Christ’s Return: A Matter of When or What?
Posted by June 10, 2020on
As the world continues to be turned upside down, Christians may be wondering when Christ will return. But is there another, more important question to be asking?
According to various Hollywood predictions of the future, we should all be driving flying cars or having duels in the Thunderdome with Mad Max. Or—take your pick—experiencing a zombie apocalypse, robot uprisings or Star Trek’s ever optimistic United Federation of Planets.
Such predictions about the future always seem to be wrong, either putting things off that are inevitable or predicting things much sooner than is realistic.
But some predictions from entertainment have come true. We do have video conferencing (thankfully, especially in current circumstances), self-driving cars and artificial intelligence. There are immersive online worlds, online currency and virtual reality. But the more things change, the more things stay the same. There’s still immorality, murder, war and selfishness—only now, amplified by technology in many ways.
So, here we are, Christians in 2020, and we are left with the same question that the apostles had back in Acts 1:6: “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
When will Christ return and establish His Kingdom?
Through the years some have thought: 1970s definitely; 1980s surely; 1990s … it’s got to be the 1990s!
Nope. It’s 2020, and we continue to eagerly wait for the return of Christ to set up His Kingdom—now in the midst of a global pandemic and racial unrest.
Yet is asking when Christ will return really the best question to be asking?
It’s a matter of what, not when
The most important question related to Christ’s return is found in 2 Peter 3:3-4:
“Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to 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 creation’” (emphasis added throughout).
This shows how scoffers can skillfully use the when question to make people doubt and attack the faith of those who know Christ will return, but wait patiently for it. Verses 8-12 give the replacement question:
“But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, 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?”
God’s promise is sure. Christ will return, but the question is again pointed away from when and toward what: “What manner of persons ought we to be in holy conduct and godliness …?”
The important question is, What are we going to do in the meantime? If Christ doesn’t return for another 10, 20 or 30 years—what manner of person will we be?
What kind of character will you build? What kind of person will you be? What will you do to serve God? What will you do to serve other people?
We can’t know the when
In Acts 1:6 the apostles asked Christ if He would restore the Kingdom at that time. Notice Christ’s response: “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (verses 7-8).
In other words, Christ was saying, don’t focus on when. That’s why He didn’t say to the apostles: “It’ll be a few thousand years.” He wanted them to focus on what. What were they to do?
So, when will Christ return? We don’t know. We can’t know. The more profitable question is what: “What am I doing with my life right now, before He returns?”
For more insight into Christ’s return, read “When Will Jesus Return?”