Originally, I started out this page with the intention of
sharing ideas about the comings of the Lord. It has been a very
humbling topic to consider.
Knowing the immensity of the topic, I have questioned the Lord if I
should even share my understanding, as it seems so limited.
Nevertheless, knowing my place in the body of Christ, I will humbly
share the little that I do understand.
Our philosophical outlook of the
future is optimistic. We are a spiritually minded people, now looking
for a divine intervention, personally and corporately, with God working
out his plan for all creation, through the revelation of Christ within
the Church, and a manifestation of the sons of God.
Concerning the coming of Christ: Christ returned to the believers at
Pentecost, and still comes to the believer today. He also returned to
the unbelieving Jewish nation in 70 A.D. to bring the judgment promised
throughout the Old Testament for disobedience. These are the foundational
thoughts of this page.
I have come to feel that the common
understanding of the second coming with its wrath, judgment, and end of
the world scenarios has bread fear in many of us. Much of this fear is
not the fruit of truth. Through these writings, I have struggled to
bring comfort and encouragement for we are not like those who are
without hope. The thoughts of this article are the fruits of this
labour. I elaborate on these understandings, trusting that truth will
set us at liberty.
Please accept these thoughts as a work in progress, even as we are.
Many Visitations, Comings, Appearances, and Manifestations of Christ
are mentioned within scripture.
In recent years many Christians have forced many of these passages into
the single mold of a future physical return of Christ to rule the
earth. This is not always appropriate, and has lead to some confusion.
In this article I will not be focusing on a future physical return. The
purpose of this page is to broaden our understanding by considering
other views concerning the comings of the Christ. It is hoped that this
will lead to a more accurate and spiritual understanding of Scripture
that will set our hearts free.
One difficulty with the common premillenial rapture and second coming,
that is seldom addressed, is that it presents God as still angry and
wrathful. This is often portrayed in ways that seem inconsistent with
the reconciliation of the world accomplished in Christ. God is not
angry with humankind. God's proclaimed friendship with humankind is
often ignored in an erroneous attempt to project the horrors described
in Revelations and other end of the world scenarios into the future. It
is possible to understand these passages without imposing these events
on future generations. There are solutions that are faithful to these
texts and yet harmonize with the gospel of peace revealed in Christ.
Some of these solutions will be considered. The comings of Christ are
good news of great joy to all men. Grace and truth are much more
satisfying spiritually and emotionally than the law and wrath of the
covenants of bygone dispensations.
Many believers are still feeding on a spiritual diet of fear that is
reminiscent of the blessing and curses mentality of the old covenant.
They are trying to earn God's favor. This is impossible. We are now the
righteousness of Christ receiving the grace and favor of God through
Christ. And this good will is not just to the believer but to all men.
Jesus was not just the propitiation for our sins, but also for the
sins of the whole world. For God to pour out his wrath on mankind
now would be to ignore the accomplishment of Christ on the cross.
Many of us remember the evangelical paranoia at Y2K. It was an
embarrassment to us. It not only exposed to the world our deepest fears
about God, and our lack of trust in Him, which were born of our faulty
theology. It also revealed many weaknesses in the common eschatological
time lines that lead to such psychological trauma. End of the world
paranoia is not only embarrassing, but down right harmful. Thankfully,
it has helped many of us to reevaluate what we believe.
Hopefully, our understanding of Christ's appearance has matured and
Several "Spiritual" comings are
clearly described in scripture.
Christ comes to the believer:
1. Christ does not leave his disciples comfortless, but returns to them
on the day of Pentecost through the Holy Spirit.
2. Christ comes to the believer and makes his abode with him when
3. Christ appears within believers as a manifestation of himself.
There is another coming of Christ that was also spiritual in nature,
that is vital to a proper understanding of the New Testament, but is
often overlooked. This is probably because it presents such a threat to
the current popular eschatology.
Christ comes to the unbelieving Jews:
4. Specifically, Christ returned in 70 A.D. at the destruction of
Jerusalem, and the temple. This coming of Christ is one component of
the view known as Preterist theology.
1. The Preterist View sees the eschatological events as having been
fulfilled within the generation of the New Testament writers. This
tends to focus on a spiritual coming of Christ through Pentecost, and
the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. I tend to work partially
within this perspective.
Other Universalists that appear to have espoused variations of the
preterist position include:
Mike Williams At Gospelogic
Gary Amirault At Tentmaker
Gary Sigler Ministries
However, that these ministries have proclaimed preterist tenants does
not limit them from holding other eschatological positions as well. I
do not want to label or pigeonhole anyone. However, if you would like
to hear more from a Universalist Preterist viewpoint, they may be good
links to investigate.
There are also many non-universalist preterist sites that may be
beneficial to understanding Christ's return.
Some links to investigate Preterism for yourself include:
The Preterist Archive
Fulfilled Prophecy: God's Perfect Church
2. The Futurist View sees most of the Parousia passages being fulfilled
in the future.
This is the common evangelical view.
There are also Universalists that see no
incongruity between a period of future wrath and the eventual
reconciliation of all things. The wrath and punishment of God is seen
as remedial and within the love of God for the purposes of restoration.
This is reasonable.
The Concordant Publishing Concern is one such group.
The Concordant Publishing Concern
However, such a view sees the Old Testament prophecies as unfulfilled
and look to the future for their completion. If the law and the
prophets have already been fulfilled in Christ, a yet future coming and
wrath is not necessarily still required.
Some theologians see a double fulfillment of prophecy. They recognize
the historical fulfillment of parousia prophecy in 70 AD, but still
look for a future fulfillment as well. I tend not to believe in a
future coming against unbelievers, but recognize that Christ still
comes to believers, and I look for Him to reveal himself in even
3. The Historical View sees events as being fulfilled throughout
Some events are past and some are yet future. For example, the letters
to the seven churches of Revelation are seen as pictures of the church
down through history. The Laodicean church is often thought of as an
illustration of today's lukewarm church.
4. The Symbolic or Idealist View considers eschatological truth to be
timeless, and not sequential nor necessarily historical. Seeing
Revelations as a picture of the church in worship is one example.
Within this school of thought, the controversial timelines and charts
of most eschatologies are conspicuously absent.
Perhaps, there is a sense in which all four views contain some truth.
They are not mutually exclusive. Being open to all four views may help
us to let the various scriptures speak for themselves rather than
trying to inappropriately force every passage into any one viewpoint.
There are also several important philosophical questions that determine
our outlook in life. For example, are we paranoid or are we optimistic?
How we answer these questions often depends on which view of
eschatology we adopt. Our worldview or view of the world ultimately
depends on what we see happening to it. Let's look at five such
1. Is the future pessimistic or optimistic?
Currently, popular eschatology is often pessimistic, threatening, and
providing little hope, sometimes even for the elect. I have heard some
Christians respond in dismay when they heard the prayer, "Come quickly
Lord Jesus." It definitely was not something they looked forward to. I
understand this mentality, because there was a time when I had felt the
same way. However, the coming of Christ should be anticipated, not
feared. I believe that our faith should provide peace and
comfort. If an eschatology doesn't provide comfort, then I suspect
there is probably a misunderstanding. One of the main purposes of
eschatology is to encourage the believer. Paul wrote,
"But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them
which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
Wherefore comfort one another with these words" (1 Thes 4:13,18).
This return of Christ is good news.
Whether we see the future as
pessimistic or optimistic determines how we will live our lives. If we
see the world as being destroyed we will have little motivation to do
anything to improve the world. Our efforts would be destroyed anyway.
If we see an optimistic future we find ourselves encouraged to make an
2. Is the future determined by divine intervention or by human effort?
Are we passively awaiting a divine intervention that will destroy the
world and God's enemies, or do we see Christ working through his
corporate body to accomplish God's loving plan. If we cheerfully look
forward to His working we will yield ourselves as vessels, holy and
acceptable to God. If we wrongly associate his coming with destruction
we may unconsciously resist or recoil in fear even from a loving touch.
3. Is future hope for the church alone or for all men and creation?
Many see the return of Christ as for the believer only. This is why so
many Christians fear the future. They believe the age of grace and the
door of opportunity is closing. Loved ones, friends, and failing
Christians could be left behind or even left out. If the coming of
Christ is only for the benefit of the faithful then it would be hard
for sensitive Christians not to mourn the loss of loved ones who miss
out. Such Christians are like those unbelievers who have no hope.
They can not say the simple prayer "Maranatha - Our Lord come". They
can not desire His coming. Because of a limited future hope they fear
the loss of loved ones. This lack of desire for our Lord betrays a
wrong understanding of the coming of Christ.
When we understand the Presence of Christ in
the believer to be a promise for mankind and all creation we look
forward to the future with confident anticipation. Longing and
expectation replaces fear and mourning. All creation waits for the
manifestation of the Sons of God. To limit the work of Christ within
the believer to the church alone creates fear. Knowing the promises of
God to His creation provides hope and peace.
4. Are the promises fulfilled one person at a time, or is it a cosmic
There will be a universal recreation. However, a cosmic transformation
can begin one person at a time, every man in his own order, and be
fulfilled after all have entered in. There is a very real sense in
which "there is a new creation" already, and we simply become aware of
this new kingdom that already exists. Knowing that God will work
through us as the body of Christ to bring the realization of this
kingdom motivates us to surrender ourselves as vessels in His hands.
The Spirit within is a down payment of the fulfillment or completion of
the promises. Christ in us is the hope of glory not just for us, but
for all creation. However, those looking for something or someone
outside of themselves to come back to instantly transform the world has
left many Christians demotivated, and feeling uninvolved and detached
from the process of salvation.
5. Is the emphasis this-worldly or otherworldly?
This is also not a mutually exclusive answer. Being spiritually minded
does not mean that we ignore God's plan for the physical creation. God
created all things good. Nevertheless, we are a spiritually minded
people. We set our affections on things above, not on things on earth.
Our emphasis is spiritual. It is through the manifestation of the sons
of God that all creation is set free.
To restate: our philosophical outlook
of the future is optimistic. We are a spiritually minded people, now
looking for a divine intervention, personally and corporately, with God
working out his plan for all creation, through the revelation of Christ
within the Church, and a manifestation of the sons of God.
Concerning the coming of Christ: Christ returned to the believers at
Pentecost, and still comes to the believer when Christ is invited. He
also returned to the unbelieving Jewish nation in 70 A.D. to bring the
judgment promised throughout the Old Testament for disobedience.
I understand this is not a majority position and may be opposed by
some. I have no intention to debate, only to discover truth.
Eschatological doctrine was not given to produce division in the
Church, but rather to bring comfort. My prayer is that this article
will not be an occasion for carnal confrontations, but rather an
opening of our hearts to the Spirit of Christ. May God, by His Spirit
guide us into truth.