Paul wrote to Titus, declaring that Christians are to be “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:13, 14).
Why is it that we seldom hear any messages on the Second Coming of Jesus? Could it be that notorious and infamous works like Eighty-eight Reasons Why Jesus is Coming in 1988 or Harold Camping’s 1994? have caused preachers to shy away from the subject? Without doubt, date-setters have brought the entire subject of prophecy into disrepute. Perhaps it is time to reclaim the truth of the Second Coming from the domain of uncertainty and skepticism and once again proclaim what we know for sure.
In this message, we shall first establish the truth that Jesus is coming again, then consider what the Bible says about the time of Jesus’ return, and conclude with an exhortation to be ready for Christ’s return.
The Truth of Jesus’ Second Coming
The basis for believing that Jesus is coming again is the testimony of Jesus Himself, of angels, and of inspired writers of Scripture.
Jesus said He was coming again
Jesus said, “When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory” (Matt. 25:31). He told his disciples, “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 unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2, 3).
Angels said Jesus is coming again
After the Resurrection, when Jesus ascended to heaven from Bethany, he was caught up in a cloud and disappeared from the sight of His watching disciples. As they stared up into the sky in amazement, two angels appeared and announced, “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:9-11).
Paul said that Jesus is coming again
Paul wrote to Timothy, “Keep this commandment without spot, un-rebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Tim. 6:14). He also warned Timothy to be faithful, because Jesus “shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom” (2 Tim. 4:1)
Peter said that Jesus is coming again
Peter urged believers to anticipate the Second Coming of Jesus as a source of encouragement, writing: “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7).
Further, he exhorts, “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13).
John said Jesus is coming again
John wrote to believers, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:1, 2). Thus, there should be no question in any Bible-believing person’s heart or mind that Jesus is coming again.
The Time of Jesus’ Second Coming
This is the area where most extremism occurs. We need to listen care fully to Jesus on this subject.
Jesus told us we cannot know the time of His return
Jesus declared of His second coming, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matt. 24:36). Some people focus on the terms “day” and “hour” and suggest that Jesus did not say “month” or “year.”
However, when asked by His disciples after the Resurrection if He was going to usher in His kingdom immediately, Jesus replied, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power” (Acts. 1:7).
It seems reasonable to say that Jesus is teaching that the timing of the Second Coming is a secret known only to the Father. God evidently does not wish us to know the “times or the seasons,” nor the “day and hour” of our Saviour’s return. Therefore, we should stop setting dates!
Christ’s disciples look daily for His Second Coming
Paul told the Philippians, “Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand” (Phil. 4:5). He said to the Christians at Rome, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light” (Rom. 13:12). Peter warned the Jews in dispersion saying, “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer” (I Pet. 4:7).
The writer of the Hebrew letter said, “For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry” (Heb. 10:37). James exhorted, “Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh” (Jam. 5:8).
The Apostle John, towards the end of his life, warned, “Little children, it is the last time [last hour]: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists: whereby we know that it is the last time” (I John 2:18).
Jesus’ Second Coming is imminent
The Biblical phrases, “the day is at hand,” “the end of all things is at hand,” “yet a little while,” “the coming of the Lord draweth nigh,” and “the last hour,” seem to indicate at least three things. First, the terms are not time designators in the sense that we normally use them in common speech.
The fact that nearly two thousand years have elapsed since these phrases were written proves this point. Second, the terms were evidently designed to increase the first-century Christians’ anticipation and expectation of Jesus’ Second Coming. These phrases were designed to motivate the Christians of all ages to live holy lives in light of Jesus’ any-moment Second Coming.
Therefore, while we are not to set dates, we are to live holy lives in anticipation of His Coming. Third, the phrases suggest that, from God’s point of view, the Second Coming could occur at any moment. This concept is termed “imminency.” We may say that Jesus’ Second Coming is imminent. This means that:
- Jesus’ return could be at any moment;
- We are uncertain of the time of His return;
- No prophesied event stands between the believer and His return.
Evidently God’s primary purpose in teaching the imminent return of Christ is to keep the Church in a constant state of expectancy and readiness, always “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:13, 14).
By the very nature of the case, if the exact time of the Second Coming had been revealed, none but the final generation of Christians would have cause to look for the return of their Savior. For every other generation this vital hope and incentive would then have been lost.
Readiness for Jesus’ Second Coming
The Church is to be constantly looking for Jesus’ Second Coming. We must not become skeptics or scoffers like those of whom Peter warned: “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Pet. 3:3, 4).
Furthermore, we should preach the imminency of Jesus’ Second Coming. Jesus said, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.
It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping.
What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’ “ (Mark 13:32-37). John exhorted all Christians, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man
that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:2,3).
What needs to be purified in a Christian’s life? The answer comes from Paul. Christians must cleanse themselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Cor. 7:1).
Jesus is coming again. His return is imminent. It may be today; it may not be for a long time. Every Christian should take Jesus’ words seriously and “watch” for His any-moment return. Are you ready? Have you purified your life of all defilement of flesh and spirit? Are you perfecting holiness in the fear of God? May God help us all to be ready. If He came today, would you be glad?
Lo, He comes with clouds descending,
Once for our salvation slain;
Thousand, thousand saints attending
Swell the triumph of His train
Alleluia! Christ the Lord returns to reign! (Charles Wesley)
Originally published in the Ministry Library of God’s Bible School & College.