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What is the 'big thing' Jesus spoke about? Second Coming, End Times?


So, what is the “big thing” Jesus Christ spoke of in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24) and I wrote about in my most recent column, and suggested it was on our horizons?

Jesus Himself reveals it in the Olivet Discourse — the message He gave to His disciples on a certain day when they had been impressed by the size of the great boulders in the structure of the Jerusalem Temple.

The conversation with the disciples on the slopes of the Mount of Olives continues until it encompasses the End Times and the signs of the apocalypse.

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But the Second Coming was not the central theme Jesus touched on that day as He talked to His followers. Jesus did reveal characteristics of the End Times: the age would be “perilous,” there would be family breakdown, unleashed self-indulgence, strange signs in natural phenomena for starters.

But the big event that is now shaping before our eyes is that “This Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).

This is the “big event” that is encompassed in the very age in which the Church now exists and functions. In fact, Christ's Second Coming will not happen until, by God's measure, global proclamation has reached completion.

A brief analysis of the words Jesus spoke that day give some sense of the importance for us of what He revealed.

First, the message that will be heralded is the “Gospel of the Kingdom.” The message the Church in that day will bring will go beyond evangelism but will focus on the Lordship of Christ and the nature of His domain in the world.

Second, the global target audience for the proclamation is for the “inhabited” Earth. The emphasis is on the ethnic groups and classes of human beings who comprise the nations.

Too often End-Times Gospel will not be merely institutional — Christianity versus whatever religion or worldview embraced by a social group, but to the individuals and their needs.

The End-Times Gospel will not be so much institutional as it will be relational with God through Christ and the implications of Kingdom citizenship for all people.

Jesus also reveals the truth that the very measure of time and events rests with the carrying out of the global proclamation.

In fact, He says, it is the whole purpose of the entire telos of history and time. Since the fall in Eden, God has been shaping the world to resist and overcome the “tohu” and “bohu” brought on by the ravaging of Satan. Jesus came into the world to lay the foundations of the Kingdom of God and its order against the kingdom of darkness and its chaos, and, through the cross, to make it possible for sin — possessed humans to enter the Kingdom of righteousness and inhabit there for all eternity. This is why the proclamation to all people groups precedes the Second Coming of Christ as Lord as well as Savior.

This is, as Jesus put it, these are “the things that must take place” before the other “big thing,” the Second Coming, takes place.

Again, all this has constituted the telos, or “purpose of God” since the core of the forbidden fruit dropped from the mouths of Adam and Eve. God has been shaping history and geography for the purposes of Kingdom proclamation.

He is readying the Church that will have the Kingdom vision and message, a spiritually mature church that is Christ-centered, Spirit energized, Kingdom envisioning, Word anchored and globally focused.

By those criteria, we are blessed to live in this era. It is the season of preparation as God readies His Church for the truly “big thing” — the declaration that the preparation is done. The message of the Kingdom will have gotten to every human group  on the planet and the individuals within it.

God has known since the foundations of the world the precise number of humans who will receive the Gospel of the Kingdom, and even their names. At the moment they receive Christ and His Kingdom, God as it were will say to His Son, “Now!!” That's the “big thing” ahead for which the Church is now being prepared.

Now is not the time to abandon the mission, to be crushed, be discouraged, or exhausted by the enormous work ahead.

Wallace B. Henley is a former pastor, daily newspaper editor, White House and Congressional aide. He served 18 years as a teaching pastor at Houston's Second Baptist Church. Henley is author or co-author of more than 25 books, including God and Churchill, co-authored with Sir Winston Churchill's great grandson, Jonathan Sandys. Henley's latest  book is Who will rule the coming 'gods'? The looming  spiritual crisis of artificial intelligence.

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