There is no need to despair because of the deteriorating social and religious conditions on earth today. Though it might seem that the world faces a bleak future and that no leader has any solution to the crises that disturb so many, there is a grand hope offered to thoughtful men and women prepared to look beyond the present.
The Bible is the source of such confidence; it has a message of hope and real security. A consistent message of divine purpose continues from the beginning to the end of the book -- notwithstanding that over forty different writers were responsible for the writing of the books, and over 1600 years were encompassed in its compilation. It is the authentic Word of God, and its prophecies and declarations are therefore recorded under divine inspiration. That is the reason why it is so consistent in its message, so unerring in its prophecies, and so reliable in its precepts and teachings. We can go to its pages with complete confidence and assurance.
The Bible presents the divine purpose with humanity, set in process from the beginning of time. Almighty God declared that His intention was to save humanity from utter destruction from its own hand -- a condition which is becoming increasingly obvious today (see Revelation 11:18).
Further, the Bible declares that God has allowed society to face its own folly, to demonstrate that natural man has no hope of redeeming himself. It says: "it is not in the heart of man to direct his steps" (Jeremiah 10:23). If we are content to put our confidence and future into the hands of politicians and leaders of the nations, we will be bitterly disappointed. The evidence of 6,000 years of misrule, demonstrates that mankind is not capable of governing for society's benefit.
The divine purpose requires that those who desire something better in life for themselves and their families, must read God's Word, and act accordingly. They must make a personal stand for Truth and Righteousness, by rejecting the concepts and philosophies of natural man, and by seeking a better way of life. The disciple Peter declared that God "is calling out from the Gentiles a people for His Name" (Acts 15:14). This means that His followers will separate from the religious and social environment of humanity, and support those who are sincerely endeavoring to apply God's ways in life.
The great anticipation of all such lies in the belief that Jesus Christ is about to return to this earth. Though this might seem completely unreal and beyond belief, it is the only answer to a world bent on self-destruction. There is no other answer!
The Bible is very clear about this matter, for the Second Coming of Christ is the subject of hundreds of quotations in its pages; it was the stated conviction of the ancient believers; it was the policy of the Son of God himself; it continues to be the thrilling tenet of Christadelphians today. It will soon be confirmed in reality, when the great event actually occurs. And, we believe, that this will be very soon!
Christ Will Return Personally, Visibly, Literally
When the Lord Jesus ministered on earth, he constantly reaffirmed that, after a period of time in heaven, he would return. He said to his disciples: "Ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matthew 19:28). This, obviously, refers to a future time, when the disciples will be resurrected from death and given the place of honor over a restored nation of Israel. It certainly does not speak of immortal bliss in heaven, for they could hardly "judge the twelve tribes of Israel" there!
Later, as the Master was being received into heaven to spend two millennia as a "great high priest" on behalf of his disciples (Hebrews 4:14), a message of grand hope was given to the apostles gathered on the Mount of Olives: "This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1: 11). There was no doubt about the literal nature of his ascent; similarly he will return bodily and physically at the appointed time.
1 John 3:2 declares: "When he shall appear... we shall see him as he is". His majestic presence will be obvious to all.
In fact, a prophecy to the Jews shows that the tribes of Israel would at last also acknowledge the one whom they crucified: "they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn" (Zechariah 12: 1 0).
If Christ is to come "in like manner" as the apostles saw him go; and if the Jewish people will "look on him whom they pierced", observing the wounds in his hands as the evidence of their former iniquity, then Jesus Christ must return personally, visibly and literally to the earth.
Christ Taught that He Would Return from Heaven
This, in fact, is what he constantly taught when upon earth. He claimed that his ascent to heaven was for the purpose of receiving a kingdom from his Father, and to return with authority to rule throughout the earth.
This was implied in his parable of a nobleman who "went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return" (Luke 19:12) at which time he rewarded his servants for faithfully occupying in the interim. His parables were always given to teach important lessons concerning his own work of salvation. But then Jesus also plainly instructed his disciples with the same principles: "The Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father and with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works" (Matthew 16:27). This clearly asserts that the Lord Jesus will return from heaven, at which time his servants will be acknowledged before him. He reaffirmed this to his disciples just before his crucifixion: "They (the peoples of the world) shall see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory" (Luke 21:27). The return of Christ will be accompanied with tremendous physical and social changes globally, so that ultimately, all nations will be forced to recognize his presence. The "cloud" spoken of, relates to the company of immortalized believers who will be associated with him in that day (the "witnesses" of Hebrew 12: 1).
The final prophecy of the Bible reiterates that teaching: "Behold I come quickly (i.e., suddenly, shortly); and my reward is with me to give every man according as his work shall be" (Revelation 22:20).
Believers Receive Rewards at his Coming Advent
In every quotation mentioned, it is taught that the disciples of Christ are rewarded at his coming, and not before! The current church teaching of the immortality of the soul, and of saints winging their way to heaven at death, there to abide in eternal bliss, is opposed to true Bible teaching. Nowhere does the Bible suggest such a thing, and, in fact, vigorously denies it. This is clearly stated in Acts 2:34 to the Jews in Jerusalem concerning one of the greatest men who have ever lived: that "David (the "man after God's own heart": Acts 13:22) is not ascended into the heavens", but was "dead and buried" with the evidence of his burial place before the people.
There is no truth in the theological fable that immortal souls reside in heaven at death -- for if it were true, then there would be no reason for Jesus Christ to return to earth "with his rewards with him".
The apostle Paul anticipated receiving immortality at the coming of his Lord. About to die for his Master he declared confidently: "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing" (2 Timothy 4:8). The glorious prize of immortality was for a future period: it was "laid up". The day of its bestowal was obviously some time later.
Indeed, the signs of the times indicate that the time of rejoicing for Paul is now imminent. He will then be resurrected from death (an event in which he believed: 1 Corinthians 15:12) and meet his Lord in person.
The Apostles Believed that Christ Would Return
After the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven, the apostles went throughout the civilized world with the dynamic message of Christ's resurrection from the dead, and his eventual return to the earth.
The apostle Peter declared: "He (God) shall send Jesus Christ, who before was preached unto you, whom the heavens must receive until the times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets" (Acts 3:20). He claimed that both Old Testament and the teachings of Christ were consistent: they all spoke of the establishment of God's divine kingdom on earth at a future time. It would not be until then, that the sin-stricken and strife-torn world that has only known violence and bloodshed by its inhabitants, would find relief.
The apostle Paul wrote: "The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels... when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe" (2 Thessalonians 1:7,10). Paul looked forward to a change in society, when the followers of Christ would be elevated to positions of honor and glory (Revelation 5:9-10), and when their wisdom and spiritual abilities will be used for the benefit of mankind. That time will arrive when the Son of God appears personally on earth.
There are some 300 allusions to the return of the Lord Jesus found within the pages of the Bible. It is the fundamental teaching of the Scriptures, and the basis for a better future. Speaking of these "times of restoration" associated with Christ's visible and personal return, Peter declared: "All the prophets from Samuel and those that follow, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days" (Acts 3:24). If these things were untrue, then humanity is left with the hopeless future of increasing desolation and destruction by its own hands; neither can the apostate fables of the Christian church with its illogical immortal soulism provide any real hope. Hence, Paul argued: "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Corinthians 15:19-22). He shows that because of the original sin of Adam in the Garden of Eden, mankind is under the curse of mortality, and therefore all ultimately find repose in the grave. The only hope apart from that is in a "resurrection of the dead". Since Paul talks about the physical body, he anticipated a time when dead believers would be brought from the grave, refashioned from the dust by God's miraculous power, and restored to life again.
He speaks about a certain order of events: "But every man in his own order; Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" (1 Corinthians 15:23-26). The resurrection program of God was introduced 1900 years ago, in His Son. The next stage will be at his Second Coming, when all who have understood the Gospel will be resurrected for judgment and reward. There will be a further period of 1000 years, during which Jesus Christ will establish on earth a divine political Kingdom (Revelation 20:5), which will conclude with a further and final resurrection. After that event, sin and death will be overcome and destroyed (ch. 21:4), and the whole world will become the glorious habitation of immortal beings, enjoying unity and fellowship with Almighty God.
The First Stage in the Redemption of Mankind
The Bible also reveals certain details of the work that Jesus Christ will undertake at his Second Coming. He will first raise from the dead and judge those who have known his message, and have thereby become responsible.
Of those who truly believe him, Jesus said: "I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:39,40,44). He spoke of two types coming forth from the grave: those who have faithfully responded to his instructions, and those who have rejected them: "They that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation" (John 5:29). There will be a separation of the righteous from the wicked: those who have tried to fulfil his commandments to the best of their ability, from those who have willingly ignored his precepts. The prophet Daniel also testified that "many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt" (Daniel 12:2). Only those who have developed understanding, faith and works of righteousness, will be rewarded with immortality; others will be returned to the doomed world which they really never left.
In order to provide for this important, and necessary, separation so that appropriate rewards and decisions might be made, Jesus Christ will establish his Judgment Seat. There, all responsible persons will be gathered: "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things in body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad" (2 Corinthians 5:10). This will take some time, but the attention of the world will be elsewhere involved in terrible trouble and strife. Jesus described the coming days as times when "men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of (the political and social) heaven shall be shaken" (Luke 21:26). The world will erupt into an awful conflagration of violence and evil, similar to that which occurred in the former days of Noah (read the description in Genesis 6:1-13, and see Luke 17:26). It is during that time when Jesus Christ will conduct his Judgment Seat, unbeknown to the world at large.
The Bible teaches that "the Lord Jesus Christ shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom" (2 Timothy 4:1). Thus, his appearing to his followers will commence a train of events which will ultimate in the establishment of his kingdom. Having rewarded his true disciples, and rejected those who falsely claimed association with him or who willingly rejected his message, Jesus Christ will proceed to reveal his power and authority to the world at large.
The Nations Must Be Disciplined
The world will be embroiled in war when the Lord Jesus publicly proclaims his presence on earth. Daniel speaks of a "time of trouble such as never was" (ch. 12:1), whilst Joel claims that the nations will "prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near" (ch. 3:9), and the armies of the world will be gathered around Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:2). It will be at that time that Jesus Christ, together with his immortalized and glorified followers, will go forth to initiate the second stage of the world's redevelopment.
The battle of Armageddon will be fought on the mountains of Israel (Revelation 16:16; Joel 3:2), but the forces of the nations will be no match for the power of Christ's invincible armies. He will establish God's Will on earth by demanding that all give allegiance to him: "Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. Be instructed, ye judges (rulers) of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Prostrate yourselves before the Son lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way when his wrath is kindled" (Psalm 2:9-12).
It is for the benefit of humanity that the nations submit to divine control. To remain in the present condition of things, is to perpetuate the same ungodly wickedness that has continued for six thousand years. Because man is inherently evil, it is needful for the Lord Jesus to exercise absolute control, and to demand the obedience of his subjects: "The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2Thessalonians 1:7-8).
Under his control the manufacture of war machinery will revert to the construction of agricultural implements: "He shall judge among the nations and shall rebuke many people; and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isaiah 2:4). What a grand time will come about by the return to earth of Jesus Christ! What a change in the outlook of men; in the policies of the nations! No longer vast armies preparing to kill their neighbors, nor the political opportunist endeavoring to achieve power by stealth and intrigue.
Christ Will Set Up God's Kingdom on Earth
Having put down all rule, authority and power, Jesus Christ will then provide for a peaceful and harmonious future. He will set up his dominion in Jerusalem -- the ancient city of his father David (see 2 Samuel 7:12-16) -- and will establish his divine plan for the redemption of mankind. He will then be recognized as "king over all the earth" (Zechariah 14:9), for "out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem" (Isaiah 2:3). His instructions and commandments will be received worldwide, so that mankind everywhere will be benefited by his wisdom: "Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end; upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom" (Isaiah 9:7).
This will fulfil the prophecy of the past, when the mother of Jesus was told: "Thou shalt call his name Jesus. . . and the LORD God shall give unto him the throne of his father David and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke 1:32-33). These words, proclaimed at the end of every year in the rendering of Handel's Messiah oratorio by many choirs across the country, really challenges the theory of immortal soulism, of disembodied souls flitting off to heaven at death, and of the kingdom of God reigning in the hearts of believers. The prophecy given to Mary demands the physical return of Jesus Christ, the re-establishment of the ancient Israelitish throne of David "as in the days of old" (Amos 9:11), and the political control of the nations assumed by him.
Although much of mankind is indifferent to the requirements of God's Word today, they will not be permitted to ignore His Son in the days to come. God's kingdom will be universal, and requires the submission of all to His wise directions. No opposition -- religious or secular -- will be permitted. Daniel foresaw that "the God of heaven shall set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever" (Daniel 2:44). Further: "the kingdom, and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him" (ch. 7:27).
Herein is a glorious prospect of international peace. It will occur after the Second Coming of Jesus Christ -- and not before! Then mankind will realize the great benefits that lie in obedience to the divine Will, and will "long enjoy the work of their hands" (Isaiah 65:22).
This kingdom will continue for one thousand years, until finally, after a second judgment at the end of this period, the earth will be filled only with immortal men and women who willingly and lovingly respond to and reflect the wonder and wisdom of God. It will be a world of joy, peace, security; of complete and undisturbed happiness. There will never again be crime, evil, violence or bloodshed. Paul describes this great moment in history as: "Then cometh the end, when he (Jesus Christ) shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. . . and when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto Him (God) that put all things under him (Christ), that God may be all in all" (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).
The whole design of God from the beginning of creation will then be completed, and the purpose for the Second Coming of Christ will be clearly seen.
When Shall Christ Come?
There are signs evident in world events that herald the Second Coming. Though there may be scoffers, who ridicule the Bible, and suggest that it is merely a book of folklore and fable, they will have cause to rue their words. There were some who scoffed at Noah's message of an impending flood, but their proud boasts were soon engulfed in the waters that poured down from heaven and put an end to their folly (Genesis 7:22). There were scoffers in the days of the apostles, just prior to the judgments Of A.D. 70. Of these the apostle Peter declared: "knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days (i.e. of the Jewish nation) scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers (such as the apostles of the Lord) fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation (of the Jewish State)" (2 Peter 3:3-4). But their folly was soon manifest when the Roman armies poured down the plains of Judea, to destroy the capital of Jerusalem -- just as Jesus and his apostles had prophesied would happen.
Scoffers still exist today. There are scoffers in religious circles, as well as those of the atheistic persuasion. The former say that it doesn't matter what we believe as long as we "try to do what is right"; the latter ridicule the Bible and prophecy as being of no consequence. But what is their solution to the present crisis of society? Nothing but vain dreams, and illusory visions. A little like the Micawber (Charles Dickens) philosophy that "something will turn up!"
But, reader, God has placed into your hands the means of your salvation, and no amount of scoffing will turn the tide of impending judgment. Indeed, Christ tells his followers to "watch" the signs of his coming, so that they will be prepared for that important event, and not be caught "asleep" (Revelation 16:15; Luke 21:28).
Here are some of the outstanding signs that prophecy has recorded:
Social and Moral Upheavals and Evils.
Paul prophesied: "This know also that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, fierce, despisers of those that are good, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God" (2 Timothy 3:1-4).
The breakdown in society, the disruption to family life, the widespread incidence of suicide, deviant life-styles and marriage breakups, are all signs of this sad condition of the present age. It results from man's own folly -- but it proves Bible prophecy to be accurate and dependable. It is a testimony to the fact that the coming of Jesus Christ is imminent, for he alone has the cure for mankind's ills.
The Establishment of the State of Israel.
No greater sign could be presented. After 1900 years of dispersion, persecution, and oppression, the Jewish people have at long last achieved Statehood. They did it in spite of the incredible economic and political challenges that faced the new nation, and the military opposition by overwhelming numbers of neighbors intent on Israel's destruction.
When Israel was proclaimed a nation in 1948, a hundred Bible prophecies sprang into life. Notice, for example, the words of Ezekiel 37:21-22, "I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen (nations), whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: and I will make them one nation in the land, upon the mountains of Israel" This has been accurately fulfilled in our time. The verse continues with the following important statement: ". . . and one king shall be king to them all". Israel has a State and nation -- but no king. And they will not have a king, until the One whom God has promised (compare Ezekiel 21:27). Since the statement follows immediately the one concerning the formation of the State of Israel, that event in 1948 is the precursor to the second advent of Jesus Christ.
The Liberation of Jerusalem.
If the former sign was the major event of this century, this sign is prophetically a most specific one. The Lord Jesus proclaimed that Jerusalem would be "trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled" (Luke 21:24). The past 1900 years have witnessed a continuous "treading-down" of Jerusalem by the oppression of Gentile powers. It was only in 1967, when Israeli military forces broke the control of the Holy City then held by the Jordanian authorities, that this prophecy could be fulfilled.
But another quotation indicates the amazing accuracy of this prophecy. Joel 3:1 says: "For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem..." The order of events is significant. First "Judah": the land; then "Jerusalem": the city. The land was freed in 1948; the city in 1967 - exactly in the order required by prophecy. How did the prophet 2,500 years ago know that would occur, unless he was guided by divine inspiration?
The Uprise of Russia.
The influence of this northern superpower has maintained its momentum since the Russian Revolution in 1917. Notwithstanding the rise and fall of its economy and government, of changes in its administration, or its altered policy from time to time, Russia is destined to lead the forces of anti-Semitism against the Lord Jesus Christ at his return.
The prophet Ezekiel declares: "Thou (a powerful northern invader) shalt come from thy place out of the north parts... and shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days" (Ezekiel 38:16). It is significant that Moscow is directly north of Jerusalem; that it is the capital of a huge power that stretches across the northern continent; that it influences other satellite nations in Asia and Europe; that it is specifically named in the Hebrew text of verse 2: "Gog, the land of Magog, the prince of Ros, Meshech and Tubal". Those three names have been identified with the modem terms of Russia, Moscow and Tobolski: the Russian empire of "the latter days".
Bible prophecy clearly shows that Russia will head a combined force of nations that will invade the Middle East at the time of the end, and in doing so, will precipitate World War 3, a war of international judgment that will culminate in Armageddon.
For that reason, Christ must return -- for otherwise, the nations of the world will be immersed in a bitter struggle for supremacy, sufficient to bring about absolute destruction of this whole globe. But the Great Creator will not allow that to occur. He will send His Son to destroy those who challenge his authority, and institute the policies of His eternal kingdom.
Environmental and Social Collapse.
This modern age, with all its technological advances, and brilliant inventions has no answer to the threatening collapse of the environment. In spite of constant warnings that the climate of the earth is being irreparably damaged because of the increasing pollutants being poured into earth, streams and air, no lasting solutions have been advanced. In the last book of the Bible, Jesus Christ expresses some amazing words that could only apply to this era. Speaking of a time of international unrest he declared: "The nations were angry, and Thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that Thou shouldest give reward unto Thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear Thy Name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth" (Revelation 11:18). The word "destroy" comes from a Greek word meaning "to corrupt; to rot", and speaks of the polluting of the earth by physical, moral and social means. Thus, the evidence of all sorts of corruption in this decade has been amazing confirmation of this prophecy. The danger to the environment has been accompanied with the assault upon the moral code of life by the breakdown of family standards and by encouraging complete indulgence in the areas of sexual and personal desires. As a result, a society without conscience is developing.
What Can Be Done?
You may consider that there is nothing mere individuals can do about the international crises, or the decline of morals, or the impact of pollutants on the environment. That is certainly true, but individuals do not need to remain indifferent to the fulfillment of Bible prophecy, or the fact that Christ is coming for that reason. That latter event is, after all, of great importance to the Bible believer. The coming of Jesus Christ will bring divine answers to the perplexing affairs of humanity, and provide a solution to personal concerns. If you identify yourself with him and his teachings today, you stand in hope of the great glory that will be revealed when he establishes God's kingdom on earth.
Your future at Christ's coming depends upon your attitude at the present time. The hope of salvation proclaimed by the Bible is intended for those with earnest desire and a mind to understand God's ways. Christ's return will reveal his true disciples, and demonstrate those who have exercised wisdom in their decisions of life.
The following principles are important to those who would "love his appearing" (2Timothy 4:8), and who are "waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 1:7), and who are "patient . . . unto the coming of the Lord" (James 5:7).
1. We must believe True Apostolic Doctrine. The Bible clearly requires an honest and faithful understanding of its teachings. Thus the apostle Paul declares: "The gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" (Romans 1:16). "If ye continue in the faith, grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel" (Colossians 1:23). "By which (gospel) ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:2). It is not sufficient to merely be "sincere" unless that sincerity is based upon Truth; nor is it right to accept church teaching which can be plainly shown to be apostate from the Bible. God is not pleased with lighthearted indifference to the Wisdom He has recorded in His Word, for that Word is the basis upon which Jesus Christ will judge his people (John 12:48).
2. There is only One True Hope; not a Variety of Ways to Worship God.We cannot follow man's instructions as to the requirements that God demands. Notwithstanding its claims, church-religion is astray from the Bible in its doctrines and practice. That distinction between true and false worship is stated by Jesus: "True worshippers worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him" (John 4:23). The phrase "spirit and truth" encompasses both the emotional and intellectual appreciation of God's way. True followers will change their whole life and thinking in order to conform to God's will. Being "religious" does not necessarily mean being "right".
Paul states: "Ye are called in one hope of your calling" (Ephesians 4:4), emphasizing the unity of belief that is required. We cannot "agree to differ" on the matters that deal with our eternal salvation. The apostle forthrightly condemned some who were insisting upon changes to true teaching: "If any man preach any other gospel, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:8). In view of the imminent coming of Christ, we need to ensure that we are faithfully following the One True Gospel.
3. Salvation Requires Belief in Action. Faith is an important element in our future welfare. It defines the ability to trust in God's goodness, and to anticipate His great promises -- but it comes only from reading and understanding His Word: "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17). It is not an emotional, religious "feeling", but a good, honest, down-to-earth conviction from understanding the plain teachings of the Bible.
It is extremely important to develop faith: "Without faith it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:6). Unless we are fully convinced of the Truth, as revealed in the Scriptures, we cannot obey God's will, nor manifest a quality of real appreciation.
Belief without action, however, "is dead" (James 2:17). The action required is in baptism and a faithful continuance in welldoing. Jesus declared: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned (condemned)" (Mark 16:16).
A Matter of Urgency
The Bible reveals that God has "a set time" (Psalm 102:13) for His purpose, and that He has "appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised him from the dead" (Acts 17:31). The return of Jesus Christ is certainly imminent, as we have shown from the prophetic signs that today abound, and although we do not know the "day nor the hour", we are convinced that we live on the very eve of that great event.
It will come, and at the very day predetermined by Almighty God. We therefore urge the reader to deeply consider his or her personal future, and to commit themselves to a pathway of wisdom while opportunity remains.
Soon there will be "time no longer" (Revelation 10:6), for the victorious cry will arise: "The Lord hath come". Only those who have taken the time and effort to prepare themselves for that moment of destiny, will receive his gracious mercy.
Then will occur all the grand events declared in the Scriptures: Christ as king ruling over a world at peace (Zechariah 14:9; Revelation 11:15); one law, teaching the people peace (Isaiah 2:3); one worship, teaching the people righteousness (Zechariah 14:16-17). War and injustice will be removed (Psalm 46:8-10; Jeremiah 23:5); the poor and helpless will be cared for (Psalm 72:4); the earth will yield its increase (Psalm 67:6); and grateful hearts everywhere will respond to the divine purpose: "As truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD" (Numbers 14:21).
Then those who have made a covenant with God today and in the past, will be blessed with immortality (1 Corinthians 15:15-55), and associate with Christ in glory and authority throughout the earth (Revelation 5:9-10; Matthew 19:27-30). To them the coming of Christ will mean the end of all concerns, and the tragic problems of today. It means the wonderful experience of an eternal future, with all the blessings that a loving Creator has offered. The Bible invites us to "taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in Him" (Psalm 34:8).
This is the grand hope of Christ's Coming. It is the answer to the perplexing and insolvable insoluble issues of today. It will bring true peace and prosperity to mankind and the earth. To believe in the coming of Christ is to have an exciting vision that can overcome all the problems and difficulties of life, and to provide the personal means of joy and happiness in a world of despair.
Christ is coming. Of that there is no doubt. The issue remains as to whether you will be pleased to see him; whether he will be pleased to see you! That matter rests in your hands.