Is Jesus Coming Again?
November 21st, 1982 @ 7:30 PM
Dr. W.A. Criswell
11-21-82 7:30 pm
On the radio, the Sonshine station of KCBI and the great Voice of the Southwest, KRLD, you’re sharing the hour of evening evangelism and preaching and worship with the people of the First Baptist Church in Dallas; and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled Is Jesus Coming Again? It’s part of a series of revival appeals – evangelistic invitations – entitled "Great Questions of Life and Eternity." There will be one other next Sunday night at 7:00. It will be entitled Is There Only One Way to Be Saved? And tonight: Is Jesus Coming Again?
In your Bible, turn to Matthew 24, the first gospel, Matthew 24, and we shall read together verses 36-44. Matthew chapter 24, verses 36-44, and we invite all of you who are listening on radio to get your Bible and to read out loud with us: Matthew chapter 24 beginning at verse 36 and reading through verse 44. Now together:
But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no not the angels of heaven, but My Father only.
But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.
For as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark,
And knew not until the flood came and took them all away, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.
Then shall two be in the field: the one shall be taken and the other left.
Two women shall be grinding at the mill: the one shall be taken and the other left.
Watch therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.
Therefore be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh.
Is Jesus Coming Again? In the dearest passage read by more broken hearts, a passage on which more tears have fallen than any other in the Bible, our Lord said:
Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God – we do – believe also in Me – and we shall.
In My Father’s house are many mansions . . . I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
"I will come again" [John 14:3]. There are two sublime, incomparably glorious, meaningful events in all human history. In the Bible there are two that preeminently tower above all others. The first one is described in Luke chapter 2, verse 11: "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord." The first coming of our Savior into this world, the incarnate Son of God – that is the sublime event of all time, and history, and through all of the Bible. It moves toward that glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.
The other sublime event toward which all future history moves is the coming of our Lord: the denouement of the age, the consummation of human story, the second coming of Christ. When we think of that coming – "Is Jesus really coming again?" – there are many who look upon it with vast indifference. To them it has no meaning at all. They pass it by as though nothing of that glorious, triumphal entry into history was ever mentioned.
There’s another attitude some have toward it. They look upon it as a theological fancy, as an idle tale, as something that religious fanatics speak of, hope for, but there’s no actual foundation to any such prayer or expectancy. There are those who literally scoff at the idea [2 Peter 3:3-4], and I am not speaking of unbelievers. I am speaking of great theologians. I quote from one:
The expectation of a second coming has proved to be a failure. You see, He has not come, and there are no real signs of His coming. The thought He would come again, come in clouds of glory, take His power and reign, has proved futile. We look around the world and see only frustration after the passing of two thousand years. The promise of His second coming has not been fulfilled. It will never be fulfilled.
I’m quoting from a world-famous theologian. "They were mistaken, those early Christians. They were mistaken about the second coming of Christ."
Then there are those who, reading the Bible and sensitive to the authority of our Lord, not being able to take it out of the Scriptures, they spiritualize it. For example, they say Christ came at Pentecost. That is the second coming of our Lord. Or they say Christ came in 70 AD at the destruction of Jerusalem. That is the second coming of Christ.
Some of them will spiritualize it saying He came in the conversion of Constantine when the Roman Empire and all the civilization of the western world turned Christian. That is the second coming of Christ. There are those who would say that Christ comes the second time when we’re converted – when we’re born again. There are others who say that Christ comes the second time in the worldwide profusion and preaching of the gospel. That is the second coming of Christ. There are those who say that the second coming of Christ is when we die. He comes in our death.
Now evidently, the dear Lord knew that there would be such spiritualizing, and the Lord has taken pains in our Holy Scriptures to avow to us that this same Lord Jesus that we saw go away will also come again. In Acts 1:11, the angel said:
Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus – this same Jesus – which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner.
Look again at a typical example of the writing of the Apostles. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4:16:
For the Lord Himself – 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. And so shall we ever be with the Lord.
[1 Thessalonians 4:16-17]
The Lord Himself – this same Jesus – and the text of the Revelation is that. Revelation 1:7: "Behold, He cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see Him" – not a ghost, not a specter, not a dream, or a vision, or a spiritualized prayer, but the Lord Himself. He is coming again.
There are laws of interpretation. It’s called hermeneutics; and when a young fellow goes to the seminary, he’ll take a course in hermeneutics – that is, the laws of interpretation. Now here would be one of them. If the second coming of Christ is to be spiritualized – that is, He comes in the profusion, the preaching of the gospel, or He comes in death, or He came at Pentecost – if we spiritualize the [second] coming of Christ, then by the law of hermeneutics, we spiritualize His first coming. If the second is spiritualized, then the first is spiritualized.
Well, let us try to spiritualize the first coming of our Lord. We do away with the poetry and the pathos of the manger scene, the incarnation of our living Lord; and no longer do we hear the angels sing at His birth; and no longer are there matchless words, His teaching the way to God; and we trample underfoot the blood of the covenant wherewith He was sanctified and wherein we find forgiveness of our sins; and we make the resurrection a myth – an old wives’ fable, a tale, a fancy, an illusion; and that glorious ascension of our Lord from the Mount of Olives into heaven – all of that is a dream, idle and futile.
If we spiritualize the second coming by the law of hermeneutics, we must spiritualize the first coming; but the first coming of our Lord was real. According to the prophecies He came, walked among us [Isaiah 7:6, Matthew 1:22-23; Isaiah 53:4], taught us how to love and serve God [Isaiah 9:1-2, 42:6, :6,9, 60:1-3, Matthew 4:12-17, 5:17, Luke 2:32] died a real death for our sins [Matthew 26:55-56, Mark 14:-50; Isaiah 53:12, Luke 23:37], was buried [Isaiah 53:9, Matthew 27:57-60, Mark 15:43-46], the third day was raised for our justification [1 Corinthians 15:4-8], and ascended bodily into heaven [Luke 24:50-51, Acts 1:9]. And according to the immutable Word of the Living God, His second coming will be as real as His first [Daniel 7:13; Matthew 24:1-51; Luke 21:27].
He came the first time in a body, and in that body He lives forever [Luke 24:39; John 20:27-28; Acts 1:3]. He ascended into heaven in that body, the incarnate Christ, and in that same body He is coming again – this same Jesus. He ascended up to heaven in clouds [Acts 1:9]. He’s coming back in clouds of glory [Matthew 24:30; Acts 1:11; Revelation 1:7]. When we use the word "cloud" we think of mist. "Cloud" there means the Shekinah Glory of God. The chariot of the Lord came down from heaven and caught Him up into heaven in the clothing of the glory of the Almighty; and He’s coming again in those same clouds of glory – the Shekinah garments of God.
And He went up to heaven from the Mount of Olives, and according to Zechariah chapter 14, He is coming to that same mount. His feet will touch the Mount of Olives, and it will divide asunder at the presence of the glorious coming of our Lord [Zechariah 14:4]. This promise of our Savior that He is coming again is the very cornerstone of the building of the temple of God.
Did you know in this Bible nine times does it speak of our being born again? Twenty times does it speak of our being introduced to Christ through repentance and faith. Three hundred eighty-five times does it speak of the return again of Jesus. One out of every twenty-five verses speaks of the return of our glorious Lord; and in this passage that we read, there are three things that describe the coming of our Savior.
Number one: He is coming personally. It will be this same Jesus. Matthew 24, verse 30: "They shall see the Son of Man coming" – the Savior Himself coming personally.
An old man, an old saint who lay dying, had a visit from a young neophyte – a young preacher just beginning his ministry. So as he spoke to that old man who was facing those beautiful glorious days, spending them forever with God, just looking across the river, just listening to the angels sing – as that young fellow talked to that old man, he spoke to him about those mansions in the sky and how he was going to live and inherit a mansion in the sky. "I go to prepare a place for you" – a mansion in the sky [John 14:2-3].
And that old saint said to that young preacher, he said, "Listen, young fellow, listen. It isn’t a mansion these old eyes are anxious to see. I want to see my Savior."
"If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come again" [John 14:3]. It’s my Savior I want to see. It’s my Savior I’m waiting to see. It’s my Lord who is waiting for me.
Let me tell you something. As you know, I visit with every child who comes down this aisle accepting Jesus as his Savior, and I talk to them about the little book that I wrote. They study it: the first chapter, what it means to be saved; the second chapter, what it means to be baptized; the third chapter, what it means to take the Lord’s Supper; the fourth chapter, what it means to be a good church member.
Now, one of the questions that I ask them – and I purposely do this just to see how the child responds – and I tell the child, "If you do not know the answer, why, that’s all right." Some of these other things I insist that they know: what baptism means and what it means to be saved, but this question I just ask them always to see how they answer. The question is this: The Lord closed the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper with these words, "For as oft as you as you eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He come, till He come" [1 Corinthians 11:26]. What does that mean "till He come"?
Dear people, did you know in the years and the years that I have been doing this, talking with these boys and girls before they are received for baptism in the church, I have never yet – there’s never been one single exception to it – there has never yet been a child who failed to answer saying, "That means Jesus is coming again. Jesus is coming back"?
And then I always ask, "Son" or "Lassie, do you believe that? Do you believe Jesus is coming back to this earth?"
"Yes I do."
And then I ask again, "Do you believe you’ll see Jesus someday?" And, without exception, every child replies, "Yes, Pastor. I believe I’ll see Jesus someday."
It seems just as natural for that child to respond like that as it is to breathe or for the heart to beat. I believe Jesus is coming again. I believe I’ll see Him some glorious day.
Ah, Lord, He’s coming personally; He is coming in great glory in the clouds of heaven with power and glory; and He’s coming unexpectedly: "Of that day and hour knoweth no one, not even the angels in heaven . . . just the Father only. Watch therefore for you know not what hour your Lord doth come" [Mark 13:32]. Any day, any time.
The Bible closes with that kind of a prayer. "He which testifieth these things saith, ‘Surely, surely I come quickly;’" and the closing, answering benediction, "Amen. Let it be. Amen. Even so come, Lord Jesus" [Revelation 22:20]. If I know my heart, I am ready any day, any time. Come, blessed Jesus.
May I speak of one other thing, then we’re going to sing our hymn of appeal? The meaning of the coming of our Lord is beyond what I could verbalize, what I could express in human speech. First, the meaning to Christ: the resurrection of our Lord was the seal of the truth of His mission into this world. He sealed what He said by His resurrection from the dead. "This is the Son of God."
That’s what Romans 1:4 says. He was pointed out: horizō. He was pointed out as the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead. It was the great affirmation that He is the Son of Glory. Now His second coming is the great realization of every dream and hope that He ever presented for the Kingdom of God. This is the consummation of the age toward which everything that Christ did flowed in truth and expectancy. That’s what it meant to Christ. What does it mean to us – the coming of our Lord?
First of all, according to the Scriptures, it is the unbinding and the un-loosing of all creation. "For the earnest expectation" – this is the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans – "For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creation was made subject to" all the chaos, and destruction, and tornadoes, and hurricanes, and winds, and desert, and violence, and suffering, and death [Romans 8:19-20].
But the creation itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
I grew up in the country – lived most of the time in a little tiny village. I used to hear those cattle moan as they gave birth. "All creation travailing" – all of it, all of it, all of it – "groaneth and travaileth in pain until now" [Romans 8:22]. And not only they, not only all creation, this earth blasteth with deserts; and all of the animal world moaning, and lowing, and crying, and dying; and not only they, but we ourselves who have the first fruits of the Spirit. Even we ourselves groan within ourselves waiting for what? – for the redemption of the body [Romans 8:23].
God’s intention for us is not just that we be born again and have new hearts and new souls, but God’s intention for us is that we have new bodies. The redemption of the whole purchased possession – our hearts, our bodies, our souls, our minds: all of us to be regenerated at the resurrection of our bodies when Jesus comes again [1 Corinthians 15:51-57]. All creation waits upon that marvelous consummation. That’s the first meaning.
The second meaning is our own personal resurrection from among the dead. I’ll not read that wonderful passage in 1 Thessalonians 4. "I would not have you without knowledge bretheren concerning them that fall asleep," concerning them that die, that translated to heaven [1 Thessalonians 4:13].
I have a funeral awaiting me – one of the dearest, godliest saints in all this world. "Sorrow not as others that have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them that sleep with Jesus will God bring with Him" [1 Thessalonians 4:13-14]. Ah, dear Lord, to die is a gain to a Christian [Philippians 1:21].
And then the last: not only in the coming of Christ is it a liberation of all the creation of God that groans and travails, including us, and not only is it our personal resurrection, we who fall asleep in Jesus, but when Jesus comes – when He comes – that will be the establishment and the realization of the Kingdom of our Lord [Isaiah 9:6-7; Jeremiah 23:5-6, 33:15-17; Ezekiel 37:24-27; Daniel 7:27; Joel 3:16-21; Amos 9:11; Micah 5:2; Zephaniah 3:15-17; Matthew 20:20-26; Luke 1:33, 22:29; Romans 15:12; 2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 5:10, 11:15, 20:11-22:21].
When He comes, every wrong thing will be made right. There’ll be no more death, and no more sorrow, and no more tears, and no more crying [Revelation 21:4]. There’ll be no more travail, and there’ll be no more heartache, and there’ll be no more tears [Revelation 7:15-17], and "the earth will be filled with the love and the knowledge of God like the waters cover the sea" [Habakkuk 2:14]. Oh could it be? Could it be?
It may be in the evening,
When the work of the day is done,
And I sit in the twilight
And watch the sinking sun . . .
While I hear the city children
Passing along the street,
Among those thronging footsteps
May come my Savior’s feet . . .
It may be in the morning,
When the sun is bright and strong,
And the dew is glittering sharply
On the neat-trimmed lawn . . .
With a long day’s work before me,
I rise with the sun,
And the neighbors come to talk awhile
Of all that must be done;
I remember that He may be next
To come in at the door,
To call me from my busy work
For evermore . . .
So I am watching quietly
Whenever the sun shines brightly
I rise and say, –
"Surely it is the shining of His face,"
And I look into the gates of His high place
Beyond the sea,
For I know He is coming shortly
To summon me.
And when a shadow falls across the window
Of my room,
Where I am working at my appointed task,
I lift my head to watch the door, and ask
"Has He come?"
And the angel answers softly
In my home, –
And He will come."
[From "Coming," by Barbara Miller Macandrew, 1888]
Oh what a day when there is no more death neither sorrow nor crying for these things are all passed away! Is Jesus coming again? God says, "Yes. Yes." Any day, any moment, any time our Savior may come [Matthew 24:36, 42-51, 25:1-13; Mark 13:32-33; Luke 12:35-48; 1 Thessalonians 5:2-4; 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 3:3, 16:15].
And that is our appeal to your heart tonight. When He comes, I’ll be ready. I’ve opened my heart to Him. I trust in Jesus. I’ve asked Him to wash my sins away. I’ve asked Him to come into my heart. I give my life in trust to Him. It is my purpose to love Him as long as He gives me breath, and when I die I shall commit my soul into His care and keeping. I lean on the Lord Jesus when I stand at the Day of Judgment, and I trust Him to open the gates of heaven that His child may enter in. Have you done that? This is God’s time. The most beautiful and precious moment in life [is] the moment you accept Jesus as your Savior. Do it tonight. May we stand together?
Our Lord, our living Lord, our coming Lord, our triumphant Lord, O blessed Jesus, what a glorious day when we shall see Thee face to face, and, our Lord, we’re praying that not one in divine presence tonight shall say "no" to our wonderful Savior. May this be the night of trust, and confession, and salvation: "Lord Jesus, I’m coming tonight. I’m opening my heart to Thee. I’m asking Thee to forgive me all my sins. I’m asking Thee to write my name in the Book of Life. I’m asking Thee to live in my heart, to walk by my side, someday to be with me when I face death and forever and forever that I can live with Thee in heaven."
And in this moment when our people pray and wait just for you, down one of these stairways from the balcony, down one of these aisles in the throng on this lower floor: "Pastor, tonight I’m accepting Jesus as my Savior" – a boy, a girl, a youth, a family, a couple, one somebody you.
And, our Lord, thank Thee for these who come, and may angels attend them in the way as they answer with their lives, in our Savior’s wonderful, living, coming Name, Amen.
While we sing, welcome. As you come, welcome: "This is God’s time for me, and I’m on the way."