I remember in high school a friend inviting me over to his house in order to show me the movie A Thief in the Night. It was a movie about a young woman who ignores her family and friends who urge her to follow Jesus. Suddenly the true believers are taken away in ‘the rapture’ up to heaven, leaving her to face the terrible ‘great tribulation period’ of the last days.
The movie had quite an effect on me. It caused me to ask questions like: is this a true portrayal of what will happen in the end? What does the Bible say about what is to come in the last days? As I have looked into this over the years, I have found comfort in that the God who knows all things about the future has told us in Scripture certain things regarding ‘what is to come’ – and it is to be a comfort for believers in Jesus Christ. And so, for the next several posts we will look at what the Bible has to say about events that are still yet to come
The Return of Christ
The Bible makes clear that in the end, there will be a literal return of Christ, he will come again to consummate his rule. This truth was taught by the apostles and assumed throughout the New Testament. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven.” The Lord’s brother James refers to the future expectation of this coming when he writes, “Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming” (James 5:7).
Where did these men get this expectation that Jesus would return again? Well, it appears from the Lord Jesus Christ himself. When sitting with his disciples on the Mount of Olives, Jesus tells them, “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to another” (Matthew 24:30-31).
The Return of Christ will be a Personal, Visible, Glorious Return
Jesus will return personally. In John 14:3, Jesus says that, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself.” When Jesus ascended into heaven in Acts 1, without delay two angels came and said to the disciples, “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). So the Lord’s return will be a visible return.
Finally, it will also be a glorious return. Matthew 16:27 tells us that Jesus will return “in his Father’s glory,” and this glory will be visible to all. In Revelation 1:7, John writes, “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him….” Likewise, in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, Paul says that, “the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God.” Christ’s return will be a glorious one, clear to all that the Son of God has come. It will be a fitting return for the King of Kings.
Tomorrow we will examine what the Bible has to say on the time of Christ’s return.