After His death and resurrection Jesus Christ continued to associate with His disciples for forty days, after which He ascended to heaven in full view of His disciples (Acts 1:3). Before ascending He promised His disciples He'd return in the future:
This is supported by the messengers' words later:
PRECURSERS TO HIS RETURN
To begin with, the Bible makes it clear that upon His return Jesus Christ will have already received the heavenly throne from the Father:
The Bible reveals many signs that will precede the return of Christ. Much of the information regarding the timing can be gleaned by reading Matthew chapter 24:3-20:
(3) As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? What is the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Two separate questions: 1 – when will these things happen? And 2 – What is the sign that it is the End Times?) (4) Jesus answered them, “Be careful that no one leads you astray. (5) For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will lead many astray. (6) You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you aren’t troubled, for all this must happen, but the end is not yet. (7) For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there will be famines, plagues, and earthquakes in various places. (8) But all these things are the beginning of birth pains. (As verse 6 pointed out, these aren't the signs of the actual End, these are only the beginning sorrows that precede the end) (9) Then they will deliver you up to oppression, and will kill you. You will be hated by all of the nations for my name’s sake. (10) Then many will stumble, and will deliver up one another, and will hate one another. (11) Many false prophets will arise, and will lead many astray. (12) Because iniquity will be multiplied, the love of many will grow cold. (13) But he who endures to the end, the same will be saved. (14) This Good News of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world for a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. (15) “When, therefore, you see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), (This refers to Daniel 9:27, 11:31, and 12:11) (16) then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. (17) Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take out things that are in his house. (18) Let him who is in the field not return back to get his clothes. (19) But woe to those who are with child and to nursing mothers in those days! (20) Pray that your flight will not be in the winter, nor on a Sabbath, 24:21 for then there will be great oppression, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, nor ever will be.
Then the passage at Matthew 24 goes on to tell of the Great Tribulation that follows these things, continuing from Matthew 24:21 -28:
In other words, false Christs will continue to exist through this Great Tribulation; do not follow them, for the Real Christ is not come yet. When He does come, it will be known simultaneously everywhere, just as flashes of lightning are seen everywhere across the sky, not solely at the points of origin (Since this is a metaphor please don't get stuck on looking for actual flashes in the sky). This is a key piece of information needed for knowing the difference between a false Christ and the real Christ.
Let me bring this closer to home:
Any person who claims to be the returned Jesus Christ, and yet is not recognized by the entire world, is not legitimate. In other words, Jesus Christ's coming will be so great, so incredible, so Vast, that every single person in the world will recognize that it is Him – no question! It won't be this group over here and that group over there recognizing Him – It will be everybody and everywhere. Meaning every person on the earth will see the sign of His return – Atheists, Bahai's, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Pagans, Shintos, Taoists...EVERYONE!
Unfortunately, there are some groups that believe it is impossible for Christ to be seen everywhere on both sides of the globe simultaneously. Such people are making the mistake of forgetting that nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37). Let me explain this better:
Make no mistake – He is much more powerful than the sun! Although we may not be seeing a literal, physical light, the point is that His return WILL be recognized worldwide in whichever miraculous way He chooses.
Another thing that needs to be addressed is the point that some groups believe God will protect them during this Great Tribulation. Is this teaching correct?
According to the Bible, those who are true followers of Jesus will have even more danger during the Great Tribulation, not less! For example, true believers will be delivered into death by family members (Luke 21:14-16), delivered into courts and kicked out of places of worship (Matthew 10:17, Mark 13:9), and killed (John 16:2). The Bible also warns that we will be hated and persecuted just as Jesus Christ was (John 15:18-20). True believers will be killed for refusing to worship the Beast and its Image and refusing its identifying mark (Revelation 20:4). In other words, if even Jesus Christ Himself was not protected from such abuses, why would the entire body of true believers be as protected? This is not a matter of Jesus brutally beating up His “Bride” as some perceive; this is actually a scriptural process: Having such trials is what tests the quality of our faith and sifts out the false followers from the true followers (Romans 5:3, James 1:2-4, 1 Peter 1:7). It is the same reason that Jesus Christ Himself needed to undergo the intense persecution he endured – He had to prove faithful under extreme test! And, since Christ has proven Himself to be extraordinarily faithful, AND since the Church is Christ's Bride, He will only accept an extraordinarily faithful Bride. This is why it is important for us to be thoroughly tested as to our faithfulness, so that when He comes for His Bride only faithfulness remains. But do not fear the tests; Jesus Christ Himself prayed that God would protect us from Satan (John 17:15). In other words, keeping close to God equates to keeping your faithfulness.
Just before the Second Coming actually occurs The Antichrist will be revealed -- Let's read 2 Thessalonians Chapter 2: 1-4 and 8-12:
THE SECOND COMING
Getting back to the passage at Matthew 24, we see that at this end of this Tribulation period the sign of Jesus Christ appears; His coming is at hand:
Signs of this event being shown in the sun and the moon are a consistent theme in prophecy:
KEEPING ON THE WATCH
Returning to the passage in Matthew chapter 24:
(32) “Now from the fig tree learn this parable. When its branch has now become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that the summer is near. (33) Even so you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. (34) Most certainly I tell you, this generation will not pass away, until all these things are accomplished. (35) Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. (36) But no one knows of that day and hour, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only. (37)“As the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. (38) For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ship, (39) and they didn’t know until the flood came, and took them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. (40) Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and one will be left; (41) two women grinding at the mill, one will be taken and one will be left. (42) Watch therefore, for you don’t know in what hour your Lord comes. (43) But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what watch of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched, and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. (44) Therefore also be ready, for in an hour that you don’t expect, the Son of Man will come.
Note the underlined part: This passage states that, much like in Noah's time when all the evil people were taken away, likewise the evil ones be taken away during the Second Coming. Many people misread this passage to mean the ones taken away are taken to heaven; however, the context at verses 38-41 shows this to be quite the opposite.
THE SEPARATION WORK
When Jesus Christ returns He will gather His people together and separate the wicked out for destruction. This is supported in the Bible:
SUMMING IT UP
Essentially, Scripture tells us that Jesus Christ will return to redeem His followers. Before this time comes, we will endure a 3 1/2 year period of tribulation when the End Time Antichrist arises. We are given the signs of when the End Times will occur and when the return of Christ is at hand. And, do not forget, we are told to keep the faith and stay encouraged during this time. Each of us will have our personal faith thoroughly tested, and those who remain faithful will be gathered unto Christ. God will not abandon those who cling to Him, so be sure to keep your faith alive by keeping close to Him.
So, let us all continue in constant prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and encourage one another as we see the day coming near (Hebrews 10:25). Search for the narrow gate to life (Matthew 7:13-14) and call on the name of our God so as to be concealed from His anger (Zephaniah 2:3).