A personal friend and fervent disciple of the Lord Jesus wrote, “The most important prophetic development of the 20th Century was the regathering of the Jewish people to their historic homeland result­ing in the creation of the state of Israel. The 2nd most important de­velopment was the formation of a European confederation known as the European Union. Both of these momentous historical events point to the fact that we are living in the end times” [My emphasis­ avw.]

By and large I agree (though I would put the growth of world ­evangelization since 1946 as #1 — based on Matt. 24:14 and Mark 13:10 – and the others as #2 and #3). But I strongly feel the word “probably” should be added to his statement. We are probably living in the end times. Why do I say that? Because of the many times dur­ing church history when Christians were sure Jesus would return right away! Charles Trumbull, a fine Christian leader, made this observation: “The difference between this day and earlier generations, when some of God’s people have mistakenly supposed that the Lord’s return was at hand, is simply this: In our generation for the first time since Christ ascended to heaven, ALL the predicted major signs of the end of the age are synchronizing. One or more of these signs have occurred in earlier generations; never before have they ALL occurred simultaneously, as we see them today.”

That’s a good point, except that he wrote those words in 1937. 74 years have passed, and our Lord has not come back yet! Let’s avoid dogmatism. Yet let’s indeed keep watching and waiting, and urge others to do the same.

Another personal friend and zealous servant of Christ wrote, “The church is not going to go through any part of the tribulation. Certainly we can expect tribulation in this life-it has always been so. And when a person becomes a Christian he or she is not issued a pass that will isolate them from trouble. Ask any Chris­tian living in a communist or Muslim country and they will agree. However, just because Christians experience tribulation does not mean they will go through ‘the’ tribulation Jesus spoke of in Mat­thew 24 [verses 15-31; the NIV calls it “great distress” and “the dis­tress of those days”]. There are several reasons why, but the most obvious one is that such a view of events is contrary to the doc­trine of imminence. That is, if the church must go through some or all of the tribulation then Jesus cannot come today. The Bible teaches, and the early church believed in, the imminent return of Je­sus. ”

I love and respect both of those brethren. And I gladly share and wait for the “blessed hope” Paul mentioned in Titus 2:13, “the glo­rious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (Notice Paul defines that “Blessed Hope” as Christ’s “glorious appearing,” not what some folks call His “secret rapture.”) But, as the preced­ing sentence indicates, I also beg to differ to some extent with my friends’ quotes in paragraphs one and four above. Please study care­fully the following materials. Of course I may be wrong. On the other hand, of course they may be wrong. Let’s keep on searching the Scriptures with open minds. Later on in this month’s articles a suggested so­lution is made to the disagreement. So be sure to read the 3rd article (after reading the 2nd one)!

#2 The Imminence of Christ’s Return

#3 Two Differing Interpretations