The Visible Return of Christ
There are six fundamentals of our faith.
#1 Ė "An Inerrant Bible."
The word of God is inerrant and infallible and absolutely true.
The second fact is "The Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ."
Jesus is virgin born.
He did not come to this planet any other way than by a miraculous virgin birth.
The third fundamental of our faith is "The Sinless Life of Jesus Christ."
He is not just one of the boys.
He is not even one of the best of the boys.
He was the only one who ever lived a life without sin.
He had no sin...he did not sin...he knew no sin.
He was the sinless Son of God.
This is a fundamental of the Christian faith.
The fourth fundamental of our faith is that "Jesus Died a Substitutionary Death upon the Cross."
That simply means he died for us.
He did not die because of any sin or any crime that he had committed.
But he died taking our sin upon him so that by his receiving the judgment of God we might be free and have eternal life.
And the substitutionary death of Jesus is a fundamental of our faith.
And the fifth fundamental of our faith is "The Resurrection of Jesus Christ."
He does not lie somewhere molding away in a grave.
He conquered sin, hell, death and the grave...
And wondrously and gloriously arose from the dead.
We serve a living Savior.
Jesus is alive.
No matter how wonderful he may have been...
No matter how divine he may have been...
If he is dead, he is absolutely worthless for us.
A living Savior.
And then the sixth fundamental is "The Visible Return of Jesus Christ."
>Now if you believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God...
And that Jesus was born of a virgin...
And that he lived a life without sin...
And that he died a substitutionary death upon the cross...
And that he was gloriously raised from the dead...
And that one day he is coming again...
Then you are a fundamentalist and donít be ashamed of it.
It doesnít matter what the Sentinel Record says.
It doesnít matter what channel 4 says.
Itís all right to be a fundamentalist of our faith.
>Revelation 1:7: Look, he is coming with the clouds and every eye shall see him, even those who pierced him and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him, so shall it be. Amen.
>Look, he is coming.
Jesus is coming again.
There are four things I want to share with you about this wonderful truth...
This fundamental of our faith.
>#1 Ė the promise of his return.
The Bible promises us that one day Jesus is going to come back.
Not another Jesus.
Not an imitation Jesus.
But when the disciples stood there and watched Jesus ascend into glory in Acts 1...
The angels said to them: men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking up into the sky? Donít you know that this same Jesus that you see going away will come again in like manner?
Paul reminds us that the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout.
You see, friends, Jesus is coming again.
Thatís the promise of God.
>Now there are some promises in the Bible that are conditional promises.
A conditional promise is this.
God sys I will do this if you will do this.
That is a conditional promise.
For example, in II Chronicles 7:14, a verse that we often use to talk about revival, God said...
If my people who are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray, and turn from their wicked ways, and seek my face, then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sin and will heal their land.
That is a conditional promise.
God says, If my people will, I will.
>In the book of Jonah we find another conditional promise.
God said to Jonah: you tell the people that Iím going to send judgment upon them unless they repent.
And Jonah went from one end of Ninevah to the other preaching that doom and gloom message.
Forty more days and Ninevah will be overthrown.
Now that was a promise of God.
Ninevah was going to be overthrown.
The judgment of God was going to fall but it would be stayed if people would repent.
Well the people did repent.
They did get right with God.
And as a result of their repentance, the judgment of God was stayed.
It did not come, at least not at that particular time.
Later on in their history the Ninevites turned again upon God...
And the judgment that had been predicted in the book of Jonah did come to pass.
And you read about that in the book of Nahum.
Now I realize most of you have never read the book of Nahum.
And when you get to heaven and Nahum comes up to you and says...
"Howíd you like my book?" youíre going to blush.
Nahum is a sequel to the book of Jonah.
It is the final chapter of the Ninevites.
>But those are conditional promises.
As a matter of fact, even salvation itself is a conditional promise of God.
God says in Romans 10:9: That if thou shall confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
God doesnít just knock everybody in the head and save everybody.
God says if you want to be saved you must confess with your mouth...
And you must believe in your heart that he has risen from the dead.
And unless you do those things you cannot be saved.
And so some of the promises of God are conditional promises.
>But there are some promises of God that are unconditional promises.
In other words, God says Iím going to do it and he does it...
And it has absolutely nothing to do with what we do or feel or say.
For example, in Isaiah 7:14, God said: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call him "Immanuel".
Now thatís a promise of God.
It had nothing to do with how you feel about it or what you think about it or what your response is to it.
God said, "I promise you a virgin is going to conceive and bring forth a son and call him Immanuel."
Well that happened.
Thatís the birth of Jesus Christ.
A virgin conceived.
She brought forth a son.
They called his name Immanuel.
"God with us".
It was an unconditional promise.
>Another unconditional promise in the Bible is found in Acts 1:8.
Jesus said: But you will receive power when the Holy Ghost comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
Now it wasnít on the basis of "if you pray enough" or "if you tarry enough" or "if you groan enough".
That was not at all it.
There were no conditions.
Jesus just said, "You will receive power after the Holy Spirit is come upon you."
It was the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit of God.
It was an unconditional promise.
And friend, the second coming of Jesus is an unconditional promise.
There are no conditions to it.
Jesus is not going to come in response to us praying for him to come.
Jesus is not going to come because weíre good enough for him to come.
Or weíre hungry enough for him to come...
Or weíre desirous enough for him to come...
Jesus is going to come because it is an unconditional promise.
It has nothing to do with how good we are.
It has nothing to do with how nice we are.
It has nothing to do with how much we pray or how strongly we believe.
Jesus is coming...it is a promise of God.
>But notice a second thing.
Not only the promise of his coming, but secondly, the procedure of his coming.
The coming of Jesus is associated with two other Biblical events.
The first of them is the millennium and the second is the tribulation.
The coming of Jesus is closely related and deeply entwined with the millennial reign of Christ...
And the period called the tribulation or the great tribulation in the Bible.
>Now what is the millennial reign?
The word "millennial" means 1,000.
Millennium means one thousand years.
Now the Bible talks about a period of 1,000 years on planet earth when the righteousness and the justice of God...
Will be 100% carried out.
Now folks that has never happened yet...
But one day itís going to.
Now when you think about the coming of the Lord in relation to the 1,000 year reign...
There are three predominant views.
>There are some who call themselves post-millennialists.
That means the world is going to get better and better...
And youíre going to have a thousand years of peace and righteousness on the earth.
And at the end of that 1,000 years Jesus is going to come and sort of cap it all off.
In other words, the world is just going to get better and better and people are going to be nicer and nicer...
Kinder and gentler, and itís going to become a righteous world and Jesus is going to come at the end of that.
Now that was a very popular view even among Baptists in 1919 and 1920s and 30s and even the early 40s.
You see there were many after WWI that though, "Well there will never be another war like this."
I mean there had always been wars throughout history but there had never been a war like WWI.
That was the big war.
And so when WWI came to an end the United Nations was established not long after that...
And people began to just be excited and think, "Well weíll never have another world war.
Things are going to get better and better and better.
The millennium is coming."
But then WWII broke out.
And folks when WWII started, post millennialism died.
Thereís only one sect or group of people today that are post millennialists that Iím aware of...
And that is the Church of Christ.
I love Church of Christ people.
I have many friends who are Church of Christ people.
But theyíre about the only folks who still hold to the idea of post-millennialism.
Except for them itís a dead issue.
>A second argument about the coming of Jesus and the millennium is A-millennialist.
The little prefix "a" means without, without millennium.
In other words, these folks say that the 1,000 year reign in the Bible is not literal itís figurative...
And it should not play in any way any importance in end time events.
They call themselves A-millennialists, and they say that the coming of Jesus...
Has absolutely nothing to do with the millennium.
>But then there is a third view that I believe is the correct view.
It is a pre-millennial return of Christ.
That means that Jesus is going to come before the millennial reign.
The world is not going to get better and better.
The millennial reign is a genuine true article in the word of God, and that Jesus is not going to follow it up.
Heís going to usher it in.
Youíll not have peace on earth until the Prince of Peace comes and sets up his kingdom.
And so the return of Jesus is associated with the millennium...
And I believe the pre-millennial return of Christ is the correct view.
>But also there is the tribulation.
The tribulation according to the Bible is a seven-year period in which God is going to pour out his wrath on planet earth.
If you do not believe in a tribulation, then you must do away with the book of Daniel...
And the book of Revelation...
Because the whole of those two books centers around that period of seven years called the tribulation.
Most of the book of Revelation deals with that seven-year period that is yet to come.
>Now again there are three views.
There are some who call themselves post-tribulationists.
That means that Jesus is going to come after the tribulation.
That means the church will go through the tribulation.
Before Jesus calls us up and marries us, weíre the bride of Christ...
Heís going to see to it that we get beat up a little bit.
Weíll go through the tribulation and then heíll take us out and establish his kingdom.
>There are some that say, "No, heís coming right in the middle of it."
They call themselves mid-tribulationists.
In other words, the church, we will be here the first half of it but we will be out the second half.
>The best view for me is a pre-tribulation view.
That simply means that Jesus could come at any moment.
Folks, he could come today.
I mean, Iím not looking for 3Ĺ years.
Iím not looking for a seven-year period.
Iím not looking for a thousand-year period.
Iím looking for the blessed coming of the son of God.
Iím not looking for signs.
Iím listening for shouts because Jesus could come at any minute.
Heís coming before the tribulation.
Heís coming imminently.
He could come at any second.
>Now the best way to harmonize what Iíve shared with you...
Is to understand that the coming of the Lord is going to be in two distinct phases.
First of all, heís going to come and rapture the saints of God.
Thatís found in I Thessalonians 4.
Paul says there in verse 13: I would not have you to be ignorant brethren, concerning those who are asleep.
Those Christians who have died.
He says: The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise to meet him; and those of us who are alive and remain (and saved by the way) also will be caught up to meet him in the air.
Notice it is a meeting that takes place in the air.
He does not come to earth...he stops there in the sky.
Some glad morning when this life is oíer, we will fly away.
And we wonít have to go through Atlanta to get there.
I mean weíre just gonna have a direct shot, amen?
When he comes and the trumpet sounds and the voice cries, up weíll rise if weíre dead...
And those of us that are alive and remain will just be caught up together with them.
It is a meeting in the air.
That is the rapture of the saints.
And we will then be carried to be with the Lord...
And weíll have the judgment seat of Christ and the marriage supper of the Lamb.
And at the end of the seven-year tribulation...
We will have been taken out and God is going to pour out his wrath on planet earth for seven years.
Then Jesus is going to come back.
At his rapture the world doesnít know it.
They are going to be given a strong delusion, the Bible says, and theyíre going to say...
"Well all of these church people have been captured by some comet that swept through here."
Or, "Some invaders from outer space are going to come and take away all of these church folks and thatís where they have gone"...
Or "theyíre just off hiding in some hole somewhere trying to pull of a big trick."
Well when the wrath of God begins to fall they wonít worry so much about us as they will about themselves...
But thank God, weíll be gone.
But thatís going to be a secretive thing.
The world isnít going to see it.
The world is not going to know what happens.
But folks, at the end of that tribulation, when Jesus comes back in glory at his revelation...
When he comes back to the earth, the Bible says here that "every eye shall see him."
Every eye that will be left in heaven will see his coming to earth...
Every eye on the face of the earth shall see him.
And I want to tell you this, every eye in hell will see him.
Did you see what that verse said?
Revelation 1:7: Look, he is coming with the clouds and every eye shall see him, even those who pierced him.
You see friends, those that nailed the nails in his hands and drove the spear in his side...
And pressed the thorns on his brow...
Those who hated him and despised him and caused him to be crucified...
The Bible says when Jesus comes even they will see him in his glory.
And I believe it will be at that time that they will bow their knee and confess Jesus as Lord.
Now they wonít want to do it.
Theyíll hate him more than they hated him while they were on the earth.
Folks in hell hate the Son of God.
In hell people hate the righteousness of God.
In hell they hate the lordship of Jesus Christ.
But when Jesus returns in his glory and all of heaven is singing and all of earth is watching...
All of those in hell will cry out with gritted teeth and spiteful hearts...
"Jesus is Lord."
I mean youíre gonna do it one way or another.
You just as well do it now, amen?
Oh, the procedure of his coming.
>Let me share with you a third thing.
We see the promise of his coming and the procedure of his coming...
But thirdly, the purpose of his coming.
Why is Jesus coming again?
Well I could preach a series of sermons on this, but I want to give you just three reasons.
>#1 Ė Jesus is coming back to execute judgment on planet earth.
Friends, this is a nation and this is an earth that deserves the punishment of God.
We hear of more car bombings every day in Iraq...
Killing Iraqis as well as Americans.
Many cry "peace, peace", but there is no peace because we live in a very violent and hateful society.
People hate other people because of the color of their skin.
People hate other people because of the religious name they wear.
People hate other people because of the financial abilities of one against the other.
But friends, Iím telling you, a hateful and spiteful generation will deserve and receive the wrath of almighty God.
This nation in which you and I live deserves the judgment of God.
More pornography is now published and distributed in America than any other continent on the face of the earth.
More babies are murdered inside the womb of their mother in America than any other nation on the face of the earth.
Homosexuals have greater power in government in America than any other nation on the face of the earth.
Friends, Iím telling you, judgment day is coming to America, and itís coming to the White House.
It may not be tomorrow but itís coming...
And itís coming to the church house and itís coming to your house and my house if weíre not right with God.
When Jesus comes, heís coming to execute judgment.
>And then secondly, when Jesus comes heís coming to establish righteousness.
You remember what Jesus prayed in the model prayer?
The disciples said, "Lord, teach us how to pray. John taught his followers how to pray. Why donít you teach us how to pray?"
Jesus said, "All right. Iíll teach you how to pray.
When you pray, pray like this: ĎOur Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Forgive us this day."
And so forth and so on.
"Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
Now that was a prayer Jesus taught us to pray and that was a prayer Jesus himself prayed.
"Thy will be done on earth."
>Well thatís never been done.
Thatís never been answered.
Thatís an unanswered prayer of the Son of God.
Folks, I want to tell you, every time you go to the grocery store and you see the beer section...
That lets you know that the will of God is not being done on earth.
There will be none of that swill in heaven.
I promise you that.
Every time you are exposed to some kind of filth on TV or you hear some kind of ungodly language off the radio...
Or when you go through the checkout counter at the grocery store and you see all of these pornographic magazines...
Every time you are exposed to that it reminds us that the will of God is not being done on earth yet as it is in heaven.
But folks, one day it is going to be.
One day the righteousness of God is going to rule on planet earth.
And itís not going to matter what they think about it in the House Judiciary Committee.
Itís not going to matter what certain caucuses may say about it.
Itís not going to matter what the Quorum Court thinks about it or the Garland County Judge.
All that is going to matter is what God thinks about it because his will will be done on planet earth.
>But thereís a third reason why heís coming.
Not only to execute judgment and establish righteousness...
But heís coming to gather his family.
Heís coming to have a family reunion.
Did you know that you and I have brothers and sisters weíve never even met?
As a matter of fact, some of them have been dead for thousands of years.
I mean we have brothers and sisters that have been in heaven longer than America has been a nation.
We have brothers and sisters that have been in heaven since Cain killed Abel.
Abel was our first brother that ever went to heaven and heís been there about 6,000 years and Iím looking forward to seeing him.
You see, a family reunion.
>Hereís what the book of Ephesians says about it.
In Ephesians 1:10: To bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
Friend, Jesus is going to gather his family.
Weíre going to be gathered together with Paul and Peter and Titus...
And Timothy and Ruth and Naomi and Mary and Mary Magdalene...
And all the great men and women of the Bible and all of our brothers and sisters throughout the world.
Now sometimes people ask some strange questions.
"Bro. Joe, will we know one another in heaven?"
Well my stars! We know one another on earth.
I think weíll have more sense there than we do here, donít you?
I mean Iíd hate to think youíre gonna go home one day with the wrong woman.
If you try that you probably wonít get away with it.
"Well honey, I just forgot what you look like."
"Well youíll remember the next time. POW!"
Oh, of course weíre going to know one another in heaven.
The Bible says, "Weíll know as we are known."
That means weíll know without introduction.
Nobody is going to have to walk around heaven with me and say...
"Joe, this is John the Baptist...John the Baptist, this is Joe Thompson."
Nobody is going to have to do that.
Iíve never seen John the Baptist...
Have no idea how tall he was....
Have no idea what he looked like...
But the minute I see him in heaven Iíll know who he is.
Friends, thatís why Jesus is coming again.
Heís going to gather together his family.
Oh, what singing, oh, what shouting.
I always get amused when I watch some of you when some of us start clapping.
I mean some of you, itís like, "Oh, God, will they ever get through with that?"
Honey, Iím gonna stand by you in glory and watch you have a holy fit.
I mean, Iím telling you, friend, when you get up there you wonít have to worry about clapping.
It will just be clapping and it will be singing and it will be bowing.
>One last thing...the promise of his coming.
The procedure of his coming.
The purpose of his coming.
But finally, the preparation for his coming.
The greatest fact in all of life is, Jesus is coming again.
The greatest question in all of life is, are you ready for him to come?
Thereís only one way, friends, to be ready; only one way to be prepared...
And that is to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Not simply walking down an aisle.
Not simply shaking hands with the preacher or getting baptized or joining a church.
But having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
What if he were to come today?
The Bible says when he comes some shall be taken and some shall be left.
Jesus is not going to take those that are warm and cute and fuzzy like a little puppy.
The ones heís gonna take are going to be saved people.
Weíre going to go up to be with him and those that are going to be left behind...
Many of them will be warm and cute and cuddly and fuzzy.
But theyíll be left behind because theyíve never received Jesus as Lord and Savior of their life.
>Have you ever received him?
Is he real in your life?
I mean, is he really, really real?
Not like some childhood fairy tale, "Oh, I believe, I believe..."
I mean, do you really have a relationship with Jesus Christ?
>I want to tell you something, friend.
Iíve stood by the hospital bed of a lot of folks and watched them die.
Iíve never heard anybody say, "I wish I had made more money...
I wish I had been more successful...I wish I had been a better business person."
Nobody ever says that when theyíre dying.
They donít care about it.
"I wish I had been a better stock market wizard...I wish I had a better portfolio".
You know what they say when theyíre dying?
"I wish I had loved Jesus more...I wish I had served him more faithfully...
I wish I hadnít spent all of those Sunday nights and Wednesday nights at home watching TV...
I wish I had been a better husband...I wish I had been a better daddy...
I wish I had been a better Christian."
Thatís what people talk about when theyíre dying.
Itís not too late to get saved then.
But itís too late to serve the Lord then.
>Are you ready for him to come?
He could come just like that...any second.
Would you be taken or will you be left?