Today is supposed to be the end of the world (read here) ... but I don't think so. Times like this are a good time to re-post a series of articles on how it will all end ...
End Time Fever
The first words that Jesus preached were, “Repent for the kingdom of God is near” (Mt.4:17). After the resurrection and at the end of Jesus’ ministry on earth, he ascended up to heaven. As he did, two angels appeared and boldly proclaimed, “Why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven (Acts 1:10-11).” The last recorded words of the ascended Jesus are in the book of Revelation. They were to the church and he said, “Yes, I am coming soon! (Rev.22:7, 12, 20)”
Ever since that time people have looked for and anticipated the second coming of Jesus and the end of the world. This began with the New Testament believers and has continued right through history up to today. The topic of the ‘end of the world’ has been one of interest to humans since time began but it has intensified in recent years. The recent release of the doomsday movie 2012, is an example of this. It is important that each one of us as Christians has a clear understanding of the end times so that we are not swayed by various trends or world events.
Observations about the Second Coming:
1. Jesus will come again.
The early church held strongly to the belief that Jesus would come again as he said he would. A common phrase among them was “Maranatha”, which means, “Come, O Lord! (1 Cor.16:22)” The second coming of Jesus Christ is mentioned 318 times in the 216 chapters of the NT. That’s 1 in every 25 verses. Some entire chapters are given to it and three New Testament writers wrote entire books about it (Mt.24. Mk.13. Lk.21. 1 Cor.15. 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Jude. Revelation). Jesus said he would come again. Paul, John, James and Jude all speak of his coming. Not one NT writer fails to mention it. Every time we take communion or the “Lord’s supper” we proclaim the Lord’s death “until he comes” (1 Cor.11:26). There are more references to this subject that any other NT teaching.
Jesus will return to the earth literally, visibly (“every eye will see him”), physically and personally just like he came. It will be the “same Jesus” not another. He will come personally to receive us to himself (Jn.14:3). Unlike his first coming, which was in great humility and lowliness, his second coming will be in great glory with his angelic hosts accompanying him (Mt.16:27; 19:28; 25:31).
2. No one knows exactly when.
Jesus will return in the Father’s appointed time. No one knows the exact day or hour (Mt.24:36. Mk.13:32. Acts 1:7. 1 Thess.5:2. 2 Pet.3:10. Acts 3:19-21). People who try to set dates or times bring discredit to the Christian faith and cause people to mock (2 Pet.3:4).
We can, however, know the “times and seasons”. If we study God’s Word and listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, we can be aware and ready for his coming. We don’t have to be caught “off guard” like the religious leaders were at Christ’s coming. Dogmatism and intolerance on exact details is not wise. The Scribes and Pharisees missed the first coming of Christ because it did not happen just the way they thought it would.
For those who are unprepared, his coming will be like a “thief in the night” – suddenly (Mk.13:36) and unexpectedly (Mt.24:36-51; 25:1-3. Mk.13:32-37. Rev.3:3; 16:15. 2Pet.3:10. 1 Thess.5:1-11). Therefore, we need to be spiritual “awake” and watching, ready for his coming.
3. The second coming completes what Jesus began at his first coming.
At the cross Jesus conquered Satan, sin, sickness and death. He said, “It is finished”! However, we live in the time of the end, which involves a tension between the “now and the not yet”.
- “Already” Satan is conquered (a defeated foe), but “not yet” has his final judgment taken place. In between, he continues to try to deceive the nations and must be resisted.
- “Already” sin has been atoned for and forgiveness is freely available, but “not yet” do we see sin totally eradicated. Sin has to be fought like a deadly virus and repentance is the vaccine that releases forgiveness and freedom.
- “Already” sickness has been defeated but “not yet” do we see sickness and disease totally removed from the earth.
- “Already” death is defeated but “not yet” do we see death destroyed. Our bodies are all aging and unless Jesus returns beforehand, we will all die.
The contract has been signed and paid in full but we are living in this “in between time” before what has been legally accomplished becomes a complete reality.
- There is coming a day when Satan and his hoards of demons will be judged and cast into a lake of fire for eternity. Even now, his time is short!
- There is coming a day when sin will be cleansed from the earth and from our lives.
- There is coming a day where sickness and pain will be no more, where suffering ceases.
- There is coming a day when death, our last enemy, will finally be destroyed.
That “day” is the second coming of Jesus Christ! So the kingdom is both present (“already”) and future (“not yet”). Until then, we stand firm and we fight against all that the devil seeks to bring against us. That’s why we continue to pray, “Your kingdom come! Your will be done!” This prayer is a request for God to reign and to manifest his sovereign power by putting to flight every enemy of righteousness. Our hope is rooted in Christ’s work of redemption that began on the cross and will be completed by the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Click here to read part 2.