OUR Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ has already fulfilled his glorious promise to come again. Indeed he has retuned! But the pity of it is that the majority of those who profess the Christian Faith do not know this revelation of great importance in our age. Therefore, they continue to wait, expecting to see him in the sky coming down some day, while the signs of his presence are in fact staring everyone in the face.
The second coming of Jesus Christ is one of the fundamental truths contained in the Holy Bible. He himself stated positively during his first advent on earth that he would come again. He said to the apostles: "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." - John 14:1-3.
The apostles were greatly inspired by the Lord's promise. Their hearts were filled with joy, their hopes were heightened and their faith in him was implicit. As a matter of fact, the second appearing of Christ was the pivotal point of doctrine in the teachings of the apostles, and they were unremitting in their efforts to propagate it.
St. Paul wrote to exhort Timothy as to the great gain in godliness. He charged him to fight the good fight of faith and lay hold on eternal life. He added: "That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1Timothy 6:14) In his second epistle to Timothy he stated: that Jesus Christ would judge the living and the dead at his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:1) And giving instructions to Titus, he stated among other things: "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." - Titus 2:13.
James the apostles as well exhorted the Christians of that time to be patient until the coming of Christ "for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh" (James 5:7,8) And St. Peter also wrote about his appearing. - 1 Peter 1:7.
What is more, Jesus Christ in the conclusion of his revelation to John the apostle in the Island of Patmos confirmed his promise when he said: "Surely I come quickly." And John did answer: "Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus." - Revelation 22:20.
From the foregoing, there can be no question as to the certainty of his coming again. But the issues on which opinions and interpretations of people are widely different are
Question: "What is the purpose of His second coming?
Answer: 'That where I am, there ye may be also.' Verse 3, last part.
Question: "Will our Lord return in the form of a person, or only like a spirit?
Answer: "Christ was the 'Son of man' while on this earth, as also He was the 'Son of God.' He was a real man with flesh and bones even after His resurrection. 'Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself…for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see Me have.' Luke 24:39.
Thomas Williams, founder of "The Christadelphian Advocate" stated in his work The World Redemption that "when we say Christ's return, we mean His return in a real, tangible, personal sense, with no mystic or so-called spiritual meaning attached". (Page 144)
In the Plain Truth magazine of Herbert W. Armstrong (August, 1962) it was published: "The visible bodily return of Jesus Christ is not a mere theological 'idea'. It is a fact soon to be revealed - an absolute NECESSITY for a world on the verge of human annihilation."
It is a pity that the belief in the visible bodily return of Jesus Christ, which is held by majority of professed Christians, is based on nothing but misconceptions. This is not a highly spiritual nature and Christ had said that except the people were spiritually vigilant, understanding what the will of the Lord is, they would not know of his presence.
Without fear of criticism and without mincing words we must say that Jesus Christ would never appear in the flesh or in a tangible bodily form as to be seen by man on earth any longer. This is the truth of the Holy Bible, and any view to the contrary is erroneous.
As to how Christ would come some clergymen, theologians and evangelists often made reference to the words of the two angels who appeared at the time of his ascension. Here is the record: "And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? 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 1:9-11.
There is nothing in the utterance of the angels that gives the understanding that Jesus would come again in the flesh or in a bodily form. What they said is that he "shall so come in like manner and NOT "he shall so come in like form or shape or appearance". And what was the manner in which he went up to heaven? It was quiet, it was without any fanfare, and it was unnoticed by the world. Those who saw him ascending were his 11 apostles whom he had just addressed. - Acts 1:1-13.
So what we should understand from the statement of the angels is that the second coming of Jesus Christ would similarly be quiet and would not be marked by a flourish of trumpets nor would he be visible to the world. It was for this reason Christ said he would come as a thief in the night and that those who did not watch would not know when he would come. But those who watch by studying the Scriptures prayerfully and diligently to understand prophecies and the signs of the times, said he, are blessed. - Revelation 3:3; 16:15; 2 Peter 3:10; 2 Thessalonians 5:2.
If it were true that Jesus Christ would come in a fleshly body for THE WORLD or all men to see, there would have been no need for his disciples to ask for the signs of his presence as recorded in Matthew chapter 24, verse 3, or for anyone to watch. Christ told his apostles: "Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?" (John 14:19,22) The apostles would see him because they in their resurrection at the second coming of Christ would be changed to spirits to be like our Lord. On this score, John the apostle, speaking on behalf of himself and others of his class, stated: "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." (1 John 3:2 see also 1 Corinthians 15:50-52) The apostle did not say world would see Christ; rather he said, "WE shall see him." This point is clear enough.
Jesus Christ came to this world during his first advent as a human being, having flesh, blood and bones, and having been made lower than angels in order to taste death for humankind, "that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil". (Hebrew 2:9,14) He died in the flesh but was raised from the dead a Spirit which enabled him to preach to the disobedient spirits or angels who had been imprisoned by God since the days of Noah. (1 Peter 3:18-20) St. Peter further stated that the resurrected Christ "is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him." (Verse 22) That the glorified Lord would lower himself again to take human nature of flesh and blood is unthinkable because it has no basis in the Scripture.
St. Paul categorically stated that Christ would not come again in the flesh. Said he: "Wherefore, henceforth we know no man according to the flesh. And if we have known Christ according to the flesh; but now we know him so no longer." - 2 Corinthians 5:16, Douay Version.
It is because Jesus would never appear again in the flesh among men that he warned his disciples: "Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not." - Matthew 24:23-26.
If Christ would come down and make Jerusalem in Palestine his seat as Herbert Armstrong and some others are teaching, why was Jesus so blunt in his warning, "Then if ANY man shall say unto you, lo, here is Christ, or there (Jerusalem inclusive); BELIEVE IT NOT"?
Now let us turn to some of the texts on which those who are hoping to see Christ face to face in the flesh base belief. First is St. Matthew's cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." - Matthew 24:27.
This text is no authority that Christ would come in a visible bodily form, certainly not. Rather it explains the fact that at the second presence of Jesus Christ who is the light of the world (John 8:12) men would be spiritually enlightened as to have the accurate knowledge of God that would make them know of Christ's return. But this knowledge would not cover the whole world instantly but by gradual process just "as the lightening (or sun) cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west". In the long run the whole world would know of his presence through the preaching of the saving gospel and by reason of the works he would do among men through his faithful worshippers, especially his anointed servants.
Another text some people often cite is that at Revelation 1:7, to wit: "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen."
Many people lay emphasis on the clause "every eye shall see him" and give it a literal interpretation. It is wrong to interpret the text literally. When it is stated that "every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him" are we to understand that those who literally pierced him during his crucifixion would still be living at the time of his second coming as to see him face to face again?
The clouds show spiritually that he would be invisible. For instance on the occasion of his ascension it was a cloud that that received him out of the sight of the apostles. (Acts 1:9) The eyes that would see him are not ordinary eyes but figurative ones which St. Paul also teamed "eyes of your understanding" (Ephesians 1:17-19) The word see also means understand, discern or learn by search or inquiry or reflection. Therefore the expression, "every eyes shall see him" means in a plain language that everyone would discern or understand that Christ has come through the gospel or by reason of the events that would symbolize all opposers of truth and righteousness who are persecuting the work of Christ or those preaching his truth in these last days. It is all such ones Jesus Christ would make to wail when he shall execute vengeance upon them. - 2 Thessalonians 1:7; 2:8-12.
In Matthew 24:3, it is written: "And as he sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" in his answer he first warned them against false prophets who would be many and went on to tell them of wars and rumours of wars which would precede the end of the world. But as regards the signs of his coming, he declared: "For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows."
This prophecy of Jesus Christ began fulfillment when nations of men were engulfed in a global battle-World War 1. This was followed by a wide-spread epidemic-the Spanish Influenza and famines and earthquakes in different parts of the world. These signs already seen are conclusive proof of the second presence of Jesus Christ.
The moment anybody interprets these signs and others to be those that should precede the coming of Christ, they step into error. Ellen G. White in her book the Great Controversy, stated that the signs of the coming of Christ "Were witnessed before the opening of the nineteenth century" and dated the occurrence of the first signs back to "the year 1755". (page 348) Up till today some Christians are saying that Christ is coming and that his arrival is near.