". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Preparing for Christ's Return: Will You Be Ready?

March 30, 2024

If you’re a regular churchgoer, you’ve probably been asked some version of this question by a pastoral figure: If Jesus was to come back tomorrow, would you be ready? I’ve heard this question on several different occasions and am always hit with conviction. We are told in 2 Peter 3:10 that Jesus will come "as a thief in the night," and Paul warns us in Romans 14:10-12 that “we will all stand before God’s judgment seat” and “give an account of ourselves to God.” If Jesus was to come back tomorrow, will you be ready to stand before Him and give an account for your time on earth?

In a Desiring God article, Greg Morse writes that, “It is not enough for our faith to know simply that Jesus is coming back. Eventually works drowsiness and mischief in our hearts. Unintentionally, we banish him to the ever-Tomorrow, the distant Never.” Jesus warns us in Matthew 25:13 that we will “not know the day or the hour” He will return. As we walk through the mundane motions of our day-to-day lives, it is easy to neglect the simple truth that Christ can return at any moment. We must be ready.

While Scripture clearly states that the time of Christ’s return is unknown, a 2022 poll reveals that four in 10 (39%) American adults believe that we are currently living in the end times. The poll also reveals that 23% of those with no religious affiliation also think that we are in the end times. Pew Research Center’s interpretation of these findings is that, “Periods of catastrophe and anxiety, such as the coronavirus pandemic” is the root cause for Americans anticipating “the destruction of the world.”

As a quick aside, the “end times” in this poll is referring to when “Jesus will return to Earth after or amid a time of great turmoil.” While Jesus has yet to return, theologians like John Piper propose that we have been in the “last days” since Jesus fulfilled the prophesy through His life on earth, death on a cross, resurrection back to life, and ascension to the right hand of God close to 2,000 years ago. Although a small technicality, it is important to make the distinction between “end times” and when Jesus returns.

It’s natural to speculate when Christ’s return may be, considering Scripture lists several warnings.

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God — having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

Although I personally do not have any preconceptions about when the end times will be, recent global events like the Russia-Ukraine war, the escalating tension in God’s Holy Land, and most recently, the gang violence in Haiti, certainly point toward a sinful people who struggle with the signs listed by Paul.

While grappling with the theology of the end times and reading the latest conspiracy theories on Christ’s return is entertaining, the reality is, we just don’t know. So then, this begs an important question for believers: How should we conduct ourselves in preparation for Christ’s return?

In Matthew 25, Jesus tells of His return through The Parable of the Talents, which is ultimately a story of stewardship. In this parable, a Master goes on a journey, but before He leaves, He gives three of His servants money. While the Master is away, two of the servants invest their money and double it’s worth. The third servant, however, buries it. Upon His arrival, the Master tells the first two servants, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (25:23), but to the third, He says, “You wicked, lazy servant” (25:26). In this parable, Jesus teaches us that what comes to us, is not always for us. We are to be stewards of our time, talents, and treasures while we are on earth, for what we are given is to be used to further His Kingdom.

As Ray Hollenbach wisely shares in a story published by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, “A steward lives for the day he will return the Master’s goods to Him. An owner believes his possessions are his to spend in any way he sees fit. All we have — our material goods, our abilities, and even our very lives — belong to someone else. We are merely holding them for the day of reckoning.”

We can also prepare for Christ’s return and the “day of reckoning” by abiding by the two greatest commandments.

“Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:34-40).

Loving God means loving His people and making “disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). Before His ascension, Jesus commissioned His disciples to go spread the gospel. While believing and accepting Christ is an individual decision that cannot be forced, our responsibility as believers is to spread the good news and pray for the Holy Spirit to move.

It’s no secret that we are living in a world full of crippling poverty, immorality, and chaos, which is a result of our own sinful nature. As believers, we hold tight to a hope that Christ will return for His Church and eternity with Him awaits. In the meantime, we will continue to face a heavily anticipated election year, increasing political tensions, and ongoing battles of the flesh. It is more important now than ever for believers to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33) and prepare for Christ’s return.

While we can celebrate the resurrection of our Savior at any time of the year, there is no better time to reflect on the gift of salvation offered to us through the blood of Jesus Christ than this Easter season.