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Bible Correspondence Course - Lesson 3
Bible Correspondence Course - Lesson 3

When and where will Christ return? Will He come quietly, or will the whole world know? Has He already returned secretly? Here is the amazing truth about the SECOND COMING of Jesus Christ!

NO NEWS STORY could be more shocking. No headline could be more spectacular than: JESUS CHRIST RETURNS! …or more

ridiculed today.

To the average person, the idea of Jesus Christ returning to earth is a fantastic fable that has no bearing whatsoever on the realities of life.

Yet millions of professing Christians still expect the second coming of Christ – though widely divided among themselves as to why, when and how He will appear.

The Promise of Christ's Return

Just before His death and resurrection – before His departure from the Mount of Olives over 1900 years ago – Jesus Christ promised, “I will come again" (John 14:3).

And only moments after His ascension, the apostles were startled by the appearance of two divine messengers who assured them: “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). They confirmed Jesus' promise that He would come again and told the manner of His return.

The early New Testament Church believed what Jesus said and taught His message to others. Notice what Edward Gibbon said about the early church in his famous work, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire:

“The ancient and popular doctrine of the Millennium was intimately connected with the second coming of Christ. As the works of the creation had been finished in six days, their duration in their present state …was fixed to six thousand years. By the same analogy it was inferred that this long period of labour and contention… would be succeeded by a joyful Sabbath of a thousand years; and that Christ, with the triumphant band of the saints and the elect who had escaped death, or who had been miraculously revived, would reign upon earth till the time appointed for the last and general resurrection” (chapter 15, subheading “Doctrine of the Millennium,” emphasis ours throughout lesson).


MOUNT OF OLIVES: Ancient arch on the Temple Mount in the city of Jerusalem frames the Mount of Olives, site of Jesus Christ’s prophesied return.

Not long after Jesus began His church (Matt. 16:18; Acts 2), a competing church was established which counterfeited or totally rejected basic truths of God taught by the true church. The church Jesus built was forced by persecution to “go underground,” holding services secretly, communicating the truth of God privately. Meanwhile, the counterfeit church flourished. Notice how the truth about Christ's second coming came to be regarded.

Continuing in his history, Gibbon went on to show that the belief Jesus would come a second time to intervene in world affairs came to be regarded as an error. Within a century and a half after Christ's ascension, it was treated as a profound allegory – not to be taken literally. The doctrine that Christ would return to rule the earth “was at length rejected as the absurd invention of heresy and fanaticism” (ibid).

The world today continues to ridicule the idea of Christ's return. Nevertheless, this message lies at the very heart and core of the true gospel of the Kingdom of God – the very gospel Jesus preached over 1900 years ago!

Three Common Ideas

Among the millions of professing Christians who still expect the second coming of Christ, there are hundreds of differing concepts about the time and manner of His return. The three principal ideas are the “Post-millennial Coming,” the “Secret Rapture.” and the “Spiritual Coming.”

It was not until about A.D. 1700 that an English clergyman put forward the idea that Christ's second coming would follow the Millennium – the time during which His Kingdom was prophesied to rule the earth. But those who maintain this idea are finding it increasingly difficult to believe that modern man can ever achieve worldwide peace and prosperity without the intervention of Christ's “strong hand” (Isa. 40:10).

Never before this modern age of nuclear weapons have men been capable of destroying all life on earth. Man is now literally on the brink of blasting or polluting himself from the face of this planet!

That fact alone should tell us why, and partly WHEN, Christ must return.

The “Secret Rapture”

The second common idea accepted by millions of professing Christians is the “Secret Rapture.” According to this belief, Jesus will return to this earth in two phases. First, He will return secretly to whisk away all true Christians to heaven to protect them from the time of “great tribulation” Jesus foretold. Therefore, it is believed that the Church's promised place of safety is not on this earth, but up in heaven. The second phase is believed to be His “public” coming at which time all will be able to see and hear Him.

But the rapture theory is actually an even more modern invention than the post-millennial theory. The early New Testament Church of God never heard of the “rapture.” Nor indeed had anyone else until about 1830, when it was espoused by a few people in Britain and later popularized in the famous Scofield Reference Bible.

Those first few advocates of the rapture theory fervently believed that they were living in the last three and one half years of earth's history. When that length of time was exceeded and Christ still had not “caught them away,” they were forced to alter their doctrine to a general expectancy that Christ might return – unannounced – at any moment!

Thus from those few people the doctrine of the “Secret Rapture” has spread to most of Protestantism today.

Is Christ Already Here?

The third common idea is that Christ has already returned. Many assume that Jesus came the second time as the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost after His resurrection (Acts 2). His Kingdom was the Church He founded at that time, say the proponents of this theory, and therefore today all the churches together constitute the “Kingdom of God.”

But such a kingdom would not fulfill dozens of plain prophecies. Also, this theory ignores the fact that the Apostle Paul and other early true Christians still looked forward to the second coming of Christ and His Kingdom long after that particular Pentecost!

What is the TRUTH about the second coming of Christ?

Let's begin to understand what Jesus taught about His dramatic return.