There is much to say about Jesus, far more than we’ve covered in this section of our basic review of Christian faith. Our encouragement is to read the Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John for yourself. Even John admitted, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.” (John 21:25, NASB95) But there is one more important topic we must consider – Jesus’ return.
Much ink and angst have been spilled concerning Christ’s second coming. The when, how, who, and where have been pondered, discussed, and argued over for two thousand years. To be honest, it’s not vital to have it all figured out and perfectly fine to say “I don’t know” concerning those questions. Three things are certain, Jesus will return, everyone alive at the time will know it, and fake Christ’s will claim to be him.
Jesus himself taught, ““But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. “And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. “And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” (Matthew 24:29–31, NASB95)
Jesus will return. When? I don’t know – only the God the Father knows when that day will be. Since the time of Jesus’ ascension following His resurrection, Jesus’ followers have lived and served in the tension of the unknowable when and the expectation of “any day now.” We embrace that tension by preparing to labor long in the Kingdom and living as if He will return today. Perhaps the best parable to understand this attitude is the Parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25:1-13.
Ten virgins waited for the bridegroom to return. Five thought ahead and brought along extra oil for the lamps, five did not. When the bridegroom was delayed the lamps of the foolish five began to go out. They ran to the oil vendors but were locked out the wedding celebration when they returned. The Parable ends, ““Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ “But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ “Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.” (Matthew 25:11–13, NASB95) Prepare for a lifetime, live like it’s today.
The second sure thing is that everyone will know when Jesus returns. Many have argued concerning how all the pieces fall together. Post-trib, mid-trib, pre-trib rapture? When the tribulation begins and the millennium reign happens. Folks on all sides have taught with certainty that they have it all figured out. I can tell you this – it is one of them, but I have no idea which. What I do know with certainty is if we’re alive when Christ returns we’ll know He’s here. It will not be in secret or hidden or only revealed to a few select folks.
The article of faith is that Jesus is returning. The rapture, the timing, all the point of prophecy found in Daniel and Revelation can be probed for understanding, but having one view or the other should never divide Christians. Remember, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9, NASB95) So, instead of burning resources worrying about the end times lets invest resources pursuing what is on God’s heart.
The final sure thing is that many will come in Christ name either proclaiming to be him or to know something no one else does. Jesus warned, ““Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him. “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. “Behold, I have told you in advance.” (Matthew 24:23–25, NASB95) Signs and wonders are not the final proofs of faith or anointing or God’s endorsement. This doesn’t mean that God doesn’t supernaturally move or that we shouldn’t ask God to supernaturally move in the circumstances of our lives. Mature faith trusts God first and always without falling for the slick tricks of those wolves.
Navigating this requires wisdom. It is not wise to negate all signs and wonders. Nor is it prudent to elevate those who make such claims. Ask these questions. Who are they really lifting up? Jesus or themselves? Christ or their ministry? God or their “special anointing?” Who really gets the glory? If there is any doubt, then run the other way. The falseness is that of being special and drawing people for themselves instead of humbly pointing folks to Jesus.
Jesus will return. Let’s keep our hand to the plow until He does.
This is the final entry for this section of The Basics. We barely scratched the surface concerning Jesus but sought to identify vital points of faith. In our next section, we look at salvation itself.