Thursday, June 20, 2013

P1 Understanding the Fast Approach of Christ's Second Coming

Revelation 1:3 "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near."

Introduction: Understanding Christ's Second Coming
We once again approach the Book of Revelation with the intention of understanding God's word and to see the Christ revealed therein.  Whenever we looked at Revelation 1:1-3 a few days ago, we asked the question: why study the book of Revelation? In working through the opening verses we uncovered three reasons for studying this precious book:

1. The Person of Christ is revealed 1:1
2. Prophecies of things to come      1:2
3. Promises of blessing                   1:3

With the reasons for studying Revelation established, we turn now to the key topic of the Book of Revelation: Understanding Christ's Second Coming.  Revelation 1:3-8 will be our area of interest, since Christ's coming is alluded to or mentioned three times: Revelation 1:3 ("time is near"), Revelation 1:7 ("behold He is coming") & Revelation 1:8 ("who is to come").  We know that Christ's second coming is of great interest in the Bible and of chief interest in the Book of Revelation.  

a. Some estimate that 1 out of every 25 verses speak of his second coming in the New Testament and that His second coming is predicted eight times more than was his first coming in Bible prophecy.  

b. A total of 109 prophecies in the Old Testament predicted Christ's first coming however 224 prophecies spoke of what will be His Soon return.

c. According to Bible teacher Dr. John MacArthur, Jesus Himself refers to His second coming 21 times and in 50 or so places in the New Testament we are told to be ready for it.

d. The Book of Revelation references Christ's second coming in passages such as 1:3,7,8 as well as possible mentions in Revelation 6:17; 11:15; 14:14-20 and definite mention in Revelation 19:7-21.

Three truths about Christ's Second Coming from Revelation 1:1-8
So what can be said about Christ's second coming from Revelation 1:1-8? We will note three truths about His Second coming, with today's post focusing on the first:

1. Fast Approaching.           Revelation 1:3
2. Fully Glorious.                 Revelation 1:4-7
3. Finish This Present Age.  Revelation 1:8

The first truth to note from Revelation 1:3-8 about Christ's second coming is that it is....

Fast Approaching.    Revelation 1:3
Revelation 1:3 states - "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near."  Please notice that underlined phrase: "the time is near".  From the original language this phrase could just as easily be rendered: "the season is drawing to a close".  

a. The New Testament's emphasis upon the immediacy of Christ's second coming
As you explore the New Testament's teaching on the second coming of Jesus Christ, Bible teachers will often use two terms to explain the fast approach of His coming: immediacy and imminency.  The first term speaks to the suddenness of His coming and the second refers to not knowing when it will happen.  Without a doubt the New Testament asserts both and underscores the Fast Approaching nature of Christ's Second coming as being immediate:

1. Matthew 4:17 "From that time Jesus began to preach and say, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

2. Romans 13:11 "Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed."

3. James 5:8-9 "You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. (9) Do not complain,brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door."

4. 1 Peter 4:7 "The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer."

5. 2 Peter 3:8-9 "But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. (9) The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance."

6. 1 John 2:18 "Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour." 

Biblical verses like the ones above demonstrate the emphasis of the fast approach of Christ's second coming.  Revelation echoes this same truth in places such as 1:1; 3:11; 22:6,7,10,12,20. 

b. The New Testament's emphasis upon the imminency of the fast approach of Christ's second coming: Be ready!
Now why is this truth important for you? Because the Bible itself uses the fast approach of Christ's second coming to warn believers and unbelievers alike to be ready.  We could look at many passages, however three clear examples will suffice to press home the point:

1. Matthew 24:44 "For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will."

2. Luke 12:39-40 "But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into. (40) You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect."

3. 1 Thessalonians 5:4-6  "But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; (5) for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; (6) so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober."

Without question John is emphasizing the first truth of Christ's second coming as being a fast approaching event.  As we close out today's post I, consider these words from Bible teacher Dr. John MacArthur on this text of Revelation 1:3 - 
The next great era of God's redemptive history is near.  That the return of Christ is imminent, the next event on God's prophetic calendar, has always been the church's hope."1

End Notes:__________

1. Dr. John MacArthur., Jr. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Revelation 1-11. Moody Press. 1999. Page 23

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