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Could Christ Return Tonight?
by Wayne Blank
"the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds"
Most agree that the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) is about Christians living a life of repentance and overcoming so that they may be worthy of salvation (unrepentant people are headed for the lake of fire - that's why there will be a lake of fire), so that they are not among those described at the end of the parable to whom Christ will say, "I know you not." (Matthew 25:12 KJV).
But what about Christ coming suddenly in the night? Does that mean that He could return tonight? Or even a minute from now? Yes, Christ could seem to come tonight, or even a minute from now, if you are a true Christian who happened to reach the end of your life tonight, or a minute from now. But no, Christ is not coming tonight, or a minute from now, as is obvious at the time of this writing (June 2006) because the one time clue that the Holy Bible provides as to when the return of Christ will happen has not yet begun (see the Fact Finder question below to understand what, or rather who, that time clue is).
The dead are dead. That's why the Holy Scriptures refer to the dead as being "asleep" (i.e. unconscious, with no sense of the passage of time) while awaiting a future resurrection (see When Will You Be Judged? to understand the purpose of the different times of resurrection).
"For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing" (Ecclesiastes 9:5 KJV)
The true people of God from throughout all of human history will be resurrected together on the day of Christ's return - but all of them, from their conscious perspective, will seem to have gone instantly from the moment of their deaths to the time of Christ's return - just as you seem to go instantly to morning when you go to sleep at night. Even though centuries may have passed, Christ will seem to have come "tonight" to all of the people of the true Church of God who have lived and died through time. The parable of the ten virgins isn't as much about not knowing the time of Christ's return, but not knowing the time of our deaths.
"But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him."
Fact Finder: How can we know when the final countdown to Christ's return will have begun?