Preparing for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is something we’re taught to do from the time we’re in Primary. We know the signs of His coming and that it will be a joyful event for the righteous. But there are many things we don’t know, like when it’s going to happen.
President Russell M. Nelson has said, “People often ask the Apostles, ‘When is the Second Coming going to be?’ I’ve got the answer: ‘I don’t know.’ It won’t be today or tomorrow because there is much work that needs to be done before that can come. All I know for sure is that we are a day closer today than we were yesterday.”
Although no one knows when the Second Coming will be, it’s important to listen to our Church leaders for things we can do to prepare to be in His presence. We have been blessed with guidance, direction, and change over the past couple of years and it’s crucial for us to listen to their counsel.
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1. The Church is changing.
The doctrine of the gospel will forever stay the same, but the Lord is changing the way His church does some things.
Since President Nelson was sustained as President of the Church in 2018, significant announcements and changes have happened in the Church. Ministering has replaced home and visiting teaching, the three-hour block became a two-hour block, the principle of home-centered Church-supported learning was established, FSY conferences began worldwide, changes to temple ceremonies and clothing were made, many chapters in the new Church handbook have been gradually updated, the Ensign magazine was retired, structural changes were made to ward leadership responsibilities, Young Men leadership and Young Women classes, a new forthcoming Church hymnbook was announced, and many more.
Immediately following the two-hour church meeting schedule announcement, Elder Cook noted, “President Nelson, from his initial address to the members of the Church in January, has exhorted us to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ by walking the covenant path.”
These changes are put in place to help us become more spiritually self-sufficient and develop a relationship with the Lord. As we study Church doctrine and walk the covenant path, we grow closer to Christ and become more prepared for the Second Coming.
2. Leaders are urging us to be spiritually and temporally self-sufficient.
It is crucial for each member of the Church to gain a personal testimony of the gospel. President Nelson testified, “In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost."
He made a similar statement before announcing the transition to home-centered gospel study in 2018. He said, “The adversary is increasing his attacks on faith and upon us and our families at an exponential rate. To survive spiritually, we need counterstrategies and proactive plans.”
Additionally, the Church launched self-reliance courses that have also helped many leaders and members learn and understand the importance of self-sufficiency. Twelve week courses on finding a better job, starting and growing a business, furthering your education, building emotional resilience, and managing personal finances have helped hundreds of thousands of people worldwide improve their life and their family’s situation and become more self-reliant and confident in their economic status.
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3. President Nelson promised blessings as we focus on the correct name of the Church.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are well known as “LDS” or “Mormons.” However, President Nelson announced that we should not refer to the Church as the “LDS Church” or the “Mormon Church,” but we should use the full name of the Church.
He testified that the correction was commanded by the Lord and said, “It was the Savior Himself who said, ‘For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.’” He also noted, “If we allow nicknames to be used or adopt or even sponsor those nicknames ourselves, He is offended.”
President Nelson promised that making this correction would result in numerous blessings, “the likes of which we have never seen.” He continued, “We will have the knowledge and power of God to help us take the blessings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people and to prepare the world for the Second Coming of the Lord.”
4. The Church is releasing more learning materials and information.
The new Church history book Saints, Vol 1 and Saints, Vol. 2 serve as a narrative-style history of the early Latter-day Saints who established the Church. The next two volumes will be released over the coming years. These new narratives are helping everyone in the Church learn more about early Church history and deepen their testimonies. They beautifully illustrate how God works through all of His imperfect children.
In addition, the Church’s Come, Follow Me study guides and corresponding seminary curriculum help members of every age develop a strong knowledge and faith in the gospel. On top of that the Church is creating new websites, resources, and magazines to spread uplifting messages address challenging topics, such as preventing suicide.
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As we work to learn about our history, the gospel, and strive perfect ourselves, we become closer to Christ and increase faith in Him, allowing us to look forward to the day when He comes again.
5. More people have access to temples throughout the world.
Temples are being built at an impressive rate, and Church members around the world are rejoicing. Since he was sustained as President of the Church just three years ago, President Nelson has announced 83 new temples—more than any other Church president before him (President Hinckley’s temple-building legacy led to 78 new temples during his 13 years as Church president).
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“My dear brothers and sisters,” President Nelson said, “the assaults of the adversary are increasing exponentially, in intensity and variety. Our need to be in the temple on a regular basis has never been greater . . . I promise you that the Lord will bring the miracles He knows you need as you make sacrifices to serve and worship in His temples.”
As temptations and wickedness in the world increase, the temple can be a place of refuge from worldly troubles and challenges. Spending time worshiping the Lord in the temple will help us prepare spiritually for His coming.
6. Church leaders are emphasizing our role in gathering Israel.
Missionary work is such an important part of the gathering of Israel. President Thomas S. Monson’s announcement lowering the required missionary age certainly helped push the work forward, but there are also things we can do to gather Israel even if we don’t have an assigned mission call and a name tag.
In a footnote from his October 2020 general conference address, President Nelson commented that he has spoken of Israel in at least 378 of the more than 800 messages he has delivered during his 36 years as an Apostle. In that same address, he said, “When we speak of gathering Israel on both sides of the veil, we are referring, of course, to missionary, temple, and family history work. We are also referring to building faith and testimony in the hearts of those with whom we live, work, and serve. Anytime we do anything that helps anyone—on either side of the veil—to make and keep their covenants with God, we are helping to gather Israel.”
And President Nelson isn’t the only one emphasizing the importance of gathering Israel. In the April and October 2021 general conference sessions alone, gathering Israel was mentioned 32 times. And in 2022, there will be a special Face to Face broadcast for all members specifically on gathering Israel and sharing the gospel.
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As we listen to our Church leaders and prophet and heed their advice, we will be able to better ourselves and prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on LDSLiving.com in October 2018.