In one of my classes recently, a study of Acts through Revelation in the New Testament, we talked for awhile during our discussion of 1 Thessalonians 4 about the second coming of Jesus Christ and how best to prepare for that day. A number of students expressed some nervousness about that day, which will be either great or terrible, and one student indicated, with a smile on his face, that he would prefer that it be postponed indefinitely.
“Tell us more,” I said. “Why put it off? Why wish that it would never come? Is it just because our lives are out of order, that we have some serious repenting to do?”
We agreed that if we were hiding deep sin, the coming of the Lord would be the last thing we would want to have happened. One of the young women spoke. “While my life isn’t exactly where it needs to be,” she said, “I don’t think I am totally unworthy. I hold a temple recommend and use it regularly, but I’m still somewhat frightened by the thought that the Savior might come tonight or tomorrow or a week from now.”
I didn’t let the matter rest. “Why is that?” I inquired. The comments that began to come from the students were revealing. These were outstanding young Latter-day Saints, but they felt some discomfort about the Second Coming, for at least the following reasons:
- They hadn’t had the opportunity to marry, raise a family, and live to an old age.
- Some of their family members had strayed from the path of right, and they wanted more time to try and recover them.
- They were just a bit unsure about their own standing before God.
I tried to respond to their first two fears by reassuring them that there is plenty of time for them to live a long and productive family life and that they should seek to buy a home, purchase insurance plant cherry trees, and continue to pray and labor in behalf of those who have wandered. Such prayers would not go unnoticed or unattended to by a merciful and all-loving Lord (James 5:16). I reiterated the teachings of current Church leaders that while the coming of the Lord is indeed something we need to prepare for, it is not something we need to either fear or dread.
Attending to the third concern required a bit more time, but it proved to be worth the effort. In general, we spoke of what the influence and power of the Holy Ghost in our lives signified: that we are on course, in covenant, that the Lord is pleased with the course we are pursuing, and that if we continue to move in that same direction, eternal life will eventually be ours. I stress that it was important to hold a current temple recommend, that worthiness to participate in the covenants and ordinances of the house of the Lord—the earthly counterpart to paradise, the abode of the righteous hereafter—is worthiness to inherit the celestial kingdom in the world to come.
As we look ahead to the Second Advent, we find John’s counsel extremely pertinent: “And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at this coming (1 John 2:28). Let us face the future with sweet assurance, “being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform [complete, accomplish] it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). Indeed, God is working within us, working on our will and our behaviors. Let us, therefore, join with our Maker in saving our soul and working out our salvation “with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12-13).
This article was an excerpt from Living in the Eleventh Hour by Robert L. Millet. Filled with uplifting quotations, insightful scriptural texts, and engaging personal experiences, this timely book inspires us to live today as if Jesus Christ were coming tomorrow. You can learn more about it here.