Christians believe that Jesus Christ is coming back for His church. Pastor Greg Laurie of a California megachurch urged the congregation to take that promise of Jesus seriously, and shared what surrounds this great event and what they should do until then.
"Christ is going to come back. … He is returning to judge His enemies, set up His kingdom and rule over the Earth for a thousand years," Laurie, the pastor of Harvest Church, said, as he began his message on Sunday titled, "Till He Comes."
There are 300 passages in the Bible that deal with the return of Jesus, Laurie said, adding that Jesus also spoke of it at least 21 times.
One of the main passages about Jesus' words on the event is found in Matthew 24:29, which reads, "Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the Earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory."
Some people ask if the Second Coming will be spiritual or physical, the pastor noted. "This is the physical return of the Christ to the Earth," just as His first coming was physical, Laurie stressed, and quoted Acts 1:11, "'Men of Galilee,' they said, 'why do you stand here looking into the sky? 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.'"
However, Jesus also dwells in every believer on the Earth in a spiritual sense, the pastor clarified.
Sharing the sequence of End-Time events, Laurie said the final battle of Armageddon will take place before the Second Coming, and explained that Armageddon is the name of a place, the Valley of Megiddo in Israel.
Napoleon once said "there's no place more suited for a war than this place … the most natural battleground on Earth," the megachurch pastor said.
Laurie also explained that Satan is behind battles, wars and struggles on this planet, including the brutal violence of Islamic State, or ISIS, and Boko Haram. Jesus came to bring peace to the world, but Antichrist comes to take peace away from the Earth, he stated.
There are an estimated 27,000 nuclear weapons in the world today, he exclaimed.
Continuing to talk about Armageddon, Laurie said the United States is no longer a major player in the world, and therefore not mentioned in the Bible prophecies. But a new power is emerging, and the book of Revelation refers to it as the Kings of the East, he said. Many believe it could be China, which has 350 million soldiers, Laurie added. But we don't know who the power from the East would be, he clarified.
Pastor Laurie also explained that the Second Coming of Christ and the Rapture are two different events.
The Rapture happens before the Tribulation period, and the Second Coming brings the Tribulation period to conclusion, he said. In the Rapture, Jesus comes for His people before Judgment, and in the Second Coming, He comes with His people for Judgment, he added. In the Rapture, Jesus comes like a thief, and in the Second Coming, everyone will see Him.
We don't need to be afraid, Laurie told the congregation, reminding them that God is faithful and true, and will keep every promise He has made.
What should Christians do until Christ returns? Laurie said there are at least two main things they should be doing.
Every believer is called to evangelize until His return, he said, reminding the congregation about the Great Commission.
God has given time, talent/skills and treasure/material wealth to each one of us, all of which have a role in the spiritual lives of believers, he said. We need to be faithful, not successful in evangelism, he stressed. "Just do what you can for God's glory."
And, personally, be ready for the return of Christ, he added.
In conclusion, he encouraged the church members to examine their hearts to know if they are ready? "If Christ was to come back tonight, would you be ready?" he asked.