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Jesus May Come Today
Evangelist John R. Rice (1895 - 1980)
"Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth
come." —Matthew 24:42.
"Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man
cometh." —Matthew 24:44.
"Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of
man cometh." —Matthew 25:13.
"Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is."
"Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at
even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: lest coming
suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch."
"Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think
not." —Luke 12:40.
"Behold, the judge standeth before the door."
"Behold, I come quickly." —Revelation 22:7.
"The time is at hand." —Revelation 22:10.
"And, behold, I come quickly."
"He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so,
come, Lord Jesus." —Revelation 22:20.
I. Christ's Imminent Return Clearly Stated By Christ
Yes, JESUS may come today! The coming of Christ to the earth is
imminent: it may occur any moment, day or night!
There is not a single event prophesied in the Bible which must come to pass
before the Saviour returns. As far as we can know, no event, either political,
economic or spiritual, need occur before Jesus comes. Not another war need be
declared, not another gospel sermon preached, not another soul be saved, as far
as can be told from the Scriptures, before the Saviour comes to catch up His
saints into the air for the marriage supper in Heaven.
And I do not mean that signs of the Saviour's coming show that it is likely to
be soon. Some say that Jesus must come soon because the little modern nation
Israel is established in Palestine. I do not believe that is the restoration of
Israel promised in the Bible. I do not believe one can tell from that even
approximately when Jesus will come. I do not believe that wars, earthquakes,
dictatorships, communism, or modernism are signs that Christ will come at any
predictable time or within any given generation. My conviction is that we should
look for Christ's coming simply because He said to look for His coming.
We should not look for Christ's coming because of meteor showers or because of
numerals found in the bible and mistakenly applied to reckon when Christ will
return. The Millerites went wrong on that in 1842. We should not presume that
with a tape measure we can measure a passage in the great pyramid in Egypt and,
making an inch mean a year, find when Jesus will come. British-Israelites were
made a laughing stock by that false premise nearly twenty years ago. I know one
who thus set a date for Christ's return and is now a scoffing infidel. No, let
us stop looking in the newspapers for signs of Christ's coming and simply
believe Christ may come at any moment because He said so.
At any moment we may expect Christians to be caught up into the air to meet
Christ in the first promised phase of His second coming. We do not know when. We
bring reproach on the blessed hope by speculations, but we can watch because
Jesus said we should.
The Scriptures quoted above do not discuss any signs that might precede the
coming of Christ but rather the fact that He may come at any moment. The
Scriptures teach that Jesus might have come at any moment since He went away!
Jesus Himself taught the apostles and all the Christians then living that He
might return in their lifetime. They were commanded that He might return in
their lifetime. They were commanded and entreated earnestly to watch and pray
since they knew not the day nor the hour when the Son of man should return. At
Pentecost the promised pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles took
place and they began their witness for Christ. Since that day there has never
been a moment but what Christians ought to have expected Jesus to return as He
most certainly might have done.
All these Scriptures quoted above show that the coming of the Lord might have
been at any time from Pentecost on until now. There is not one single sign for
which Christians have needed to wait before they should expect the return of the
Saviour. And not one single event has occurred or will occur definitely enough
that any person can know the day or hour of His return.
The Bible is full of teaching about the second coming of
Christ and related events. Those of us who take the Bible literally and believe
it all and are therefore premillennialists, expecting the literal, bodily,
physical return of Christ and His reign upon earth are foretold in the
Scriptures, have much to preach. We have the great themes of the resurrection;
the rapture or meeting Christ in the air; the judgment seat of Christ; the great
tribulation; the man of sin, or Antichrist; the glorious return of Christ with
saints and angels; the battle of Armageddon; the restoration of the Jews to
Palestine; the judgment of the living nations; the millennial reign of Christ on
David's throne, etc. All these matters ought to be preached for they are clearly
taught in the Bible. But, very strangely, we often neglect the greatest theme in
connection with the Saviour's coming, and that is that His coming is imminent,
and that every Christian is commanded to watch! watch! watch! for no man knows
the day nor hour when He shall come.
Whatever Jesus taught about His second coming, the point of His message was
always this: that His coming is to be sudden, unexpected, and surprising so that
every Christian should be ready for His coming at any moment.
In the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, after thirty-five verses concerned with
the second coming, then Jesus said, "But of that day and hour knoweth no man,
no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only."
From verses 36 to 51, the last sixteen verses of the same chapter, Jesus
earnestly urges the unexpectedness and imminence of His coming. In verse 42 He
says, "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come." And in
verse 44 He says, "Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think
not the Son of man cometh."
The angels do not know when Jesus will return. Jesus Himself, while in the
flesh, did not know when He would return as He Himself said in Mark 13:32.
Then in Mark 13:33 He said, "Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when
the time is."
And in Mark 13:37 He repeats again His warning, saying: "And what I say unto you
I say unto all, Watch."
In Matthew 25:13 Jesus closes the parable of the ten virgins, saying: "Watch
therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man
In Luke 12:40, after warning Christians that they should be "like unto men that
wait for their Lord," telling them "And if he shall come in the second watch, or
come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants" (Luke
12:38), and next reminding them how a man should be constantly watching lest the
thief should break in and steal (vs. 39), then Jesus said, "Be ye therefore
ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not."
Only one honest meaning is possible in these Scriptures: Jesus may come today!
If the Bible is a trustworthy book, then Jesus might have returned even in the
lifetime of these New Testament Christians, He might have returned any time
during the centuries since then, or He may return now at any moment. If the
Father Himself has set the time, then He has not revealed it even to the angels
and certainly not to any man. He may come today. There is no other possible
meaning to these Scriptures.
He has put no promised event before the Saviour's coming. There are no
Scriptures yet to be fulfilled before Jesus comes, and we are commanded plainly,
repeatedly, insistently to watch for His coming.
If you do not believe that the coming of Christ is imminent, then you make
Christ Himself a deceiver. It would have been cruel and insincere for Jesus to
have all the apostles and New Testament Christians earnestly watching for His
return if it were already a settled fact that He could not return for thousands
of years. No, the words of Jesus were true words, and they are as good today for
us as they were the day they were uttered to the apostles. Jesus may come this
very day, yea, this very hour. We may hear the sound of the trumpet and may feel
ourselves suddenly changed and caught up to meet the Lord in the air where we
will be gathered with the saints of all ages and carried to the Father's house
of many mansions while the unsaved are left on a wicked world, turned over to
sin and to the man of sin until we shall return with Christ to reign. Today I
may see Jesus! Today I may see my mother, my father, my baby brothers! Today I
may enter into the reward of my labors. Today I may lay down my burdens, lay
down my sorrows, lay down my weaknesses, lay down my disappointments, lay down
my frail, sinful body! Today I may be clothed upon with a glorious body like
that of our Saviour! Oh! today I may see Jesus and report and bring in my
sheaves rejoicing, and kiss His dear feet! May God grant that I will not be
ashamed before Him at His coming but that I may be watching with my lamp trimmed
and burning when I hear the great shout, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye
out to meet him!" Jesus may come this very day! Hallelujah!
II. His Imminent Second Coming Illustrated By Jesus
How precious this doctrine is to the Saviour and how
important to His disciples we can see by the way He repeated it and illustrated
it. Notice the illustrations the Saviour gave.
1. The second coming will be like the flood in the days of
Jesus said: "But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the
coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood
they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day
that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took
them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." Matt. 24:37-39.
The fact of the coming flood had been clearly foretold. For one hundred years
Noah had been building an ark and preparing for the flood. You may be sure
that everybody in the inhabited portion of the earth knew of God's warning.
You could no more keep the ark a secret than if in the Panhandle of Texas or
in the mountains of Arkansas men should work for a hundred years building a
ship like the Titanic or the Queen Mary! Noah's preaching "got over" yet the
people did not know when the flood would come. They did not believe it. Noah
himself did not know when. The Lord gave no definite date. Noah went into the
ark when he was commanded, and God shut the door. Even then the flood did not
come for seven days. There were no preceding signs by which they could be sure
of the exact date of the threatened deluge, even if they had believed it was
coming, so the men of that age "were eating and drinking, marrying and giving
in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark." That is the way it
will be, the Saviour says, when He comes. People will be as unprepared and His
coming will be as sudden and unexpected.
2. The Saviour's coming is likened to the coming of the
bridegroom whose bridesmaids have been waiting until far into the night (Matt.
Some of the bridesmaids had no oil and expected their dry
wicks to burn until he came, but their lamps went out. All of them, the wise
and the foolish, those with the oil of salvation and those with only the lamps
of profession, "slumbered and slept." And then at midnight His coming was so
sudden and unexpected that those who had no oil did not have time to secure it
but were left without and missed the wedding.
And so there could be no doubt of His meaning, for the closing verse of the
parable says, "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour
wherein the Son of man cometh."
The point of the parable of the ten virgins is this, that the coming of Jesus
is imminent. He may come today, so therefore be ready.
The virgins knew the bridegroom was coming, but just when, they did not know.
He might have returned at once. They ought to have been ready at any moment.
It is strange that people would so pervert the Scriptures as to miss the very
heart of the Saviour's teaching here. Yet a few years ago the story of the ten
virgins was given in the International Sunday School Lessons but only the
first twelve verses were printed. The thirteenth verse where Jesus gives the
conclusion and lesson of the parable was omitted entirely in the Sunday School
quarterlies that I saw. The Saviour's second coming was not even mentioned!
The parable of the ten virgins is not simply a lesson on preparedness. It is a
lesson on preparedness - not for usefulness, not even for death primarily -
but preparedness for the second coming of Christ. The lesson is that Jesus may
come at any moment, so watch and be ready!
3. The second coming is as imminent as a master returning
to his home after a long journey.
Jesus used this illustration more than once. In Matthew
24:45-47 Jesus said: "Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord
hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed
is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I
say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods."
The return of such a master is imminent. That is, he ought to be expected at
any moment, and it is a faithful and wise servant who earnestly does his duty
day by day looking forward to his master's return.
But there are those who say that "my Lord delayeth His coming," and that we
ought not to expect Him momentarily now. For such the Saviour continued the
same parable in verses 48-51 as follows: "But and if that evil servant shall
say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to smite his
fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; the lord of that
servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that
he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion
with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and knashing of teeth."
This is a picture, perhaps, of an unsaved one. But the unsaved are as much
accountable to Jesus as the saved. All a sinner has he gets from God, and he
must give an account to the Lord Jesus Christ whether he loves Him or not.
This world belongs to Jesus Christ and one day He is going to claim it.
Meantime, all who read this had better be ready for Jesus to come for they
shall certainly have to give an account for their stewardship even if they
have not been converted.
And what a sad teaching this is! Don't you see that one who says in his heart,
"My lord delayeth his coming," is not right in his heart? He is not anxious
for Jesus to come, perhaps is not willing for Jesus to come, and therefore
does not watch. This Scripture indicates that it is always unbelief and sin
that keeps one from eagerly watching for Jesus to come.
Jesus taught the same matter in Mark 13:34-37, and verse 35 says, "Watch ye
therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at
midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning." Surely the coming of
Jesus may be today, may be at any moment.
The imminence of the Saviour's coming He illustrated by the unexpected thief.
In Matthew 24:43,44, Jesus said: "But know this, that if the goodman of the
house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and
would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready:
for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh."
In Luke 12:39,40, Jesus said: "And this know, that if the goodman of the house
had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have
suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the
Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not."
The coming of a thief to break in and steal is a matter that people ought
always to be forewarned and forarmed about. There is no set time for the thief
to come. He may come at any moment. Therefore every householder ought to be
prepared and constantly watching. Just so the coming of the Saviour may be at
any moment, and the only way for us to be safe from embarrassment and shame
when He comes is to be watching and ready. The saved who slumber and have
their lamps smoky will be embarrassed; the lost who have no oil of salvation
will not only be ashamed but will be left behind and will miss the wedding.
III. Sinner, Take Warning!
Let the unsaved readers observe the note of solemn warning in
all these passages where Jesus spoke of His coming. Every time He mentions that
we should watch because He might return any hour of any day there is a thrill of
joy for the Christian, and yet there is a solemn and fearful thought for the
"As the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be," Jesus
said. And remember that all the world, except eight souls, perished in that
terrible flood because of their wickedness of which they did not repent!
And when Jesus spoke of the return of a master to call his servants to account
after a long absence, He warned of the fearful punishment that would befall the
unfaithful servant who began to eat and drink with the drunken and to beat the
other servants, etc. The coming of Christ for His saints will be a sad day for
every unsaved soul.
His coming is likened unto a thief in the night, and like the householder who,
being not ready, has his home broken up and his goods stolen, so every sinner
who has not trusted Christ will find himself bereft of the most precious things
in this world - his loved ones who are Christians. Many a man will have mother,
father, wife, babies or dear friends taken away in an instant, and he be left to
face a world gone mad in sin with every single Christian removed at one stroke!
Some few will be saved during the great tribulation, but even then they cannot
miss the tribulation. Some of the virgins who had no oil in their lamps may go
back and get oil, but when they come to knock at the door where the wedding is,
they will find the door is shut and they are left outside. Some will be saved, I
say, during the great tribulation, but at what terrible cost! With churches
closed, preachers gone, loved ones gone, they will be left as poor, crying babes
in a wilderness of sin without a single man of God to teach them, without an
older Christian to comfort them or give them strength.
And saddest of all is this fact: when Christ comes and takes away all His
saints, then most of the good influences will be taken out of this world and
most of those who reject Christ will then plunge headlong into such sin as they
never before dreamed of. The Antichrist will be so deceptive and his power so
terrible that few will oppose him. None can buy or sell without taking his mark,
and those who take his mark will never be saved. Many of those who are saved
will endure the fiercest persecution, hunted like wild beasts and put to death
for the cause of Christ. Those who are unsaved when Jesus comes for His saints,
will be left behind and most of them then will never, never, never turn to
Christ for salvation.
You who read these lines, then, make sure that you are saved now for Jesus may
come today. It is terribly dangerous for any unsaved sinner to live one day
without Christ. It will be a thousandfold more dangerous to go into the great
tribulation without Jesus when all the saints have been taken out at the coming
of the Saviour.
IV. Objections Answered
Here I can imagine that some reader says, "I know that the
words of Jesus seem to teach that He may return at any time. But certain other
Scriptures appear to contradict that." Some good Christian people do not
understand certain passages of Scripture relating to the Second Coming, and so
stumble at this blessed teaching that the Saviour may return at any moment.
Therefore they do not constantly watch as He commanded. They miss the joy of
"the blessed hope."
However, since the Bible never contradicts itself, it will not be difficult to
reconcile these Scriptures, and that I will try to do and show that there is no
prophesied event to come before the return of Christ.
1. It is sometimes said that the gospel must first be
preached to all the world before Jesus comes; that He cannot return for His
saints until the evangelization of the world is completed.
The Scripture quoted for this is Matthew 24:14: "And this gospel of the
kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and
then shall the end come."
The mistake here is in supposing that "the end" is the coming of Christ to
take away His saints. Rather, "the end" is the end of the tribulation time. In
the same passage, verse 8 tells about "the beginning of sorrows," which I
believe is the time just after the rapture of the saints. Verse 21 in the same
passage says: "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the
beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be."
Remember that there are two phases of the coming of Christ. First, He will
come into the air and call out His saints to meet Him. This is the first part
of His coming, the part always referred to by Jesus when He said, "Watch,
therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man
cometh" and made similar statements. Then on the earth there will intervene
the seventieth or last "week" of Daniel's prophecy (Dan. 9:24-27). On the
earth then there will be "the beginning of sorrows," and in the last half of
the "week," three and one half years of great tribulation while the Antichrist
rules the world. Then Christ will return from Heaven, coming literally in the
clouds with the saints and angels to fight the battle of Armageddon, destroy
the kingdoms of the Antichrist, and reign upon earth. During the great
tribulation this gospel of the kingdom will be preached to all the world and
then will come the end of the tribulation in the battle of Armageddon when
Christ comes to set up His kingdom. That is what Matthew 24:14 means. The
gospel or good news of the coming reign of Christ will be preached by a newly
converted remnant in all the world after Christ comes and takes away His
But in any case, the gospel has already been preached "in all the world for a
witness unto all nations." At Pentecost we are told that "there were dwelling
at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven," that is,
those who had come to abide there temporarily during the feast, probably from
the time of the Passover through Pentecost. We are told that these heard the
gospel by the Spirit-filled Christians and they were "out of every nation
At a Bible Conference where I answered many Bible questions, came a
full-blooded Indian from Oklahoma who asked for an interview. He had heard me
on the radio and was sent by his tribe from northern Oklahoma to ask me this
question. Opening his Bible to this verse, Acts 2:5, he said, "My people want
to know if any of those devout Jews were from America, among the Indians and
prehistoric races in America at that time." His question certainly astonished
me, and for a time I did not know what to answer. He continued to tell me how
traditions had come down through the years from father to son among his people
about God, the creation, the flood, and even some faint glimmer of ideas about
the Christ. All I could tell him was that I believed the statement of the
Scriptures, though I did not know whether the Scripture meant that there were
Jews present who had lived among the American Indians or not. In any case, the
gospel was preached to representatives in all the world when it was preached
Again we are told about the church at Rome that "your faith is spoken of
throughout the whole world" (Rom. 1:8), and Paul wrote to the Colossians about
"The gospel; which is come unto you, as it is in all the world" (Col. 1:5,6).
So the gospel has already been preached in all the world. Even if Matthew
24:14 referred to this age, then it has already been fulfilled. We ought to do
all we can to get the gospel to every creature, but the second coming of
Christ need not be delayed awaiting evangelization of the world. Jesus may
come at any moment. No prophesied event is to intervene before the coming of
Christ to take away His saints.
2. Some people believe that the coming of the man of sin,
the son of perdition, or Antichrist, must precede the coming of Christ.
They have in mind the warning of II Thessalonians 2:1-3 as
follows: "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus
Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in
mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from
us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means:
for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that
man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition."
The above Scripture plainly warns that "the day of Christ" is not "at hand."
Some had evidently written in Paul's name, and others had evidently quoted
Paul as saying that the day of Christ was at hand, that is, impending soon.
Paul urged them not to be deceived since this day of Christ cannot come until
there comes a great falling away and the man of sin or son of perdition (the
Antichrist) be revealed.
But we must not confuse "the day of Christ" and the coming of Christ for His
saints. The day of Christ here means the same as "the day of the Lord," a term
used many, many times throughout the Bible. That term refers always to that
future time when Christ will visibly, bodily, personally and literally return
to the earth, destroy the armies of the Antichrist at the battle of Armageddon
and set up His throne at Jerusalem and there begin His millennial reign. "The
day of Christ" or "the day of the Lord" includes all the millennial reign of
Christ until He shall turn the kingdom over to His Father. The day or period
of Christ means the time of His rule. But the term, "the day of the Lord," or
of Christ, never refers to Christ's coming into the air as a Bridegroom for
His bride when the Christian dead will be raised and living Christians will be
changed and all caught out together to meet Christ in the air. The rapture,
the hope of the church when we will be caught out with Jesus for a honeymoon
in our Father's house of many mansions which Jesus is now preparing for us,
comes before "the day of Christ" or "the day of the Lord." After Christ takes
out His saints, and the Holy Spirit who makes His abode in the bodies of the
saints is taken away, then the man of sin will be revealed and will run his
short and terrible course. The Holy Spirit who dwells in Christians now
hinders the man of sin so that he does not appear and is not revealed to the
world as yet. But as soon as we are taken out, then the man of sin will be
revealed. Following him then will come the day of the Lord or the day of
The coming of Christ to the earth when His feet shall stand on the Mount of
Olives, when He shall fight the battle of Armageddon and sit on His throne at
Jerulsalem is NOT imminent. The coming of Christ into the air to call out His
saints, both living and dead, to meet Him, IS imminent. With this in mind, you
can see that this passage of Scripture does not contradict the many plain
passages where the Saviour warns us that His coming will be like a thief in
the night or like the flood on the unsuspecting wicked in Noah's day, or like
the unexpected return of the master to judge his servants after a long
After the Rapture of the saints, then there is a well-defined train of events
foretold in the Bible, and those on the earth may know if they will read the
Word of God about when the Saviour will return to destroy the man of sin and
set up His kingdom. They may know about when the day of the Lord will come.
But before that is the sudden coming of Jesus into the air for which all of us
are to watch earnestly since no one knows that day nor the hour and since He
may come at any moment.
After studying the Scriptures which prove the imminence of Christ's coming, it
becomes evident that the saints must be called out of this world before the
great tribulation. In order that the rapture may be the great surprise which
is foretold in the Scripture, then the rapture of the saints must be the next
event prophesied in the Bible. It must come before the battle of Armageddon,
come before the reign of the man of sin, or the great tribulation time. The
thing that every Christian should watch for next is not the appearing of the
Antichrist, not the restoration of the Roman Empire, not the mark of the
Beast, not the great tribulation, not the last great war and battle of
Armageddon, and not the reign of Christ at Jerusalem; but the coming of Christ
for His saints.
V. New Testament Christians Expected Christ to Come in
We have given about many of the plain statements of Jesus in
the gospels concerning His imminent coming, but the rest of the New Testament is
equally clear. New Testament Christians expected Jesus to come at any moment.
The people at Corinth were "waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" as
the Apostle Paul wrote by divine inspiration (I Cor. 1:7). The people of
Thessalonica "turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; and to
wait for His Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which
delivered us from the wrath to come" (I Thess. 1:9,10). After people were saved
in New Testament times, Paul properly taught them to be looking for and waiting
for the coming of the Saviour! They knew His coming might be at any moment.
Writing to the Philippians, Paul said, "For our conversation is in heaven; from
whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our
vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body..." (Phil.
3:20,21). Paul himself was continually looking for the coming of the Saviour. He
had in mind here the time of the rapture when he would have a changed body,
caught out to meet Christ.
To Paul was given the highest revelations in New Testament times, we suppose. He
wrote fourteen books of the Bible (if we include as his the book of Hebrews,
which I think we should). He was not only a great teacher, but was himself so
filled with the Spirit that he was caught up into the third Heaven and received
revelations that were not lawful to utter. He was the most used of God of any
New Testament character, and will meet more souls whom he won to Christ than any
other apostle. And it was constantly in the mind of Paul that Jesus would come,
possibly in his lifetime, so he looked for Him steadily.
When Paul wrote about the rapture of the saints, that event when Christ comes
into the air to receive His own, he wrote of himself as being among the living.
In I Thessalonians 4:15 he said, "We which are alive and remain unto the coming
of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep."
"We which are alive and remain!" Paul expected to be alive and remain until
Jesus came. Again in the seventeenth verse of the same passage he said, "Then we
which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds,
to meet the Lord in the air." The Christian dead are mentioned in the third
person, but the living are mentioned in the plural, first person. It was Paul's
confident hope, nay, his expectation, that he should be living when Jesus should
come. That is how clearly the apostles were taught the imminency of Christ's
return. They knew that He might return any moment.
Likewise, in I Corinthians 15:51,52 Paul says: "Behold, I shew you a mystery; We
shall not all sleep, but WE shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling
of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be
raised incorruptible, and WE shall be changed."
Again Paul spoke of the dead in the third person, "The dead shall be raised,"
but he spoke of himself with all the living, saying, "And we shall be changed."
Again you notice that this is the time of the rapture when Christ calls His
saints out to meet Him in the air. He is not speaking of the day of the Lord, a
little later when Christ returns with all the saints to destroy the Antichrist
and reign on the earth.
In James, the fifth chapter, are several references to the coming of Jesus as if
He might come at any moment. To Jewish Christians scattered abroad, the inspired
writer says, "Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord"
(verse 7). In verse 8 he says, "The coming of the Lord draweth nigh. In verse 9
he says, "Behold, the judge standeth before the door." These statements would
only be true for that generation (or for any other generation, for that matter),
if Jesus might be expected at any moment. It is the clear testimony of all the
New Testament that we should expect Him at that hour or any time since the time
of the apostles.
The imminency of the coming of the Saviour, and of course of the things that
follow, are clearly taught by the Apostle Peter. In I Peter 4:7, we are told,
"But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto
prayer." We are reminded of the exhortation of Jesus to "watch therefore, for ye
know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh." The coming of
the Saviour was at hand in the sense that He might come at any moment; and in
the same sense His coming is still at hand.
The book of Second Peter was written primarily with this in mind to stir up the
people, reminding them of the promises of the apostles and prophets concerning
the coming of the Saviour. Here is what that book says: "This second epistle,
beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of
remembrance: that ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the
holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and
Saviour: knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers,
walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming?
for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the
beginning of the creation" - II Pet. 3:1-4.
And then follows in verse 9 the inspired explanation of why the coming of Christ
has been postponed.
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but
is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all
should come to repentance."
The coming of the Lord is at hand: it is only God's mercy that delays His coming
so that others may be saved!
One should notice, too, that it is scoffers and unbelievers who will not believe
that the Saviour is likely to come soon. These scoffers and unbelievers walk
after their own lusts (verse 3) and do not believe in direct creation and other
miracles of God (verse 5). Dear reader, do not put yourself among these
scoffers! Believe the Word of God that Jesus is coming. We believe He is coming
very soon; we know that He may come at any moment.
VI. The Closing Testimony of the Bible
Today I have been greatly impressed with the powerful
exhortation given us in the last chapter of the Bible concerning the coming of
the Saviour. Here God's revelation to man is finished; the canon of Scripture is
closed. And in the last chapter of Revelation at least five times we are warned
that the Saviour is likely to come at any moment. Verse 6 says, "These sayings
are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to
shew unto his servants the things WHICH MUST SHORTLY BE DONE."
Any honest interpretation of that verse must agree that it means the events
pictured in Revelation must shortly be fulfilled, that is, every reader should
look forward and expect Him soon. And remember that the next thing on God's
calendar is the coming of the Saviour to take away His saints.
And then in verse 7 the Saviour said, "BEHOLD, I COME QUICKLY: blessed is he
that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book."
Jesus is coming quickly. Is not that meant for a warning that you must be ready?
Does not that mean that Jesus is likely to come at any moment? Unless this Bible
is a fraud we must understand it so. The time is not named, but we are warned to
be on our guard, to watch and be ready.
Again, in verse 10 the Lord said, "Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this
book: for THE TIME IS AT HAND."
The time is at hand!" That is what Peter said (I Pet. 4:7). The coming of the
Saviour is at hand.
Then in verse 12 we are warned again, "AND, BEHOLD, I COME QUICKLY; and my
reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be."
And then the last verse in the Bible besides the closing benediction is verse 20
which says, "He which testifieth these things saith, SURELY I COME QUICKLY.
Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus."
Conclusion: Are You Ready?
Quickly! Quickly! QUICKLY! Jesus is coming quickly! He may
come at any moment; it seems certain that He will come soon. Brother, are you
I beg every Christian to lay aside the cares and covetousness and pleasure of
this world that would prevent you from being happy if Jesus should come today.
Here we must return to the words of the Saviour in Luke 21:34-36.
"And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with
surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon
you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of
the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted
worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to sand before
the Son of man."
Notice these commands, "Take heed to yourselves." "Your heart will be
overcharged with the eating and drinking, and the cares of this life, and so
that day will come upon you unawares," the Saviour said, "if you do not beware."
"Watch ye therefore, and pray always" is the next command of Jesus. Christians
are to take heed about their lives. They are to watch hopefully, expectantly for
the Saviour's coming, and they are to pray often for His coming. Jesus gave it
in the model prayer, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in
heaven." That prayer asks for the return of Jesus and for His kingdom and all
the related events. And John, the beloved disciple, as allowed to use the
impassioned and Spirit-directed prayer of his heart when he cried out, "Even so,
come, Lord Jesus" (Rev. 22:20). So, Christians, take heed, watch and pray. Do
not lose your testimony. Do not be too busy about making money. Do not get too
absorbed in pleasure. Do not eat too much or drink too much. God will destroy
both the belly and the meats, Paul says. Rather, look for Jesus and live a pure
life and win souls so you will not be ashamed before Him at His coming.
And, sinner, are you ready for Jesus to come? If not, only one thing will make
you ready, and that is for you to trust Him today to forgive you, surrender your
whole heart to Him, claim Him as your Saviour! Do it today! Make sure of it
while you can, and then you, too, can join in the happy watching for the coming
of the Saviour.
One night at the close of a service I went down a darkened aisle to prepare for
a baptizing while the people waited. A woman seized my sleeve and stopped me.
With quivering lips and broken voice she said, "Brother Rice, do you believe
Jesus is coming soon?"
I answered back, "Yes, I believe that Jesus is coming soon: I ought to believe
it much more than I do. There are many people who think so. Certainly the Bible
teaches He may come at any moment."
"Oh! I am afraid He is! I am afraid He is!" she said. I was startled and asked
her the reason why she, a Christian, should talk this way. I said, "Don't you
know you are saved? Haven't you trusted Jesus for forgiveness?"
"Oh, yes," she said, "but my husband is not saved. I am afraid that Jesus will
come and leave him behind. What will I do if Jesus comes and my husband isn't
saved and I have to go away and leave him?" I earnestly urged her to put the
salvation of her husband's soul before everything else.
Do you believe that Jesus is coming? Then the way to prove it is to win souls,
separate yourself from the wickedness of this world and let your light shine
while you can.
When I used to play college football, the referee would call to the captains of
the opposing teams,
"Are you ready, Decatur?" "Are you ready, Denton?"
And then the whistle would blow. So with an earnest heart I call today to every
"Are you ready, Christian?" "Are you ready, sinner?"
"Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of
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