With human beings being born, becoming sinners, and dying every second of the day, I’m interested to know how, exactly, this will get done. Yet Christian denominations are traipsing through the darkest jungles of the earth, running into each other, trying to reach every person with the message of salvation so that Christ will come. The belief is that when every person has finally heard the Gospel, the Second Coming of Christ will take place. It's based on this verse:
This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matt 24:14)
Folks in those days understood “world” to mean “land,” specifically, the land of Judah. That was, for all intents and purposes, their world. The concept of a planet was unknown, except among a few (Moses, Job, etc). If a meteor wiped out America, our “world” would come to an end. The rest of the planet could be in good shape, but we, as a nation, will have ceased to exist. Our world would be gone.
The term, “whole world” is used by scripture to mean, the known world. John's exhortation to not love the world (1 John 2:15) does not mean “do not love the planet earth.” Jesus was referring to the destruction of the Jewish economy, not the end of the planet. Here's an OT verse that should illustrate this important rule of context:
I will bring distress on men so that they will walk like the blind, because they have sinned against the Lord; and their blood will be poured out like dust and their flesh like dung. Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them on the day of the Lord’s wrath; and all the earth will be devoured in the fire of His jealousy, for He will make a complete end, indeed a terrifying one, of all the inhabitants of the earth. (Zeph 1:17-18)
Sounds like the end of the world, doesn't it? However, verse 4 clarifies that Judah and Jerusalem are the objects of this promise, not the planet. The idea that “it can also apply to us” is without merit. Matthew 24 and its sister chapters, Mark 13 and Luke 21, clearly refer to Jerusalem, not the world.
Paul wrote to the Colossians about “the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.” (Col 1:23) Hmm...sounds like the Great Commission had been fulfilled. Unfortunately, many good preachers refuse to accept this. Yet even a cursory study of the bible shows that “all” doesn't always mean “all.”
For example, Mark 1:5 says that John baptized everyone in Jerusalem and Judah. Did he literally baptize every man, woman and child in the land? It merely means that John the Baptist was like Billy Graham—everyone knew him. He was the most widely known person, not to mention only legitimate prophet, living at that time. There are many instances where the bible uses “all” in a generic sense, not a literal one. The problem is, we tend to pick and choose which verses fit nicely into our beliefs.
At the end of Paul's life, he told Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim 4:7) While most interpret the apostle's words to mean, “I've been a good Christian,” he was referring to his commission by Christ to preach to the Gentiles.
When will Christ come? When mankind has totally rejected the salvation found in Christ. When Christianity will have all but been wiped off the planet. But as long as people are hungry for the Word, it won’t happen. God wishes all to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)