The Last Things: Jesus Coming Back

Posted: March 25, 2012 by Ryan Vincent in Eschatology, Scripture
The Return of Christ

Jesus’ return is the central hope of the New Testament. Below are some of the things we are told about His return:

  • His second coming will be sudden (Matt: 24:44; 2 Pet 3:10), personal, bodily (John 14:3; Acts 1:11; 1Thess 4:16), and visible to the whole world (Rev 1:7).
  • He will come again to reign in power as the King of kings for all eternity (Phil 2:9-11).
  • While he has given signs that will indicate that the end times are near (Matt 24:14, 23-29: Mark 13:10, 19-26; 2Thess 2:1-10), God has not revealed the time of Christ’s return (Matt 24:44; Mark 13:32-33; Luke 12:40).
    • Therefore, the setting of dates is fruitless and unbiblical speculation.
    • The warnings that Christ will come unexpectedly and suddenly are intended to motivate believers to live in eager expectation and preparedness, which involves holy living and an eternal perspective.
    • Followers of Christ are to “renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ “ (Titus 2:12-13).
  • The Christian’s greatest hope and the definitive solution to present suffering is to be found in Christ’s return (1Thess 4:16-18).
    • Christians are commanded to “encourage one another with these words” (1Thess 4:18), which are words of great hope.
The Millennial Reign of Christ

Revelation speaks of Christ reigning for “a thousand years” when Satan is bound and some of God’s people come to life to reign with him (Rev 20:1-10). Christians have interpreted this millennium in one of three ways: amillennialism, premillennialism, and postmillennialism.

  1. Amillenialists believe that the thousand years in Revelation 20 is figurative language, showing that the reign of Christ from heaven is presently being fulfilled in the church age and will continue until the return of Christ. In this view, all the end-time events, such as Christ’s return and the final judgment, happen at once.Amillennialism
  2. Premillennialists believe that, long before the final judgment, Christ will first return and establish his millennial kingdom— that is, his reign as King over all the earth for 1,000 years. Within this view are various views of the timing of the great tribulation (whether Christians will go through it or will escape it by being suddenly removed from the earth before the tribulation begins), and whether the 1,000 years is a literal or symbolic number.Historic PremillennialismDispensationalism
  3. Postmillennialists believe that the millennial reign of Christ will be ushered in after remarkable gospel progress establishes Christ’s reign on earth, not with Christ physically present but with eh majority of the world obedient to him, and that at the end of that “millennium,” Christ will return in bodily form to reign over the new heavens and new earth forever.Postmillenialism
The Final Judgment and Hell

God expresses both personal (Rom 1:18-32) and national judgment (Isaiah 13-23), and his judgments have taken place throughout history and in the heavenly realm (2 Pet 2:4). But after the millennium (or, according to amillennialists, after the present age) Christ will judge the whole world once and for all (Matt 25:31-32; 2 Tim 4:1; Rev 20:11-15). For other information on Hell, see earlier post.

The New Heavens and New Earth

God’s creation of the new heavens and earth is the final phase of his redeeming work.The restored creation will be freed from the tragic effects of sin and the curse, and perfect fellowship with God will be restored.

  • The OT promised this wonderful reality as the culmination of the new covenant: “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind” (Isa 65:17).
  • The NT writers still long for God to finish his work in this way, as Peter says, “but according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet 3:13).
  • John’s Revelation gives a powerful glimpse of the end of all things: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Rev 21:1-2)
  • There will be a joining together of heaven and the renewed earth (Rev. 21:1–3), and in company with Jesus Christ their Lord God’s people will work, play, eat, learn, and worship in their resurrected, glorified bodies (Luke 22:18; Rev. 19:9; 22:1–2) in the place that the church down through the ages has always called heaven, but which the Bible calls “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev. 21:1). The very goodness of the original creation (Gen. 1:31) will here be restored and redeemed to perfection.

The knowledge of God’s future restoration of all creation should deepen one’s appreciation of the created order now. The created physical realm, although marred by the fall, maintains a goodness that is redeemable and is intended to be enjoyed now as God’s abundant blessing: “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer” (1 Tim. 4:4–5).

However, hope for the world to come motivates the believer to live ultimately for that world rather than this one. As Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:19–21). The tremendous blessing of a restored heaven and earth will be cause for extravagant praise, but the greatest blessing will be the glorious presence of God himself, and of Jesus our Lord and Savior. Fellowship with Jesus, it has been said, is what makes heaven to be heaven, and that is something that Christian people will be proving true for all eternity.

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