December 2017

From The Pastor's Heart

Most of us are familiar with the story of His birth but how much do we know about His second coming?

By Charles F. Stanley

As 2017 draws to a close, our minds are filled with thoughts of Christmas. Manger scenes and Christmas carols remind us of the most important event in history up until that time. But there is something greater coming in the future—Jesus will one day return. Most of us are familiar with the story of His birth but how much do we know about His second coming?

Although we might be tempted to avoid prophetic passages because they seem confusing, they are the believer’s source of hope. Since all the prophecies about Jesus’ first coming were literally fulfilled, we can be confident that those prophecies predicting His return will also come to pass. And as we examine them, we’ll come to understand and long for what awaits those of us who have trusted Jesus as our Savior.

First of all, prophecy tells us that Jesus will return to take His bride (the church) up to heaven. This event is described in 1 Corinthians 15:50-55 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. It’s not a quiet event, like His first coming when He was born in a stable in the stillness of the night. When Jesus returns, He’ll come with a shout, the voice of the archangel, and the trumpet of God. Those who have died will be resurrected, and we who are still alive will be instantly changed and given immortal bodies. Together we will all be caught up into the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, never to be parted from Him again. This is our glorious hope.

When Jesus’ birth was announced to Mary and Joseph by an angel, they had nine months to prepare for the event. However, when He returns, there will be no warning. Since no one knows when this event will happen, we’re told to always be ready (Matt. 24:36-44). Those who are unprepared will be left on earth to face a time of God’s judgment. Jesus said it would be “a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will” (Matt. 24:21).

Therefore, the second issue we should consider is what it means to be ready for Jesus’ return. Since He is coming to take believers to heaven, only those who have accepted Him as their Savior and Lord will be ready. Sometimes people tell me that they’ll get saved later, but not right now. But if we put off this crucial decision, it may be too late. None of us know how much time we will have until death or Christ’s return. Instead of living unprepared, we should heed the warning from Hebrews 4:7, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.”

For those of us who are believers, living obedient, holy lives is the way to be prepared for Christ’s return. After the rapture, we must all stand before Him to be judged for what we have done. Our eternal destiny is secure, but our works will be evaluated by Christ (1 Cor. 3:10-15). If what we’ve done is proven valuable, we’ll receive a reward, but if our works are worthless, we’ll suffer the loss of reward. Knowing this should motivate us to pursue godliness and holy conduct (2 Peter 3:11, 2 Peter 3:14).

For those of us who are believers, living obedient, holy lives is the way to be prepared for Christ’s return

Third, we must understand the difference between the rapture and the second coming of Christ. In the rapture, Jesus comes in the clouds, catches the church up to meet Him in the air, and takes us home to heaven. In contrast, at His second coming, He returns to earth with His saints to set up His kingdom. This time there is no stopping in mid-air. In fact, we even know where His feet will touch down—on the Mount of Olives, the place from which He ascended to heaven (Zech. 14:4).

There are no signs preceding the rapture; however, Scripture provides many signs for Jesus’ second coming. When His disciples asked Him about the time of the end, Jesus gave one of the longest explanations recorded in the New Testament (Matthew 24-25). Many years later He appeared to the apostle John and revealed more details of His return in the book of Revelation. These prophecies are meant to encourage us and prepare us for the future. We don’t want to be like the Jews of Jesus’ day who failed to recognize Him as the Messiah because they didn’t know the signs of the times (Matt. 16:3).

In His first coming, Jesus was a helpless baby who looked like any other Jewish boy. He came as a Savior offering Himself as a sacrifice for our sins so we could be forgiven and reconciled to God. But when He returns, He will come to judge the earth as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Instead of humbly entering the world in a stable, this time He will come in glory and power with all the mighty angels. As a new year approaches, consider whether you’re ready to meet the Lord when He returns. If the trumpet sounded today, would you be confident that Jesus is coming for you? I pray that the expectation of His return will draw you to Him and encourage you to live with the hope of seeing Jesus face to face.

Prayerfully yours,

Charles F. Stanley

P.S. In Touch Ministries is looking forward to another fruitful year of proclaiming the gospel and teaching God’s Word. We pray that you will be encouraged, challenged, and blessed by our broadcasts and publications as you seek to grow in your relationship with Christ. Thank you so much for your prayers for our ministry.


What happens to my notes

50 Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed,

52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.

54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory.

55 O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?"

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.

14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.

15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.

16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.

18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

36 But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.

37 For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.

38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,

39 and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.

40 Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left.

41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left.

42 Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.

43 But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.

44 For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.

21 For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.

7 He again fixes a certain day, Today," saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS."

10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it.

11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,

13 each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work.

14 If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.

15 If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,

14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless,

4 In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south.

1 Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him.

2 And He said to them, Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down."

3 As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?"

4 And Jesus answered and said to them, See to it that no one misleads you.

5 For many will come in My name, saying, `I am the Christ,' and will mislead many.

6 You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.

7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.

8 But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

9 Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.

10 At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.

11 Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.

12 Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold.

13 But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.

14 This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.

15 Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),

16 then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.

17 Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house.

18 Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak.

19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!

20 But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath.

21 For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.

22 Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.

23 Then if anyone says to you, `Behold, here is the Christ,' or `There He is, ' do not believe him.

24 For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.

25 Behold, I have told you in advance.

26 So if they say to you, `Behold, He is in the wilderness,' do not go out, or, `Behold, He is in the inner rooms,' do not believe them.

27 For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be.

28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.

29 But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

30 And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory.

31 And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.

32 Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near;

33 so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.

34 Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.

36 But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.

37 For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.

38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,

39 and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.

40 Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left.

41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left.

42 Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.

43 But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.

44 For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.

45 Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time?

46 Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes.

47 Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions.

48 But if that evil slave says in his heart, `My master is not coming for a long time,'

49 and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards;

50 the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know,

51 and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

1 Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.

2 Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent.

3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them,

4 but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps.

5 Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep.

6 But at midnight there was a shout, `Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him. '

7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps.

8 The foolish said to the prudent, `Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.'

9 But the prudent answered, `No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.'

10 And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut.

11 Later the other virgins also came, saying, `Lord, lord, open up for us.'

12 But he answered, `Truly I say to you, I do not know you.'

13 Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.

14 For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them.

15 To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.

16 Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents.

17 In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more.

18 But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.

19 Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them.

20 The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, `Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.'

21 His master said to him, `Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.'

22 Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, `Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.'

23 His master said to him, `Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.'

24 And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, `Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed.

25 And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.'

26 But his master answered and said to him, `You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed.

27 Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest.

28 Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.'

29 For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.

30 Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

31 But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.

32 All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats;

33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.

34 Then the King will say to those on His right, `Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;

36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.'

37 Then the righteous will answer Him, `Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?

38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?

39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'

40 The King will answer and say to them, `Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'

41 Then He will also say to those on His left, `Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;

42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink;

43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.'

44 Then they themselves also will answer, `Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?'

45 Then He will answer them, `Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'

46 These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

3 And in the morning, ` There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.' Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?

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