Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran pastor in Germany during the rise of the Nazi party under Adolf Hitler. He was very active in the resistance movement against Nazism and was eventually arrested and hanged in 1943 for his efforts, just before the end of World War II.
A group of Christians involved in the resistance believed that Hitler was the biblical Antichrist. They once asked Bonhoeffer, “Why do you expose yourself to all this danger? Jesus will return any day, and all your work and suffering will be for nothing.”
Bonhoeffer replied, “If Jesus returns tomorrow, then tomorrow I’ll rest from my labor. But today I have work to do. I must continue the struggle until it’s finished.”
Living in light of the second coming of Jesus Christ is the biblical responsibility of every Christian. And Dietrich Bonhoeffer lived that way, motivated by a central truth from the words of Christ himself: No one, not even the Son of Man, knows the day or the hour of His return. Therefore, since we don’t know when He is to return, we are to remain diligent in our kingdom work while vigilant at the same time. More than one of Jesus’ parables emphasized the fact that when the master is away, his servants are responsible to live and work as if he could appear at any moment.
Many Christians today don’t live with as active an awareness of Christ’s return as they should. Some are not sure it will ever happen because it has been nearly 2,000 years since Jesus promised to return. Others believe He will come again but are not sure how to live in light of it. Given the frequency with which Christ’s return is mentioned in the Bible, it is difficult to imagine how there could be confusion on the subject.
Bible researcher Paul Lee Tan has documented over 1,845 references to the second coming of Christ in the Old Testament alone, with seventeen of the thirty-nine books giving it special attention. Of the 260 chapters in the New Testament, there are 318 references to Christ’s return, or one out of every thirty verses. Twenty-three of the twenty-seven New Testament books refer to the Second Coming, and the four that do not are the three single-chapter books that are personal letters dealing with a specific subject, along with Galatians. Even this latter book certainly assumes the reality of Christ’s return since it was written by the apostle Paul who spoke of the event more than any other New Testament writer. Finally, for every prophecy relating to the first coming of Christ, there are eight on Christ’s second coming.
That certainly doesn’t sound like a subject on which there is a lack of information, does it? If we have failed to live diligently and vigilantly in light of the Second Coming, it is because we have failed to study the Bible’s teaching on it. Until Christ Returns is a study guide of ten lessons written to focus on one particular aspect of Christ’s return: How then shall we live, knowing Christ is due to return?
These lessons assume what the Bible teaches as truth: Jesus Christ will return to planet earth. Given that fact, the Christian’s challenge is to understand how that reality should affect his life in the interim. The Bible warns against deception from false teachers and despair over the headlines and encourages us to be about the task of evangelism and building up the body of Christ, working so as to receive a reward while living in view of the “blessed hope” of Christ’s return.
Jeremiah, David. 2007. Until Christ Returns: Living Faithfully Today While We Wait for Our Glorious Tomorrow (Study Guide). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Check out our Bible Study on the Second Coming of Christ. It is on Amazon as well as part of the Good Questions Have Groups Talking subscription service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.