A Study By
Gary Ray Branscome
Second Coming is one historical event that is yet in the future, we
know that He will return, and that when He returns He will come in
power, and He will come to judge (Luke 21:27, Acts 1:11, Titus 2:13,
Matthew 25:31-32, Matthew 24:36). However, because the Bible tells us
that no man knows when He will return, we need to shun those who claim
to know, and stick strictly to what God has revealed (Mark 13:32,
Romans 1:22, John 8:31, Isaiah 8:20, 2Peter 1:20, Psalm 19:13,
FACTS OF FUTURE HISTORY
We know as a fact
that the resurrection will take place on the last day (John 6:39,40,44,
John 11:24). On that day, “the Lord himself shall descend from heaven
with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of
God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive
and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet
the Lord in the air” (1Thessalonians 4:16-17). After that “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). In other words, just as Sodom was destroyed
as soon as Lot was out of it, earth will be destroyed as soon as the
saints are out of it (Luke 17:28-30).
BOOK OF REVELATION
The Book of
Revelation gives us a literal description of a vision (or series of
visions) that John saw while on the isle of Patmos. However, because
that vision uses images that our mind can grasp in order to depict
invisible spiritual realities, the book of Revelation is an example of
what is known to classical scholars as apocalyptic literature.
In order to
understand what is written, it is important to distinguish between what
the words actually say, and the meaning of the vision that they
describe. For example, in one place the words plainly tell us that John
saw seven candlesticks, and in another place they tell us that he saw a
woman (Revelation 1:12 and 17:3). There is nothing hard to understand
about that (2Corinthians 1:13). Where people have trouble is in
understanding what such images represent. Of course, in this case we
are told that the seven candlesticks represent seven churches, and that
the woman (in chapter seventeen) is really a great city (Revelation
1:12,20, Revelation 17:3,18). However, in many cases we are not told
what the images represent, and that is where those who profess
themselves to be wise often become fools (Romans 1:22).
The symbolism found
in John’s vision is actually very similar to that used in parables. For
example, like the parable of the wedding feast, the book of Revelation
portrays the righteousness that is ours in Christ as a wedding garment
(compare Matthew 22:11-12, and Revelation 19:8). In another place,
Satan (who is an invisible spirit, not a reptile) is portrayed as a red
dragon (Revelation 12:3,9). Christ is portrayed as both a lamb and a
lion (Revelation 5:5-6). And, a great multitude of people are portrayed
as a sea (Revelation 17:1,15).
Since the symbolism
is clearly evident, and the Bible often tells us what it means, those
who cannot see it are just as confused as the apostles were when they
assumed that Christ’s reference to “the leaven of the Pharisees”
was a reference to literal bread (Matthew 16:6-12). Furthermore,
because John’s vision is highly symbolic, we need to pay close
attention to the explanations that are included in the text. We also
need to interpret what is said in the light of what the Bible
explicitly says about Christ's return (John 6:39,40,44, John 11:24,
John 18:36, 2Peter 3:10). Those who let their imaginations run wild,
while reading their own ideas into the text and contradicting what the
Bible explicitly says, are not qualified to teach, and will have to
account to God for speaking falsehood in His name (Isaiah 8:20,
Deuteronomy 18:20, Revelation 21:8).
DAY OF JUDGMENT
In order to
understand what Christ was talking about when He said “The hour is
coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection
of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of
damnation” (John 5:28-29). It is important to understand that because
those words are law rather than gospel, their purpose is not to tell us
how to be saved, but to make the unrepentant tremble in fear, and so
cry out to God for mercy and forgiveness.
statement sometimes troubles believers because they know that they are
sinners who deserve God’s condemnation and wrath. What they need to
understand is that because Christ took our sins upon Himself and died
in our place, the forgiveness that He obtained for us cleanses us so
completely that it makes us pure, perfect, and innocent in the sight of
God (Hebrews 10:14). In fact, as long as we walk by faith, no sin is
imputed to us (Romans 4:1-8). Therefore, those who have “done good” in
the sight of God, are not those who seek righteousness by the law, but
those who have been cleansed of all unrighteousness by the blood of
Christ (1John 1:7).
that deals with the day of judgment is Matthew 25:31-46 which says:
“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels
with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before
him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from
another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall
set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall
the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my
Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the
world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye
gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye
clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came
unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we
thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When
saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the
King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as
ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have
done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand,
Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the
devil and his angels… And these shall go away into everlasting
punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matthew 25:31-46).
Since God is
present everywhere, in a certain sense everyone on earth is standing
before God's throne at this very moment. Therefore, seeing that the
verses that I just quoted are somewhat figurative (in that they speak
of sheep and goats rather than people), the judgment being described in
those verses could take place in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye,
when Christ raptures the saints (1Thessalonians 4:14-18).
because the verses quoted above are law rather than gospel, their
purpose is not to tell us how to be saved, but to make the unrepentant
tremble in fear, and so cry out to God for mercy and forgiveness
(Matthew 25:31-46). In fact, none of works that are mentioned (feeding
Christ, clothing Christ) have anything to do with the righteousness of
the law, because Christ wanted to make it perfectly clear that the
righteousness of the law is not enough (James 2:10).
In order to
distinguish between truth and error, we need to distinguish between
what the Bible actually (explicitly) says, and what men conclude from
its words. For example, Christ plainly said that His kingdom is not of
this world, and that He would raise up believers on the last day (John
6:40 and 18:36). Such information is to be gathered together “here a
little, and there a little” (Isaiah 28:10). Those who ignore such
facts, while constructing a doctrine out of private interpretations
that they have strung together, are not qualified to teach, and will
have to account to God for speaking falsehood in His name. [2Peter
1:20, John 8:31, Isaiah 8:20, 1John 4:6, Proverbs 30:6.]
1- Does any man
when Christ will return?
2- In describing Christ's return, we must stick strictly to what?
3- What day will the resurrection take place on?
4- What literary form is the Book of Revelation an example of?
5- What is the symbolism found in John’s vision like?
6- Are those who let their imaginations run wild qualified to teach?
7- Are the Words of Christ in John 5:25-29 law or gospel?
8- What makes us pure, perfect, and innocent in the sight of God?
9- Who is standing before God’s throne at this very moment?
10- What should be gathered together “here a little, and there a