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Is the Return of Christ Near?

And if it is, how can we be READY?

by David A. DePra


     Jesus Christ is going to return. The Bible says so. The return

of Christ is the great hope of all who walk with Him.

     Today there is much be taught and written about the return of

Christ. Because the year 2000 is only a short time away, the

subject has grown to dominate much Christian teaching. Always

the return of Christ is spoken of as if it is at hand, a few years away

at most. But is it? How can we know for sure? And what should

we do to get ready for it?

     It must be ironic in the eyes of God that Christians throughout the

centuries have spent so much time trying to figure out the time of

the second coming when Jesus expressedly told us that we could

not know the time. But some of us insist that we can know what

Jesus says we can't.   Sure, we would never say we know the

hour of His Coming. But there are those who, even recently, have

said they know the day, or the year, or perhaps the decade. At

the very least, most of us would at least claim that we are certain

that Christ's return is near. "It has to be near," we state. "Never

has there been a time in history which fulfills so much prophecy.

This is a sure indication that the return of Christ will be in our


     The expectation that Christ will come in our lifetime has become

so universally accepted that to question it almost classifies you

as a troublemaker or heretic.  But wait.  If the Truth is what we are

really after, then it is never wrong to rethink what we have so easily

accepted. It is never wrong to put what I believe back out on the

table for examination, with an open heart to God. At worst, I'll

simply confirm that what I believed was the Truth. At best, I'll back

off of some of the things I have too quickly crystalized into dogma,

and re-focus my heart to the priorities God desires.

     Let's do this with regards to the Second Coming. There are

at least three reasons why many Christians think Jesus is coming

back soon, probably in their lifetime. But are these reasons

as valid as we have assumed?

(1) Jesus said the gospel was to be preached to all nations before

the end. Only today is that prophecy fulfilled.

     Jesus did not elaborate as to what depth the gospel must be

preached. When He used the word "nations," he meant "peoples."

That makes the task almost limitless. Jesus never tells us if He

means every single person on earth, or just in general. Further-

more, nothing Jesus said precludes the possibility that after the

gospel does reach "all nations," that God will not want those

nations to abide under the Truth for quite some time, perhaps even

centuries. Clearly, nothing Jesus said indicates any time frame

at all for His return. He simply says that the gospel must first be

preached to all peoples. So it has been for two thousand years.

(2) Evil is abounding as never before. Therefore, the end is near.

     Evil has always been abounding "as never before" because

evil has alway been increasing. Furthermore, as evil as things

are today, it is always possible for them to get worse. The evil in

the world is simply no indicator of the specific time of Jesus's

return. Only God knows when the cup of iniquity is full.

(3) World events are pointing toward the Second Coming.

     World government, technology to make a "mark of the beast,"

strange weather patterns, and the presence of Israel in the Holy

Land are all said to be evidences that Christ's return is near.

     We need to read what Jesus said about looking at world

events. He said, "You shall hear of wars and rumors of wars...

...but the end is not yet." The indication is, world events tell us

nothing about the nearness of Christ's return. In fact, from the

perspective of each generation since Christ, there have been

physical fulfillments for the "mark of the beast," etc. We are no


     Israel in the Holy Land, is, of course, a great indicator of

the last days. But God never tells us how long Israel will be in

the Holy Land before the end. For all we know, it could be for

hundreds of years.

     Clearly, none of the commonly given indicators really prove

that Christ is coming soon. But don't misunderstand. There is

likewise no proof that He isn't coming soon. He could come

today, or tomorrow. That would be great. But He could also

come a hundred years from now. We just don't know.

     So what are we to do? The Bible makes it clear that we have

ONE responsibility regarding the Second Coming of Jesus. Do

you know what it is? Is it to figure out WHEN He is Coming? No.

Is it to chart out Bible prophecies so that we can at least have a

small idea of when He will return? Nope. The one responsibility

Jesus gave us with regards to His Coming is this: BE READY.

     What does it mean to "be ready" for the return of Christ? As

we have seen, it most certainly has nothing to do with knowing

WHEN He will return, since the same Jesus who told us to be

ready, also told us we could NOT know when He would come

back. To "be ready" speaks of a spiritual condition. It suggests

a condition of heart which has an affinity for Jesus Christ, such

that when He returns, we will be ready to live forever with Him.

     It is imperative that Christians understand the relationship

between what we are in Christ NOW and what we will be in

Christ THEN. The relationship is a direct one, although we do

not have a complete point of reference to grasp the link. But

to illustrate, ask this question: Am I presently serving God or

mammon with my heart and life? If I am serving mammon, that is,

governed by this life and this age, then when Christ returns, do

I expect that I will magically be transformed into a completely

different person, with a completely different motivation? I

can't be. I am what I am. What I have become NOW, through

choices of faith, is directly linked to what I shall become THEN.

God can only take what I've become. If I'm not fellowshipping

with Jesus Christ NOW, because I have other priorities, then I

cannot possibility expect to be ready for Him when He comes

THEN. It just doesn't work that way. If it did, then all the warnings

Jesus gave about "being ready" would have been needless.

     So what should we do? Be ready. Live NOW as if Jesus were

coming NOW. Live NOW the life of faith. Reign and rule with

Christ NOW over that which has been conquered by Him. If we

do, then we will be able to reign and rule with Him THEN.

But if we don't live NOW as if it is THEN, it is quite possible that

Jesus' return will be to us as a "thief in the night." He will come

and we'll not "be ready." We will have allowed ourselves to

become as one of the foolish maids who had no oil in their lamps

to meet the bridegroom.

     Jesus never told us to try to figure out when He was coming

back. He simply told us to "be ready." For two thousand years

Christians have been waiting for His return. So far, all who have

died did so without seeing their hope fulfilled. But if they were

READY for His return, they died ready. Thus, whether we live

or die, let us "be ready" to live with Jesus Christ forever.

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