Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What I Believe About the Second Coming

To begin with, I cannot believe that I am even tackling this issue. After all, I have always said- and I still believe- that if you have your life right with Christ, you do not have to be concerned about when he is coming back. But I know that there is great concern over the second coming of Christ. The “Left Behind” books sent the Christian world into a tizzy about end times events and interpretations. Whatever your theological perspective, you have heard about, or thought about the Rapture, the Parousia, the second coming, the tribulation and the millennium.

Let me share with you a couple of very basic thoughts. First of all, no one knows when Jesus will return, or when the saints will be raptured. Matthew 24.36 makes it clear that no human being can know when the return of Jesus will take place. This makes me question anyone who ‘knows’ when this is going to take place. If someone tells me that the end of the world is coming on March 17, 2009 then I am pretty sure that it will not happen on that day. The Bible says that Jesus will come as a thief (1 Thessalonians 5.2). The second coming of Jesus will be unexpected, even by those who are expecting it.

Even though there is no way that we can know when Jesus is returning, the Bible gives us several signs that we can look for. Matthew 24 reports that Jesus taught about coming persecutions (v. 9), wars (v. 6), false prophets (v. 11) and preaching the gospel to all people (v. 14) before the coming of Christ. 2 Thessalonians teaches about a ‘great apostasy’ that will come before the return of Jesus. There are signs, but there are no definite dates, times or seasons. Every generation of faithful Christians has believed that they were living in the last days.

Even though there is no way we can know the specifics, and even though many people get consumed with speculation and prediction, let me conclude with some simple rules of thumb for all those who want to meet Jesus in the air when he returns.

  • Do not take the predictions and dooms day-ers too seriously. Jesus will come again and no amount of worrying will change that, or prepare you for it.
  • Do not become consumed with studying prophecies and trying to figure out all those mysteries. Study God’s word, but do it with balance. Study the whole Bible.
  • Be prepared all the time. Remember Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25.1-10). Those who were spiritually ready got to meet the bridegroom.
  • Live like the end is coming today, but do not be disappointed if you live a long life and still do not see Jesus.

I know that I have not answered the questions that are most prevalent, but I believe that I have dealt with the most important issues. Jesus is coming soon. But it may not be for a long time yet.

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