As Christians, as Seventh-day Adventist Christians, we live with the hope of Christ’s literal return to this earth. Some Christian groups have abandoned hope in this teaching or have pushed it off to the side or they have watered it down and so spiritualized it away that the Second Coming becomes essentially just a personal thing. They may say: The Second Coming is realized in our hearts when we learn to fulfill our role in our community or When we learn to love others as we should, then the second coming of Christ is actualized in our life. Though, of course, we should love others and be fruitful members of our community, none of these are the same as the second coming of Jesus.1
From our perspective, especially with our understanding of the state of the dead, it’s hard to imagine what our faith would mean without the physical, literal return of Christ, at which time He will raise the dead in Him. It’s so central to what we believe (again, our name itself reflects just how central) that, without it, our whole system would crumble. And that’s because all that we believe in and hope for climaxes in the literal return of Christ “in the clouds of heaven” (Matt. 24:30); remove that and our teachings take us to a dead end.
Of course, the great hope of the Second Coming rests upon what Christ accomplished for us at the First Coming. After all, what good is the First Coming without the Second? In a sense, one could say that the First Coming, and all that Jesus accomplished for us there, is incomplete without the Second. At times the Bible uses the metaphor of ransom to refer to the Cross. Jesus Himself said that “ ‘the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many’ ” (Matt. 20:28, NKJV). At the cross, Jesus, by His death, paid the ransom for our souls, a ransom that was full, complete, and once and for all. At the same time, what good is paying a ransom if you don’t come and get what was ransomed? The paying of the ransom isn’t the end of the story. Just as a human parent would come get the child he or she ransomed back, so, too, Jesus will come back to get what He paid such a great price for. Hence, Christ’s first coming gives us the greatest assurance possible for the second.