THE GOD WHO KEEPS HIS PROMISES #4
Skeptics see the problem. Unbelieving Jews and Moslems see the problem, and use it against Christianity. Yet, by and large, the Christian community tries to ignore it, or offers lame explanations that even casual readers of the Bible can see are false. It is amazing how many good, sincere believers really do not stop to consider how serious the problem is. Years ago, I listened as a godly elder taught a class on Thessalonians. He said, “We all know that Paul said Christ was coming back soon, and of course we know Jesus did not come back, but that does not mean anything.”
Wait!! If Jesus did not come back when he and his disciples said he would, it does mean something! The test of a prophet was whether his predictions came true (Deuteronomy 18). Thus, if Jesus did not come when he said he was going to, he was and is a false prophet! Keep in mind that Jesus said himself: “Do not believe me for my words sake, believe me for my works. If I do not do the works that my Father has given me, do not believe me” (John 10:37f). Thus, to reiterate, if Jesus did not come when he said he was going to– at the time set by the Father – then he failed or he lied or he was deluded, all of which would mean that he is not the Lord!
Jesus said he was going to come in judgment of all men, in the first century generation (Matthew 16:27-28; Revelation 22:6, 10-12). His disciples wrote that Jesus’ coming was near 2000 years ago. Many people like to say, “Well, the disciples thought his coming was near, and I think it is near, so there is no problem!” But there is a problem!
The apostles claimed to be inspired by the Holy Spirit to say, “In a very, very little while, the one who is coming will come, and will not tarry” (Hebrews 10:37- literal), “the coming of the Lord has drawn near” (James 5:8), “the end of all things has drawn near” (1 Peter 4:7). If Christ did not come soon, these statements were not inspired by the Holy Spirit! If Christ did not come soon, then he did not do the works the Father gave him and we are not to believe in him. But if these predictions failed, then the Bible is not the Word of God, Jesus is not the Son of God, and Christianity is falsified. That is how serious this problem is. Thus, this problem cannot be ignored. It is foundational to Christianity itself!
“BUT OF THAT DAY AND HOUR NO MAN KNOWS, NOT EVEN THE SON….”
Some Bible believers try to deal with this issue by saying the Bible writers could not say the end was near, because after all, Jesus himself said, “But of that day and hour, no one knows, not the angels, not even the Son, but the Father only.”(Matthew 24:36) So, “If Jesus does not know the time of his coming, he could not tell his disciples when it was going to be, therefore, when they said his coming was near, they were just expressing their hope that it was near.” But this will not work.
Jesus made the statement before the sending of the Spirit. Jesus promised his disciples that the Father would send the Spirit to teach them all things, and “show you things to come.” (John 16:7f). So, the Spirit was to teach the disciples what the Father knew about the future! So, when the disciples, writing after receiving the revelatory Spirit, said, “the coming of the Lord has drawn near,” it was in fact the Father revealing that!
Do you suppose the Father lied to them? Did the Spirit get it wrong? No, we do not serve a God who failed to keep His promises. We do not serve a God that had to delay and postpone His promises! We serve a God who keeps– and has kept!– all of His promises!