Let’s be honest. Questions like this can’t be answered definitively. I wish the Bible said something like, “Jesus will return at noon in the year 2235,” but it doesn’t. What we do know for sure is that Jesus will come back, this earth will be destroyed and there will be a new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21). All of this will be the beginning of a new age that I call, the age of restoration (not yet copyrighted if anyone wants to steal it).
To answer the question of the blog title, though, we need to look at a few verses. They aren’t in the same book of the Bible, and I don’t ordinarily like to piece verses together to make a point, but if you consider that our one God is the author of the entire Bible, and that I am not taking verses out of context, then you will see that it is okay in this situation. I don’t think I am stretching the Bible to make a point and you can let me know if you think otherwise.
The first verse is from the apostle Peter, written to people of faith in Jesus. I love this verse because he foresaw what was going to happen way into the future and wrote it down for us: in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3: 3-4)
This verse doesn’t mean we are currently in the last days but I still love it. Jesus promised to return, two thousand years have gone by without him coming back so, of course people without faith are saying, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?” They are also saying or thinking, “Christians are the stupidest people on earth. They believe Jesus will float down from the sky to save them.” And, the beautiful thing here is that Peter told us that it would be like this.
Then Peter goes on to say something remarkable: the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. (2 Peter 3:12)
You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. (2 Peter 10:12)
I underlined the last bit because that is the first clue in the answer to our question. It is just one verse, but it seems very plain. Somehow, disciples of Jesus do have the ability to speed the coming of the day of destruction that Peter calls, “the day of God.” This doesn’t say that we can make Jesus come back, but it clearly says that we can someone expedite the day that he returns.
The second verse that I want you to see is even more clear. Just before he was crucified the disciples of Jesus asked him when he would come back. More specifically they asked for the sign of his coming and of the end of the age. (Matthew 24:3)
Jesus gave a straight answer. He said that: this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)
this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)
Take a look at the parts that I underlined. Jesus tells us of one thing that will happen in the future before he comes back—the gospel will be preached to all nations (the word nations is ethne in greek and refers to ethnic groups, like Eskimos and Tibetans. There are about 12,000 of them around the world).
Therefore, we have two pertinent facts that are established from the Bible:
- Disciples of Jesus can hasten the return of Jesus.
- The gospel will be preached to all nations before Jesus returns.
Putting these two facts together does not necessarily mean that evangelizing the whole world will precipitate the immediate return of Jesus but, it is so important to realize that the moment of Jesus’ return is flexible and that he will not return until our task of global evangelization is complete.
I could go on a tirade here about the thousands of things that the Church is currently doing rather than focusing on this one thing that is required before Jesus returns. It seems to me that the Church is perfectly happy with this age—an age of famine, abortion, drugs, birth defects, war, earthquakes, adultery, injustice, starvation, shootings, theft, tsunamis, etc—and, I almost forgot to add, death. But, let’s not focus on what others are or are not doing. The points that we established above are facts that you and I now know. Let us focus on what we are going to do about it.
Main point: Jesus will not return until the gospel is preached to all nations. So what: Do you own these Biblical facts? If so, what are you doing in your life to get the gospel to the ends of the earth?
What do you think about all of this?