The Bible teaches that one day Jesus will return to earth for His children. The details are somewhat shrouded in mystery, but scripture is absolutely clear that His coming is sure.
Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll continues a message he introduced on the previous program. We're looking at 1 Thessalonians chapter 4. Throughout history, some have mistakenly applied this passage to bizarre behavior. However, the Bible describes a sensible response for Christians who anticipate the glorious day when our Lord returns to gather His children. We'll begin with helpful highlights from 2 Peter chapter 1.
The goal of this message is to show you the facts regarding His return, that it is a fact, and that it can happen at any moment and you need to be ready. Turn if you will to Peter's words in his second letter. Let me show you something he writes as an eyewitness of the Lord Jesus concerning this return of the Lord. And I want to look at chapter 1 verse 16. For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.
Think of that. The one writing these words literally saw the Lord Jesus. We were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the majestic glory, this is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased. And we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. And so we have the prophetic word made more sure to which you do well to pay attention.
I have seen Him. I have heard the voice from heaven. I have listened to His teachings with my own ears and we have a more sure word and you do well to listen up. Across the page chapter 3 verse 3 he writes perhaps to skeptical ears even in this generation as he says, know this first of all that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking following after their own lusts and saying where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation. Verse 5, when they maintain this it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water through which the world at that time was destroyed being flooded with water.
They overlook a very important fact says Peter. They forget that this earth as it was created by God and as history was unfolding that in the middle of the movement of time God stepped in and brought a flood. But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire.
Before it was destroyed by water. Someday it'll be destroyed by fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice beloved that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day the Lord is not slow about His promise as some count slowness but is patient toward you not wishing for any to perish but to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come look at the prediction from an eyewitness account.
The day of the Lord will come like a thief in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat and the earth and its works will be burned up. In the old testament such well-known and reliable writers as Job, Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, and most of the minor prophets fixed at least part of their attention on the Lord's return. Christ spoke of it often especially after he revealed his death. Those who lived on following his teaching frequently mentioned his return in their preaching and in their writings.
A few days ago I had a part in the burial of a 21 year old young man whom we hated to lose through an automobile accident. I thought of Christ's return as I looked at the casket. Even more recently one of our own saints a hundred year old woman was passed into the Lord's presence and when I heard that immediately I thought the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout with the voice of the archangel with the trump of God and the dead in Christ shall rise first then those who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the close of the in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord. All of that revolving around our Lord's return. This return of Christ is not just something to claim when a test is coming at school.
I remember doing that too. But it is something to claim when it looks as though all hell has broken out in your life and there seems to be no reason or rhyme for it. You remember the end has not yet come. When he comes it will all make sense and believe me believe his word he is coming again. I want to show you from several verses of scripture and I promise not to take you through all 23 of the 27 new testament books but I've chosen a few of them. Matthew chapter 24 is a great place to start. So loosen up your fingers and pop your knuckles and let's go from one passage to another and just see what Jesus has said about his return and one occasion what angels have said and finally what the apostle John has said. Matthew 24 verse 42 Jesus is speaking. Therefore be on the alert for you do not know which day your Lord is coming but be sure of this that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you be ready too for the son of man is coming at an hour when you do not think he will. Chapter 25 verse 31 but when the son of man comes in his glory and all the angels with him then he will sit on his glorious throne.
Notice the words will not if but when he comes. From Matthew 25 turn to Mark chapter 8 verse 35. Isn't that beautiful music?
Listen to those pages. You realize how many how few places there are in this great big world of ours where you would hear the pages of the Bible in unison being turned like that? You know there are countries where you wouldn't even hear one Bible turn its pages?
Not even one. What a privilege we have to have the written word of God with its truths. Mark 8 35 for whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel shall save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Now look at this clinching statement. For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation the son of man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his father with the holy angels. This kind of teaching must have stunned the disciples. You see they looked forward to the establishment of his kingdom. They anticipated before the end of their generation that he would be ruling as king of kings and and lord of lords and they would be enthroned with him and they would be charter members in this kingdom band and they would see the overthrow of Rome and all the enemies of Israel. But then one dark night in the second story flat in some street in the city of Jerusalem Jesus had his last meal with them and he unfolded the awful truth that they just must have wanted to stop their ears from hearing I'm gonna leave you.
I'm gonna go away. John chapter 14 he develops the thought of what that meant for them. John 14 verses 1 to 3 seem to say it all. Looking into the eyes of those disillusioned men who must have felt a bit orphaned with the thought of his leaving them, he says, let not your heart be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me, in my father's house or many dwelling places.
If it were not so I would have told you. Now watch this, for I go to prepare a place for you. See, it's very important that you understand heaven is a place, that our eternal destiny is a place. It isn't a dream, it isn't a spirit thought.
Don't let any of the mystical religions confuse you. It is a definite place, a place which he is preparing for his own. Verse 3, and if I go and if I go and prepare a place for you, mark it, I will come again and receive you to myself that where I am there you may be also. Every believer who now resides in a casket, every believer whose body has been perhaps torn apart by ravenous beasts or by the elements of sea or by warfare or some kind of bloodshed or awful murder, regardless of the condition of that body, the Lord Jesus says, I will come again and I will receive you unto myself. That's a promise from his lips. Most of these men who heard his words died horrible deaths. Some of them sawn into, some of them torn apart by wild beasts. He said, I will come again and I'll receive you unto myself.
The condition of your body doesn't concern me. This promise stands firm. Look at verse 28, same chapter. You heard that I said to you, I go away and I will come to you.
See, he even repeats it for them. If you loved me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father for the Father is greater than I. Now Jesus went to the cross. He went to the tomb. He came out of the tomb victorious over death. He is the only one who has ever been resurrected, come back on this earth in glorified, in a glorified condition. So he has overcome death and he now 40 days later is on a mountain with his followers, Acts chapter 1.
And I want you to see the subject that is brought up again. His followers are here standing in front of him. The marks of the nails are still fresh in his hands and his feet. The mark from the from the spear that went into his side, they're looking with their very eyes at the literal resurrected Christ. Verse 6 chapter 1 of Acts, and so when they had come together they were asking him saying, Lord is it at this time you are restoring the kingdom to Israel? Have we taken care of everything so that now the kingdom will come? He said to them, it's not for you to know times or epochs which the father has fixed by his own authority, but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and even to the remotest part of the earth. And after he had said these things he was lifted up while they were looking on and a cloud received him out of their sight.
Wow! Can you imagine? All the way up out of sight. We think we're a big deal because we can put people in a rocket and send them around the earth a few times and bring them back. With no physical assistance, with nothing around him, near him, he was lifted up from earth to heaven and went through the clouds and they did just what you and I would have done. They stood with mouth open gazing intently into the skies. Verse 10, as they were gazing intently into the sky while he was departing, behold two men in white clothing stood beside them and they also said, men of Galilee, this is what I want to say to people who are preoccupied with Christ's return, spend all their life like this.
Their entire life is spent just like looking up, looking up, as if there's nothing around to take care of. I want to say, men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will come in just the same way as you have watched him go into heaven.
He's coming back. Looking up won't bring him any sooner. As we're going to see it in the next message I want to bring on this, I want to emphasize what we're to do in the meantime. And it's never told us that we're simply to stand around gazing in heaven. In fact, we're told not to do that.
But it doesn't mean we don't want him to come back quickly. The last book of the Bible, see aren't you relieved? Already to Revelation chapter 22. If your book of Revelation has more than 22 chapters, you got the wrong book friend, somebody added to it. Revelation 22 verse 16. What a great way to end the whole Bible.
Jesus is being quoted by John who writes these last words that found their way into the New Testament canon of scripture. 22 16, I Jesus have sent my angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David the bright morning star and the spirit and the bride say come and let the one who hears say come and let the one who is thirsty come.
Let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost. Verse 20, he who testifies to these things says yes, I am coming quickly. John adds, Amen. Come Lord Jesus and the grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen. If I had taken the time to read all the verses I could have read on the new on the return of our Savior, we would be together for several hours.
Trust me. And certainly if I had made comments regarding them. Now there are two passages that are worth turning back to and getting a little closer focus on, though we certainly can't do a great deal with either one. 1 Corinthians 15 is the first passage I want to look at the last section of that chapter and 1 Thessalonians 4 is the second I would like us to examine. Understand that neither one of these letters from which we will read happen to be the most significant and I mean that by volume of the biblical books on prophecy. The most significant Old Testament book on prophecy is Daniel, the most significant New Testament book on prophecy of course is the revelation of Jesus Christ from which we just read. But sandwiched between these books are these two passages I want us to look at for clarification. We need to know a little bit more about our destiny. The 1 Corinthians 15 passage emphasizes the change that will come over us when Christ returns for his own.
The Thessalonian passage emphasizes the order of events and how you can mark them down one, two, three, four just as it will occur in the future. Now 1 Corinthians 15, 50. After a wonderful statement on resurrection the Apostle Paul causes us to see a transition in verse 50 of this chapter. Now I say this brethren that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
Understand what he means. He is talking to people who are earthlings and people who have been earthbound all their lives. Therefore we are people in the process of dying. How many of us in our 50s can remember the days we were in our teens and in our 20s and there are already marks on our bodies that mark us as aging people.
We all have loved ones in their 80s and maybe even 90s and how much more so do we see the marks of the perishable of mortality. Now in order for these bodies of ours to last throughout eternity in what he calls here the kingdom of God there must be a change so that our bodies are made ageless. There must be some kind of molecular reconstruction that will come upon us in a glorified state that will equip us to last eternally since our existence will be a bodily existence in heaven.
Not simply spirit existence but bodily existence. So there has to be a change he says it again in verses 51 and 52. Behold I tell you a mystery we shall not all sleep but we shall all be changed in a moment. In the twinkling of an eye doesn't mean simply the blink of an eye it means the flash of light we often refer to the sparkle of an eye. In the sparkle of an eye the flash of light at the last trumpet the trumpet will sound the dead will be raised the dead will be raised imperishable and we shall be changed.
Why? Because the perishable must put on the imperishable and the mortal must put on immortality. Now first understand this is called in verse 51 a mystery. In our day a mystery means something that is complicated riddle-like.
Something that even though it's explained to you it is perhaps still rather complex. But the mustarion the mystery of Paul's day was not a word that meant something that was complex but something that was like a secret. Behold I want to tell you a secret and then once someone tells you the secret it isn't complicated.
Secret initiations once they're told are never complicated and riddle-like they're just not known without someone giving you information. Now that's the word here. Behold I want to reveal something that you will find mentioned nowhere else in God's revelation up till now.
What is that? It is this that there will be a generation alive at the time Christ comes back and those living believers at the time he splits the clouds and comes into the heavens for us those believers like the dead ones that will be raised those believers who are alive will also be changed. And missing death they will join the dead believers and all of them glorified in bodies they will be joined to be with the Lord forever. A mysterious day is coming when Jesus Christ will return to rescue his children and there's much more Chuck Swindoll wants to show us. We're talking about the return of Christ here on Insight for Living. To learn more about this ministry visit us online at insightworld.org. For some this dramatic scene where Jesus breaks through the sky provokes fear and a measure of skepticism but for the Christian believer it should as Paul said bring comfort and hope.
It's possible you're in a season of life that's filled with unwanted surprises. Chuck Swindoll wrote a brand new book called Clinging to Hope and it's our featured resource today. It's written in the style you've come to expect from Chuck and it's the perfect book to pass along to a friend or perhaps to a child or grandchild who needs a dose of encouragement. In Chuck's book he explains what to do when doors are slammed shut how to respond when unexpected tests rattle our world and how to find hope when calamity crashes in.
Again Chuck's brand new book is called Clinging to Hope. To purchase a copy right now go to insight.org slash hope or call us if you're listening in the United States call 800-772-8888. As you would imagine our world is filled with people who are desperately searching for hope and we make it our mission to send these daily programs far and wide so that people have access to authentic hope as defined in the Bible. In fact insight for living is translated in eight languages in addition to English expanding our audience in parts of the world where Bible teaching is rare. So thanks for remembering the critical importance of giving generously to insight for living.
To give a donation today give us a call if you're listening in the United States call 800-772-8888 or you can give online at insight.org slash donate. Treat yourself to a vacation you'll never forget on the insight for living ministries cruise to the great frontier with Chuck Swindoll. Honestly I had no idea that a cruise to Alaska could be so much fun and without a doubt the stunning views took my breath away. God's artistic genius is on full display in Alaska in fact I guarantee this you'll come home refreshed and filled with all for his majestic creation. Yeah at one point our ship was getting chased by dolphins they were playing and spinning in the waves it was amazing. You'll have plenty of time for adventures on shore lingering conversations around mealtime and strolling through the idyllic ports of call you'll be a part of some of the best parts of our day laughing singing and celebrating our God plan to come with us won't you? The dates are July 1st through July 8th 2023. To learn more call 1-888-447-0444 that's 1-888-447-0444 or visit insight.org slash events.
The tour to Alaska is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer join us next time when Chuck Swindoll continues his message about the certain return of Jesus Christ to earth right here on Insight for Living. The preceding message this coming is sure are you was copyrighted in 1985 1987 2005 and 2011 and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2011 by Charles R Swindoll Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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