How Many Second Comings Are There?

Between the recent article concerning the pre-wrath rapture and the recent availability of the “History of the Future” book on Amazon, I’ve been spending a good deal of time dealing with eschatological matters.  In the process, I’ve bumped into an argument that is shared by advocates of pretty much every other position than premil/pretrib.  It goes like this —

The pretribulational position asserts that Jesus will return for His church before the seven year tribulation and then return years later to accomplish His wrath and establish His kingdom.  So, just how many "second comings" are there???

The assumption behind the argument is that Christ can and will only return to Earth once and do whatever needs doing at that time.  Otherwise, there’s more than one “second coming.”  There’s a “third coming,” or maybe even a fourth. Hence, no pretrib rapture.

I’d like to respond.

The phrase “second coming” isn’t in the Bible.  The closest we get to that phrase in Hebrews 9:28, which reads —

“So Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.”

We think in terms of the first and second comings of Christ in order to differentiate His incarnation and ministry (including His death, burial,  resurrection, and ascension) from His promised return.

Now, in order to think biblically about Christ’s “second time” appearance, let’s consider what happened the first time around.  And let’s ask the question: How many “appearances” make up His “first coming”?

Let’s count the period from Christ’s birth to His resurrection as one comprehensive whole — His life, so to speak. Immediately after His resurrection, He would not let Mary touch Him, stating, “I have not yet ascended to the Father.”  (John 20:17)  But soon after, in a matter of days, when He appeared in the midst of His disciples, Jesus invited Thomas to touch Him (John 20:27).  We can safely assume that He had been to His Father.  He left the planet and returned.  

So, is that a “second coming” or is it part of the first? We all count it as part of His first coming. Christ’s “first coming” has multiple appearances. Like His later appearance to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:31-35) And later, He stood in their midst as they recounted the story (Luke 24:36).

He appeared again to Peter and another six apostles by the Sea of Tiberius (John 21:1-14).  Later, after His ascension back to Heaven, Jesus appeared to Saul of Tarsus on his way to Damascus (Acts 9:1-8).  In fact, Saul (whose name was changed to Paul) argued that his apostleship was based in the fact that he had actually seen the Lord (1Cor. 9:1) after multiple other appearances —

“… He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.” (1Cor. 15:5-8)

Time passes.  Best history and tradition tell us that Paul died somewhere in the mid-to-late 60’s AD.  His fifth missionary journey ended around 67 AD, after which he was beheaded by Nero.  Meanwhile, the apostle John was banished to the Isle of Patmos under the reign of Domitian, sometime around 90-92 AD.  And who appeared to him?  Jesus again.  Somewhere in the range of sixty years after His ascension, Jesus appeared to John to impart the information we call the book of Revelation.

How many appearances is that now?

Here’s my point — if the “first coming” of Christ included multiple appearances to different people, in different situations, for different reasons, including calling John up to Heaven (Rev. 4:1), over a period of time that spanned 60 years, then I don’t see any inconsistency with the idea that Jesus could appear to (and for) His church and later return in judgment.  Both of those events would comfortably fit into what we call the “second coming.”

After all, He did it the first time.

 

 

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ABHOTF on Amazon

I’m happy to announce that my book “A Brief History of the Future” is now available on Amazon as a Kindle download.  That makes four of our books on Amazon.  And all for the low price of 2.99 each.

“A Brief History of the Future” is a primer in eschatology that serves as a defense for the premillennial, pretribulational view.  And you can download it to your Kindle via the following link —

ABHOTF at Amazon

And you can find all four of our books here —

Kindle books

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The Pre-wrath Rapture of the Church

Although I have occasionally been asked about my thoughts concerning the pre-wrath rapture of the church, I have never written or spoken on the topic at any length. Of all the eschatological positions, we share the most common ground with the adherents of the pre-wrath position. Still, since questions continue to come up, I have written an article that explains why I have yet to be convinced of the pre-wrath end-times scheme. For those unfamiliar with pre-wrath, this article will serve as a primer. For those familiar with it, this article will demonstrate some of its strengths and weaknesses. But, all in all, this article explains why I remain unconvinced.

Click the link below to read (or download) the pdf.

The Pre-Wrath Rapture Q&A

Plus, if you’re one of those people who has more time to listen than to read, we have posted an audio version of this article that includes additional information and evidence that is not included in the written version.  You can stream or download the audio version here —

The Pre-Wrath Rapture Audio Q&A

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July 2015 Conference Messages and Notes

July was a busy month.  It started in Mesquite and wound up in Chattanooga.  I promised to post my notes here on the blog.  So, below you’ll find both the audio and notes from each conference.

At the Sovereign Grace Bible Conference in Mesquite, TX. I spoke for three nights.  I called the series “Selections from the Gospel of John.”

Part 1 —

Part 2 —

Part 3 —

And here are my notes in PDF format — Mesquite 2015 Notes

 
At the Sovereign Grace Bible Conference in Chattanooga, TN. I preached a message called “Christ, Our Propitiation.”

And here are my notes for that message. Chattanooga 2015 Notes

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Reflecting on the Day’s Events

Hello Friends,

How is your day going? You okay?

Nothing that happened today is surprising. It was predictable and predicted. When sinful humans rule over other sinful humans they can only come to sinful conclusions. They have no other option.

It was interesting reading the four dissenting opinions. It’s a rare thing when every dissenting judge writes an opinion. But they did. We have an attorney in our congregation and he sent out the PDF of the decision the moment it came down the pike.

Anyway, what might be missed in all the hoopla about homosexual marriage is that this was essentially a State’s Rights issue. And the four dissenting judges accused the majority of massive judicial over-reach. That’s what’s really at stake. And it’s why states like Texas are already fighting back. Remember, our nation is made up of “united states.” When the federal government or courts remove an individual state’s ability to operate in accordance with its own state constitution, that’s a very real issue.

In other words, this is one shot across the bow of a much larger issue. And that’s what the other four judges are so concerned about.

Meanwhile, I’m a Bible guy. So, I view these things through a spiritual lens.

We’ve been studying the books of Judges, 1&2 Samuel, and 1&2 Kings on Wednesday nights at GCA. Israel’s history is instructive. You may recall that they were initially a theocracy, ruled by the Law of Moses that codified them as a nation of chosen people. But that wasn’t good enough for them. They wanted a king so they could be like their surrounding neighbors. God gave them Saul, a ruinous king who took all the best of their horses, food, gold, and women … you know, the way politicians always do.

Then God gave them David, a man after His own heart. During the time of Solomon, David’s son, the kingdom was taken away from his posterity and Israel was divided.

The succession of kings in the North went from bad to worse. The kings in the South weren’t much better, although they had occasional rays of light. Whenever their enemies advanced on them or they suffered from famine or other disasters, Israel cried to God. And He would deliver them. Then they became comfortable, safe, well-fed … and they’d forget God and go chase after their foreign gods and their fleshly desires. The pattern is consistent.

That’s how humans are, by nature. When they’re in trouble or pain, they cry to God. When they’re fat and sassy, they feel self-assured and they do their own thing – which is usually sinful, given our sinful nature and proclivities.

At the moment, America is (mostly) safe and well-fed. We’re clothed, air-conditioned, and entertained into a stupor. We’re obsessed with celebrities and we think we can solve our problems by banning flags. And America has forgotten (and is erasing) her history.

Manifest destiny. The faith of the founding fathers. The importance of our Christian heritage. The necessity of theology in the well-rounded education. It’s all being erased.

I am reminded of what God told Abraham. When Abraham asked how he could know that the land he was promised would be his and belong to his (as yet unborn) offspring, God told Abe that his descendants would go into a land where they were not known and serve there for four hundred years.

But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.” (Gen. 15:16)

Think about that phrase. The Amorites were living in the land that God promised to the descendants of Abraham. God gave them 400 years to fill up their iniquity – their rebellion against Him. Meanwhile, God was growing the nation of Israel as slaves in Egypt. When they came out, they were more than a million strong. And they conquered the land, just as God said.

I am afraid that America is currently filling up her iniquity. Because there is no immediate price to pay, they think that God doesn’t care, or that judgment doesn’t exist. They think that power in numbers and political correctness trumps things like morality. So, killing babies? No big deal. Homosexual marriage? No sweat. Gender confusion? Only natural.

But, let a plane hit buildings in New York and suddenly the entire Senate is singing “God Bless America” on the Capitol steps.

Then the attacks stop. Now, where were we? Ah, yes … what are those pesky Kardashians up to?

Consider the warning of the iniquitous Amorites. Try to find an Amorite, a Jebusite, or a Hivite today. Tough job. They were enemies of God’s people and they’re all gone.

But, try to find a Jew. Ta-daa! Easy. Why? Because God’s faithful when He calls.

As I keep saying, the only thing we’ve learned from history is that we’ve learned nothing from history.

So, lift up your heads, Christians. God did not topple off the throne today. He’s not in terror of nine humans in black robes. I keep warning that it’s going to get worse before it gets better. This is just another step along the way.

And remember that God is faithful to His people. There are folk dancing in the streets today and celebrating because they think they’ve won something. That’s fine. Dance on. Death is imminent. And equal. Everyone gets one.

And then, the judgment. And that’s when this stuff will really matter.

Look, it’s simple. Either the Bible is true or it’s not. If it is (and I am convinced that it is because of the plethora of evidence), then we need to walk, talk, and live as though it’s true. And have confidence. This world is not our home.

Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:1-3)

And nothing the world can or will do can change that.

So, let the world celebrate the sinful fashion in which men rule men. It may not matter to them at this exact moment.

But, it will matter one day ….

and forever.

 

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“Comfort in Christ”

It has been my long-held contention that God gives His people gifts and talents so that they can better worship and glorify Him.  Our gifts are not for the purpose of self-glorification.  With that in mind, I am a fan of the poetry of Rebecca Gholson. And now she has released a compilation of her work in book form.

Comfort in Christ coverIt’s titled “Comfort in Christ,” and that’s a fitting title.  It’s a book of uplifting and comforting words that are both Christocentric and theologically sound.  Plus, she has a gift of writing in Old English prose without it sounding phony or puffed up.

Some of her works were inspired by sermons, but the pieces that impress me most are the ones drawn directly from Scripture.

“Comfort in Christ” is available via Amazon books and, as of this writing, the Kindle version is free.  So, move quickly!

 

 

 

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America Adrift

I posted a short comment and a link on the GCA Facebook page and then mentioned those comments in our most recent Wednesday night message.  I forget that not everyone who listens to the Salvation by Grace messages is in our Facebook group.  I was asked if I would post that information on my blog so that non-FB listeners could see to what I was referring.  And I’m happy to oblige.

It went like this —
_________________________

While I would normally refrain from posting a “news article” in the GCA group, this one is the exception. It’s from Breitbart.com and it states some basic truths that I’ve been saying for a long time. To wit: the church in America has abandoned the distinctives that make it truly Christian.

After citing some facts and figures, Thomas D. Williams PhD. writes:

Though it is impossible to establish a strict causal relationship between the two phenomena of moral liberalism and declining religiosity, the correlation between them is still striking.

What may not seem immediately apparent is why as Americans become increasingly progressive, they are abandoning liberal religious denominations in favor of conservative ones.

One theory, advanced by Arthur E. Farnsley II, a professor of religious studies at Indiana University, is that the more churches resemble society at large in terms of their moral teachings and understanding of the meaning of human existence, the less relevant they are. Why continue to attend church services to hear the same message you get from reigning culture? Religion only makes a difference when it offers an alternative account of reality, distinguishable from secular culture.

It is, in fact, the countercultural religious groups that are holding on to their membership.

Farnsley suggests, therefore, that the more liberal religious groups will continue to lose members and influence “because they are already on the modernist side, meaning many of their core values are expressed in other institutions, including government.”

Much of the decline in membership for mainstream Christianity seems to be the result of a loss of recognizable Christian identity in those churches.
_______________

Bingo. You got it. The church that has lost its savor is good for nothing.

Later, Williams writes:

A final trend among mainstream Christian churches has been a progressive lowering of the moral bar, seemingly out of fear of appearing “judgmental” or “hypocritical.” Confusing judgmentalism with the ability to tell right from wrong, many Christians have moved in the direction of withdrawing disapproval from all but the most egregious sins. The lower the bar, the fewer fail to get over it: “I’m okay. You’re okay.” Similarly, some have confused hypocrisy with a simple failure to live up to one’s moral ideals, and have embraced the facile solution of chucking their ideals. Hypocrisy, in fact, becomes impossible when one no longer endorses any moral standards.

That is genuinely insightful. I have long argued that there is a difference between being “judgmental” and practicing proper discernment (what Jesus calls, “proper judgment”). I like William’s differentiation. People confuse judgmentalism with the ability to tell right from wrong. We, as Christians, are expected to know the difference. Too much of modern Christianity has fallen for the world’s very specious argument that practicing biblical discernment is tantamount to being judgmental.

If you’re interested in reading the whole article, here’s the link:

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/06/01/why-is-america-moving-left/

And if you’re interested in hearing the Wednesday night message from 2Kings that includes a reference to these comments, it’s here:

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