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The Second Coming of Christ: Separating fact from fiction

John 14:1-3

The Bible is filled with images like a "wheel within a wheel," great beasts, candlesticks and descriptions of strange looking celestial beings. They carry with them a sense of mystery about the end times and the second coming of Christ.

Theologians use terminologies like Parousia, eschatology, al, post, and premillennialism in their attempts to explain the events surrounding the end times, and when they do, they often make the teachings more difficult to understand for the average person.

Have you ever gone to two different doctors with the same problem and gotten two different explanations? In a perfect world, experts would agree, but in an imperfect world, we differ.

In 1982, when I was attending Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, I took a class under Dr. Fred Fisher on the book of Revelation. As a requirement for the class, each student had to develop a notebook that outlined the book, gave the background behind every verse and listed the interpretation on every verse of the book of revelation by commentators representing the four major views. It was a massive undertaking, but worth the effort. 

In one case, the premillennial commentator would say the passage must be interpreted figuratively, while the almillennial commentator would say the passage is definitely literal. The one predictable variable was that one side would be literal and the other figurative on every major passage. By analyzing the views, I learned that the critical difference of the interpreters was whether they took a passage literally, or figuratively-a purely subjective decision.

I left the intensive study with a conviction about what I believed, and a respect for those that differed. This morning, on the verge of the new millennium, let's focus on what we know for sure about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Not conjecture, not subjective analysis, but what we know for sure.

  • •We know that the Lord will return
I often read from John 14:1-3 at funeral services. It is a beautiful text that assures all believers that the master craftsman from Nazareth has prepared a place for their loved ones in heaven. I love the poetic feel of the King James Version that translates the verse like this: "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. [2] In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. [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."

Jesus says, I'm going away, but He promises that He is going to come back and get us and that there will be room for us in the Father's house. Though it is a great comfort to believers when they have a loved one die, this text is about the second coming, not death. It is a promise from our Lord that He is coming back to get us to take us to His Father's house. I don't know about you, but "the Father's house" is my favorite picture of heaven. I'm not as concerned with what the streets or gates are made of, I want to know where I'll be staying.
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