Christians have been waiting for Jesus to return to earth and establish His Kingdom for two thousand years. For each of those two thousand years, believers have viewed His second coming as very near. Yet, with the passage of time, these expectations have not come to fruition and Christ remains in Heaven.
This has not discouraged a new generation of followers from proclaiming that Jesus’ return is imminent. It seems that the continued waiting strengthens a growing consensus of Christian leaders that Christ’s return is very close.
Of course, no one knows the day or the hour that Jesus will return, so the prognosticators use authoritative language to assert that the second coming will occur within a window of time. These predictions usually sound something like this:
- Jesus will return in my lifetime.
- This generation will certainly see Jesus return.
- This generation will usher in Jesus’ millennial rule.
This has become a widespread view across the majority of Christian denominations. Christianity’s national voices are professing this perspective in a growing number along with countless pastors and believers across the world.
The obsession with the second coming among followers is no more evident than in the marketplace. Take a trip to any Christian bookstore and look at what topics take up the most space. You’ll quickly find that there are few topics that generate as much attention as Christ’s return. There are more Bible studies, novels, and resources covering the subject than ever. In fact, it is close to creating an industry of its own with a growing number of Christians claiming to be second coming experts.
Should we not be much more concerned with preparing for Jesus’ return instead of obsessing over the return itself? I think that’s a no-brainer because it isn’t going to be much fun if you aren’t prepared for it.
What truths does the Bible offer about the end times and how can we use those truths to ensure that we are prepared?
I’m so glad you asked.
1.) He will return. Jesus spoke vaguely about his return in parables and spoke of it directly at other times. His longest discussion on the subject came shortly before His crucifixion (Matt. 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21). These passages include insights and warnings about His return and that it’d be a good idea for believers to anchor their thoughts regarding the end times to them.
In Jesus’ Revelation to John he says, “Behold, I am coming quickly.” He makes this statement on three separate occasions to emphasize its importance. Have you ever had a teacher who repeats something in class? I think that’s what He was doing here. He didn’t want us to miss it. He is removing any doubt about whether he will return.
2.) No one knows when. Jesus knew that false teachers would come along attempting to deceive people and accumulate power by claiming they know when Christ will come again. With full knowledge of that He said, “no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in Heaven or the Son Himself. Only the Father knows. And since you don’t know when that time will come, be on guard! Stay alert!” (Mark 13:32-33, NLT).
Now, most Christians who proclaim Christ’s imminent return do not identify a specific date but they insist that it will happen in this generation. It is important to remember that Jesus warned against those types of proclamations as well. “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying…’the time has drawn near.’ Do not follow them” (Luke 21:8, NKJV).
It is true that Jesus provided signs to indicate when the end days are near. However, I would argue that those signs were provided as reminders that His return might occur at any moment rather than being used to solve the mystery of ‘when’ because if we are prepared the ‘when’ doesn’t really matter.
3.) Be ready. Jesus spent a lot of time warning of the dangers of being unprepared for His return. Each of these teachings focused on people who believed they would spend eternity with Christ but were instead cast into darkness.
In one parable, the unprepared come to Jesus at the time of His return, saying, “Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!” They beg for entrance into Heaven despite being unprepared. Jesus answers, “Believe Me, I don’t know you!” (Matt. 25:11-12, NLT). Even though they claimed Him as Lord, these people never knew Jesus and are refused entry into Heaven. Their words and hearts were not aligned.
We should not presume our salvation simply because we claim “Jesus is Lord” with our words. This is something I struggle with all the time. It’s really easy to say I’m a Christian. It’s a lot harder to live as Christ commanded his followers to live. If I was put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence for a jury to convict me as one? I’m not sure there would be and that’s not okay. We need to take time out to look at our lives, our priorities, and how we invest our time and money. If these things don’t line up with God’s word and reflect His teachings on how to live, we might not be as prepared for His return as we think.
4.) Max out your time. No matter when Christ returns, we need to maximize the time we have here by following the model Jesus provided for us during His life. The Bible provides a pretty strong indication that His first priority was always time with the Father.
“Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.” (Mark 1:35, NLT).
“After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.” (Matt. 14:23, NLT).
“But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.” (Luke 5:16, NLT).
“One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night.” (Luke 6:12, NLT).
It’s safe to say Jesus was a pretty busy guy (you know serving, healing, teaching, forgiving, casting out demons, and calling out religious leaders as hypocrites) but He always made sure to spend a significant amount of time in prayer. Maintaining His relationship with the Father was of the utmost importance to maxing out his time on Earth.
It’d probably be a smart thing for us to follow in His example. It doesn’t matter how busy we are or how much we need to do in the small amount of time we have, our number one priority has to be growing our relationship with Christ. Without that, nothing else matters.
Secondly, we must understand what Jesus said about his purpose for coming to Earth the first time.
“Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.” (John 4:34, NLT).
“For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.” (John 6:38, NLT).
“We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work.” (John 9:4, NLT).
This is the kind of focus we should aspire to have in our lives. In order to pursue God’s will, implement His agenda and advance His kingdom we need to spend time with Him in prayer on a regular basis. We can’t hear His call for our lives if we aren’t taking time out to listen to Him.
So the next time you hear someone shouting about how little time we have left before the Lord returns, step back a take a moment to be thankful that Christ will, in fact, return. Then remind them to focus on maxing out their time on earth and ensuring they are properly prepared rather than worrying about when the return will occur. “For as the lightning flashes in the east and shines to the west, so it will be when the Son of Man comes.” (Matt. 24:27, NLT).