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A Country Called Heaven series
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In our last lesson, we discovered many wonderful things about the Bible. One amazing thing about the Bible is that it tells us about the future. God knows the future, and in His Word He has told us many things that are going to happen.
Perhaps one thing you have been wondering about is this: "Will the Lord Jesus ever come to this earth again?" The answer is, "Yes, He will!" The Lord Jesus said, "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I WILL COME AGAIN…" (John 14:2,3).
In this lesson we are going to see what will happen when Jesus comes again. But, first, let us think briefly about what happened when He was here the first time.
The Lord Jesus did many wonderful things while He was on earth, but the main reason He came was to die for us.
The Lord Jesus was crucified about nine o'clock in the morning. He died about three o'clock that afternoon.
A man named Joseph of Arimathaea asked for the body of Jesus. He and a friend named Nicodemus tenderly prepared the body of Jesus for burial. They wrapped His body in linen cloth. Then they placed Jesus' body in Joseph's new tomb which was carved out of rock. A large stone was rolled across the entrance.
Jesus was dead. The disciples were very sad. Even though the Lord Jesus had told them that He would rise from the dead on the third day, they really did not believe it at that time.
Early in the morning of the third day, three women came to put spices on His body. When they arrived at the tomb, they found that the stone had been rolled away. An angel spoke to them and said: "Fear not… for I know that you seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay" (Matthew 28:5,6).
The women saw that the body of Jesus was no longer in the tomb. They were puzzled and frightened. They ran to tell the disciples. When Mary Magdalene met Peter and John, she told them what had happened. Peter and John ran to the tomb. They, too, found the tomb empty except for the grave clothes.
Later, Mary returned to the tomb. As she was standing outside the tomb weeping, the Lord Jesus appeared and spoke to her. She thought He was the gardener. She said to Him, "Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him." Jesus said, "Mary." When she turned and recognized Him, she exclaimed, "Master!"
That night, ten of the disciples met in a closed room. They were talking about the strange things that had happened that day. Thomas was not with them.
Suddenly, Jesus appeared in their midst, and He said, "Peace be unto you." The disciples were frightened. They thought that perhaps they were seeing a spirit. But the Lord Jesus said,
"Why are you troubled? And why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself: handle Me, and see; for a spirit does not have flesh and bones, as you see Me have" (Luke 24:38,39).
The Lord Jesus had risen from the grave in His resurrection body of flesh and bones! How did the disciples know that He had a body? They saw Him, they touched Him, they talked with Him, and they ate with Him.
Jesus was alive! They could hardly wait to tell Thomas the wonderful news! But when they told Thomas, he did not believe them. Thomas said:
"Unless I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe" (John 20:25).
Eight days later, the disciples were again in the same room. This time Thomas was with them. Again the Lord Jesus appeared to them and said: "Peace be unto you." Then the Lord Jesus said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and behold My hands; and reach your hand here, and thrust it into My side; and be not faithless, but believing" (John 20:27).
Thomas did not doubt any longer. He worshipped Jesus saying, "My Lord and my God!"
The Lord Jesus said, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."
The Lord Jesus appeared on earth for forty days after His resurrection. He was seen by many people. On one occasion, He appeared to over 500 believers. Before the Lord Jesus went back to Heaven, He said to His disciples, "All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth" (Matthew 28:18).
Then, one day, when the disciples were with Him, the Lord Jesus went up, up, up into the sky. The disciples watched Him until He disappeared in a cloud. Jesus had gone back to Heaven.
While they stood looking up toward the sky, two men in white clothing stood by them and said: "You men of Galilee, why do you stand 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).
What does this verse say? It says that the Lord Jesus will come again in the very same way in which He went back to Heaven. The disciples saw Jesus go back to Heaven, and the believers who are living when Jesus comes again will see Him at that time.
The Lord Jesus is preparing beautiful homes in Heaven for us, and one day He is coming back to take us to be with Him. He said, "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…" (John 14:2,3).
The Lord Jesus is coming again! We know He is coming because He said, "I will come again."
For those of us who have received Christ as our Savior, His coming will be a time of great joy. Why? Because He is coming to take us to be with Him. Here is what the Bible tells us about that glorious day:
"For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump [trumpet] of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:16,17).
When Jesus comes again, all the children of God will be taken up to meet Him in the clouds, both
- "the dead in Christ"—that is, those believers who have died before He comes again, and
- "we which are alive and remain"—that is, the believers who are still living on the earth when He comes again.
The believers who have died and the believers who are living on the earth when Jesus comes will be taken up together to meet Him in the clouds. What a happy time that will be! Of course, our bodies will be changed and will be made like His glorious resurrection body.
What about those who have never taken Christ as their Savior?
They will be left behind to face the Great Tribulation. This will last seven years, and it will be the most horrible time the world has ever seen. Jesus said, "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world…" (Matthew 24:21).
After these events, the Lord Jesus will return to the earth with His believers. All those who have been with Him in Heaven will return with Him to reign with Him. First, He comes FOR us; and then He returns WITH us. What a great time this will be! You may ask, "When is Jesus coming? Does anyone know?" No, no man knows exactly when the Lord Jesus will come again. Jesus said: "But of that day and hour no man knows, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only" (Matthew 24:36).
Jesus may come at any time. Since this is true, we should be ready to meet Him at any time. How can we be ready for the coming of the Lord Jesus? We can be ready for His coming by:
(1) loving Him,
(2) obeying Him,
(3) serving Him, and
(4) looking for His return.
If we do these things, we will not be ashamed before Him when He comes. The Bible says,
"And now, little children, abide in Him; that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence [boldness and joy], and not be ashamed before Him at His coming" (1 John 2:28).
If we truly love the Lord Jesus, we will want Him to come soon. May our prayer each day be: "Even so, come, Lord Jesus" (Revelation 22:20).
Memorize these Verses:
"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 you may be also." John 14:2, 3
"For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump [trumpet] of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17
What happens when a Christian dies?
The Bible tells us that our body is the "house" in which we live. Our body is not really us; it is just the house in which we live. We can understand this because we live in a house. The house is not us; it is just the place where we live.
What happens when a Christian dies? His soul simply moves out of the "house" in which it has lived and goes to be with the Lord. The apostle Paul said, "For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain." Why did he say that it was "gain" to die? Because to die is to be with Christ, and this is far better than being here.
When a Christian loved one dies, we are sorrowful because we miss them. This is natural; but we must remember that they are with Jesus, which is far better than being here. If we could see how beautiful it is in Heaven, we would never want to bring them back here.
We do not have to fear death. For a Christian, the Bible calls death simply "falling asleep in Jesus." The Lord Jesus said, "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live" (John 11:25).
When Jesus comes again, He will raise the bodies of those who belong to Him; and He will give them new, resurrection bodies, which can never die. The Bible says,
"For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle [our body] were dissolved [were to die], we have a building of God [a new resurrection body], an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (2 Corinthians 5:1).
What will we be like then? We shall be like Jesus! The Bible says, "…when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is" (1 John 3:2).
In our next lesson we will learn the answers to these important questions:
Can we be saved by our good works?
What is grace?
How can we earn rewards?
What will happen to a child of God who continues to do things that displease God?