Dear Reader: This post is a change in the approach to this "blog." My aim is to write a book on the Second Coming of Christ. I shall post portions of the book in this blog for you to read. Hopefully, I can complete the book in a reasonable time. This is the first post to start the book with an introduction. I realize that formatting in Word does not always fit into Blogger very well, so I hope you will be patient with the "look" of the material. Thanks to all of you for your patient reading. You are welcome to make comments, hopefully following Christian ethical guidelines.
THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS CHRIST
“Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.”
These are the words of the “mystery of faith” in the Great Thanksgiving (United Methodist Hymnal, 10). The congregation declares three important events in the story of the Christ. Note that the event often called the “Second Coming” is part of the “big three.” The church also has throughout history affirmed the Second Coming in the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed. The Apostles’ Creed:
He ascended into heaven,
And sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. (United Methodist Hymnal, 881)
The Nicene Creed:
He ascended into heaven
And is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
To judge the living and the dead,
And his kingdom will have no end.
(United Methodist Hymnal, 880)
The following was written by Thomas Oden: “With the coming of the Son thoroughly attested, his Second Coming is expected. The present age begins with the ascension and ends with the Parousia (‘return, coming again’). This present age is the age of the risen and ascended Lord, awaiting the returning Lord. It is an article of faith that he shall come again (Creed of 150 Fathers).” (Oden, Classic Christianity, 494)
So, I have the audacity to write about the Second Coming of Jesus. It truly is audacious—more like overwhelming—to write about this topic. I have been writing a “blog” that I call “Last Days Workshop” since 2012. I have covered almost all of the New Testament Scriptures but have not delved into the Old Testament to any degree except a brief series on Daniel. It took me from December 26, 2013 to November 10, 2021 to cover Revelation. I called the blog a “workshop” because I was inviting the reader to look over my shoulder as I struggled with the last-days concepts. Now it is my purpose to write a book that presents my conclusions and my lingering questions about the last days.
As I have read the work of others, I observe several tendencies.
· Most interpreters develop a “paradigm” or work within a school of interpretation that is already in place.
· Although these frameworks are certainly helpful in understanding the Scripture, they also can create problems for the interpreter. Trying to force a passage into one’s preconceived scheme can push one into making errors, such as ignoring the Scriptural context or genre or the historical setting or simply ignoring the internal logic of the passage.
· Interpreters also may display certain presuppositions about Scripture in general. For example, some authors take a very rationalistic/naturalistic approach to Scripture that discounts the inspiration of the Scriptures.
· Interpreters may give way to sensationalism. Many would like to prove the nearness of the Second Coming by forcing passages to have twenty-first-century applications, when there is no warrant to do so.
· Some interpreters are also motivated by certain political viewpoints that lead them to apply Scriptures to the present-day political scene when such applications are not warranted.
· Some take the whole issue of the Second Coming of Christ and other eschatological concepts very lightly. I was once told about a seminary professor who said he was a “pan-millennialist,” because it would all pan out somehow. A church official once wrote a lengthy parable of his view of last things. It really was pretty shallow, and it appeared to be a sideswipe at my own studies in eschatology.
· Some folks are drawn to the notion of “post-apocalyptic” without much Biblical context. They seem enthralled with the idea that, if an utter disaster takes place, then “normal” societal restraints are destroyed and people can make up their own rules.
· Similar to the previous point is the attraction to the notion of the “Antichrist” without much Biblical context.
Although the previous list is critical of many who write about last things, I want also to make clear that many interpreters and commentators have been very helpful to my understanding. Through their studies I have gained insight into a number of topics and questions that surround end-time studies. Nevertheless, I still have many questions. The following are some of those that I hope this book can address (but not necessarily bring to final resolution).
· Why is a Second Coming necessary?
· What, exactly, is the kingdom (or reign) of God?
· What role does the church play in the end-times and beyond?
· What role does Israel play in the end-times and beyond?
· How do the various descriptions of the Second Coming in Scripture fit together?
· How do the various descriptions of the Last Judgment fit together?
· To what degree is each of the various schools of interpretation correct?
The following is the plan of the book:
Part 1: The First Coming of Jesus Christ
1. The First Coming of Jesus Christ:
a. The incarnation
b. The mission
c. The passion and resurrection
d. The ascension
2. Salvation through Jesus Christ
a. The atonement
b. Salvation by grace through faith
c. The order of salvation
3. The church of Jesus Christ
a. The integration and growth of the church
b. The ministry of the church
c. The individual and the church
d. Israel and the church
4. Why a Second Coming?
Part 2: The Second Coming of Jesus Christ
Part 2a: The predictions of the Second Coming
1. Matthew 24 and parallels
2. I Corinthians 15
3. I and II Thessalonians
4. Old Testament predictions
5. How are these integrated?
Part 2b: The Tribulation
1. Daniel’s 70 Weeks
2. The Beast
3. The False Prophet
5. The 144,000
6. The innumerable multitude
7. The Seven Seals
8. The Seven Trumpets
9. The Seven Last Plagues
10. Revelation 17-18
Part 2c: Revelation 19 and the Second Coming predictions revisited
Part 3: Revelation 20 and parallels
1. Revelation 20
a. The Millennium
b. The final rebellion
c. The Great White Throne Judgment
2. Parallel Scriptures
3. The Kingdom of God
Part 4: “Eternity”
1. Revelation 21: the great announcements
2. The Bride
3. The description of the world-to-come in Revelation 21-22
Part 5: The final words of Revelation and the Second Coming
I hope that this book is helpful to some. It is intended to be a careful study of the Scriptures and not to be a ride on a hobby horse. But I am flesh and blood, so I can only do my best and pray that God will overcome my worst tendencies and fill in what I have left out. Thank you for your patient reading.