The end times is a hot topic. For some, it floods them with fear, doubt, and worry. For others, the return of Christ inspires a sense of hope, mystery, and awe. But for all, the day is unknown.
Matthew 24:36 says, "But about that day or hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." Only God knows the day of Christ's return.
In Matthew 24:3, the disciples asked Jesus, "When will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"
The kind of persecution Jesus predicted isn't coming—it's already here.
Jesus replied in Matthew 24:4-14:
Persecution is happening on an unprecedented global scale today. In 2016, for the third year in a row, persecution of Christians was at an all-time high. This year alone, 215 million Christians experienced extreme persecution for their faith. In fact, 1 in every 12 Christians lives in an "area or culture in which Christianity is illegal, forbidden, or punished." The kind of persecution Jesus predicted isn't coming—it's already here.
Wars are constantly inundating the news, whether internal strife right here at home or conflicts overseas. Famines and earthquakes are a regular scourge on the earth. And false teachers continue to twist the Gospel of Jesus Christ for their own personal gain. All of these circumstances are just the beginning of what Jesus called "birth pains" (v. 8)—signs that His coming is drawing closer. Since we don't know when Jesus is coming, we need to be always ready, for He has promised He is coming soon (see Revelation 22:7, 12).
Are you ready for that day?
Throughout His Word, God has given us promises to encourage and hearten us as we await the return of His Son. These promises are more profitable for our Christian living than the most detailed analyses and interpretations of end-times prophecy because they are clear in Scripture. God has said plainly what we need to know in order to live righteously as we anticipate the hope of glory and the righting of all wrong. He wants us to focus on what really matters.
Jesus will return.
Though even Jesus didn't know the exact time of His return, just as God sent His Son to earth through the miraculous virgin birth, so Jesus will come again in a miraculous way—to gather all who believe in Him and take them to their heavenly home.
When Jesus descends to earth, it will be bright, glorious, and impossible to miss (see Matthew 24:30). "He will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds" (24:31). And eternity with Christ will begin for all the children of God.
"So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him" (Hebrews 9:28).
Jesus is coming back; you can count on it. Are you waiting for Him?
Those who welcome Christ as their Lord and Savior here and now will be welcomed in heaven when He returns.
First of all, God wants us to know that there is only one way of salvation: Jesus Christ. "Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12). So, for every person who welcomes the Son, Christ has prepared a room in the Father's house (see John 14:2-4). Can you think of anything better than being welcomed into heaven after your time here on earth? Dr. Youssef describes it as "a place of unimaginable exhilaration, where we will be able to visit the far reaches of our vast universe, experience emotions we can't even imagine right now, and engage our resurrection minds and resurrection bodies in adventures that are infinitely beyond anything we have ever known in this life" (End Times and the Secret of the Mahdi, 178). It will be a place where "there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain," but where the King is making all things new (Revelation 21:4-5).
"The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever" (Revelation 11:15).
If you welcome the Lord into your life every day, He will welcome you into His Kingdom forever.
Jesus will be the judge, and He will judge everyone who refused to accept Him as the only Savior and Lord.
God "wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4). He wants everyone to end up in heaven. So, through Christ, He has given every soul the chance to come to Him. However, God is a just God; He will not leave sin unpunished. We either receive the grace of God and Christ's propitiation for our sins or stand condemned (see John 3:16-18; Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2).
One day, the door of salvation will shut, and the opportunity to receive Christ will pass. For, Jesus will return at the Day of Judgment to exact justice (see Isaiah 26:21). He is the one lawgiver and judge who has the power to save and to destroy (see John 8:24; Revelation 20:11-15).
All who call on His name, trusting in His atoning blood, will be saved. And this knowledge must fuel us to compassionately and humbly share the Gospel with the lost, remembering the grace we have received (see 1 Peter 4:17-18). But it also comforts us when we endure evil in the world and when wrong seems to prevail. The Lord's promise of justice frees us to humbly love others and leave vengeance to Him.
"For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad" (2 Corinthians 5:10).The end is near—are you urgently sharing the Gospel?
When Jesus appears, those of us who love Him will be with Him.
God wants us to depend on Him. He desires a connection with us that is consistent and never fading—that is eternal. It is exactly because of His amazing love that He made a way of peace for us, a way of salvation and reconciliation.
Through Jesus' sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection from the dead, He secured our right to be called children of God if only we trust in Him and receive the gift of His grace. And when He returns, He will usher His bride, His faithful church, into the New Jerusalem where we will dwell with God for eternity (see Revelation 22:1-5).
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
The end is simple for believers—you will be with Jesus for all eternity.
So how do we live in light of these promises?
The Bible details how the hope of Christ's return should compel us to live today:
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will" (Romans 12:2).
"Therefore as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience" (Colossians 3:12).
"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" (Ephesians 4:32).
God's Word is a timeless instruction manual, a gift from God, to answer your questions and lead you in the way everlasting. When you use it, you change—you transform day by day into the likeness of Christ. For, "we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:18).
So, while we wait for the fulfillment of the promise of Christ's second coming, while we anticipate and contemplate His glory (and our own through Him), let us grow daily in faith and godliness for our good and the furthering of His Kingdom. This is how we are called to live now and forever.