In 1988, Edgar C. Whisenant released a book entitled “88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988.”  He was convinced that Jesus would appear for the church on Rosh Hashana of the stated year.  He was so firm in his conviction that he sent 300,000 free copies of his work to pastors throughout America.  He said, “Only if the Bible is in error am I wrong; and I say that to every preacher in town.”  He also remarked, “If there were a king in this country and I could gamble with my life, I would stake my life on Rosh Hashana 88.”  When Whisenant’s soothsaying didn’t pan out, he followed it up with subsequent predictions, claiming that apocalyptic happenings would occur in 1989, 1993, and 1994.  Eventually Whisenant died in 2001, having seen none of his announcements come to pass.  The author’s problem was not his inability to guess the date of Jesus’ appearing.  It was found in his folly in even attempting to accomplish such a feat.  Our Lord clearly taught that no one can know the precise moment at which end time events will unfold (Matthew 24:36).  Our job isn’t to figure out exactly how the end will occur.  Our job is to live faithfully for the Lord and to have a sober awareness that the end could come at any moment.  Consider three faith responses we should have in light of Christ’s return.

Gather with God’s People. 

Hardly any church-going Christian would deny that the end of all things is near.  Many are quick to point to the signs of the times — wars, natural disasters, and the increase of evil — as evidence that Jesus could return at any moment.  Prophetic literature sells at a fever-pitch rate, and many debate concerning how the end will unfold.  Even non-believers get in on this action.  It seems like a new blockbuster apocalyptic film is released every year.  Ironically, the melee concerning doomsday scenarios seems unaware of some plain teaching from the Bible.  The author of Hebrews said that we should gather together for encouragement “all the more as…” we “…see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25).  Isn’t it so sad to see that, as time marches on, the opposite is actually occurring?  As we get closer to the end, more and more believers are seeing less and less a need to worship with God’s people.

Share God’s Message.

After describing an end of the world event known as the Judgment Seat of Christ, Paul said, “Therefore, because we know the fear of the Lord, we seek to persuade people” (2 Corinthians 5:11).  If all people will one day stand before God in judgment, God’s people should be committed to witnessing and warning.  They should be faithful to Christ’s commission to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).

Live a Holy Life. 

After describing the Day of the Lord in which the earth will be burned, Peter said, “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, it is clear what sort of people you should be in holy conduct and godliness” (2 Peter 3:11).  According to the apostle, end-times scenarios should not be a matter of mere speculation or fantasy.  They should invoke sobriety and fear.  Because of the soon appearing of our Lord, we should aim to live lives of serious devotion to His will.

Dr. Patrick Latham

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