From the first two parts of this series it is abundantly clear from God’s Word that both Jesus and Paul taught that Jesus could return at any time and that his second coming was, and remains, imminent. In order to get a complete picture we now need to turn to the books from Hebrews to Revelation.
The writer to the Hebrews urged them to be in fellowship “as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). Once again it is clear that those who were alive at that time were being encouraged that the Lord could appear in their lifetime. The writer was even more explicit when he said: “For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry” (Hebrews 10:37). The message to the Hebrews was exactly the same as the rest of the New Testament: Jesus’ return is imminent.
James said: “…for the coming of the Lord is at hand… Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!” (James 5:7&9). This means exactly what it says: The Lord is at the door. He is about to enter the scene at any moment.
Peter confirms: “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers” (1Peter 4:7). Literally, the end of the world can happen at any moment now! Peter continues: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise... But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night… what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? …Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation–as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you” (2Peter 3:9-15).
In his epistles John urged the believers of the first century to be ready: “…when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1John 3:2-3).
As we turn to the book of Revelation, we need to remember that the book was written first to the seven churches of Asia in 96 A.D. It was secondly written to all who would come after them – including us. So, while the book is prophetic, its statements, messages and warnings are relevant and applicable to everyone until the Lord’s actual arrival:
· “Behold, I am coming quickly!” (Revelation 3:11)
· “Behold, I am coming quickly!” (Revelation 22:7)
· “…the time is at hand.” (Revelation 22:10)
· “And behold, I am coming quickly.” (Revelation 22:12-13)
· “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20)
The word “quickly” above is the Greek word “tachu” and it means quickly, speedily and without delay.
The conclusion is that the idea of the Lord Jesus returning at any moment is not a doctrine based on one or two verses. This is taught throughout the New Testament. Every writer of the New Testament warns and encourages that the Lord could come today. Every one of the over 40 texts I have quoted in these three articles are simple and straightforward in their message. It is impossible to understand these verses as saying anything other than the Lord’s return is imminent.
The only way anyone can reject the idea of imminence is by rejecting the inerrancy, inspiration, authority, and plain meaning of Scripture. There is no other way. One so-called “teacher of prophecy” explains these texts this way: “The apostles were confused in their thinking and they did not understand that the Lord would not come till much later.” What this man says is that the Bible is flawed and men wrote the Bible out of their confused and limited minds; therefore nothing of the Bible can be trusted and it is not the infallible Word of God. NO, a thousand times NO! The authors wrote the Bible by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and every word is the Word of God and is the truth (2Timothy 3:16; 2Peter 1:21). There are no mistakes in the Bible. No matter whether it was Paul, James, Peter or John who wrote, they wrote by the Holy Spirit, and what is written is the truth.
Even if you reject the testimony of Paul, James, Peter and John you still have to deal with the many direct statements of Jesus, in the Gospels and in Revelation, that He is coming quickly, suddenly, and at an unexpected time. You cannot reject imminence and claim to believe the Bible – it is logically impossible.
Neither can you read “death” into these verses. Jesus did not say, “You will see me soon in death.” He said “I am coming quickly.” There is a huge difference. Yes, we can die at any moment, but it takes a lot of mental gymnastics and twisting of Scripture to read death into “coming.” Death, by definition is “going” (to be with Him), it is not Him “coming.”
I think you can see to what lengths men will go to strip the Bible of uncomfortable doctrines and truths that conflict with their manmade doctrines.
Only one question remains: “Do you believe the Scriptures?” If you do, you have no choice but to believe that the Lord Jesus could come today, without delay and without warning. Therefore, “what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? …Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation–as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you.” (2Peter 3:11-15).
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon