By Gary Ray Branscome
The Bible clearly tells us that Christ will return. As it is written, “This same Jesus that has been taken up from you into heaven, will come back in the same way that you saw him go into heaven” (Acts ). We are also told to, “be ready” for He will return “at a time when you do not expect him,” (Matthew 24:44). And, we need to be watchful, for we “do not know either the day or the hour when” He will return (Matthew 25:13). However, when He does return, “every eye will see him” including “those who pierced him” (Revelations 1:7). For He will, “come in His glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory, and all nations will be gathered before Him” (Matthew 25:31), and He, “will judge the living and the dead [after their resurrection] at His appearing” (2Timothy 4:1). [See Matt. 24:27-30; 1Thess. 5:2; Matt. 25:31; 1Thess. ; Matt. -42; 1Cor. ; Dan. 12:2; John -29.]
The words, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection [singular] on the last day,” tell us that there will be one general resurrection “on the last day” (John 11:24). The words, “He who rejects me, and does not receive my words, has one who judges him: the word that I have spoken, will judge him on the last day,” tell us that judgment will take place on that same day [“the last day”] (John ). And, the words, “These shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal,” tell us that on the Day of Judgment the wicked will “go away into everlasting punishment,” while the righteous enter “into life eternal” (Matthew 25:46). [See Hebrews 9:28.] Let me also add that, when we are judged those who trust in Christ will not be condemned, not because they do not deserve condemnation, but because, “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us of all sin” (1John 1:7). As it is written, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,” and “Whoever believes in him will not be ashamed” (Romans 8:1 and ).
We must emphasize the truth of Christ’s return in opposition to all who scoff, “Saying, Where is the promise of His coming?” (2Peter 3:4). And also as a reminder to Christians, lest they say in their heart, “My lord delays His coming,” and begin to behave as if they will never have to answer to God (Luke 12:45). For, none of us know when Christ will return, as it is written, “Of that day and hour no one knows, no, not the angels in heaven” (Mark ). “Therefore you should be ready also: for the Son of man will come at a time when you do not expect him” (Matthew 24:44). “For you know perfectly well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. For when they are saying, Peace and safety; destruction will come upon them suddenly, as travail comes upon a woman with child; and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brethren, that that day should catch you unprepared as a thief” (1Thessalonians 5:2-4). And, even if Christ does not come in our lifetime, at any time He could say to us “Your soul will be required from you tonight,” (Luke ). So be ready! [See Matt. 24:36; Matt. 24:44; Mark 13:33-36; Acts 1:6-7.]
At the same time, even though we should be ready we should never try to compute the time of Christ’s return. As it is written, “Do not add to His words, lest He reprove you, and you are found to be a liar” (Proverbs 30:6). Because Christ said, “Of that day and hour no one knows, no, not the angels in heaven,” we know that God has not revealed the date (Mark ). Therefore, every attempt to find it in Scripture, or anywhere else, is doomed to failure. And, the words, “No truth of scripture comes from any private explanation,” apply to every attempt (2Peter ).
However, the Bible has listed certain “signs of the times” that we should be aware of (Matthew 16:3). And, they should arouse in us greater watchfulness and preparedness. The Bible tells us that, “There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken” (Luke 21:25-27). We are also told that, “They will hand you over to persecution, and kill you: and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will turn away from the faith, and will betray each other, and will hate each other. And many false prophets will rise up, and deceive many. And because iniquity will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end, will be saved. And the gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:9-14). But, “Let no one deceive you by any means: for that day will not come unless it is preceded by a great apostasy, and that man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposes and exalts himself over everything that is called God, or is worshipped; so that he sits as God in the temple of God, and says that he is God” (2Thessalonians 2:3-4).
As a sign of the time, persecution of Christ and His Gospel is most telling. For even though Christians have been persecuted through the centuries, and persecution is going on today, it suggests a time when men turn away in ingratitude, harden their hearts, and show only contempt for the love Christ has shown them. Of this time the Bible says, “Because iniquity will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). We are also told, “That day will not come unless it is preceded by a great falling away,” (2Thessalonians 2:3). Despite this opposition, “The gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a testimony to all nations” before the end comes (Matthew 24:14). [See Matt. 24:9; John 16:2; Matt. 10:17; Rom. 8:36; Acts 14:5-6, 19:16-22.]
After Jesus told His
disciples that the
The Thousand Years
The claim that Christ will reign on this world for one thousand years, comes from the words, “I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony of Jesus,… and they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4). In response to that claim it needs to be pointed out that 1- those words say nothing about Christ reigning on this world, 2- the context, which speaks of souls reigning with Christ suggests that this reign is taking place in heaven, and 3- these words are describing something John saw in a dream or vision, not earthly events. Furthermore, because this passage says nothing about Christ reigning on this world, those who claim that He will reign on this world are adding their own opinions to what the Bible says. And, because the claim that He will reign on this world contradicts Christ’s own words, “My kingdom is not of this world,” those who teach it are rejecting what Christ said (John ). And, by rejecting what He said, they are taking away from what the Bible says. Therefore, that doctrine only exists in disobedience to God’s Word, which says, “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor shall you take anything from it” (Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation -19).
Because the claim that Christ will reign on this world does not come from Scripture, every passage that Millennialists interpret to support that claim is being interpreted to teach an unscriptural doctrine, and that is “private interpretation” at its worst (2Peter 1:20). Furthermore, those who teach that doctrine often teach a number of other unscriptural doctrines. One of those is the claim that Christ will raise up believers before the last day. That claim contradicts Christ’s own words, “This is the will of the Father who sent me, that I should not lose any of those He has given me, but should raise them up again on the last day” (John 6:39, 40, 44, 54). Moreover, when they interpret the words, “Then we which are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air,” to contradict Christ’s words, “raise them up again on the last day,” they are teaching contrary to God’s Word (1Thessalonians 4:17). It should be obvious that if Christ will raise up believers on the last day, then the rapture will take place on the last day. [Compare John -40 with 1Thessalonians .]
Worse yet, the claim by some that God’s offer of grace will be withdrawn in the future and people will go back to the sacrificial system of the Old Testament is satanic, and is condemned by the words, “If anyone preaches any gospel to you other than the one you received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:9). Those who hold that doctrine need to read the third chapter of Galatians, for that chapter plainly tells us that salvation has always been through faith in Christ. As it is written, “The covenant concerning faith in Christ that was confirmed by God at the time of Abraham cannot be nullified by the law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, so as to make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance comes by the law, it is not given by promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.” (Galatians 3:17-18).
Another mistake that they make is to assume that
Christianity is not the religion of Ancient Israel. What they fail to see is
that because God gave the inheritance to Abraham through faith in God’s promise,
“Those who trust in Christ are the children of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7). “For he is not a Jew, who is one
outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he
is a Jew, who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the
spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Romans 2:28-29). “For not all who are