Besides the surety of salvation for every believer in Christ, we find equally enhanced in the Bible another fact: the second coming of the Lord Jesus to the world. This second coming is the great hope of the Church, bringing the consummation of all the promises and the crowning of all gospel work.
"This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven." Acts 1:11 (NKJV). Here we see one of the many Bible prophecies which deal with the second coming of the Lord. It seems that this coming will be in two stages - firstly to rapture into heaven His Church (1 Thessalonians 4.13-17), and later to personally reign over the world as "King of kings and Lord of lords". Just as all prophecies concerning His incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection were fulfilled, so also the words concerning His second coming, still in the future, will be perfectly accomplished.
The problems faced today by the whole world can only be resolved by His glorious appearing to reign as King over this earth. All form of government collapses. The mystery of iniquity develops quickly (2 Thessalonians). Man becomes increasingly impotent against terrorism, crime and violence. "On earth distress of nations, with perplexity" (Luke 21.25).
But the Bible tells us that a real Government will come, established and maintained by Christ whom the world rejected. He, indeed, will occupy the throne of the whole world, and will be crowned King of kings; all the kingdoms of the earth will become His kingdom (Revelation 11.15).
All human efforts to avoid wars have failed; peace on earth can only be achieved through the Man who is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9.6). Before His return, there will not be peace, but when Christ comes "the nations will no longer learn to make war". He will deal with poverty, injustice and oppression. His return in power and great glory is the only hope of attaining a better world. It is a sure hope; it cannot fail, for it is the promise of God.
The Lord Jesus will return to reign in righteousness. Then the problems of our wicked and rebellious world - war, hate, injustice, greed, impurity, ignorance - will be resolved, but not through human effort.
The second coming of the Lord isn't, like some people think, His conquest of the world by the Gospel. No doubt the victories of the Gospel have been glorious, but in no way are they universal, and they do not represent what the Bible says of the second coming of Christ to the world.
This coming will be corporal, visible and glorious. "All the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory" Matthew 24:30 (NKJV). His return will be more astonishing than His resurrection, more significant than the baptism in the Holy Spirit, more frightening than the translation of the Church; this event - the translation - isn't the second coming of the Lord, but in fact the first step of this coming. Those who take part in the translation (1 Thessalonians 4.16-17) will be manifested with Christ on His return in glory (Colossians 3.4; Jude 14; Revelation 19.14; Zechariah 14.5).
This is the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ which is the "blessed hope" of the Church (Titus 2.13). On this second coming of the Lord, the "first resurrection", which is of life, will be completed (Revelation 20.5; John 5.29) and includes that of Christ himself (1 Corinthians 15:20), and of "many bodies of saints" (Matthew 26.52-53), of Christians (1 Thessalonians 4.16) and of the saints who will die during the period of the great tribulation (Revelation 20.4). There will be judgment and condemnation of the nations alive and rebellious and the Lord will institute His kingdom on earth.
The question is frequently asked: "Will there be a period of seven years between the translation of the Church and the second coming of the Lord?" The answer is that the Bible does no teach such a thing - neither seven years, nor forty, nor three and a half, nor any defined period.
It seems that there will be indeed a certain period of time between the translation and the second coming - the period called "Day of Christ" (Philippians 1.6; 2 Corinthians 1.14) in which "the judgment seat of Christ and of God" will take place (Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5.10) – but the length of this period isn't declared in the Bible; it is a matter for spiritual investigation.
The second coming of the Lord will mark the "closing of the door" for salvation of unbelieving sinners (Luke 13.25); until that moment "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved" (Joel 2.32; Acts 2.21; Romans 1.13). This does not mean that those who reject or neglect salvation today will have their opportunity after translation - for how can they know if they will live until the translation, or even until tomorrow?
What does the second coming of the Lord mean to us, His people? What is its practical effect on our life? "We know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (1 John 3:2). The first effect of all this will be that "everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself" (1 John 3.3).
The second coming of Christ should incite us to greater holiness, for the great motive of our salvation is that we may be pure of heart and of life (Numbers 15.40; 1 Peter 1.15-16). "Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord" (Hebrews 12.14).
The second coming of the Lord should also give us more zeal in evangelising others. How many are there who still trust in their traditional religion or who nourish ideas of annihilation or of reincarnation and do not want to convert to Christ! After death, or after His coming, there will not be the smallest possibility of salvation for those who rejected the Gospel. "Now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6.2).
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12
His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14
And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.
15Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16
And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
Revelation chapter 19 verses 11-16 (NKJV)
4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
5 But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6
Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
Revelation chapter 20 verses 4-6 (NKJV)