Spirituality and Faith – Are you ready for Jesus to come back?
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Are you ready for Jesus to come back?
Biblical scholars, as well as secular scholars, pastors and nearly everyone under the sun have thoughts, ideas and theories related to the return of Christ.
Edgar C. Whisenant (September 25, 1932 – May 16, 2001) was a former NASA engineer and Bible student who predicted the rapture would occur in 1988, sometime between September 11 and September 13. He published two books related to this subject: “88 Reasons why the Rapture Will be in 1988” and “On Borrowed Time.” Eventually, 300,000 copies of “88 Reasons” were mailed free of charge to ministers across America, and 4.5 million copies were sold in bookstores and elsewhere. Whisenant was quoted as saying, “Only if the Bible is in error am I wrong, and I say that to every preacher in town.”
Whisenant’s predictions were taken seriously in some parts of the evangelical Christian community. As the date approached, regular programming on the Christian Trinity Broadcast Network (TBN) was interrupted to provide special instructions on preparing for the rapture.
When the predicted rapture failed to occur, Whisenant followed up with later books with predictions for various dates in 1989, 1993 and 1994. These books did not sell in quantity. Whisenant continued to issue various rapture predictions through 1997, but gathered little attention.
Paul’s final instructions, found in I Thessalonians, to the church were not concerning when or how this second coming of Christ will happen, for we know that the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, “like a thief in the night.” (I Thessalonians 5:1-2)
The apostle Paul focuses on what we should be doing with the time we have left. He begins by reminding us to live peacefully with each other.
“Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.” – I Thessalonians 5:11-13 (KJV)
He challenges us to see there are people desperate for the healing power and love of Jesus. If we are too lazy or timid in sharing our faith and using the gifts God has given us, we are missing the point of being prepared. Far worse is we are too busy quarreling and causing others to have stumbling blocks in the way of meeting Jesus.
We must use the time we have, the energy we have, to “warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the meek, [and] be patient with everyone.” By following these words, we are living out the calling to invite as many as possible into a relationship with Jesus before He returns.
“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.” – I Thessalonians 5:14-15 (KJV)
Lastly, Paul asks us to consider if there is anything in our lives we would regret not repenting of, if there is a relationship needing to be righted, or sin we know we need to turn from. He encourages us to realize the time to do so is now!
If we have a relationship with Jesus, we do not have to be scared about Jesus’ return. Yet, we do and should be prepared. He could return at any moment, at any time. His return will be like a thief in the night.
It is not as much about how or when Jesus will return for His people, but it is about how we best use the time we have left. We must live for Jesus and bring as many people to Him as possible.
And there is not time to waste.
Until next time…
Dr. Jeff Fuller is pastor of Rockford Baptist Church. You may reach him through the church office at 256-377-4900 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.