Jack Graham - When Christ Returns
When Christ returns He will establish His kingdom on earth and then in eternity. That's what this message is about, Jesus is coming again! And when He does, enemies will be defeated, evil eradicated and His kingdom established. Eternity begins! When Christ comes He comes to rule the nations, King of kings and Lord of lords. His kingdom is coming on earth because King Jesus is coming! Get ready! Every Christians should be living on tiptoes with expectation for the soon return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I have a little plaque in my library that I've kept there for years: two words that remind me: "Perhaps Today"! My spiritual hero Billy Graham said, "Every day I look for the coming of Christ. I say, 'Lord, maybe it will be today.'" Or as Billy would say: "Maybe it will be today". And it could be. Christ is coming again, and when He does the first thing that's going to happen is the Savior reigns. Look at chapter 20, beginning in verse 1 and following: "And then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for (note this) a thousand years (key phrase) a thousand years (a millennium), and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years (millennium, there it is again) were ended".
And that he must be released for a little while. "Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. And saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands". If you've been with us, this is an obvious reference to the Tribulation, to the rise and the fall of the antichrist, to those who refused to bow down to his idol, to his image, and therefore, they were martyred. It says: "They came to life and (and watch this) reigned with Christ for (how long?) a thousand years (a millennium). The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended".
This is the first resurrection. A thousand years, the millennium; this is the millennial reign and rule of Christ on earth. Just as Jesus came physically, visibly, personally, when He comes again so will the kingdom be a literal, physical, visible kingdom on earth for one thousand years! Most of us remember when we turned to this new millennium, the year 2000. There were a lot of prognosticators that suggested that a lot of bad things were going to happen at the new millennium, or the end of the old millennium, the turning of the new millennium. And so we have an idea of these now thousands of years of history, and now we're in this third millennium and going forward.
And there is another millennium that is coming. It is the one thousand year reign of Christ, and it is what we pray when we pray, Matthew 6:10, "Lord, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven". It is the promise of for every child of God that when the King comes, His kingdom comes, and the Savior rules. And what a great and glorious time it will be! Not only is it the hope for the Christian but it's the hope for every Jewish person as well, because the millennial kingdom involves Israel and Christ will reign from Jerusalem and God has an unconditional covenant with His people Israel, and those who come out the Great Tribulation and Israel itself will be involved in the millennium kingdom and rule of Christ.
I believe in the pre-millennial return of Jesus Christ. That means that Christ Jesus will return before the one thousand years; that the one thousand years is a literal kingdom on earth. It's not a spiritual kingdom, but rather a physical, earthly kingdom. Nor will the kingdom be ushered in by our good deeds, the work of the church. There was an era of Christianity in which many good people believed in what is known as post-millennialism and that means that the millennium will come, that we will bring in the millennium and then that Christ will come at the end of that one thousand years. We know World War I and World War II pretty much blew up that idea. The world's not getting better. We're not becoming more and more the kingdom of God, but less and less as God planned.
So as I read and study my Bible it's clear that Christ will return and then inaugurate His earthly kingdom, this one thousand years. What a great day it will be! Isaiah chapter 40, verse 10 says: "Yes, the Lord God is coming with mighty power; He will rule with awesome strength. See, His reward is with Him, to each as he has done". So when He rules and reigns we, as we will note in just a minute, will rule and reign with Him. And guess what? We're not waiting for Him, as Christians we're coming with Him! We will be in His presence, raptured into His presence, and then when Christ returns at the Second Coming to establish His kingdom we won't be waiting for Him; we will be with Him! And when Jesus reigns and rules all of creation will be transformed. The curse upon the earth will be reversed. All of nature and all the nations will be free from the bondage of sin. The saints of God will celebrate. Isaiah 51, verse 11, "everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and mourning will flee away". Jesus reigns, the Savior reigns.
Number two, when Christ returns Satan is restrained. When we read those first three verses you no doubt took notice of that angel with the long chain, and Satan the ancient adversary, the serpent, who is then chained and committed to a prison sentence of one thousand years, throughout the entire millennium. For the world to be turned right side up Satan must be dethroned. The god of this age, the god of this world must be restrained and removed. Now Satan is not a myth, nor is the devil a figment of someone's medieval imagination; Satan is not a mere symbol of evil in the world. Satan is real. He is a real enemy. He is a spiritual and supernatural being, and he is alive, well, living on planet earth. He is not in hell; he is on earth. He will be in hell, but that's not where Satan lives today.
Peter tells us in 1 Peter chapter 5 and verse 8 that "Satan is like a roaring lion seek whom he may devour", prowling here and there throughout the earth. And he rules over a world system that is anti-God, and anti-Christ. He promotes false religion, he promotes false ideals; he reigns over governments, political systems, religious systems, cultural constructs and all the rest! So the devil, the dragon, the old serpent, Satan is put in chains, put in prison to deceive the nations no longer. He is a deceiver, a liar, a master manipulator, a con artist, a thug, a terrorist, a blasphemous accuser! And one day for his crimes against all humanity, he will be chained and imprisoned. Good riddance! I hope I get a front row seat for that action! He'll be gone!
Number three, the saints will rule. Just a brief comment regarding the saints ruling. I've alluded to the fact that when Christ reigns we will reign with Him. First Corinthians 3:4 tells us that we will reign with Him in the millennium. God's people will rule the governments of God. We're described in the Bible as a kingdom of priests. Jesus is King, Jesus is Lord, but in this kingdom, in God's government which will be upon His shoulders, He will assign us rulership and responsibilities in the kingdom. Those who reign in the kingdom will rule over who?
Well, there are still unbelievers in the millennial kingdom. There's the Jewish nation itself. There are people who are survivors of the Tribulation, there are things to be accomplished in the millennial kingdom of Christ for the glory of God. The survivors will have children and grandchildren, and so on. And therefore rule and dominion and power and authority is established by Christ. Second Timothy 2:12 says, "We shall reign with Him". Somehow we will be engaged and involved in God's government, to carry out His commands. Jesus spoke of this in Matthew chapter 19 and verse 28, that when He comes we will rule with Him.
One final word, and that is that when Christ returns not only will the Savior rule, and Satan will be restrained and ultimately removed, and the saints will rule with Christ, but number four, sinners are recompensed. I'm talking about the judgment of God. Verses 11 through 16 of chapter 20 form some of the scariest, most terrifying, sobering words in all of the Bible. Look at them with me. Verse 11 of chapter 20: "Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done".
Remember this, all judgment is according to works. All judgment is based on works. Put that and file it in your mind. Verse 13: "And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them", again, Death and Hades Sheol in the Old Testament, is the spiritual condition of those who are without Christ. It is but a preparation for the final judgment. "And Death and Hades gave up their dead who were in them and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. (according to works) Then Death and Hades were thrown (casted, chunked) into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire". The Bible teaches there are two kinds of death.
There is physical death, Hebrews 9:27, "And it is appointed unto man once to die", but there's also spiritual death, eternal death which is separation from God and the judgment of God. The great white throne is the judgment of Almighty God upon the unsaved dead, those who are raised to face final judgment at the last judgment. This is the saddest and scariest passage in all of the Bible because at the last judgment there will be no more excuses! There will certainly be no exit! You have a date with Deity and you will face God, eyeball to eyeball, face to face! This will not be a time to discuss or debate your guilt or your innocence! There will be no defender there! There will be no advocate there! All the evidence is already in! It's all over but the shouting! And the shouting is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. No rebuttal at the great white throne of God. The Judge is Jesus and the judgment is binding for all eternity. No parole, no getting out for good time served, no hope.
As Dante in the Inferno put it, "All ye who enter here abandon hope". Hell is without hope. It's a clear separation between the futures of believers and unbelievers. When a believer in Jesus dies we go straight to heaven for the Scripture says, 2 Corinthians 5:8, "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord". Hallelujah! We will be with Him. An unbeliever goes to a place called Hades or Sheol. Jesus spoke of this in His story regarding the rich man and Lazarus, the man who went to hell or literally Hades. So it's again a kind of holding place for hell, because once final sentence is passed at the judgment bar of God, that's it! There is certainly no purgatory in the Scripture. There's no reincarnation in the Bible, no second chances! Maybe thousands of chances before, but no more chances then! At the last judgment Hades will be emptied of its occupants to receive final sentencing.
Daniel Webster, the great American statesmen was once asked by a group of young lawyers. They said, "Mr. Webster, what is the most profound thought that's ever entered your great mind"? Quickly Daniel Webster says, "My accountability to God Almighty"! And every man and every woman must give an account to God! Now who's going to be at the great white throne judgment? Well, I'll mention several groups. Number one, rebellious sinners will be there. And by rebellious sinners I mean the atheist, the agnostic, the God-haters, the mockers, the blasphemers, those who shake their fist in the face of God, the despots, the cruel dictators, the truly evil people on earth- present today, and in times passes; what you could call just full-throttle sinners, rebellious sinners. Sure, they're going to be there! But did you know also at the great white throne judgment there will be religious sinners, the so-called good people who thought they didn't need Jesus?
You know, look, there are good people all around us; they're conscientious, they're kind, they're good neighbors, good dads, moms. In fact I know some people that are really nice and they're not even Christians. In fact they're nicer than some of the Christians I know. Nice people, good people. But remember, no good person goes to heaven in their own strength save without the cross of Jesus Christ. We're not saved by works of righteousness but by the work of Christ for us! Salvation is not earned or deserved! Heaven is not for good people, it's for forgiven people, forgiven by God, by Christ! There are many people who are self-righteous, thinking, "I don't need Jesus in my life". They think that Jesus, the Gospel is for people in prison or pornographers, or child abusers or criminals, all the bad people. "I'm a decent, law abiding, family loving citizen. I'm moral and I think I'm good enough to get to heaven". No person is good enough to go to heaven.
Romans 3:10, "There is none righteous, no, not one". Romans 3:23, "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God". You're not good enough! Only God is good enough to save you! Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace have we been saved, through faith; not of ourselves: it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast". There are people that go to church nearly every Sunday who won't go to heaven. They know all about God but they don't know Jesus! Religious people! Jesus spoke of these in Matthew 7:22, when He said, "On that day many will say to Me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not do many wonderful works in Your name? Did we not cast out demons? Did we not heal the sick"? And Jesus says, "Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire. I never knew you". Frightening words, to think that a person could believe all their life that they were going to heaven. "Lord, Lord"! And die and go to hell. All at the judgment of God.
ou need to trust in Jesus now because there's no other strategy. Not human works, not human goodness, but the grace of God! There will be people in hell who believed about Jesus, they believed things about God, maybe even believed the Bible, maybe even thought the Gospel was true, but thought, "You know, one day I'll make a decision for Christ. Some day I'll give my life to Christ. But I gotta get some things in order. I gotta fix some things". All the excuses. You keep putting it off and putting it off and putting it off, and you pass the point of no return. Either you harden your own hearts. You can be gospel hardened. You can hear the Gospel again and again and again and again and again and reject it over and over and over and over again to the point that you no longer sense or feel the Holy Spirit working in your life. Look, if people in the millennium, for goodness sakes, in the millennium could be glory-hardened, you could be gospel-hardened.
Proverbs 29:1, "He who, being often reproved and hardens his neck will suddenly be cut off and that without remedy". You think "One of these days I'll get my life right", and one of those days never comes! And you're lost forever. Here's the bottom line. Verse 12, speaks of the book of life and those whose names are written in the book of life. When it gets down to the end, is your name, because of what Christ has done for you, written in red in the Lamb's Book of Life? It doesn't matter how great or how small you may have been. At the judgment of God there will be celebrities and corporate kings and billionaires and paupers as well. All who do not know Christ, every person who does not confess Jesus will be condemned, face to face with a Holy God.
Now if you're a Christian here's the Good News. If you want to become a Christian you can settle your case out of court today. That's what I've done! When I was a little boy somebody told me about Jesus and what He did on the cross in dying for me, and how He rose again. And if I would believe in Jesus that He would save me from what? Well, start with hell. Save me for life, save me for death. Save me! Deliver me from judgment! I know a lot of people don't like to talk about hell and judgment; say, "I don't believe God would make a hell for people".
Well, God never intended for a single soul to go to hell. The Bible tells us that hell was prepared for the devil and his angels. If you go to hell it will be your choice. Jesus died to save you and you can settle your case out of court today by admitting your sin and saying, "Lord Jesus, come into my life. I repent, I turn to You, I trust in You as my Lord and Savior". It's your choice: heaven, hell; life, death; Jesus, antichrist. You can either rule with Christ or be ruined by Satan. Today's decision day for many of you watching on television, many of you watching online, many of you in this room right now. Choose Jesus before it's everlastingly too late. Choose today! Make that decision today that you will be so glad you made when you stand before Him and with Him forever in heaven.