It is true that many of the passages in the New Testament concerning the 2nd coming of Jesus are difficult to deal with. It is not true that this means that we as Christians can dismiss the doctrine of the 2nd coming.
This doctrine is affirmed in the earliest Creeds. We confess it regularly when we recite the Apostles Creed. It is a doctrine that is not just found in one or two obscure passages, but one which is central to the entire New Testament from Matthew through Revelation.
It is a doctrine that has informed most of the great teachers of the Church: Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Barth, etc.
Someday Jesus Christ will return and the reality of what was accomplished by his crucifixion and resurrection will be revealed: sin will be utterly dismissed and those who have refused to be parted from it will be dismissed with it, heaven and earth will be made new and God's people will, to their eternal joy, see Him face to face.
Part of the problem with the Second Coming is that it has taken so long. 2000 years later and we are still waiting! Peter dealt with this issue long ago. He said that God is taking His time because He wants as many as possible to be saved. He also reminds us that what seems like a very long time to us is nothing to God.
Another difficulty has to do with us. We are impatient and unfocused. Jesus Himself; in Acts 1, warned his disciples about this. We are not to speculate as to when He will return. Instead we are to do the task set before us.
Indeed, in all the strange passages concerning His return a careful reading indicates that the central message is that Jesus will be coming back and we need to be ready. We need to be ready not by speculation, but by obedience, by discipleship, by loving God and our neighbor. We need to leave behind the works of sin and darkness and embrace works of obedience, walking in the light. We need to find life in Christ and live in it, thus walking in the good works we were made for (Ephesians 2:1 - 10).
To conclude: He is coming again. No one knows when. But He is coming. Not as a Baby, but as King and Lord. Speculation as to when is idle fancy, and has proven in the past unhealthy. Our task is to learn, in the power of His love, to love one another and to love God with all our being.
Relevant passages: Mt. 24-25, Romans 8:18-25, 2Peter 3, Acts 1, etc.
Mike Frank © 2003
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