Is the return of Christ truly imminent?
The term "imminent" refers to "any moment." Is the return of Christ really an imminent event that could happen at any time, even today?
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When Jesus prepared to leave this world, His spoke of His return. However, He also stated He did not know the "day or hour" (Mark 13:32). Instead, His followers were to live prepared, because He could return at any time.
Where does the Bible say Jesus will return at any time? In John 14, Jesus taught, "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also" (v. 3). Jesus will return just as He ascended, coming back for His people (Acts 1:11).
First Corinthians 15:51–52 states, "Behold! I tell 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 trumpet." Paul clearly believed and taught that some believers will be alive when Jesus returns. In a "moment" we will be changed.
First Thessalonians 4:16–17 teaches, "For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord." Paul believed he could be among those who would be taken alive with Christ into heaven. He did not know the time, but lived as if Christ could return any moment.
Three specific applications can be found in the New Testament based on these teachings. First, we are to make sure we know Christ. If Christ will return at any moment, we cannot wait to believe; we are called to do so today. Second Peter 3:9 teaches, "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance."
Second, we are called to live holy lives. Second Peter 3:14 shares, "Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace."
Third, we are called to share Christ with others. The Great Commission calls us to make disciples of all nations: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20). The Bible both teaches Jesus will return any time and instructs us regarding how to live as a result.
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