This is intended as a footnote to the popularly preached idea regarding the physical return of Christ to this present earth. Although it has been debated for centuries by theologians & biblical scholars, the exact interpretation of all scriptural references coupled with relevant historical evidences has not resulted in a unanimous & universally agreed upon doctrine.
These things duly considered, each individual would do well to remain open to all possible renderings that may be appropriate explanations. History reveals a very significant amount of Christian influence on the entire world since the time of Christ’s living among us over 2000 years ago. Interestingly, it has been about 1000 years since 1099 when the 1st crusade recaptured Jerusalem from Muslim control & virtually established Christianity as the foremost religion in the world.
At the time, control of Jerusalem was of international importance because of its links to historical significance related to the world’s three foremost religions – Judaism, Islam, Christianity. Many look back to this pivotal event as the establishment of Christ’s reign over earth (vicariously through His committed followers).
The fact that it has been nearly 1000 years that Christianity has remained the foremost global religious influence, many conclude it to be the thousand year reign of Christ alluded to in prophecy. If so, the next event on the prophetic calendar, the literal end of this physical earth, is scheduled for fulfillment in the year 2099.
A single perspective, yet worth prayerful contemplation, especially when one considers that the prevalent modern theme of eschatology came into majority merely in the beginnings of the 19th century. Prior to that, the vast majority of Christendom accepted that the “end-times” Christ & the Apostle John prophesied found fulfillment in the 1st century.
Primarily based upon historical reports of the actual events of that time, & the verbiage employed by the prophecies such as the events set to occur “soon”. Jesus also declared to those alive at that time, “But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God” – Lk.9:27; Mk.9:1; Mt. 16:28.
Regarding Christ’s return, a strictly spiritual & figurative interpretation of such prophecies may eluded to the experience of millions of individuals who profess that Christ has come into their lives, in fulfilment of His command, “Ye must be born again” – Jn. 3:7.
Of course, we must also expect that there shall be yet a literal, physical return of Christ to earth because of this passage found in Acts. “Ye men of Galilee, 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” – Ac. 1:11.
However, this awaited physical return must not compete with the reality of His spiritual presence truly here on earth now, as received by millions a true believers since His return to heaven.
Jesus promised in the meantime, that He would provide true believers with the Holy Spirit to grant them the peace of God while they sojourn here. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” –Jn. 14:27.
A rather curious statement of Christ’s regarding His departure from earth infers that it is actually better that He has returned to heaven, While there are so many practical reasons that this is true, a specific one relative to the topic here is that as long as Jesus remained on earth the Holy Spirit was in Him exclusively. But when He returned to heaven, the Holy Spirit was given to millions of true believers, so that the works of God could be manifest in many places rather than confined to where Christ Himself physically appeared.
The term “expedient” used in the following verse infers such reasoning. “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is EXPEDIANT for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you” – Jn. 16:7.
That the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the fulfillment of Christ’s teaching about being born again is consistent with these scripture passages. “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” – Jn. 14:26. “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceeds from the Father, he shall testify of Me” – Jn. 15:26.
The truly born again experience is the greatest evidence of eternal security for a believer. It is not only evidence of a “down-payment” which ensures us that we truly have been “purchased” by God & shall indeed be one day delivered to Him body & soul, but until that day, it is the very power of God at work within us now “to will and to do of His good pleasure” – Phil. 2:13.
“Who has also sealed us, & given the EARNEST of the Spirit in our hearts” – 2Cor. 1:22.
The term “earnest” is widely defined as “a deposit’; “the guarantee”; “ the pledge”; or “a token”. The term “sealed” is also quite significant because it speaks of the authority & preservation by which the Spirit has been given. One definition of “sealed” relates to a signet ring by which a ruler would affix his royal emblem in wax upon official communications effectively sealing the content until rightly delivered to the proper recipient(s).
Another is related to the sealing of a jar which prevents any & all contamination from outside, while preserving that which has been sealed within. Eternal security of truly born again believers is further proclaimed in these passages. “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives & abides FOREVER” – 1Pt.1:23. “I will pray the Father, & He shall give you another Comforter, that HE MAY ABIDE WITH YOU FOREVER” – Jn. 14:16.
The proper understanding of these passages may or may not be agreed upon from one individual to the next. But as with all things spiritual, a complete dependency on the guidance of the Holy Spirit in consideration of them will reveal the truth. Jesus promised, “You shall know the truth, & the truth shall make you free” – Jn. 8:32. Do you trust Him absolutely? Peace!