St. Mary's Anglican Catholic Church

Diocese of the Midwest

The seventh article of the Apostles’ Creed deals with the Second Coming of Christ in terms of both its certainty and its purpose. On the day our Lord ascended into heaven to resume His rightful place at the Father’s right hand, two angels said to the disciples standing by: Why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. (Acts 1:11) There are some three hundred references to the Second Coming in the New Testament. Though the Second Coming has been the topic of unprofitable speculation in some circles, it also has been sorely neglected in others. 

First, the Church confesses the truth that the same Jesus Christ, who was conceived of the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary, who was crucified and rose again, and who ascended into heaven and now reigns in glory, will come to the world again. Our Lord described the day of His return this way: But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. (St Mark 13:24-27; see also St Luke 9:26)
 Christ used a number of analogies indicating the He will come suddenly & unexpectedly, like a master returning to his household from a long journey. (St Matthew 25:14-30; see also 1-13) The Apostles Peter & Paul describe the Day of the Lord coming as a thief in the night. (2 St Peter 3:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:2) At the same time, our Lord Second Advent will not come without warning for those heed God’s Word and are able to discern the signs of the times, as illustrated in the parable of the fig tree. (St Matthew 16:2-3; St Luke 21:25-31) Over the centuries, many have tried to interpret the Scriptures and read the signs of the times in such a way as to predict the precise day of Christ’s return. All of these attempts are doomed to failure. For our Lord said regarding His Coming: Of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. (St Mark 13:32) For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (St Matthew 24:27)

Jesus Christ first came into the world that the world might be saved. (St John 3:17) When He comes again it will be to judge both the quick (that is, the living) and the dead. (1 Timothy 4:1) This Day of Judgment is preceded by the general resurrection. Those who are alive when Christ returns will be transformed immediately. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52) Those who have already died shall rise from their graves. (St John 5:28-29) As St Paul describes it: For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; see St John 5:28-29) Jesus is the Good Shepherd (St John 10:10, 14); and one day the Shepherd will separate the sheep from the goats. (St Matthew 25:31-46) We will be judged according to our thoughts, words, and deeds. (1 Corinthians 4:5; St Matthew 12:26-37; Revelation 20:12) Some will go to life eternal; others to everlasting punishment. (St Matthew 25:46) The Father has entrusted the role of Judge to His Son (St John 5:19-27), whom He has ordained to judge the world in righteousness (Acts 17:31; see Romans 2:11). But Christ our Judge is not only righteous, but loving & merciful. He knows us fully, not only as God, but also as man. For our Judge first took our human nature; and though He was without sin, suffered temptation, pain, & grief of all sorts as we do. (See Hebrews 2:9-10, 14-18; 4:15; 5:7-9) 

How do we prepare for that day? We are to make ourselves ready to meet our Maker & Judge. We are called to be diligent in making our calling & election sure. (2 St Peter 1:10) We are to redeem the time (Ephesians 5:15-17; Colossians 4:4-5), making the most of all that God has entrusted to us, as described in the parable of the talents. (See St Matthew 25:14-30; St Luke 19:12-27) As our Lord went to prepare a place for us, so we must prepare ourselves to dwell in those heavenly mansions with Him. (St John 14:2-3) For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.(Philippians 3:20) 
Some might point out that it has been nearly two millennia since Christ ascended into heaven, saying Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.(2 St Peter 3:4) Our Lord warned that we must be prepared for His return, whether the time is short or long.(St Matthew 24:48-50)As St Peter admonishes us: Beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 St Peter 3:8-9) And so the Coming Lord warns us: Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. (St Mark 13:35-36)