OceanSide church of Christ
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JESUS IS COMING SOON:
Are You Sure About That?
Victor M. Eskew
One of the songs in our songbooks is entitled: “Jesus Is Coming Soon.” The song was written by R.E. Winsett in 1942. It is a popular song. Part of the reason that it is so popular is because of its quick pace and harmonious parts. The simple message of the song is: “Jesus is coming soon!”
This writer refuses to sing this song for several reasons. One reason is because I am not certain that Jesus is coming soon. The word “soon” means ‘within a short period, before long, in the near future, at an early date.” With the knowledge that I have of the Lord’s return I could just as easily sing that the Lord is coming a long time from now. Why? Because I do not know when Jesus is coming again. Jesus said: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matt. 24:36).
I often ask individuals: “Do you know that Jesus is coming soon?” Often they will respond, saying: “O yes! Jesus is coming soon.” Then I ask: “How do you know?” Some will point me to the “signs of the times.” Supposedly these signs are found in the Bible and tell us that Jesus’ return is imminent. These individuals have accepted the teachings of Premillennialism. The signs of which they speak usually come from Matthew 24 or from the book of Revelation. These individuals fail to understand that the signs of Matthew 24 refer to the fall and destruction of the city of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. They ignore the words of John in the Revelation when he says that he is writing of “things which must shortly come to pass” (Rev. 1:1). There are no signs that point to the Second Coming of Christ being near at hand.
A second response often goes like this: “Well, we are closer to the Lord’s return today than we were yesterday.” This is true, but it is not a proof that Jesus is coming soon. Dear readers, Jesus might not come for one hundred, one thousand, or one million years from now. It this is true, He is not coming soon. If many, many years from now means “soon,” then the word “soon” ceases to carry a definition. This is what happens when man yearns for something that is pleasing to the flesh rather than something that is Biblical in nature.
A third response this author has heard is: “Jesus is coming soon because we are living in the last days.” We are living in the “last days” (Heb. 1:1-2). However, we have been living in the last days for the past 2000 years. The “last days” can be simply defined as the Christian Age, from Calvary until the present. If we can say that Jesus is coming soon because we are living in the last days, then the Christians of the first century could have proclaimed that Jesus is coming soon. If not, why not? Yet, they did not. They proclaimed only the truth as revealed in the Word of God. The truth is that no one knows when Jesus is going to return. Both Peter and Paul affirm that the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night (I Thess. 5:2; II Pet. 3:2). It could be today. It could be millions of years from now. No man knows. To affirm that Jesus is coming soon is to affirm something no one knows except the Father in heaven.
When we sing a song, we are to sing with the spirit and with the understanding (I Cor. 14:15). We must be able to affirm without a doubt the truthfulness of our words. Not one human being can affirm with absolute certainty that Jesus is coming soon. If you can, you know more than the angels of heaven and the Son of God.
Dear readers, the song, “Jesus Is Coming Soon,” was written by a man who believed in the doctrine of Premillennialism. He believed that signs are pointing to the imminent return of our Lord. You might wonder how I know this. It is because of one of the verses of the original song. This verse has been dropped from many of our songbooks in an attempt to make the song harmonize with Scripture. Here is what the verse says:
Love of so many cold
Losing their home of gold
This is God’s word is told
When these signs come to pass
Nearing the end at last
It will come very fast
Trumpets will sound
Mr. Winsett was a minister and was affiliated with the Church of God (Seventh Day). It was this affiliation that caused him to believe that Jesus is coming soon. Mr. Willett died in 1952. It has been 60 years since his death. Jesus has not returned. Jesus’ return was not soon for Mr. Willett.
There will be many people who read these words and feel sorry for me. There will be others who read these words and will get angry with me. Some will state that we are “straining at gnats.” We are saddened by these reactions. This writer has preached the gospel for over thirty years. Not once have I preached a sermon entitled: “Jesus Is Coming Soon.” To do so would be to affirm something that I cannot prove to be true. Why is this important to our study? It is important because when we sing songs of praise, we are teaching others. In Colossians 3:16, we read: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” If I cannot preach that Jesus is coming soon from the pulpit, I cannot sing it in my praises to the Lord.
Please note that I am not discounting the fact that Jesus could come soon. He could come at any minute of any day. I just do not know that Jesus is coming soon. If I don’t know that, I will not tell you that I do. I will, however, tell you to watch and prepare. This is what Jesus said to do about two millenniums ago. “Watch therefore; for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matt. 25:13).