Gospel Gazette, Bible Articles

Vol. 2, No. 7 Page 6 July 2000

Gospel Gazette, Bible Articles

The End of Time

By D. Gene West

With the end of the twentieth century, we hear more and more people talking about the end of time. There is a flurry of excitement, at the end of this century just as there was at the end of the last and the beginning of this one, that involves itself in the setting of dates for the second coming of Christ. This is especially true among those people who are called “Premillennialists,” because they take great delight in trying to ascertain the time in which the Lord will return for his people. This is also true because they teach that there will be several comings of Christ during the last time. But our purpose today is not, primarily, to speak of the strange doctrines of the various kinds of “Millennialists,” but to note that date setting for the end of time is nothing new to the Christian dispensation.

From the earliest of times in the Christian Age, men have been setting dates for the end of time and for the return of the Lord. For example, a man by the name of Montanus, in the year AD 135, announced that he was a prophet, and that the New Jerusalem would soon descend from heaven and take root in the ancient country of Phrygia. Christians were admonished to get ready for the second coming of the Lord and the establishment of his kingdom. Later in that same century, another Christian by the name of Cerinthus, in AD 176, announced that it was then time for the Lord’s return. And in the third century after Christ, in about AD 204 a Christian by the name of Hippolytus related that in the midst of the persecution that was being experienced by the church, Jesus Christ was about to return and do battle on the part of the downtrodden saints. We could come right on down through the centuries and show that different men at different times, in every century have prophesied of the end of time and of the coming of the Lord. Simple observation shows that these men were wrong when they attempted to set a date for the return of Jesus and of the end of the world. The question comes to our mind, “Why have these people been trying to set the date for the second coming of Christ, and why have they been trying to find clues of this second coming in the Bible?” There may be as many answers as there are people who are searching, but man has always had a thirst to gain knowledge of those things that God has kept secret. In Deuteronomy 29:29, we are told that “the secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

The principle set forth here is that there are some things upon which God has not chosen to inform man. Those things should not be presumed upon by man, but he should follow those things that are revealed to him in the Holy Scriptures. Though the principle is clear, still there are those outside the churches of Christ, who like to set dates and plan for the second coming of Jesus. In our time we have heard of the false prophecies of William Miller, H.W. Armstrong, Joseph Smith, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hal Lindsay and many others who have falsely prophesied of the second coming of Christ.

When, in Matthew 24:3, Jesus was asked, “what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Jesus replied in verse thirty-six in the following words, “But of that day and hour no one knows, no, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” Jesus gave some fifteen or sixteen signs of his coming in judgment upon the city of Jerusalem before he made this statement. That being true, his answer here cannot refer to the fall of Jerusalem but must refer to his second coming, and of the end of the last age. He went on to emphasize that there would be no special signs of his second coming by saying the people would be conducting themselves just as they were in the days of Noah when the great flood came upon the earth. Even Noah, who knew that the great flood was coming, did not know when. So it is with us. We know that Christ will be making his second advent into the world to judge the world in righteousness, but we do not know, and cannot know, when this day is going to arrive.

To emphasize that Christians are to be ready for his coming at all times, he told some parables dealing with the problem of readiness in Matthew 25:1-30. Immediately after that, in Matthew 25, he gave us a picture of what the final judgment will be like. These passages, and their parallels in other books of the Gospel, fit like a hand in a glove that which the Apostle Paul taught concerning the second coming of Christ. And this portion of Scripture also goes hand in hand with that which was taught by the Apostle Peter concerning the second coming of Christ in his second letter, chapter three.

It is an exercise in futility to attempt to set the date for the second coming of Christ, and the end of time. The wise person lives a life of readiness like the wise virgins of Matthew twenty-five, and not a life of recklessness like the foolish virgins of the parable. Our plea, and admonition is, be ready always for the second coming of Christ, and unlike the unprepared people in Noah’s day, you will never be disappointed.

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