Letter to the Editor: Christians must begin to think for themselves
Sunday, January 14, 2018
In the Jan. 5 Telegram my beloved brother, the Rev. Billy Graham, wrote an article about the Second Coming of Jesus, saying that “the time for Christ’s return was coming closer.”
I am a 77-year-old minister and this is the same message I preached for decades. But late in life I began to wonder if I had misunderstood the Second Coming and had misled people about this church doctrine. I began to question my Lord asking why He was delaying His coming, especially since His Word promised that He would not delay it (Heb. 10:37). And, I asked why He had not been more specific about when He would return.
I seriously began to restudy this subject. To my surprise I discovered that Jesus had, indeed, been specific about when He would come again, not a certain day or hour, but within certain time periods, which He designated. For instance, I had been unaware that Jesus had promised His apostles that he would return – with their rewards – before they all died (Matthew 16:27-28) and while some of them were still preaching and fleeing from city to city (Matthew 10:23). What a specific time period! How had I preached for decades and missed this? I concluded that either Jesus returned in that first century AD, or He deceived everyone and was a false prophet. I know that Jesus is not a deceiver, so the only other option was that He kept His promises and returned during the days of the early church while some of His apostles were still alive.
But, how could this be? As the Rev. Graham wrote, the Gospel had to be preached to the whole world before the end would come (Matthew 24:14). I discovered that in this same conversation Jesus added another specific time period, prophesying that this mission would be finished before all of the people in His day had passed away (Matthew 24:34). Then I learned that the apostle Paul had declared “Mission Accomplished,” writing that the Gospel had gone “unto the ends of the world” and had been “preached to every creature which is under heaven” (Romans 10:18, Collosians 1:6&23). I was overwhelmed, until I found that “the world” of which Jesus and Paul spoke was their world of 2,000 years ago, not our world today. And, “the end” of which Jesus prophesied was not the end of our world, but their world, which was, indeed, utterly destroyed by the Roman Empire in AD 70.
Again, how had I missed this? No other nugget of truth ever so profoundly affected me as my seeing that Jesus’ Second Coming, “the last days,” and “the end times” were all in my past, not in my future. Yes, I had to admit that I had been wrong in a big way! But, this new insight into Biblical truth has brought more joy and happiness to this old preacher than anything else I have ever experienced in my 77 years!
GLENN LEE HILL