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Anticipating Our Lord’s Return

Memory Verse: 1 John 3:1-3

Charles F. Stanley

I. Introduction: “When will Jesus Christ return to Earth?”

This is probably the most common question people ask me about the end times. Scripture records that the disciples also wondered when they would see the Lord again. Although Jesus never gave a specific time, He reassured them that He would come again.

When you and I look forward to His return, we are more likely to have a biblical perspective on life. The scriptural principle is An eager anticipation of the Lord’s return keeps us living productively.

II. The Bible promises that Christ will return.

A. The second coming will be known by the whole world. (Rev. 1:7).

B. Jesus has prepared an eternal home for each believer. (John 14:2-3).

C. No one knows the exact day or hour of His coming. (Acts 1:7).

D. Believers who have passed away will be resurrected at the rapture. (1 Thess. 4:17).

III. Jesus could return at any moment.

A. The concept of the imminent return of Christ–that He could come without any further warning–is found throughout the New Testament.

B. Some people believe certain prophecies have to be fulfilled before the Lord returns for His church. For instance, they say that the gospel must be preached to every nation before the end comes. That verse, however, is in the context of the tribulation, which happens after the second coming (Matt. 24:9-14).

IV. Anticipating the Lord’s return changes how we live.

A. Those who believe Jesus could come back any day are more likely to live productive Christian lives. Setting our minds on Him motivates us to walk in holiness (1 John 3:2-3).

B. Jesus said we are to “be on the alert, for [we] do not know the day nor the hour” (Matt. 25:13). He will return “in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Cor. 15:52). We should live as if He were coming today (Matt. 24:36).

V. Jesus reminded the disciples of their spiritual assignment.

A. Every time His followers asked Him about the second coming, our Lord refocused their attention on what He had already told them: how they should live until His return.

B. When they asked when Israel would be a sovereign state again, Jesus told them it wasn’t their place to know (Acts 1:6) and reminded them of their calling to share the gospel (Acts 1:8). We should worry less about when our Savior will return and concern ourselves with what He has called us to do until that day.

VII. God’s timing is not ours.

A. Any day, we could meet the Lord, either because He has returned (Rev. 22:12), or because we have passed away. None of us should take life for granted.

B. Although God understands how we see time, He is not bound by it (2 Peter 3:8). Why has He waited so long, from our perspective, to return? Each day He doesn’t return allows more people to experience new life in Christ (v. 9).

VIII. What are our responsibilities as followers of Jesus?

A. Watching faithfully. Our choices should be testimonies to those who don’t believe.

B. Waiting peacefully. As believers, we don’t have to be anxious when we hear bad news. Scripture promises us peace if we will give God our worries and trust in Him (Phil. 4:6-7). Even when people mock our belief in the second coming, we can have confidence that God is working all things according to His perfect plan (2 Peter 3:1-9).

C. Working diligently. Regardless of the timing of Christ’s return, every believer should actively serve the Lord somehow. We never retire from working for God.

D. Worshipping Him joyfully. Sunday morning we gather at church to encourage and pray for each other and exalt the Lord together. That attitude of worship should characterize our lives the rest of the week, too.

IX. Conclusion:

Have you been fulfilling your own goals and desires? Or have you been actively investing your life in seeking and obeying the will of God? I pray that you will evaluate your thoughts, activities, and priorities in light of Christ’s return. Jesus might return at any moment.  Will you be ready?

Copyright 2011 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.