THE SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE OF

CHRIST'S RETURN

A Study By
Gary Ray Branscome
Lesson 21

    Because the disobedience of Adam placed the entire universe under Satan’s dominion, it often seems like there is no justice, or like iniquity is on the throne (Romans 5:12-19). Nevertheless, because Christ triumphed over death, the most important part of His victory (salvation from sin) is already ours, and the spiritual significance of His return will be total and complete victory for all who trust in Him, and defeat for all who do not (1Corinthians 15:57, 1John 5:4).

DEATH AND AFTER


    While those who have been deceived by Satan often see death as an escape, the Bible makes it clear that death is not the end. On the contrary, each one of us has an immortal soul that separates from our body at death (Ecclesiastes 12:7, Genesis 25:8, 2Corinthians 5:8). The soul of a believer goes to be with Christ (in paradise, Luke 23:43), while the soul of an unbeliever is immediately plunged into the torment of hell (Luke 16:24,28).
    
    However, some people have a problem reconciling that truth of Scripture with what the Bible says about the Day of Judgment. They simply cannot understand how there can be a Day of Judgment if we are already in heaven or hell at the time of our death. Nevertheless, their difficulty comes from assuming that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. While that may be a good policy for earthly governments to follow, God does not have to prove anyone guilty. Instead, He simply throws them into prison at death, and then, at the final judgement, brings them out to pronounce sentence. Another thing to consider is that because those who die are no longer bound by time, it is possible for them to be present at the final judgement the moment they die.
    The important thing to remember is that those who trust in Christ will never come into condemnation, and having been raised from spiritual death to new life in Christ, the second death has no power over them. [John 5:24, Ephesians 2:5-6, Colossians 2:12-13 and 3:1, Romans 6:3-4, Revelation 20:6.]

THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY


    The resurrection will take place on the last day (John 11:24). On that day, all who “are in the graves” shall hear Christ’s voice and “come forth,” their souls being reunited with their bodies (John 5:28-29, John 6:39,40,44). Then, all who trust in Christ shall “be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump… [For God shall give us “beauty for ashes, Isaiah 61:6] and the dead shall be raised incorruptible… For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Corinthians 15:51-57). [Genesis 18:27, Philippians 3:21, 1John 3:2, Job 19:25-27, Revelation 21:4, John 5:24, 1Corinthians 2:9.]

JUDGMENT DAY


    Because the Father “has committed all judgment unto the Son, Christ will “judge the living and the dead” on the “last day” (John 5:22, 2Timothy 4:1, John 12:48). On that day, all men (rich or poor, young or old, pious or wicked) will give account for “every idle word” that they have spoken (Matthew 12:36). The good news is that those who trust in Christ “shall not come into condemnation,” but are “passed from death unto life” (John 5:24). [Acts 17:31, Matthew 25:31, 1Peter 4:5, Revelation 20:13, Ecclesiastes 12:14, 2Corinthians 5:10.]
    [Note: Just as God knows the number of hairs on your head, when His Word says “Whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life,” He knows the name of every man, woman, and child included in the term “whosoever,” just as sure as if every name was written out (John 3:15).]

THE END OF THE WORLD


    On the last day, “The heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2Peter 3:10). Then, God will create a “new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness // and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind” (Isaiah 65:17, 2Peter 3:13, Revelation 21:1).
    [Note: Some people have a problem reconciling what the Bible says about a new earth, with what it says about the saved dwelling in heaven. What they fail to understand is that when God creates the new heavens and the new earth, heaven will be on earth, and God and man will dwell together in bliss (1Corinthians 2:9, Revelation 21:1-3).]

HEAVEN OR HELL


    Because the entire world is “guilty before God,” on the day of judgement only those who are forgiven will enter heaven (Acts 4:12). All others will be consigned to hell. (Romans 3:19, John 5:28-29). Those who imagine that there are other possible destinations are only deluding themselves, for our sins are either washed away by the blood of the Lamb, or they are not (1John 1:7-9). There is no other possibility (Acts 4:12, James 2:10).
    
    Those who do enter heaven will experience joy far beyond what anyone on earth could ever imagine, and all tears will be gone (1Corinthians 2:9, 2Corinthians 12:4, Revelation 21:4). In contrast, those who enter hell “shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Revelation 20:10). Furthermore, if God described the torment of hell as fire, He did so because that is the earthly term that best describes what awaits those who reject God’s mercy. In addition to pain, they will also feel the total and absolute worthlessness, and depression, that comes with God’s rejection. As to their behavior, they will either be forced to keep the law, or the worst of earthly behavior will be the norm. I would not be surprised if they constantly nag and torment each other, if their words are filled with cruelty, and if they only offer kindness in order to deceive, entrap, and manipulate. [Matthew 8:12,29, Proverbs 12:10, Psalm 59:7, Proverbs 10:11,14,18, Isaiah 66:24, Mark 9:43-48, Revelation 14:10 and 20:10, Luke 8:28.]

CONCLUSION


    Since God's offer of mercy and forgiveness does not extend beyond the grave, there is no hope of salvation after death. As it is written, “Now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation.” Therefore, if you have never confessed your sin unto God, or looked to Christ for forgiveness, You need to do it now. [Hebrews 9:27, Luke 16:19-31, 2Corinthians 6:2, Ephesians 1:7 and 2:8-9]
    In coming to Christ it is important to understand that because God’s standard of righteousness is so much higher than yours, all of your righteous deeds are as “filthy rags” in His sight (Isaiah 64:6).  Without forgiveness, He sees “no good” in you, or in any man (Romans 7:18). Therefore, your only hope of salvation lies in His mercy. And, His mercy is only available to you because Christ took your sin upon Himself and died in your place (Romans 5:6-11). That being the case, faith in Christ consists of faith in what He did for you, and in God’s promise of forgiveness to all who trust in Him (John 3:16). May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.


STUDY QUESTIONS


1- What will be the spiritual significance of Christ’s return?
2- What happens to the soul at death?
3- When will the soul be reunited with the body?
4- Who will judge the living and the dead?
5- Who shall not come into condemnation?
6- What shall pass away with a great noise on the last day?
7- When God creates the new earth, where will heaven be?
8- Why are there only two possible destinations, heaven or hell?
9- What will those who enter hell experience?
10- Is there any hope of salvation after death?