HEAVEN STANDING OPEN
IS THE COMING OF CHRIST IMMINENT?
Is the coming of Christ imminent? If it is, when did it become
I. DID PAUL BELIEVE CHRIST'S COMING WAS IMMINENT?
- Two passages imply that Paul might have believed that Christ could return
during his lifetime, I Cor 15:2; I Thess 4:15, 17.
- Three passages indicate the opposite, viz., that Paul believed he would be
dead and would be raised from the dead when Christ returns, I Cor 6:14; II Cor 4:14;
II. THE COMMAND TO WATCH, Mk 13:32-37. WHEN were the
disciples to begin WATCHING for Christ's return?
- Were the disciples to begin WATCHING immediately after Christ left? Yes! Did
the coming of Christ become IMMINENT immediately after Christ left? No!
- Were the disciples to be WATCHING before and after the Holy Spirit came on
Pentecost? Yes! Did the return of Christ become IMMINENT before or after the Holy
Spirit came on Pentecost? NO!
- Were the disciples to be WATCHING before and after Peter died? Yes! Did the
return of Christ become IMMINENT either before or after Peter died? No!
- Were the disciples to be WATCHING before and after all the apostles died?
Yes! Did the return of Christ become IMMINENT either before or after all the apostles
- Were the disciples to be WATCHING before and after Jerusalem was destroyed?
Yes! Did the return of Christ become IMMINENT either before or after Jerusalem was
- Were the disciples to be WATCHING before and after many false christs and
false prophets arose? Yes! Did the return of Christ become IMMINENT either before or
after many false christs and false prophets arose (Mt 24:4-5, 11)? No!
- Were the disciples to be WATCHING before and after many wars and rumors of
wars were heard? Yes! Did the return of Christ become IMMINENT either before or after
many wars and rumors of wars were heard, about which Christ said, "the end is not
- Were the disciples to be WATCHING before and after nation would rise up
against nation and kingdom against kingdom? Yes! Did the return of Christ become
IMMINENT either before or after nation would rise up against (upon) nation and kingdom
would rise up against (upon) kingdom about which Jesus said that these things would be
only the beginning of sorrows? No!
- Are we to be WATCHING before and after the wrath of the Antichrist (the
tribulation) begins in the middle of Daniel's 70th week of 7 years? Yes! Will the
return of Christ become IMMINENT either before or after the great tribulation begins in
the MIDDLE of Daniel's 70th week of 7 years? No! Remember the wrath of the
Antichrist must run its course 42 months before the heavens are rolled back, the throne
of God puts a stop to the wrath of the Antichrist, and the kingdoms of this world
become the kingdom of God and Christ.
- Just when did the return of Christ become IMMINENT? It hasn't! Is the
return of Christ IMMINENT NOW? No! What do the Scriptures really say about this
III. HAS THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST EVER BEEN IMMINENT?
- The disciples were commanded to return to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy
Spirit, Lk 24:49; Acts 1:4-8, 9-26; 2:1-21. Was the return of Christ imminent before
the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost? The answer is a positive NO! But the covenant people
were to be WATCHING by returning to Jerusalem and waiting for the Spirit. Did
Christ's return become IMMINENT immediately after the Holy Spirit descended on
Pentecost? The answer is again NO! When, therefore, did it become imminent?
- Jesus explicitly told Peter he would GROW OLD and then DIE, John 21:18-19;
II Pet 1:14. The Holy Spirit assured Peter he would die and be glorified when Christ
returned, II Pet 1:14-15; I Pet 5:1; 4:13-14. Could the return of Christ have been
IMMINENT before Peter died? The answer again is a positive NO! But the covenant people
were to be WATCHING by faithfully and diligently observing all the commands the
Lord had given, Mt 28:18-20. Did Christ's return become imminent immediately after
Peter Died? The answer is again NO! When, therefore, did it become imminent? If
Christ's return did not become imminent immediately after Peter died, why should it
be imminent now?
- Jesus indicated strongly that ALL the apostles would die, Mt 16:28; Mk 9:1;
Lk 9:27. John did not die until about A.D. 100. Could the Lord's return possibly
have been imminent before John died? The answer is again a positive NO! But they were
to be WATCHING for His return by faithfully and diligently making disciples, baptizing
them, and teaching them to observe ALL things the Lord commanded, Mt 28:18-20. Did
Christ's return become IMMINENT immediately after John died? The answer is again
NO! When, therefore, did it become imminent? If Christ's return did not become
imminent immediately after John died, why should it be imminent today?
- Jesus told His disciples it would be a LONG TIME before He returned, Mt
25:19. Could the return of Christ have been IMMINENT before a LONG TIME had elapsed?
The answer is a positive NO! But all the covenant people were to be faithfully WATCHING
by diligently taking up their cross daily and following Christ, Lk 9:23. Could
Christ's return have become imminent immediately after the LONG TIME elapsed? The
answer is again NO because of the reasons given below. When, therefore, did it become
imminent? If Christ's return could not have become imminent immediately after a
long time had passed, why should it be imminent in 1994?
- Jesus unequivocally told the disciples the city of Jerusalem and the temple
would be destroyed, and it was in A.D. 70, Mt 24:1-2. Could the return of Christ
have been IMMINENT before Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed? The answer is an
unequivocal NO, because the destruction was certain to happen, but NOT AFTER Christ
returns! Yet the covenant people are to be constantly WATCHING for Christ's return
by constantly giving diligence to make their calling and election sure, II Pet 1:1-11.
Could Christ's return have become imminent after A.D. 70? The answer is again NO
because there are still prophecies to be fulfilled. When, therefore, did it become
imminent? If Christ's return could not have become imminent immediately after
Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed, why should it be imminent in A.D. 1000? Or
A.D. 1500? Or 1994?
- Jesus said there must be wars and rumors of wars BEFORE His return:
"And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled;
for all these things must come to pass, BUT THE END IS NOT YET," Mt 24:6; Mk
13:7; Lk 21:9. Israel had no real war until A.D. 70 and Rome still ruled for hundreds
of years. Was Christ's return IMMINENT before there were wars and rumors of wars?
The answer is a positive NO! But the covenant people were to continue WATCHING by
observing ALL the commandments of the New Covenant, Mt 28:18-20. Could Christ's
return have become imminent after such things happened? The answer is again NO! When,
therefore, did it become imminent? If Christ's return could not have become
imminent immediately after these words of Jesus were fulfilled, why should it be
- Jesus said nation would rise against (upon) nation and kingdom against (upon)
kingdom, and there would be MANY famines, pestilences, and earthquakes, and that
these would be the BEGINNING OF SORROWS, Mt 24:7-8; Mk 13:8; Lk 21:10-11. Was
Christ's return IMMINENT before this all happened? The answer is a positive NO! But
the Lord's church was to continue WATCHING in the same way as commanded. Did
Christ's return become imminent after all these things happened? The answer is
again NO because these were the BEGINNING of sorrows. When, therefore, did it become
imminent? The Lord's return still had to be a long way off since these things were
the BEGINNING of sorrows. Since the words of Christ cannot be broken, and since He is
responding to questions concerning when He would return, it is necessary to understand
His return could not be imminent for a long time to come. Who is to say when that time
- Jesus insisted His return was not to be taken as imminent: Throughout Mt 24
Jesus clearly took special care with much repeated emphasis to persuade the disciples
that His coming was NOT IMMINENT, but was a long, long way off. After the disciples
asked Jesus: "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of
Your coming, and of the end of the age?" Mt 24:3. Jesus began to point out the
many things that must come to pass, then said: "but the end is not yet," Mt
24:6. He then pointed out many other things that must come to pass and then said:
"All these are the BEGINNING of sorrows," Mt 24:8. Jesus again spoke
of many other things that must come to pass, including the abomination of desolation
and The Great Tribulation. At this point He URGENTLY AND REPEATEDLY warned that if
anyone said He had come secretly and was here or there, for us not to believe it
because His coming would be as public as the lightning that shines from the east to the
west, Mt 24:23-27. Finally, Jesus told them in no mistakable terms that His coming
would be IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE WRATH OF THE ANTICHRIST, after the heavens are rolled
back and the wrath of God has begun, Mt 24:29-31. Jesus had said absolutely nothing
about a secret coming or any coming at all until this time. To the contrary, He
urgently emphasized the opposite, i. e., He would NOT come in any shape, form, or
fashion until both the physical and spiritual powers of heaven were shaken by God when
He rolls back the heavens as a scroll, Mt 24:29.
- Jesus explicitly explained that His return would be IMMEDIATELY AFTER the
abomination of desolation stands in the holy place (Mt 24:15; 1-15), and AFTER the
wrath of the Antichrist (Mt 24:21-22; 15-28) is stopped by the beginning the wrath of
God, Mt 24:22, 29-31; 29-51. All the way through the chapter the language of Christ
strongly negates any secret coming or any other appearance of Christ before the public
initiation of the wrath of God.
- The coming of Christ is analogous to the flood in Noah's day (Mt
24:36-39), and to Sodom and Gomorrah in Lot's day (Lk 17:26-30) in the following
- In each case people were wicked and without regard for God.
- In each case they should have been WATCHING -- prepared, righteous.
- In each case they were not WATCHING -- they did not know, except for a very few.
All should have known.
- In each case the end came SUDDENLY, AS A THIEF, ONLY on those NOT WATCHING. Dan
12:10; I Thess 5:1-9.
- In each case the end was THE WRATH OF GOD.
- In each case there was no "secret" escape prior to God's wrath --
just be WATCHING and thereby be prepared.
- In each case it was not and is not the wrath of the Antichrist, but God's wrath
that was warned against. It is NOT the wrath of the Antichrist, but the wrath of God
that we are warned so many, many times to be prepared to escape. The church (the
saints, the covenant people, the faithful saved) WILL go through the wrath of the
Antichrist, but the church will NOT go through the wrath of God. The unfaithful saved
will be judged "with the world" (I Cor 11:32) on earth in the wrath of God
following the return of Christ. The "outer darkness," the Gehenna judgments,
the portion of the hypocrites and unbelievers, etc., are all the wrath of God on earth
immediately AFTER Christ returns.
- One taken, the other left. The one is taken alongside the Lord and the other
left to suffer the wrath of God on earth as in Noah's day and in Lot's day, Mt
24:36-51; Mk 13:32-37; Lk 12:36-8; 17:26-36; 21:34-36; Rev 2:20-22; 3:10; 16:15; 18:4;
22:18-19. All these passages and many, many others like them refer NOT to the wrath of
the Antichrist, but to the wrath of God on earth which immediately follows the wrath of
the Antichrist. When the heavens are rolled back the drama of the wrath of God and the
return of Christ begins. At that time the faithful saved (the covenant people) will be
raised, glorified, and presented in holiness first before Christ (Eph 5:27; Col 1:22)
and then before the throne of God, I Thess 3:13 (Gk). The unfaithful will be left on
earth to go through God's wrath, against which the Scriptures say that God is a
consuming fire, Heb 12:25-29.
- No one knows the day or the hour of Christ's return, Mt 24:36, 42, 44, 50.
These verses and like passages must be compared with the unawareness of the world and
the unfaithful saved and the suddenness of the coming of God's wrath on the world
in Noah's day and on Sodom and those other cities in Lot's day. The people
generally were unaware. They should have known and could have known, but they did not
know. Noah and his family knew. Lot, his wife, and two daughters knew. We will not know
the day or the hour of Christ's return, but Christ's return should not overtake
us as a thief, Dan 12:10; I Thess 5:1-11. The Thief coming is a secret coming ONLY in
that it will be sudden and unexpected by the world, just as the wrath of God came upon
the world in Noah's day and upon those wicked cities in Lot's day, but once
those judgments came they ALL knew about them -- "And did not know UNTIL the
flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man
be," Mt 24:39.
- Paul explicitly said Christ would NOT return and gather His saints to
Himself UNTIL there come a GREAT FALLING AWAY and the ANTICHRIST BE REVEALED and has
run the course of his wrath FIRST, II Thess 2:3,9. Observe that the subject in verse 1
is the coming of Christ and our gathering together to Him. The Antichrist must be
revealed in the middle of the week and pour out 42 months of his wrath against the
saints BEFORE Christ returns, gathers the saints to Himself, glorifies them, and turns
them lose on the Antichrist, Dan 7:18,21-22, 25-27; II Thess 2:1-12. How can anyone fail
to see that the subject in verse one is the resurrection and glorification of the
saints at Christ's coming! Could Christ's return and the resurrection and
rapture take place before the Antichrist is revealed in the middle of that last week of
7 years? The answer is a positive NO? Can Christ return immediately after the
Antichrist is revealed? The answer is again NO!. There must be 42 months of the wrath
of the Antichrist (God will cut that 42 months a little short, Mt 24:22), then Christ
will return and the covenant people will be gathered to Him, II Thess 2:1.
- Six days of work, one day of rest. God set a pattern in the very beginning
portraying six thousand years of labor under the effects of sin and the curse, with one
thousand years of rest under the righteous rule of God, Christ, and the saints, Heb
4:3-4; (Gen 1; 2:1-3). In this passage, its context (Heb 3 & 4), and the rest of
the Bible, the inspired writer makes it clear that the return of Christ was never to be
The following quotation is from the "The Letter of Barnabas," Chapter
13:4-10, reputed to be written about the third century A.D.
- Consider, my children, what that signifies, he finished them in six days. The
meaning of it is this: that in six thousand years the Lord will bring all things to an
- For one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, as he himself testifies, saying,
Behold this day shall be as a thousand years. Therefore, children, in six days, that
is, in six thousand years, shall all things be accomplished.
- And what is that he saith, and he rested the seventh day: he meaneth this: that
when his Son shall come, and abolish the season of the Wicked one, and judge the
ungodly; and shall change the sun and the moon and the stars, then he shall gloriously
rest in the seventh day.
- He lastly adds: Thou shalt sanctify it with clean hands and a pure heart.
Wherefore, we are greatly deceived if we imagine any one can now sanctify that day
which God has made holy, without having a pure heart in all things.
- Behold therefore, he will truly sanctify it with blessed rest, when we (having
received the righteous promise, when iniquity shall be no more, all things shall be
renewed by the Lord) shall be able to sanctify it, being ourselves first made
- Lastly he saith unto them: Your new moons and your sabbaths I cannot bear them.
Consider what he means by it: The sabbaths, says he, which ye now keep are not
acceptable unto me, but those which I have made; When resting from all things I shall
begin the eighth day, that is, the beginning of another world.
- For which cause we observe the eighth day with gladness, in which Jesus rose from
the dead: and having manifested himself to his disciples ascended into
- Till the time of the Gentiles be fulfilled, "And they will fall by
the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be
trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled," Lk 21:24.
Consider the following observations:
- This passage is followed immediately by a brief but graphic description of the
beginning of God's wrath on earth and the return of Christ, Lk 21:25-28 (26-36).
This is not coincidental.
- Jerusalem will be especially trodden down by the Gentiles (Antichrist) for 42
months, Rev 11:2. Compare with Dan 7:25; 12:7, 11; Rev 12:6, 14; 13:5.
- The time of the Gentiles will continue till the full number of the Gentiles be come
in (Rom 11:11-25), that is, till the full number of God's elect are selected from
the Gentiles through the church.
- When "the fullness of the Gentiles be come in" (Rom 11:11-25), the
resurrection and rapture will take place, "For if their (the Jews) being cast
away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be (a remnant of saved
Jews being grafted back in) BUT LIFE FROM THE DEAD?" Rev 11:15.
- A remnant of believing Jews will be grafted back into the covenant position when
Christ returns, Rom 11:11-32; Mt 23:39; Isa 2:1-4; et al.
- What is the reason for so many passages urging us to WATCH, be ready, be
faithful, Mt 24; 25; Mk 13; Lk 12:37-48; 17:26-36; 19:11-27: 21:34-36. It is NOT
lost people, but saved people (church people, covenant people, servants, those to whom
Christ gave the New Covenant commission) who are told to watch, be faithful, and be
ready by grace through faith.
Lost people are in no position to WATCH. They must repent, believe, be baptized into
a true local church, then they can WATCH.