Jesus’ return is imminent, but does that mean it will happen this month?

The predictions are proclaimed everywhere—on billboards, lawn signs, placards held by groups of people at intersections. The message is clear: the day is almost here when Jesus will return to judge the world. The call is to all people to repent and believe in Jesus Christ in order to be taken away at the rapture of all true believers…to occur on an exact date. The messenger is a self-educated Bible teacher, who has amassed numerous followers through his radio and television outreach with claims to possess the proper understanding of the secrets of God, hidden through the ages–secrets which even Jesus himself did not claim to know, if we are to believe his cautionary words in Matt. 24:36, 44. 
As Christians, in order to derive some benefit from this situation, and perhaps even deepen our faith roots so that we are not “blown about by every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4:14), we should review a number of things, but do so “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15).
First of all, Christ did in fact promise to return (see Matt. 25.31-46 and others) in judgment. This word to the early church was central to the first believers’ preaching and the vitality of their outreach as well as their compassion. We preachers have found it convenient to excise that aspect of Christ’s teachings from our sermons, and too many churches have been satisfied to settle for this. But for a lasting transformation of a world permeated with selfishness and evil, the only lasting hope is the
Coming of the Lord.
Second, it is a fruitless and naïve endeavor to claim to know the date and time. Making predictions has always been a failure (if you are interested, look up “October 22, 1844” to learn why this is so), and has brought ridicule not just upon those making this claim, but on the gospel itself as being merely a fantasy. Jesus told us to be watchful and faithful stewards and servants until that unexpected hour; he did not tell us to spend time counting the hours until it happened.
Third, sincerity of belief is no guarantee of being correct. Even people of other faiths might be much more convinced that they have the correct revelation, and even be willing to die (or kill) for that conviction, but that does not prove that they are “of the truth.” God’s truth, taught to us in the scriptures and embodied in Jesus Christ, makes it clear that we must be humbly following our Lord in order to be “in the truth.”
Fourth, the truth we are called to proclaim in this world is much more powerful and more winsome than any sort of date-setting. We are entrusted with the gospel of grace, offering the words of hope in Jesus Christ that people long for, words which bring new life and transformation where previously there had been only dead ends and decay. Christ’s people must reiterate the Lord’s call to repentance, admitting, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (including themselves), while never neglecting to add that God accepts all who trust in Jesus and not in their own righteousness (see Romans 3:21-26).
When we speak the truth in love, let us be mindful of people’s anxiety about “Judgment Day” and “End of the World” predictions, especially at a time when wars and unrest, economic struggles and natural disasters seem to corroborate the predictions of some. Jesus our Savior must be our example
in this. He both rigorously challenged the religious teachers caught up in the certainty of their systems and half-truths, while at the same time tenderly binding the wounds of the brokenhearted and calling them to turn from their sin to follow him while they still had the opportunity to do so. May Jesus’ wisdom, power and love be our inspiration and our guide.

In Christ’s love,
Badveli Nishan Bakalian