Do You Believe Jesus is Coming Back in Your Lifetime?

By Michael Brown Published on May 22, 2023

I recently conducted a poll on Twitter asking the question, “Do you believe Jesus will return in your lifetime?” The answers were as varied as expected. And, in a certain sense, as different as the answers were, all of them were right.

But how can three, mutually exclusive answers, all be right? That’s a great question. I’ll try to answer that here.

The three choices offered in the poll were: Yes; No; No Idea.

I also allowed for the fact that some of those responding were not believers in Jesus, giving them a fourth, quite separate choice: “I don’t believe in Jesus.”

But that group only amounted to 2.6 percent of those responding.

Of the 97.4 who were believers in Jesus, 31 percent responded with Yes; 19.9 percent said No; and 46.6 percent answered with No Idea. (In total, there were 1,922 votes.)

How, then, can I say that, in a certain sense, all of them were right?

Obviously, in an absolute sense, the answers Yes, No, and No Idea, are mutually exclusive, and all of them cannot be right at the same time.

How We Should Live

But, in another sense, each of these three answers reflects an aspect of biblical truth, one in which there is not an absolute right or wrong answer to the question. (At least, there is not an absolute right or wrong answer from the vantage point of our time-based, limited perspective. Hindsight, from the moment of the Lord’s return, will be 20/20.)

At this point, your head might be spinning. “So you’re saying the answers right, wrong, and right at the same time?”

Not quite.

As for the “yes” answer, on one level we should live in anticipation of the Lord’s return, longing to see Him come in our lifetimes, fervently hoping it will be so. That’s because, for almost 2,000 years, His Second Coming has been referred to as “near” (Revelation 1:3), and we are told that the Judge is “standing at the door” (Jacob [James] 5:9; for the record, I reject the preterist interpretation of these verses).

And it is very possible that, at least for some time, the apostles expected the Lord’s return in their lifetimes. Could this be why Paul used the word “we” when he wrote, “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51–52; see also 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18)

It is in this same spirit that traditional Jews pray daily, “I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah, and, though he tarry, I will wait daily for his coming.”

Everyone Who Died Thinking Jesus Would Not Return in the Lifetimes Was Correct, So Far

On another level, though, we should recognize that there is substance to the “no” answer as well.

That’s because everyone who has lived for the last 2,000 years has died, without the Lord coming in their lifetime. Every single one.

That means that everyone who has set a date for the return of the Lord in their lifetimes, up until now, has been wrong. Conversely, until now, everyone who said, “The Lord will not come in our lifetime” has been right.

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There is also much work to be done before the Messiah returns (more than two billion people never even heard the name of Jesus), along with many world events that must fall into place. Is it realistic to believe all this will happen in the next few years, especially if we are older? (It’s one thing to say, “I believe Jesus will come in my lifetime” if you’re 18 years old. It’s another to say if it you’re 88!)

So, there are good reasons to answer with “Yes” and good reasons to answer with “No.”

We Don’t Know for Sure, so How Should We Live?

As for the “No idea” answer (which I probably should have expressed as, “Not sure”), certainly, from our limited vantage point, we cannot be totally sure either way. (Obviously, some of you will differ with me on this, but I do not see enough evidence to answer with a categorical yes or no.)

How, then, do we put these three answers together?

We live with passion and eager expectation, as if the Lord could come in our lifetimes. How glorious that would be!

At the same time, we plan for multiple generations, as if He will not come before we die. That is pragmatic and wise.

And since we can’t know for sure either way but we do know that death is certain, we live in readiness to meet the Lord at any time while we go about preaching the gospel and making disciples, since that is our “always” work until He returns.

May He hasten that day!

 

Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Why So Many Christians Have Left the Faith. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

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