Last week, James reminded us that because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring, it is arrogant to make plans of our own as though our future is certain (Jas. 4:14-16). But that isn’t to say that we don’t know anything about the future. There is one future event that we can be absolutely certain of, because God has revealed it to us in his Word: the second coming of our Lord Jesus.
The Bible has so much to say about Jesus’ return. It will be a day of wrath when the Son sits on the throne in judgment over his enemies (Ps. 2; Dan. 7:13-14), but also a day of salvation and glory (Titus 2:13; Heb. 9:28). Jesus himself says that he will come again, so we must be alert and prepared for it (Matt. 24:36-44). James reminds his readers of Jesus’ return, warning the rich that they are accumulating judgment for themselves on the final day (Jas. 5:3), whilst exhorting his readers to persevere until Jesus returns (Jas. 5:7).
The Bible speaks of Jesus’ return with such certainty that we must take it seriously. Often, we treat Jesus’ second coming the same way we treat climate change — something true, but more likely to affect our children’s generation than us. We cannot continue to be complacent! Although we don’t know exactly when Jesus will return, we are certain that he will, so we must plan and live each day as though Jesus is returning tomorrow. Here are some practical ways to do so.
First, we must realise that all who don’t have a relationship with Jesus will face his wrath eventually. That includes our friends, family, and colleagues. They need to believe in the gospel for salvation and forgiveness, and so we must offer it to them. More than that, we must do so with urgency. Too often we put it off as though we have plenty of time, but who knows? Jesus might return tomorrow. We must hold out the gospel whilst there is still opportunity for repentance, before it is too late.
Second, we can live with confidence in light of future hope. We can look forward to the perfect, eternal, glorious bodies that we will have in the new creation (1 Cor. 15:20-57). No longer should we fear death or illness; we can confront our present fleeting life with joy and confidence, knowing that eternity awaits us. We must also reconsider our priorities. James tells us that we can choose either the world, or God, but not both. It makes the most sense, then, to be investing our lives in the better eternity of tomorrow that will certainly come, than on the inferior present world that will certainly fade away.
We know Jesus will come again in the future, even if we don’t know when. Let us thus make our plans in light of this certain future reality, and keep longing for that day to come. Come, Lord Jesus!