With the recent . . . mishandling of the truth that Jesus will return, I find it timely that the Ascension of our Lord, to be celebrated this Thursday, points to some important truths about his return.
The first words the disciples heard after his Ascension are particularly relevant.
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. Act 1:11 ESV
I think the angels’ question was a nice way of saying, “What are you standing around here for? Get to work!” And, indeed, Jesus’ last words to them before he ascended commissioned them (and us) to be witnesses to Christ throughout the world. There is work to do!
And Jesus’ parables teach that the proper response to his return also includes doing the Lord’s business until He comes. The parable of the minas stands out in this regard. (Luke 19:11-27) The return of Christ is not to be used as an excuse for idleness and irresponsibility.
The angels then state that the 2nd Coming of Christ will have similarities with his Ascension. What could those similarities be? I can think of two.
1. The timing is not predictable. From the question the disciples asked just prior to the Ascension (Acts 1:6), we can tell that they were not expecting it, not at that time at least. We cannot tell what day or hour or century even Jesus will return. And anyone who pretends to have such knowledge is to be put in his place.
2. Both are literal, real time events. The disciples saw with their own eyes the Ascension. Christ’s return will be “in the same way,” an actual, real time event.
So when someone tells you Christ has or will return “spiritually” as Harold Camping did after another of his predictions blew it or as liberals do, they are wrong. This and other scriptures (e.g. I Thess. 4:13-18) simply do not allow us so to wriggle out of the truth of his real time return.
Thus a good remedy for false teaching on the return of Christ is accurate teaching on the Ascension of Our Lord.