Cross or Resurrection 7: Jesus is Coming Soon

I have just one more brief part to add to my series on what is determinative for the Christian life, before drawing my conclusions. I have looked at John the Baptist, at the life and teachingthe death on the Cross, and the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus, and at Pentecost. Finally I want to look at the expected Second Coming of Jesus, and at those Christians who seem to centre their faith on looking ahead to that coming – to the Rapture, to the Millennium, or to the final Day of Judgment.

Harold CampingThis year’s most notorious preacher of the End Times has of course been Harold Camping, whose prophecies of the Rapture on 21st May and Judgment Day on 21st October attracted widespread ridicule, especially when nothing unusual happened on either day. Camping’s clearest error was to ignore the clear biblical teaching that the exact dates of the end have not been revealed to human beings, as Jesus taught:

But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

Mark 13:32 (NIV)

It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.

Acts 1:7 (NIV)

But Camping’s error was deeper than that, and its depths are shared by many more Christians, especially those of a more Fundamentalist persuasion. Their fundamental mistake is to focus more on what is coming than on what needs to be done in the present. Yes, Jesus warned us to be ready for his coming, but also that we need to be working faithfully until he does. Paul had no time for those who gave up work to wait for Jesus to come.

We mustn’t forget that Jesus is coming. But we can’t expect to know when. As Jesus told us, wars and earthquakes are not signs that the Day is imminent (Mark 13:7-8). So we shouldn’t make this the centre of our Christian life.

Concluded in Cross or Resurrection 8: Finding the Balance.

0 thoughts on “Cross or Resurrection 7: Jesus is Coming Soon

  1. As you well say, we should not get a fixation on earthquakes as an end-time indicator. Jesus gave us only one certain thing to happen before He comes back. The Gospel will be preached to all nations first.

    The current state of fulfillment of that condition leads me to believe that we are historically in the final minutes of this age, though we still can not mark our calendars.

    There will always be those on the fringe of Christianity who will seek recognition by hyping the Second Coming. That in no way diminishes the truth of that event.

  2. Thank you, Galveston. You mention an interesting indicator of the end times. But what did Jesus mean by “nations”? Certainly not modern nation states, a concept he would not have understood.

    More likely he meant something more like the modern concept of ethnic groups or people groups. And according to the Joshua Project there are currently 6,950 “Unreached People Groups”. So if us reaching all of those with the gospel is a prerequisite for him to come again, there is still a lot of work to do and so no immediate prospect of his return.

    But there is enough uncertainty in the whole argument that there is certainly no room for us to assume that Jesus is not coming tonight.

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