The doctrine of eschatology (end times) is broadly taught in the Bible. Central to this teaching is the return of Jesus Christ for his church. Believers are not ignorant of the things that will happen in the future because the Bible talks of signs, promises, and warnings concerning the return of Jesus Christ. Through the Bible, God’s eternal plan into the future has been revealed. Jesus not only gave us the promise to return but he also gave us the signs that will precede his return and the warnings that we should beware of.
- Jesus promised to come back soon (Acts 1:11; 1 Thess. 4:16; Rev. 1:7; Rev. 22:20).
- He went to prepare a place for believers (Jn. 14:3). A place where evil and suffering will be no more. A city where there shall be no more Satan, death, tears, pain, and imperfections; for the former order of things will have passed and the new come. In this city, believers will be in the very presence of God.
- These promises give believers/church a solid hope.
- During his second coming the righteous will be vindicated and the wicked condemned.
Do you BELIEVE in these promises?
Signs that will precede Christ’s return:
- Preaching of the gospel to all nations (Mk. 13:10; Matt. 24:14).
- Great tribulation (Mk. 13:7-8, 19-20).
- False prophets performing signs and wonders (Mk. 13:22),
- Signs in the heavens (Mk. 13:24-25).
- The coming of the man of sin/antichrist and the rebellion (Rev. 13; 1 Jn. 2:18).
- The salvation of Israel in the future (Rom. 11:12; Rom. 11:25-26).
- Although Jesus promised to return, he did not indicate the time of his coming. Well, is this problematic? Jesus warned that the day will come like a thief, he will come at an hour you do not expect him (Matt. 24:44; 2 Pet. 3:10). Since he did not state the exact time, is it logical to say that he has delayed? And also, if he said he would come in two or a hundred year’s time, imagine what we would be doing in the meantime.
- Also the Bible warns of the coming judgment- the day of the Lord will bring vindication to the righteous and condemnation to the wicked. In the day of the Lord, people will be held accountable for their actions and words.
Because of Jesus’ promise, revelations, and forewarnings, WE HAVE HOPE– specifically, the hope that Christ will soon return: the blessed hope- the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13).
This hope is not a passive hope. It is a hope that should accomplish something in us. This hope should transform the way we live, think, work, handle relationships, and circumstances.
2 Peter 3:11-15 reminds us that that we ought to be doing something in anticipation of the Lord’s return. The knowledge of these promises and warnings should presently shape our lives.
How should we live NOW in light of this hope of the second coming of Jesus?
- Live a Holy life– Longing for Christ’s glorious appearance should cause us to be holy.
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure (1Jn. 3:2-3).
The promise that Jesus will return should cause us to desire to be holy; in other words, to be like Christ. This hope should produce the fruit of righteousness in us. This blessed hope should make our lives free from any entanglement of sin.
This hope brings alongside the manifestation of God’s grace to all men. It teaches us “to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we await for the blessed hope- the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ (Titus 2:12-13).
Notably, this hope should change our actions and attitudes in a way that reflects a holy character.
The more we are unholy the more we will be unprepared for his coming.
The fact that Christ will return anytime should make us purify ourselves from sin, grudges, unforgiveness, and to be presentable before God as holy and blameless.
- Live as Strangers in this World–
Living with an eternal perspective means living in this world as strangers, pilgrims, and sojourners.
Jesus revealed to us our true identity. We are God’s children, and citizens of heaven but temporarily in a foreign land (Phil. 3:20). As God’s children and ambassadors we are in the world but not of the world. Eternal perspective will remind us not love the world or follow its patterns.
We explicitly see this eternal perspective in the lives of Israel’s patriarchs. We are told, Abraham and the other patriarchs, because of eternal perspective, lived “like a stranger in a foreign country”. They lived in tents (temporary dwelling). Why? For these patriarchs were “looking forward to the city whose foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10).
Life in this world, to a believer, should be lived as an exile. Eternal perspective should make us not to hold the things of this world dearly to our hearts. The world and the things therein are passing. Human life in this world is brief and fleeting. We are aliens in a foreign land. For international students here today, the KPP’s, Alien Cards, and Passports we carry around remind us of our temporary nature of our residence. Believers in Christ are equally strangers in this world.
As strangers in a foreign land we are called to manifest kingdom values. Life in this foreign land, as foreign people should cause us to pray and long for the full manifestation of his kingdom.
- Be Patient–
Living as aliens in a strange world comes with challenges. Faithful living of our hope brings rejection, persecution, and sorrow. Expectedly, our hope demands that we swim upstream; that is, living in a way that stands in opposition to the values that a fallen world upholds.
When we face such opposition, we should remember the world of Paul. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2Cor. 4:16-18).
Are you tempted to be impatient in you walk with God? Factually, the challenges we face are: “light and momentary” and achieves for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. The glories of heaven far outweigh our temporary challenges. We, therefore, should be patient in tribulations.
In our patience, we should also continually express our longing for the Lord’s return: “our Lord, Come!” (Maranatha) 1 Cor. 16:22); “Amen, come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20).
- Walk not by Sight but by Faith–
Expectation of Christ’s return should cause us to live by faith. The ancients were commended not based on what they were or what they possessed but for their faith in God. We know that without faith it is impossible to please God.
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2Cor. 4:18).
We should keep our hope by fixing our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. As a matter of fact, not all reality is seen. If you only live for what is seen then you are acutely limited in your perspective.
Living in light of eternity involves keeping in step with the Spirit; living under the guidance of the Spirit.
Eternal perspective should enable us to store our riches in heaven rather than on earth (Matt. 6:20).
It takes faith to live as a foreigner in the world.
- Serve the Lord with Passion–
Eternal perspective should lead us to SERVE God diligently, and with excellence; for we know our service and faithfulness will be rewarded. Such a perspective will make us serve without grumbling or seek praises from men. This eternal perspective certainly changes our perspectives on money, people, career, and work.
The hope of Christ’s return gives us the wisdom to know that we should work while it is still daytime for night is coming when there will be no opportunity to work. It teaches to maximize on every opportunity to do good to all people. If you truly have this hope it will make you invest your time in what counts eternally.
On the other hand, lack of eternal perspective makes us to live life centered on “here and now”. Such a perspective blinds us to the realities of tomorrow.
Significantly, living in light of eternity will make us WIN SOULS for Christ. Also, this hope will make us realign our purposes with God’s purposes.
- Be Watchful–
Sometimes when we think about Christ’s return the question that comes straight to our minds is “when?” I.e. when will Christ return? But every time Jesus was asked this question, he redirected it because the question misses the point. The main point/question is: how can I live now in light of Christ’s promise to return? (Ref. Acts 1:6-8).
Knowing that Christ will return in an unknown hour should cause us to live watchfully and prayerfully.
Be on guard! Be alert! (Matt 24:42-44; Mk. 13:32-36; 25:1-13).
Watch your way of life, your testimony, and your doctrine. Watch against false teachers/preachers.
“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back — whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!'” (Mark 13:35-37).
Has the hope of Christ’s return transformed the way you live your life here on earth?
Interestingly, it is said that what we think about heaven determines what we think about the present. C.S. Lewis once said, “it is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this one.”
So, when Christ returns will you be ready? Will our garment be clean? Will you wish that certain priorities in your life had changed? I want to close by saying, you have the opportunity now to live in light of the hope that Christ will return.