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The second coming of Jesus Christ has been preached as imminent for a long time. Why is it taking so long?

By Zenas J. Bicket

Where is this coming He promised? Everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation. If that is what you think when you hear mention of Christ’s return to snatch away His people, be careful. Peter predicted last-day scoffers, following their own evil desires, would be saying just that (2 Peter 3:3,4).

Yet, with the many centuries since the promise was given (Acts 1:11), it is natural to wonder if such a supernatural intervention will actually take place.

Count on it. It is going to happen. The Bible is full of references to this glorious event, the blessed hope of every believer (Titus 2:13). However, don’t be misled by our human way of counting time. The average human lifetime is 70-80 years. But some life forms live fewer years than humans and some much longer. God’s lifetime is forever, without beginning or end. As Psalm 90:4 says, "A thousand years in [God’s] sight are like a day that has just gone by" (NIV). So it has been just "a couple of days" since the promise was given to first-century Christians.

But why might Christ delay His return even for another instant? Several reasons come to mind:

1. He is giving our generation a chance to repent and receive His salvation.

2. He is testing the strength of our faith and commitment.

3. He is giving the church opportunity to evangelize the lost.

4. His delay encourages us to work faithfully, as though death is yet in the future, but to be ready for His coming at any time.

God is not willing that any should perish or experience spiritual death. His delay is not slowness in fulfilling His promise (2 Peter 3:9). He is preparing His bride "to present her … as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless" (Ephesians 5:27).

Our natural minds tend to be concerned about the millions since the first century who have lived on earth without accepting Christ as their Savior. And we should have a burden for the lost of our day. But we should be even more concerned about becoming the holy and blameless bride of Christ without wrinkle or blemish. Christ tarries now so we may have opportunity to become that prepared and perfect bride.

As God’s children, our earthly lives will end in one of two ways: by death or via the Rapture. A faithful elderly Christian woman left detailed instructions for her funeral. But at the end of the note she wrote, "Prefer to go in the Rapture."

Are you ready for either departure route?

Zenas J. Bicket, Ph.D., is the former president of Berean University of the Assemblies of God in Springfield, Mo.

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