Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons

The Return

The Return

There are many passages in the New Testament emphasizing the return of Jesus Christ:

  • “This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into Heaven” (Acts 1:11).
  • “Awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:7).
  • “You proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26).
  • “And to wait for His Son from heaven” (1 Thessalonians 1:10).
  • “Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:13).
  • “So Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him” (Hebrews 9:28).


His Return is Certain

“But the day of the Lord will come” (2 Peter 3:10).  Even though there have always been those who have denied that Jesus will return as Judge (2 Peter 3:3-4), it is clear that He will, for is impossible to believe that God would create the universe and man, bear so patiently with man, laboring to direct him in the right path, then to give His only Son for man’s salvation, and have Jesus’ example and teachings recorded for all generations, only then to lose His nerve, give up, or renounce the entire affair by never returning.  Thus God’s effort at the creation, with the nation of Israel, through the prophets, in the life of Christ and through His apostles is all proof that God fully intends to see this whole drama to the end.  Added to the above evidence is the additional proof of God’s prior judgments, including judgments that were worldwide in scope (2 Peter 3:5-6; Matthew 24:38-39).  The entire Old Testament record, including the New Testament example of the destruction of Jerusalem (Matthew 24:1ff), demonstrates that God not only will come in a final judgment, but has come often in the past.

The Unexpected Nature

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief” (2 Peter 3:10).  Paul further adds, “Now as to the times and epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you.  For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2).  Jesus will arrive without warning, and there will be no signs that precede His return.  The day cannot be predicted but neither can we predict the month, year, decade or century, for the term “epoch” in the above verses refers to time in a general sense, like a season. Observe that Paul reminds them that they knew this concept very well, that in the First Century it was strongly preached that there is no way to predict the Second Coming, for no signs would precede it. 

The Security of the Lost

Paul then said that right before Jesus arrives, the lost will be saying to themselves and each other, “Peace and safety” (5:3).  Jesus Himself compared this event to the days of Noah, in which that generation had received much warning from Noah’s preaching (1 Peter 3:18) and the visible aid of the ark being built, but there were no other warnings.  He said, “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, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:39).


  • What really strikes me here is how confident and secure most people who are not right with God will feel right before Jesus arrives.  They will be absolutely sure about their situation.  They will be convinced that their position or understanding is correct, that there is nothing to worry about and that the judgment will not happen.  They are also actually reassuring each other that everything is okay.
  • The world is very skilled at preventing people from coming to repentance.  If one of their number says, “I sometimes wonder if there is a God and what He thinks about me”---they are quickly reassured that they are doing just fine, that they are an awesome person.  If they voice regrets about something selfish and unwise they did in the past, they are often reassured that it was something that just had to happen, just a necessary part or their own personal journey.
  • I am also struck by how “normal” life will be on the day that Jesus arrives.  No zombie apocalypse happening, just a regular, routine day, like the type of day in which Noah and his family boarded the ark.
  • I am also reminded in these verses that the only warning that unbelievers will receive is simply the preaching from God’s own people.  It wasn’t that weather patterns were drastically changing before the flood, but they did hear the truth (1 Peter 3:18).

They Looked “So Right”

Only eight people boarded the ark (2 Peter 2:5), and even assuming a very conservative population growth from Creation, that is eight out of at least 16 million who did not board.  In like manner, we see similar numbers today.  A congregation of 120 might be surrounded by a population of half of million.  There might only be a couple Christians on a college campus that is over 25,000.  Is there is a deceptive power in “groupthink”.  If only handfuls of people are striving to be Christians while millions do not, it sure looks like the millions are on the right side.  Especially, when the views of the millions are only reinforced by many popular books, college courses, websites, television shows, movies, and the voices of influential people in the culture.

The Insecure Footing

Right before the flood, life appeared to be so certain.  Noah and his family were lone voices in dissent, but there was tremendous unity and agreement on the other side.  There was absolutely no way that what Noah preached could happen.  They had never seen such a flood before and besides there might have been so many questions about the ark and such a flood.  Was there enough water on the surface of the earth to actually flood it to the point that all dry land disappeared? Had not their experts disproven this ascertain by their calculations?  Had not their theologians argued that God was too loving to do such, and that God loves everyone?  That God would never pick just one path of deliverance?  And while they were not perfect… they were good people—clearly not people whose minds and motives were evil continually (Genesis 6:5). 

“Have We Not?”

In another context Jesus talks about people who professed to be Christians and offering all the things they did “in His name” and then He rejecting them (Matthew 7:22) because they were not really following what He had said (7:23).  In like manner unbelievers often convince themselves that they are “safe” because, “have we not performed some good deeds?  We gave money to a homeless person, we volunteered at a shelter, we cleaned up a roadway, and so on.  Yet one can do all those things for the wrong reason and none of those things makes up for our sins.  What counts is obeying what the Lord Himself said (Matthew 7:21).

The Huge Reversal

Have you ever watched a sporting event in which one team was way ahead and so you turned the channel only to tune in later and see that other team came back and won?  In a small way that is what will happen at the Second Coming.  The few on the narrow way (Matthew 7:13-14) that the majority either ignored or discounted and who seemed to have such a small voice and influence—were right because they had sided with God.

Luke 18:8 “However when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”

When you are with the few on the narrow way it is at times easy to get discouraged.  It is tempting to believe that “numbers” settle issues to truth or right and wrong.  Or that the natural or normal trend is that society will just keep on moving away from biblical truth, and that this is success and advancement.  But will He find me faithful and still believing?  There are times I see believers like Noah spending a lot of time working on the ark—only then to refuse to go into it because of the peer pressure from the world.  So let’s keep on preaching and enter the ark.

Mark Dunagan  |
Beaverton Church of Christ  |  503-644-9017