The UK Bible Students Website
Scripture references are to the New International Version-UK
Answer: There are various purposes yet to be accomplished in God's Plan of the Ages. We look briefly at these, the way in which it will come about, and the evidences for it.
One of the first purposes is Christ's gathering His Bride (the Little Flock) to Himself, so that they may reign in heaven with Him. Without this event, the other principal objective could not be accomplished: the blessing of the entire human family, living and dead, with an opportunity to gain salvation. This outcome is predicted in Acts 3: 20, 21:
[Christ] must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.
To ʻrestore everythingʼ signifies a return to a previous condition; for mankind this means an opportunity to revert to the original, perfect and sinless state that the human family occupied in the Garden of Eden. The means to accomplish this will be Christ's Kingdom on earth, under which the human family will be reformed.
The Bible uses both literal and figurative statements to explain things, and a failure to distinguish between the two can lead to a misunderstanding, especially on the subject of the Second Advent, which will be largely invisible. A classic text on this point is Acts 1: 11, which recounts Jesusʼ ascension into heaven, witnessed only by His disciples:
This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.ʼ
We conclude from this that as Christ's ascension was attended by only a faithful few – and in secret – so His return will be recognised by relatively few. In other words, Christ will have returned before most people become aware of it.
The chief sign of Christ's return will be an unusual and protracted period of sustained strife, culminating in a worldwide unmanageable crisis. This is described in powerful figures of speech, such as those of Luke 21: 25-27:
There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
During this Time of Trouble, there will be a marked increase in civic and international unrest, and a rapid decline in faith and moral standards throughout formerly Christian nations, inferred from Jesusʼ question of Luke 18: 8, ʻ[W]hen the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?ʼ
Copyright November 2013 ukbiblestudents.co.uk
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