Over the past few months I have read several articles about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Among them are two articles by Robert L. Millett. One is titled “7 Things That Still Need to Happen before the World Ends,” and the other one is titled “5 Things You Should Know About the Second Coming.” I may have even used one or both in my blog because both of them have some interesting information and the subject is never far from my thoughts.
My mind has been on the things of eternity in recent weeks because I have another brother who appears to be close to death. After suffering serious health problems for more than two years, he recently learned that he has brain cancer. Although he appears ready to face whatever comes, I have shed many tears – probably for myself but also for him and his family – since I received the latest news. I thought about his reunion with my mother and father and how they will say to him, “Well done, Son!” I also thought of his reunion with his daughter who passed away more than 40 years ago and his reunion with our two brothers who have already graduated from this life. I am sure that he, along with our father, will have all of them working on family history and doing all that they can to get our family all sealed together.
With this type of thought going through my mind, I studied 1 Thessalonians this afternoon. The two Thessalonians in the New Testament were written by the Apostle Paul to the Thessalonian saints. Paul had previously performed missionary work in Thessalonica while on his second missionary journey. However, he and his two missionary companions were forced out of the city by Jewish leaders. While on his third missionary journey, he stopped in Corinth and sent Timothy to check on the saints in Thessalonica.
Timothy returned to Corinth with a good report. The saints in Thessalonica were living the gospel and being good examples to all who knew them. Timothy also brought some questions from the saints to Paul, and Paul sent the answers back to them in his letters.
In the first three chapters of 1 Thessalonians, Paul expresses great love for the people and appreciation for their faithfulness and missionary work. He counseled them to grow in unity and love one for another.
In the last two chapters Paul calls on the Thessalonian members of the Church to be pure and holy and to sanctify themselves in preparation for the Second Coming of Christ. Paul taught them that the Saints who remain faithful in their testimony of Jesus Christ until death will rise with Him, and that the righteous living on the earth will meet the Lord and the risen Saints. He reminded them of the need to prepare and watch for the day of the Savior’s return.
The teachings of the Apostle Paul about the Second Coming are confirmed in latter-day revelations, such as Doctrine and Covenants 88:96-98. Elder Dallin H. Oaks summarized these teachings as follows.
Four matters are indisputable to Latter-day Saints: (1) The Savior will return to the earth in power and great glory to reign personally during a millennium of righteousness and peace. (2) At the time of His coming there will be a destruction of the wicked and a resurrection of the righteous. (3) No one knows the time of His coming, but (4) the faithful are taught to study the signs of it and to be prepared for it (“Preparation for the Second Coming,” Ensign, May 2004, 7).
Elder Oaks spoke about the destruction of the wicked. Elsewhere, the Lord has said that the destruction will begin in His house, meaning The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Those members who have not prepared spiritually to meet him will be destroyed - at least the most wicked of them.
Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-8 that the Savior will as a thief in the night, and Elder Oaks confirms that no one knows the time when the Savior will return. Paul, however, makes an exception for the followers of Jesus Christ who “are not in darkness” (verses 4-5). These disciples will be awake, alert, and watching for the Savior. President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876-1972) adds the following information.
I do not know when he is going to come. No man knows. Even the angels of heaven are in the dark in regard to that great truth [see Matthew 24:36-37]. But this I know, that the signs that have been pointed out are here. The earth is full of calamity, of trouble. The hearts of men are failing them. We see the signs as we see the fig tree putting forth her leaves; and knowing this time is near, it behooves me and it behooves you, and all men upon the face of the earth, to pay heed to the words of Christ, to his apostles and watch, for we know not the day nor the hour. But I tell you this, it shall come as a thief in the night, when many of us will not be ready for it (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954-56], 3:52-53 as quotedin the New Testament Student Manual, Religion 211-212, p 450).
There is little doubt in my mind that the Second Coming is near. President Smith said that the signs of His coming are here. It is not too late – yet – to learn the signs of the times and to prepare to meet the Savior. Ancient and latter-day apostles and prophets have warned us. If we do not pay attention to them, we have no one to blame but ourselves.