June 3 - 9
The Certainty of the Second Coming
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Acts 1:9-11; 1 Cor. 15:51-53; Rev. 22:12; 2 Thess. 1:7-10; 2 Pet. 3:9-12; Titus 2:11-13.
MEMORY TEXT: "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:1-3, NKJV).
KEY THOUGHTS: The second coming of Christ is the time of a personal and intimate reunion with our Savior and Lord. His coming will be visible to all; and with great glory He will take the righteous home to live with Him for all eternity.
THE GRAND CLIMAX. The second coming is the grand climax of all that has gone before. It is the "Hallelujah Chorus," the culmination of the work of God through the prophets, apostles, and Jesus Christ Himself It is the focal point toward which God has been working ever since sin entered the world.
Our understanding and knowledge of it are dependent upon the authority of the Bible. Yet, the Bible has little significance for us unless its message results in our reunion with Christ. Creation has little significance if it does not result in fellowship with the Creator. The Second Coming brings about the restoration of that which was lost in Eden- face-to-face fellowship with God.
How widely known will be the coming of Christ? Matt. 24:23-27.
How many will see Him come? Rev. 1:7.
Describe the glory of the coming of Christ.
Matt. 25:31 ___________________________________________________________
1 Thess. 4:16 ________________________________________________________
Christ will come as King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16). All the holy angels will accompany Him on the triumphant return to earth (Matt. 25:31). His return will not be secret, nor will it be some kind of a mystical event. This literal, visible event will begin a new and glorious chapter in human history.
What will be the manner of the coming of Christ? Acts 1:9-11.
Christ will come in person in the same manner in which He ascended into heaven. He was not a mystical spirit-being at the time of His ascension. Resurrected bodily after Calvary, He was not only seen but was touched by His disciples (John 20:27-29). He even ate food (Luke 24:36-43). He had forever become one with humanity.
It is comforting to think that Jesus will return not only as King of kings and Lord of lords but also as our friend, forever one with us.
In our modern era, it is sometimes considered unsophisticated to accept the notion that Christ was bodily resurrected from the dead and that He bodily ascended into heaven. Resurrections have never taken place in our age, it is argued, therefore they did not take place back then. However, if we accept the Bible as the Word of God, we must accept also the bodily ascension of Jesus Christ and His bodily return. Furthermore, as we have seen this quarter, biblical doctrine is a unity. We cannot reject one part of it without affecting our understanding of the whole.
|How would my concept of the Second Coming and of heaven differ if I thought of the risen Lord as a powerful idea or a mystical spirit rather than as a real person who was resurrected bodily from the dead?|
What will happen to the righteous dead and the righteous living at the second coming of Christ? 1 Thess. 4:13-17; 1 Cor. 15:51-53.
The Bible views a person as one. Adam was formed of the dust of the ground. God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and he became a living soul (Gen. 2:7). The soul is not something that exists apart from the body, for we are not composed of a number of independent parts. We are one. At death, the spirit (the breath of life) returns to God, who gave it, and the body returns to dust, where it came from (Eccles. 12:7). The soul ceases to exist until the Second Coming. At that time, the creative power of God will go into action again, and the dead in Christ will be resurrected (the spirit or "breath of life" and the body will be united and will become a living soul). Then those who are alive will also be transformed: "this mortal will put on immortality" (1 Cor. 15:53).
How does Paul argue for the resurrection of the saints? 1 Cor. 15:12-20.
Paul uses the resurrection of Christ as a promise of our resurrection. Just as Christ was resurrected from the dead, those who have died in Him will be resurrected. Christ is the firstfruit of those who have fallen asleep in Him (1 Cor. 15:14-19).
"If Christ be not risen, Christian witness is condemned on two counts: (1) Jesus repeatedly declared that He would rise from the dead (see Matt. 16:21; 17:22, 23; 20:17-19; etc.), and if He did not rise, He was an impostor; (2) the apostles were basing their preaching on an event that they alleged did occur, and thus were parties to the imposture, holding out a hope that could not be fulfilled."SDA Bible Commentary, vol.6, p. 802.
The biblical picture of Creation, sin, death, the resurrection of Christ, and the resurrection at His second coming all fit together harmoniously. We are created, unified beings. Because of sin, we die, at which time the unified being ceases to exist. At the resurrection, the dead in Christ will be restored to life eternal with Him.
|What does the bodily resurrection of Christ mean to me? What does it say about my resurrection if I should die before He comes? What does it say about my transformation if I should live until He comes? How does this bring hope, courage, and comfort to me and to those with whom I work and live?|
When will the final reward be given and to whom? Matt. 16:27; Rev. 22:12.
What great separation will take place at the coming of Christ, and what will He say to each group? Matt. 25:31, 32, 34, 41.
The righteous are not rewarded at death but rather at the resurrection of the just (Luke 14:13, 14). They, as the writer of Hebrews observes, will not be made perfect without us (Heb. 11:39, 40). Paul anticipated the crown of righteousness that would be given him "on that Day," and not to him only "but also to all who have loved His appearing" (2 Tim. 4:8, NKJV).
How will the wicked respond to the coming of Christ, and what will happen to them? Rev. 6:14-17; 2 Thess. 1:7-10.
By the decisions made day by day, we determine our status at the coming of Christ. Our reward is determined during the judgment that takes place just prior to the Second Coming. Though works are not the basis of salvation, they are the basis of judgment; for works are the fruit of salvation. When the righteous are judged by their good works (the fruit of salvation), they are found to be clothed in the perfect righteousness of Christ.
At the Second Coming, the righteous dead will be resurrected to eternal life; the righteous living will be transformed, for this mortal shall put on immortality. The living wicked, however, will be destroyed at the coming of Christ. "In the beginning, man was created in the likeness of God, not only in character, but in form and feature. Sin defaced and almost obliterated the divine image; but Christ came to restore that which had been lost. He will change our vile bodies and fashion them like unto His glorious body. The mortal, corruptible form, devoid of comeliness, once polluted with sin, becomes perfect, beautiful, and immortal. All blemishes and deformities are left in the grave."The Great Controversy, p. 645.
|Are you among those who happily anticipate the appearing of Christ? Based on your answer, list some ways this would make a difference in your life this week.|
List some signs of the nearness of the Second Coming:
Matt. 24:6, 7 _________________________________________________________
Luke 21:11 __________________________________________________________
2 Tim. 3:1-5 __________________________________________________________
l Tim. 4:1, 2 __________________________________________________________
Matt. 24:14 _________________________________________________________
Why do you think there have been many attempts to set the date for Christ's second coming, considering what He says in Mark 13:32, 33?
"But the day and the hour of His coming Christ has not revealed.... Had He been at liberty to reveal this, why need He have exhorted them to maintain an attitude of constant expectancy? There are those who claim to know the very day and hour of our Lord's appearing.... But the Lord has warned them off the ground they occupy."The Desire of Ages, pp. 632, 633.
Why does Christ seem to delay His coming, and how can we help to hasten it? 2 Pet. 3:9-12.
God does not view delay the same way we do. One reason for the seeming delay is that He wants as many as possible to be saved. That is why Jesus commissions us to make disciples of all nations. "By giving the gospel to the world it is in our power to hasten our Lord's return. We are not only to look for but to hasten the coming of the day of God.... Had the church of Christ done her appointed work as the Lord ordained, the whole world would before this have been warned, and the Lord Jesus would have come to our earth in power and great glory."The Desire of Ages, pp. 633, 634.
|Does God's extended grace give us excuse to delay our decision for Christ and our preparation for His return? What are some possible benefits or dangers?|
Compare the days of Noah and of Lot with those just preceding the Second Coming. Luke 17:26-30.
It is not wrong to eat, to marry, to buy and sell land, to plant gardens, and to build. It is wrong to make these things our priority above preparation for our Lord's return. (Read Matt. 6:33, NKJV.)
Christ used a number of parables to describe our need to be ready for His coming. Show how each of the following parables illustrates this need for preparedness:
1. The thief at midnight (Matt. 24:43, 44) ______________________________________
2. The master's return (Matt. 24:45-51)________________________________________
3. The ten virgins (Matt. 25:1-13) _________________________________________
Have you ever missed a major event through indifference or carelessness? Your friends were there, the occasion was fantastic, the event memorable, but you were elsewhere. Many will miss the kingdom not only because of willful sin but also because of neglect.
In view of the nearness of Christ's coming, how should we live? 2 Pet. 3:11; Titus 2:11-13.
Abiding in Jesus fills us with confidence as we await His coming (1 John 2:28). Our love for Him and His appearing propel us to live to please Him in all things. Our hearts will thrill with love as they contemplate His return. If we truly love Him, we will prepare for His coming with the same joy and care with which a bride prepares to meet her bridegroom for the wedding ceremony.
FURTHER STUDY: Job 14:1-15; Isa. 33:14-17; 55-56:7; Matt. 24:12; Mark 13:32-37; Luke 17:26-30; 18:7, 8; 21:25-28; 2 Thess. 2:8-10; 1 Tim. 4:1-4; 2 Tim. 4:1-4; Heb. 10:27, 28; 12:29; Rev. 14:6, 7.
Read the chapters "The Time of Trouble" and "God's People Delivered," in The Great Controversy, pp. 613-652.
The prophets and apostles eagerly anticipated the return of Christ. Isaiah said, "Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us" (Isa. 25:9, NKJV). Paul looked "for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13).
Think of a time in your life when you could hardly stand to wait any longer for reunion with a spouse, parent, child, or a dear friend. You looked out the window; you walked out to the road; you thought of the first words you would say, and then... "Soon there appears in the east a small black cloud, about half the size of a man's hand. It is the cloud which surrounds the Saviour and which seems in the distance to be shrouded in darkness. The people of God know this to be the sign of the Son of man. In solemn silence they gaze upon it as it draws nearer the earth, becoming lighter and more glorious, until it is a great white cloud, its base a glory like consuming fire, and above it the rainbow of the covenant. Jesus rides forth as a mighty conqueror."The Great Controversy, pp. 640, 641.
SUMMARY: The plan of salvation is a connected whole from beginning to end. Just as Jesus Christ created by the word of His mouth in the beginning, so will He resurrect by the word of His mouth at the Second Coming. The Second Coming reverses the results of the transgression of humankind in the Garden of Eden it restores our full relationship with God. Jesus came to live and die on our behalf, in order to restore us to the perfection of our creation at His return.
J. H. Zachary
Tomaszyk Stanislaw is well known in his province of Poland. During his youth he had won many awards in the sport of weight lifting. He was proud of his muscular physique; he enjoyed excellent health and looked forward to a good life.
But shortly after his fortieth birthday he began to experience considerable pain in his joints. Stiffness and weakness set in. Soon this strong man had to use a wheelchair to get around.
One day while browsing in a book shop, he found a book on health. As he leafed through it, he decided he must have this book. He noticed that it was published by one of the sects in Poland that his priest had warned parishioners about. But he bought it anyway.
As he read the book, he found that the lifestyle suggestions made sense to him. He adjusted his life in accordance with the book's suggestions. He gave up meat and began following the eight principles for good health: good nutrition, exercise, use of water, sunshine, plenty of fresh air, temperance, adequate rest, and trust in God.
Stanislaw noticed that the book often referred to the Bible. He purchased a Bible and began reading it. As he found new biblical principals, he put them into practice in his life. He was amazed at the difference it made. As he continued reading the Bible, he realized that the Bible commands believers to keep Sabbath holy rather than Sunday. He began keeping the Sabbath.
Stanislaw's wife did not share Stanislaw's new religious enthusiasm or the changes he was making in his life, and eventually she left him. Undaunted, Stanislaw began searching for people who followed the principles he had found in the health book. He searched for five years before he met an Adventist pastor who confirmed that Seventh-day Adventists teach and practice the biblical and health principles he had found. Stanislaw is studying the Bible with the pastor and looks forward to being baptized.
In every community honest souls are searching for a better life by improving their health, reducing their stress levels, and finding answers to their spiritual questions. It is up to believers everywhere to find those honest hearts and lead them to the Source of all health and healing through Jesus Christ.
J. H. Zachary is international evangelism coordinator for The Quiet Hour in cooperation with the General Conference Ministerial Association.
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