Anticipating the Second Coming of Christ

According to a Gallup pole taken about 20 years ago, 62 percent of all Americans believed that Jesus Christ will return to earth someday. [1] However, judging by the increasing apostasy in Christendom and the skepticism of the western media, now the percentage is probably lower. But even of those who assent to this future scenario, is their hope based on true faith?

How important is the Blessed Hope? “Today in the Word” documented the importance of this theme in Scripture. “Biblical prophecy provides some of the greatest encouragement and hope available to us today. Just as the Old Testament is saturated with prophecies concerning Christ’s first advent, so both testaments are filled with references to the second coming of Christ. One scholar has estimated that there are 1,845 references to Christ’s second coming in the Old Testament, where 17 books give it prominence. In the 260 chapters of the New Testament, there are 318 references to the second advent of Christ–an amazing 1 out of every 30 verses. Twenty-three of the 27 New Testament books refer to this great event. For every prophecy in the Bible concerning Christ’s first advent, there are 8 which look forward to His second!” [2]

Is watchfulness for Christ’s second coming only fitting for experts on prophecy? Does the study of the biblical teaching about the “last days” seem extremist? Let’s look at some key passages that address these issues.

Concerning signs of the end times, Christ instructed the apostles, “‘But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.’ Then He said to them, ‘Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven… And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory'” (Luke 21:9-11, 24-27).[3]

Although these signs have occurred throughout the last two millennia, these “birth pangs” have been growing in intensity as Christ’s return draws closer. Although we should avoid needless speculation about end times details, we don’t want to make the mistake of the religious leaders of A.D. 30: “…Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times” (Matt. 16:3). [4]

And consider Romans 13:11-14: “And do this [love one another], knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”

Many believers are described as “sleeping”–allowing the worldly culture to lull them into spiritual and moral lethargy. So God’s Word sends out this clarion wake up call. The night is far spent–we are living in the last of the ages of fallen humanity.[5] Our salvation [from the presence of sin at Christ’s second coming] is closer chronologically than when we were born again. (For me, His return is 43 years closer!) And this hope is very practical; we are to put off values and behavior of this dark age, and fully appropriate Christ’s resources to live as “children of light” (Eph. 5:8).

Later, the apostle Paul advised his apprentice, Titus: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, LOOKING FOR THE BLESSED HOPE and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ…” (Titus 2:11-13, emphasis added). We see again how Godly living is inspired by anticipating Christ’s second coming and living by grace.

The apostle John also wrote on this theme: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And EVERYONE WHO HAS THIS HOPE IN HIM PURIFIES HIMSELF, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:1-3, emphasis added).

Therefore, hope in the Second Coming is not an impractical distraction; it encourages a life of moral and spiritual purity.

The prospect of seeing our victorious Redeemer inspires victorious living! So, dear fellow believer, let us lift up our heads; for our redemption draws near (Luke 21:28).


[1] George Gallup, “Religion in America,” Leadership, Fall, 1987.

[2] April, 1989, p. 27. edition

[3] The Old Testament also prophesied of conditions that would characterize the last days: “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro [speed and volume of travel], and knowledge shall increase [growth of cumulative knowledge]”(Dan 12:4).

[4] There were an estimated 60 million Civilian and Military deaths in the 20th century according to Matthew Whites, Historical Atlas of the Twentieth Century. Examples of calamity from current news includes the international threat of the Bird Flu (which could kill millions) and North Korea and Iran’s refusals to stop nuclear plans. “For our part, the United States is keeping all options on the table … We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon,” (U.S. V.P. Dick Cheney). By the end of 2004, 23 million have died of the Aids pandemic; that year almost 40 Million were infected with HIV. The list goes on …

[5] 1 Cor. 10:11: “…and they [Old Testament examples] were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Heb. 9:26: “… but now, once at the end of the ages, He [Christ] has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

Copyright 2006 by John Woodward. Permission is granted to reprint this article for non-commercial use. Please credit Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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