If you are a Christian, your best days are ahead of you and getting closer by the moment. Today, Barry Cooper considers how the promised return of Jesus calls us to steward our lives faithfully and look with hope to the moment we see Him face to face.
Sometimes, especially as you get older, or you face times of suffering, you can start to believe that your best days are behind you. But if you’re a believer, that’s not true. Your best days are ahead of you. And they’re getting closer by the second.
That’s because Jesus is coming again. Theologians call it the second coming.
It’s the moment at the end of history, promised by Jesus Christ, when He Himself will return to save His people and to judge the living and the dead.
“An hour is coming,” says Jesus in John chapter 5, “when all who are in the tombs will hear [the Son of God’s] voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.”
What will the second coming be like?
Well, at the end of Luke’s account of Jesus’ ascension in Acts chapter 1, we read:
“This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
So when the Lord does return, it will be public and very visible. Jesus Himself says, “As the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” There will be no mistaking it.
Again, in Matthew chapter 24, Jesus says that “all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
And in the first chapter of Revelation, we’re told, “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him.”
Why is it that some wail and mourn at the second coming? Because it will be clear that this time, Christ is not coming to hold out the offer of salvation, as He did previously. Instead, at the second coming, He will save those who love and trust Him and condemn those who have ignored or rejected Him.
Right from the very first moments of the early church, right up to the present day, the church has given fair warning—just as Jesus and the Apostles did: God “commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
By the way, if you are a believer, don’t make the mistake of thinking that because you’re confident of how the second coming will go for you, the way you live your life now doesn’t matter. In Matthew chapter 16, Jesus tells us that He “is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.” Similarly, in the final chapter of the Bible, Jesus again says, “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.” The Apostle Paul says that on that day, the Lord “will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.”
That means that the way you live as a Christian matters very much—even the so-called “secret” things that are hidden from everyone else matter a great deal. The way you live now will be reflected in the extent to which Christ rewards you when He returns.
So what does the Bible tell us about when this second coming will occur?
Jesus Himself tells us that “no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” As a result, Jesus tells us, “Be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
But then, in practically the last words recorded in Scripture, Jesus says to His people, “Surely I am coming soon.”
Hang on, we may say. It’s been nearly two thousand years since those words were recorded. It’s not “soon” in the sense we usually understand that word, is it?
Second Peter chapter 3 addresses that very point: “With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”
But in another sense, Jesus’ coming is “soon.” Because even if the date of His second coming proves to be another hundred thousand years from now, Christ will come for us much sooner than that.
Our lives are over in a blink. Before you know it, you’re fifty, and the day of your death is almost certainly closer to you than the day of your birth. But for those who are in Christ, that moment will be such a sweet and glorious one—even if we have to pass through suffering to get there. Remember, Jesus said to the thief on the cross alongside Him, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” For the thief, and all those who look to Christ, Jesus is indeed coming soon.
Your best days are ahead of you. And getting closer by the second.