Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Second Advent of Christ

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss reminds you that the hope of Jesus' return has encouraged believers through the centuries, and it will encourage you.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: It is that hope that has encouraged them in dark times. It has sustained them in seasons of suffering and oppression.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, April 10, 2015.

Nancy: Well, today we come to the close of our series on "The Incomparable Christ," and what a journey this has been for so many of us during this Lenten series. I know over the six months it has taken us to record the series—the hours and weeks of study and preparation for me—it's just been such a  joyful, encouraging, and challenging opportunity to spend so many concentrated hours focusing on Christ. I have been thrilled by the impact the series has been having in people's lives and some of the responses that we've been hearing from listeners.

Let me share a few of them that we've received recently that I know will be an encouragement to you. I got an email from a gal on our team here at Revive Our Hearts who said to me:

The Incomparable Christ series has been so rich and convicting and has ministered to me as I have fallen in love with Christ by learning things I honestly never even thought about. I am continually amazed that He in His greatness and perfection allows me to be called His daughter. Amazing love, how can it be.

Another woman wrote us recently and said, “I was listening to Nancy tonight and prayed the prayer to accept Christ into my heart.” We've prayed during this series that those who don't have a personal relationship with Christ would come to true repentance and faith. I believe there are more, even this week or perhaps today that God is wanting to save through this look at the incomparable Christ.

Another woman said, "More than ever before my heart cries 'I believe you, Jesus.'" I love that, and I hope that is what your heart is crying. Then I got another note yesterday—I didn't get to read it until late last night—from someone in another state who said,

This focus on Christ has been like drinking pure, clean spring water—it has refreshed the whole being of this woman! Forty days of teaching about Jesus is not enough! We need forty weeks! And then more!

Let me encourage you to write and tell us what this series has meant to you. You can go to ReviveOurHearts.com and post a comment on the comment blog there. You can send us an email. You can post on Facebook or Twitter. Just let us know how it's encouraged you, and I know that will encourage our team.

If you missed any sessions or want to share this series with others, this foundational, doctrinal series on who Jesus is and why He came, the whole series available on CD and mp3. Perhaps you want to save it for the next Lenten season and use it if you didn't go through the whole thing this time, or maybe even again as a journey to walk you through this series on the life of Christ.

So, we've looked at the span of Christ's life and ministry.

  • We started with His eternal preexistence—what He was doing before He came to earth as a man.
  • We looked at His incarnation—how He humbled Himself and took on human flesh.
  • We saw His childhood, youth, and early manhood.
  • We went with Him to His baptism and to His wilderness temptation.
  • We've considered His deity and humanity, teaching ministry, and His transfiguration.
  • We looked at His humility and His serenity—that was one of the ones, by the way, that has really stuck with me. The serenity of Christ—that's a word I hardly know anything about. I want to know more about it and I see it in Christ.
  • We've seen His prayer life. We saw Him crying out to the Father in Gethsemane.
  • We spent a number of days talking about His trial, His atoning work on the cross, the seven words of Christ from the cross, and all that they say to us about the redemptive ministry.
  • This week we've been looking at His resurrection, the forty-day ministry following His resurrection, His ascension, and His high priestly ministry in heaven on our behalf.

So our portrait is nearly complete of the incomparable Christ, but not quite.

There is one major aspect of this incomparable Savior that we haven’t touched on yet. It is the capstone, the crowning point of Jesus’ life and ministry. In talking about Christ, we celebrate not only His past life and sufferings and triumphs, not only His present ministry—wonderful as that is—but by faith, we eagerly anticipate and celebrate the point toward which all history is moving. We are told about what we are to expect and to anticipate in a promise made by angels to Jesus’ disciples who had just watched Him ascend back to the Father in a cloud. Do you remember what that promise was?

We read it in Acts 1:

And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:10–11).

The return of Christ. He left and went back to heaven, but He is coming back. The return is the climax and consummation of the ages. It's an event mentioned over 300 times in the 210 chapters of the New Testament. The return of Christ has always been the great hope and longing of Christ’s followers. It is that hope which has encouraged them in dark times. It has sustained them in seasons of suffering and oppression.

Now, there is a lot that Scripture doesn’t tell us about the second coming, a lot of details that it doesn’t supply for us. So that's led to a lot of speculation and debate—perhaps a lot of that unnecessary. But we know enough to assure our hearts and to motivate us to be prepared for His return.

We know, first of all, that He will return. There's no uncertainty about that. We know that as His departure was literal, visible, and physical, so His return from heaven to earth will also be literal, visible, and bodily. Isn't that what the angel said? "In the same way that you saw Him go into heaven, He will come back to earth." "Every eye will see him, even those who pierced him” (Rev. 1:7). It will be a physical, literal, bodily return of Christ to earth.

We know from Scripture that His return will be sudden—like a flash of lighting, Jesus said in Matthew 24:27. We know it will be unexpected. We read that in 2 Peter 3:4 and Matthew 24:44. We know that when He returns it will be with glory and power. Multiple places in the Scripture talk about that. We're going to take a look at that in this session.

Let me invite you to turn in your Bible to a wonderful key passage on the second coming of Christ in the book of 2 Thessalonians 1. There were many places we could go, but this was the passage that was on my heart as I considered how to do one session on the return of Christ. I'm actually going to read the entire chapter—it's not a long chapter—and make just a few observations about it. Paul, of course, is writing to the church in Thessalonica not too long after Jesus had ascended back to heaven.

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring (vv. 3–4).

Now, we could do a whole session just on that paragraph. But what incredible characteristics and evidences that these people truly were the body of Christ, that they belong to Christ. They had a faith that was growing abundantly. They had love for each other that was increasing. They weren't just static in their faith. They were growing spiritually. They were maturing spiritually. And Paul said they had steadfast faith in their persecutions and in their afflictions. They are suffering for their faith, but they are persevering. These are all evidences that they belong to Christ.

Now to that group of believers, to that church, and to all true churches of Christ, to all true believers, Paul in the next paragraph introduces the concept of the second coming of Christ. You're here. You're growing in grace and in love. You're persevering. You're experiencing affliction. But what can keep you faithful when it gets really hard? What can keep you growing when you want to just take it easy for awhile and coast spiritually?

Am I the only one here that has these feelings? Like, “Oh, I'm tired of sanctification. It's hard!” I'm not recommending that attitude. What keeps us pressing in, pressing on, pressing upward, pressing into Christ, persevering in the hard times, keeping us growing? It's the promise of the second coming of Christ.

That's what Paul says beginning in verse 5 of 2 Thessalonians 1.

This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering—since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed (vv. 5–10).

Let me just break that down in a little more simple way. In that passage I just read, verses 5–10, you see two categories of people, don't you? First, there are those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. Those who have not repented of their sins. That's one category. The other category is what Paul refers to as His saints, those who have been made holy by Christ, those who have believed in Christ. Those who do not obey the gospel and those who are saints because they have believed. Those are the two categories of people.

We see that there are two very different outcomes of the return of Christ, depending on which of those groups you are a part of. Let me say, you are in one of those two groups. You're in one or the other. The fact that you are a church member does not mean that you're in the group of those who are saints who have believed in Christ. Only those who have believed in Christ are saints, who have repented of their sins, placed their faith in Christ. If you have not believed, then you are in that category of those who have refused to obey the gospel of God.

What are the two different outcomes? To those who are in the first category who are unbelievers—those who have not obeyed the gospel of our Lord Jesus—this passage says that they will experience God’s awful, terrible vengeance and wrath. They will suffer “punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.”

There are some today within evangelical circles, so-called, who would challenge this and say the destruction and the punishment is not eternal. This is one of the clearest passages saying that yes, the punishment is eternal, never ending, unending punishment and destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His might. Those who are in this category, Paul tells us, will be repaid with affliction for the way they have afflicted God’s people. So, that's one outcome of the second coming of Christ.

We think of the second coming of Christ as something glorious and wondrous. It is, but only for believers, only for His saints. For those who have not believed the gospel of God, the second coming is something to be dreaded, to be feared. I think of that old spiritual, “Where you gonna run to sinner-man on that day?” There will be no place to hide, no place to run. Only eternal damnation, condemnation, and destruction.

But what a different outcome for that second category, for those who are His saints who have believed in Christ. It says that when Christ returns, He will be glorified in His saints. He will be marveled at among them. Those saints will be granted relief from all the affliction they have suffered.

There are those who afflict others now. Their payment is coming someday. There are those who are afflicted now. Their relief is coming some day. You can have your relief now or later. For those who suffer now for their faith in Christ, Paul says when Jesus returns He will grant relief to those who are afflicted.

So he closes this chapter by saying,

To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ (vv. 11–12).

One of the clearest biblical passages on the fact that the second coming of Christ brings with it both judgment and salvation, wrath and deliverance from wrath, wrath for those who have not obeyed the gospel. If you're hearing my voice today and have never obeyed the gospel, repent! The Scripture commands us to repent and to believe the gospel that Christ died for you and was raised for your justification, so that when Jesus comes, you can experience relief, joy, and the fullness of eternal life and blessing in His presence.

Well, the second coming of Christ will be in most respects very different from His first coming. As I was pondering this the other day, I made a list of some of the comparisons and differences between the first coming of Christ, His first advent—which we looked at earlier in the series—and His second advent, or His second coming.

  • He came the first time as an infant, born in time and space, small and weak.
  • He will return as the everlasting King, great in strength and glory.
  • When He came the first time, His glory was shrouded and concealed from human view.
  • When He comes the second time, His glory will shine brightly.
  • His first coming was obscure. It witnessed only by a few poor shepherds. Few recognized who He was.
  • At His second coming, every eye will see Him, and all will know who He is.
  • He came the first time as the Lamb of God.
  • When He returns it will be as the Lion of the tribe of Judah.
  • At His first coming He was judged and condemned to die by sinful men.
  • When He returns it will be as the Judge, to execute justice and judgment on all who have refused to repent of their sins.
  • The first time He came to this earth as a Man of Sorrows.
  • When He returns it will be as Almighty God.
  • At His first advent He rode into Jerusalem on a lowly donkey.
  • When He returns He will be riding on a white horse.
  • When He came the first time, only a few bowed to pay Him homage.
  • When He returns every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
  • The first time He came to earth to die.
  • The second time He will come to earth to reign.
  • The first time He came as a humble servant.
  • The second time He will come as the Commander in Chief of the armies of heaven.
  • The first time He washed the feet of His disciples.
  • When He returns all His enemies will be under His feet.
  • The first time He came He wore a crown of thorns.
  • When He returns He will be crowned with many crowns, the King upon His throne.
  • He came the first time to make peace between God and man.
  • When He returns it will be to make war on those who have rebelled Him.
  • He came the first time as our suffering Savior.
  • He will return as our sovereign reigning Lord.

So in the light of the promise of His second coming, the Scripture tells us several things. It tells us we are to “love His appearing” and long for it (2 Tim. 4:8). It means we shouldn't put our stakes down too deeply here on this earth. We need to keep our hearts detached from this earth and attached to heaven.

It tells us that we are to be alert, watchful and waiting for His return, realizing that it could be at any moment (see 2 Peter 3:12–13). We are to live holy lives in light of the promise of His return (see 1 John 3:3). And, we are to zealously and faithfully serve and proclaim Christ to others until He comes, till He returns (see Luke 12:43).

This is not just a waiting period. This is not just a period in limbo. This is a period to be eagerly anticipating, waiting, longing, and hastening, the Scripture says, the day of His return—preparing ourselves and others for that great day.

When General Douglas MacArthur was forced to leave the Philippines in the early part of World War II to escape the Japanese offensive, he made a short speech, which ended with the phrase for which he is best known: “I shall return.”

More than two years later, on October 20, 1944, General MacArthur fulfilled his promise. He returned to the Philippines in victory. Just moments after he waded ashore at Red Beach, he spoke with great emotion to the Filipino people.

General Douglas MacArthur: People of the Philippines: I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God our forces stand again on Philippine soil—soil consecrated in the blood of our two peoples. We have come, dedicated and committed, to the task of destroying every vestige of enemy control over your people . . . The hour of your redemption is here.

Nancy: Well, 2000 years ago, the Lord Jesus, the great General of our faith, left this world in the midst of a hotly contested battle. When he left He made a promise: “I shall return.” Year after year, generation after generation of His followers have held fast to that promise, even when it seemed that the enemy was making great gains.

But one day He will fulfill His promise. So, as the Scripture says, “Lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28 NASB). And in that day, the trumpet of God will sound, the man on the white horse will appear from heaven. His feet will once again stand on this soil. He will destroy once and for all every vestige of enemy control over His people. He will reign for ever and ever and ever. Amen.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back to pray. She's been describing our incredible hope: Jesus will come to this earth again. That messages wraps up the series "The Incomparable Christ." It's been a deeply meaningful study, showing us who Jesus is and what He has done for us.

We began airing it as the Lenten season began, and it's sad to see it close. I hope you'll get a copy for yourself on CD. Then, you can listen each Lenten season again and again. When you order, you'll get longer versions of Nancy's teaching segments, since sometimes we need to shorten them on the radio. For details on "The Incomparable Christ" on CD, visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

We've been able to tackle this in-depth study of Jesus thanks to listeners who generously give. If you appreciate the teaching you hear on Revive Our Hearts, would you support the ministry with a gift today? As a way of saying “thanks,” we'll send you the book, The Incomparable Christ by Oswald Sanders. This is the book Nancy read that got her thinking about this radio series. She then used the chapters in the book as a jumping-off point for her own teaching.

Ask for The Incomparable Christ when you donate by phone. The number is 1–800–569–5959, or donate online at  ReviveOurHearts.com. We'll send one per household with your donation.

In our day, voices and ideas swirl around you everywhere. How do you know whether you’re hearing the truth?  Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Mary Kassian show you how to develop discernment and build your life on sound doctrine. They’ll talk about it Monday—and they’ll let you know about their brand new Bible study, True Woman 201: Interior Design. Now Nancy Leigh DeMoss is back to pray.

Nancy: Lord, how we thank You; how we worship You. You are the incomparable Christ. There is none like You. Thank You for these weeks of time to meditate on You, to ponder You, to explore the unfathomable mysteries of who You are, of your greatness, of Your work, of Your redeeming works on our behalf. O Lord, we have just scratched the surface. We have not been able to do justice to the greatness of who You are.

We thank You that You have touched our hearts, have manifested Yourself to us. You have left us with hope and with a great promise that You will return. Continue, Lord Jesus, to make Yourself known to us, and through us to other, that the world may see and know and worship, may believe that You truly are the incomparable Christ. We pray it in Your holy name. Amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

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