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How bad will the world have to get before God says "Enough" and Christ comes again and brings it all to an end? There seems to be so much evil in the world today that I sometimes wonder if we've about reached that point today. — M.G.
Only God knows when He will intervene to bring an end to the world's evil and establish Christ's rule—but you can be certain it will happen. As Jesus ascended into heaven after His resurrection the angels promised, "This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back" (Acts 1:11).
Although God hasn't given us an exact timetable, the Bible does tell us to be prepared for Christ's coming. When He comes again, most people will be caught off guard, thinking that this world is going to continue the same way it always has. This is why Jesus said to His disciples, "So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him" (Matthew 24:44).
At the same time, the Bible does tell us that certain things must happen before Christ returns—signs that will point to His coming. For example, Jesus said that "this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world ... and then the end will come" (Matthew 24:14). This is happening today more than ever, through the use of the mass media and the Internet, as well as the efforts of missionaries and evangelists throughout the world.
The most important question, however, is this: Are we ready to meet Christ—either when He returns or when we face death? We can be, by turning to Him in repentance and faith, and committing our lives to Him. Has this happened in your life?
What is the "rapture," and when will it occur? A Message by Billy Graham
There are many Christians who believe that the second coming of Jesus Christ will be in two phases. First He will come for believers, both living and dead, in the "rapture"; read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17. In this view, the rapture—which is the transformation and catching up of all Christians, dead or alive, to meet Christ in the air—will be secret, for it will be unknown to the world of unbelievers at the time of its happening.
The effect of this removal, in the absence of multitudes of people, will, of course, be evident on earth. Then, second, after a period of seven years of tribulation on earth, Christ will return to the earth with His church, the saints who were raptured. (Matthew 24:30, 2 Thessalonians 1:7, 1 Peter 1:13, Revelation 1:7). He will be victorious over His enemies and will reign on the earth for a thousand years (the millennium) with His saints, the church.
After the thousand years, living unbelievers and the wicked dead now raised to life will be judged at the great white throne judgment. They will then be cast into the lake of fire, while the saved will live forever with Christ in a new heaven and earth (Revelation, chapters 19-22).
Many other evangelical Christians believe that Christ's return and the rapture will not occur until the seven years of the tribulation have ended. As far as the latter view is concerned, the rapture will not be secret, since it will be part of Christ's visible and triumphant return to end this present evil age (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). At this point, interpreters differ as to whether there will be a literal thousand year reign of Christ on earth or whether the white throne judgment and the new heaven and earth will immediately appear.
All Christians do not agree on every detail of what will occur in the final events of this world's history. Some of these events and their order of occurrence have simply not been made clear in the Bible. What is important is that all Christians hold in common that Christ will ultimately return bodily, visibly, and gloriously to reign and rule with His resurrected and transformed saints forever and ever. The details of this great event will be made known in God's own time.
A Message by Billy Graham
Is it wrong to pray for Jesus to come back and rescue us from all our problems? The world seems to be getting worse and worse, and I hate to think about our grandchildren having to grow up in such a terrible world. —
No, it isn't wrong to pray that Christ will return soon and bring an end to all the evil in the world. The very last prayer in the Bible is a prayer for Jesus' return: "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus" (Revelation 22:20).
After all, we sometimes forget that this world is only temporary (and so is its evil). We get all wrapped up in the present, and we think things will never change. We may even wonder sometimes if God has even forgotten us. Like some in Peter's day, we may be tempted to say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? ... Everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation" (2 Peter 3:4).
But someday Christ will come again! It may be soon, or it may be far off—but His coming is certain, for He has promised it. And when He does return, He will straighten out our crooked world with all of its sin and evil. The Bible says, "But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13).
Yes, pray for Christ to come—but at the same time, don't neglect the work God has given you to do. For example, pray for your grandchildren and encourage them to give their lives to Christ. Never forget: No matter what the future holds, nothing "in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:39).
The End of the World
A Message by Billy Graham
January 1, 2004
People ask me, "Do you really believe that Jesus Christ is going to come back to this earth again?" Yes, I do. The Bible teaches that Jesus is coming again. I don't see any other hope for the world, because we seem to be heading toward a catastrophe.
The Bible says, "First of all, you must understand that 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 fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.' But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men" (2 Peter 3:3-7, NIV).
In other words, a judgment is going to come on this earth, and it will be a judgment of fire.
For years people believed that the threat of a nuclear holocaust was diminishing, but nuclear tests have again raised fears that an incident somewhere in the world can still plunge us into a global catastrophe. And now we hear talk of "dirty bombs," which could spread radiation and affect thousands.
"The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists" keeps a "Doomsday Clock" that measures the extent of nuclear peril we face. At this writing the clock stands at seven minutes to midnight—two minutes closer to potential destruction than the clock read in 1998 and seven minutes closer than it did in 1995. Almost everyone would agree that the end of the world as we know it is a possibility scientifically.
But while we may speculate about possibilities, the Word of God speaks about certainties. Let's consider some certainties on which you can base your life.
The Bible speaks extensively about the Second Coming of Christ, mentioning it more than 300 times in the New Testament. By comparison, repentance, which is so very important and essential for our salvation, is mentioned about 70 times, and baptism, about which Christians often argue, is mentioned about 20 times. It is obvious, then, that the Holy Spirit, who inspired the Scriptures, places great importance on the return of Jesus Christ.
So what does the Bible tell us about the end of the world and the Second Coming of Christ? Jesus said, "As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man" (Matthew 24:37, NIV). What were the days of Noah like? And what parallels do we see in our day?
One word that is used to describe the days of Noah is wickedness. The people were very wicked. The Bible says that every imagination of their thoughts was evil. It is as if they stayed awake at night thinking up new ways to do evil. It was a world in which marriage was abused. The people were corrupt and violent. It was a world in which violence prevailed: murders, wars, insurrections.
In the days of Noah there was a lot of religion, but it was a decadent religion. People were preoccupied with things, and they were taken up with their everyday living. They didn't make time to really know God.
The days of Noah sound much like our own days, don't they?
Noah's world was under the threat of God's judgment. He had warned them, "Unless you repent and turn from your sins and change your ways, you're going to face the judgment" (Cf. Genesis 6:6-7,13).
But in the middle of all the evil stood one righteous man. God had said that because of all the sin and violence and corruption, He was going to destroy the world. But He didn't do it because of that one man who went against the tide of his day. That man was Noah. In all that corruption Noah dared to walk with God. Noah was a man of moral integrity. He believed in God; he worshiped God.
What about you? Do you walk with God? Do you worship God in your home? Do you have Bible reading and prayer in your home?
The Bible says, "By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family" (Hebrews 11:7, NIV). God told Noah to build a ship. Noah had no place to sail the ship, but God told him to build it. And God said that He would save Noah and his family when the destruction came.
So Noah started out, and the judgment eventually came. God spoke to Noah again and said, "Noah, I'm going to give the world seven more days, and then the flood will come" (Cf. Genesis 7:4).
Today the only bright spot on the horizon of this world is the promise of Christ's return. We can't go on much longer morally. We can't go on much longer scientifically. The technology that was supposed to save us is ready to destroy us.
In Isaiah 66 we read, "See, the Lord is coming with fire, and his chariots are like a whirlwind; he will bring down his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire" (Isaiah 66:15, NIV). In the New Testament we read that Christ said, "I am going ... to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am" (John 14:2-3, NIV).
Jesus promised that He is coming back, and the Bible tells us to comfort one another with those words. We're not to wait in terror, because as believers we have the hope of the Second Coming of Christ.
When Jesus was getting ready to go back to the Father, some of the disciples and His friends from Galilee were watching and waiting. Two angels said, "Why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11, NIV). That is God's promise to us, to you and me.
It has been 2,000 years since then. Why hasn't He come? The disciples asked the same thing. Jesus said, "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority" (Acts 1:7, NIV).
Jesus also said, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father" (Matthew 24:36, NIV). Don't guess and speculate. We don't know. It may be a thousand years from now, or it may be tomorrow.
When is the end of the world coming? The end of the world is coming for you the moment you die, and that could be at any time for any of us. We never know.
How will Christ come? "For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first"
(1 Thessalonians 4:16, NIV).
Are you ready for that if it happens today? God said, "Prepare to meet your God" (Amos 4:12, NIV). The Bible describes Christ's return like this: "After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever" (1 Thessalonians 4:17, NIV). We're going to go as believers and meet Him.
But we must be prepared. Jesus said, "So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him" (Matthew 24:44, NIV).
What have you done spiritually in your life to prepare for that moment when your heart stops beating? You may be expecting to live many more years, but you don't know for sure.
A little girl was going to visit her grandparents, and she was flying alone on an airplane for the first time. Throughout the days of preparation for the plane trip, the mother assured her daughter that she didn't have to worry because her grandparents would be there to meet her.
When the mother put her daughter on the plane, she asked, "Are you scared?"
The little girl answered, "A little. But whenever I get worried, I just think about who's going to be there to meet me at the other end. And everything is all right."
I believe that when we die as believers, Christ will be waiting for us on the other side. Our great hope is that no matter what happens in our lives or in the world, Christ is waiting for us.
As you read this article, God is giving you an opportunity to be prepared for whatever may come. The Bible says, "You must be born again" (John 3:7, NIV). You need to make a commitment to Christ today. This is your moment with God.
You ask, "What do I have to do?"
First, you have to be willing to repent of your sins. You may not have the strength to change your way of living. Repentance means that you say to God, "I have sinned. I am sorry for my sin. I am willing to change my way of living. But You have to help me change. I can't do it alone."
Second, you come by faith. What does faith mean? Faith means that you put your trust in Him and say, "Lord, I give myself to You."
You may have been baptized, you may have been confirmed, you may be a member of a church, you may be a good person. You may do all the good that you can think of. But all of that isn't enough. You must come in childlike faith to Jesus, who died on the cross for you, who rose again, who is waiting for you to make that commitment. Do it today.
Are You Ready?
Are you ready to meet God? He loves you, and through Jesus Christ He has made a way for you to be with Him in heaven for eternity. He wants to have a relationship with you and to be the Lord and Master of your life. You can trust Him—He made you, and He knows and wants what is best for you.