Preaching Articles

You may be as I am on the second coming of Christ. You've listened to so many who've been wrong about it that you are reluctant to preach about it at all. I have lots of sermons on the subject, none of which are very definitive. After having made a 70-year study of it, I still have no idea as to when it will be, and yet I never cease preaching it.

One day I know I shall cry in glorious Latin, "Obesa cantavit—the fat lady has sung! It is all over." The word history is passé. It is followed by an exclamation point a thousand miles high! It is because of this grand presupposition that I preach the second coming.I met a man named John in South Dakota when I was in high school. One summer day when we couldn't cut wheat, we had time for an unusual discussion about the second coming. This John was really two Johns packed in the same pair of overalls. John 1 had in his library a file of books that from decade to decade had traced all the best guesses at when Jesus would come again.

The oldest books on his shelves surmised that "Kaiser Bill" was the antichrist. There was another very large set of books that focused on why Hitler was the antichrist. After that, there were smaller collections of thinner paperbacks that guessed at Chairman Mao, Khrushchev and one or two on Henry Kissinger. John had—across many years—listened to radio preachers (mostly out of Del Rio, Texas, I think) who helped him fill in his prophecy charts and study sheets. John died not many years later never having solved the riddle, but never tiring of trying to ferret time's biggest secret out of his heavenly Father. In John 1, I saw a disappointed old man who had wearied his soul chasing after the antichrist. Each time he thought he had him cornered, the world turned and he was wrong, forcing him to set off in a new direction of study. John 1 had pursued the second coming with an advent chart and a host of radio gospelizers who also had guessed wrongly, and so spread their false doctrine to a well-meaning farmer who wanted desperately to get it right.

I am still preaching the second coming because of John 2. John 2 was a lover rather than a radio scholar. John 2 wanted to see Jesus desperately whenever He got here. John was one of these souls who Paul described in 2 Timothy as "one who would receive the crown of righteousness" because he was numbered among those "who loved His appearing (2 Tim. 4:4-6)."Where is John these 60 years later? Well, he and Jesus are in heaven. John is still watching for His coming from the safe side of history—no gambles much for John now. To be sure, John still has to pick up his old body, which lies in a South Dakota cemetery. The old thing still has to be clothed with immortality and made fit for the kind of eternity that lies on the other side of the second coming, but no hurry; all in good time when time is no longer a factor. I could see this better side of John years ago, his pale skin grown thin and his blue eyes lit with an electric hope. He made me see and feel that what all the wrong radio preachers had to say was of no importance. They wasted a lot of time trying to get it right, but John lived a good life and died full of hope.

That's what the second coming is—the only thing left to be done to consummate the kingdom. It's a time for praise and crowns, a time for cashing in our inflated earthly currency and picking up the gold we have been storing up in heaven's vaults."Never ask me when He is coming again."Only ask me if I am ready. "No, more than that, ask me if I am eager."

Dr. Calvin Miller served as Research Professor and Distinguished Writer in Residence at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama, as a poet, artist, novelist and evangelist. Before coming to the divinity school, he was professor of communication and ministry studies, and writer-in-residence at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of more than 40 books and numerous articles on religion and preaching. Sadly, Dr. Miller passed away in August 2012.

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John E Miller

commented on May 31, 2012

I doubt if a fat lady will feature in my thoughts but there is no doubt the return of our Lord and Saviour should be prominent in our thoughts, conversation and preaching. It was so for the Apostle Paul and has been so for every generation of true Christian believers ever since. In 1 Thess.4:17 the word "we" is of supreme importance in the context. It indicates that Paul expected to be alive at the moment of the rapture. This is "the great forgotten truth of Christianity. If it was preached authoritatively, urgently and forcefully in every Gospel preaching the results would be sensational. We are talking about the next great event on the Divine Calendar. As a line of the great old hymn says, "The sky not the grave is our goal!" I read on this forum of preachers and teachers making plans for their churches for the next twenty years, etc. Look around in the world today. The signs of His coming are everywhere. My namesake is right! According to God's word we should be eagerly awaiting this wonderful moment of rapture (1 Cor.1:9, Phil.3:20, Heb.9:28). Whether we are alive or dead we will hear Christ's assembling shout simultaneously with the Archangel's shout and the trumpet blast of the Eternal God. Never in all the history of creation will such a sound have been heard or will ever be heard again.

Ephrem Hagos

commented on May 31, 2012

By the divine standards in the terms of the "new covenant" (Jer. 31: 31-34), its seal in Christ's death on the cross (Matt. 26: 26-29; 27: 50-56) and his last irrevocable promise to his disciples (Ibid, 28: 18-20), the forwarding address of Jesus Christ is very well known!

Mark Opseth

commented on May 31, 2012

"No, more than that, ask me if I am eager." I like that!

Roger Wilson

commented on May 31, 2012

Brother Calvin hit the nail on the head! So much time and effort has been spent in trying to determine when, when all we really need to know is that Christ will come again one day, and yes I also am eager for that day! Come Lord Jesus!

Nishantha Silva

commented on Jun 2, 2012

Heb 3:13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. The Bible says, better to think that the day of Christ is today so that your hearts would not be harden Heb 3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

Derrick Tuper

commented on Jun 2, 2012

In Philippians 1 Paul was torn between what he wanted and what was needed. Likewise, we too have the desire to depart and be with the Lord but at the same time have a burning desire that Jesus not come back until a lot more people come to know him as Lord and Savior. When I see evil I want Jesus to hurry up and come back and right all these wrongs. Bu then there are times when I almost wish for him to delay his coming so more and more people can escape the flames of hell. We can be ready and we can be eager just as long as we're eager for others to be ready too.

John E Miller

commented on Jun 4, 2012

Many years ago, before the advent of email, twitter, facebook, etc., a young man was required to take a journey on business. A long trip by land and sea was involved and while his wife understood, he was very concerned about his lengthy separation from his little son. Before leaving he took the boy out for a walk and explained to him that he was going away for some time but gave the assurance that he would return. the exact date, however was not known. He pointed to some trees. "When you see the leaves on these trees changing colour, " he said, "I will be coming home very soon." Some time passed and the boy had become used to his father's absence and although his mother spoke to him about the absent one regularly the boy seemed to have less interest as the weeks went by. One day he was out for a walk with his mother and noticed that the trees were losing their green colour. He thought about that but said nothing. A week later they went for a walk using the same tree-lined route. By now the leaves were turning to a beautiful red, gold and rust mixture of hues. The boy suddenly cried out, "Daddy's coming home!" He remembered his father's promise. The signs of his loved one's return were there to see. The signs of Christ's return are more in evidence now that ever before. The eagerness that the Spirit of God urges should be a characteristic feature of our lives, our preaching and our ministry. Our brother Calvin Miller's words should be noted well.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Jun 4, 2012

John E Miller, that's a very good illustration!

John E Miller

commented on Jun 6, 2012

I must make it clear that the illustration is not my own.

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