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The Glorious Return of Jesus Christ, Part 3 B

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
June 27, 2022 4:00 am

The Glorious Return of Jesus Christ, Part 3 B

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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Then suddenly it will be all over.

In fact, there will be no war at all in the sense that we think of war. There will be just a word spoken from Him who sits astride the great white horse. Once He spoke a word to a fig tree and it withered away. Once He spoke to a legion of demons bursting at the seams of a poor man's soul and instantly they fled. And now He speaks a word and the war is over.

Thanks for joining us here on Grace to You with John MacArthur. We are right in the middle of a series that should be motivating you to pursue righteousness and to warn unbelievers of the peril to come. The title of this fascinating study on history that's yet to happen, When Jesus Comes. But before we look at the glorious return of Christ, John, you have a letter there that is a glorious example of God's faithfulness to the people He saves. And it's also a wonderful example of the power of biblical truth to mold a life for kingdom purposes. There's quite a few details in this story. So take a couple of minutes and read this for us.

No, I'd love to. This is a very special letter. It comes from Pastor Ray in Kokomo, Indiana. He writes, I was saved in 1976 and soon found out that many churches had no idea what the Bible teaches.

There's a contradiction. Many churches had no idea what the Bible teaches. He goes on, I was told that when Jesus saves you, your past sins are forgiven, but that doesn't mean your future sins will be forgiven.

Needless to say, I was miserable. One day, a friend saw a bumper sticker for the radio station WYRD in upstate New York. So he tuned in and heard a message from some California preacher named John MacArthur. Then I found out about a place called Word of Life Campground in Scroon Lake, New York, and learned that this same California preacher was going to be there speaking. In God's providence, I was able to go there and drink from the word preached by John MacArthur.

I didn't know how thirsty I was till that week was over. Amazing. After one of the sessions, I asked you, me, what books you would recommend that I study. You took down my address and you sent me a list of books that I should add to my library. I devoured those books you pointed me to. I fell in love with Galatians and my freedom from the law. I understood from Colossians that in Christ I had all I needed. And in 1 John, I found out that my sins were forgiven past, present, and future. For the first time, I understood what it was to grow in knowledge and the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Well now, many years later, I have purchased many of your books and your entire New Testament commentary. I also am thankful for the resources you have poured into the Grace To You website. Someone asked me recently where he should go to learn the Bible.

I told him to go through the book studies, the topical studies, and the blogs at gty.org. Well today, I'm pastoring a small church that some might say is insignificant. We have worked in prisons and jails so much that some people in our town call us the ex-church.

We have so many ex-felons, ex-substance abusers, and so on. While others take that in a negative way, I am grateful beyond measure to have saints who are exes. It reminds me of 1 Corinthians 6, such were some of you, but you have been washed. And then he closes by saying, I don't know how much time I have before God calls me home, but it is because of your faithful service that I can leave saying, I have completed the course. I praise the Lord Jesus Christ for your ministry. It's a great letter. He signs his name, Pastor Ray.

Bless you, Ray. That is so encouraging. And again, it speaks to the power of the Word of God. When you folks who are listening support Grace To You, you don't know what impact you're having. You may be directly impacting a pastor like Ray, whose ministry is enriched and flourishes because of the input that's coming from this ministry. And you can be sure that people from all walks of life are listening and growing, particularly prisoners.

We get lots of letters from prisoners. We see many conversions of those incarcerated. So thank you for praying for the work of Grace To You. And if you're able to stand with us with support, you'll make a difference in eternity for people's lives.

Yes, you will. And friend, this verse by verse teaching transformed Ray's life nearly 50 years ago. And by God's grace, we'll be teaching people about Christ for the next 50 years. If that kind of ministry resonates with you, contact us today and express your support.

But first, stay here and follow along as John MacArthur continues his study When Jesus Comes. Let me read you the text that we will address as we look together to God's precious Word. Revelation 19 and verse 17, And I saw an angel standing in the sun and he cried out with a loud voice saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, come assemble for the great supper of God in order that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves and small and great. And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against him who sat upon the horse and against his army. And the beast was seized and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of him who sat upon the horse and all the birds were filled with their flesh.

In spite of all of their efforts, in spite of all of the attempts to victory, they're going to be terribly defeated. I just want to speak of two things. Conquest announced and then conquest accomplished. Conquest announced and then conquest accomplished. The angel makes the announcement and when the announcement is complete and he has called the birds together to eat the flesh, then the sun goes black. The sun, Matthew 24, 29 says, will be dark and the moon will not give its light. The stars will fall from the sky and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then appears the Son of Man.

So first the announcement, then everything goes out and everything goes black. And then comes the blazing glory of the Son of Man in heaven. Well, the conquest is announced.

Let's look quickly then at the second point. The conquest is accomplished. Verse 19, I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat upon the horse and against His army. And John is looking at this incredible vision and he says, I saw the beast.

Who's that? It's the Antichrist, isn't it? The world ruler, one introduced in chapter 11 verse 7 and then described in chapter 13 verses 1 through 8. The beast and the kings of the earth, who are they? Well back in chapter 17, you remember that there are ten kings and the Antichrist has somehow divided the world into ten sectors and he has put somebody over those sectors who answers to him. So the Antichrist who rules the world and those who are immediately under him, these who are ruling over the ten sectors of the world, and then he says their armies, that's everybody who's collected there. Remember now the sixth bowl, chapter 16, the deception of the demons who come out of the pit, gather all these armies. So he says, I saw the Antichrist.

I saw the ten kings. I saw the armies from all over the world assembled to make war against Him who sat upon the horse and against His army. They have armies.

He has an army singular. They're assembled for the purpose of making war against Jesus Christ. And as I said, they'll be armed to the gills, armed to the teeth.

And the battle is set. And Zechariah 14 5 describes Christ's army as, quote, all the holy ones with Him, all the holy ones with Him. And so His enemies succeeded in killing Him when He came in humility and grace because it was the plan of God for salvation that He die. They hated Him when He healed and showed mercy. Imagine how they're going to hate Him when He has been judging them and is now ready to return to execute them.

And so they're armed and they're ready. Then immediately it happens, verse 20, the beast was piazzo, captured and with him the false prophet. The first thing you do is take the leaders and now you've destroyed the head. And so the beast is captured or seized and with him the false prophet. You remember him, he performed the signs in the presence of the beast by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. You remember the description of the false prophet back in chapter 13, verses 11 to 13, how he performed signs and wonders to convince people that the beast was a god. And then you remember in chapter 13, verses 16 and 17, how everybody who worshiped the beast was given a mark, the mark of the beast in their head or in the back of their hand and by that they could buy and sell and function in the society. And then in chapter 13, verses 14 and 15, it describes how they worshiped the beast. So the beast was seized and the false prophet who did the signs and wonders, who deceived those who received the mark and who caused people to worship his image. In other words, the army loses its leadership. These are two men, by the way.

I don't want to lose sight of that. They're two human beings. They're demonically empowered and indwelt, but they're human beings. One is the political leader of the world.

The other is the religious leader who has turned the religion of the world toward the Antichrist so he is both king and god. They are captured first. The armies lose their leaders immediately. And these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire.

Apparently they don't even die. There has to be some kind of transformation, but Christ just takes them and pitches them into the lake of fire. This is the first mention of that place which is the final eternal flaming hell. There is a hell or always has been a hell being separated from God. It is always a place of torment, but this is its final form. It's called the lake of fire. Any place separated from the presence of God is a hell of some kind, but this is the final form of that hell.

And the first two to populate it are the Antichrist and the false prophet. Daniel 7, 11, he saw the same thing. I kept looking until the beast was slain and its body destroyed and given to the burning fire.

So Daniel sees some kind of destruction. John says they were cast alive into the lake of fire. Their bodies may literally have been killed, but of course their spirits go alive into hell.

It's hard to resolve those two texts, but the Lord knows the significance of them. But nonetheless, certainly they have to be altered or changed as they go into that hell in order not to be instantly consumed. So maybe there is remaining flesh in the world as they are executed and their spiritual being is somehow transported to hell. This is not Hades.

Hades is a temporary place. This is the final lake of fire. Later on, by the way, we'll find in chapter 20 that the devil and all his demons will be sent there because it was prepared for them. And sad, sad, so will all unbelievers at the end of the great white throne judgment be taken and sent into the final lake of fire.

This lake of fire tells us several things that are important. It's good evidence that there's no such thing as annihilation of the ungodly. Some people say when the ungodly die they're annihilated. It doesn't make sense because these two people, the beast and the false prophet, are thrown into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. They're thrown in, then the kingdom begins. Down in chapter 20 verse 10, the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone at the end of the thousand-year kingdom where the beast and the false prophet are also.

So they didn't get annihilated when they arrived there, did they? They're still there a thousand years later. And then verse 15, anyone's name was not written in the book of life, he was thrown into the same lake of fire. Isaiah looked at this lake of fire, chapter 66, and says it's a place where their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched. Jesus Christ looked at this place and called it Everlasting Fire, where the worm dies not and the fire is not quenched.

Called it Gehenna. That was a smoldering, constant fire in the city dump of Jerusalem that never went out. Jesus said, As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it shall be in the end of the world. The Son of Man shall send forth His angels and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend and them that do iniquity and cast them into a furnace of fire.

There shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. The chaff He will burn with fire unquenchable. Matthew 25, 41, it's called Everlasting Fire.

Revelation 14, 11 says, The smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever. John says this lake of fire burns with brimstone. Chapter 20 verse 10 says the same thing, it burns with brimstone. Chapter 21 verse 8 says, The lake that burns with fire and brimstone.

It's just to make a more graphic description, brimstone, a sulfuric kind of chemical thing that makes it explosively hot. And that's what's going to happen to the rest of the people of the world, not just these two. They have the privilege of being the first two to populate the final place, the final place of destruction, the eternal hell.

How sad and how tragic. But then after all, they're the two most blasphemous human beings who ever lived. They're the two who had the greatest exposure to preaching and miracle power and judgment. And they are the first to be given the distinction of being eternally separated from the presence of God.

And the rest of the world will follow. And that takes us to the last verse, verse 21, And the rest...all the rest of these armies were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh. Remember now, chapter 19 verse 15 says, Out of His mouth comes a sharp sword, that with it He'll smite the nations.

This is His Word, isn't it? The whole world of sinners is killed. Not just the armies, but whatever sinners are left all over the globe.

And not all of them will be gathered there. The armies will be there, but there'll be some people remaining and they'll all be killed as well. He'll smite the peoples, chapter 19 verse 15 says. Swift, devastating death comes as He speaks. John Phillips has written, Then suddenly it will be all over.

In fact, there will be no war at all in the sense that we think of war. There will be just a word spoken from Him who sits astride the great white horse. Once He spoke a word to a fig tree and it withered away. Once He spoke a word to howling winds and heaving waves and the storm clouds vanished and the waves fell still. Once He spoke to a legion of demons bursting at the seams of a poor man's soul and instantly they fled. And now He speaks a word and the war is over. The blasphemous, loud-mouthed beast is stricken where He stands.

The false prophet, the miracle-working windbag from the pit is punctured and still. The pair of them are bundled up and hurled headlong into the everlasting flames. Another word and the panic-stricken armies reel and stagger and fall down dead. Field marshals and generals, admirals and air commanders, soldiers and sailors, rank and file, one and all they fall and the vultures descend and cover the scene.

Just an incredible, incredible picture of how it's all going to end. Zechariah 14 describes it with these words. Verse 3, The Lord will go forth and fight against those nations as when He fights on a day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives which is in front of Jerusalem on the east and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley so that half of the mountain may move toward the north and the other half toward the south. You will flee by the valley of My mountains. In other words, God's people will be able to flee from Antichrist and from the devastation right through that valley to Azel. Yes, you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Isaiah, King of Judah. The Lord my God will come and all the holy ones with Him. And it will come about in that day there will be no light.

The luminaries will dwindle. It will be a unique day which is known to the Lord neither day nor night, but it will come about that at evening there will be light. It's all going to go dark and then boom, the light of Christ's coming. It will come about, the living waters will flow out of Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea.

It will be in summer as well as in winter. Somehow the whole topography of Israel is going to change. He hits the Mount of Olives, splits the thing wide open, the people all flee, then the water flows through that new valley and creates a blossoming desert. And the Lord will be King over all the earth. In that day the Lord will be the only one, in His name the only one. Now this will be the plague, verse 12 says, with which the Lord will strike all the people who have gone to war against Jerusalem. Here's how they're going to die.

Listen to this. Their flesh will rot while they stand on their feet, just like that. Their eyes will rot in their sockets and their tongue will rot in their mouth. And it will come about in that day that a great panic from the Lord will fall on them. They will seize one another's hand and the hand of one will be lifted against the hand of another. As they're rotting away, they'll kill each other, strike each other. It's a frightening scene.

It's certainly not something to be relished, something to be dreaded and feared. This is going to come at the end. But Daniel chapter 12, verse 12, extends it out, actually 75 days if you add it all up past the end of the tribulation, some kind of time period. It may well be that that 45 days and ultimately 75 days is the days when the birds eat the feast of flesh followed by the burial. And then this passage closes the chapter, all the birds were filled with their flesh. Can you imagine John seeing all this vividly before his eyes?

And you know, you read all that, and you're reminded of what Peter said. He said, and it's just hard to imagine, he said, know this, 2 Peter 3, that in the last days, mockers will come with their mocking saying, Where is the promise of His coming? There will always be deniers. There will always be those who are going to deny that Jesus is coming.

Where is the promise of His coming? They are mockers. You know what their argument is? It's the argument of ridicule. It's not an intellectual argument, it's just the argument of ridicule.

They play on the disappointment of people who have been waiting and waiting and waiting and hoping and hoping. Their mockery comes out of their ridiculing hearts. And then their mockery comes out of the love of sin. It says they follow after their own lusts. And anybody who follows after his own lusts doesn't want a day of reckoning, right? They want to pursue their sexual pleasure and they do not like evangelical eschatology. They want an eschatology that suits their behavior. They don't want to hear about judgment on sin. So they argue from ridicule, they argue from morality or immorality, and then they argue from uniformity. They say, forever since the fathers fell asleep, all things continued just as they were from the beginning of creation.

You know what their argument is? Well it will never happen because it never has. It's like saying, I'll never die, I never have.

It's the argument from uniformity. There can't be a divine judgment like that. There never has been one. Why anybody understands evolution? We've been around for billions and billions of years and this deal just keeps going along and it's just always been the same, no judge, no God, no judgments, no eschatology, no accountability. You see, that's what evolution is and that's what natural approach to the world is. It's just a way to escape accountability. And Peter says, I think they forgot the Flood.

I think they forgot. They had escaped their notice that God created an immense catastrophe when He turned loose the heavens in the Flood. Their foolish arguments notwithstanding, Jesus will come. And what are the argument of believers? The argument from Scripture.

He says, remember the words spoken before by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles. In spite of what the mockers say and their ridicule and their love of sin and their belief in uniformity, your argument is Scripture. Secondly, your argument is history, the Flood. Thirdly, your argument is eternity.

What does that mean? God's not bound by a clock, folks. Don't let this one fact escape your notice that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. God's not operating by your watch. And if you look at your watch and your little calendar and say, well it never has happened, it certainly never will, God's not confined to your timetable. And then you can argue from grace, the Lord is not slow about His promise, He's just patient because He wishes not any to what? To perish. We argue from Scripture and history, we argue from eternity, we argue from grace that Jesus is coming. And then Peter says, 2 Peter 3, 10, the day of the Lord will come like a thief in which the heavens will pass away with a roar, the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, the earth, the works will be burned up. And since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be? That's the question, isn't it? I think you want to be the kind of person who escapes this judgment.

That's only sensible. By God's grace, I pray you will be. Father, thank You for this time, as frightening as it is, as fearful, as tragic, as horrifying to think about people in eternal punishment, eternal hell. Yet, Lord, we know that this gives You glory and brings You honor and we know that this comes at the end of the greatest expression of the preaching of the gospel in the history of the world. This comes at a time when You have demonstrated Your power over and over, Your miracle power, Your judgment power. You've shown Your mercy. You've shown Your grace. You've shown Your justice, Your wrath.

You've put it on display day after day after day. The gospel has been preached to every person, from preachers and evangelists to angels flying through the heavens, and Your grace has extended itself patiently all the way to absolute obstinacy and hardness of man. And then when all they do is shake their fist and curse You, the judgment falls. Oh Father, we know You're not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

You have no pleasure in the death of the wicked. And we know that's why You sent Your Son, Jesus Christ, because You so loved the world that You wanted to provide a Savior, a way of escape, one who could bring the forgiveness of sin so that sinners would never have to experience Your judgment. I would pray in the hearing of this message, You would be gracious to sinners and save them from the wrath to come. We thank You, Father, that we don't look for this event.

We look for the rapture when You collect us out of this world and take us to the place You prepared for us in heaven, a place of bliss and joy, not a place of eternal punishment. May this message grip our hearts. And those of us who are Christians may be filled with joy and a sense of responsibility like Paul who said, knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men. May it give us a desire to speak the truth to those who are perishing. We bless You for this day and all that it has brought to us and give You praise in Christ's name. Amen. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur.

Thanks for being with us. John's current prophecy study is showing you what will happen when Jesus comes. Well, before the lesson, John read a letter from a man named Ray who credits Grace to You's verse-by-verse teaching with opening his eyes to the gospel.

He's now a pastor with a thriving prison ministry. We're able to reach people like Ray because of the support of friends like you. To partner with us in a ministry that changes lives, contact us today. You can mail your tax-deductible gift to Grace to You, Box 4000, Panorama City, California, 91412, or call us at 800-55-GRACE. You can also donate online at gty.org. Thank you for all that you do to support our verse-by-verse teaching.

And a special thanks if you're a Grace partner. Again, to help connect people with biblical truth in your area and beyond, call 800-55-GRACE or go to gty.org. And whether or not you're able to make a donation, I would encourage you to let us know how you're benefitting from John's verse-by-verse teaching. If a particular radio study has transformed your understanding of biblical truth, we'd love to hear your story. Our email address is letters at gty.org. That's letters at gty.org. Or if you prefer regular mail, write to Box 4000, Panorama City, California, 91412. Now for John McArthur, I'm Phil Johnson, encouraging you to join us tomorrow when John looks at the amazing way Christ will change the world when he establishes his kingdom. Be here for John's continuing look at the Second Coming with another half hour of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-29 11:33:52 / 2023-03-29 11:44:49 / 11

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