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Fearing Christ’s return as a Christian

Christ the Redeemer
Christ the Redeemer during sunrise in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 2, 2016. |

God used the teaching of Bible prophecy to bring me to Himself. As an engineering student in college, I was blown away by the statistical impossibilities of the Old Testament predictions of Christ’s first coming happening by chance, with God opening my eyes to the fact that “No prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God" (2 Peter 1:21).

My jaw dropped even further when I became educated to the fact that just 20 percent of the Old Testament prophets spoke about His first coming, but 80 percent speak to His second coming. Moreover, there are 1,500 passages in the Old Testament that refer to Christ’s second coming, and one out of every 25 verses in the New Testament refer to Jesus’ return.

The study of Bible prophecy and the second coming became a special area of joy and study for me, and I woke up every day praying, “Maranatha” (1 Cor. 16:22; “O Lord come”). Chances are, as a Christian, you do the same.

Scripture testifies to the fact that, as believers, we should be “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:13) and “awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:7).

The Bible tells us we ought to join with John in saying, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20) because “our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20) and “in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8).

The intensity of this desire is made especially strong when we observe the upside-down world in which we now live.

Today our society vilifies law enforcement and celebrates lawbreakers, imprisons the innocent and releases criminals, murders babies in the womb and lets killers go free, feigns respect for women while letting biological males into their bathrooms, disrespects strong work ethics, and coddles the lazy, shirks responsibility and embraces victim mentalities, preaches justice while committing injustice through mob-driven tactics, prioritizes gender-neutral toy aisles over stopping rampant business theft, decries racism with its mouth while promoting it through its actions, steals from others in the name of "equity," censors truth while promoting lies, and cancels anyone with an opposing view.

Our culture is summed up well by Paul’s simple statement, “whose glory is in their shame” (Phil. 3:19).

Given all this, how could any believer not pray every hour for Christ to come back? And yet, let me explain why there’s a growing part of me that has great trepidation about Christ’s return.  

The dark side of the second coming

The best passage that sums up the unease I have about the second coming is from the Old Testament book of Amos:

“Alas, you who are longing for the day of the Lord,
For what purpose will the day of the Lord be to you?
It will be darkness and not light;
As when a man flees from a lion
And a bear meets him,
Or goes home, leans his hand against the wall
And a snake bites him.
Will not the day of the Lord be darkness instead of light,
Even gloom with no brightness in it?” (5:18-20).

Amos portrays some in Israel as eagerly anticipating the Messiah’s arrival, not knowing that it would be a day of terror for them. Paul references this group of people when he writes, “For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants” (Rom. 9:6-7).

The New Testament version of this is Jesus’ final discourse in the Sermon on the Mount: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” (Matt 7:21-23).

The Bible’s words on this subject send a strong shiver down my spine. The reason is, if you’re like me, you know people who the puritan Matthew Mead calls “The Almost Christian.” They count themselves as believers when in reality their house is built on the sand (Matt. 7:26-27).

They think that because of who they are (like Israel) or what they’ve supposedly done (works salvation) they will be welcomed by God into His kingdom. But in a horrifying turn of events, their house of cards will collapse, and “destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape” (2 Thess. 5:3).

While I’ve looked heavenward a lot and asked, “What are you waiting for?”, these days I have more appreciation for what Peter says in his second letter: “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 Pet. 3:9).

I fully believe in the sovereignty of God and Jesus’ words, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me” (John 6:37). That said, I’m more spurned on than ever to evangelize the lost, especially those who think they are born again but are self-deceived.

Today, as always, there are two types of people in the world: those with their judgment behind them and those with their judgment ahead of them. While I still hope for Christ’s return each day, I also have great fear for those who don’t know Jesus but think they do.

I hope you’ll join with me in relaying to the “almost Christian” the important warnings and examples we find in Scripture about the day of the Lord so they obtain a true saving faith: “See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven” (Heb. 12:25).  

Robin Schumacher is an accomplished software executive and Christian apologist who has written many articles, authored and contributed to several Christian books, appeared on nationally syndicated radio programs, and presented at apologetic events. He holds a BS in Business, Master's in Christian apologetics and a Ph.D. in New Testament. His latest book is, A Confident Faith: Winning people to Christ with the apologetics of the Apostle Paul.

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