Coming Again! Global Views on the Second Coming of Jesus

Blog October 2, 2019

Lift up the trumpet, and loud let it ring:
Jesus is coming again!
Cheer up, ye pilgrims, be joyful and sing:
Jesus is coming again!
Coming again, coming again,
Jesus is coming again!

– “Jesus is Coming Again,” Hymn #213

Every time I sing this song at church, I get goosebumps. Something about the boldness of the notes, a chorus of voices singing these lyrics, and the words themselves provide such hope and serve as a reminder of the soon coming of Jesus. The hymn has an urgency about it. Jesus is coming again soon.

The Bible tells us that “concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only

(Matt. 24:36, ESV).

However, the Bible also gives us signs that point to the end of days:

But understand this that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.

(2 Tim. 3:1-5, ESV)

There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.

(Luke 21:22, ESV)

For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places… then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. . .

(Matt. 24:7; 21, ESV)

When we consider the world we live in today, how do these verses align with what we see? As part of the 2017-18 Global Church Member Survey (GCMS), members worldwide were asked if they believe that the “fulfillment of prophecy and events in the world indicate that Christ’s coming is very near” (Q42.09). Seven out of every ten respondents (71.2%) indicated that they strongly agree that this is true. Another 22.2% agree. Only a very small percent indicated that they are not sure (3.7%), or that they disagree to one degree or another (2.8%). It would seem that members worldwide agree that we are truly living in the end times. 

In spite of this strong agreement among members worldwide that the Second Coming is near, when members were asked to respond to the statement, “I am confident that Jesus Christ will return in my lifetime” (Q42.21), the answers were surprisingly different. Only about half strongly agreed (33.7%) or agreed (21.9%) that they believed Jesus would return in their lifetime. Over a third (34.8%) admitted that they are not sure. Almost one in ten (9.5%) disagreed or strongly disagreed, meaning that they do not believe Jesus will return in their lifetime. We could assume that this result may be related to the age of some participants. However, the data shows there is no relationship between age and disagreement with this statement.

Interestingly, church members surveyed as part of the GCMS in 2013 were also asked about Christ’s Second Coming though the question was worded differently. When asked, if they believed that the world would end within the next 20 years (Q4.11), respondents were sure even more that Jesus’s coming was not that close. Almost half (46.7%) of surveyed members strongly disagreed that Jesus would return in that time frame. Only a quarter (22.4%) strongly agreed that Jesus’ return was 20 years away or less.

While we do not know the exact timing of the Second Coming of Our Lord and Savior, we should be living as if we had only a few days left on earth. Our daily lives must align with Jesus and His Word, be focused on winning as many souls for the Kingdom as possible by God’s grace, and ensure that our hearts are right with God. After all, Jesus is coming again! 

For more data on the 2013 GCMS, look at the Church Member Research Reports by Division 

For more data on the 2018 GCMS, look at the following presentation by Dr. David Trim from the Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research: 2018 Annual Council – Global Church Member Survey Data Report and also at the GCMS Meta-Analysis Report.

Created in collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry

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