They’ve been dubbed the “New Atheists”—men like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett. Writers, philosophers, and scientists, they are at the vanguard of atheistic fundamentalism. They’re no-holds-barred atheists who view agnostics and those who want to find a way to meld science and religion as traitors and appeasers— as bad, or even worse, than religious folks themselves.
And, of course, not believing in God, they don’t believe in Jesus, not His first coming and, certainly, not His second. In fact, they are just the more outspoken representatives of people through the centuries who have mocked the idea of Christ’s return.
After all, the argument goes, “Where is He? Why is it taking so long? Jesus said He would come back, but we don’t see Him. Why do you Christians still believe in the Second Coming?”
What about these arguments? It’s been twenty centuries since He lived and died, and He hasn’t returned yet. Do Christians, even after all this time, still have good reasons to believe that Jesus will return?
The answer, perhaps more than ever, is Yes, for several reasons!
The State of the World
One of the most powerful reasons that Christians have for believing in the return of Christ is that the world is in precisely the shape that Jesus said it would be prior to His coming.
For the past few hundred years, with the growth of science and technology, humans believed that humanity was on the fast track to eliminating sickness, war, disease, and the terrors of nature. War, pestilence, famine, and natural disasters would, through the ingenuity and moral progress of mankind, once and for all be finally brought under control. Perhaps no one expressed this hope and optimism better than poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, who wrote “Let man stand erect, go alone, and possess the universe.”
Ironically, these views climaxed at the beginning of the twentieth century, the century that brought world wars more deadly than any previous century in human history. These, together with the violence, sickness, pestilence, famine, and natural disasters of the twentieth century have proven the experts who were predicting a utopia to be wrong. Yet Jesus Christ Himself described this very condition of the world in the years immediately prior to His return. He said, “ ‘And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places’ ” (Matthew 24:6, 7)
Yes, the sorry state of the world, which is exactly as Jesus said it would be before He came back, gives Christians a very good reason for believing in the Second Coming. Indeed, with the dangers from global warming, AIDS, the threats of terrorism, and nuclear proliferation, our world— perhaps more than ever before—is as Jesus said it would be when He came back. Fortunately, when Jesus does return, all of these tragic conditions will be a thing of the past.
The Bible Promises His Return
For Christians, the greatest reason to trust that Jesus will return is the many promises in the Bible of His second coming. And Christians know that they can trust these promises. And if there ever was a promise in the Bible, it is the promise of the Second Coming. Here are four promises out of hundreds:
“ ‘Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 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 14:1–3).
After Jesus was taken up to heaven in the sight of His followers, two angels appeared to them and said, “ ‘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’ ” (Act 1:11).
John, in the book of Revelation, wrote, “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him” (Revelation 1:7).
The apostle Paul was certain too. “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
These promises, of course, mean nothing to those who don’t believe the Bible. But for those who do, they are our assurance that Christ will come back and that we need to remain faithful until the end.
The Scoffers Themselves
Interestingly enough, those who mock the idea of the Second Coming, who harass Christians over the questions, “Where is He? Why hasn’t He returned yet? Nothing has changed.” This actually gives Christians even more reasons to believe in the promises of God and the Bible. Almost two thousand years ago Peter wrote, “Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to 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 creation’ ” (2 Peter 3:3, 4).
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Peter saw that, as time went by, people would scoff and mock the idea of Christ’s return. Yet the great irony is that, by their very mocking and scoffing, they are fulfilling this prophecy. Thus, their attacks give those of us who believe in the return of Christ even more reasons to believe in it!
Christians have every reason to still believe in the second coming of Jesus. It may seem to be taking a long time, but we humans have a very limited view of time. In the context of Christ’s second coming, Peter wrote, “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). What seems like a long time to us is like nothing to God. In other words, we shouldn’t get discouraged at what seems like a delay, at what seems to us, from our perspective, like a long time. We must remember, we are on God’s time, not our own, and they are two very different things.
Sure, the New Atheists will continue their attacks on the Second Coming. In that sense, they’re no different from the old atheists of every era, who have done the same thing. Yet we shouldn’t be surprised by this. On the contrary, the very mocking itself, along with the sorry state of the world, and the clear promises of God about the Second Coming, all give evidence that we can not only still believe in the return of Jesus but that we, more than ever, should believe in it.