Witness of God

Witness of God
September-October, 1971
The Second Coming of Jesus Christ
By Nathaniel Urshan

Some time ago I asked another minister this question, “Do you preach on the second coming of Jesus Christ?” He replied, “No I don’t, but I notice that every once in a while over your radio broadcast and in advertisements in the newspaper that you discuss the matter of the second return of Christ.” The question that comes to me at this moment is, “Why is it that ministers do not preach on the second coming?”

This great truth fills a large part of the bible and the man who fails to preach on the second coming is neglecting a great portion of God’s word. A message on the Lord’s return gives out definite Bible information; bring comfort and hope to God’s people; furnishes great incentive for service and right living. If we knew that Jesus may come any minute and we must meet him face to face, I believe every Christian would say, “I must be a better Christian and live a better life for my Lord.” That is why there is such intense interest in the message of the second coming of the Lord.

The following is from I Thessalonians 4:13-18: “But I would not have you to be ignorant, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the Word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For 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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

It is so very important for us to declare the second coming of the Lord. It is a blessed thing to go deeper into the doctrine of the second coming of Jesus Christ. The study of this doctrine has brought great blessings and comfort to my heart. It has explained many scriptures which otherwise were not clear. I’m afraid that many times the fact that the message of the second coming of Christ is omitted when we are speaking about matters pertaining of the Bible, has left a great many people without a real incentive to live a Christian experience.

Notice the passage from Paul’s writing in the book of Timothy. II Timothy 4:7-8 reads, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” We have heard many messages on the farewell words of Paul but seldom do we hear the last phrase mentioned in these messages. Namely, these words, “…but unto all them also that love his appearing.”

If we seek for scriptures on the second coming, we find them literally jumping out at us from almost every chapter in the New Testament. I am grateful to those who have inspired me to make a more definite study of the coming of the Lord. It would be important for everyone to consider very carefully some of the very important passages that are written in the New Testament concerning the coming of the Lord.

I once had the old conception of a general judgment, a conception which is common to many people today. This idea is that Christ will come, gather all people before him, pass judgment upon them, and send them either right or the left, either heaven or hell. If that conception is true, then man is not saved here, but he is saved or condemned out there somewhere in the foreboding future. I believe the following to be the true conception.

Christ will come in the air and take up all believers to be with him. Later He will come back with them in great glory. He and His followers will reign a thousand years. He then defeats all his enemies, casts Satan and his followers into the lake of fire and leads His own people into eternal bliss. This conception clears up every question as to what will happen to the various people of the earth. The general judgment conception leaves a hundred questions unanswered.

Our Advocate

Today Jesus our Lord is in heaven in His mediatorial capacity, and the Holy Spirit is at work here on the earth. There are two groups of people in the world, the saved and the lost. There is no in between.

What will be the next thing to happen in the great prophetic drama? According to the Word of God, it will be the coming of Jesus Christ in the air. Notice in I Thessalonians it states, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God.” The shout, which is spoken of, is the victor’s shout. When Jesus comes He will come as a victor. There will be a mighty power in His shout. It will penetrate all the graves and pierce to the deepest depths of the sea. It will be heard by every saint upon the earth. We once thought such a thing was impossible. But, the miracle of radio, television, and the matter of satellites orbiting the earth teaches us that one voice can be heard all over the world. If God gave us the radio and these other forms of communication, he can send the shout of His Son’s voice into every corner of the universe.

Jesus went to the grave of Lazarus and cried out, “Lazarus, come forth” (John 11:43). Lazarus was dead, but he heard his Master’s voice and came out of the grave. So it is that all His people who sleep in the earth or in the depths of the sea will hear His voice and come forth to meet Him. This shall be the redemption of the body.

It may be that His shout will consist of just one word and surely that word will be “COME”. This is the royal word of redemption. This is the Lord God’s favorite word. He is saying now to lost men everywhere, “Come, and be saved.” In that day He will say to all who have believed on Him, “Come up with me, come from the land, the air, the sea, and the graves. Come up to be with me forever.”
The archangel, which is spoken of, is the leader of the heavenly host. He is directly connected with the descent of Jesus from heaven. There will be a great commotion in heaven when Jesus goes out, for he will be going out to get all the redeemed who have been saved by His precious blood and brought into that hallowed communion through the born again experience. He will go out to bring them with their glorified bodies into Father’s house.

“… The trump of God”, this shout stands for a great gathering together. When the trumpet blows in the army camp, men rush from their tents, fall into line and march off to battle. When God’s trump shall sound, every person redeemed by the power of Jesus Christ will fall in line and be taken up to join the great multitude of heaven. The shout will be so loud, the voice will be so clear, and the trump will be so distinct, that every child of God will hear and go up to meet our Lord.

The Savior Himself shall appear. The Lord Himself shall descend. There will be no substitute. This one who will come will be none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. This reminds us of what the men in white said to the disciples on the Mount of Olives as given in Acts 1:11, “ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”

It also reminds us of what Jesus said to the disciples in John 14:3, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”

You may ask the question, “What will Jesus stand on at that time?” We say to you that He needs nothing on which to stand. He suspended the earth to nothing. He hung the sun in space, which is thousands of times larger than the earth. He put the moon, the stars, and the planets in the heavens. If he can do all that, I know that He can stay for a time in the air without visible support.

Jesus Will Come Again

Yes, the heavens will burst open and Jesus will come forth in all His beauty. He will shout as he descends; the voice of the archangel will be heard; the trump of God will sound; yonder between the heavens and the earth the Saviour will hover, ready and waiting to snatch His children up out of this sinful world and take them home with Him.

Once before Jesus was suspended between heaven and earth. Cruel men accomplished this. They hung Him upon a cross as if He were too good for the earth and yet not good enough for heaven. That was the cross of suffering. But thank God there will be no suffering for Him when he comes back. He will hover there between heaven and earth in beauty and majesty. His heart will be overflowing with anticipation, for soon he will meet His bride and take her home with Him.

His anticipation was great when He hung upon the cross, for in His heart He cried out, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth. . .” (Isaiah 45:22). He looked down through all the ages and saw those who would believe in Him. He knew the joy that would be in their heart. He knew from what they would be saved and as He thought of all of this, He rejoiced in the privilege of making the supreme sacrifice to save lost mankind.

But as He will come in the air, His anticipation will be greater. He is going to gather believers from all over the earth and He is going to raise the bodies of those who loved him and died in the faith. This will be the greatest reunion that world has ever known. Every trouble will be over, Jesus will throw His loving arms around Christian believers and his own great heart will overflow with wondrous joy. The dead in Christ shall rise first. When the trumpet sounds, the dead believers will rise. Not every grave will be opened, for those who died without Christ will still sleep in their graves.

We read these words in Revelation 20:6, “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection. . .” Those who die out of Christ are not blessed and holy. They must stay in their tribulation period and after the millennium, they will be raised and brought in judgment before the great white throne where they shall receive the condemnation of a future separation from God forever.

. .Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord. . .” (Rev. 14:13). These are not lost. They are sleeping until he comes and then He will raise them up to be with Him. This is the reason Christians are not to mourn like others who have no hope. We know that when Jesus comes, those who have been saved according to the Bible, those who have loved ones that have gone on to meet the Lord and were saved but have tasted death, these will be the first ones to rise up to meet Him.

When I attend the funeral of a Christian, I can truly say to him, “Goodbye, I’ll see you in a little while with my Saviour.” We can say this to all those who know Jesus Christ and who have experienced that wonderful redemptive pardon and know Him in the power of the Holy Spirit. We know that it is well with them. When the dead are taken up, this is the first resurrection.

The living Christians will be caught up. Every Christian on the earth will hear His commanding shout and will rise up to meet Him. It may be that an engineer will be taken from a moving train; a pilot from his speeding plane; the operator of en electric plant from his dynamo; the banker from his place in an executive’s business parlor; a man on the street shall be caught up to meet the Lord; men and women working in the field will be caught up to meet the Lord; those who sleep in a bed together, one may be caught and the other left. Then the worldlings who are left will surely know the value that a saved Christian is to the world.

When we consider this, of course, the question is, “What constitutes this salvation?: Jesus taught us very carefully, that you must be born again of the water and the Spirit. The Apostles taught us that the matter of salvation was dependent on receiving Jesus Christ according to their teaching. The teachings of the Apostles were,”…repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38).

If you will carefully analyze the teaching of the Word of God, you will recognize there is only one motive to salvation, and that is by repentance, baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the receiving of the gift of the Holy Ghost baptism.

Suppose that a man was saved at 9:00 o’clock and Jesus came in the air at 10:00 o’clock. This man would not have time to learn much about Christ or read his Bible or grow in grace. Yet, he would be caught up just as would the best Saint living on the face of the earth.

Suppose if you were brought to God in true repentance and you gave your life to the Lord in the fulfillment of His Word on Sunday night and the Lord’s return was on Monday before you had even had time to go out and witness in this world. You would be caught up just the same, because our salvation is based on faith and the operation of our obedience to God and His word. This is one of the beautiful aspects of this great truth.

Jesus is the Head of the church and we are the body. At His coming, Body and head will be joined. If some of us were left on the earth, the body would not be complete, and it is His purpose to raise a complete body.

We read in Romans 14:10 that all of us must stand before the judgment seat of Christ. We shall stand there not to receive condemnation, but a reward. If all of us are to stand before Him in that day, all of us must be taken up out of the earth and therefore, all Christians whether dead or alive, will be caught up to meet Jesus in the Air.

Another Great Event

Another great event will also occur. A wondrous change will come both for the dead and the living Saints. “Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (I Corinthians 15:51-53).

Here we are, definitely told that the dead Saints shall be raised incorruptible and living Saints shall be changed. We shall be like Him, sinless and perfect. We do not know just what kind of a body this will be. Paul calls it a spiritual body. But, surely it is enough for us to know that we shall be like Jesus at the end of the way. We want to be like Him here, but we are hindered by many faults, frailties and desires of the flesh. However, in that minute when He comes, we will be free from every evil. We will not be ashamed to meet Him, for we will be like Him.

How long will it take the Lord to change our bodies and make us like Jesus? He will bring about this marvelous transformation in a twinkling of an eye and this is an instantaneous change. He said, “Let there be light, and light was diffused over the whole world. He can save a person the minute that person will obey the wonderful truth of God and give his life over to Him. I believe there is the power in Christ to bring about an instantaneous conversion. As we think about these things, this expression “caught up” suggests and eagle catching up his prey, and carrying it off toward the mountain peak. It suggests a strong man, rescuing a child from the path of a truck and dashing off with that child to safety.

Yes, my friend, the church will be snatched from the great hours of tribulation that are coming to overtake a Godless world. The unsaved will be left on the earth to go through the trying, testing, tribulation which shall try every man’s soul in that time. John, the Beloved, stood yonder on the Isle of Patmos. The lonely old man longed for the sight of the best friend he ever had. He wanted to drop off his robe of flesh and go up to meet his Savior. He cried out. ‘”Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20). I ask you the question, “Can you say that today, or do you shrink at the thought of His coming?”

I’ve witnessed the death bed situations of people who have been ready to meet their Lord. I’ve also watched those who were not prepared to meet their God. I have felt the horror and the sadness that was present at bed sides where men and women were not spiritually alerted to the spiritual inheritance that was possible for them. I am saying to you today, that this is an hour when we must look for His coming and consider our lives in the light of the Word of God. We’re living at the time of the coming of the Lord and His coming may be at any moment. IT MAY BE NOW!!!!!