Doctrinal Matters: Bible Interpretation
Jesus Is Coming Soon?
One hymn which has attained considerable popularity over the years is R.E. Winsett’s “Jesus Is Coming Soon.” Since the New Testament teaches that we are to “sing with the understanding” (1 Corinthians 14:15) and to refrain from speaking or singing falsehoods (Ephesians 4:25; 5:19), it behooves us to be conscious of the meanings and biblical significance of the lyrics which pass from our lips.
The New Testament teaches that Jesus could come at virtually any time (Matthew 24:42-44). It teaches that time is nothing with God, to the extent that even a delay of hundreds of years amounts to nothing (Psalm 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8). In this sense, Jesus may be thought of as “coming soon.” But the Bible also teaches that no one knows when Jesus will actually come again (Matthew 24:36). To give the impression that one is certain that Jesus will return “soon,” i.e., in the next few months or years, is to make a claim that cannot be sustained by Scripture. It is perfectly within the purview of biblical thought for Jesus to delay his coming for another thousand years or even much longer.
The real problem with the song is seen in its second verse. If there was any doubt about the song’s millennial leanings, the lyrics of verse two clearly betray the author’s eschatological misconceptions. The phrases “love of so many cold,” “evils abound,” and “when these signs come to pass” are undeniable allusions to Matthew 24:12 and Luke 21:28,31. While the lyricist applies these conditions to the end of time and Christ’s second coming, Jesus applied them to the destruction of Jerusalem which occurred in A.D. 70. When Christ comes again, there will be no signs to herald the fact (Miller, 2003). It will come completely by surprise with no signals to warn people even of the approximate time (Matthew 24:36-44; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6; 2 Peter 3:10).
It is not easy to admit that a song that is so emotionally and aesthetically satisfying possesses inherent flaws that render it spiritually unacceptable. But if we truly love and respect God and His Word, we will adjust our practice, loyalties, and sentimentalities to fit God’s will—not vice versa. After all, when Jesus returns, we want Him to find us humbly submitting to His will.
Miller, Dave (2003), “There Will Be No Signs!” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=937&topic=83.