Life on the Highest Plane
Vol. 3: The Believer's Response to the Holy Spirit's Inworking

Chapter Thirty-Three
The Hope of the Spiritual Man

The Christian is united to Christ by a golden cord of three strands, faith, love and hope (1 Corinthians 13:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:3). Faith and love look back to the cross and up to the throne and, claiming the fruits of salvation for the past and the present, use them to the glory of the Lord. But hope looks up into the heavens and waits for that future day when faith shall be merged into sight, when the labor of love shall be rewarded, when the salvation begun in grace shall be consummated in glory.

As the object of the believer's faith and love is the Lord Jesus Himself so is He the object of his hope. The glorious appearing of Christ Jesus, the Saviour, is the Christian's blessed hope.

Titus 2:13, "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ."

Hebrews 9:28, "So 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."

 

OUR LORD'S RETURN — ANNOUNCED

Through prophecies added to those already given through the Old Testament, Jesus Christ gave birth to this hope in the hearts of those first believers. According to His prophecy His second advent was to be of a totally different nature and for a totally different purpose than His first advent had been. In the first He had come in weakness and humiliation; in the second He would come in regal power and glorious splendor. In the first He had come as a Saviour, to be despised of men and to be crucified upon a cross set up by wicked men for Him, but in the second He would come as a Sovereign to set up a Kingdom for Himself in which all nations and all men would bow down and serve Him.

Mark 13:26, (see also Luke 21:27), "And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory."

Matthew 25:31, "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory."

Upon the eve of His exodus He comforted the hearts of His disciples with two promises. One was the promise of another Comforter, the Holy Spirit, during His absence. This promise was fulfilled literally as we have seen. The other was that one day He Himself would return in person to receive them unto Himself to be with Him forever.

John 14:2-3, "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."

As the disciples watched Him ascending into heaven this promise was reie was reiterated by two men who stood by in white apparel.

Acts 1:11, "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."

In the words "this same Jesus," "shall so come," "in like manner," wonderful light was thrown upon the manner of Christ's return to earth. It was to be a personal, visible, bodily coming. Thus the Lord Jesus Himself instilled into the hearts of His first disciples the blessed hope of His literal return to earth.

 

OUR LORD'S RETURN — ANTICIPATED

This promise of His personal return was ever before them. That little group lived and worked in confident assurance and eager anticipation of the speedy return of the Lord they loved. On the day of Pentecost only ten days after His ascension He fulfilled the promise to send another Comforter; why should they not expect just as truly and even as speedily that His other promises would likewise be fulfilled?

When fifteen and finally twenty years passed by and some of those who had this hope had died, the hearts of others were very disquieted. What would it mean to these loved ones that this blessed hope had not yet been realized? To still this fear Paul writes to them at Thessalonica counseling patient waiting and comforting them with fuller teaching on this precious truth.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, "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. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words."

So the steadfast confidence of their faith and the intense longing of their love crystallized into an undimmed patience of hope which dominated the everyday life. How fully this blessed hope permeated and possessed the thought and the testimony of the apostles is revealed in a study of the New Testament. In the closing chapters of the gospels, throughout the book of the Acts and in every epistle except three Christ's second advent is taught and it is the major theme of Revelation. Three hundred and eighteen times it is mentioned; one verse out of every twenty-five is devoted to it. It was the hope of Paul, Peter, John, James, Jude and the writer of Hebrews.

1 Timothy 6:14, "That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ."

1 Peter 1:13, "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ."

1 John 2:28, "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."

James 5:8, "Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh."

Jude 14, "And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints."

Hebrews 10:37, "For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry."

 

OUR LORD'S RETURN — ACTUALIZED

Nineteen centuries have passed since Christ Jesus said that He would return and the prophecies and promises regarding His second advent are still unfulfilled. The greater part of the professing Church has ceased to expect Him. In fact Christendom has set itself to the task of establishing the Kingdom without the King and scoffs at those who, believing that the Lord's promise will be fulfilled literally, still look for His return. Indeed this very scoffing is in itself a part of the fulfillment of prophecy regarding the last days.

2 Peter 3:2-4, "That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, 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."

Many preachers and teachers have applied "the blessed hope" of our Lord's return to the death of the believer, to the destruction of Jerusalem, to the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and to the gradual dissemination of the Gospel and the diffusion of Christianity over the whole earth. But the spiritually minded Christian believes that every prophecy regarding His second advent will be fulfilled as literally as were those of His first and waits for the coming of the Lord Himself from heaven.

The return of the Lord Jesus Christ has a special relationship to three groups of people, to Israel, to the Church and to the Gentile nations. A comprehensive study of this subject in all its bearings will deeply repay every Christian. But in these studies we must confine ourselves to the bearing of Christ's return upon the redemption of the individual believer from sin and all its consequences, upon the reconciliation of all things unto God and upon the restoration to God of sovereignty over the universe.

The return of the Lord Jesus Christ will mean the consummation of the believer's identification with Christ. The believer will be identified with his Lord as regards place, personality and power. Where Christ is he will be; what Christ is he will become; what Christ does he will share.

Where Christ is the Christian will be. Christ promised this to His disciples. "Where I am, there ye may be also" (John 14:3). He prayed that they might be with Him in glory. "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, he with me where I am; that they may behold my glory" (John 17:24). Then He went back into the glory. The disciples remained on earth and He came to be with them through the indwelling Holy Spirit. But one day He is coming to take His own to be with Him.

Colossians 3:4, "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory."

What Christ is the Christian will become for he shall become a partaker of Christ's glory. He shall be glorified together with Him in spirit and in body.

Romans 8:17, "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."

1 Peter 5:1, 10, "The elders which 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. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you."

The glorification of the Christian will involve the full redemption of his body which for the dead in Christ means resurrection and for the living means translation.

"The wages of sin is death" and there can be no final victory over sin that does not include victory over death. Death has laid claim all these ages to the bodies of God's saints, and still holds them captive in the grave. "But the sky not the grave is the goal of the Christian" and this will be proven when at the sound of the trump of God the graves of those asleep in Christ shall be opened and they shall be raised from the dead.

A few days ago I visited the cemetery on the hillside and saw there one tombstone in the form of a broken pillar. What a symbol it is of what every grave there means — a broken family circle! A broken thread of life that spelled manifold severed relationships! Will there ever be a reunion? Praise God there will be for those in Christ Jesus! The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the sure pledge of the resurrection of every believer. "Because I live, ye shall live also," He has said and He will do. Through His resurrection He became "the firstfruits of them that sleep" and thus made not only certain but essential the resurrection of every member of His Body.

1 Thessalonians 4:16, "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first."

1 Corinthians 15:20-23, "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming."

Oh! what comfort this can bring to those called upon to watch at the bedside of one whose life is slowly ebbing away; to endure the suffering of laying that loved one in the grave and to return to the loneliness of the home bereft of that presence. The blessed hope of our Lord's return calls the Christian to turn his gaze toward that resurrection morning when that loved one in Christ will come forth from the darkness of the grave to live in the power of an endless life. "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"

1 Corinthians 15:54, "So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory."

For those who are alive at Christ's coming it will mean a marvelous victory over death also, the conquering of death through not dying! It will not be the victory of resurrection but of translation.

Through the new birth the human body is dignified by being made the habitation of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit's indwelling it is fitted to be the channel for the revelation of the Lord Jesus and to be an instrument for His use. Grace has done much to purify and magnify the human body.

Yet it often grows so tired, weak and sick. It is so full of limitations and oftentimes a hindrance and a drag. And it is such a target for Satan and such an instrument of sin. It is liable at any moment to fall a victim to death's precursor, disease. So Scripture pictures the body as groaning under its burden of weariness and weakness and as crying out for the day of its release.

Romans 8:23, R.V., "And not only so, but ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for our adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body."

2 Corinthians 5:2-4, "For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: if so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life."

But one day in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, those who are alive will be changed. "The twinkling of an eye takes two motions, the downward and the upward one." Just recently a friend has suffered anguish of spirit in watching a dearly loved sister slowly starve to death through the cruel ravages of disease until death seemed a happy release. But oh! when He comes, in the twinkling of the eye — apart from disease, death and decay — our mortal body shall have put on immortality. One moment here in bodies weak and worn; the next moment there in bodies powerful and glorious!

"O joy, O delight, should we go without dying,
No sickness, no sadness, no sorrow, and no crying,
Caught up in the clouds to meet Him in glory,
   When Jesus receives His own."

1 Thessalonians 4:17, "Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."

1 Corinthians 15:51-53, "Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality."

Sin robbed the human body of the garment of light which the Creator gave it. But grace will give to it a robe of glory beautiful beyond anything we can conceive, for we are someday to be wholly conformed to the body of His glory. On the mount of transfiguration the curtain was drawn aside momentarily to give just a little idea of what our glorified body will be like. "His face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light." And of us Christ Himself said, "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father."

1 Corinthians 15:49, "As we have borne the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly."

Philippians 3:20-21, R.V., "For our citizenship is in heaven; whence also we wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, according to the working whereby he is able even to subject all things unto himself."

The Weymouth translation is "The Lord Jesus will transform this body . . . until it resembles the body of His glory." And this is just what identification with Christ in glory will mean to the body of the believer.

The glorification of the Christian will mean the consummating of his sanctification. Through identification with the Lord Jesus Christ in His death, resurrection and ascension the believer's sanctification is begun, through the Holy Spirit's indwelling and infilling it is continued but it will not be completed until we are identified with Him in His glory.

1 Thessalonians 5:23, "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Philippians 1:6, "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."

Will our deep-rooted desire for real likeness to Him ever be fulfilled? Praise God that that also belongs to our blessed hope. Our spirit often eager and earnest, yet as often dulled and deadened by sin, will then be like His in all the fullness of His glorified, divine being. The purpose of our sonship will have been consummated in our perfected likeness to the Son. When we shall see Him face to face we shall be like Him; we shall ever bear His name, which stands for His nature, in our foreheads as His own personal seal to our full conformity to Himself.

1 John 3:2, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and 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."

Revelation 22:4, "And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads."

The completion of sanctification is perfection; it is the deliverance not only from the penalty and power of sin but from its very presence. So long as we are in the body of flesh and in the world, within is a sinful nature and without is a sinful environment. But at the coming of the Lord the believer in Christ will be removed from the presence of sin both within and without. He will then breathe the pure air of the Glory-land and be himself purified. Then he will be:

"Without spot" — absolutely free from the stain of sin;

"Without wrinkle" — beyond the reach of suffering or sorrow, anxiety or anguish or aught that causes the furrows of care;

"Holy" — even as He is holy — "as the bush was luminous with the divine fire, so shall the luminosity of the divine nature make us aflame with the holiness of Jehovah";

"Without blemish" — delivered from inner corruption and outer contamination we shall be perfected with His perfection. Our Saviour will then see the travail of His soul and be satisfied, for He shall present us "faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy."

When Christ returns, the Christian will be identified with Him in dominion. What Christ does he will share in doing. He will be a partner of His power. The God-man shall have recovered His rightful dominion over His universe and the saints, as "heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ," shall be given their share in this inheritance and together with Him shall reign upon the earth.

Ephesians 5:27, "That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish."

Jude 24, "Now unto him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy."

Daniel 7:18, "But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever."

Revelation 5:10, "And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth."

Revelation 20:6, "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."

The God-man is now in heaven. The Father is on the throne and the Son is at His Father's right hand. But some day when He shall have conquered every enemy the Son is to have His own throne. This throne He promises to share with everyone who, while here on earth, has lived the life of an overcomer.

Matthew 22:44, "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool."

Revelation 3:21, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne."

Diagram 13: Hope of the Spiritual Man

The return of the Lord Jesus Christ will effect the consummation of the reconciliation of all things unto Himself. A time is coming when Jesus Christ will be the center of everything in heaven and upon earth; when everything will be directly related to Him and will head up in Him.

Ephesians 1:10, "That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth; even in him."

That time will usher in the last of the divinely ordered ages which condition human life upon the earth; it will register the answer to the prayer "Thy kingdom come," and it will mark the fulfillment of the prohecy that Jesus Christ, as the seed of David, should be King over His own Kingdom upon this earth.

2 Samuel 7:12-13 [spoken to David], "And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever."

Isaiah 9:6-7, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder. . . . Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this."

Luke 1:32-33, "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end."

Scripture constantly speaks of a day that is coming when the Heir of all things will claim His possessions and exercise His power. It is called "the day of the Lord." In that day all that is proud and haughty and lifted up against Him in rebellion and resistance shall be brought low and the Lord alone shall be exalted and magnified as King of kings and Lord of lords.

Isaiah 2:12, 17, "For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low. And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day."

Revelation 19:11, 15-16, "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."

Men everywhere are acknowledging the awful confusion and chaos which exist in the moral world. Some are working to effect reconciliation within Satan's world-system through world courts, peace conferences, leagues of nations and international community houses. Others, believing such things are inadequate, hope that the millennial state will be ultimately produced by the progressive betterment of the world through the Holy Spirit's work and the preaching of the Gospel. Through the gradual diffusion of the Kingdom of God throughout the world they expect the kingdom of evil to be conquered and, as it were, absorbed into it. But the spiritually minded man who knows and accepts the prophetical teaching of God's Word believes there is no hope of universal peace until the Prince of Peace sits on His throne and Himself rules in justice and righteousness. He believes there can be no Millennium such as Scripture portrays until the satanic world-system based on self-love, self-interest, self-exaltation and self-will is overthrown.

A careful study of the word "until" as used repeatedly in the Bible in connection with our Lord's return amply justifies such a belief. The Christ who came once in grace must come a second time in government before He recovers all that was lost to Him through the Fall and before there can be a reconciliation of all things unto Himself.

Ezekiel 21:27, "I will overturn, overturn, overturn it: and it shall be no more, more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him."

Acts 3:20-21, "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."

1 Timothy 6:14-15, "That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords."

Seiss says on this point, "My Bible tells of no millennium which existing processes are to bring about. Neither does it tell me of a millennium which is to precede the Saviour's second advent. The only millennium I read of in the Holy Book is that which is to be introduced by the glory and power of Christ's coming and the chief excellence of which is His personal presence and reign with His saints upon the earth. It is not the reign of art, science, human culture or free governments, for which the Bible teaches me to look; nor yet for the universal triumph of Christianity or the Church as we now have it; nor yet for the reign of justice, holiness or any mere abstract principles; but the personal reign of Jesus my Lord."

But when the Man comes whom God has appointed to rule the world, the righteous King, He will rule in righteousness and the result will be peace. Then all problems will be solved; all wrongs righted; all breaches healed; all wars ended, because all things in God's moral universe shall be readjusted and reestablished according to the perfect will of God. "All the universe will feel the beneficence of His rule and the benediction of His peace.

Isaiah 32:1, "Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment."

Isaiah 11:4-5, "But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins."

Jeremiah 23:5-6, "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS."

Psalm 67:4, "O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth."

When Christ, the King, reigns there will be national peace. Now the whole world is in a state of incipient war. "All Europe is armed to the teeth and the nations all watching each other with acute suspicion, and trembling with fear over the volcano of a suppressed Armageddon." The newspapers almost daily chronicle "rumors of war." But the coming of the Prince of Peace will end war.

Isaiah 2:4, "And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."

Micah 4:2, "And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth from Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem."

When Christ, the King, reigns there will be social reconstruction. The day of oppression, greed, selfishness, injustice will be ended because sin will be instantly detected, judged and punished. "When the Prince of Peace comes He will allay every disturbing element; hush the din caused by sin; put down every wrong; still every clamouring tongue; calm every raging sea of unrest; touch and heal every inflamed sore of society; unite into the harmony of accord every quarrelsome crowd; pilot every perplexed barque of humanity tossed on the sea of life, into the harbour of rest; heal every epileptical torture of suffering; adjust every turmoil of difference by His rule of equity, and harmonize all conflicting claims in the melting fire of His love" (F.E. Marsh, What Will Take Place When Christ Returns?, p. 122).

Isaiah 26:9, "When thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness."

Psalm 72:3-4, 12-14, "The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness. He shall judge the poor of the peoplc, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor. For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth, the poor also, and him that hath no helper. He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy. He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence: and precious shall their blood be in his sight."

Zechariah 14:20, "In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; and the pots in the Lord's house shall be like the bowls before the altar."

When Christ the King reigns there will be material prosperity. Vast fortunes will not be massed in the hands of a few but each man shall have sufficient and shall live in contentment.

Micah 4:4, "But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it."

Isaiah 65:21-23, "And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them."

When Christ the King reigns there will universal health and longevity.

Isaiah 33:24, "And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick."

Isaiah 35:5-6, "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert."

Isaiah 65:20, "There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed."

In the coming age under the kingship of the Lord Jesus Christ mankind will be given a chance to attain to a perfection of personality, spiritual, intellectual and physical which is impossible for us to conceive of and the human race will enter upon a life of harmony and concord that the most optimistic cannot picture today.

When our Lord comes again it will mean redemption and renovation within His whole creation. Sin brought a curse upon the earth and upon the animal creation. Its destructive power and extensive reach are seen in the terrible disturbance caused within the divine harmony of creation. Everything in God's inanimate world is touched by death and decay and is robbed of its greatest utility and beauty by the blasting curse which sin brought.

So there is a minor key even in nature. The whole creation is weighted by a burden that constrains it to groan; it is subjected to a slavery that compels it to cry out for emancipation. It waits with impatience for the manifestation of the sons of God which will usher in that glad day when it too will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.

Romans 8:19-22, R.V., "For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now."

But "in the day of the Lord" all these conditions will be changed. "The miserere of Nature will become a jubilate." Even the life of the jungle will be lived in harmony. The earth will then yield her increase and the whole creation will sing its praises unto God, its Maker and Redeemer.

Isaiah 55:12-13, "For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off."

Isaiah 11:6-9, "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea."

Finally, the return of the Lord Jesus Christ will effect the consummation of the restoration to God of sovereignty over His universe. Can such a victory ever be won until the usurping "prince of this world" is dispossessed and destroyed? There can be no Millennium while Satan remains in the heavenlies or on earth for it is impossible to be rid of his world-system until the world is rid of him. Through His regenerating power the Holy Spirit can and does deliver the believer from the power of Satan but He cannot deliver him from his presence. Satan is still here and will be until the Lord returns.

Genesis records Satan's victory and the rejection of God; Revelation records the dethronement of Satan and the enthronement of Christ. "The seed of the woman" born in the manger-cradle of Bethlehem and crucified on the cross of Calvary must stand upon the Mount of Olivet before the bruising of the serpent's head is finally consummated and the perpetual curse pronounced upon Satan is executed. When the Lord Jesus Christ returns Satan will be bound and cast into the bottomless pit for one thousand years.

Zechariah 14:4, "And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south."

Revelation 20:1-3, "And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season."

With the head of the world-system dethroned the triumphant Lord is restored to His rightful rule over the earth.

Zechariah 14:9, "And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day there shall be one Lord, and his name one."

Revelation 11:15, "And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever."

Revelation 19:6, "And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Allelulia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth."

At the end of the thousand years Satan will be loosed for a season. He will reveal his unchanging and unchangeable disposition to self-will and his implacable hatred toward God by going forth to deceive the nations and by making a futile effort to regain his lost dominion.

Revelation 20:7-9, "And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison. And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them."

This rebellion ends in his utter undoing and destruction. God's full and final judgment is now meted out upon him. He is cast into the lake of fire and brimstone to be tormented forever.

Revelation 20:10, "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever."

Then God's victory is consummated. Every enemy is at last under His feet and the sovereignty of the triune God is absolute.

1 Corinthians 15:24-25, 28, R.V., "Then cometh the end, when he shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have abolished all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all his enemies under his feet. And when all things have been subjected unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subjected to him that did subject all things unto him, that God may be all in all."

Is it any wonder that Satan hates the truth of the Lord's return and that he does all within his power to discredit, discourage and destroy those who hold and preach this blessed hope? He has no place for the second coming of the Lord in his "gospel" and his "ministers" either rail at or ridicule those who have it in theirs. One reason why we may well believe that we are in the last days is the fact of the violent and venomous attacks of Satan's instruments upon this glorious truth on the one hand and the growing preciousness and deepening influence of this hope upon those who love His appearing on the other.

 

OUR LORD'S RETURN — ATTITUDE

With such a glorious prospect before the believer, one would expect him to have just one possible attitude toward our Lord's return — that of eager expectancy and ardent desire. Yet strange to say there are four very evident attitudes manifested in the professing Church toward this blessed hope; aggressive hostility, listless apathy, fearful apprehension and loving expectancy. Some hate it; some are totally ignorant of it; some are afraid of it and some love it. In which group do you find yourself?

God shows very clearly in Scripture what is the attitude of the spiritual man toward our Lord's return. May He now speak to the heart of every reader through His own Word.

2 Peter 1:19, "We have also a more sure word of prophecy: whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts."

"Take heed." Think of how much both of the Old and the New Testament is devoted to prophecy — the foretelling of things to come. God tells us here that these prophetic words are reliable, they will most assuredly come to pass. Should we not then give heed to that which God thinks to be of such tremendous importance? Surely to be apathetic to that to which God commands us "to give attention with heart intentness" would be sin. In these dark days what can so truly keep us from depression over conditions in the world and in the Church and from discouragement over ourselves and our work as to concentrate our attention upon and become absorbed with this sure word of prophecy that shines like a light in the darkness?

2 Timothy 4:8, "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."

"Love." The aged apostle knew that his lifework was nearly ended. Perhaps his body still bore the marks of the stripes and was weakened from the periods of hunger and thirst; his heart still felt the wounds caused by the persecutions of his own countrymen and the desertions of false brethren; his spirit was still burdened by the spiritual need of all the churches under his care; yet his whole being was aglow with joy. He had fought a good fight, he had finished his course, he had kept the faith through all the hardships and heartaches. And what had been the incentive for such a life? Paul had loved his Lord's appearing. Even in the darkest experiences of his life he had ever before him the anticipation of "that day" when the Lord, the righteous Judge, would give him a crown of righteousness, and within the heart of Paul there burned like a fire a love for bls Lord's appearing that eclipsed every other love. Do you ever waken in the morning or fall asleep at night with the thought, "O, today, tonight, my Beloved may come?" Do you "love His appearing" to such a degree that you are longing for His return with eagerness and expectancy?

2 Peter 3:12, R.V., "Looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God, by reason of which the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?"

"Look." Who could ever be apprehensive of our Lord's return who understands what that coming will mean to this dark, sin-cursed world? In times of exceptional calamity the hearts of ignorant ones are terrified by the thought that it is "the end of the world." Others, equally ignorant of the great prophetic truths, charge those who hold this blessed hope with being pessimistic and with looking upon world conditions in too somber and gloomy a way. Such men shudder at the very thought of what they call the "catastrophic cataclysm" of the premillennial view.

But the Christian who looks expectantly for our Lord's return is the only true optimist because he alone sees things both as they are and as they will be. To shut one's eyes to actual conditions and to deny the self-evident trend of affairs and their logical, inevitable outcome as revealed in the Word of God is not optimism but folly. The man who believes the sure word of prophecy and takes it as his compass knows that perilous times are ahead; he sees the way the world's ship of life is taking; he sights the rocks ahead and he knows that a frightful disaster is unavoidable.

Recently I read in the newspaper this account of a wrecked steamer, "The steamer Robert E. Lee, crack passenger liner bound from Boston to New York with 150 passengers and an equal number in the crew, went ashore in a blinding storm on the Mary Ann Rocks four miles off shore about eight o'clock in the evening. The ship struck one of the three jagged rocks that project about five feet above the low water mark." The next day the paper gave the reason for this catastrophe as stated by the ship's commander. "The wreck of the steamer Robert E. Lee on the rocks off Manonut was due to a faulty compass. Because of the consequent inaccuracy of the vessel's course, the ship would have piled up on the shore at Indian Head, three miles farther on, even if she had escaped the treacherous Mary Ann Rocks on which she grounded." The captain of the vessel attributed the changing of the compass largely "to the penetration into the pilot house of large quantities of snow, driven in through the windows by the severe gale."

The existing world-system has a faulty compass. The wintry drifts of enmity toward God have settled in upon it and made it wholly inaccurate. The world is steering straight for the rocks upon which it will sooner or later be wrecked.

But back of the "catastrophic cataclysm" that ends the rule of "the prince of this world" and overthrows this world-system the spiritual man sees the glorious appearing of the great God and Saviour Jesus Christ to rule the world, and beyond "the dissolving of the heavens" and "the melting of the elements" he sees "the new heavens and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness." So with almost impatient longing he "looks" for the coming of the Lord.

1 Thessalonians 1:10, "And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come."

1 Corinthians 1:7, "So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."

"Wait." Let us not miss the sweetness of this precious truth by failing to apprehend the inwardness of its meaning. We have told some of the blessings that will come to, the Christian through our Lord's return, his resurrection from the dead or his translation without dying; his removal from the very presence of sin; his release from all bondage to self and to Satan; his reign with the Lord as coheir of the Kingdom. Yes, all these and other blessings await us upon the coming of the Lord.

Yet the chiefest of all blessings will be missed if we stop here. What we wait for is not a blessing but a Person. We wait for God's Son, our Saviour; it is the Bridegroom, our Beloved, for whom we wait. He has promised to come for His own to receive them unto Himself. When He comes, we shall meet Him in the air; we shall see Him face to face; we shall be like Him; and we shall forever be with the Lord.

I was travelling once in China from Shanghai to Foochow. A missionary who had been separated from his family for a year was returning home. At Shanghai he had received a large number of letters from his wife which he read and reread apparently devouring every word with a hungry heart. But long before we were near enough to Foochow to discern even the outline of the city he had cast aside his letters and was standing with eyes fixed in the direction of that city. As we drew still nearer he shaded his eyes with his hand; he waited, he watched with steady, fixed intentness. Why did the letters which had so engrossed him when he left Shanghai not satisfy him now? For whom was he looking so intently? Soon in the distance we saw a little boat coming and in it was a woman — his wife and Oh! what joy was theirs when hope was rewarded by sight and those two so long separated were together once again.

Our Lord has gone away to prepare a place that we may be with Him forever. During His absence our hearts are comforted and cheered through His Word and we find precious companionship with Him in its study. But He promised to come back and, as we draw nearer and nearer to "the day of Christ" with hearts fixed intently upon this blessed hope, we wait for the Son Himself from heaven.

Matthew 24:36-42, R.V., "But of that day and hour knoweth no one, not even the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only. And as were the days of Noah, so shall be the coming of the Son of man. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and they knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall be the coming of the Son of man. Then shall two men be in the field; one is taken, and one is left: two women shall be grinding at the mill: one is taken, and one is left. Watch therefore: for ye know not on what day your Lord cometh."

Mark 13:33-37, R.V., "Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. It is as when a man, sojourning in another country, having left his house, and given authority to his servants, to each one his work, commanded also the porter to watch. Watch therefore: for ye know not when the Lord of the house cometh, whether at even, or at midnight, or at cockcrowing, or in the morning; lest coming on you suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto all, Watch."

"Watch." Life will be flowing on in its ordinary channels when "the day of Christ" finally comes. We will rise to the ordinary tasks; we will be in our accustomed haunts; we will be eating, drinking, working and sleeping as usual.

No warning will be given us that we may hastily prepare ourselves to meet the Lord. No time will be given to change our occupation or our garments. So there is but one attitude for the Christian to have toward the coming of the Lord and that is the attitude of watchfulness. He may come any moment, therefore I should be watching every moment.

Revelation 2:25, "But that which ye have already hold fast till I come."

"Hold fast." In these days of growing apostasy the Christian is meeting with very severe tests to his faith, love, zeal and fidelity. The man who rejects the foundation truths of God's Word considers the man who holds them fast an intellectual outcast and consigns him to the slums of scholarship. This is a day in which men are suffering persecution for their faith. As the shadows deepen and the darkness of the apostasy falls more heavily over Christendom every man who is loyal to his Lord will have to "go forth . . . without the camp, bearing his reproach" (Hebrews 13:13). But with a tenacity of faith that nothing can shake; with an ardency of love that nothing can quench; with a warmth of zeal that nothing can dampen; and with a constancy of fidelity that nothing can weaken, the spiritual man will "hold fast" to all that is his in Christ till He comes.

Luke 19:12-13, "He said therefore, 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."

."

"Occupy." The Christian who looks and longs for the Lord's return is sometimes accused by those who reject this truth of being a visionary, impracticable stargazer, waiting idly for something to happen to release him from a doomed world. They even claim that such a hope "cuts the nerve of service." Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the exact opposite of this is true. From the early Church on down to the present time it is the men and women who have held this truth who have been the most zealous, ardent, active soul-winners. Their one passion was to trade with the pound which their Lord had given them until it had brought Him ten pounds. Their chief concern was not that they themselves might be released from a doomed world but that they might be the channels which the Lord would use to deliver others from it. With unwearied devotion and unflagging zeal they have obeyed the Lord's commission to preach the Gospel to every creature. The paramount purpose of their lives was to "occupy" faithfully till He comes.

 

OUR LORD'S RETURN — APPROACH

Is the time for the fulfillment of the Christian's hope drawing near? Is the Lord's return near at hand? We are told explicitly in Scripture that we know neither the day nor the hour that our Lord will come. Then of course, it is impossible to fix a date for this glorious event. Yet some, attempting to do this, have brought great discredit upon this precious truth.

Matthew 25:13, "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh."

Yet our Lord Himself in His great prophetic address in the last week of His earthly life stated that there would be signs that would indicate the approach of His return in power and glory and He exhorted his disciples to watch for such signs.

Luke 21:25-28, "And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh."

The Bible unfolds the divine program in the carrying out of God's eternal purpose in Christ. It is divided into definite cycles. There are certain signs which will precede the consummation of the cycle or "age" we are now in and the Spirit-taught Christian will be able to discern these "signs of the times." Today "the children of light" see in the conditions prevailing both in the world and in the Church a marvelous fulfillment of prophetic truth regarding "the last days" of this age and they believe it indicates the approach of the Lord from glory.

1 Thessalonians 5:4-6, "But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober."

Hebrews 10:25, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."

Luke 21:31, "So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand."

In the limited scope of this study we can mention only four signs which Scripture says will immediately precede "the day of the Lord" and indicate its approach.

Matthew 24:31-33, "And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know the summer is nigh: so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors."

The prophecies of God if they relate to the fulfillment of His divine purposes on earth center in the Jewish race and in the land of Palestine. Repeatedly He says that this people, who have been scattered among all peoples and have lived as exiles for two thousand years, are to be gathered out from all the nations and restored to their own land. As the prophecy that God would take them from their land was fulfilled literally so will the prophecies that He will return them to their land and give it to them as an everlasting possession be as literally fulfilled.

Israel is typified by the fig tree. For centuries she has been withered, dead, fruitless nationally. Yet the Jewish race has been divinely preserved as a distinct people and has never been absorbed by the nations among whom it has been scattered.

But in the last few years there has been marked evidence of new national life in Israel. Through the Zionist Movement which has as its purpose the restoration of Israel to Palestine, through the action of the Allies since World War I in committing themselves to the return of Palestine to the Jews, the fig tree is again putting forth leaves.

"Since General Allenby entered Jerusalem on that never-to-be-forgotten day December 9th, 1918, the fig tree has been puffing 'forth leaves' with amazing rapidity. Over 55,000 Jews have returned to Palestine since the Balfour Declaration. The population has more than doubled during the five years of Sir Herbert Samuel's Commissionership. A Hebrew University on Mount Scopus was opened on April 1st, 1925. Trade has flourished and the revenue shows a surplus of one and a quarter millions. The sacred custom of going up to the Passover was observed in the spring of 1922 for the first time in nearly 2,000 years. The Sanhedrin has been revived. Schools have been established. A shipping company has been formed by wealthy American Jews for the purpose of carrying Jews back to Palestine" (E. E. Hotchell, Signs of Christ's Coming, p. 914).

Matthew 24:33, "When ye shall see all these things. know that it is near, even at the doors."

Luke 21:24, "And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."

Perhaps no sign is more significant than this one. In World War I a prophetic prediction became an historical fact. Christ had said that the liberation of Jerusalem from Gentile overlordship would not take place "until" a certain time and then stated what that time would be. "The times of the Gentiles" refers to the period from the captivity of Judah under Nebuchadnezzar and the dispersion of Israel from her land until the setting up of the Kingdom by the return of the King and His reestablishment of His chosen people in the land He gave them. Jerusalem has been emancipated and is today virtually in the control of the Jews. Then may we not confidently believe that "the times of the Gentiles" are at least nearing fulfillment and the coming of the Lord draweth nigh?

Luke 21:25-26, "Upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; . . . men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth."

One needs only to observe conditions and to read the daily newspaper to be convinced that this prophecy is being fulfilled at the present time. Everywhere one looks there is tumult and turmoil. World leaders are distressed knowing not what to do to put the world right. Universal anarchy threatens the world and they do not know how to cope with it. To the man with this blessed hope the very hopelessness in present world conditions demands the coming of the only One who can set the world right and indicates that His coming must be near.

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God."

2 Timothy 3:1-5, "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away."

These passages reveal the truth that in the apostasy of the last days there will be two outstanding marks, religious decadence and moral deterioration. These signs are appallingly evident today. E~'ery distinctive foundational truth of the Christian faith, the virgin birth, the deity of Christ, the substitutionary atonement, the literal resurrection and the Lord's return, are openly and avowedly denied in the pulpit and in the religious press and, as a result, in the pew. With almost incredible arrogance men are tearing the Bible to pieces and retaining only what suits their desire.

Following inevitably upon this rejection of God's Word and refusal of His authority is the- breaking loose from all other bonds, parental and magisterial. A wave of lawlessness is sweeping irresistibly over the world and is bound to engulf it ultimately.

Liberalism in belief produces license in conduct. The laws of human society are disregarded and every man becomes a law unto himself. This is the day of divorce, free love, companionate marriage. It is the day of the discarding of parental authority and advice. It is the day of shameless immodesty and indecency in dress. It is the day of bold corruption and dishonesty in high places in governmental affairs. It is the day of traitors and truce breakers, when friends may become enemies over night, and when treaties, solemnly made, may be lightly broken. It is the day of moral deterioration.

God says that "evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse" so that there would be nothing for this world to look forward to but moral suicide unless the Lord Jesus Christ were to return to save it from itself. But these things are to happen in "the last days" so the hope of the spiritual man burns brightly for they are to him a sign that the approach of the Lord is sure.

These signs constitute both a call and a challenge to the Christian. A call to reaffirm his hope, to lift up his head and to rejoice that his redemption draweth nigh. And a challenge to fill his lamps with oil and to prepare his bridal robes that he may be prepared for the coming of the Lord.

 

OUR LORD'S RETURN — APPEAL

The coming of the Lord will be with suddenness and without warning. The constraining appeal that this blessed truth makes to every man is for readiness. The Lord Jesus warns us of the terrible peril of unpreparedness for His return and appeals to all men to be ready and watching so that whether He comes in the second or in the third watch they will not be caught unawares but will be ready to welcome Him.

Luke 12:35-36, 40, "Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not."

What appeal does the truth of our Lord's return make to the unsaved person? It appeals to him to accept without delay the Lord Jesus as his personal Saviour. Christ warns us that in the day when He shall be revealed unsaved men will be as indifferent as in the days of Noah. They will be engrossed in business and in pleasure, utterly forgetful of their Lord. Suddenly He will come — a wife will be taken and the husband left; a child will be snatched from the mother's arms; a business associate will be caught away to meet his Lord in the air and his partner will be left to carry on alone.

Matthew 24:40-41, "Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left."

And what will it mean to the one who is left? It will mean the ending of the day of grace and the beginning of the day of judgment. The rejected Saviour will then be the righteous Judge before whom the ungodly must stand and receive his punishment for He has come to execute judgment.

2 Thessalonians 1:7-9, "And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power."

All down through the ages there have been those who have mockingly said "Where is the promise of his coming?" (2 Peter 3:4). Ten days after His return to glory He fulfilled the promise to send another Comforter. More than nineteen centuries have passed and He has not yet fulfilled the promise that He would come again. Oh! why does He not come?

2 Peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."

Oh! my friend, perhaps He delays His coming for your sake. He may be waiting for you to accept Him. You may be the last one needed to complete the Body of the Lord Jesus Christ. God may be holding the door of grace open a little longer for you to enter. Will you do so today?

What appeal does the truth of the Lord's return make to the saved person? It is a threefold appeal, to purity of life, to separation from the world and to zeal in service.

The outstanding appeal of the blessed hope is to purity of life. It challenges us to be both holy and righteous, to be void of offense both to God and to men. It calls us to so live that we would he unashamed to meet Him face to face at any moment.

1 John 3:3, "And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure."

2 Peter 3:14, "Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless."

1 John 2:28, "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."

If Christ should come today would He find you with a clean heart? Or would it be filled with rebellion toward Him? With jealousy, unforgiveness, hatred, anger, malice, bitterness toward another? Would He call you to Himself out of the midst of a church quarrel? If Christ should come today would you leave behind unpaid debts? unfulfilled promises? unconfessed sins? Oh, Christian, He may come at any moment, "be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot and blameless."

The hope of our Lord's return appeals to us to live a separated life. In the twinkling of an eye we shall have left earth and earthly things and shall be in the pure atmosphere of His holy presence which is to be our abiding place throughout eternity. God would have us prepared to breathe that heavenly air by a separation now unto the things that are unseen and eternal; He would deafen our ears to the jazz noises of earth that we might be prepared to appreciate the melodious symphonies of heaven. He would deepen within us the consciousness that we are already citizens of heaven and only pilgrims on earth that we might be freed from encumbersome luggage, that we might be ready to go at a moment's notice.

Philippians 3:20, R.V., "For our citizenship is in heaven; whence also we wait for a Saviour."

1 Peter 1:13-14, R.V., "Wherefore girding up the loins of your mind, be sober and set your hope perfectly on the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as children of obedience, not fashioning yourselves according to your former lusts in the time of your ignorance."

The hope of our Lord's return appeals to us to live a fruitful life. When the Lord Jesus Christ returns He will bring rewards and will bestow crowns for faithful service. A special crown is waiting for those who have zealously won souls to Christ. Will you be in line for coronation? Are you doing your part to hasten the day of His coming by winning souls to Him?

Revelation 22:12, "And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be."

1 Thessalonians 2:19, "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?"

"Just a few days — and our tears will have ended;
Just a few hours — and our task will be done;
         Yet still hear them calling,
         From darkness appalling,
While we rest in the light of the fast-setting sun.

"Just a few days — and the gifts we've withholden,
Just a few hours — and the call we refuse —
         Will rush on forever,
         Or return to us never,
And Eternity's crown we no longer may choose.

"Just a few days — and then nought will avail us,
The thought of the crown that we might yet have won;
         And ah! what the sorrow
         If we miss on the morrow
Our share in that joy, when He whispers, 'Well done!'

"Just a few days — Oh Lord, strengthen our courage;
Just a few moments — to publish Thy Name.
         In our weakness enfold us,
         Through darkness uphold us,
'Till He Come,' make us faithful Thy love to proclaim."

         "Surely, I come quickly.
         Even so, come, Lord Jesus."

 

Chapter Thirty-Four

 

the curtain torn
stephen@smithworks.org

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