second coming
Scheduled for study May 27-June 2, 2019. This week we look at the prophecies of the second coming of Christ, as well as learning the how and why of our treatment of our neighbors. We also learn the all-important lesson as to why when we help others we are doing it to Christ.

Day 1

Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:21-37; Mark 13:21-37; Luke 21:25-38 – Prophecies about the Savior’s Second Coming can help me face the future with faith.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you read Joseph Smith–Matthew 1; Matthew 25; Mark 12-13; and Luke 21, you might ask, “What messages do these chapters have for me? for my family? for my calling?”

When we think of the second coming of Christ, we usually think of the wickedness, the calamities, the destructions, wars, pestilence, and bloodshed that will precede it. But have you ever noticed that God never wants his people to focus on the evil, the trials, and wickedness, and the suffering? He always acknowledges that it is there. We can all see these things with our physical eyes, but what does he want us to see with our spiritual eyes?

Let’s look at the contents of Doctrine and Covenants 45:16-52. Our reading assignment is in the New Testament, but in this passage from the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord is telling the Church just what he told the Apostles in this week’s passages.

16-17 – Christ is focusing on the redemption of the righteous and the gathering of the children of Israel. He recognizes that those who are righteous in the spirit world view their time away from their bodies as a state of bondage, so he is revealing the prophecies to the Church he gave to the original twelve apostles the week before his crucifixion.

18-21 – Jesus promised his followers that their generation would not pass away before Jerusalem would be attacked and the temple completely destroyed. The few who are left after the destruction of the temple would be scattered among the nations of the earth.

22-25 – Even though they knew about the end of the world (the destruction of the wicked), this is not the same event as the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. He taught them that in the future there would be a time when the gospel would be sent to the gentiles, and the end of the world wouldn’t come until the time of the gentiles had been completed.

26-31 – The fulfillment of the day of the gentiles happens with the restoration of Christ’s Church in the latter-days. Wickedness will abound, and men’s hearts will fail them. The Lord will give them his gospel, but most of the gentiles will reject it. They will turn away from his gospel because of the teachings of men. Jesus finishes this description by telling us that there will be an overflowing scourge – a desolating sickness. It is at this point that I think we begin to look into the future, because I’m not aware that this has already happened.

32-33 – The Lord’s people will stand in holy places, but the wicked will take up swords and kill each other, curse God, and die.

34-35 – The disciples were troubled at these words, so the Lord encouraged them by reminding them that it was when this begins to happen that the promises of the Lord to his people will also begin to be fulfilled. This means that it is during the calamities and trials that the Lord’s people should be looking to heaven with hope-filled prayers because the Savior’s coming is drawing ever closer.

36-40 – The light referred to in verse 36 is scripture language that refers to knowledge/power/intelligence/revelation, etc. Darkness is always associated with ignorance of spiritual things, and light with revelation and the power that comes from our hearts being changed through that which is revealed to us. When we see these signs starting to come to pass we can be assured that the hour of the Lord’s coming is drawing near. The Lord encourages us to look forward to these signs and wonders that herald his second coming. This is a time of rejoicing and hope. He doesn’t use those words, but this is always the tone of his communication to the saints whenever he talks about the latter-days and the conditions of the saints during the trials of the last days. Notice that back in verse 32 while men are looking to God, cursing then dying, the Lord’s people are standing unmoved in holy places. Holy places are defined as our homes, wards, stakes, and the temples. Think home-centered gospel learning.

41-46 – While calamities befall the inhabitants of the earth, the saints will see the coming of their Lord, the dead rise from their graves, resurrected, and the completion of the gathering of Israel. Notice that all of us will witness the second coming of Christ. Some may be on the ground and be caught up to meet him, while the rest of us will be resurrected to accompany him in the air. Either way, a great view of what is to transpire at his coming.

47-52 – Finally, the Lord will reveal himself to the Jews on the Mt. of Olives and the final punishments be dealt to the wicked.

I find it fascinating that the Lord never backs down or tries to hide the truth about the troubles of the last days. He equally declares that those who believe in him, and are keeping his commandments will be blessed and finally exalted. His commentary on the punishment of the wicked is to serve as a backdrop to what is really important, the blessings he is meeting out to the righteous. Even referring to those who die in the process he says they will sleep in peace. There is no need to fear what is coming if we make sure we stand in holy places. This means we need to make our homes a place of holiness, filled with the spirit of love and forgiveness, a place of revelation and study of all things good and righteous. As we do this we will be prepared to weather the coming storms with optimism and faith.

Day 2

Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:26-27, 38-55; Matthew 25:1-13; Luke 21:29-36 – I must always be ready for the Savior’s Second Coming.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you read Joseph Smith–Matthew 1; Matthew 25; Mark 12-13; and Luke 21, you might ask, “What messages do these chapters have for me? for my family? for my calling?”

Do you recall the parable we recently studied about the man who hired servants to work for him, promising to pay them a penny for a day’s labor? Each time throughout the day when he went to find more laborers, he promised to make their pay worthwhile for the hours they had left to work in the day. Finally, he hired people to come and work with only one hour left in the day. When he paid them all, each received a penny, a full day’s wage, no matter how long they had worked.

The parable of the laborer is very similar to the Lord’s commandment for all of us to be prepared for his coming. People have been preparing for, or living their lives in readiness for his coming since the day he ascended into heaven. Most of us won’t be here when he comes again, so why do we need to be “ready” for his return, just in case he does come?

The Lord’s commandment to “be ready” means to live a life of righteousness. It means to prepare for eternity so that when we enter eternity we have done all we can to be ready for the Lord’s judgment we will have to face someday. We don’t know when he is coming in literal fact. Because of this we need to not procrastinate and do all in our power to prepare ourselves, just in case he comes before we are expecting it. So how does this fit with the parable of the laborer?

In the parable of the laborer each man received the same wage for the time he spent working for the master. It didn’t matter what time of day he began to work, the end pay was the same. When the Savior tells us to be prepared for his coming, he is telling us to come and labor in his vineyard. Those who come, whether early or late, and perform the labor given them by the Lord will receive the same wage at the end of the day. Whether we are alive on earth when the Savior returns or in the spirit world, if we are prepared through righteous living we will have no need to fear the judgment that is coming. The Savior’s return isn’t just about ending wickedness on the earth. His return also signals the Millennial reign, and the morning of the first resurrection. Those who have prepared themselves, or made themselves ready for the Savior’s return, will be ready for the judgment that comes with the first resurrection. It doesn’t matter when they lived on earth or if they are alive on earth when he actually appears. The point of preparing for his return is that we are ready to be judged worthy of being resurrected in the morning of the first resurrection. That is the resurrection of those who will be going to the celestial kingdom.

So yes, we should all be looking forward to his second coming, for that will herald our day of reward for faithfully keeping his commandments and making it through all the trials of mortality successfully. We look forward to his return with an eye of faith and hope, because his return signals the day our fondest hopes and dreams will be realized, the beginning of our exaltation and our reunion as families for eternity in the presence of God.

Day 3

Matthew 25:14-30 – Heavenly Father expects me to use His gifts wisely.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you read Joseph Smith–Matthew 1; Matthew 25; Mark 12-13; and Luke 21, you might ask, “What messages do these chapters have for me? for my family? for my calling?”

In chapter 25 the Lord gives three parables of preparation: the ten virgins, the talents, and the sheep and the goats. It took me a while to fit the parable of the talents in with the other two parables. In the past I have always thought of talents, when applied to our day, as artistic ability, or heightened abilities, like empathy or compassion. But in my reading it was mentioned that this parable also deals with the obvious money aspect as well. That was a surprise.

As I thought about it, I finally began to see that the talents the Lord gave to his servants before going away were more than just money. They were stewardships. He was giving them varying responsibilities over his property. The accounting he required at their hands when he returned was to see what they had done with the responsibilities he had delegated to them. To think of this in terms we would discuss it think of magnifying our callings in the Church.

We have each been given one kind of stewardship or another. It may be a nursery class, a Sunday School class, as a member of a presidency, or for cleaning the chapel, or singing in the choir. Each of us are left to do what we will with the callings we receive. But someday the Lord will bring us before him for an accounting of what we did with our stewardships. Did we treat them lightly, because we didn’t think they were “worthy” of our time and attention, or because they weren’t of any social prominence? Have we been busy with other things and have neglected our freely accepted responsibilities?

When we stand before the Lord and report on our work in the kingdom during mortality, will be be able to look him straight in the eye and tell him with pleasure how much we enjoyed our time serving others, the personal growth we gained from those callings, and all the good we tried to do while in those callings? Will we be able to say that we became better people because of the service opportunities he afforded us?

Think of the talents in the parable as your current spiritual, mental, social, and emotional capacities. What we do with these things in the course of our callings to serve others will either cause us to wither or to grow. The Lord is hoping our opportunities to serve others will teach us to grow in faith, confidence, love, and in all good things. This is the talent or capacity we will present before him when we stand to be judged. It isn’t just about whether or not you can play your instrument better, or can paint a finer picture. The talents in this parable represent who we are, not just small pieces of us.

Our opportunities to serve others and grow and benefit personally from our service to others is what it means to increase our talents. The talents being talked about is a physical way of summing up all of our capacities as a person. This is what the Lord wants increased. Every act of ministering to the needs of others, submitting to the Spirit, every time we study the scriptures and search and pray for answers, all of these things increase us and give us more to present back to our Lord when he comes again and wants an accounting for what we were given in mortality.

Day 4

Matthew 25:31-46 – When I serve others, I am serving God.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you read Joseph Smith–Matthew 1; Matthew 25; Mark 12-13; and Luke 21, you might ask, “What messages do these chapters have for me? for my family? for my calling?”

What is the Lord constantly telling us we should be striving for? Isn’t it to become a Zion people? And what does it mean to become a Zion people? Doesn’t it mean to become of one heart and one mind?

What does it mean to become of one heart and one mind?

Does it mean that we all have to think alike?

To be united in all things do we, of necessity, have to give up who and what we are to become part of the “collective?” (Sorry, that is a science fiction term, specifically from Star Trek. Yes, I’m a geek at times.)

If you think God and Jesus don’t think differently at times, just read Jacob 5 in the Book of Mormon. In the allegory of the olive tree the servant (Christ) has to plead with the master (the Father) to change his mind about what to do in the vineyard and how to do it. Sometimes the servant is allowed to do as he requests, but other times the master states that certain things have to be a certain way. End of discussion. At no time is there actual disagreement, for both of them have the same goal and want the same things. They just have a small difference of opinion in how to approach it. But at all times is the will of the Father respected and recognized as the final word.

When the Savior tell us in these verses in Matthew that when we do it unto one of the least of his brethren we have done it unto Him, that always raised a question in my mind. Why does the Lord care so much? Why does he take it so personally how we treat others? I finally began to get some answers when studying it this time.

The whole plan of salvation is a template for how the Godhead works. Just as they are one, united in all things, the same spirit guides the plan of salvation. What we cannot do for ourselves to save ourselves, someone else is allowed to do for us. This is the principle behind the atoning sacrifice of Christ. We couldn’t pay the price, so he paid it for us. It is the principle behind all of salvation for God’s children. Most of His children won’t hear of the saving ordinances until they are already in the spirit world when it is too late for them to participate in these ordinances for themselves. So the Lord has made it our responsibility to do their work for them. We are told in the scriptures that without us they cannot be saved, and without them we cannot be saved. In other words, salvation cannot be an individual matter. We must all seek for the salvation of others in order to save ourselves.

This is the reason the Savior says that if we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, etc. we are doing it to him. And if we don’t do these things, we are not doing these things to him. Celestial people put others ahead of themselves in all things. They never do anything of a selfish nature. Love, sacrifice, and service is simply their way of life. The whole plan of salvation is based on this way of living, since the goal of the plan of salvation is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).

When king Benjamin said that “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God,” he was restating this teaching of eternal truth about the plan of salvation. The plan is a package deal. We are not here to save ourselves, but our family. Our purpose has to become what God’s purpose is, and that is the salvation of all His children. This is why Jesus takes it personally when we are selfish and don’t minister to others and help them with their needs. This is why we are blessed, as though we had done it personally to our Savior, when we do serve others and seek to bless their lives. We truly are all in this together, whether we currently want to be or not. This principle is how the judgment will be set up. Our behavior is what will determine if we are considered goats or sheep when the Savior brings us before him to answer for our time in mortality.

Day 5

Mark 12:18-27 – Will marriages continue after the Resurrection?

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you read Joseph Smith–Matthew 1; Matthew 25; Mark 12-13; and Luke 21, you might ask, “What messages do these chapters have for me? for my family? for my calling?”

The New Testament makes it sound like no marriages will exist after the resurrection. But we know from modern revelation that the nature of all marriage from the beginning of time has been that it should be eternal in nature. Adam and Eve’s marriage is an eternal marriage, and because it was performed by proper priesthood authority, it will last forever.

What most people don’t understand is that man-made marriages, civil marriages only last until one member of the union dies. That death dissolves the marriage, no matter how much the couple may want it to last. In the eternities only those marriages performed by proper priesthood authority will have any ability to last forever.

As long as the temple ordinances have been performed, all righteous endowed people will have the opportunity to be sealed to someone forever. Exactly how and when the Lord will make that available to everyone has not been publicly revealed to the Church. We must have faith that the Lord will keep his word that his prophets have given us that all of us will have every blessing available to us if we keep ourselves worthy of those blessings.

Scripture Study and Home Evening

Mark 12:38-44; Luke 21:1-4 – What do we learn from the widow’s mite?

We use the story of the widow’s mite to demonstrate sacrifice and the giving of our all to the Lord. The Pharisees were rich as to the things of the world, so they could donate lavish sums of money to the temple and it didn’t put a dent in their spending. But this woman has only two of the smallest coins available in their coinage, and it was all she had. The Lord used this to point out the difference in the level of sacrifice, and the difference in the level of the blessings both parties would receive.

Think back to the lessons from day 4 that talk about how when we serve others we are serving God. When this widow gave of her all, as small as it was, to the temple, she was giving it to support the priests who worked in the temple. She, in all her humble poverty, was giving the last of her means to help those who served the Lord. No wonder her sacrifice caught the Savior’s attention.

Here is a PDF of this week’s study material.
Print it out for greater convenience in your studies.

New Testament 22