Despite clear utterance from the Lord Jesus Christ that His return or parousia would be during the lifetime of the apostles, it has been rejected and denied by the futurists – actually, that includes majority of professing Christians. See my blog “Confused Christianity” on Jesus’ assurance concerning His return.
One of the most often used argument may be found through the writings of Luke, see Acts 1:9-11.
“And when He (Jesus Christ) had said these things, as they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as He went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven.””
They believe “Jesus returning in the same manner as He was taken” means a physical return. Was it?
First, let us see where Jesus was going at His ascension. See John 20:17.
“Jesus said to her (Mary), “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.’””
Jesus clearly was ascending to His glory, to God the Father in heaven. Isn’t that where Jesus exactly told the disciples He was going? See John 14:2.
“In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?”
Some time after His ascension, Jesus Christ appeared to Stephen. See Acts 7:55-56.
“But he (Stephen), full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.””
In other words, after His ascension, Jesus Christ, now glorious, is at the right hand of God. Finally, Paul also said the same about Jesus after His ascension. See 1 Timothy 3:16.
“Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He (Jesus Christ) was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.”
Nowhere in Scripture would you find Jesus returning in the flesh, but with the cloud. Isn’t that what Luke wrote in Acts 1:9?
“And when He (Jesus Christ) had said these things, as they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight.” (Acts 1:9)
Consequently, the angels were actually testifying about the imminent fulfillment of God’s kingdom and judgment as prophesied in Daniel 7:13-14.
““I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and He came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.”
Incidentally, Jesus made it clear He wasn’t establishing a physical kingdom; see John 18:36.
“Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But My kingdom is not from the world.””
Finally, Jesus said His kingdom cannot be observed but is definitely present. See Luke 17:20-21.
“Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He (Jesus Christ) answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.””
Aren’t futurist proclaiming the exact opposite of Jesus at His return and a conflicting realities of His kingdom?
Note: Futurist are those who insist and teach that Jesus’ Return is yet to come.
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