What to Expect When Jesus Returns

If we are going to restore New Testament Christianity, then I believe we need to restore a biblical emphasis on the Return of our King. As Christians, the Return of Jesus is our hope. It is what we should be longing for (2 Timothy 4:8). But many of us don’t long for His appearing, because we don’t understand the pivotal role the Return plays in the Christian story. Here are a few things we can expect when Jesus comes back.

Resurrection of the Dead

Most Christians I talk to simply seem to believe we go to heaven when we die. They believe that when this life is over, we immediately go to our eternal dwelling place and that’s it. The story is over. But that’s really not a biblical concept.

The Bible actually says very little about what existence is like for God’s people when they die. Here are a few details we can piece together:


  • Jesus simply described it as being at “Abraham’s side” (Luke 16:22).
  • Paul said that it was “gain” and was “far better” to “depart and be with Christ” (Philippians 1:21-23).
  • The Spirit said it is a “blessed” state of “rest” (Revelation 14:13).


But these are only a few minor footnotes in the biblical story. The real story is about the dead waiting to be raised to life again. When Jesus returns, the dead will be raised and transformed, receiving brand new glorious bodies.

“Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 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 shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).

In the biblical story, death is a curse that has fallen over the whole earth because of our rebellion against God. Like characters in a fairytale, mankind has lived under this curse for millennia, anxiously waiting for someone to come and break the spell. The Good News is, Jesus has already broken the curse. And when He comes again, the curse will be lifted once and for all. No more death!

Jesus will call us forth from the realm of the dead, transform our bodies into immortal bodies, and from the moment we meet Him in the air, “we will always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

Judgement

While we wait for Jesus to return, we are to live in obedience to the Gospel. In other words, we are to live in obedience to Jesus’ Kingship. We are to be His faithful servants, believing He is the King of the world who broke the curse, believing He is coming back, and believing He will reward our love, loyalty, and devotion.

Jesus is calling His entire creation to receive this Good News, to receive Him as King, to bow their knees in humble allegiance to Him. Sadly, the majority of mankind continues to rebel. They continue to choose the way of darkness, the way of death. For them, the Return will not be celebratory reunion.

Jesus will return with “mighty angels.” He will come in “flaming fire.” As for those who are not living in obedience to the gospel:

“They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed” (2 Thessalonians 1:9-10).

Neither the living nor the dead, who reject the grace and mercy of God, will escape this fate. The dead who do not belong to the Lord will be raised to face this judgement. But God wants to spare as many as possible from this fate. He is giving mankind ample opportunity to stop rebelling and repent (2 Peter 3:9).

The Destruction of the Earth

Peter compares the Day of the Lord to the days of Noah, when the earth was destroyed by water. In those days, God destroyed the wicked world with a flood and gave Noah a brand new place to dwell. The Bible tells us that we are headed toward a second destruction of the world.

“The heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly” (2 Peter 3:5-7).

Everything in the world is under the curse and it will all be destroyed by fire. But it seems creation itself is waiting for this cleansing fire, “The creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).

After the heavens pass away with a roar, after the heavenly bodies are burned up and dissolved, after the earth and the works that are done on it are exposed, then God’s people will be like Noah’s family when they stepped off the ark. We will have a “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13).

The Bottom Line

The fire is coming, but those who are in Christ have NOTHING to fear. We don’t know what our new bodies will be like except that they will be new, glorious, and imperishable. We don’t know what our new home will be like, except that we will always be with the Lord. And for me, that’s all that matters.

Because of His grace, I get to be with my Lord and His people for all eternity. Which is why I desperately long for His return!

I love you and God loves you,

Wes McAdams

The Essence of Atheism

Start with nothing. From nothing, for no reason or purpose, lifeless, mindless material just came into existence.

Lifeless, mindless material, existing for no reason and with no purpose, somehow, some way, through a process that has never been observed anywhere, spontaneously generated something that was living.

This living thing, having come into existence from mindless and lifeless material, for no purpose and with no reason or meaning, found a way to replicate all by itself.

Over millions and millions of years, this now-living material, existing for no reason or purpose whatsoever, developed into creatures that could think and reason intelligently, and are held morally accountable for their actions.

Thus, lifeless, mindless matter, from accidental, purposeless, non-rational forces of chance, gave rise to life and mind, reason and intelligence, morality and responsibility.

Intelligence and morality are thus the end product of non-rational, mindless, lifeless, chance accidents through time.

End in nothing.

Start with nothing. End in nothing. No reason. No purpose. No meaning. From nothing to nothing. Everything in between is the result of mindless, accidental forces with no ultimate goal or purpose.

All of this is called good science.

Those who accept this are then given to ridicule those who believe that Intelligent Mind is responsible for giving humans reason, intelligence, purpose, and morality.

This is considered the epitome of reason and logic.


by Doy Moyer

The Faith of an Atheist

Some time ago, I had the opportunity to talk with a self-proclaimed Atheist. I found it to be a rather interesting conversation. He discussed several things which he found to be adequate evidence to discount the existence of God, none of which stood to any measure of inspection. Yet, he vehemently stood firm on the grounds of "scientific fact." He related to me that he found believing in God to be an impossibility, due to a lack of evidence. I heard him out, and then decided to share with him some things important to his situation.

I began with the statement, "It takes more faith to be an Atheist than it does to be a Christian." If nothing else, this statement certainly perked his interest. He then declared to me that Atheism requires no faith, for it is based upon solid scientific data. I went on to share the following number of points with him concerning the faith of an Atheist.

To Be An Atheist, One Must Believe...
That God Does Not Exist


As we look about us, we see that man is a religious creature by nature. Regardless of where you go, you will find people who have a need to worship some greater being than themselves. The Romans and Greeks had their mythological gods. Many submit themselves to the worship of Buddha. Allah is considered by a great number of people to be worthy of worship and praise. But most of all, the God of heaven, the one true God is the focus of many. If you were to stand on a street corner, asking whether people believe in God or not, I say with confidence that if each individual answered truthfully, you would be hard pressed to find any who will say no.

This brings us to one of two conclusions:

  1. It is practical and sensible to believe there to be an eternal being superior to ourselves;
  2. The larger part of society is completely irrational.


To Be An Atheist, One Must Believe...
That Matter Is Either Eternal Or It Created Itself


To hold to the ideas of atheism, which is for the most part partial to the theory of evolution, one must believe that matter is either eternal or it created itself. Seeing that the Atheist has removed the possibility of a Creator, these are the only two options which remain.

I asked the individual about the nature of the universe: eternal or had a beginning? An seemingly easy question, but over and over, he declined to give a straight answer. Yet, if we look at the evidence, we understand that the universe had a beginning. Scientists themselves attempt to assign an age to our planet, and the universe as a whole. Those things which are eternal have no age. The reason they attempt to assign an age to the world in which we live is because it bears the characteristics of age. Such things which are eternal are not governed by time. We are told in Scripture that with the Lord a "day is as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day" (II Peter 3:8). Yet, the universe is subject to time. The universe is running down. It is wearing out. Things on earth are corrupt and worsening year after year. It is approaching an inevitable end. It cannot be eternal.

The only other option for those who deny the presence of a Supreme God is that the universe created itself. That is possibly the most absurd thing which could ever be considered. Matther does not have the ability to create itself. A desk cannot bring itself into existence. What man has ever created himself? If matter were able to create itself, consider the chaos which would occur! One would possibly be driving along a road, and a tree would appear from nowhere! Yet such things do not occur!

To Be An Atheist, One Must Believe...
That Life is Spontaneously Generated


In denying the existence of God, the Atheist is forced to believe that life is able to spontaneously generate. In other words, life can come from that which has none. We understand God to be the Creator of all things, and that He is the source of life. Yet, if we remove God from the picture, we remove the breath of life which He gives. Thus, somewhere along the line, according to the Atheist's belief system, life spontaneously came into being. It never existed before. It has absolutely no source. It just started itself somehow at some time.

To Be An Atheist, One Must Believe...
That Order and Design Are Results of Non-Intelligent Accidents

As we look about us at the wonders of creation, we can understand that God is the Master Designer. He purposefully created the world with order. Trees need carbon dioxide, mammals need oxygen. The two complement one another with the exchange of these gases. Our planet is exactly the correct distance from the sun. Any closer, we would burn up. Any further away, we would freeze. Approximately 2/3 of the earth is covered with water. This keeps the core temperature at an acceptable level. The gravitational forces on earth are such that we can walk freely about, without fear of being driven into the ground, nor lifted into space. The human body is a wondrous design. It is designed to repair itself in many instances. It has several functions which automatically are cared for without the need for us even thinking about them. As was written, we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalms 139:14).

The Atheist though must affirm that all these wonders, and many, many more are merely the result of an accidental happening. They claim that no intelligence was involved in the forming of our world. It was simply the process of a "big bang." If such is possible, that something as wonderful as the universe can result from an unintelligent "bang," then something which is infinitely simpler should also be able to come together with a logical order and design without intelligence. For instance, what if we should disassemble a watch, place all the parts into a box, close the box, and begin shaking. How long before the watch will be fully assembled again? Shake as much and as hard as you can, you will never result in a watch. Though all the needed parts are present, a watch maker is also needed. A source of intelligent construction. How much more does the universe need an intelligent Maker?

To Be An Atheist, One Must Believe...
That Non-Consciousness Evolves to Consciousness


The theory of evolution affirms that we are the descendants of a one cell organism. This one cell organism has no consciousness. It does not know that it exists. We, who are conscious of ourselves, and of the happenings surrounding us, according to the assertions of the atheist have evolved from this creature. How is it we became conscious beings? Can consciousness come from unconsciousness? If it can, does that mean that someday my desk will be aware of itself? I should hope not; it may decide then to walk away, since it would be its own being.

To Be An Atheist, One Must Believe...
That Non-Morality Evolves to Morality


Atheists have a hard time explaining morality. If we evolved from creatures who operate on instinct, not conscience, how is it that we have developed the ability to use conscience? Where did morality find its beginning? Did one ape finally decide that killing another ape was wrong? Did one decide that it was wrong to steal another ape's supper? No such things have occurred! Morality finds it origin in the existence of God. He has given a law, which therein establishes morality. However, the Atheist cannot explain where morality came from.

Further, the Atheist can not give a reason for doing good. There is no reason, if we will not be judged. Why should we yield our own desires in order to serve others? The answer, we shall be judged!

Truly, Atheism is a faith. And without doubt, upon careful examination, it would seem that it takes more faith to be an Atheist than it does to be a Christian. Paul wrote, "since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things which are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:20). The world which we live in declares on a daily basis, God Is. If one is sincere in their search, they cannot help but come to the conclusion that there is an eternal God, who is Creator of all.

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1).


by William J. Stewart

Peterborough Church of Christ

Is There a God?

In 1986 a famous visitor made a brief tour of the inner solar system. A luminous body with a long, faint tail hurried on its journey around the sun and returned to the recesses of space. The British astronomer Edmond Halley observed this phenomenon in 1682 and, based on the times of similar sightings in the past, correctly predicted it would return in 1758. He was quite correct, and this body, which circles the sun about every seventy-five years in its highly elongated orbit, became known as Halley's comet. In the eighteenth century astronomers worked out a complex formula, based on Newton's theory of gravity, to accurately predict the orbits of comets.

So, what's the point? The Hebrew king and poet David asserted that the universe itself declares the glory of God. "The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And the firmament is declaring the work of His hands" (Psalm 19:1).

The purpose of this study is to demonstrate that the existence and predictable operation of the physical universe, comets included, will lead an honest, intelligent inquirer to believe in the existence of God.

It Is a Matter of Faith

The scientific method of study, called the "empirical method"" is observation and experimentation. For something to be truly a matter of science, it must be measurably observed and the event must be repeatable under the same essential circumstances at different times and places. If scientists cannot "see" something happen and set up a situation (experiment) at another time and place so that the same thing happens again, it is not a scientific matter.

For example, who was the first European to discover the Americas? This question is historical, not scientific. We cannot observe the discovery of America, nor can we experimentally repeat it. Scientific evidence, such as that gained by archaeologists, may be studied, but essentially the inquiry is historical rather than scientific.

The God revealed in the Bible is spirit (John 4:24) and has no material existence (Luke 24:39). He is invisible to man (l Timothy 6:16). God cannot be put into a test tube. I cannot demonstrate by observation and experimentation that God exists, but neither can the atheist prove He does not. To do so, the atheist would have to be able to observe all portions of the universe at the same time in both the material and spiritual realm. In other words, to prove by observation that there is no God, one would have to be God. The existence of God is not a question of science but of faith.

This does not mean it is unreasonable to believe in God. "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). The word "conviction" is translated "evidence" by the New King James Version. "Faith" is conviction about something we do not see based on evidence.

I believe that Christopher Columbus saw one of the islands of the West Indies on October 12, 1492. I did not and cannot see this happen, and I cannot repeat this in an experiment. But my faith rests on clear, compelling historical evidence. It is a reasonable faith. I believe the same is true of my faith in God.

First Argument

Please consider with me three principles of natural science that provide powerful, logical evidence for our faith in the existence of God.

Law of Causality

The first principle of science is the Law of Causality (Buffaloe 6). In essence, it states there must be an adequate cause for every effect. This principle is the basis of scientific inquiry. Natural science deals with the material universe and correctly looks for natural causes to natural events. Scientists properly attribute an earthquake to the movement of tectonic plates. Whether the hand of God is behind it is not their business as scientists.

But natural causes can only explain so much. Eventually, one is forced back to the uncaused First Cause. It is the ageless question, "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" The backward chain of events must come to rest somewhere.

First Law of Thermodynamics

Perhaps the most basic principle of physics is The First Law of Thermodynamics. This law "states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed but can be changed in form" (Buffaloe 76). High school chemistry students learn to balance chemical equations. Everything that goes into the chemical process must be accounted for in the product. Nothing comes out of a chemical process that was not put into it, and whatever is put into the process comes out in one form or another.

The First Law precludes the reasonable possibility that energy came into being by natural causes; since, in the natural world, "energy can neither be created nor destroyed."

Second Law of Thermodynamics

This important principle of physics holds that energy tends to dissipate itself ... In other words, the second law relates energy changes in a system to the organization of that system. Placed in this context, it states that there is an increase in entropy (disorder or randomness) - that is, a decrease in organization. Since useful energy is organized energy, an increase in entropy means a decrease in useful energy (Buffaloe 77).

According to the Second Law, usable energy in a closed system tends to decrease. Things tend to disorder, not to order. As we drive our cars down the highway, we don't stop to let gasoline (the energy source) out; rather, we must stop to put more in. The usable energy is converted to motion and heat.

Think!

Now, please think with me. Either the material universe does exist, or it does not. Of course, to be rational, we must accept its real existence. Otherwise, there is no such thing as science, the study of the material universe; and our senses, upon which we depend to gain all accurate information, are totally untrustworthy.

Further, either the physical universe has always existed, or it had a beginning. The cosmos has an immeasurably huge amount of usable energy. Our sun, one small star among numberless stars that compose the Milky Way galaxy, itself one of myriads of galaxies, converts 4,700,000 tons of its own mass into radiant energy each second (Britannica Macropaedia. 17:808). If the universe were infinitely old, all usable energy would have dissipated in the infinite past. Thus, the cosmos had a beginning.

Atheists once looked to matter and energy as the uncaused first causes. Recent research in nuclear physics has further revealed the very essence of matter. Physicists now describe energy particles which compose electrons, protons, and neutrons; which, in turn, are the components of the atom. In other words, behind all matter is energy. Before there was matter, there was energy. The only prime mover atheists can propose is mindless energy.

The question, then, is: Is mindless energy an adequate first cause? Either energy is the uncaused first cause; or there must be a supernatural, i.e., outside and above the realm of the natural, uncaused first cause. But, since energy cannot be infinitely old (Second Law, i.e., entropy), energy cannot be the uncaused first cause. Therefore, we must look for a supernatural origin of the universe.

As our Explorer satellites ranged deeper into space, past Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. Uranus, and their systems, and finally out of the solar system into the unfathomable recesses of the abyss beyond, pictures of incredible varieties of chemical and physical forms hitherto unimagined were sent back to earth. Yet in all this infinite variety is found order. The basic laws of physics and chemistry which have been found operable in our experience on earth apply as well in these remote worlds. The Law of Gravity applies precisely the same on Uranus as it does on Earth. Our universe has amazing order in incomprehensible complexity.

How does one explain such order in diversity? Energy is the only answer available to the atheist. The universe as a whole must be viewed as a closed system, and energy in a closed system tends to disorder, not order (Second Law). Thus, again we are forced to look for a supernatural beginning of the cosmos.

Law of Biogenesis

One of the basic principles of biology is The Law of Biogenesis: "Thus far, life seems to come only from prior life in an unbroken chain, at least under conditions that prevail at present on earth" (Buffaloe 114). The fact is, there is no compelling evidence that life can possibly come from nonlife under any conditions, and the evidence is against the existence in ancient times of the imagined conditions under which life might supposedly have evolved by natural means. The consistent result of hundreds of years of experimentation about the origin of life has been and continues to be that life comes only from prior life.

Think!

Either life exists on the earth, or it does not. Again, to be rational, we accept the existence of life on Earth.

Further, either life has always existed on earth, or it had a beginning. Since life and the earth are parts of the universe, which had to have a beginning, life had to have begun here sometime.

Finally, either life came from natural causes or supernatural. The consistent experience of science is that life does not naturally arise from nonlife, nor has any experiment ever been conducted under any conditions, which demonstrates that it can. Thus, if we are reasonable, we must accept a supernatural origin of life on earth.

What Kind of Supernatural First Cause?

In Romans chapter one the apostle Paul shows why the Gentiles needed the gospel. They had rejected the knowledge of God and were inexcusable for so doing. "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:20).

We should mentally see (understand) what is behind those things we physically see. There must be an adequate cause (Law of Causality) for the existence of the universe. What do we understand when we see the material universe?

There must be incomprehensible power behind such an awesome expanse, infinite intelligence to bring order to such endless variety, and will to accomplish purpose. There must be eternal existence to qualify as the uncaused First Cause. The attributes of intelligence and will show this Cause to be a Person, i.e., a Being possessing personality. Having eternal existence and infinite power and intelligence, this Person must be supernatural. The Bible calls this Person, who has eternal self-existence, infinite power and intelligence, and will, God.

Conclusion

Imagine, if you will, a print shop containing many reams of paper, gallons of ink, and thousands of sets of type reproducing over and over the twenty-six letters of the alphabet and the numbers zero through nine. Due to a gas leak, one great explosion occurs in this shop. Ink, paper, and type are hurled randomly and violently in all directions. When the dust settles, the smoke clears, and all components come to rest, the result is all thirty volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica in order with no misspelled words or grammatical errors. Incredible?

And yet atheists demand we believe that the universe, infinite in size and complexity, incredibly orderly in function, composed of over one hundred chemical elements in virtually limitless combinations, is the result of a "Big Bang" produced by mindless energy aeons ago. My mind is not capable of such childish, irrational faith.

Incontrovertibly, the existence and predictable operation of the physical universe, in all its parts, will lead an honest, intelligent inquirer to believe in the existence of God. Indeed, "The heavens are telling of the glory of God."


by Keith Sharp