[23]    Last Things: Second Coming of Christ

76.    What is the nature of the second coming of Christ? When will this happen?

a. The second coming of Christ is one of the most widely taught doctrine in the NT.

b. Charcteristics of the second coming of Christ:

c. Biblical terms describing the second coming; they are used interchangeably: d. Timing of the second coming: e. Attitude of Christians towards the second coming: 77.    Where are the signs that precede the Second Coming? a. The Bible teaches that many signs will appear before the second coming of Christ. The purpose of these teachings is: (1) to intensify our expectation of Christís return (Lk 21:28), and (2) to keep believers from following false messiahs (Mk 13:5-6,21; 2Th 2:3).

b. Types of signs:

(1) Gospel: preaching of the gospel to all nations (Mt 24:14; Mk 13:10; Ro 11:25)

(2) Church: great apostasy and many deceived by false christs (Mt 24:4,10-12; 1Ti 4:1; 2Ti 3:1-5); false prophet working signs and wonders (Mt 24:23-24; Mk 13:22)

(3) Israel: founding or re-establishment of the nation (Mt 24:32-33); salvation or conversion to Christianity as a nation, though not every person (Ro 11:12,25-26; Zec 12:10; 13:1; 2Co 3:15-16)

(4) Nature:

(5) Tribulation (Mk 13:7-8,19-20; Mt 24:15-22; Lk 21:20-24): (6) Antichrist and his rebellion: (a) Different names: antichrist (1Jn 2:18,22; 4:3; 2Jn 7), man of sin and son of perdition (2Th 2:3-10), beast from the sea (Rev 13:1-8), the little horn (Dan 7:8,24), the small horn (Dan 8:9,23-25), the ruler who will come (Dan 9:26), the anti-God king (Dan 11:36)

(b) He is called antichrist because he assumes the guise of Christ but opposes the real Christ.

(c) He is a man with tremendous political power who will confirm a covenant with the Jews (Dan 9:27) at the beginning of the tribulation.

(d) At the midpoint of the 7 years, he will break the covenant and stop sacrifice and offering in the Temple in Jerusalem [implying that a Temple for the Jews has been reconstructed, thus the reconstruction of the Temple is counted as one of the signs], proclaim himself as God (2Th 2:4), make people worship him ("an abomination that causes desolation", Mt 24:15), and persecute Godís people (Dan 7:25, Rev 13:7).

(e) He will finally be destroyed by a supernatural act of God (Dan 8:25).

c. Based on our observations, most of the signs are unlikely to have been fulfilled but it is also possible that the signs have already been fulfilled. (1) Gospel: may not refer to every tribe in the world but to language groups, or may be in a representative sense (Col 1:23)

(2) Church: many different cults, rampant witchcraft and demonic activities

(3) Israel: founding of Israel in 1948

(4) Nature: destructive signs could occur in very quickly succession

(5) Tribulation: initially thought to refer to the Jewish War of AD 66-70 (which is likely referred to in Mt 24:16-20; Mk 13:14-18; Lk 21:21-23); for many persecuted Christians like those in Muslim and communist countries, they are already in tribulation

(6) Antichrist: initially thought to refer to Roman emperor Nero, later Hitler, but may be someone already in power today

d. Many have made definitive predictions about various signs and tried to link the signs to contemporary events. Others have claimed new insights (such as the recent predictions about the second coming at the turn of the millennium). This kind of predictionism (sign-seeking and date-setting) has become institutionalized in publications and public media. Christians should use extreme caution in such activities as they may lead believers into false expectations and they may lose credibility when such predictions did not come true and their claims need constant revisions.