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52. Partake – The Christian Disciple and Things To Come

Some of the final words of the Bible say in Revelation 22v7 Jesus speaking “Behold, I am coming soon! To which the Apostle John replies in Revelation 22v20, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”

As Christian Disciples living almost 2000 years after Jesus spoke those words, this is our hope – to be with Him who is coming again. He who is the object of our faith, worship and life of discipleship! And not just Christian Disciples talk about the “end of the world as we know it”. There are a plethora of books written about it from all sorts of people, from all sorts of backgrounds with all sorts of opinions. But what does the Bible say about the time when Jesus comes again and how are we to respond to this fact? What does the Bible say about the future things to come, seeing as it is the authorative source for the Christian Disciple?

1. The Second Coming of Jesus

I will come back and take you to be with me (John 14v3). He will come back the same way He went to heaven (Acts 1v11)

When will He come?

  • No-one knows (Matthew 24v36)
  • It will be unexpected (1 Thessalonians 5v1-3)
  • There will be signs preceding His coming (Matthew 24)
  • When the gospel has been preached in the whole world (Matthew 24v14)

2. Our Response to Eschatological Prophecy

  • Be ready, waiting, watching and working (Matthew 24v42-44).
  • Be alert, self-controlled, sanctified and encouraging of each other (1 Thessalonians 5v6-8, 11)

3. Different Responses to Eschatological Prophecy

The three main schools of prophetic interpretation are Amillenialism, Postmillenialism & Premillenialism. These 3 views depend on whether the prophetic parts of Scripture are to be interpreted literally or figuratively (Spiritually). I wont tell you my opinion as to which I think is the correct interpretation, but let you decide that for your self!

  • · Amillenial View - Primarily a figurative/spiritual interpretation. This view sees the O.T. promises to Israel are being fulfilled in the church. The Millennium is the reign of Christ in the Church - the new Israel. The Church is already experiencing tribulation.
  • · Postmillenial View - Christ will return at the end of the millennium - a golden age of the Church.
  • · Premillenial View - Christ will return to set up His kingdom on earth for 1000 years (Revelation 19v1-7). God promises to Israel of restoration, a future king and temple will await fulfilment. God has a separate programme for the Church.

4. Second Coming of Christ

The Premillenial view sees 2 stages in the second coming:

  • · His coming in the rapture. This is when Jesus Christ returns to take His people to be with Him (1 Thessalonians 4v16). The dead in Christ are raised and the living are changed (1 Corinthians 15v51-54)
  • · His coming to Earth (Revelation - parousia). He will return to the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14v4; Acts 1v11). He will come with power and glory (Matthew 24v30) and everyone will see Him.

5. Christ’s return to Earth

  • · To judge the antichrist and his followers (Revelation 16v12-16, 19v11-16)
  • · To bind Satan (Revelation 20v1-3) during the Millennium. Amillenialists see this as having already been done. However, Satan is still the ruler of this world (John 16v11).
  • · To save Israel (Zechariah 14v1-3). Israel will repent, recognizing the One they pierced (Zechariah 12v10-13v1; Romans 11).
  • · To judge the nations (Matthew 25v31-46; Joel 3v11-17)

6. Premillenial return of Christ

Christ will come and set up an earthly kingdom for 1000 years (Revelation 20v2-7). Amillenialists see this as speaking figuratively about Christ’s current reign in the Church.

7. History of Premillenialism and Amillenialism

The view of the church for the first 2 centuries was of a literal millennial return of Jesus Christ after the Holy Spirit’s return. Early church fathers such as Papias, Ireneaus and Justin Martyr taught this, and these men were not far removed from the Apostle John. Origen promoted the figurative (spiritual) method of interpretation and Augustine developed an Amillenial view, identifying the Church with the fulfillment of the O.T. promises to Israel and this became official Roman Catholic doctrine. Many scholars returned to the Premillenial (literal) view after the Reformation.

8. Pre-tribulation Return of Christ

Rapture - The tribulation is a time of judgment for unrepentant men (2 Thessalonians 2v9-12). God’s people would be excluded from such judgment (1 Thessalonians 1v9-10; 5v9). The Lord will come suddenly bringing destruction, while people are saying ‘peace and safety’ (1 Thessalonians 5v1-3). These conditions will exist before the Rapture, but not at the end of the tribulation.

Resurrection - The bodily resurrection of the dead, saved and unsaved, is clearly taught in Bible (John 5v28-29; Acts 24v15). Christ’s resurrection is the guarantee of our resurrection (1 Corinthians 15v20-22)

Christian Disciples

· Like Christ’s glorious body (1 Corinthians 15v49; Philippians 3v21; 1 John 3v2)

· Not flesh and blood (1 Corinthians 15v50ff)

· Not partly spiritual (Luke 24v39; 1 Corinthians 15v42, 53)

Unbelievers

· They will be resurrected (John 5v28-29) and cast into the lake of fire

Timing of the resurrection

· 1st Resurrection - when Christ comes in the air to take Christian Disciples (1 Corinthians 15v23; 1 Thessalonians 4v16); some place resurrection of O.T. saints at the end of the tribulation.

· 2nd Resurrection - Resurrection of the unsaved after the Millennium (Revelation 20v5, 11-13)

Judgment - Certainty of judgment - He will judge the whole world with justice (Acts 17v31). Man is destined to die once and after that to face judgment. (Hebrews 9v27)

The Judge - God is the judge of all the earth (Hebrews 12v23). The Father has given all judgment to the Son (John 5v22-27)

Judgment of Christian Disciples

Christian Disciples will not be judged for sin - this has been judged already (Isaiah 53v4-6; 1 Peter 2v24)

· Christian Disciples will be judged for their works. We will give an account of ourselves to God (Romans 14v10). We will be judged according to our works (2 Corinthians 5v10). The quality of our work will be tested (1 Corinthians 3v11-15). Our motives will be exposed either for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 4v4-5) or for our own glory.

· We will give account of the opportunities and abilities entrusted to us (Matthew 25v14-30)

· Rewards may be gained or lost (1 Corinthians 3v14-15)

· Incorruptible crown (1 Corinthians 9v25)

· Crown of glory (1 Peter 5v4)

· Crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4v8)

· Crown of rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2v19)

· Crown of life (James 1v12)

Judgment of unbelievers

· The Great White Throne of Judgment (Revelation 20v11-15).

· After the Millennium (Revelation 20v11-15, 21v8).

· They will be cast into the lake of fire with satan and his angels (Revelation 20v15; Matthew 25v41). This punishment is eternal (Matthew 25v46).

For more to think about please do. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. Read 1 Thessalonians 5v6-11. How am I living out these Scripture in my life as a Christian Disciple?

Q2. Read 2 Corinthians 5v10. If I were to give an account of my work today, what would occur?

Q3. Read Matthew 25v31-46. As a Christian Disciple, how does this affect my urgency to tell others about the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

As ever, if you have any comments to make on this, please do contact me at partake(at)hotmail.co.uk. Thank you.

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