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The Apostle John, in his first epistle, said that we are living in the last days (1 John 2:18). The last days are the period from Christ’s ascension to His glorious return. So, we are definitely in the last days.

People want to know how close we are to the end of the last days, but I cannot say. What I can say, as a historian, is that in the last two thousand years, whenever Christians found themselves in times of distress, famine, war, cultural change, collapse, rampant immorality, depression, etc., they were convinced that they were at the very end. One day, one of them will be right, and we will be at the very end, but I do not think the Lord calls us to behave like Millerites.

The Millerites followed a farmer in western New York in the early nineteenth century who said: “The Lord is returning any minute. Sell all your possessions; go and sit on the top of your roofs and wait.” Some people did that, and it led to what is known as the “Great Disappointment” because the Lord did not return. I do not think the Lord calls us to wait in that way. He calls us to wait in faith, working for Him until the last moment.

There is a great story, which is probably apocryphal, where Luther was asked, “What would you do today if you knew Jesus was coming back tomorrow?” Luther replied, “I would plant an apple tree today.” Luther probably did not say that, but it is very much in the spirit of Luther.

We live our life until the Lord returns, we will be surprised when He returns, and He wants us to be faithful in everything we are called to do in this life until He returns. Even though things are traumatic and difficult right now in a whole series of ways, the Lord calls us to be patient and faithful.

This transcript is from a live Ask Ligonier event with W. Robert Godfrey and has been lightly edited for readability. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, email ask@ligonier.org or message us on Facebook or Twitter.