The Way in Which Jesus Christ Returns
After the Lord Jesus was resurrected and ascended to heaven, all Christians who sincerely believed in Him began to look forward to His. In particular, we who have been born into the last days even more so look forward to His second coming when He shall raise us up into the heavenly kingdom. While we hold onto this hope, are we aware of the way in which the second coming of the Lord will appear to us? This question relates to the important matter of whether or not we are able to welcome the Lord’s coming, so it is essential that we discuss it in earnest.
Someone says that when the second coming of the Lord arrives, He will definitely come with clouds in great power and glory, for there are many such prophecies within the Bible. For example, “Behold, He comes 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” (Revelation 1:7). “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30). Also, when the Lord Jesus was resurrected and He ascended to heaven, an angel said, “You men of Galilee, why stand you gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). In light of these prophecies, some brothers and sisters believe that the second coming of the Lord in the last days will definitely be Him coming with clouds.
In fact, besides the many verses in the Bible that prophesy the Lord coming openly with clouds, there are also the prophecies that say the Lord will come in secret as a thief. For instance, “Behold, I come as a thief” (Revelation 16:15). “If therefore you shall not watch, I will come on you as a thief” (Revelation 3:3). And in Matthew 25:6, the Lord, “And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him.” These verses say very clearly that, when the Lord returns, not everyone will be able to see Him, but that He will come without our knowing about it at all. Instead, His arrival will be announced by a cry, that is, by someone testifying to us of the gospel of the Lord’s return. After we hear this testimony, we must open our doors and receive Him, and only then can we welcome the Lord. We can therefore confirm that the Bible prophesies two ways in which the Lord shall return: One being that the Lord shall come in the Spirit, riding openly on clouds, and one being that the Son of man shall come in secret.
We know the Lord is faithful, and whether He is prophesied to come in secret or openly with clouds, all shall be accomplished and fulfilled. So how exactly are these two totally different prophecies to be fulfilled? Let’s look at several verses of Scripture to find the answer.
In Luke 12:40, the Lord Jesus said, “Be you therefore ready also: for the Son of man comes at an hour when you think not.” Also, in Luke 17:24–25 He said, “For as the lightning, that lightens out of the one part under heaven, shines to the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in His day. But first must He suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.” These verses prophesy that the Lord shall return as the Son of man. As we all know, “the Son of man” means someone who is born of man and who possesses normal humanity. The spiritual body of God cannot be called the Son of man—only God incarnate can be called thus. Like the Lord Jesus, for example. In essence, He was the Spirit of God clothed in an ordinary body, and no one could tell just by looking at Him that He was any different from a normal person. Therefore, the time of the work of God incarnate was the stage in which He came and worked in secret. To say it another way, when the Lord comes again in the last days, He first appears and performs His work in the flesh as the Son of man, and those who are able to hear the voice of God, through God’s words, will be able to recognize that He is God. Like Peter and John in those olden days, for example, who were able to recognize from within the words Jesus spoke that He was the Messiah, and so they kept pace with the footsteps of the Lamb, and they attained God’s salvation. Those who are unable to hear the voice of God, however, certainly judge the incarnate God by what He looks like on the outside, they treat Christ as though He were just an ordinary person, and they even reject, condemn and blaspheme against Christ of the last days, thus exposing them as the foolish virgins. When the great disasters come, the Lord shall begin rewarding the good and punishing the wicked, and then He shall come with clouds and appear openly to all peoples. When that time comes, all who resist God shall be caught in the disasters and there shall be much weeping and gnashing of teeth. Just as Revelation 1:7 says, “Behold, He comes 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.”
From this, we can see that the period in which God comes in secret is the stage during which God performs His work to save mankind, and that the time when God comes openly will be the time when He rewards the good and punishes the wicked. Just as it is written in Matthew 24:37–39, “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Why is it said that the days of the coming of the Son of man will be the same as the days of Noah? We all know that, when Noah built the ark, he preached to the people that God would destroy the world with flood, but no one believed him, and instead they mocked him as being crazy. When the ark was completed and the eight people of Noah’s family got on board, the floods came. From this, we can see that, during the days before the floods came, God tried to save man, and that when the floods came, which were the coming of the days of punishment, everyone was then able to see the floods but it was too late, for the gate of grace had by that time been closed. Therefore, the stage in which the Lord comes in secret is salvation to all who sincerely believe in God and who love the truth, for they can hear the voice of God, welcome the Lord’s return, be cleansed and be made into overcomers by God. As for those who pretend to believe in God and who hate the truth, however, because they cling to their own misconceptions and imaginings, and because they refuse to accept God’s salvation of the last days, and they even resist and condemn God incarnate, they shall be the objects of God’s punishment. When the Lord appears openly with clouds, they will see that the One they have been resisting is indeed God Himself, but by that time their end will be decided, and God will reward the good and punish the wicked. How then will they not pound their chests with much weeping and gnashing of teeth? Thus, the spectacle of “Every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him” shall come to be.
From the above fellowship, we can understand that the second coming of the Lord in the last days shall first take place by Him incarnating secretly in the form of the Son of man. Before the disasters arrive, God will make a group of overcomers and, once His work is done, He shall appear openly with clouds to punish those evil ones who resisted Him. Therefore, if we wish to be cleansed by God and survive the disasters, then we must grab hold of our chance to be saved by God before the disasters, lest we become among those whereby “All kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him.”
Currently, disasters all across the world are growing in scale and are happening more and more frequently, and all the biblical prophecies prophesying the Lord’s return have basically now been fulfilled. What should we do to keep pace with God’s footsteps at this key time of the second coming of the Lord? Revelation 2:29 says: “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” And Revelation 3:20 says: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.” From these verses, we can see that when the second coming of the Lord arrives, He shall speak His words, and we must therefore be as the wise virgins and take heed to listen out for the voice of God. When we hear someone crying that the bridegroom has come, we should focus on seeking and investigating, and not just watch the sky waiting for the Lord to come with clouds, for only in this way will we be able to welcome the Lord’s return.
You may also be interested in reading more on our The Second Coming of Christ page, or in the selected articles below: