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SECOND COMING CORRELATIONS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 A sermon preached on Lord's Day Evening, February 20, 2005
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"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" (John 14:3).


The doctrine of the Second Coming of Christ came into prominence during the years after the 1859 revival. It occupied the minds of evangelical Christians in that period, particularly after World War I. This doctrine again became very prominent during World War II. Since then, it regained great popularity in the late 1960s and early 70s during the Vietnam War, largely through the books and lectures of Hal Lindsey and others. Today, during the War on Terrorism, novels about the Second Coming by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins have been on the best-seller lists for months, and even years. Billy Graham's sermon on "The Signs of the Times" is given as the climactic message at the end of each of his crusades. Yes, there has been a great interest in the doctrine of the Second Coming of Christ for the past one hundred and fifty years, starting just after the 1859 revival, and continuing in popularity since then. And yet our churches have not experienced nation-shaking revival since this doctrine gained such a hold on the evangelical mind.

I have often thought about that paradox. The doctrine of the imminent return of Christ, it would seem, should drive evangelicals to greater holiness and service. But strangely this has not happened. Instead, during the 150 years since the revival of 1859, the churches have languished, unprepared and unmoved by this great doctrine.

I must stop here to say that I believe with all my heart in the Second Coming of Christ. I am a premillennialist. More than that, I hold the pretribulation rapture view. And I believe that the signs of Christ's coming are all around us, prophesied by the Scriptures, and finding fulfillment in our age. And yet it seems strange, to me at least, that these great doctrines which we hear so often have had so little effect on us. And I think I have come up with an answer, at least one that satisfies my uneasy mind regarding this subject. Why are most evangelicals so unmoved by the promise of our Lord's return? My answers may not please you, but I hope they will make you think, and think deeply.

The thoughts I will give you spring from our text:

"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" (John 14:3).

I am going to speak to you tonight on the forgotten Second Coming correlations - things which are closely related to the Second Coming, but have been largely forgotten in the hum and bustle of our time. And the first of these subjects, which are so closely related to the Second Coming, but are largely neglected, is the fact that Jesus went away from us physically.

I. First, the correlation between Christ's physical ascension
and the Second Coming.

The Bible tells us that there is a close relationship between Christ's ascension and His return. Look at our text and you will see this immediately:

"And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again…"
    (John 14:3).

"If I go…I will come again." Do you see the correlation, the relationship between Him going and coming again? This is highly important and often forgotten today. It does not refer to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. That is made clear in the first chapter of Acts. The angels said,

"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"
    (Acts 1:11).

Who would disagree that Christ ascended back to Heaven physically? We may not understand it with our rational minds, but it is a clear statement of Scripture that "this same Jesus" who went up to Heaven "shall so come in like manner." Webster's Dictionary gives the orthodox Christian view of this quite well. It says,

Ascension…the act of ascending; a rising. Specifically, the Ascension, in the Bible, the bodily ascent of Jesus into heaven on the fortieth day after his resurrection (Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary Unabridged, second edition, Collins World, 1978, p. 108).

"The bodily ascent of Jesus into heaven." That's exactly what the Bible teaches.

The physical ascent of Jesus up to Heaven is made very clear in the gospel of Luke. The twenty-fourth chapter of Luke goes into detail, telling us that the resurrected Christ is not a spirit:

"And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet"
    (Luke 24:36-40).

This passage of Scripture makes it perfectly clear that Christ was raised bodily, flesh and bone, from the grave. Then, a little later in this same chapter (Luke 24), we read,

"He led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven" (Luke 24:50-51).

The physically resurrected Jesus went "up into heaven," flesh and bone. How can this be? It is a mystery, one of the "mysteries of the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 13:11). The Scofield note on Matthew 13:11 says that

A "mystery" in Scripture is a previously hidden truth, now divinely revealed, but in which a supernatural element still remains despite the revelation (The Scofield Study Bible, note on Matthew 13:11).

The physical "flesh and bones" body of Jesus was "carried up into heaven" (Luke 24:39, 51). How that happened is a mystery, "in which a supernatural element still remains despite the revelation." We cannot rationally explain how Jesus' physical body ascended "up into heaven" any more than we can rationally explain how His dead body rose from the grave! As the Scofield note says, "A supernatural element remains."

And there is a close relationship, a correlation, between Christ's physical ascension "up into heaven" and His physical return to earth at the Second Coming.

"This same Jesus, which is taken up… shall so come …as ye have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11).

"If I go…I will come again" (John 14:3).

II. Second, the correlation between Christ's Second Coming
and where He is located now.

The Bible teaches that there is a very close relationship between the Second Coming of Christ and the place where He is located today. That is made quite clear in our text:

"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" (John 14:3).

The Tim LaHaye Prophecy Study Bible has a good note on John 14:3. It says,

This is the first teaching on the Rapture in Scripture. After predicting that He was going to return to His "Father's house" (see also v. 28) "to prepare a place for [His followers]"… He promised that He would come again. Verse three is a reference to the Rapture when Jesus takes His [people] up to the Father's house to be with Him. Verse 3 does not refer to the glorious appearing of Christ at the end of the Tribulation (The Tim LaHaye Prophecy Study Bible, AMG Publishers, 2000, note on John 14:1-3).

I totally agree with that note. The Bible teaches two phases of the Second Coming. First, Christ comes in the air and catches up His people from the earth, "to meet the Lord in the air" (I Thessalonians 4:17). Second, Christ returns to the earth, after the Tribulation period, to set up His physical Kingdom (Revelation 19:11-16; 20:1-6). I have no doubt that this is exactly what will happen.

But here is my point - which is often forgotten today - the Second Coming of Christ, both in the Rapture and in His descent to earth to set up His Kingdom - both show where He is today. It is good to know that He will come again, but it is even more important to know where He is located today!

Where is Christ today? Many people think He is "everywhere." In the sense of God's omnipresence, there is truth to that. And yet it is important to know the location of Christ's physical "flesh and bones" body. You may say, "That's not important." But you are wrong if you say that. You are wrong because the Bible goes to great lengths in telling us exactly where the "flesh and bones" body of Jesus is located. Many verses in the Bible speak of this subject, so it must be highly important. For instance, our text speaks of this when Christ says, "I go to prepare a place for you…that where I am, there ye may be also" (John 14:3). "Where I am." Where is that? Again and again we are told where that is - where the resurrected "flesh and bones" body of Jesus ascended, and from which He will come again. I am only giving a few passages of Scripture to show you how important this subject is in the Bible.

"The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand,until I make thine enemies thy footstool" (Psalm 110:1).

"So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God"
    (Mark 16:19).

"Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God" (Luke 22:69).

"This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted…"
    (Acts 2:32-33).

"It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God,who also maketh intercession for us" (Romans 8:34).

"…his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 1:19-20).

"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God"
    (Colossians 3:1).

"Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Hebrews 1:3).

"We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens" (Hebrews 8:1).

"But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God" (Hebrews 10:12).

"Jesus Christ: Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God" (I Peter 3:21-22).

If the location of the risen Christ is of no importance, why then is the location of Christ mentioned repeatedly in the Bible? The Bible tells us where He is because it is important!

Remember now, that it is His "flesh and bones" body that is at the right hand of God "in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 1:20). Don't slip back into thinking of a "spirit Christ."

"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" (John 14:3).

III. Third, the correlation between Christ's position on the
right hand of God and your salvation.

The Bible teaches that there is a very close relationship between the location of Christ and your salvation. In our text, Jesus said,

"I will come again, and receive you unto myself…" (John 14:3).

Who is He referring to when He says, "you"? He is speaking of those who believe in Him. That is made clear throughout the fourteenth chapter of John (cf. John 14:1; 14:6; 14:11; 14:12; etc.).

Turn with me to the sixth chapter of John. Let us stand together and read aloud John 6:37.

"All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out" (John 6:37).

You may be seated.

I'm not going to deal with the first half of that verse tonight. I will just give a brief statement from Dr. McGee on the first half, "My friend, if you come you will be the elect" (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson, 1983, vol. IV, p. 405).

Look at the second half of the verse. The first half refers to God. The second half refers to you.

"Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out" (John 6:37).

Christ is telling you to come to Him. That is the way to be saved. Jesus said,

"Come unto me…and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).

You don't get saved by being baptized, or coming "forward," or praying a "sinner's prayer," or having a "good" feeling, or making Christ "Lord of your life." All of these are external things. Salvation does not come from external actions, thoughts or feelings. Salvation comes through faith in Christ alone, through coming to Christ, through believing on Him. These are all phrases that refer to the same thing - union with Christ.

But you cannot have saving faith in Him without knowing where He is located. How can you possibly come to a person if you don't know where He is? Thousands of people have had some sort of "faith," but the object of their faith was not the Ascended Christ, at the right hand of God. Thus, they are still unsaved. You cannot come to Christ without knowing where He is. That's why we have one verse after another, throughout the Bible, telling us where the risen Lord is seated, and from whence He will come.

Luther, Whitefield, Wesley, Edwards, Nettleton and Spurgeon may not have had as much light as we do on Bible prophecy. But they had something we haven't seen for 150 years - revival! For, you see, revival does not come through a knowledge of Bible prophecy. It comes through a knowledge of Jesus, the Son of God. Salvation does not come by being able to put the "pieces of the prophetic puzzle" together. Salvation comes by knowing Jesus, the Son of God.

"And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3).

You must come to Christ. He is at the right hand of God in Heaven. You must be washed clean from your sins by His Blood. You must have His righteousness imputed to you through faith in Him.

Soteriology is far more important than eschatology. A knowledge of regeneration is immeasurably more important than knowledge of the Rapture. A study of conviction and conversion is infinitely more important than studying a prophecy chart. If you have to choose one or the other, choose Edwards over Darby. Choose Bunyan over Ironside. Choose the book of Romans over a "leadership" seminar. Choose the Reformers and Puritans over modern verse-by-verse Bible teachers. Choose Spurgeon over a motivational speaker. Choose Wesley over "possibility thinking." Choose Tozer over "purpose drivenness." Choose conversion over "decisionism." Choose life rather than death!

"And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ,whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3).

(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: John 14:1-6.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"Jesus Is Coming Again" (by John W. Peterson, 1921 - ).

THE OUTLINE OF

SECOND COMING CORRELATIONS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"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" (John 14:3).

I.   The correlation between Christ's physical ascension and
the Second Coming, Acts 1:11; Luke 24:36-40, 50-51;
Matthew 13:11.

II.  The correlation between Christ's Second Coming and where
He is located now, I Thessalonians 4:17; Revelation 19:11-16;
Revelation 20:1-6; Psalm 110:1; Mark 16:19; Luke 22:69;
Acts 2:32-33; Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:19-20; Colossians 3:1;
Hebrews 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; I Peter 3:21-22.

III. The correlation between Christ's position on the right hand
of God and your salvation, John 6:37; Matthew 11:28;
John 17:3.

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