All agree that Christ is coming a second time. However, the events prior to his return are a point of difference, as well as the manner of His coming. Well meaning people have told us that we must expect things to grow gradually worse and worse, thus hastening the day of Christ's return. Some have gone as far as to say that the days of revival are over and we can, at best, expect only one now and then to be saved.
It is not unusual for some in expressing their opinions concerning the wickedness around them to say, "I don't see how God puts up with this." They seem to have a desire that He would come soon and "rapture" them out of all this evil.
If we believe that things are getting worse and worse and that this is what they are supposed to do, is it not reflected in our actions or conduct? Does it not leave us with little or no zeal for revival or the conversion of lost souls? How can we really pray for revival if we do not believe that there is time for one nor even the probability of one?
Along with this, do we not have some who spend more time in camp meetings or "revival" services telling us about the work and power of "Antichrist" rather than the true Christ and His power? This was the case in one such camp not many years ago and some of the congregation were heard to comment on how deep the messages were. In this same camp, there was other preaching which presented an opposite view, and this, too, was "deep preaching." Somehow, the congregation failed to notice the difference and "were swayed by every wind of doctrine." Since they were not really thinking about what they heard so that they could retain it, it did not really change their lives. There is a great need to preach the truth in such a way that people can get established in the truth as it is in Christ Jesus.
Most who hold this belief are quick to say that Christ probably will come just any time and we are to expect a "secret rapture" of the saints, somewhere at the beginning or at least at the middle of a seven year period. This, supposedly, is the last of Daniel's seventy weeks. Incidentally, this week was completed with the first coming of Christ (see Adam Clarke's Commentary on Daniel 9 and The Works of the Reverend John Fletcher, 4:46-48).
This "secret rapture" is the first phase of the second coming. According to this theory, Christ is to come again with those "raptured saints" at the end of this "seven year" period.
Then, according to this view of the doctrine, He sets up His kingdom on earth and by some new method saves the nation of Israel and the gentile nations who have survived the "tribulation" and the many "awful things," which happen to those who were left behind.
If we accept this belief, we must find some answers to questions which arise out of necessity. The earth under this system will be inhabited by (1) the glorified saints, who are incapable of death, marriage, etc; (2) those who are in a mortal body, marrying and reproducing, still with the sin problem, and therefore in need of salvation. This second class is subject to death, so therefore, there must yet be sickness, disease, and all the other things which came upon man as a result of sin. They are still in a state of probation and in need of a savior and mediator. In addition they must either die and be resurrected or else be changed by some other means so that they become immortal. The Bible makes no provision for this.
When Christ comes the second time, according to Hebrews 9:28, He comes not as an offering for our sin. This He has already done when He came the first time. If we are to be saved, whether Jew or gentile, it must be through believing the truth of the gospel, being preached by mortal men.
In view of all that has been said, certainly our attitude toward Christ's return should be one of anticipation. But this anticipation can only be truly reflected in our laboring with prayer and faith for the salvation of souls. Our faith should be in the power of God, expecting Him to grant revival, and a gathering of souls. If we believe that the world can do nothing but grow worse, then obviously our faith produces actions which correspond to this belief. We are not likely to expect the lost to be saved and as a result do not pray nor labor effectively to this end. Our attitude becomes one of "well, they probably are not going to be saved anyway."
Reader, there is a world out about you which is unconverted and therefore unprepared to meet God at the judgment. They cannot be reached by a church which has not faith which works, hope without patience, and love which labors not. Will you allow this to challenge you to look beyond the conditions which seem to prevail and look to God in faith, believing His Word?
We have lived to see communism fall, even though it was supposed to be a threat to the Church. We have the assurance that "the gates of hell shall not prevail against" the Church. The stone which was cut out without hands shall surely become a great mountain filling the whole earth; a kingdom which shall break in pieces and consume all other kingdoms and stand forever.
This stone, this kingdom, is the triumphant Church. It is not a political kingdom, yet it has power over them. It is a spiritual kingdom, over which Christ now rules, and it has power over the kingdom of sin and darkness.
How does your belief in the doctrine of the second coming translate into your conduct? Are you more interested in hearing about the power of Christ or in looking for some "Antichrist"?