What Do You Mean,
"The Second Coming
From the Message of
Bread Upon The Waters Ministry
Believing in the Second Coming of Christ
This site, of course, is about the Second Coming of Christ and the events related to it. From things that have been written and publicly said about this, it is clear that many people don't understand this concept. So, it makes sense to include a page that makes it perfectly clear what is being discussed.
There are many different doctrinal views about the Second Coming among Christians. Some Christians don't even believe that there will be such a literal, future event. But it has been pointed out by a number of Bible scholars and theologians that you can't really be a true Christian without in some way believing in the Second Coming. The Bible contains too many references to this event for any Bible believing Christian not to believe in it at all. And if you don't believe the Bible, you aren't really a Christian, regardless of what you may think.
Anything we believe as Christian doctrine should be based on the Bible. Many non-Christians, and even some Christians, have formed ideas about Biblical subjects that have nothing to do with what the Bible says. These ideas run in significance from sheer, shallow nonsense to subtle but serious lies of the devil. The erroneous ideas about the Second Coming cover the whole spectrum. Someone once said something in print about "Jesus rising from the dead and coming again". Which means that the writer, who probably thought of himself as educated, didn't know even the most basic concepts of Christian doctrine.
How Jesus Will Not Come
When a New Ager, or a Christian with a New Age background, thinks about the Second Coming of Christ, he or she usually thinks of another Jesus of Nazareth going around healing people and teaching a message of love and enlightenment. They think He will come again by reincarnation and/or enlightenment, and see Him as just being something like a Hindu avatar. This term, by the way, contrary to popular opinion, has little in common with the Judeo-Christian concept of the Messiah, or Christ. But this idea is so widespread that even Christian clergymen have accepted this view.
There is at least one living person (or so it is claimed; he may not really exist) who is presently claiming to be the Jesus Christ of the Second Coming in exactly these terms - the so-called Lord Maitreya.
One of the stupidest errors of New Age Movement is to equate the concept of the Hindu "avatar" with the Judeo-Christian concept of the Messiah. It shows their ignorance of real Judeo-Christian theology. The only thing the two concepts really have in common is a similar (but by no means identical) concept of divine incarnation. According to Eastern belief, there are supposed to be several (this writer recalls seven, which may be inaccurate) avatars. There is exactly one true Messiah.
The concept of the Messiah, or Christ (the two words mean the same thing), has a very specific meaning relevant to both Judaism and Christianity. Both words mean "The Anointed One". The term "The Anointed One" is derived from the ancient Israeli ritual of the anointing with a specially perfumed oil - literally pouring it over them - of kings, prophets and high priests when they began their offices. The Messiah is seen prophetically as a person who embodies all three roles in one person. The physical anointing with oil symbolizes the anointing with the Holy Spirit -the indwelling of the unlimited power of God (See John 3:34) - that the Messiah receives. Furthermore, the Messiah has a specific role to fulfill; namely bringing salvation and restoration to Israel. That's why the two terms, avatar and Christ, are not synonymous. Jesus Christ in His Second Coming will not be an avatar!
It has been claimed of or by more than one person that he was "a reincarnation of Jesus Christ". Jesus will not come again by reincarnation. Belief in reincarnation is not in accord with what the Bible says about the Second Coming or human destiny, generally. There are two Biblical references that hint at the idea of reincarnation, but both of them, by implication, refute it. The Bible says, "It is appointed for men to die once, but after that the judgment", (Hebrews 9:27). The dialogue between Jesus and His disciples in John 9:2 & 3 also hints at the idea of reincarnation and indirectly refutes it. Christians believe that everyone will eventually arise from the dead, but reincarnation is not considered part of our destiny. To put it bluntly, anyone who calls himself (or herself) a Christian, and yet believes in reincarnation is theologically off the wall. By the way, Jesus can't be reincarnated for two serious reasons: He isn't dead and He has a body!
Jesus will not come again by enlightenment either. The New Age - Eastern religion concept of enlightenment has no place in Christian doctrine, contrary to what some people ignorantly believe. Fundamental to the idea of enlightenment is the belief that all people already have God within them. Enlightenment is supposedly acquiring direct awareness of the God within. This includes the idea of seeing God as basically an impersonal force.
The Bible teaches that God is a Person, and that humans are as fundamentally separate from God as a sculptor is separate from his sculpture. The sculpture may be a self-portrait, but it resembles the sculptor only in appearance. The sculptor does not indwell the sculpture. It does not have the sculptor's life, nor is it made of the same substance.
Christians believe that humans are naturally separated from God by, and dead in, sin. The only humans who have God within them are those whose sins are forgiven and who are Born Again. God does indwell those who are Born Again. They do have His life.
Again, "enlightenment" is something that is usually (there are exceptions) achieved after years of self-discipline (yoga or something equivalent), usually under the tutelage of a "guru". It is where the Eastern religions end. (By Christian doctrine, it is really just the opposite of true enlightenment; i.e. it has to be a deception.)
The New Birth, that is, Being Born Again, is a free gift, acquired by faith and repentance. It is where the Christian life begins. The Lord Jesus Christ, by the way, is the only human being who ever lived who didn't need to be Born Again. He was the only one who, more than just having God within Him, was in fact God in human form. As Christian theologians say of Him, "very (in the sense of "truly and absolutely") man; very God". See John 1:1 - 2 & 14.
Finally, Jesus will not come again by Resurrection. He already did that, on the day that Christians call the first Easter. That's why we celebrate the Holiday (which word originally meant "holy day"). Belief in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the theological pillars of the Christian Faith.
"For I delivered unto you, as of first importance,
what I also received;
that Jesus Christ died for our sins,
in accordance with the Scriptures.
That He was buried, that He was raised the third day,
in accordance with the Scriptures".
I Corinthians 15: 3 & 4, RSV
If there is one thing that you must believe to be a Christian it is that Jesus Christ arose from the dead.
"If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus Christ,
and believe in your heart that
God raised Him from the dead,
you will be saved."
Romans 10:9, NKJV
Anyone who does not know that Christians believe that Jesus physically arose from the dead doesn't know anything about the Second Coming either. Furthermore, you may consider yourself a Christian, but if you do not believe in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, (some so-called Christians don't) then by Biblical standards, you are not a Christian!!!
So How Will Jesus Come Again?
He will come again from Heaven as Himself. To fully understand this, we must back away from the question above and ask another one:
Where is Jesus Now?
We have already said that Jesus arose from the dead on the first Easter Sunday. One of the basic beliefs of true Christianity is, and always has been, that Jesus is alive right now. So where is He?
The Bible says that after Jesus arose from the dead, He stayed on earth for 40 days (Acts1:3), during which time over 500 people saw Him alive (I Corinthians 15:6). Then He ascended into Heaven. To use modern terminology, He literally levitated up into the sky until a cloud hid Him from the sight of His disciples. And thus He disappeared. Where did He go?
To answer that in concrete terms, we must begin by saying that the Bible affirms the reality of the material world. This is another major point on which the Judeo-Christian theological tradition differs from Eastern religions, which see the material world as being an illusion (maya). But the Bible also affirms the reality of another realm, or we might say, plane or dimension of existence. It is what we call the spirit world. God, Heaven, the angels, the demons, the devil, hell, etc. all exist in the spirit world. And that's where Jesus is now. The Bible says that He is seated at the right hand of God the Father in Heaven. The place where He is now apparently corresponds to a physical location somewhere in outer space. There is actually Biblical reason to locate this above the Northern Hemisphere of the earth. Whether this is literal or metaphorical or both we cannot say. But understand that He is reigning in Heaven as the "Mighty God", (Isaiah 9:6) and waiting for the time of His Second Coming, when He will return to Earth.
The strange thing about the relationship between the material world and the spirit world is that things from the spirit world can exist in the material world, but things from the material world can't exist in the spirit world. See I Corinthians 15:50. When Jesus walked the earth before the Crucifixion, He was a material human being. Since the Resurrection, He has a different kind of body which can function both as a material and a spiritual body. After the Resurrection, He showed His disciples that He could eat like a normal human, but He could also walk through a closed door without bothering to open it, neither He nor the door being any the worse for wear. Christians believe that following the Second Coming of Christ, we will all have bodies like that.
...what do we mean by "The Second Coming of Christ"? We will now start to answer that, but first we must step back again. Just before He ascended into Heaven, Jesus gave His disciples some final instructions, of which there are three different renderings in the New Testament (Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:15-19 & Acts 1:8.) They all add up to a single message: The disciples were supposed to go out and preach the Gospel to the whole world. Combining these instructions with Matthew 24:14, we conclude that the day will come when God the Father considers the job done, or at least done as much as it ever will be. When He does, Jesus will return. He will return as Himself, the same person who ascended to Heaven. He will, to again use modern terminology, levitate down from the sky to the very place from which He ascended (Acts 1:11). But there will be some major differences from the way He ascended.
For one thing, He won't be coming alone. He will have an army of angels with Him. And He's coming to take over. He's coming as a King and a Judge. Not an "avatar". To use a modern expression, "no more Mr. Nice Guy". The Bible says that He will rule with a rod of iron. This appears to mean that He will rule with such absolute authority that it will be impossible to disobey Him without immediate, shattering consequences. There's a mocking vulgar statement about the Second Coming that you may have heard or seen that has more truth in it than the people who use it would want to believe:
"Jesus is coming, and boy is He bleep (= angry)!"
Sad to say, this isn't any joke, as the people who have been using it will learn the hard way. For sinners, His Coming will be the worst thing that could ever happen.
The Resurrection and The Rapture of the Saints
All Christians who truly believe in the Second Coming of Christ also believe that His Coming will include the Resurrection and Rapture of the Saints. He will come to finally defeat the forces of evil and to glorify the saints. He will institute the everlasting Kingdom of God on earth in visible form. Those who believed in Him and were truly obedient in this life will reign with Him as priests and kings in that Kingdom. At His Coming, all those Christians who have died in a state of obedient faith will be raised from the dead with bodies such as described above. At the same time, all living Christians will be instantly transformed and taken up to meet Jesus in "The Rapture". (See I Corinthians 15:51-55 and I Thessalonians 4:13-18.)
The doctrine of the Resurrection of the Saints is another pillar of the Christian Faith that sets it apart from all other religions. Although the Bible does indicate that Christians who die go to Heaven and are consciously in the presence of Christ there, it also indicates that whatever their status in Heaven is, they are in a temporary state of rest that is compared to sleep.
(Note: This has been the topic of hot - and worthless - debate. This is just presenting what the writer understands the Bible to say. Whatever happens to a Christian after death is good. So, like the issue of the Millennium, why argue about it?)
What the Bible really promises to Christians after death is the Resurrection. In reincarnation, if it is real (actually, by Christian doctrine, it probably isn't, but is more likely a satanic deception) the reincarnated person doesn't normally remember his past life, and is in effect another person. If you don't remember your past life, what is the effective difference between being reincarnated and just being dead when you're dead? If you are a Christian, in the Resurrection you will be you. But it will be you with an immortal body that can't get sick or injured, and that will never grow old. All pains and sorrows will be gone. You will have complete freedom from sin, and be totally and consciously in the presence of God.
If your loved ones in this world were also Christians, you will be reunited with them. If not, either your memories of them won't be painful or they will be completely forgotten. By the way, only the Bible gives any concrete basis for this joyous expectation. It is not part of the doctrine of Eastern religions at all.
The idea that there is, or at least ought to be, real justice in this world is part of every major religion. Part of this idea is that when a person gets what he or she deserves, whether good or bad, the person should know why. This idea is implicit to the universal cry of those who are suffering: "Why me?" If you are either just dead when you are dead, as some people believe, or if you are reincarnated and don't remember your past life, or lives, then where is the final justice? To reward, and especially to punish, without the recipient knowing why is not justice, but rather is enormous injustice. Only the Bible offers the promise of real, final justice. In the Resurrection, everyone will get what he, by God's rules, really deserves. The righteous will be rewarded in Heaven, the wicked will be tormented in hell, and they will all know why.
Children of God
One more thing: The Bible says that Christians are sons (that is, children) of God. However, it indicates that our status as God's children won't be complete until the Resurrection. The Bible says that we will be like Jesus in His glorified state (I John 3:1 & 2). Now consider this: A son of a man is a man. A son of a dog is a dog. And a son of God is...
You may have never thought of it this way before, but this is really what God promises to all true Christians! God promises it! ( John 10:34 & 35) Not the devil!
The great Christian hope, the thing that all true Christians can and should look forward to, is the Resurrection.
False Christs Vs. The Second Coming
Something the Bible warns us about, which has come true many times, is that there will be many false prophets and false christs. Most of them don't last long. We had a dramatic case of this with the horrible incident in Waco, Texas early in 1993. In most cases, however, unless something sensational happens, like the Waco tragedy, relatively few people know about the false christ.
This will not be the situation in the Second Coming. The Bible tells us that when Christ returns, it will happen in such a way that it will be impossible for anyone not to know what has happened. "For as lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also shall the coming of the Son of Man be" (Matthew 24:27). The whole world will know about it the moment it happens. It won't be a case of some ordinary human walking around claiming to be the Christ of the Second Coming, as a number of people have done, and a few are still doing. It will be the most spectacular event in history.
The Great Tribulation
Unfortunately, very unfortunately, that isn't all there is to it. The Bible makes it perfectly clear that before Jesus comes, there will be a period of several years in which God will, to use a Biblical expression, "pour out your (His) wrath on the nations..." (Jeremiah 10:25). In other words, He will make a lot of terrible things happen to the entire world. The Bible calls this period "The Great Tribulation", though as shown in this site, it can also be called, "The Three Great Woes". It is unclear exactly how long this will last, but it will be the worst thing that will ever happen to the human race. This is what people really need to be ready for. The Biblical references to the "Day of the Lord" coming "like a thief in the night" are about the Tribulation, not the Lord's actual return. (See I Thessalonians 5:2-4 and II Peter 3:10). It is the purpose of this ministry to help Christians to be ready; in one sense, to be expecting it, in another to know what is going to happen, but even more, to be prepared spiritually.
There are many groups of Christians (in terms of beliefs) who do not expect to go through a Great Tribulation. And of course, non-Christians would tend to dismiss the whole thing as so much bleep (= garbage). But there is good reason to believe that there will be a Great Tribulation. Everyone living when it starts will suffer terribly in it, and the majority will die in it. Why should you believe this? See the following page:
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Contact Author, William D. Brehm: firstname.lastname@example.org