Billy Graham preached this message April 17, 1983, during his Central Florida Crusade in Orlando, Florida. Nearly 38 years later, the Biblical teaching is as relevant as it was then.
Many people are asking, “Are we moving toward the end of the world?” “Are we moving toward the end of the age?” Those questions are haunting people everywhere today. We see the news, and we ask the question, “What is the world coming to?” Millions of people all over the world are desperate to know what the future holds.
In the midst of the pessimism, the gloom and the frustration of this present hour, there is one hope—the promise of Christ: “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again” (John 14:3). Jesus died upon the cross, rose again from the dead and ascended to the right hand of God the Father. And the next great event is His return. That is the hope of the church and the hope of the Christian believer. And without hope, our world could not go on.
A great theologian in Switzerland once said, “What oxygen is to the lungs, such is hope for the meaning of life.” The great creeds of the church teach that Christ is coming back. Charles Wesley, one of the founders of Methodism, wrote 7,270 hymns; 5,000 of them had to do with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
So first, I want to stress the fact of Christ’s return. His coming again is mentioned hundreds of times in the New Testament. Of course, many people say, “He hasn’t come so far. All these years have passed, and He hasn’t come. He promised He was coming. Why hasn’t He come?” Well, they asked that in the first century too. And this is what the Apostle Peter predicted: “Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.’ For this they willfully forget” (2 Peter 3:3-5).
When He returns, you will see Him. The thing that is hidden from our eyes at the moment is the power, the might and the glory of God in Christ. But in a single moment of time, the power and the glory of God will be revealed. No wonder the Scripture tells us that then every knee shall bow. The King is coming! The Bible teaches that.
Second, there are the signs of His coming. Jesus left a number of signs. He said, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times?” (Matthew 16:2-3). In that parable Jesus was saying, “In the realm of scientific observation, man is extraordinarily intelligent. But in the realm of spiritual awareness, he is astonishingly ignorant.”
We live in a world of maddening complexity, an age of doubt and upheaval, a generation that has lost its bearings. And as we scan the face of the contemporary skies, what do we see? We see exactly what He said: the birth pangs of a new world.
Every mother knows something about birth pangs. Jesus uses this analogy to describe what the world will be like at His coming. Jesus said these birth pangs would be the unmistakable sign that the time of His return may be fairly near. He said it will be worse than anything since the beginning of the world until this time. He said things are going to get worse, and we are going to reach a climax in history. That is where we are moving now very rapidly.
We see adversities, afflictions, all the tribes of the earth mourning, anguish, brothers betraying brothers, children rising up against parents, parents beating children, people being held captive and hostage, distress of nations, days of vengeance. We see deceivers, revelers, drunkenness, earthquakes in escalating frequency, false prophets and false christs, famines, great distress, tribulation, signs and wonders in the skies, sexual immorality, God’s people being hated in many parts of the world, hypocrisy unparalleled in history, iniquity abounding. We see turmoil in the Middle East, kingdom rising against kingdom, love growing cold among believers, men’s hearts failing them because of fear, perplexities, persecutions, pestilences, the powers of the heavens being shaken, numerous wars.
The Scripture says there will be birth pangs of a world seized by wars, woes and weeping. It will be a world gone mad.
Does that sound like our world today? Does it sound like what we read about or see in the news? Of course it does.
Third, there are the results of Christ’s return. When He comes back, it is going to be examination time. Man is going to be held accountable. We read about the great white throne judgment in Revelation. Every person outside Christ will be there. You will give an account of your thoughts, your intents, your actions. Everything will be there on God’s “computer.” You will see the opportunity you had to come to Christ, and you didn’t take it.
I heard about an old grandmother who was reading her Bible. Someone asked her granddaughter what she was doing, and she said, “She’s cramming for her finals.” Many people wait until they are almost on their deathbed to think about things like this. But it’s time now to start, because your “finals” may come sooner than you think. I spoke with three people in a single week whose spouse died suddenly, unexpectedly.
When Christ comes back, evil is going to be destroyed. The devil himself is going to be cast into the bottomless pit, and ultimately into the lake of fire. The Bible says that the lake of fire was prepared for the devil and his angels. God never meant for us to go to hell. It is prepared for the devil and his followers. Well, if you follow the devil instead of God, that is where you are going to end up. That is the reason God calls upon you to make a choice—whether you are going to serve God or whether you are going to serve Satan and the things of the world.
When Christ returns, there will be worldwide justice. Hunger and poverty will be eliminated. Racial hatred will be eliminated. All the tensions between ethnic groups will be gone. All the fighting that is going on will be eliminated. What a wonderful time that is going to be!
Nature itself is going to be changed. “And there shall be no more curse” (Revelation 22:3). You see, when Adam and Eve sinned against God, not only did it affect you and me, but it affected nature. If you go to the jungles of the world, or even your own backyard, everything is looking for someone else to eat. In the ocean, the fish are constantly looking out for other fish, lest they be eaten. But under Christ, the curse will be lifted.
Then there will be safety and security: “Everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken” (Micah 4:4). And there will be no more war. Think of that! “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4). What a time that is going to be! World peace!
And then there will come a time when the world will believe in Christ. For all those who are saying “no” to Him now, a time will come when they will be forced to believe in Him. “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11).
If Christ should come right now, are you ready? The Bible says, “Prepare to meet your God” (Amos 4:12). Are you prepared to meet God? Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). If you want to be prepared to meet God, open the door of your heart to Jesus Christ today.
Do you know Christ? Are you prepared? Are you ready to meet him? The Bible says, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved!” (Jeremiah 8:20). If you are not sure how you stand before God, the first thing you have to do is repent of your sin. You have to change your mind and be willing to change your life. And God has to help you to repent, because you cannot repent by yourself. God will help you if you are willing.
Then, second, you must receive Christ by faith. Notice, I said by faith. You cannot come to Christ only by your intellect. By wisdom you cannot find God. You put your confidence and your faith in Jesus Christ as your only Lord and Savior.
And then third, you must be willing to follow Him and obey Him, whatever the cost. Are you willing to do that today? ©1983 BGEA
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version.
Photo: BGEA Archives