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HOW WILL JESUS RETURN TO THE EARTH?
by ralph jackson
7/28/2017 / Bible Studies
Are we nearing the end of time? If you believe as I do that we are, how is Jesus going to return and what events are to happen to make us sure that we are close to the end?
There is a growing movement amongst evangelicals and now in most orthodox churches, who expect Jesus to return and walk amongst us performing the same type of miracles he did when he came to earth over 2000 years ago. They also expect the Anti-Christ to come and bring about a great tribulation for 7 years. Is this what is going to happen?
Let’s go back in history to see where this belief had its roots.
The date was 1517. Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenberg in Germany.
He was an Augustinian monk and a university lecturer. His protest was at the pope’s sale of reprieves for penance or as we know them ‘indulgences’. His actions were not designed to destroy the Roman Catholic church, they were designed to spur a renewal within the church. However it had the opposite effect. In 1521 he was summoned before the Diet of Worms and excommunicated. During this period of time it was not just Martin Luther who challenged papal authority to define religious practice. The Swiss Reformation began in 1519 with Ulrich Zwingli’s sermons, which paralleled Luther’s teachings, and John Calvin from France who, during this time had spent 10 years in exile writing his book ‘Institutes of the Christian Religion’. When Calvin was living in Geneva it became a hotbed for Protestant exiles and from there his doctrines spread to Scotland, France, Transylvania and the Low Countries, where Dutch Calvinism became a religious and economic force for the next 400 years.
In the UK Henry VIII’s desire for a male heir caused him to deny Pope Clement 7th’s refusal to annual his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, who couldn’t produce the heir he wanted. In 1534, King Henry declared that he, the King of England, should have final authority in matters relating the to English church. Consequently, he dissolved the monasteries and confiscated their wealth and worked to place the Bible in the hands of the people. By 1536 he commanded that every parish was required to have a copy of the Bible.
Slow Response by the Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church was very slow to respond to the protests against their authority. It wasn’t until 1545 when they held the Council of Trent was convened, which consisted of 25 sessions and ended in 1563 to give the Church’s answer to the problems they were facing and we know that at this Council it was concluded that the traditions of the Roman Catholic church were declared of equal authority with the Bible. What concluded the council was the Archbishop of Reggio’s speech and following sermon which stated that church tradition stood above scripture, therefore, he said, the church could not be bound by the authority of scripture because it had changed circumcision into baptism, Sabbath into Sunday not by the command of Christ, but by its own authority.
(Historia de Concilio Tridentino, Second Book 6, 1629 by Paolo Sarpi (Pietro Soave Polano), pgs 479-480 (An 1858 printing) (Biblelight.net/bssb-1443-1444.htm)
New Religious Orders
To further combat the threat of Protestantism, the Roman Catholic church created new religious orders, one of which was the Jesuits. It’s first General Superior was Ignatius Loyola. He was a Spanish Knight and came from a Basque noble family. He was also a Hermit Priest (those which withdraw from the world and live in solitary places dedicating time and prayer to God) and a theologian, but most of all he was a devout and staunch Roman Catholic.
By creating this monastic order, Rome hoped to regain her lost influence and re-establish her authority, where the influence of Protestantism had wounded her. The Jesuits would be the major force in the counter-reformation and they still are today.
Three Roman Catholic Priests
From its ranks three stalwarts arose to remove the label that Rome had been given – that of the Anti-Christ and the Whore of Babylon (Revelation 17).
The first of these Roman stalwarts was:
FRANSISCO de RIBERA. A Spanish Jesuit theologian He lived from 1537 to 1591. In 1590, he wrote a commentary denying the protestant accusations. His work is generally referred to as the ‘Futurist Christian Eschatological View’ Unfortunately for Rome, Ribera died at the age of 54, so he could not complete more commentaries on the subject. However, what he wrote has gained many followers over the years.
Although his commentary has been revised several times since his death, the basis of his thesis is:
- The Apocalypse (The Revelation) was ancient Rome at the time of John.
- The Anti-Christ was some infidel that would reign during a literal three and a half years prior to the second coming of Christ. This is the three and a half years mentioned in the Book of Daniel and is part of the 70 weeks prophecy in Dan 9.
- This infidel Anti-Christ would rebuild the temple in Jerusalem and abolish the Christian religion denying that Christ was God’s Son. He would destroy Rome. He would kill the two witnesses of God (Revelation 11).
He would be received by the Jews and pretend to be God, and finally conquer the whole world in the space of 3 ½ years.
Much of his work is now the main teaching of those evangelic churches, which teach about the coming Rapture of the saints into heaven, which I will be talking about later on in my sermon.
Our second stalwart lived from 1542 -1621 and was canonized in 1930. He was an Italian Jesuit and Cardinal of the Catholic Church. A professor of theology and rector of the Roman College becoming archbishop of Capua, which is just North of Naples in Italy.
Because Martin Luther had initial reservations about the Apocalypse and its application to the Pope, Bellarmine capitalized on this and centered his assault on the year-day principle, which we find in Genesis 29:7; Numbers 14:34; and Ezekial 4:6, when interpreting prophecy. His thesis would deliver a clever and very plausible deceptive work to fool the reader into believing that the Anti-Christ was an individual Jew and not an apostate Christian system. Consequently the length of the Anti-Christ’s time on the earth had to be in harmony with the works of one man during a period in his life. For Example: Three and a half years and not the 1260 years time period given in prophecy.
LUIS DE ALCAZAR
Our final stalwart lived from 1554 to 1613. He was a Spanish Jesuit from Saville in Spain. He wrote what is called the ‘Preterist’ view of Biblical prophecy. (For those who are unfamiliar with what ‘Preterist’ means, It is a Christian doctrine which believes that some of the apocalyptic prophecies in the Bible describe events that occurred with in the first two centuries after Jesus’s death, rather than as we believe that much of prophecy is still to be fulfilled).
Alcazar’s idea of interpreting prophecy described the rejection of the Jews by God and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans as the time of the anti-Christ. He wrote that the Roman Emperor Nero was the Anti-Christ of Revelation and all the seals, trumpets and vials took place before the end of 70 AD.
In Revelation Chapter 12, he identifies Roman paganism as being the mystery Babylon, the Great Harlot being overthrown and the setting up of Rome as the universal church of God.
In Revelation 20, he describes the final persecutions by the Anti-Christ, that is Nero 54-68 AD; whose burning of Rome and persecution of Christians he believes was God’s judgment on the Jews and Jerusalem in 70 AD.
Alcazar goes on to say that Revelation 21-22, which shows the triumph of the New Jerusalem, is non other than the Roman Catholic Church, which ushered in the millennial kingdom starting in 70 AD.
All these men rejected any connection of prophecy to the Anti-Christ and the Great Whore as being the Catholic Church, with its protestant daughters.
When the Bible became available to the masses, these interpretations found favour with Romanists. Unfortunately, it did not take long before there deceptive interpretations successfully infiltrated Protestant thinking and their words are alive and flourishing in many evangelical churches today.
What is the truth about Second Coming of Jesus?
There are many Christian’s today who are looking forward to the return of Jesus to this earth, no more than I am, however their understanding of His return has been coloured by the Roman Catholic teachings of the Jesuits, which is known today as “The Rapture Teaching”.
Because of this teaching it will be easy for Satan to pull off his greatest masquerade, that is to impersonate Christ.
Uniting of the Christian Churches.
As many churches are uniting their faiths and returning back to ‘the mother church’, important doctrines within the scripture are being merged with church tradition. Satan is preparing himself to become the universal Christ. The Maitraya, which all the world is waiting in anticipation for. He will assume the guise of the Hollywood Christ to appeal to the masses and perform many miraculous signs.
Jesus himself warned us that Satan would be so convincing that if it were possible he would even deceive the elect.
Lets read what he said in Matt 24: 22&24.
“Then unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved, but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.. For false christs' and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect”.
And in 2 Cor 11:14, Paul writes:
“and no marvel, for Satan is transformed into an angel of light”.
And Jesus says in Matt 24:4,5.
“Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am the Christ and shall deceive many”.
After this he explains to his disciples the manner in which He himself will return to this earth.
It is therefore of the utmost importance for us to remember this so that when Satan comes to deceive the world, those of us who know how Jesus will return will not be fooled by this deception.
No Secret Return
We should known that Jesus will not return in secret, but he will return unexpectedly.
He will not appear in the desert or in anyone’s house. (Matt 24:26)
As we watch and wait for Him, the rest of the world will carry on with its business and suddenly without warning, He will appear in the clouds.
Coming from the east of the sky He will be seen by all with a great cloud of angels.
Let’s read what he says in Matt 24:29-3:
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then there sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angles with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other”.
The earth will be in turmoil at His approach. Buildings falling, lightning flashing, waves roaring and earthquakes over the whole world.
Whilst Satan may be able to impersonate Christ in his appearance, he cannot replicate such a catastrophic entrance that will be made when the Lord of Heaven and Earth returns to claim His children.
Christ will not set foot upon the earth. He will remain above the ground. That is why Paul informed us what would happen at Christ’s return.
In our scripture reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, we read that the saved who are asleep in their graves are the first ones to rise and fly to meet Jesus in the air. We who are alive at the time will follow after them into the air. It won’t be a secret flight because everyone will be watching what is happening from their vantage point on earth. Of course those of us waiting to fly up to Jesus will be gazing at him in the sky and probably oblivious to the events around us.
It is very dangerous to go beyond what scripture teaches. This is the true rapture of those who are saved, flying towards Christ in the air during which time the angels are gathering the resurrected children and placing them in their mother’s arms. Those saved children whose parents are not resurrected will be placed in a relative’s arms or carried to heaven by their guardian angel.
Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven.
When Jesus left this earth to return to heaven almost 2000 years ago, he went up in the clouds in sight of the disciples. They were not left to contemplate his ascension. The angels stood by the disciples and gave them the hope they needed. “This same Jesus”, the angel said, “would come in the same manner in which he left”. Acts 1:9-11. This left them and us in no doubt. It would not be another Christ that would return but He who was crucified on the cross. They were told he would come back just as He left – on the clouds of heaven.
The book of Revelation Verse 1:7 says:
“Behold, He comes with the clouds and every eye shall see Him.” And they also which pierced him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him”.
And in Matt 24:27:
“For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be”.
And again in Matt 24:30:
And then shall appear the sign of the son of man in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth shall mourn and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
And it is not only the disciples who knew that Jesus return would not be in secret.
We read the following from the Old Testament:
“The Lord shall roar from on high, and utter his voice from His Holy habitation. He shall mightily roar upon his habitations; He shall give a shout. “ Jeremiah 25:30.
And David in Psalm 50:30 said:
“Our God shall come and not keep silence; a fire shall devour before Him and it shall be very tempestuous round about Him”.
No Silence at Jesus Return
The graves will not be silent when they are opened. We just read that those who pierced Him (Revelation 1:7), will come forth to witness His return and mourn at their disbelief in Him as their Lord. They will watch the saints rising in the air to meet Christ but they themselves will return to their dark tomb to await their final judgment with the rest of the wicked a thousand years later.
As the earth reels from the brightness of Christ, those who have believed in a secret rapture will curse those who fed them such lies. As the earth is utterly broken down and the heavens depart like a scroll the wicked will run to the mountains only to find that these too are being removed out of their place. With no place to escape, they fall and are buried under the rubble of falling rock and buildings. Isaiah 16:18-20; 24:19:20, Rev 16:4.
In 2 Peter 3:10 we are told that Jesus will come as a thief in the night and the heavens will pass away with a great noise and the elements shall melt with fervent heat and everything that is on the earth will be burned up. Those who promote the Rapture teaching use this passage, but they miss its context. If there is a great noise when Jesus return’s then it cannot be in secret. The passage itself shows that Jesus will return in power and the earth and the elements will be consumed by fire but the sinner, carrying on in his sin is oblivious to the coming events and when it does happen he will be taken by surprise.
“If the good man of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not suffered his house to be broken into. Be ready also that the Son of Man comes at an hour you do not expect him”. Luke 12:39,40.
But what is the meaning of Luke 17:34-36?
“I tell you in that night (Jesus return), there shall be two men in one bed, the one shall be taken and the other left. Two women shall be grinding together, the one taken and the other left. Two men shall be in the field, the one taken and the other one left”.
Jesus always uses symbols or parables to make a simple point.
At the end of time there will be two classes of people left on the earth – the saved and the lost or the wheat and the tares. Two in one bed does not mean two men sleeping together. A bed means someone is sleeping and sleep is a symbol of death. At the end of the time there will be two people in their graves. The ‘saved’ and the ‘lost’. Two women are two churches and grinding grain is the sharing of the Word of God. There will be one righteous church and one false church preaching truth and error. A field represents the world in which there will be two kinds of missionaries in the world – the ‘true’ and the ‘false’. Jesus will reply to those who say:
Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done wonderful works? And then will I profess them. I never knew you, depart from me you that work iniquity”. Matt 7:22,23
So what happens to the ones that are left upon the earth whilst the saved are being rescued? I have already given an answer to this but listen to what Jeremiah has to say:
“and the slain of the earth shall be on that day, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth. They shall not be lamented, nor gathered, nor buried. They shall be dung upon the ground”. Jeremiah 25:33
The birds of the air will have their fill of all the dead.(Matt 24:28 & Luke 17:37)
The Rapture teaching is a dangerous deception. It teaches today that it’s okay to do what you want because you will be given a second chance during the seven-year period when the Anti-Christ is supposed to be upon the earth. According to this teaching, when the saved have been raptured to heaven, many of those remaining will be able to change and accept Christ.
Do the righteous leave the earth before a major trial?
Jesus did not teach us that the saved would be extracted out of the world to avoid tribulation, He prayed:
“I pray not that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” John 17:15
and Paul in 2 Tim 3:12 says,
“all that will live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”
and in Acts 14:22 Paul says:
“We must through much tribulation enter the kingdom of God.”
God saves his children through tribulation, not from it. If the latter were true, then wouldn’t God have extracted Noah and his family from the coming deluge? Wouldn’t he have taken the three Hebrews out of harms way so Nebuchadnezzar could not put them in the furnace? And what about the children of Israel, why allow them to go through captivity in Egypt and suffer the persecutions and the plagues. No, God does not extract His people from trouble and He does not promise our lives are to be easy, only that He will be with us through our trials.
As Paul informs us:
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. Phil 4:13.
We have a duty to confront false doctrine today. It is appointed once for us to die and then the judgment – not twice as the Rapture teaching teaches us.
Those who cling to the hope of a second chance after Jesus has returned to claim His children will be lost forever. Christ is our savior and redeemer and he has gifted us with the Bible, which shows us the road we have to take if we are to enter the Kingdom of God. It is my hope that everyone diligently studies the Word of God to be ever ready for His noisy, visible and literal return with the angels of heaven to re-claim this lost planet. AMEN
Ralph Jackson 28 July 2017
Acknowledgement to Pastor Stephen Bohr and Professor Walter Veith for the subject matter
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