Spirit of Grace Ministries
SOGM
Spirit of Grace Ministries
-- Feeding Jesus' sheep
-- Equipping His servants
-- Proclaiming His Gospel

 

Many Witnesses of
Christ's Return

Many witnesses

by Dennis Pollock

There is a legal principle, first stated by Moses and then quoted by the Lord Jesus and the apostle Paul, which states, "By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established." Originally it had to do with witnesses in court, but its later uses are applied to other situations as well. Those who walk with God find that it is one of the fundamental principles by which God deals with His people. He almost never says anything important just once. When He wants us to grasp something of significance He will usually say it multiple times through multiple means and witnesses.

We discover this principle in effect in the beginning of the New Testament. When I read through the New Testament the first time I was surprised, when I came to the gospel of Mark, that this book was so very similar to the book of Matthew I had just read. And when I got to Luke I found I was once again reading the life story of Jesus, and that many of the stories were identical. In fact the first four books are all the story of the life and death of Jesus. God is establishing this in our hearts by the testimony of four different witnesses.

Advertisers know this principle very well. How often have you watched a one hour television program that aired the same commercial several times. Years ago the Charmin company touted their bathroom tissue with a nerdy looking guy named "Mr. Whipple" who just couldn't resist squeezing the Charmin. This commercial was aired in various forms and scenarios thousands of times until everybody who watched television knew Mr. Whipple very well. In fact one survey in the 1970's found that Mr. Whipple's face was more familiar to the American public than the current president, Jimmy Carter. The ad campaign must have cost the Charmin company millions of dollars, but they obviously felt they would make money from it in the end. They bought air time for good old Mr. Whipple for over 20 years, and created over 500 different commercials all revolving around Mr. Whipple squeezing their bathroom tissue. So why all the money and effort? They knew full well that products and concepts are established in our minds and hearts by the mouth of two or three witness, or in their case, thousands and thousands.

When it comes to the return of our Lord Jesus we find this principle powerfully in effect. But the Holy Spirit, who inspired the Scriptures doesn't merely use two or three witnesses –He testifies through every single New Testament writer that Jesus is coming back. You read that right; every single writer of the New Testament makes reference to the return of Jesus Christ, without a single exception! We certainly don't have the space to go into all the things these men wrote about the return of Jesus, but in this brief teaching we will consider a small representative portion from each one.

The Gospels

In all four gospels we find Jesus speaking freely and plainly about His return. If there were no other references than these, this should be enough to silence all the scorners who love to speak in a mocking and disparaging tone about those who eagerly look for Jesus' appearing. They give you the impression that if you are watching for Jesus' return you surely must be the most carnal and simple-minded  person in the world. But where did this idea of Christ returning for His people come from? Where did it all start? It started with Jesus Himself. He said over and over that He was returning, that this could take place at any time, that it should affect the way we live, and that His people should watch for Him. In Luke 21 we read:

But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man. (Luke 21:34-36)

This charge has applied to the people of God throughout the entire history of the church. Regardless whether one lived in New Testament times, the dark ages, the days of the Civil War, the Roaring Twenties, or World War II, it has always been right for Christians to watch for the return of their Lord. When God instructed Israel to keep that first Passover in Egypt, just before He took them out, He told them, "And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD's Passover" (Exodus 12:11). What a strange way to eat a meal! They were not allowed to get comfortable, or remove their belts, and they must eat with their staffs in their hands. And they are not allowed a leisurely dinner. They must bolt down their food. They must be prepared to leave Egypt at any time, fully aware that their exodus is soon at hand.

This is exactly the mentality Jesus wants in the hearts of His people. Whenever I come home I have a little routine that I go through. I will soon take my wallet out and put it on our dresser. I will remove the bulky key ring out of my pocket and put it on top of the wallet. And I will take my shoes off and put on my house slippers. Now I'm starting to feel comfortable. I'm at home, relaxed, with no plans to go anywhere for a while. But Jesus doesn't want us getting too comfortable in this world. He tells us, "Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately" (Luke 12:35,36). It is the express desire of our Lord that we live with a realization that He may come for us at any time.

Paul

Paul addresses crowd

The majority of the New Testament epistles were written by the apostle Paul. Even though Paul had not followed Jesus while He was on earth, Paul had a revelation of Christ beyond that of the other apostles, and he had a tremendous love for the return of Jesus. His writings are saturated with references to the Day of Jesus Christ. (Sometimes he just called it "that Day.") Paul gives us insights about the Rapture of the church, the nature of the antichrist, and the events of the Day of Christ that you find nowhere else. His letters to the Thessalonians were especially filled with details about the last days and Christ's return. He writes, "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air…"

Along with his teachings about justification by faith, the old and new man, the nature of redemption, the responsibilities of husbands and wives, and the roles of church leaders, Paul also teaches us about the Rapture of the church and the Second Coming of Christ. In his mind this is one of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. Imagine a Christian who tells you he has never heard anything about heaven; he's not even sure there is a heaven. You would wonder, "How can this guy not know anything about heaven? Has he never read the Bible?" This is not far removed from the believer who never gives any thought to, or hardly believes in the return of Jesus Christ. The Bible is so filled with references to this great event, you would have to wonder if he ever read the Bible. And yet today multitudes of Christians live in a state of ignorance of the glorious appearing of our Lord. They may have heard somewhere that He is supposed to return, but they never consider it, never think of it, and have no knowledge of any of the things the Bible says about it. In Paul's mind, looking for Jesus is a basic component of the Christian life. He writes to the Philippians, "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ."

Hebrews through Revelation

Hebrews is a theological essay on the superiority of Christ over Moses and Judaism, but even here the author must speak of Christ's return. He writes, "Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation." Christ came once to be the sacrificial lamb who took our sins. He has been raised, and ascended to heaven, but He will be back, this time not to be beaten and crucified, but to come in glory for His people, the ones who eagerly wait for Him.

James is a unique little book which has little theology and focuses primarily on how Christians are to live. But James, too, must exhort us to watch for Christ's appearing, writing, "Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord." He likens us watching for Jesus to a farmer waiting for the rainy season to bring his crops to maturity. The famer can't make it rain, but he can look eagerly for the rain to come.

You don't have to read long in Peter's first epistle to hear about the coming of Christ. Peter writes, "You have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ." Peter's first epistle deals with suffering. He was writing to a people that were going through severe persecution for their faith. He reminds them that it will all be worth it, once Jesus appears: "Rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy."

John is the apostle of love. He wrote much about the love of God and the importance of abiding in Christ. But John was no stranger to the doctrine of the return of Jesus. He writes, "…we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure." And in the book of Revelation John writes about the One who rides a white horse, Whose name is Faithful and True. The armies of heaven follow Him as He come to rule the earth with a rod of iron.

Jude is the briefest writer of the New Testament. His only contribution is one small book made up of one chapter. If ever we might expect to see a writer neglect to mention Jesus' return it would be Jude, but even here we find a reference to that Day when Christ will return to earth and judge the wicked. Jude writes, "Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, 'Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all…'"

What shall we say to this? We have seen that from Jesus through all the New Testament writers – Paul, James, Peter, John, and Jude, without exception all encouraged us to look for the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. By the mouth of two or three witness every word shall be established. The Holy Spirit has used multiple witnesses to hammer home the truth that the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ is coming back for His people – and we are to eagerly wait for Him, and live in such a way that we will not be ashamed when He appears. The inexplicable and inexcusable silence on this subject in many churches can only be a testimony that either these pastors don't read the Bible much or else have an automatic shutdown mode in their minds when they run across the many, many passages that speak of the return of Christ.

Let us take on the attitude as those Jews of Moses' day as they had that first Passover meal in Egypt – ready to depart at any time. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

To see a full listing of all articles available, go to our Written Devos Page.
For a full listing of all articles as audio mp3 files (free downloads), go to our Audio Devos Page.

     

        For inspirational devos, bios of Christian leaders, free downloads, and the latest SOGM news:
Sign up to receive E-newsletter
>>

Your donations are needed and greatly appreciated!

 

 

Just for you!

Missions Outreach


A major part of Spirit of Grace Ministries is our ministry in the great continent of Africa. There is a tremendous harvest going on in the world these days, and we are privileged to be a part of it. Above is a brief music video featuring some pics from our recent mission in Magodes, Uganda.

Audio Devo: "Why is there suffering?"

People have debated this question for millennia. And we cannot speak concerning specific individual questions of suffering, but the Bible clearly speaks as to why suffering has always been a part of the human experience.