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Returning King

 

Matthew 24:42-44; I Thess. 4:13-18; I John 2:28-3:3
Related Sunday School Lesson, Family Bible Series, April 25

While attending New Orleans Seminary, my family was confronted with a new definition of “bad weather.” Having lived in Georgia all our lives, we had no idea how powerful tropical storms could be. On one occasion, as a hurricane was pressing down on the swampy banks of the Louisiana coast, I sent my wife and small 6-month-old boy home to Georgia, while I worked through the night.

I planned to leave the next morning to be reunited with my family. As I watched the plane fly away, it tore my heart in two, realizing that the ones I cared for deeply were separated from me. Though it was temporary, the separation was difficult.

I did not make it through the night. As I was released from work, I got into my car and headed for my family. The waves were treacherous as I traveled across the bridge of Lake Pontchartrain, but it was worth it all when I held them in my arms.

Christ demonstrated His love for sinful mankind by suffering in our stead (Romans 5:8). Then He was raised from the grave, providing victory for all who would believe in Him. Jesus then built His church upon the true cornerstone of faith – Himself. He left this earth in order to prepare a place for those who would trust in Him (Matthew 14:1-6).

He has been gone now for almost 2,000 years, much longer than my few hours of anguish during that storm of temporary separation. My greatest demonstration of love for Amy and Will during that storm in Louisiana cannot compare to that of our Lord Jesus. He desires to be reunited with His family.

Jesus has promised that He would return for us, but when will this take place? How will Jesus come? What difference will His return make to those who believe on Him?

 

When will Jesus return for the church?
Matthew 24:37-44; I Thessalonians 5:2-10

Men have attempted to make estimation of the time of Christ’s return since the moment of His departure as recorded in Acts 1:9-11. Some have even promoted the date and time of their prediction, revealing their own ignorance in seeking to know something God has chosen not to reveal. Jesus explained in Matthew 25:13 that no one has knowledge of the day of His return. We are, however, given some insights into this future event.

First, Jesus has taught that His return is imminent. At any moment the sky could split, the trumpet could sound, and the dead could rise. The Apostle Paul instructed the early church to be watchful and sober, assuming that Jesus could return even at that early date. He eagerly expected the return of His Lord.

Second, Jesus revealed that His return would be as unexpected “as a thief in the night.” Much like the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37-39), people will be going about their normal, everyday activities, anticipating nothing of any real importance.

Third, Christ’s return will be quick “as lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west,” (Matthew 24:27). Many hope to ride the fence, choosing to fall on the side of Jesus just in time. There will be no time to get on board, understanding the glorious day of grace we have been given now. Christ is calling you to salvation today.

 

How will Jesus return for the church?

Standing before the high priest, falsely accused yet completely willing to be offered, Jesus personally prophesied of His future return “in the clouds” (Matthew 26:64). Our Lord will come with great power, gathering together the church – past and present – from around the world.

Though Jesus could choose to send a number of different servants to collect His chosen people, scripture records in I Thessalonians 4:16 that He will return for the church Himself. The Lord will come with the shout of divine victory, accompanied by the voice of angelic praise, followed by the trumpet of eternal deliverance for the saints. Though an exhaustive explanation of these divine events cannot be provided by man, it sure sounds awesome.

 

What difference will Jesus’ return make to the church?

The great expectation of the soon return of our Lord Jesus makes a tremendous difference in how we live our lives today. This blessed hope (Titus 2:13) is available to all who trust in the truth of Jesus Christ. He will come again and receive us, taking us home to be with Him eternally.

This future event not only brings hope, but it also provides an incomprehensible comfort. Through life’s struggles and trials we often find despair, but comfort in His promised return is always near. We are to encourage one another in the journey, pressing through the tough terrain and providing a source of comfort in the midst of crisis (I Thessalonians 5:11).

Makeover stories have become a cultural phenomenon, showing up in the strangest places ranging from daytime talk shows to The Learning Channel. I am often forced to watch these broadcasts against my will, during “family time.”

One thing is common with all of these various stories. Good or bad, the subject under scrutiny is always completely transformed. He or she never looks quite the same again. From their clothes and grooming habits to their hair color, they are radically changed.

II Corinthians 5:17 speaks of a change that we have all experienced as we met Jesus Christ, but there will be another day when we experience an unbelievable makeover. Scripture explains in I John 3:2 that “we shall be like Him,” fully justified, fantastically sanctified, and finally glorified, found acceptable before our Father God through the grace provided to us by Jesus Christ our Lord.