• The priesthood of believers (Rev. 20:6)
• Armageddon (Rev. 16:16)
• The end of the world (Matt. 13:30,39; 24:3,14,29,35; Rev. 6:12-17)
• Heaven and hell (Matt. 25:34,41,46; Rev. 21:7,8)
• Salvation (Rom. 13:11,12; 1 Thess. 5:8,9; Heb. 9:28; 1 Pet. 1:5-10)
• The wrath of God ( Rom. 2:4,5; 1 Thess. 5:9; Rev. 6:16,17; Zeph. 1:18)
• The nation of Israel ( Rom. 2:4-11; Rev. 1:7)
Each of the above doctrines is related to the doctrine of the Second Coming. Since a distorted view of the Second Coming will lead to a distorted view of these related doctrines, we can clearly see how vital it is to know the truth concerning this important doctrine of the Christian faith—the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
5. Knowing the truth about the Second Coming is important because the greatest sign of the end-time is deception.
Many assume that if a doctrine is taught by popular preachers and large denominations, it must be right. This assumption is not necessarily true, however, because Jesus warned that in the last days “many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many” (Matt. 24:11).
In Matthew 24, Jesus foretold that before His coming and the rapture, there would be the deception of many false prophets (vv. 4,5,11,24); the deception of betraying brothers (vv. 9,10); the deception of sin (v. 12); the deception of false miracles (v. 24); and the deception of false teachings (v. 26).
Since “many false prophets shall rise” (v. 11), misleading information about the Second Coming will, as never before, spread like wildfire. Millions will be deceived regarding the purpose, the manner, and the time of Christ’s return.
Then too, because many do not love the truth enough to search and to obey it, Paul stated that “God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie” (2 Thess. 2:10,11). To assume that God will unconditionally keep us from all deception is not enough. Jesus and the apostles repeatedly warned, “Take heed that no man deceive you” (Matt. 24:4); “Be not deceived” (Luke 21:8); “Let no man deceive himself” (1 Cor. 3:18); and, “Let no man deceive you by any means” (2 Thess. 2:3). Only as we love and know the truth can we avoid being deceived.
Peter also admonished, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts” (2 Pet. 1:19). Darker days are coming on the earth. As believers, we must heed the prophetic Word of God and be ready for Christ’s Second Coming.
Jesus Himself declared that “false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect” and added, “But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things” (Mark 13:22,23).
Clearly, then, if we do not take heed to God’s Word and beware of false teachings and false prophets, we will be deceived and we will have only ourselves to blame.
6. Knowing the truth about the Second Coming is important because of the danger of holding to or preaching “another gospel” and being “accursed” (Gal. 1:8,9). Paul stressed the doctrine of the Second Coming as a cardinal doctrine of the gospel of Christ—speaking of it “in all his epistles” (2 Pet. 3:15,16). When writing about the timing of the rapture, he warned, “Let no man deceive you by any means” (2 Thess. 2:1-3).
He also warned that faulty doctrine, particularly about the resurrection, can cause one’s faith to be overthrown. Concerning Hymenaeus and Philetus, he wrote: “Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some” (2 Tim. 2:17,18). Demonstrating how dangerous he thought their doctrine was, Paul wrote that “their word will eat as doth a canker [gangrene]” (2 Tim. 2:17). Scripture tells us that he delivered Hymenaeus and Philetus to Satan, “that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1 Tim. 1:20).
We live in perilous times when false teachings about the Second Coming and the resurrection overthrow the faith of many. Evil men and seducers wax “worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:13). Let’s be careful, therefore, to heed Paul’s exhortation: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness” (2 Tim. 2:15,16). See also 1 Tim. 4:1,2,13-16.
Paul clearly had zeal for keeping the Church free from all unscriptural doctrines. In the light of his admonition in Galatians 1:8 and 9, to proclaim the Second Coming differently from his epistles is to put ourselves in the dangerous position of being “accursed.” He wrote, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” This may seem like a severe warning; nevertheless, it is the Word of God. We are only safe when our beliefs correspond with the gospel that the apostles received from the Lord Jesus Christ.
7. Knowing the truth about the Second Coming is important because it inspires faith when we understand it correctly.
Jesus said, “I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe” (John 14:29). Faith in the end-time is vital because it is the victory that overcomes the world (1 John 5:4), persecution (Rev. 13:10; 14:12), tribulation (1 Pet. 1:7,8), and Satan’s fiery darts, so we can stand in the evil day (Eph. 6:13,16).
Faith is also vital to readiness for our Lord’s return. Noah was ready when the flood came because he understood the prophetic warning of God and by faith prepared an ark. “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith” (Heb. 11:7). Jesus asked, “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).
Prophecy also gives spiritual direction. Peter wrote, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts” (2 Pet. 1:19). First Chronicles 12:32 states that “the children of Issachar . . . had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do.” Believers need a clear understanding of end-time prophecy to know what to do and what to expect in the future.
8. Knowing the truth about the Second Coming is important because we may well be the last generation on earth before Jesus returns. If that is so, we and our loved ones will face tremendous persecution and suffering. Many who hold incorrect views of the Second Coming will be caught off guard, face bewilderment, and fall away from the faith. Therefore, it’s our responsibility to know the truth, to prepare ourselves, and to warn our generation. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.
To recap, we have considered eight scriptural reasons why knowing the truth about the Second Coming is of utmost importance, not a secondary issue:
1. The Second Coming is a major theme in Scripture.
2. It is our blessed hope and the completeness of our salvation.
3. It influences every aspect of wholesome Christian living and service.
4. It is the key to grasping related doctrines of the Bible.
5. It will keep us from deception, which is the greatest sign of the end-time.
6. It will keep us from the danger of holding to or preaching “another gospel” and being “accursed” (Gal. 1:8,9).
7. It inspires faith when we understand it correctly.
8. We may well be the last generation on earth before Jesus returns.
Clearly, then, the degree of our sanctification, our zeal for service, and the extent of our preparedness result from our theology. Let us, therefore, prayerfully study our Bible that we will not be deceived concerning this most significant and wonderful hope, the Second Coming of Jesus.
This message is available by tape. For your free copy, write to Agnes Macdonald, 2948 Creekwood Drive, Salem, Virginia 24153. Ask for tape #101—Why Study the Second Coming?
Be sure to tune in tomorrow evening at this same time. Hear scriptural answers to timely questions—Does the Bible teach that Jesus is coming in two stages—one before and the other after the Great Tribulation—one for His saints and another with His saints? Also, does the Bible teach that the “first resurrection” is the bodily resurrection and the rapture of believers? Don’t miss these all important subjects. Invite a friend to listen with you. Until tomorrow, may God bless you and be with you.