We’ve looked at a number of aspects of the Bible’s teachings about the Christ, but one about which I’ll be speaking this time, may be the most misunderstood in modern times—Christ’s reign and His part in the Last Day.
The Reign of Christ
It is commonly thought and taught in many religious circles that Jesus will be coming back to earth a second time to establish His kingdom, a millennial paradise on earth. Regardless of how popular the teaching is these days, the Bible is very clear that Christ already established His kingdom on earth in the form of His church. Passages like Mark 9:1, Col. 1:13-14, or Rev. 1:9 are explicit about the fact that the kingdom would be established, had been established, and already existed in the days of the apostles; and would not be physical. Indeed, Jesus plainly told Pilate, “…My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm” (John 18:36). Jesus is reigning now as the King of kings and Lord of lords; and we must obey Him to be in His kingdom.
The Return of Christ
Last time we talked about His ascension and its importance. As the apostles gazed into the heavens, at the ascending Jesus, angels appeared to the apostles and said, Acts 1:11 “…Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven”—apparently, in the air and accompanied by the angels (Matt. 24:31). We’re also told that when Jesus does return, it will be when the Father says so. He told His apostles, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Matt. 24:36).
The Resurrection of All Men
When He does return, there will be a number of things happening pretty close together. It won’t be to establish a kingdom (see above), rather it will be draw this material world to a close—an appropriate deed for the One who created it all. 2 Peter 3:10 tells us “…the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.” At roughly the same time we’re told, (1 Cor. 15:52) “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” This resurrection will be of both the good and the sinful (John 5:28,29). Our immortal resurrection bodies will no longer need the physical world to exist.
But these resurrection bodies will be useful—even needed for the next phase, which appears to happen quickly, standing in judgment before the fully glorified Son of God. While it is true that judgment is often called “God’s judgment” it is a biblical fact that it will be the Christ who will judge—2 Cor. 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” And (John 12:48) “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.” Yes, His judgment will also be the Father’s (they are One); but this is also logically so, because He is designated the King.
Handing the Kingdom over to the Father
Lastly, the Christ, after the judgment, will hand the kingdom back over to the Father, (1 Cor. 15:24-26) “then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death.”
This aspect of the Christ powerfully highlights the need to obey Him. The Lamb has become the Lion. He is the King of kings and final authority over all. It is He who will return for His own, the church, defined by His word and no one else’s (Mt. 28:18). It is His authoritative and omnipotent call that will raise all the dead, and empty out Hades for all time. It is He who will judge with righteousness based on His own word (the Bible). Obedience to the reigning, returning, resurrecting, and ruling Son of God just makes good sense.