That’s an important question to consider. Suppose you were informed that you would die in one hour, what would you do? Would you make a call to a close friend or family member? Perhaps you would sit down at your desk and write a letter to your family. How exactly would you spend that final hour of life? Needless to say, you would spend it differently than one of the common hours of your life. As we examine Scripture, we find statements that indicate that we as Christians are living in the last hour. What does that mean and how should we be living in these days?
Paul, in writing to the church at Rome, writes the following:
Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed (Rom. 13:11).
Paul is pressing upon the church at Rome to see their position on the timeline of history. They were living between the first and second comings of Jesus. They were positioned at a time where the great promises of Jesus’ incarnation, his substitutionary sacrifice, his death and burial, his victorious resurrection, and his triumphant ascension had been fulfilled. They were living, according to Paul, at a time where they needed to wake up from sleep. How easy it becomes as a Christian to hit the cruise control and get into a rut whereby you live without urgency—forgetting the fact that we are living in the last days.
While no man knows the day nor the hour of Jesus’ return—the New Testament authors consistently pointed to the season of the last days and urged the church to live in light of the fact that the return of Jesus is near. In Romans 13, Paul speaks of “the time” in Romans 13:11. The Greek term he used there is “καιρός” which refers to a period of time or a season of time. In other words, Paul was urging the church to see the late hour and notice that Jesus could return very soon.
The Greek term eschatos means “last” or “final,” and the theological term that we often use to describe the study of end times is eschatology. It is the study of events leading up to and including the second coming of Christ and the conclusion of human history as we all know it. As we survey the New Testament we find other verses that indicate the reality that the early church believed they were living in the last days.
The writer of Hebrews directed the church’s attention to the Day of the Lord:
Hebrews 10:24-25 – And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Consider James’ exhortation regarding the coming of the Lord:
James 5:7–9 – Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.
Consider Peter’s Words of urgency:
1 Peter 4:7-8 – The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
Paul warned the churches to be prepared:
Philippians 4:4-7 – Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 – Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
If the writers of the New Testament believed they were living in the last days and urged the early church to be prepared for the coming of Christ—imagine what they would say to us in our day. We must recognize that the culmination of our salvation is nearer today than it has been since we first believed the gospel. Therefore, our lives and our worship should exemplify the fact that we are living in the last days!
While two thousand years of world history could pass before Jesus returns—it’s very likely that Christ could come before the sunrise tomorrow. Are you living with such expectation? After the ascension of Jesus, the angels commanded the disciples to go on about life the reality that Jesus would come again (Acts 1:11). Each and every time we observe the Lord’s Supper as a church—we look back at the death of Jesus and we gaze forward in hope of his soon return.
What if this was your last hour of life? Are you living with urgency or is your Christian walk categorized by complacency or laziness? Be prepared—for the coming of the Lord is at hand.