The Lord Jesus is coming in 1993.
No, His personal, bodily, visible coming on the clouds will not take place in 1993. Too much must still happen before history can reach its end in the “day of Christ.”
But He comes in 1993. He comes as He has been coming from the day that He ascended into heaven. As Lord over all things to His Church, He governs all things in heaven and on earth, in nature and among the nations, in the church and in the world, with a view to His coming again. Everything serves this goal of His coming. Nothing is allowed that would interfere with this coming.
Our world and its history are hurtling toward the “day of Christ” at breakneck speed. In this sense, the coming of the Lord was “near,” “at hand,” and “at the doors” already in the time of the apostles.
Almost the last words of Christ to His church in the Bible are the promise, “Surely I come quickly” (Rev. 22:20).
From the time of the apostles to today, therefore, the church could live and work in the hope of the speedy coming of Christ. Her lively expectation of the quick coming was not mistaken.
In A.D. 1993, the coming of the Lord Jesus is near also in the sense that it is not far distant in time. This is the clear, powerful testimony of the signs of this coming and of the end of the world. Although Scripture warns believers against attempting to figure out the exact time of the Lord’s coming, it also makes known to us several events that must precede His coming. It instructs us to notice these events and to assure ourselves from them that the coming of Christ is near. “And when these things begin to come to pass, then lookup, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 22:28).
The Reformed faith rejects the bizarre notion that supposes that Christ will return at any moment to take the church into the air in the “rapture.” This is an aspect of the teaching about the end known as” chiliasm” or “premillennialism.” On this view, Christ’s return for the church is not preceded by any sign. The apostle exposed this notion as false in II Thessalonians2:1-3. His subject is the “day of Christ.” This is the day of “the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ” for “our gathering together unto him.” The church must not think that this day is “at hand” as though that actual day was already dawning or as though it could come at any moment. “For that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition” (v. 3).
Two great events must precede and lead up to the coming of Christ. They are a great apostasy in the church and the appearance of Antichrist. These are signs to the church of the nearness of the coming of Christ.
If it is a foolish and disobedient notion to suppose that Christ’s coming can be immediate, it is also an error today to put off the coming of Christ into the distant future. This is done by all who embrace the doctrine about the last things known as “postmillennialism.” On this view the Lord’s return is at least 1000 years in the future. Some who hold this doctrine boldly advise their disciples that the day of Christ is even more remote. David Chilton writes that U this world has tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of years of increasing godliness ahead of it, before the Second Coming of Christ” (Paradise Restored, pp. 221, 222).
Putting the Lord’s return off hundreds of thousands of years arises from the belief that, prior to His coming, this world will become the glorious kingdom of Christ. The faith of the Reformation rejects this dream as a form of the Jewish delusion of a carnal kingdom. The Lutheran Augsburg Confession rejects “certain Jewish opinions which are even now making an appearance and which teach that, before the resurrection of the dead, saints and godly men will possess a worldly kingdom and annihilate all the godless” (Art. 17).
The Second Helvetic Confession, a Reformed creed, agrees:
We further condemn Jewish dreams that there will be a golden age on earth before the Day of Judgment, and that the pious, having subdued all their godless enemies, will possess all the kingdoms of the earth (Chapter 11).
As this Reformed confession adds, the reason why the Reformed church rejects the prospect of a “golden age on earth” before Christ’s coming is that “evangelical truth in Matthew 24, 25 and Luke 18 and apostolic teaching inII Thessalonians 2 and II Timothy 3, 4 present something quite different.”
Like its opposite error that looks for Christ to return any moment, the teaching that Christ will not come for a long time runs afoul of the signs of Christ’s coming. There is no sign that the world is becoming more godly. There are, however, plain signs that the world is becoming more ungodly. These are the signs that Scripture itself presents to the church to show the nearness of the day of Christ.
Lawlessness increases (Matt. 24:12; II Tim. 3:1 ff.). There is contempt for the law of God. Such is the development of lawlessness that men and women despise the very idea of divine authority over their lives. The world’s determined rebellion against its Creator has reached the point that it exerts itself to violate the laws”of God built into creation itself. The world legalizes the murder of the unborn and of the old. It destroys the family by assaulting the headship of the husband, by promoting the work of the wife outside the home, and by encouraging sexual promiscuity. Especially, it rages against the very distinction between male and female by its shameless advocacy of homosexuality.
Daniel prophesied that the Antichrist of the end will fl think to change times and laws” (Dan. 7:25). This is a sign that Christ’s coming is near.
Professing Christians and entire denominations of churches fall away from the truth (II Thess. 2:3). This began already in apostolic times and culminated in the Roman Catholic Church’s becoming the false church. Hardly had the Reformation restored the true church by the gospel of grace founded upon Holy Scripture than the apostasy began to work in Protestantism. By the present time, apostasy in the Protestant churches is deep and wide. Not only are all the essential truths of the gospel corrupted and denied, but also the authority of Scripture as the inspired Word of God, upon which everything depends, is deliberately rejected. Indeed, the very idea of doctrinal truth is repudiated.
Paul foretold that at the time of the Antichrist at the end the nominal church would be filled with people who “received not the love of the truth” (II Thess. 2:10). This is a sign that Christ’s coming is near.
Both the increase of lawlessness in the world and the apostasy in the church usher in the Antichrist and his worldwide kingdom of unrighteousness (II Thess. 2:3 ff.;Dan. 11:21 ff.; Rev. 13). There will be a personal, human Antichrist. Coming in history is a united, universal kingdom of man that will defy the God of Jesus Christ and. persecute the saints. As the Second Helvetic Confession teaches, Christ will come when Antichrist holds sway:
And from heaven the same Christ will return in judgment, when wickedness will then be at its greatest in the world and when the Antichrist, having corrupted true religion, will fill up all things with superstition and impiety and will cruelly lay waste the Church with bloodshed and flames (Chapter 11).
Antichrist has not yet been revealed in his time. For this reason, we do not expect Christ in 1993 or in 1994. But we observe that the world is ready for him. The nations are prepared for union. With the collapse of Communism, the economic interdependency of the nations, the fear of the devastation that war would cause, and the agreement of all peoples that man be god, all that remains is the arising of a powerful nation with a charismatic, supernaturally endowed president.
The false church must do her part to establish the kingdom of the beast (Rev. 13:12). For this, the churches that participate in the great falling away must unite. This is being accomplished in the modern ecumenical movement. The apostate churches are finding each other in their mutual indifference to the truth. Protestant churches are attracted to Rome. The Christian churches are open to the other religions. Already they are preaching the man of sin into power by their gospel of man and of a this-worldly kingdom.
The signs show clearly that the day of Christ is near.
Do we see them?
If the Protestant Reformed Churches see the signs, they will vigorously preach the gospel within the congregations. They will also zealously engage in evangelism and missions. G. C. Berkouwer is right when he asserts that “the tie between eschatological expectation and mission call is essential and indissoluble” (The Return of Christ, p. 132). The coming of Christ waits on the gospel’s bringing the last elect to repentance (II Pet. 3:9). With the true church everywhere, the PRC will stand fast in and for the truth. They will confess it. They will defend it to the death. They will compromise nothing.
Seeing the signs, the believer personally will carry out his calling faithfully in church and society, performing his task, enduring hardship, serving the coming Lord. He will be on his guard against false prophets, false doctrine, and false Christs. He will daily examine his life whether he is infected with the dread plague of the last days, which is not AIDS but earthlimindedness. He will prepare for the great tribulation by the study of Scripture, constant prayer, and a closer walk with God.
The signs cause church and Christian to long for the day of Christ. Our redemption draws nigh. Even better, our Beloved approaches.
Do we see the signs?
We will be more fervent and constant in prayer. For He comes in answer to our prayers. “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.”
And we groan.
“Quousque, Domine?” How long, Lord?
For the signs painfully remind us that our Friend has not yet come.