second coming of Christ the only Christian hope
Hope is the peculiar feature of
the Gospel. The gospel approaches human nature, not with hard reasonings
and lifeless aphorisms, but with personal love and inspiring promises.
Laden with tenderness and cheer, it subdues the obduracy, and dissipates
the lethargy of human hearts, and bears them upward to moral perfection
by the influence of its affections and hopes. It is exactly adapted
to the necessities of human nature, present and prospective. It
only requires to be received with full assurance of faith; and then,
unlike human systems of philosophy, it satisfies the heart while
enlightening the intellect, and tranquillises the spirit, which
can elsewhere find no rest in this world of anxiety and care.
it develops these results by an intelligent process. It operates
by means of the ideas which it communicates to the mind.
There is nothing unaccountable in its mode of operation. Its love
is a matter of specific assurance, to be realised by faith, and
not a mysterious influence stealing miraculously over the heart.
Its hopes grow out of definite promises, understood and assuredly
believed, and are not shapeless ecstacies of incomprehensible origin.
Its operations are altogether effected on truly rational principles.
Designed for human nature, it is adapted to its mental constitution,
and powerful on natural methods, to elevate and purify all who submit
themselves to its teachings, and give earnest heed thereto.
Now we purpose to make manifest
the truth of the proposition, that the great hope of the gospel
relates to the second (personal) coming of the Lord Jesus; that
that event is the central object upon which enlightened anticipation
lays hold as the climax of desire, the crisis of reward, and that,
therefore, this truth is one of the main influences by which the
heart is purified, and the believer himself prepared and made "meet
for the Master’s use.
By the second coming of the Lord
Jesus, is meant the event obviously signified by the language, viz.,
the return from heaven to earth of our Saviour, who is now at the
right hand of God. It will be admitted that Christ was really on
the earth during his sojourn among men, and that he ascended bodily
to heaven after the resurrection. The proposition, then, is, that
at a certain time, he will descend just as really as he ascended,
and appear in person on the earth, as the same Lord Jesus who sojourned
in Judea among the Jews and Romans. We assert this to be the teaching
of the word of God, and are more especially anxious to demonstrate
its essentiality as the true Christian hope.
First, let us realise that the apostles
declare there is only "one hope", as there is only "one
faith and one baptism". This is the teaching of Paul, in Ephesians
4:4-5: "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called
in one hope of your calling". That
this "one hope" is an essential constituent of the gospel,
is evident from Paul’s words to the Colossians (1:5), where,
speaking of "the hope which was laid up for them in heaven"
(Christ being there), he says, "Whereof ye heard before in
the word of the truth of the gospel". He even
goes the length of saying, "we are saved by hope" (Romans
8:24), and solemnly assures the Hebrews that their ultimate salvation
was contingent upon their adherence to that hope. His words are,
"Whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the
rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end"
(Hebrews 3:6). His language to the Colossians is equally striking
on this point:
"He will present you holy
and unblamable and unreprovable in his sight: if
ye continue in the faith, grounded and settled, and be not moved
away from the hope of the gospel"
These testimonies ought to impress
us with a sense of the gravity of the question about to be considered.
It is no light thing to be doctrinally mistaken as to what we should
hope for. What a misfortune to spend our spiritual energies in looking
for that which God has never promised! Such a mistake implies ignorance
of the real "hope of the gospel", and this "ignorance",
says Paul, alienates from the life of God (Ephesians 4:18). What
God has never promised no one will ever receive; for how should
the idle longings of man divert the purposes of the immutable Almighty?
especially when the gratifying of those longings will involve the
failure of the promises really given. "According to your faith
be it unto you". This is a divine principle (Matthew 9:29).
If a man squander his faith upon that which has no foundation in
truth, he sows to the wind. The faith which builds its house upon
the foundation-rock of the assured promises of God, will alone withstand
the storm that will sweep away "the refuge of lies".
Before adducing specific testimony
as to the coming of the Lord, it will be of advantage to dwell for
a little on the personal ministry of Christ when on earth. During
his sojourn in the land of Judea, which he travelled constantly
for three years, doing wonderful works in attestation of his divine
mission, he proclaimed the things of the kingdom of God, and asserted
his Messiahship in connection therewith. This proclamation had the
effect of drawing around him many disciples, and of causing them
to look upon him as the anointed king of Israel in a literal sense,
and destined to effect "the redemption of Israel" from
the Romans and all other nations, and to establish the kingdom of
God in triumph over all the earth. It created in them an expectation
that they themselves should share the kingly honours of Christ at
the time when his kingly mission should be manifested. Their hope
of inheriting the kingdom of God in substantial manner was founded
both on prophetic testimony, and the express teaching of our Lord
himself. In the prophets they had observed such testimony as the
"The saints of the Most High
shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even
for ever and ever" (Daniel 7:18).
"The time came that the saints
possessed the kingdom" (verse 22).
"And the kingdom, and dominion,
and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven
shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High"
"Let the saints be joyful
in glory, let them sing aloud upon their beds. Let the high praises
of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand,
to execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the
people; to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with
fetters of iron; to execute upon them the judgment written: this
honour have all his saints" (Psalm 149:5-9).
"Behold, a king shall reign
in righteousness, and princes shall
rule in judgment" (Isaiah 32:1).
"I will gather the remnant
of my flock (of Israel) out of all countries whither I have driven
them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall
be fruitful and increase; and I will set up shepherd over them
which shall feed them" (Jeremiah 23:3-4).
"And saviours shall come
up on Mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall
be the Lord’s" (Obadiah 21).
And they had noted the teaching
of our Lord himself to the same effect in the following recorded
"Blessed is that servant
whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily, I say
unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods"
"And so he that had received
five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord,
thou deliveredst unto me five talents; behold, I have gained beside
them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou
good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few
things, I will make thee ruler over many things" (Matthew
"And he said unto him (that
had gained the ten pounds), Well, thou good servant, because thou
hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over
ten cities" (Luke 19:17).
Again, Jesus said to the chief priests
and elders of the Jews,
"The kingdom of God shall
be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits
thereof" (Matthew 21:43).
At the time Jesus used the last
quoted words, the chief priests and rulers were in possession of
the kingdom of Israel, which having been originally established
by God, was called the kingdom of God. Now the generality of people
can understand the meaning of this predicted taking of the kingdom
from them. They know as a matter of history that the Jewish polity
was abolished, and that in fulfilment of Christ’s prediction,
its rulers were deposed from their seats of authority, and in fact,
"miserably destroyed" in the awful judgments that overtook
the city of Jerusalem. But when directed to the second part of the
statement, they stumble. "It shall be given to a nation bringing
forth the fruits thereof." Most people understand the taking,
but what about the giving? The thing taken is the thing given; so,
the kingdom of Israel, which was taken from the chief priests and
Pharisees, shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits
thereof. This is self-evident. The only question requiring settlement
is as to who are the fruit-producing nation; and this is easily
answered. Jesus said to his disciples, "Fear not, little flock:
for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you
the kingdom" (Luke 12:32). He further said, in answer to Peter’s
question, "Behold, we have forsaken all and followed thee;
what shall we have therefore?":
"I say unto you; that ye
which have followed me, in the regeneration, when
the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye
also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes
of Israel" (Matthew 19:27-28).
Again, when the disciples were assembled
at the last supper, he said unto them:
"Ye are they which have continued
with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as
my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at
my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones, judging
the twelve tribes of Israel" (Luke 22:28-30).
Here is a complete identification
of "the nation bringing forth the fruits thereof". That
nation consists of the disciples of our Saviour, who is himself
at their head as "the heir".
They are styled by Peter (1 Peter 2:9), "a chosen generation,
a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a
peculiar people"; agreeing with the testimony that they will
yet inherit the kingdom of God which was taken from the Pharisees,
and which, though now in ruins, is to be restored in glorious plenitude.
If the disciples were so egregiously
mistaken as they are supposed to be, in their idea of Christ's Kingdom,
and the position which they should hold in it, it is remarkable
that we never read of any correction by Christ of that mistake.
There were three occasions which would have elicited such correction
had it been required.
The first was when the mother of
Zebedee’s children came with her two sons James and John saying,
"Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right
hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom" (Matthew 20:21).
Now, according to the popular view, here was the time to launch
forth in condemnation of the earthliness and carnal misdirected
ambition supposed to be indicated in the request; and doubtless
the Saviour, who was never slow to correct the misconceptions of
his disciples, nor even to rebuke with severity, would have done
so if the request had really been of the nature to call for it;
but how different from anything of this kind is his answer. Not
a word of censure! not the softest whisper of implied rebuke! Rather
a direct and signal confirmation of the idea embodied in the fond
mother’s petition. "Ye know not what ye ask", says
he, "To sit on my right hand and on my left, is not mine to
give, but it shall be given to them for
whom it is prepared of my Father." So that instead of pronouncing
her request inadmissible, he actually declares that the position
requested will be given to those for whom it is prepared (verses
The second occasion occurred after
the resurrection. Jesus joined two of his disciples as they walked
to the village of Emmaus (Luke 24:13), but held their eyes that
they should not know him; and they conversed with him on the subject
of his own death. In the course of conversation, one of them, giving
expression to the view shared by the disciples generally, said:
"We trusted that it had been he which should have
redeemed Israel" (verse 21). Here again was the
time to explain their misconception, had it been such, but here
again there is an entire absence of any remark of that nature. He
uttered a rebuke, but it did not refer to what they did believe,
but to what they did not believe. "O fools", exclaimed
he, "and slow of heart to believe all
that the prophets have spoken! Ought not Christ to have suffered
these things, and to enter into his glory?" (verses 25,26).
He reproached them for disbelieving in his sufferings, and not for
believing in his kingly glory.
The third time was immediately prior
to the ascension. It is stated in Acts 1:6, that when Jesus and
his disciples were come together, the disciples asked him, saying,
"Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to
Israel?" They had had their eyes opened to the fact and necessity
of his sufferings; but seeing that these were now accomplished,
and that he had been gloriously resurrected from the dead, they
evidently thought that the time had at last arrived when their cherished
hope of national restoration under the Messiah should be realised;
and so they asked him if he would at that time bring their desires
Now it is a notable circumstance,
that this question was put after Christ had spoken to the disciples
of "the things pertaining to the kingdom of God" during
forty days (verse 3). This fact suggests the supposition that the
question was based on the teaching they received during that time.
At any rate, how was the question received? With discouragement
and rebuke? No: but, as in the previous case, with confirmatory
answer: "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons,
which the Father hath put in his own power (verse 7). This was equivalent
to affirming that "times and seasons" had been provided
for the event contemplated in their question - that is, that the
event, "the restoring again of the kingdom to Israel",
would really come to pass in process of time, but that it was not
proper for them to know when. How inappropriate would such an answer
have been, had their supposition as to the fact of such restoration
But the fact is, there was no question
as to the event itself. Jesus had been enlightening them during
forty days, in reference to it. Their enquiry related purely to
the time of the event, and his answer was confined to that same
thing. They supposed the event would then transpire. "They
thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear"
(Luke 19:11). This was the peculiar error of early times. They did
not err in believing that God would establish his Kingdom on earth,
and that Christ should visibly manifest himself as the "king
over all the earth" (Zechariah 14:9); for these things have
been abundantly testified in the prophets and proclaimed by Jesus
himself. Their mistake lay in supposing that they would be accomplished
in their own day.
The moderns have gone just to the
other extreme. They do not look for the kingdom of God at all. They
magnify the sacrificial into unscriptural proportions, and omit
the kingly altogether. They exclude the kingdom of God, knowing
nothing of it, and believe in nothing concerning it, while the death
of Christ over-shadows every doctrine in their religious system.
The disciples only saw the king in Christ, and expected his manifestation
in their own times; the moderns only see the sacrifice, and consider
his mission accomplished in the saving of supposed immortal souls
The mistake of the disciples was
corrected in due time. The occurrence of Christ’s crucifixion
and subsequent resurrection and ascension, supplied the lack in
their knowledge, enabling them to see that the promised glories
of the future age were not attainable by mortal man without a sacrificial
intervention - a tasting of death for every man, by which "many
sons might be brought to glory". But this addition to their
knowledge did not divert their attention from these glories. Far
otherwise; the death of Christ, apart from its prospective relationship,
had no attractiveness; its interest and importance arose out of
its connection with the glorious result it achieved. So that instead
of shutting out the kingdom from their mind, it only intensified
their appreciation thereof, by showing them its value in the greatness
of the sacrifice necessary to secure it. It gave eagerness to their
ardency, leading them intensely to desire the consummation of "the
glory to be revealed". They therefore said, "Lord, wilt
thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" They
evidently had no idea of Christ leaving them again. They had forgotten
the many parables in which he had taught them his approaching departure
into "a far country" from which he should afterwards return,
to take account of his servants (Luke 19:12; Matthew 25:14, etc.).
Only one feeling was uppermost in their minds - a desire that the
kingdom of God should immediately appear.
When, therefore, "he was taken
up and a cloud received him out of their sight, they looked steadfastly
toward heaven", evidently struck with wonderment at the unexpected
and inexplicable occurrence. Christ taken away from them again!
They were utterly unable to understand the new disappointment. Their
hopes had been raised to the highest pitch by a companionship of
forty days, and the grief which had overwhelmed them during their
master’s incarceration in the tomb, had been effaced by a
sweet communion on "the things pertaining to the kingdom of
God"; and now again, their Lord and Master, their best friend,
their hope and salvation, he on whom their whole affection and the
most yearning desire were concentrated, had left them. What were
they to do? They were again cast upon the world; again thrown into
perplexity. But this time relief was at hand:
"Two men stood by them in
white apparel, which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye
gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus which is taken
up from you into heaven shall so come in like manner as ye have
seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1:10-11).
The disciples were comforted in
their perplexity by being assured that Jesus would come again; this
was the balm administered to their troubled spirits; this, the hope
by which they reconciled themselves to the absence of their Lord
and Master. From that day forward, it became the central doctrine
around which all their teaching revolved, the constantly prominent
and essentially distinguished feature of the glad tidings they proclaimed.
Jesus himself had repeatedly taught
them the doctrine of his return, even previous to his crucifixion.
The parable of the nobleman was intended for this very purpose,
for it is said that he used it "because they thought that the
kingdom of God should immediately appear". Its teaching is
"A certain nobleman went
into a far country, to receive for himself a kingdom and
to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered
them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come...And
it came to pass that when he was returned,
having received the kingdom, then he commanded those servants
to be called unto him" (Luke 19:11-15).
By this the disciples were informed
that Jesus should be taken up to heaven to do a work of preparation,
and be invested with power, and should afterwards return to the
earth, and then judge his servants; awarding
to them the rulership of ten cities, or the ignominy of a shameful
rejection, according to their deserts (see rest of the parable).
It was an amplification of his other statement: "Thou shalt
be recompensed at the resurrection of the just"
- resurrection which does not take place until the Lord himself
shall descend from heaven with a shout (1 Thessalonians 4:16). The
parable of the ten virgins is to the same purport. The absent bridegroom
is put for the ascended Christ, and the waiting virgins for those
who "look for his appearing". Besides other parables of
a like effect, Jesus had plainly said, "The day will come when
the bridegroom shall be taken from them (the disciples)" (Matthew
9:15); and had assured them without a figure: "I go and prepare
a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto
myself" (John 14:3).
But they were not able to understand
the simple lesson, for the reason that Christ was with them, and
they never expected him to leave them. They could not see what his
"return" could mean, when they knew nothing of a going
away; but when the days came that the bridegroom was taken from
them, "then remembered they his words". The announcement
of the angels would doubtless revive the many lessons which Jesus
himself had taught them as to his purposed departure and his intended
return to establish the kingdom, and thenceforward did the second
coming of the Lord become their cherished hope - the great event
to which they looked for salvation. It was the thing they preached
and wrote about, the thing they hoped and prayed for, the top-stone
of the system of faith which they promulgated.
Of course, it did not, and could
not exclude, but rather involved and necessitated the doctrine of
Christ’s sacrifice for sin, and the necessity for contrition
and personal regeneration; for the second coming of the Lord was
only good news to those who loved him, and who were prepared to
meet him, and were fitted to be with him. Yet it was the great doctrine
to which the others were subordinated. We find Peter teaching it
in one of his first addresses after the ascension of Christ:
"And he shall send Jesus
Christ, which before was preached unto you, whom the heaven must
receive, until the times of restitution
of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy
prophets since the world began" (Acts 3:20,21).
And the same apostle, in writing
to the elders among "the strangers scattered abroad",
repeated the doctrine in the following connection:
"The elders who are among
you, I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings
of Christ; and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed.
Feed the flock of God...and when the chief shepherd
shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory
that fadeth not away" (1 Peter 5:1-4).
Thus, as regards the immediate disciples
of our Lord, it is proved beyond all question, that his second coming
was their great hope, in fact, their only hope, for what other hope
could they have? They loved their master dearly, and knew that his
return to them would be their own deliverance from the imperfections
of a sinful body, and the afflictions of wicked men, and not only
so, but the establishment on earth of "glory to God in the
Highest, and on earth peace, good-will toward men". To what
other event, then, could they look with Christian hope than to the
coming of Christ?
To what other event could they look
with any hope at all? No event in their lifetime had promise for
them, and what was there in death except a lightning-bridge to the
resurrection? For them it had none of the fascination with which
modern preaching has invested it. They did not recognise in "sudden
death" sudden glory. Death to them, instead of being the "portal
of bliss", was the gate of corruption. It was the bondage of
that hereditary mortality from which Christ had come to deliver
them - the bereaving grave-sleep in which they should deeply slumber
till the return of their master to wake them to an incorruptible
resurrection, when they should say, "O death, where is thy
sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" No; their hope was not
death, but the return of the Lord, to which all their personal hopes
and fears, and all their expectations concerning the fulfilment
of God’s promises, inevitably directed them. Now, as it was
with the apostles, so did it become with those who were afterwards
converted to the Christian faith. The gospel preached, conveyed
the same hopes which filled the bosoms of the preachers. Having
proffered immortality for its basis, Christ’s sacrifice as
the means presented for faith, and the promised kingdom as "the
inheritance" in which immortality would be enjoyed, it naturally
led their minds to the coming of Christ as the great realising event;
for all the promises contained in it go forward to "the revelation
of Jesus Christ" as the time of fulfilment. Did Paul desire
to attain to the resurrection from among the dead? (Philippians
3:11). He expected to be included among "they that are Christ’s
AT HIS COMING" (1 Corinthians 15:23). Did he look forward to
"a crown of righteousness to be received from "the Lord,
the righteous judge"? (2 Timothy 4:8). He did not expect its
bestowment till his appearing and his
kingdom (verse 1), referred to as "that day", in verse
Now, were not these the hopes communicated
in the Gospel to all who embraced it? Resurrection to eternal life,
and inheritance in the kingdom of God, is the salvation offered
to every son of Adam without distinction of age or station. If a
man receive that promised salvation in the sense of believing it,
he "rests in hope". Of what? Of its fulfilment. He may
labour in the work of self-preparation with great devotedness, working
out his own salvation with fear and trembling; he may follow righteousness
with ardour, nursing moral life with enthusiasm; he may busy himself
in the prosecution of every benevolent work, and take delight in
pressing the gospel upon the attention of his fellow men; not only
may do, but must do, if he would be an accepted servant when his
Lord comes to take account of his stewardship; but what is the inmost
feeling of his nature, if he be a true man? Hope, constant longing
desire for the salvation he preaches to others. That is, tired of
his own imperfections and faults as a perishable human being, he
yearns for the immortality promised, and grieved with prevailing
perversion and injustice, as politically and socially exemplified
around him, he longs to be a witness of and partaker in, the perfection
of the kingdom of God.
Now as these "things hoped
for" cannot be attained till the coming of the Lord to bring
them to pass, is it not plain that that coming will be the uppermost
anticipation in his mind? It matters not that it is unlikely to
occur in his lifetime; because, whether he live or die, it will
be the time of his deliverance, and equally important to a person
who died a thousand years before the event, as to someone alive
when Jesus comes.
It is only the popular dogma of
immortal-soulism, as involving the belief in a conscious death-state
in which spiritual destinies are sealed, that deranges the harmony
of New Testament teaching on this point. If Christians at their
death are really transported to heaven, to enjoy reward in the presence
of the Saviour, the doctrine of his return to the earth cannot have
any practical interest for them, because their salvation is altogether
independent of it. They die, and are saved,
according to the common teaching; they go to heaven and see Christ;
therefore, their attention is naturally concentrated on death, as
the great revealing event, and diverted from the coming of Christ,
which they come to look upon as a sort of profitless and even questionable
doctrine. In fact, the great majority of religious people go the
length of rejecting it altogether, as a carnal conceit, and interpret
all references to it in the New Testament as meaning the occurrence
What a mighty perversion! What fatal
unbelief! Yet the natural fruit of the corrupt tree on which it
grows. If popular belief as to the death-state be correct, then
the other is the logical result, and "orthodox" people
who go to that extreme, are only consistent. But take away the doctrine
of the immortality of the soul - the root of all evil in a theological
sense - and harmony is restored. We see the righteous dead asleep
in corruption, and perceive the necessity of the Redeemer’s
advent to wake them to incorruptibility and life, and the essential
importance of that event as the object of hope during their life-
We are endeavouring to show that
the second coming of Christ was the hope of Christians converted
by the preaching of the apostles. We shall now follow up the arguments
advanced by quoting a number of passages from the epistles addressed
to them in which the doctrine is set forth with a plainness which
must carry conviction to every receptive mind:
"For the grace of God that
bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that,
denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly,
righteously, and godly in this present world, looking for that
blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great
God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:11-12).
"For our conversation is
in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord
Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned
like unto his glorious body" (Philippians 3:20-21).
"Christ was once offered
to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall
he appear the second time, without sin unto salvation"
"When Christ, who is our
life, shall appear, then shall ye also
appear with him in glory" (Colossians 3:4).
"It doth not yet appear what
we shall be; but we know that when he shall appear,
we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is" (1 John
"Ye turned to God from idols
to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son
from heaven, whom he raised from the dead"
(1 Thessalonians 1:9,10).
"Ye come behind in no gift,
waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ"
(1 Corinthians 1:7).
"Be patient, therefore, brethren,
unto the coming of the Lord. . . stablish your hearts, for the
coming of the Lord draweth nigh" (James 5:7-8).
"That the trial of your faith
being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it
be tried with fire, might be found unto praise, and honour, and
glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ...Wherefore,
gird up the loins of your mind; be sober, and hope to the end
for the grace that is brought unto you at the revelation
of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:7-13).
"The Lord direct your hearts
into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ"
(2 Thessalonians 3:5).
"And the Lord make you to
increase and abound in love, one toward another, and toward all
men; even as we do toward you; to the end he may stablish your
hearts unblamable in holiness before God, even our Father, at
the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, with all his
saints" (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13).
"Keep this commandment without
spot, unrebukable, until the appearing
of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Timothy 6:14).
"And now, little children,
abide in him, that when he shall appear, we may have confidence,
and not be ashamed before him at his coming"
(1 John 2:28).
"It is a righteous thing
with God, to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;
and to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus
shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels" (1
"The Lord Jesus Christ, who
shall judge the quick and the dead, at his appearing
and his kingdom...Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown
of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give
me at that day; and not to me only,
but unto all them also that love his appearing"
(2 Timothy 4:1-8).
It is superfluous to comment upon
these eloquent testimonies. Their scrupulous explicitness leaves
no room for argument. They show that the hope of the early Christians
was different from that of modern professors; that it laid hold
of the coming of the Lord as an object of personal solicitude. Jesus
himself had exhorted them to be watchful: "Behold, I come as
a thief; blessed is he that watcheth" (Revelation 16:15). He
had also said:
"Take heed to yourselves,
lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and
drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon
you unawares...Watch ye, therefore, and pray always, that ye may
be accounted worthy to escape all these things, and to stand before
the Son of Man" (Luke 21:34-36).
Now, in the professing Christian
world of the present day, we see none of this anxiety about the
second coming of Christ. There is a universal indifference to it.
One is reminded of the statement in the parable, "While the
bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept". Very few
care about the approach of the bridegroom, very few believe in it.
When spoken to about it, their language is practically that of the
scoffers of whom Peter wrote, "Where is the promise of his
coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as
they were from the beginning of the creation". Ah, but the
day comes when this apathy shall be rudely dispelled. "As a
snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole
earth", said Jesus (Luke 21:35).
How is it that men are so blinded
to the most obvious doctrine of the New Testament? Because, under
the guidance of a false theory, they look upon death as the eternal
settlement of every man for weal and woe, whereas death settles
nothing. It consigns us to darkness and silence, to await the coming
of Christ. That is the great settling time "when God shall
judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ" (Romans 2:16). Blessed
are all they who are prepared for its arrival. Happy are they who
"look for his appearing"; thrice happy they who "love
it"; for it is only to such that he is to "appear the
second time unto salvation".
Oh reader! repent thee of thy worldly
follies! Give heed to the good message that speaks to thee out of
thy Bible! Learn the truth from its neglected pages, and casting
thine errors and thy thoughtlessness behind thee, give obedience
to the heavenly requirements; and then wait with hope for the coming
of the Son of Man, that thou mayest be his in the day when he maketh
up his jewels.
from Christendom Astray by Robert Roberts with slight amendments
to reflect the current state of affairs among the nations. Copies
of this excellent guide to understanding the Bible are available
by contacting us).