Imminent Return

Is the Return of Christ “Imminent?”
Gary R. Wood

Tim LaHaye and Bryan Jenkins, Authors of the Left Behind series do not believe in the Imminent Return! See the Video

Definition of Imminent:
“likely to occur at any moment” Random House Dictionary
“threatening to occur at any moment” Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary

The true definition of the “imminent return” of Jesus Christ is that “He is expected to come at any moment.” In the Church, this is not the definition of the imminent return doctrine of Christ today--the definition has changed. Today it means Jesus “could” come at any moment, not “will.” Here is an example of what I mean:

"Christ's coming is imminent. That means that Jesus may come at any moment. That means that there is no other prophesied event which must occur before Christ's coming. Nothing else needs to happen before Jesus may come. No signs need precede it. Jesus may come today."
John Sproule, In Defense of Pretribulationism, Winona Lake, Indiana, U.S.A., BMH Books, 1980, p.12

If you believe Jesus “could” come at any moment then you do not truly believe in the “imminent” return of Christ. If however, you honestly believe Christ is likely to come today, tomorrow or next week, you believe in the imminent return of Christ.

The Doctrine’s Philosophy
It is the contention of the imminent return doctrine proponents that believing Christ could come any moment causes Christians to live more righteously. Is this true?

Through the years, during revivals and seminars I have asked hundreds if not thousands of people the following question: If you (a Christian) found out you had a terminal disease and only had six months to a year to live, what would you do differently? The answer has been overwhelmingly the same; everyone said they would do the following:

  1.  Pray like they have never prayed before. They would make sure there was no unrepentant sin in their life.
  2. They would witness to all their unsaved friends and loved ones. They would not want to leave this world knowing that someone they loved had not accepted Christ.
  3. They would abandon the weights and sins they struggle with daily.

Before my brother, Bill, passed away in 2003, he claimed to be a Christian but participated in sinful activities on a regular basis. He rejected council and any scripture that suggested he should turn away from sin, claiming God’s grace covered all his sins. When he was in the hospital and found out he had 72 hours to live, his concept of grace changed immediately. When he stood at deaths door, and judgment was “imminent” he did not defend his sin.
When he realized that he was about to meet Jesus face to face, his attitude changed.

The next morning when I went to the hospital, the nurses told me he didn’t sleep at all through the night. Instead, he spent the whole night crying out to God loudly, to forgive him. He repented for his wicked arrogance and begged God to have mercy on him. He did not care that no other patient was able to sleep as he sought God. He did not care who heard him, his eternity lay in the balance and when truly confronted with idea that death was imminent he was not the same person he had been days earlier.

The imminent return doctrine does not have the effect that ministers and authors say it does. Christians that believe Christ “could” come at any moment do not live like “is coming at any moment.” The Church as a whole does not look like the Bride that will ultimately be offered up to the groom, Jesus. It is not spotless, and without wrinkle. She looks like a two-dollar hooker—filled with idolatry, fornications, lying, stealing and cheating, and this is just the ministry.

The Importance of Signs
“I’m not looking for signs; I’m looking for the Rapture!” This is something I have heard for many years from Christians that believe in the imminent return philosophy, and on the surface it may sound very spiritual. However, Christ described the signs to look for in His Word. To discount these signs is to discount Christ and His instructions.

 When John Nelson Darby introduced the “new wine” doctrine of the “imminent return” of Jesus Christ, in the mid 1800’s he taught there were no signs left to be fulfilled. He believed the return of Christ would happen any moment. Today men such as John Hagee and Tim LaHaye point to Israel becoming a nation (1948) as the last fulfilled sign before Christ comes back. If Hagee and LaHaye are right, then Darby, the “father of pre-tribulationism” was wrong!

Consider this, the Bible tells us the False Prophet will cause all “rich and poor, small and great to receive a mark in their right hand or forehead. This mark serves as an identifying mark that allows its bearer to buy and sell. Without it a person cannot buy make a house payment, buy a car or purchase the daily necessities such as food. For this mark to be instituted and monitored on a world-wide basis requires computers, correct? Every theologian, minister and author agrees that computers are needed for the mark of the Antichrist to work. In 1948, there was no world-wide web, there was no computer network that could monitor purchases, and transfer money from one account to another. Even in 1988, banks computers were not linked together. Some operated using main frames and others use personal computers and they did not communicate with each other.

In 1992, all banks were linked together by law. This allowed every financial institution to communicate with each other and this established the beginning of the computer system that will help initiate the mark of the Antichrist. It was as a “sign” that we were progressing towards the end-time, the rise of the Antichrist, and the return of Jesus for the Church.

Watching for signs that lead up to the Rapture is not unspiritual, it is the act of wise Christians. It is an effective tool in witnessing to the lost. The book, “The Late Great, Planet Earth” by Hal Lindsey can be attributed with the salvation of thousands of people. Lindsey used end-time events in correlation with scripture to show that we are approaching the end and the return of Jesus Christ.

The Israeli Peace Treaty, a Last Days Sign
Whether you are pre-trib, pre-wrath or post-trib you should be watching the events unfolding in the middle-east, more importantly, Israel. The Bible tells us that Israel will sign a seven year peace-treaty (covenant) with many nations, and when this treaty is signed it starts the last seven years. (70th week of Daniel)

If the pre-tribulation view is correct, the Rapture will happen immediately before the peace-treaty is signed. I however, do not hold to this view. I believe you and I will see the peace-treaty signed, and if I am correct and you believe in a pre-tribulation Rapture you will need to reevaluate your Rapture view at that point. If the Church is still on the earth when the seven-year peace treaty is signed, the pre-tribulation Rapture doctrine will have been proven untrue.
At this point I am going to have you ask yourself, “Why are ministers and whole congregations abandoning the pre-tribulation Rapture doctrine.” If you would like to find out, please check out the book “The Sixth Day Rapture, The Shabua Principle.”

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