THE GOOD NEWS MINISTRY AND MISSIONS OUTREACH PROCLAIMING THE GOOD NEWS OF THE SOON RETURN OF JESUS CHRIST!

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REVEALING IF JESUS CHRIST IS REALLY COMING AGAIN?

1.  WHY STUDY PROPHECY?

Human beings have a natural curiosity concerning the future. Everyday questions are being asked such as, "What is going to happen to the world?"  "Who is going to win the election?"  "How about inflation?"  "Are there any prospects for lower oil prices?"  "Where can our young people look for direction for their lives?"  "Why is the institution of marriage crumbling?"  "Can we know what will come to pass if we choose to follow a particular direction?"

While it is impossible to forecast the future of any individual's life on earth and to answer many of the above questions, nevertheless the Word of God gives us a definite insight into the future.

Personally, every True Christian ought to be so thankful that he does not have to chart his own course through life.  God has promised to guide His children all along life's way and His promises can be relied upon completely. Psalm 32:8: "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye."  In John 10:4 Jesus said: "And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him:  for they know his voice."  Believers are not to worry about things that may happen tomorrow (Matt. 6:25-34).  We are to trust God for the future (James 4:13-15; Phil. 4:6-7).

The prophetic scriptures have always been of great interest to True believers.  God knows all things and He has chosen to reveal much of the future in His Word.  We read in Deuteronomy 29:29: "The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever."

In 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 the Apostle Paul tells us by inspiration:"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.  But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God."

 Let us look at some of the reasons why true believers should seek to acquire an understanding of the prophetic scriptures:

How we need this emphasis today on the pure and holy life.  If we really believe the Lord is coming we will clean up our lives.  Dr. R.A. Torrey had this testimony: "The truth of the Lord's coming transformed my whole idea of life; it broke the power of the world and its ambition over me, and filled my life with the most radiant optimism even under the most discouraging circumstances."

What strength and consolation the scriptures are when your saved true Bible Believing loved one dies!  We know that their souls go immediately to be with the Lord.  "To depart, and to be WITH CHRIST; ... is FAR BETTER" (Phil.1:23). "Absent from the body, ... present with the Lord"(2 Cor. 5:8).

The bodies of Christians, like those of the unsaved, are buried.  They go into the grave to return unto the dust of the earth.  But at the rapture, when Christ returns for His own, all the dead bodies of believers of all ages will be taken out of the graves and reunited with their spirits.  Then all living believers will be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

What an encouragement this is to the True Christian!  How good to know the hope beyond the grave!  What a prospect of one day being with the Lord forever!

H.G. Spafford was a successful Chicago lawyer.  He had a lovely wife, four fine children and a nice home.  He was a faithful Christian.

In the great Chicago fire his home burned down.  The family lost all they had.  Then they climbed upon a hill and looking down upon the ruins, they put their arms around each other, thanked God that they had gotten out safely, and committed the future to Him.  In answer to prayer God sent him enough money to send his wife and children to Europe, there to stay with relatives until he could get on his feet again.

In mid-ocean their ship was wrecked and soon sank.  Mrs Spafford knelt on the deck with her arms around her children and prayed.  They were soon thrown into the water.  The children were lost but Mrs. Spafford clung to a plank and was picked up by a lifeboat.  When she reached shore she wired Mr. Spafford just to words, "Saved alone." With a broken heart he bowed his head and prayed, "Thy will be done."  Then he sat down and wrote a marvellous song:

When peace like a river attendeth my way,  When sorrows like sea billows roll,  Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul. In the midst of life's uncertainties, do you have God's peace?  Is it well with your soul today?

2.  THE BELIEVER'S HOPE

What is the believer's hope?  In Colossians 1:5 we read: "For the hope which is laid up for you IN HEAVEN, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel."  We understand from this verse that not only is Heaven our hope, but there is something that is laid up for us there.  The believer has a tremendous hope.  It is a living hope that satisfies for time and for eternity.  Let us search the scriptures for the blessing of this hope so preeminently set forth.

In the Old Testament the saints had a hope that was centred in the coming of the Messiah.  In Genesis 3:15 God promised that from the seed of a woman would come one who would bruise the serpent's head.  The anticipation of the fulfilment of this promise constituted the hope of Old Testament saints.  When God called Abraham (Gen.12)

He gave him this hope: "And in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed." Galatians 3:14 and 16 makes it clear that Abraham's "seed" is Christ.

David had a hope as set forth in 2 Samuel 7:12,13:"And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.  He shall build an house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever."

If we were to listen to the liberal leaders of our modern day, Apostate-Counterfeit Christianity, to modern ministerial dialogue, ecumenical councils, anti-Bible communications media, and the viewpoint of the average citizen, we would be led to believe that the hope of the church lies in the solving of social problems, in the righting of social wrongs, in the cleaning up of pollution, and in general, fixing up the far country for the prodigal rather than calling the prodigal home to the Father's house. These apostate Christians preach an Apostate, "Social Gospel" which will never solve any of the world's problems.

We are almost led to believe that the church is actually a failure if it dare emphasize its spiritual ministry.  Take, for example, the problem of pollution.  We are to have an interest in preserving an adequate source of pure drinking water but we are not to mention the need for a wholesome moral atmosphere for our youth.

It is the business of the church to point out the moral sewerage pouring from the theatres seven days and nights a week, the pornographic filth on newsstands, booze in all its devilish forms, the danger of narcotics, the evil of robbery, rape, and lawlessness.  These things are doing to our cities what industrial plants are doing to the lakes and rivers.  The peddlers of filth - on the screen and in print - have a lust for money that jackals have for a putrefying carcass.

I want to emphasize that despite the moral bankruptcy of our nation with its anti-God educational system and anti-Bible movements, the hope of the church is in a Person, even our blessed Lord Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 1:1).  This hope is not to be realized in the present but in the future.  Romans 8:24-25: "For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?  But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it."

Titus 2:13:"Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ."  Our hope is not to clean up this world of sin and moral corruption by means of a social gospel.  It is to be caught up out of this world of sin to be forever with the Lord (1 Thess. 4:16,17).  Our hope is to be made like Jesus and this will be realized when "we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2).

Everything else has failed and will continue to fail.  The hope of education and philosophy have failed for with all the wisdom of our generation we can say with the Apostle Paul: "the world by wisdom knew not God" (1 Cor.1:21).

The hope of legislation has failed for lawless hearts produce lawlessness and darkness does not produce light.

The hope of human government has failed for all governments from absolute Socialism to absolute Monarchy have been weighed in the balances and found wanting.

The hope of mankind with its fundamental principle of evolution has been a failure.  Despite progress "from the lower state to the higher" according to evolution, mankind is sinking deeper and deeper into paganism, lawlessness, and utter despair.

There is no hope apart from the Lord Jesus Christ.  When He comes He will take all True believers unto himself and we shall be forever with the Lord.  Then will follow the terrible time of Great Tribulation such as the world has never seen.  After this, He will set up His Kingdom and take the government of the world upon His shoulders. The peace for which men dream now, will then be a reality.

Christ can only be your hope then if He is you Saviour now.  There is no hope for those who refuse to acknowledge that they are sinners, or who excuse themselves as being as good as the next fellow.  There is no hope for those who cling to their "religion" and "good works", nor for those who say they are willing to wait until God balances the books of good and bad behaviour in order to find out whether they are saved or not.  But for those who know they are sinners and believe the Bible concerning their sinful condition, there is salvation hope.  You can make salvation your personal experience by repenting from sin and receiving Christ as your Saviour and Lord.

3.  THE HOPE FULFILLED

There are two threads running through the Word of God: the red thread of the blood atonement and the gold thread of the second coming of our Lord.  Both of these truths are absolutely essential to our eternal hope.

One often hears the comment these days, "I wonder what the world is coming to." The Bible leaves us in no doubt.  The present age will be brought to an end by the return of the Lord Jesus Christ from Heaven.  In the light of this blessed hope we see the swiftmoving events of our day falling into place and the story of history more and more becomes "His Story."

A small group of Native Indians, newly converted to Christianity, came to a missionary in northwest Canada with the request, "We are always hearing what God has done, now we want to know what He is going to do." This was a reasonable request and the answer is that Jesus Christ is coming again.  The Bible teaches over 300 times in the New Testament alone that the Lord is coming again.

I know this truth is seldom taught and little believed in our day but the fact remains that this is what the Bible says.

The Bible is full of Divine SHALLS that must be fulfilled: "The Lord SHALL descend from heaven."  "The dead in Christ SHALL rise."  "We SHALL all be changed."  "We that are alive SHALL be caught up."  "So SHALL we ever be with the Lord."

The first word dealing with the Second Coming of Christ is the word parousia which means arrival or presence.  Paul uses this word in speaking of "the coming of Stephanas" (1 Cor.16:17).  He urges the Philippians  to be as obedient in his absence as they were during his presence with them.  But parousia is used in a special way to describe the second coming of Christ (Matt. 24:3,27,37,39; 1 Thess.2:19,3:13; 4:15; 5:23;  2 Thess.2:1,8; James 5:7,8;  2 Peter 1:16; 3:4,12; 1 John 2:28).

The word parousia is a technical word for the arrival of an emperor, a king, or some famous person.  When such a visit was anticipated great preparations were made to receive the one who was coming.  Often new coins were struck to commemorate the famous visit.  But Christ's coming is far more important and significant and certainly all believers should be ready to meet Him in that day.

Another word used in relation to the second coming of Christ is the word epiphenia which means appearing or manifestation.  Paul speaks of this in 2 Tim. 4:8: "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing."

The third word used is the word apokalypsis which means revelation.  This event takes place after the rapture of the True church when our Lord comes WITH His Church to judge the world's ungodly system.

The first great event then will be the rapture of the True Church.  Let us read about this in 1 Thess.4:13-17: "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.  For if (since) we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in (by means of) Jesus will God bring with Him.  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (precede) them which are asleep.  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."

Then in 1 Cor.15:51-58 we have the same truth presented: "Behold, I shew you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.  So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is thy sting?  O grave, where is thy victory.  The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the works of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."

 I want you to notice that in these days of denial of the miracles of God's Word that the second coming of Christ will be brought about with three outstanding miracles of all times:

What if it should be that this is the generation for our Lord's return?

What a hope to be numbered among the deathless ones "who are alive and remain unto the coming of our Lord."  No death, no funeral, no grave, no earthly separation, no "earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust."

"We shall not all sleep, but WE SHALL ALL BE CHANGED."  The bodies of the dead saints which are "corruptible" cannot enter heaven until they have "put on incorruption."  The bodies of the living saints which are "mortal" will be changed by "putting on immortality" without seeing death.  "In a moment" we shall be changed.

This life is full of separations- separations that have been caused by death, separations caused by distance and circumstances, separations that have been caused by broken families and broken hearts.  But in that day we shall be with the Lord for ever.

People sometimes ask, "Shall we know our loved ones in that day?"  Of course we shall.  We remember that scene on the Mount of Transfiguration when the disciples saw two others with the Saviour and they recognized them.  Nobody told Peter and the others that these were Moses and Elijah.  No, the moment they looked at Moses and Elijah they recognized them.

The Bible also says that we shall know even as we are known (1 Cor.13:12).  How wonderful to be with the Lord forever and to know one another there.  This is the blessed hope of every true believer.  We are here but a short time for this world is not our home.  But while we are here we are to lay up treasures in heaven.  We are to witness to the glorious Gospel of Christ.  We are to enter into Christ's main plan for this age - the building of His True Church.

4.  THE CERTAINTY OF HIS RETURN

The New Testament proclaims three great certainties:

(1) Christ, the Son of God, has been to this earth and has gone away.
(2) The Holy Spirit has come down to this earth and is still here.
(3) The Son of God is coming back again to this earth.

"These are the three great subjects unfolded in the New Testament scriptures.  We shall find that each of them has a double bearing: they have a bearing upon the world, and a bearing upon the church; upon the world as a whole, and upon each unconverted man, woman, and child in particular; upon the church as a whole, and upon each individual member thereof, in particular.  It is impossible for any one to avoid the bearing of these three great facts upon his own personal condition and future destiny"(Papers on the Lord's Coming by C.H.M.).

Let us now consider these facts:

Let us notice that just as the first coming of our Lord was literal, and just as the coming of the Holy Spirit was literal, so the second coming of Christ will be a literal coming.  So many want to take these prophetic verses symbolically or figuratively; but Jesus said, "I will come again."

The coming of our lord will be in two stages.  Unless we distinguish these two stages of Christ's return there will be much confusion in our study of the prophetic scriptures.

The first stage of our Lord's coming will be in grace; the second will be in judgment.  The first stage will be in the air; the second will be on the earth.  The first stage will not be seen by the world; the second will be seen by every eye.  The first stage will be Christ coming as "the Morning Star"; the second will be His appearing as "the sun of Righteousness"(Malachi 4:2).  At the first stage He comes FOR His saints; at the second He comes WITH His saints (John 14:3; Jude 14).  The first stage will be followed by Satan coming down to this earth in great wrath (Rev. 12:9); the second will be followed by Satan being removed from the earth for a thousand years (Rev.20:2-3).

No signs remain to be fulfilled before the first stage.  Many signs are to be fulfilled before the second stage.  The first stage is Christ coming as our Saviour (Heb. 9:28); the second is His coming as King (Rev.19:11,16).  The first stage will be followed by the Judgment (Bema or Reward) Seat of Christ, when true believers will be rewarded according to their works (2 Cor.5:10); the second will be followed by the Throne of Glory upon which shall sit the Son of Man to judge the nations of the earth.

Actually the first coming of Christ was also in two stages.  It was at first secret and then public.  The birth of Christ was seen and known by few people like the shepherds, wise men, Anna, and Simeon.  The ungodly rulers and unbelieving people did not see Him; but after thirty years He was publicly manifested.  So it will be when He comes again.

There are many types in the Bible relating to the coming of our Lord.  There is the Day of Atonement (Lev.16).  Primarily this had to do with Israel but it is a type of the Church.  Aaron, a type of Christ, was there to offer the bullock sin-offering for himself and for his house.  Christ was so identified with His people that He was made to be sin for us (2 Cor.5:21); and for His house which is described in 1 Pet.2:5 as "a spiritual house".

The two goats picture the divine and human side of Christ's Cross-work:

The blood was sprinkled ONCE upon the mercy seat and seven times before it (Lev.16:14-15) which provided a perfect once-for-all salvation.

However, the picture we want to see is that after the atonement was affected, the high priest attired himself in robes of beauty and glory and returned to the waiting congregation in the outer court (vs. 23-24).

Our High Priest, the Lord Jesus has already made atonement for our sins by the shedding of His precious blood.  He has passed through the veil into the Holy of Holies "now to appear in the presence of God for us" (Heb.9:24).  Soon He will take off the sacrificial garments and attired in robes of glory and beauty He shall come forth to His true and waiting people whose sins and iniquities shall be remembered no more for ever (Heb.10:17).  We read in Heb. 9:28:"So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation".  This, indeed, is a marvellous type of the coming of the Lord.

In John 6:15-21 we have the miracle of Christ walking on the water.  After our Lord fed the 5,000 He went to a mountain alone.  The disciples started towards Capernaum in a ship.  Then "the sea arose by reason of a great wind."  It was dark and Jesus came to rescue them. He said, "It is I; be not afraid." And we read, "Then they willingly received Him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went."

Christ praying on the mountain pictures Him as our great High Priest who lives today at the right hand of God to make intercession or us.  The restless sea speaks of the world's unrest in opposition to God.  The ship in the storm speaks of the attack of the Devil upon the True Church as he tries to destroy its witness before our Lord's return. 

The rowing of the disciples in the storm shows the inability of the Church to clean up the mess of this old world's system.  The Church may pull he oars but it cannot still the storm.  We are not here to clean up this old world, to reform it, to Christianize it, to rebuild or restore it.

The storms will continue until Jesus comes.  In the dark hour of the night our Lord will come to still the storm and to deliver His people.  he will descend from Heaven with a shout of triumph to take the True Church out of the world unto Himself.  Thus the journey will be over for all True believers.  Conflicts will be ended.  We shall have reached the Harbour to be safe in His presence forevermore.

Let Us Pray Together--
 

PRAY: "God be merciful to me a sinner. Receive me now for Christ's sake. Cleanse me from my sin by your precious blood, shed on the cross for me; lead me to be Baptized and fill me with your Holy Spirit. Teach me to pray each day; to read Your will for my life from your word, the Bible; and help me to worship and serve You in the fellowship of your church. I thank you Lord Jesus Christ. AMEN! 


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