“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed — in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53 NKJV).

“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 NKJV).

Jesus is coming back. I’m talking of the rapture that will precede His second coming. This return is the next major thing on the calendar of God for the church. Those who are saved and washed in the blood of the Lamb (Jesus) – the church both living and dead – shall be caught up with Jesus in the sky to be with him in heaven for seven years receiving their rewards during this period while on earth there will be tribulation (great tribulation).

The second coming of Jesus will be at the end of the tribulation. Jesus shall return with the raptured Christians and they shall reign with Jesus on the earth for one thousand years during which Satan will be bound in the bottomless pit so that he won’t deceive the nations until he’s released for a little while to resume his deception of nations (Revelation 20:3, 7-8). The devils’ rebellion shall be crushed and the world shall be judged by fire (Isaiah 66:16). Later, God will replace the present heavens and earth with the new heavens and new earth. Some Bible scholars believe that God shall come to make His throne on the earth and dwell with those who are saved and they shall spend eternity in the new earth, not in heaven. But there are other opinions based on different interpretations of end-time scriptures. These include the contrary position that believers will spend eternity in heaven, not the new earth.

The message of Jesus’ return has been preached for many years since the early church, yet Jesus has not come! Because of this, many Christians have been wondering whether or not Jesus will still come. Many Christians have become lukewarm – they’re no longer excited about the talk of rapture or preparing for it. Some have even abandoned the faith concluding that the return of Jesus is a creation of some religious bigots.

Delayed return of Jesus        

But Jesus told us ahead that His coming would be delayed so it shouldn’t be a surprise. In the parable of the ten virgins, Jesus said that when the bridegroom delayed in coming, the ten virgins slept off but eventually he came. That is very important (Matthew 25:1-13).

To illustrate the Kingdom of God again, Jesus, in Matthew 25:14-30, used the story of a man who travelled to a “far country” and gave one of his servants five talents, another servant two talents, and yet another servant one talent. In that story, though the man travelled to a far country, he still came back from his journey “after a long time” (verse 19 NKJV). It’s long since Jesus ascended to heaven but He is coming back.

Also in Mark 13:34-37, Jesus used another story to illustrate the Kingdom of God. In that story, a man went on a journey to a “far country”, gave authority to his servants to work, and commanded the porter to watch. Verses 35-37 say, “Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning—  lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping.  And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” (NKJV). Jesus is coming back.

In all the stories, something was expected of the virgins and the servants while they awaited the bridegroom and their master respectively. The virgins were to watch but they slept off because the bridegroom delayed. The servants given the talents were to do business with it and make a profit but not all of them did so.

No fixed date

Mark 13:33 says since you don’t know when the master will come, watch and pray – be on guard, stay alert. In Luke 12:37-40, Jesus, in His teaching, says, “Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them. And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.  Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (NKJV). He might come in the second or third hour or any time he chooses to come. The servants’ responsibility is to watch and open the door immediately after their master returns and knocks.

No date has been fixed for his coming. It’s useless preaching on a certain date. Such predictions in the past have failed, and will still fail. It is unbiblical. The day of his coming shall come suddenly like a thief in the night – unexpectedly – so be ready (1 Thessalonians 5:2; Matthew 24:42-44)

Jesus is coming back; don’t be weary of expecting Him. “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame” (Revelation 16:15 NKJV). He’ll come unexpectedly; be prepared.

At the time of the Lord’s return, people will be relaxed living in false security and will be taken by surprise. The Bible says, “For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.  But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief” (1 Thessalonians 5:3-4 NKJV). At this time, there is the possibility that many Christians would have fallen asleep just like those ten virgins did when the bridegroom was delayed (Matthew 25:5). Are you going to sleep off or will you stay awake watching? “Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:6-9 NKJV).

How to prepare for the Master’s return

1. Be heavenly-minded. 1 Corinthians 7:31 warns that those who use this world should not misuse it, for the form of this world is passing away. The New Living Translation renders the verse this way: “Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them. For this world as we know it will soon pass away.” It is not enough to be born again; you must ensure you are not engrossed in the things of this world. “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:1-2 NKJV).

Those who are heavenly-minded live, knowing they have a limited time to spend on this present earth; they know the present earth is not their permanent abode. They are citizens of heaven and will become permanent residents of a new earth. They’re conscious not to use their temporary life to forfeit their eternity. One will either spend eternity with God or eternity with the devil. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:20-21 NKJV).

2. Be constantly expectant of His return. Don’t be like those who have concluded that Jesus is no more coming back. Such people joke with the truth of the return of the Lord and carelessly live in sin. But they will regret doing that when Jesus eventually returns. It will be too late. Jesus is coming back; be prepared (Mark 14:62; Acts 1:10-11).

3. Be aglow in the spirit; keep your lamp burning. Don’t become lukewarm because of his ‘delay’ in coming. Jesus will spit out of His mouth the lukewarm (Revelation 3:16).

Don’t sleep off like the ten virgins (Matthew 25:5). When all the sleeping ten virgins heard the shout that the bridegroom was coming and they should come out to welcome him, they all prepared their lamps but the five foolish virgins discovered that their lamps were going out. They asked the five wise virgins to give them some of their oil but they turned down their request telling them to go and buy some for themselves because the oil they had would not be enough for all of them. The lesson is that everybody is responsible for his or her spiritual condition. You are responsible for keeping yourself afire spiritually.

Don’t let the lamp of your spiritual life go out like the lamps of the foolish virgins who had no extra oil to keep their lamps burning. Keep the fire of your faith burning. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). But you need both faith and patience as you await his return for surely the promise shall come to pass. “Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: ‘For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.’ But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:35-39 NKJV). The promise of his return is not a fluke.  

To man, his return may appear delayed but how can we say that when he has not told anyone the exact date of his return?  Only God knows the appointed date. “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is” (Mark 13:32-33 NKJV). Of course, that doesn’t mean Jesus didn’t or doesn’t know because if the Father knows, Jesus also knows since Jesus (the Son of God) and the Father are one (John 10:30). He said the Father is in him, and He is in the Father (John 10:38). He also said He is in the Father (John 14:20). As the Son of man, Jesus might not have known the time but as the Son of God, He certainly knew and knows. None of us or science knows the time of Jesus’ return. All we can do is prepare.

4. Live a holy life. Jesus is coming back for a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish; He is coming for a holy church and without fault (Ephesians 5:27-28). Without holiness, no one shall see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). As you expect the Master’s return, live soberly, righteously, and godly. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:11-14 NKJV).

5. Get busy doing God’s assignment. This means you should invest your time and other resources in the Kingdom of God, especially in soul-winning and discipleship (Luke 19:13). “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20 NKJV). Serve faithfully. Don’t be lazy; don’t be weary.

Conclusion: If you’re born again, you have been told or reminded about what you should do to prepare for the Master’s return. The Bible tells us what to do, and this message is a reminder. Failure to act is a sin. “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17 NKJV). You have no excuse. Jesus is coming back. Are you preparing for His return? If you’ve not given your life to Jesus, do so now.

dsc_0581T.O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
WhatsApp No: +2349081295947