You may be as I am on the second coming of Christ. You’ve listened to so many who’ve been wrong about it that you are reluctant to preach about it at all. I have lots of sermons on the subject, none of which are very definitive. After having made a 70-year study of it, I still have no idea as to when it will be; and yet I never cease preaching it.
One day I know I shall cry in glorious Latin, “Obesa cantavit—the fat lady has sung! It is all over.” The word history is passé. It is followed by an exclamation point a thousand miles high! It is because of this grand presupposition that I preach the second coming.
I met a man named John in South Dakota when I was in high school. One summer day when we couldn’t cut wheat, we had time for an unusual discussion about the second coming. This John was really two Johns packed in the same pair of overalls. John 1 had in his library a file of books that from decade to decade had traced all the best guesses at when Jesus would come again.
The oldest books on his shelves surmised that “Kaiser Bill” was the antichrist. There was another very large set of books that focused on why Hitler was the antichrist. After that, there were smaller collections of thinner paperbacks that guessed at Chairman Mao, Khrushchev and one or two on Henry Kissinger. John had—across many years—listened to radio preachers (mostly out of Del Rio, Texas, I think), who helped him fill in his prophecy charts and study sheets. John died not many years later never having solved the riddle, but never tiring of trying to ferret time’s biggest secret out of his heavenly Father.
In John 1, I saw a disappointed old man who had wearied his soul chasing after the antichrist. Each time he thought he had him cornered, the world turned and he was wrong, forcing him to set off in a new direction of study. John 1 had pursued the second coming with an advent chart and a host of radio gospelizers who also had guessed wrongly, and so spread their false doctrine to a well-meaning farmer who wanted desperately to get it right.
I am still preaching the second coming because of John 2. John 2 was a lover rather than a radio scholar. John 2 wanted to see Jesus desperately whenever He got here. John was one of these souls who Paul described in 2 Timothy as “one who would receive the crown of righteousness” because he was numbered among those “who loved His appearing (
Where is John these 60 years later? Well, he and Jesus are in heaven. John is still watching for His coming from the safe side of history—no gambles much for John now. To be sure, John still has to pick up his old body, which lies in a South Dakota cemetery. The old thing still has to be clothed with immortality and made fit for the kind of eternity that lies on the other side of the second coming, but no hurry; all in good time when time is no longer a factor.
I could see this better side of John years ago, his pale skin grown thin and his blue eyes lit with an electric hope. He made me see and feel that what all the wrong radio preachers had to say was of no importance. They wasted a lot of time trying to get it right, but John lived a good life and died full of hope. That’s what the second coming is—the only thing left to be done to consummate the kingdom. It’s a time for praise and crowns, a time for cashing in our inflated earthly currency and picking up the gold we have been storing up in heaven’s vaults.
“Never ask me when He is coming again.
“Only ask me if I am ready.
“No, more than that, ask me if I am eager.”