5. What Does the Lord Say
The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans 16:16)
We read in Matthew 25:31‑46 that the Son of Man who came the first time in lowliness and poverty will come again "in His glory," and all the holy angels will be with Him. Then He will sit upon the throne of His glory; all nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them and pronounce sentence. That will come to pass on "the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ" (Rom. 2:5‑16). "Because He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained," Jesus Christ (Acts ; cf. John 5:22; 2 Cor. 5:9‑11). Of that day Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 1:6‑10 that the Lord Jesus will be revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels; that in flaming fire He will take vengeance on the unbelievers, punishing them with everlasting destruction; that He will then be glorified in His saints and be admired in all them that believe. This will be the day of the great harvest, when the tares shall be separated from the wheat (Matt. 13:30, 38‑43; cf. Rev. 20:11‑15; Luke 17:20‑30).
No Visible Advent of Christ before Judgment Day
There will be no other visible coming of Christ; for "the heaven must receive (Jesus Christ) until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets" (Acts ). But this "restitution of all things which God hath spoken" is effected after the destruction of this present world by the creation of the "new heavens and a new earth" (Isa. 65:17; 2 Pet. ; Rev. 21:1 ff). In this "regeneration," as it is called by the Lord in Matthew 19:28, God will be glorified in His saints when "the tabernacle of God" will again be "with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God" (Rev. 21:3‑5). Until that Great Day "the heaven must receive Him," but on that day "the Lord will be revealed from heaven." Nowhere does the Bible say that He will be revealed from Heaven before Judgment Day.
Again we read (Hebrews 9:27-28), "As it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the Judgment: so Christ was once [that is, in His first advent] offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation," that is, to be "glorified in His saints" (cf. Matt. 25:34, 46). The Bible does NOT say He’s coming "the second time for the establishment of an earthly kingdom," but: "the second time unto salvation." This salvation, the deliverance from all evil (Rev. 21:4; 1 Cor. 15:23, 54‑57; Phil. 3:20-21), shall come to us at the same time, the same "hour," when all the dead, those who have done good and those who have done evil, will hear the voice of the Son of Man (John 5:28-29), "at the last trump” (1 Cor. 15:52), when "the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God" (1 Thess. 4:16; cf. Matt. 25:31; 13:41; 2 Thess. 1:7). It would be contrary to all pertinent passages to believe that there will be two future visible advents of Christ and two resurrections from the dead, one at the beginning and the other at the end of a millennium.
Millennialists believe that the passage 1 Thessalonians 4:14‑17 refers to a coming of Christ at the beginning of the millennium. Paul writes there: "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 (cf. 1 Cor. ), that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (precede) 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." There is nothing in this passage to justify the belief that this coming of the Lord will take place a thousand years before the end of the world. The intention of Paul is to show what precious comfort the Bible offers Christians at the departure of their loved ones who have died in the Lord. These will be raised to eternal life when the Lord will be revealed from Heaven in His glory.
It is clear from the very words which Paul uses in the above passage that he speaks of the same advent of Christ "from heaven with His mighty angels” of which he writes in 2 Thessalonians 1:7‑10. Here he describes the order in the same way as he does in 1 Corinthians 15:23, 51-52: First, those who have died in the Lord shall be called to life; then, we who survive shall be changed; and then, we "shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and to be ever with the Lord," that is in eternal life. We dare not forget that the apostle neither here nor in 1 Corinthians 15 makes mention of the resurrection of the wicked, because it is his intention in both of these passages to show the certainty of the blessed resurrection of the believers at the glorious advent of the Lord on the Last Day. All the dead shall hear His voice at the same day and hour (John -29; ). Then we who were living when the trumpet of Judgment Day sounded shall be changed and together with the revived believers be caught up to be with the Lord in all eternity. Thus we shall not "prevent" these.
There certainly is no trace here (in 1 Thessalonians 4:13‑17), of a visible advent of Christ a thousand years before the resurrection of all the dead. Let us not forget that on the Last Day the Lord will be revealed from Heaven (2 Thess. 1:7); but if that is true, then He was NOT visible as a king on earth before the Last Day. And Paul says that beginning with the coming of the Lord "we shall ever be with the Lord," having been caught up together with the raised believers. Now if this were to happen already a thousand years before the end of the world, there would no longer be any saints on earth during all that time. And if there are no saints on earth, how can there be an earthly kingdom in which the saints take so prominent a part according to the idea of millennialists, and how could Satan instigate the nations to combat against the camp of the saints?
Let us beware of reading our own imaginations into the Holy Book (Deut. ; Rev. 22:18). By doing so, man will confound and pervert the clear sayings of God. The whole Bible tells us of only one second visible advent of Christ, in His glory, and that on the Day of Judgment.
The millenarians refer also to Revelation 20:4‑10 as proof for a twofold coming of the Lord and a twofold resurrection. Lord willing, we will show the meaning of this passage in a later lesson.
The second advent of Christ is closely connected with the resurrection of the dead. Therefore we ask: Will There Be Two Resurrections from the Dead?