By objectifying the coming of the Lord we miss the true imminency presented by the subjective nature of His approach. The coming of the Lord is to each person when they depart from this world for the world to come. As Jesus Himself said, “I will come to you and receive you unto myself.”
Though the word parousia is used as a technical term for the coming of the Lord it is better understood in its native meaning of presence. Critical inquiry into the Second Coming of Jesus would be much better off if the idea of a historical event for one generation were discarded in favor of the inherent sense of a personal presence for those of every generation.
The Lord comes twice, as most agree. But by mistaking the historical object lesson of the earthly ministry of Jesus as the substance of the first coming, they miss the subjective nature of the advent of the Lord in the life of the believer. Notice that the first advent of the Lord was shown symbolically through the baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan. At the time of John’s baptism, the vision of a dove was seen descending upon the Lord. At that time, a voice was heard from out of heaven saying “Behold my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased. I have glorified him and I will glorify him again.”
This object lesson is the invisible translation from death to this world – first, while we are in the world, and second as we leave this world behind. The exact same object lesson is given in the life of the apostolic church where, at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit again descended as a dove.
Such is precisely the case with the believer as the Lord comes first to make His abode (first advent), and then comes again to gather (second advent). This two advent process is revealed by Paul in Ephesians 1:
In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise (1st Advent), Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession (2nd Advent), unto the praise of his glory.
It is no surprise that materialist theologians seek fulfillment within the scope of history. They cannot – and will not – seek those things which are above and invisible. Instead, they seize upon the object lesson and declare it to be the fulfillment! Those who are mature in the Lord can strive for better. Those visible things are only ever in part and given as schoolmasters of those things which cannot be seen. Therefore, look not at the things which are seen for they are temporal, and the things which are not seen are eternal. The solution to centuries of theological error is truly that simple.
Try as one might to elevate the gaze of materialists to that which is invisible, the resting state of mankind is to more immediately regard that which is seen. When it comes to the nature of the second coming of Jesus, millennarians of almost every stripe will first consider at what time it will occur, assuming it must take place once during the course of history.
Accordingly, some regard the coming of the Lord to have been an event of the past (full preterism). Others regard it to be an event that will occur in the future (futurism). However, in attempting to objectify the coming of the Lord they have all missed the true and terrible subjective nature of the coming of the Son of Man as it applies to all.
Take, for instance, the oft-repeated biblical warning that the coming of the Lord is at hand. If one was to objectify this coming, then it was either at hand at the time the words were written (preterism), or it is at hand from the time that the words are read (futurism). Though both are correct in applying the coming in each example, they are both mistaken by limiting it to that one application. Something that is at hand should be seen as within reach in a spatial sense. It is undeniable that this time of judgment applies to all present life, and so it is time to modify our hermeneutic accordingly.
By objectifying the coming of the Lord we miss the true imminency presented by the subjective nature of its approach. The coming of the Lord is to each person when they depart from this world for the world to come. As Jesus Himself said, “I will come to you and receive you unto myself that where I am there you may be also“. Lest one assume that Jesus was only intending to bless the first generation of Christians with this honor, He utters the same promise to gather His people to Himself as a prayer for all who would believe.
John 17:20,24 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am
Additionally, references to the multiple seasons of harvest are given by Jesus declaring that believers would render him the fruits in their seasons. The ideas of “in due time” or the “due season” are mentioned in a similar context. When references are made to “in that time” or “at that day” it is certainly not a single historical date in mind. These are phrases lending themselves to the subjective nature of fulfillment. This is why we must all be ready, for of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. Wherefore ye also, be ye ready, for in that hour that ye think not the Son of man comes. Either these passages apply to one or it applies to all. Reader, please see the subjective nature of the Lord’s coming and be ye also ready!
The works that will be posted in the “Subjective coming of the Lord series” will lay out these principles in greater scriptural detail. In most cases, the authors are only able to understand a measure of the meaning of the coming, and though they may acknowledge the personal nature of the Lord’s return, they still anticipate an earthly day of judgment. This error is one of the consequences of materialism. The simple solution to this mistake is to recognize that the general judgment is in the heavenly court room — and that it is demonstrably not on Earth. Lest a materialist be tempted to think that, since this has not happened historically it must be in the future, let us be wise as to the a-historical nature of the eternal realm. What happens in the process of time here is in ever-presence there.
The works of historical authors are added understanding their limitations and are not meant to imply advocacy of preterist idealism or metamillennialism. Their sole purpose is to present those advocating a broader view of the coming of the Lord to include the moment of death. I’m calling this perspective the subjective coming of the Lord, so as to distinguish it from the objective coming of the Lord manifested on May 2nd of the year 66. Though the apostolic church was told to await the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, that objective coming in the clouds of Israel was but a type of the subjective coming of the Lord to receive people to judgment.
The idea that the parousia prophecy is intended only for a single generation of participants obviously misses the mark. Additionally, the idea that somehow the great judgment takes place on Earth is ludicrous. The events of the general judgment takes place in the heavenly throne room following the ascent of the corporate body, as shown in Daniel 7:13. It is only the materialistic bias which insists that the great consummation is historical in nature.
And so, when a preterist asks what verses in the Bible refer to a future coming of Christ I can offer dozens, if not hundreds, of examples. The martyrdom of Stephen is held up as the example of this coming par excellence. For more details on the exact nature of the coming of the Lord, see Matthew 16:28 is NOT a preterist time indicator.