Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Return of Christ

United Methodists can consult four doctrinal standards to discover the UM teaching regarding the Return of Christ: Article III in the Articles of Religion, Article III in the Confession of Faith, Wesley’s doctrinal sermon “The Great Assize,” and Wesley’s Notes upon the New Testament.

The Articles simply state that Christ will return to judge humanity.

Sermon 15 describes the signs that will immediately occur before Christ’s Return, events which are also mentioned in the Notes:

1.  From Acts 2:19 and Luke 21:11, Wesley concluded that worldwide earthquakes will precede the Second Coming. These global earthquakes will generate destructive waves (Luke 21:25). Not only the earth and the water but also the air will be affected-- it will be filled with dark mist, lightening, and thunder. Finally, the appearance of the sun and the moon will change and the stars will fall (Luke 21:25, 26, Acts 2: 20, and Rev. 6:13).

2.  After these global and cosmic disturbances a universal shout will be heard, the archangel will announce Christ’s approach, and the trumpet of God will sound (1 Thess. 4:16).

3.  Next, the dead will be raised (Rev. 20:13), and the angels will gather together Christ’s followers (Matt. 24:31).

4.  After all these signs and wonders, then Christ will appear in glory (Matt 25: 31).

The implication of this doctrine for Wesley? He related it to one of the Fruitful Means of Grace mentioned in the 'Large' Minutes-- “watching. . . . Do you steadily watch against the world, the devil, yourselves, your besetting sin?” (See Notes, Luke 21:36).

Wesley's writings present the prospect of Christ's Return and Judgement as a motivation for using the Means of Grace.  What motivates your spiritual discipline?