There is probably no religious subject that is more popular among radio and television evangelists than the second coming of Jesus Christ. However, simply because it is a popular topic doesn't mean that people are being taught God's truth on the subject. Sadly, there is much error being proclaimed and believed concerning the second coming of our Lord.
Today, we will examine what the Bible teaches about Jesus' second coming. We will focus on four questions: (1) How can we know that Christ is coming again?, (2) When will His second coming take place?, (3) Why will Jesus come again?, and (4) What should Christians be doing until He returns? We can find the answers to these questions in God's great book, the Bible!
1. HOW CAN WE KNOW THAT CHRIST IS COMING AGAIN?
The answer to this is quite simple. In fact, the answer is found in a children's song that is so well known and cherished--"Jesus Loves Me." How can we know that Jesus loves us? Because the Bible tells us so! In the same way, we can know that Jesus will come again, because the Bible affirms it to be true.
This fact is taught clearly throughout the New Testament. Jesus Himself said that He would come again - "In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:2,3). We also have an inspired record in Acts 1:11 of angels testifying that He would come again - "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven." The apostle Paul wrote about the appearing of the Lord Jesus for the final judgment (II Tim. 4:1; Col. 3:4). The Hebrews writer declared that the Christ would appear a second time (Heb. 9:28).
There is more Biblical evidence we could consider, but you get the point. The New Testament clearly affirms that Jesus Christ is coming again. If a person genuinely believes that the Bible is the word of God (and therefore trustworthy), he will accept the fact that Christ is coming again. We can know this with as much certainty as we can know anything!
2. WHEN IS CHRIST COMING AGAIN?
From the first century until the present, there have been many time setters. What do you mean, Stephen? Simply this: ever since Christ ascended into heaven and promised to return, men have tried to figure out when He would come back. They would set a time by predicting that Jesus would return on a certain date. Some of the dates set by man within the last 200 years include: 1844, 1845, 1914, 1925, 1937, 1945, 2000, and 2001. Men have picked certain years for various reasons, some of which are quite complicated. But, the point I want to emphasize to you is that these predictions have always been wrong! Time has proven all of these "prophets" to be false. Christ has not returned yet, although some would like you to believe that He has and that you just didn't see Him! Such a notion is far from the truth. Revelation 1:7 teaches that when He comes again "every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him..." When Jesus comes again, everyone who has ever lived will know (cf. John 5:28,29). Because of that fact, we can know that Jesus hasn't returned yet.
In fact, if those who make predictions concerning Christ's return would just read Matthew 24:36, they would easily learn that making predictions concerning the second coming is a waste of time. Jesus stated in that verse - "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only." The angels don't know when Jesus will return. In fact, Jesus doesn't even know when He will return; only the Father knows! So, what makes anyone here on Earth arrogantly boast that they have calculated when Jesus will return? Such is utter nonsense! We should be content with the fact that if God wanted us to know, He would have told us. The wise will remember Deuteronomy 29:29 in this regard - "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and our children forever..."
Yes, the time when Christ will come again is a big secret. This truth is also implied in I Thessalonians 5:2 - "For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night." Since no one knows when a thief will come, it logically follows that no one will know when Christ will appear again. That is Paul's point. And, since we don't know when He might come, we must always be ready (5:4ff). Paul refers to pregnancy to illustrate his point. A pregnant woman never knows when the labor pains might come upon her (5:3). Likewise, no one knows when Christ will return. It could be today! Wouldn't that be wonderful? It could be tomorrow, next week, next year, 100 years from now, or even 10,000 years from now (or longer). Granted, it seems unlikely to me that He would wait 10,000 years. But, admittedly, if you had asked the apostle Paul in the first century when he thought the Lord would return, I doubt he would have speculated that it would have been even 2000 years!
Can you clearly see that we just don't know when the Lord will come again? Paul didn't know, and I certainly don't know either (and neither does anyone else who lives on Earth today). We can be certain with every day that passes that we are getting closer, but we still don't know how close we are. And, reflect upon this for a minute: when humans set a date for the coming of the Lord and many expect Him to come at that particular time, it is then that you can be certain that He won't come! For example, January 1, 2000 has been the only day of my life thus far in which I felt confident that Jesus wouldn't return then. The reason for such confidence was simple. Too many people were expecting Him on that day. His coming, according to the testimony of inspired Scripture, will be as a thief in the night; He will not come at an expected time!
3. WHY IS CHRIST COMING AGAIN?
If you asked those in the denominational world this question, you would get various answers. Some would tell you that Christ is coming again to set up a literal kingdom and to reign for 1000 years upon His throne in the city of Jerusalem. This concept is referred to as premillennialism. It contradicts God's word and is, therefore, a false doctrine.
This theory that Jesus is coming again to set up a physical kingdom on earth is false for at least five reasons:
Clearly, premillennialism is false. We can know that Christ is not coming again in order to set up His kingdom. Those who obey the gospel are added to the church and are now a part of His kingdom (Acts 2:47).
But, that still doesn't answer our question: Why is Christ coming again? He is coming again for at least five reasons:
4. WHAT SHOULD CHRISTIANS BE DOING UNTIL CHRIST COMES AGAIN?
Thus far, we've seen from the Bible that Christ is coming again, and that He will appear at an unexpected time in order to resurrect, judge, and either reward or punish all human beings. But, what do these facts mean for baptized, penitent believers today?
These facts should primarily serve as a warning for us. We need to be ready always or else we'll be sorry. We should be adding the characteristics to our lives that Peter talks about in II Peter 1:5-7 - "...add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love." Until Christ comes again, we should be adding these qualities to our lives as we endeavor to humbly submit to His will and glorify Him in all things. In a nutshell, we must be faithful to Him! If this is the course we are pursuing in life, then we have nothing to worry about; we'll be ready when Jesus does return. However, if we aren't growing in these attributes, then we have much to fear!
Think about it this way. If you knew that a thief was coming to your house sometime tonight to break in and steal, what would you do? Would you make preparations ahead of time, like calling the police or buying a gun for your protection? I'm sure that you'd do something. It would be foolish to do nothing! Now, what if you knew that the Lord was coming again tonight? Would you make preparations ahead of time, like calling everyone you knew to warn them and making sure that you personally are ready to be judged by the Lord? Sure you would! Again, it would be foolish to do nothing!
But preacher, we've already concluded that no one knows when the Lord will return! That's exactly right, which means we must live our lives in such a way that if the Lord came tonight, we'd be completely ready! Are you ready? I hope so. Most people aren't. There are many souls who need to hear the gospel and obey it which should motivate us to try even harder to convert the lost. It's so easy to be lazy evangelistically. It's so easy to spend much or most of our time on ourselves and in the pursuit of pleasure, not in the furtherance of God's kingdom. We must understand that there are countless lost souls who need our help! And, for the sake of our own souls, we need to help them (cf. Acts 20:26,27; Ezek. 3;18,19). We need to give our best effort to convert our friends, loved ones, and neighbors like there is no tomorrow, because we don't know if there will be a tomorrow! Do you understand the urgency of this situation? The only reason why Jesus Christ hasn't returned yet is because of God's longsuffering (II Pet. 3:9). But, eventually, Jesus will return, and it could be tonight!
Dear friends, are you ready for Jesus' second coming? You need to be. If we can help you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact us. Thank you for listening, and may the Lord bless you as you strive to do His will.