My wife can tell you that whenever she’s been away for a few hours, I begin to get worried when she doesn’t return home about the time I expected her. Fortunately, most of the time she has her cell phone with her, and she either calls me or I give her a call for an update on her situation.
However, occasionally she forgets to take her cell phone when she leaves the house. When that happens and I thought she’d be home by 8:00, if she still hasn’t returned by 9:00, I get concerned, and by 10:00 I’m wondering if I should call the police to see if there’s been an accident in the area. I’ve never actually made that call, but I’ve come close to it a time or two.
I don’t really mind my wife being out however late she needs to be out, so long as I know the facts—where she is, the cause of any delay in her return, about when I can expect her back, etc. My wife has learned that I’m a worry wart about her safety, so if she’s able, she’ll call and let me know what’s going on. And, of course, I really appreciate that.
This illustrates in a small way the concern we Christians sometimes have about Christ’s return to this earth. And, as with my concern about my wife, the facts should help to set our minds at ease. Following are six important facts that you will find helpful to know about Christ’s second coming.
When Jesus will come
Jesus’ disciples asked Him one day, “ ‘What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’ ” (Matthew 24:3). Jesus answered this question in two ways.
Fact 1: We don’t know when Jesus will come. During the past century, various groups and individuals have set dates for Jesus’ second coming, among them: 1914, 1964, 1988, and 1994. During the 1990s, some people predicted that Jesus would come on or about the year 2000. However, Jesus said, “ ‘No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father’ ” (verse 36).
So, it’s useless to set dates for the second coming of Jesus ourselves or to get excited about the dates others set. Many people get burned out when date after date passes and nothing happens, and they give up all hope in Jesus’ return.
Fact 2: We can know when His coming is near. Jesus did say, however, that we can know when His coming is near, just as we know that summer is near when we see leaves sprouting on the trees (verses 32, 33). And He gave us several signs by which we can know this.
One of these signs is the global preaching of the gospel. “ ‘This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations,’ ” He said, “ ‘and then the end will come’ ” (verse 14).
We humans will never know when every person on earth has had a chance to hear the good news about Jesus and His offer of eternal life to all who believe in Him. But one point is very evident—it’s easier today than it has been at any other time in human history to share the good news with every human being. Think of it: TV, radio, books, magazines, and newspapers—and now the Internet and the World Wide Web! Given the right circumstances, the whole world could hear the gospel overnight!
The Bible also says that shortly before Jesus returns, the world will be very fascinated with spiritualism and communication with demonic spirits. For example, Jesus said that prior to His return “ ‘false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible’ ” (verse 24). In a similar passage in Revelation, John said that “demons performing miraculous signs” will gather the kings of the earth for the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:14–16). And Paul said that at the time of Jesus’ return, Satan will come displaying “all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:9).
It’s significant, I believe, that today we see a rapid buildup in New Age channeling and other forms of so-called communication with the dead. This is a sign of Jesus’ soon coming, and it’s also a warning that we must not accept miracle workers simply because they seem to have supernatural powers. Satan can work miracles, and he performs his miracles to deceive people.
How Jesus will come
Jesus predicted that prior to His return impostors will appear at various places on earth, claiming to be Him. “ ‘Watch out,’ ” He said. “ ‘For many will come in my name, claiming, “I am the Christ,” and will deceive many.’ ” That’s why He warned, “ ‘If anyone tells you, “There he is, out in the desert,” do not go out; or, “Here he is, in the inner rooms,” do not believe it’ ” (Matthew 24:4, 5, 26).
Fortunately, no one has to be deceived. There are three ways you can recognize the real Jesus when He comes.
Fact 3: His coming will be a public event. For one thing, Jesus’ coming will be the most public event in the history of the world. The Bible says, “Every eye will see him” (Revelation 1:7), and Jesus Himself said, “ ‘As lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man ” (verse 27).
Not only will Jesus’ coming be visible, it will also be very, very audible. Paul said, “The Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). And he told the church in Corinth that “the trumpet will sound” at Jesus’ second coming (1 Corinthians 15:52).
Fact 4: He will come in the clouds. Jesus also said that He will come ‘on the clouds of the sky’ ” (Matthew 24:30)—a fact that is repeated several times in the New Testament. For example, in Revelation, John wrote, “Look, he is coming with the clouds” (Revelation 1:7). Later, in an actual vision of Jesus’ second coming, John said, “I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one ‘like a son of man’ ” (Revelation 14:14).
Fact 5: The dead will be raised to life. Jesus said, ‘A time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out’ ” (John 5:28, 29). Those who have done good “ ‘will rise to live’ ” (verse 29). Jesus didn’t say just when this will happen, but Paul explained that it will happen at Jesus’ second coming: “The Lord himself will come down from heaven, . . . and the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
So you can know that anyone claiming to be Jesus is an impostor unless he appears on clouds in the sky with the sound of a loud trumpet and raises the dead to life.
How to be ready
The next important question is, How can you and I be ready for Jesus’ return? And the answer is the sixth important fact we need to know about His second coming.
Fact 6: You can be ready. Even some people who think they are ready for Jesus’ second coming will discover they aren’t. He warned, “ ‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven’ ” (Matthew 7:21).
So, what must you and I do to be ready for Jesus to come?
First, we must recognize the wrong things we’ve done and make them right. If we’ve harmed someone, we should make amends. And while God doesn’t require us to overcome all of our bad habits before He will accept us, He does want us to acknowledge them and put ourselves on the side of overcoming them. The Bible calls this “repentance” and “confession.” We must also accept Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins and ask Him to forgive those sins.
When we have met all of these conditions, God does two things for us. First, He forgives us. And second, He transforms our minds and emotions so that the evil things we once loved we now hate and the good things we once hated we now love. Christians call this the “new birth.”
The hope of Jesus’ coming
Are you getting tired of pain and suffering and sickness and death? God promises that in the new home Jesus is preparing for us “ ‘he will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things [will have] passed away’ ” (Revelation 21:4).
When Jesus comes, those of your friends and loved ones who were believers and have since died will be raised to life. They will join with God’s people who are still alive on the earth, “and so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). No wonder the Bible invites us to “encourage each other with these words” (verse 18).
Wouldn’t you like to be ready to meet Jesus when He comes? All you have to do is ask Him to come into your life.
The best fact of all is that you can say that prayer right now!