In his book World Aflame, Billy Graham told of an incident when President Dwight Eisenhower was vacationing in Denver. Eisenhower read an open letter in a local newspaper from six-year-old Paul Haley, dying of cancer, who wished to see the president of the United States. In a spontaneous, gracious gesture, the president decided to grant the boy’s request.
One Sunday morning, a limousine pulled up outside the Haley home and out stepped President Eisenhower. The president knocked at the door, and Donald Haley, the boy’s father, opened it. He was wearing blue jeans, an old shirt, and a day’s growth of beard. Behind him was little Paul. They were amazed to see the president of the United States on their doorstep!
“Paul,” said the president, “I’m glad to see you.” He shook Paul’s hand, and the two walked together and conversed for a while. They shook hands again, and the president departed.
President Eisenhower’s kind and thoughtful deed was talked about for many years afterward. Only one person was not entirely happy about it—Mr. Haley. He could never forget how he was dressed when he opened the door. “Old jeans, that faded shirt, my unshaven face. What a way to greet the president of the United States,” he lamented.
I can tell you something even more embarrassing than that. One day, the Bible says, the trumpet will sound, the heavens will part, and we will see the King of kings and Lord of lords. When that happens, tragically, many Christians will be embarrassed by their lives. They will be clothed in immorality, greed, and personal ambition instead of being clothed in the righteous acts of the saints.
Let me ask you this: When you meet God face-to-face, either through your death or through the rapture, will you be embarrassed about the life you have lived up to this point? If so, now is the time to make those changes that will ensure you are ready for your coming appointment with God.
The Apostle John wrote to Christians, “Now, little children, remain in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming” (1 John 2:28).
God has given you and me the ability right now to make changes in our lives that can change how those end-times events affect us. Right now, we can examine whether we’re truly saved, whether we’re focused on the things of God, and how we can make changes in those areas that will impact our eternity.
Remember, the word translated “coming” (Parousia) is used to describe both the rapture and the second coming. Christ comes in the air at the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4), and He comes to the earth at the rapture (Zechariah 14).
The Bible says two things about the coming of Jesus to give us hope as we await His coming.
- Christ’s Coming is Certain (John 14:1-3)
Jesus promised, “I will come again.” And we see that promise about the Lord’s triumphant return throughout the Bible.
Did you know in the New Testament alone there are over three hundred verses that talk about the return of Jesus? One out of every 13 verses in the New Testament has something to do with the Lord’s return. And although Christians differ on some of the minute details of His return, the constant refrain from the beginning of Christianity has been that Jesus is coming again.
In Acts 1, we see that certainty about the Lord’s return. At this time, Jesus had been on the earth 40 days after His resurrection. He was in His new body, and thousands of people saw Him. Finally, He assembled with His followers on the Mount of Olives, and He ascended into the heavens.
Can you imagine what that scene was like as the disciples looked up and saw the Lord lifted up into heaven? And as the disciples were gazing into heaven, two angels said to them in Acts 1:11, “They [angels] also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.’”
Of course, they were looking into the sky! Who wouldn’t be after such a miraculous event?
The angels were saying, “This same Jesus, the one you’ve been with for these last three years, is going to come back from heaven the same way He just went up into heaven.”
How did Jesus go up into heaven? Did He go figuratively into heaven? No, His body ascended into heaven. Jesus went up literally, visibly, and bodily into heaven. And the angels said He is going to return the same way. The angels said that Jesus is coming back literally, visibly, and bodily, for everyone to see. That’s the promise of Scripture. His coming is certain.
- Christ’s Coming is Soon (Romans 13:11-12)
The Bible promises His coming is soon. How can I say that with such certainty? Remember, there are no prophecies that have to be fulfilled before the rapture takes place. The rapture is imminent. It could happen before you finish reading this book. So, in that sense, His coming is soon.
Think about it this way: If two thousand years ago, the apostles were talking about the coming of the Lord, how much closer is His coming today than it was then? Paul alluded to that in Romans 13:11–12.
Paul had done the math in his head. He had figured out that the coming of the Lord was closer, and it’s easy to see why he believed that. If there is a date fixed on God’s calendar when Christ is coming back again, then every second that passes moves us closer to that day. So Paul was saying that our salvation—meaning our deliverance out of this sin-infected world that will occur when Christ returns—is nearer to us today than when we believed a few years ago. Time is passing. It is moving us toward the soon return of Jesus Christ.
Imagine the apostle Paul was writing to us today. What would he say to us? He would say, “Wake up! Remove the sleep from your eyes. If I thought the Lord’s return was close when I wrote to the Romans two thousand years ago, then how much closer is it today? The Lord’s return is near. He is coming soon.”
As we await Jesus’s return, we’re to live expectantly, knowing what time it is. I once read a story about a family that had a grandfather clock. The clock would chime every hour: at one o’clock, it would chime once, at two o’clock, it would chime twice, and so on. One night in the wee hours, the grandfather clock malfunctioned and chimed thirteen times. The little boy in the house awakened, and he ran through the house, yelling, “Get up! Get up, everybody! It’s later than it’s ever been!”
That’s what Paul was saying to us: “Wake up! We are closer today to the Lord’s coming than we have ever been.” The Lord’s coming is certain, and the Lord’s coming will be soon.
2. Four Principles For Last Days Living
How are we to live in light of the certain and soon coming of the Lord? As we look through Scripture, we find four qualities that ought to characterize every believer who is living in these last days.
- Live With Hope (Romans 15:13)
- Live With Insight (1 Chronicles 12:32)
- Live With Action (Matthew 5:13-14)
- Live With Courage (John 16:33)
3. The First Priority For the Last Days
How do we prepare for the certain and soon coming of the Lord? The most basic preparation we can make is to make sure we are in the right relationship with the King of Kings, Jesus Christ.
There’s an old fable about Satan meeting with three new apprentice demons. He told the demons that their job was to deceive people from turning to the truth and knowing Christ as Savior. So he said to the demons, “Now, how do you propose to deceive people?”
The first demon raised his hand and said, “I’ll tell people there is no God.” Satan said, “No, that won’t work. Everybody can look around and know there has to be a God who created all this.”
The second demon raised his hand and said, “I’ll tell people there is no hell.” Satan said, “That won’t work either. Deep down, everybody knows there has to be a place of judgment for unbelievers and evildoers.”
The third demon raised his hand and said, “I’ll tell people there is no hurry.” Satan smiled and said, “With that, you will deceive millions.”
You may be thinking, I know I need to get things right with God someday. I know things aren’t what they should be, and I’ll get around to it one day. But I’ve got my family responsibilities. I’ve got this problem at work. I’ve got this health issue I’m dealing with. I’ve got some living I want to do. I’ll get around to it eventually. There’s no hurry.
That’s the deception of Satan. The truth is, today is the only day you have. And today very well may be the last day you have. That’s why Scripture says today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).
Jesus IS coming again!
Are you ready?
Full Passage: 2 Peter 3:11-12