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AN OVERVIEW OF BIBLE PROPHECY
by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
A sermon preached at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
"I will come again, and receive you unto myself" (John 14:3).
Christ made it clear to His Disciples that He was coming again. And He made it clear that He was coming to receive them unto Himself. This cannot be a spiritual, mythological, or metaphysical event, because the Bible is very literal concerning the Second Coming of Christ. At the ascension of Christ back into Heaven, these words are recorded:
"And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, 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" (Acts 1:10-11).
This same Jesus who went up shall come down, the same way He went up, "in like manner." There is nothing complicated about that prophecy. Christ is going to come down through the clouds to the top of the Mount of Olives, just the reverse of what He did when He went up from the Mount of Olives into the air, and disappeared in the clouds. It will be like running a movie backwards when He who has ascended will descend as the Bible promises.
There have been three main positions concerning the event of Christ's return. The first is the amillennial view. It is not the oldest view. It did not flourish until it was promoted by Augustine in the fourth century. This view teaches that there is no future Kingdom and that the church is the kingdom of God. They believe that Christ will come to judge the world and then eternity will begin. They do not believe that Christ will set up His Kingdom on the earth for a thousand years. This is the view of the Roman Catholic Church and some reformed Protestants. It is the view of the preterists, who say that all New Testament prophecy was fulfilled in the first century.
The second position on prophecy is known as postmillennialism. This view taught that the world would be converted by the church and that this would bring in a golden age. This view teaches that Christ will return only after Christianity takes over the world. Postmillennialism was dealt a severe blow by World War I and virtually disappeared after World War II.
The third view of Bible prophecy is the oldest. It was called chiliasm, and was the belief of the churches for the first four hundred years that Christ would literally return to earth to set up His Kingdom for one thousand years. This view is the accepted position of Fundamentalists and most evangelicals today. It is called premillennialism. It teaches that Christ will come to set up His Kingdom on earth for one thousand years. It is based on a literal interpretation of Bible prophecy, particularly Revelation 20:1-6. It was the view of Spurgeon, who said, "There is in the text [Revelation 20:4-6] a distinct promise that the saints are to reign with Christ a thousand years; and I believe they are to reign with him upon this earth" (C. H. Spurgeon, "The First Resurrection," Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 7, pp. 345-362). It is also the view of the Scofield Reference Bible, and it is my view. I am a premillennialist, as were the early Christians for the first four hundred years of Christian history.
Furthermore, I believe that there are several points of Bible prophecy that are clearly and literally given to us on the pages of the New Testament. And we are going to look at them tonight.
I. First, the signs of the end are all around us.
Many passages of the New Testament give us the signs of the approaching end of the age and the Second Coming of Christ. Turn to Matthew 24:37,
"But as the days of Noe [Noah] were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be…Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh" (Matthew 24:37-44).
The greatest sign that we are living in the closing days of this age, before the coming of Christ, is that the world around us is going back to "the days of Noah." The people were mostly unready for the coming judgment, just as they are today.
Turn now to Luke 21:25,
"And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken" (Luke 21:25-26).
I believe that world events today are pictured in this passage. The hearts of men are "failing them for fear" as they look at the world scene today. But Jesus went on to say,
"And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh [near]" (Luke 21:28).
True Christians should lift up their heads today because Jesus is coming!
II. Second, the Bible teaches that the Rapture will occur.
Turn to I Thessalonians, chapter four, verse 16,
"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…"
(I Thessalonians 4:16-17).
This passage of Scripture does not describe Jesus coming back to earth. Instead, it tells us that He is coming in the clouds, and true Christians will be "caught up together with them [the resurrected dead] in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air" (I Thessalonians 4:17). The word "rapture" means "to be caught away," or "caught up." Those who are converted will be caught up in the air to meet Christ in the clouds. This will happen "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye" (I Corinthians 15:52). Our bodies will be changed, to be like Christ's resurrected body, for "the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed" (I Corinthians 15:52).
After the Rapture, a time of terrible tribulation will occur for seven years in the world, "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time" (Matthew 24:21).
III. Third, the Bible teaches that Christ will return to this earth.
At the end of the Tribulation period, Christ Himself will come back through the clouds of Heaven to this earth. Please turn to Revelation, chapter nineteen, verse eleven,
"And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS" (Revelation 19:11-16).
This will literally fulfill the prophecy of Zechariah,
"And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east…and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee" (Zechariah 14:4-5).
When Christ ascended back into Heaven, the angels told the Disciples, "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). Christ is coming back to this earth, physically and literally, at this time.
IV. Fourthly, the Bible teaches that Christ will then reign
on this earth for one thousand years.
After Christ returns, He will set up His one-thousand-year Kingdom on earth. Please turn in your Bible to Revelation chapter twenty, verse one,
"And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years" (Revelation 20:1-6).
Five times in this passage of Scripture we are told that the reign of Christ on earth will last "a thousand years." We believe that God means what He says, and that true Christians "shall reign with him [Christ] a thousand years" (Revelation 20:6). This is the millennium, the glorious Kingdom of our Saviour on earth. It is also the time when God makes good His promises to Israel and the Jewish people, as well as His promises to Gentiles who believe in Jesus.
V. Fifthly, the Bible teaches that the Last Judgment
will then take place.
Turn in your Bible to Revelation, chapter twenty, verse eleven,
"And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works…And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire"
The most important thing in the world is to be certain that your name is written in the "book of life."
"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:16).
Make sure that you have trusted Christ. Make sure that you have repented and that your sins have been washed away by the Blood of Jesus. Trust Jesus and be saved from sin, Hell, and the grave! Make sure that your name has been written down in the "book of life" by fully trusting Jesus Christ, Himself.
VI. Sixthly, and lastly, the world that we know will pass away and
God will make a new heaven and a new earth.
Please turn to Revelation, chapter twenty-one, verse one,
"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea" (Revelation 21:1).
I wish I had more time to speak about the eternal state, on the new earth, under the new heaven. I can only say to you tonight that I hope you will be there. I pray that you will be able to say with the true Christians in eternity,
"Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood" (Revelation 1:5).
I have only been able to give you an overview of Bible prophecy tonight. But I hope it has been a blessing to you. I hope that you will come to Jesus Christ, the risen Son of God, and that you will be saved by Him. Then come back to church next Sunday and live for Him. "Why be lonely? Come home - to church!"
O Lord Jesus, how long, how long, Ere we shout the glad song,
Christ returneth! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Amen.
("Christ Returneth" by H. L. Turner, 19th century).
Scripture Read by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan Before the Sermon:
Solo Sung by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith Before the Sermon:
"Christ Returneth" (by H. L. Turner, 19th century).
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at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."
THE OUTLINE OF
AN OVERVIEW OF BIBLE PROPHECY
by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
"I will come again, and receive you unto myself" (John 14:3).
(Acts 1:10-11; cf. Revelation 20:1-6)
I. The signs of the end are all around us,
II. The Bible teaches that the Rapture will occur,
III. The Bible teaches that Christ will return to this earth,
IV. The Bible teaches that Christ will then reign on this
V. The Bible teaches that the Last Judgment will then
VI. The Bible teaches that the world that we know will