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WHY I PREACH THE SECOND COMING
I. M. HALDEMAN, D. D.
Pastor First Baptist Church, New York City
New York Chicago Fleming H. Revell Company London and Edinburgh
Copyright, 1919, by Fleming H. Revell Company
New York: 158 Fifth Avenue Chicago: 17 North Wabash Ave. London: 21 Paternoster Square Edinburgh: 75 Princes Street
THE subject of this volume is an address delivered by the Author before the World's Conference on Christian Fundamentals at Philadelphia, May 30, 1919.
The reasons for preaching and teaching the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ are manifold and each one worth while.
The Author has contented himself with presenting a few as follows:
The Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ is the one event most often recorded in Holy Scripture.
It is bound up with every fundamental doctrine, with every sublime promise and every exhortation to high, to holy and practical Christian living.
Only at the Second Coming of our Lord will redemption be complete and the blood of the cross be justified.
Not till our Lord Jesus Christ comes the Second time will the Church be exalted into her true function of rulership over the world.
Only at the Second Coming will the solemn and covenant promises of God to Israel be fulfilled.
Only at the Second Coming of the Christ of God will a government of everlasting righteousness and peace be established on the earth.
It is at the Second Coming of Christ alone that the earth will be delivered from the bondage of corruption and transformed into the paradise of God.
The Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ FOR His Church is the most imminent event on the horizon of time.
I. M. H.
New York, 1919.
I. THE SECOND COMING OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST IS THE ONE EVENT MOST OFTEN RECORDED IN HOLY SCRIPTURE
II. THE SECOND COMING OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST IS BOUND UP WITH EVERY FUNDAMENTAL DOCTRINE, EVERY SUBLIME PROMISE AND EVERY EXHORTATION TO HIGH, TO HOLY AND PRACTICAL CHRISTIAN LIVING
III. ONLY AT THE COMING OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST WILL REDEMPTION BE COMPLETE AND THE BLOOD OF THE CROSS BE JUSTIFIED
IV. NOT TILL OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST COMES THE SECOND TIME WILL THE CHURCH BE EXALTED INTO HER TRUE FUNCTION OF RULERSHIP OVER THE WORLD
V. ONLY AT THE SECOND COMING WILL THE SOLEMN AND COVENANT PROMISES OF GOD TO ISRAEL BE FULFILLED
VI. ONLY AT THE SECOND COMING OF THE CHRIST OF GOD WILL A GOVERNMENT OF EVERLASTING RIGHTEOUSNESS AND PEACE BE ESTABLISHED UPON THE EARTH
VII. IT IS AT THE SECOND COMING OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST THAT THE EARTH WILL BE DELIVERED FROM THE BONDAGE OF CORRUPTION AND TRANSFORMED INTO THE PARADISE OF GOD
VIII. THE COMING OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST FOR HIS CHURCH IS THE MOST IMMINENT EVENT ON THE HORIZON OF TIME
The Second Coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ is the One Event Most Often Recorded in Holy Scripture
IT is recorded in type, in figure, in symbol, in analogue, in parable, in hyperbole and metaphor, in exalted song, in noblest poetry and in rarest rhetoric. It is set before us in dramatic and dynamic statement, in high prophetic forecast, in simple narrative, close linked logic, expanded doctrine, divine exhortation and far -reaching appeal.
The first promise of the Second Coming was made in Eden. It was made in the promise given to the woman that her seed should bruise the serpent's head. On the cross the serpent bruised the heel of the woman's seed, but her seed did not bruise the serpent's head. Never was his head more uplifted and unbruised than now. The promise of the bruising is of God and must be fulfilled. The record of that fulfillment is to be found in the twentieth chapter of the book of the Revelation where our Lord descends and in the plenitude of His power by the hand of an angel binds Satan for a thousand years beneath His feet and the feet of His saints. As the bruising of the serpent's head takes place at the Second Coming, and the promise of the bruising is made in Eden, then the first promise of the Coming is made in Eden; and as you see rising above the figure of the fallen first man the figure of the Second man, you hear for the first time the story of the Second Coming of the Second man; and thus the story and the doctrine of the Second Coming begin with the very beginning of the Book.
For three hundred years Enoch walked amid the slime, the slush and the uprising tide of human iniquity in a God-hating and God-defying world. Then one day God took him out of all the riot and wrong of it without dying into the heaven of His glory; and the Apostle Paul writing to the Corinthians of the Second Coming affirms there will be a generation who will continue alive till the Lord comes; and thus Enoch is a type of that deathless generation and by so much a prophecy of the Second Coming.
For one hundred and twenty years Noah preached righteousness to a world from which the death penalty had been removed, a world surrendered to conscience (and let it be well remembered conscience is not the gift of God nor evidence of grace but mark of fallen man, the shadow of God's throne before which the "accuse" and "excuse" of the soul witness to human guilt), a generation given over to unrestrained fallen nature; a generation of murder, assassination, violence, war, utter brutality, sickening sensualism, the invasion of fallen and lust-seeking angels, rank spiritism, diabolism and mocking laughter at God and the things of God.
Suddenly, without warning, God called Noah into the ark (the building of which had awakened the derision of the revellers in sin and the would-be wise men of the hour) shut the door and bolted him in. At the end of seven ominous days in which the darksome clouds hung low and threatening, the windows of heaven were opened, the fountains of the deep broken up and the flood fell, sweeping away all save Noah and his family in the ark. When the judgment waters had subsided Noah and his family came forth to set up a new and distinct dispensation in the world.
Seated yonder on the Mount of Olives in the shadow of the cross, looking forward to His Second Coming and backward for an illustration that should forecast the times and leave no excuse for exegetical and interpretative theological blundering our Lord said as it was in the days of Noah so should it be when the Son of man should come the Second time.
Without warning, out of a world of increasing materialism, self -sufficiency, boasting, pride, violence, war and multiplied peril, a world that under the guise of general indifferentism and cultivated cynicism mocks at the things of God and denies we have a written, final and sure revelation from Him, the Lord will snatch away the genuine, regenerated Church (the dead raised, the living changed) and take them to Himself, into the place prepared. For at least seven years spiritual blackness, measureless woe and indescribable anguish will fall upon a Devil-deceived and Devil-ruled world. Then will the Lord come with His previously gathered Church, execute judgment on the ungodly, sweep away all iniquity and set up the new administration of righteousness and truth. Noah is therefore a figure, a prophecy of the closing hours of this age and its climax in the Second Coming of the Lord.
One day Lot went into Sodom, took office, tried to reform the evil city, succeeded in vexing his righteous, but unspiritual soul with the filthy conversation of the wicked, got down to the level of the natural man, lost his testimony and seemed to his friends and intimates like a madman or the most excuselessly inconsistent trifler when he attempted to take up once more his damaged testimony.
Then there was a night when God's angels came and snatched him out of the doomed city. The next morning the fire of God fell and Lot "saved so as by fire" looked on at the blaze and the burning of all his works of righteousness as wood hay and stubble, big in bulk but rejected of God.
Looking forward to His Second Coming and backward for an illustration the Son of God declared as it was in the days of Lot so should it be when the Son of man should come again.
There are good and righteous Christians—righteous enough but wholly unspiritual who are seeking to make spotless town of a world God has judged and doomed, failing to see the cross is not only the judgment of the individual, but equally the judgment of the world; that not only does the cross reveal the end of all flesh but the end in God's sight of that system of things which men call the world; that on the cross the world is crucified to the Christian and the Christian to the world; and failing to see this, failing to get the mind of God are daily descending to the plane of the natural man, are losing and in many cases deliberately setting aside the testimony once for all delivered to the saints.
Without warning, they will be snatched away to meet a descending Lord (if they be real and regenerated Christians) and this alone because their faith be it never so small holds them securely in the bonds of the covenant. After that the Lord will be revealed in flaming fire to execute judgment on the world and all the works of misguided social reformers because these works are built, not upon the righteousness of God, but the righteousness of man.
According to the Word of the Lord Himself therefore Lot is a picture and prophecy of the closing hours of the present age with its climax the Coming and Appearing of the Lord.
After Abraham had typically offered up his son on Mount Moriah and typically received him from the dead on the third day the son for a number of chapters in the record disappears from view. Then Abraham the father sends his servant Eliezer into a far country to get a bride for this now invisible son. Eliezer meets the intended bride at a well from whence she is drawing water, goes with her into her brother's house, takes out a pack of precious things sent from the father in the name of the son, displays them to her and invites her to become the bride of the son. She consents. The servant leads her forth. On the way he talks to her of the promised bridegroom. Suddenly she beholds him coming to meet her. He receives her, takes her into his prepared tent and she becomes his wife.
On the same mount nearly two thousand years later God the Father offered up His only begotten Son. On the third day He raised Him from the dead. For two thousand years He has disappeared from view. The Father has sent forth the Spirit to obtain a bride for His Son. He meets her at the Gospel well from whence we draw the waters of salvation. He is calling her through individual selection that she may become the corporate bride. He has brought spiritual gifts which He seeks to display in all her assemblies. He is endeavouring to lead her along the highway of time and to speak to her in the heaven speech of the Coming Bridegroom. Suddenly the Lord will come to meet her and take her into the place prepared and keep her for the marriage hour. In this simple story the analogue finds its prophetic climax in the Second Coming of our Lord.
Jacob fled from his home, the brother he had outwitted and the father whom he had deceived. As night drew on footsore and weary he cast himself upon the plain with a stone for his pillow. Visions came to him in the night. A ladder of gold reached from earth to heaven. At the top of it was a host of angels and the Lord Himself in glory. The Lord spoke to him and assured him he and his posterity should have the land on which he was lying for an everlasting possession. It was a confirmation of the oath to and the covenant with Abraham and Isaac. As the covenant can find its fulfillment only at the actual Second Coming of our Lord as the God of Jacob, this vision is the prophetic anticipation of that hour and the heaven-proclaimed assurance the Lord is coming a Second time.
Joseph was sent by his father to his brethren. They despised and rejected him. They cast him into the pit of death. He was taken out alive. He was carried away into a far country—even into Egypt. There he was exalted to become co-ruler with Pharaoh. In the hour of famine he became the bread giver, the saviour of a hungry world. At the same time he got a Gentile bride. In the hour when tribulation and sorrow came upon his brethren he revealed himself to them the second time and was owned and acknowledged by them. With his wife he came in his chariot of kingly glory and established his father and his brethren in the promised land of Goshen.
The application is so simple it applies itself.
God the Father sent His Son to His brethren in the flesh. They despised and rejected Him. They put Him in the place of death. He was raised up alive. He has gone into a far country—even into heaven itself. He is there now as one who has been exiled from earth. He has been exalted to the throne of His Father. For two thousand years of spiritual famine and hunger in the world He has been the giver of the bread of life, the saviour of men. During these years of His exile He has been obtaining a bride from among the Gentiles—that is the Church. When the hour of tribulation and anguish shall come upon His brethren in the flesh, even as He Himself has warned, He will appear in His glory, the scales will fall from their eyes as they did from Paul and they will own Him as their Messiah and Lord, the Holy One of Israel. With His Church in associate power and glory He will deliver them and place them forever in the promised land—the land of their fathers.
No sooner has Moses with the host of Israel crossed dry shod through the divided waters of the Red Sea than he lifts up his voice and sings, not of the first, but the Second Coming of the Lord. He sings of Him as a man of war, as the head of celestial armies, coming to execute judgment, overthrow iniquity and establish His reign and rule of righteousness.
When you open the historic pages of the Bible, along the seemingly driest and coldest paragraphs you may if you will behold the wheels of the King's chariot flashing by and catch a gleam of His radiant features, now as the man of war in David, and then as the Prince of peace in Solomon.
Yonder, under the far-away stars, Job sat at his tent door and as he meditated on the brevity and vanity of human life, its hopes deferred that make the heart sick, the sound of the clods as they fall upon the coffin lid, he asked the question that has quivered down the ages—"If a man die, shall he live again?"
He answers his own question. He says he knows he will die. He knows his soul will go into the underworld of the dead. His body will be laid away in the dust. It will become nothing more than a bundle of skin and bones. He knows, also, this bundle of skin and bones is the work of God's hand. The Lord will have respect to His work. He will remember He wrought it. At a given time He will call to Job and Job will answer; then in anticipation of the supreme moment he cries out exultantly he knows his redeemer liveth; that he shall stand in the latter day upon the earth and covered with his own flesh once more shall see his incarnate God.
Thus in those wondrous days of the long ago Job caught the shining of the morning star, heard the trumpet of the first resurrection and caught the vision of the Second Coming of his Lord.
David sweeps his fingers across the answering chords of his golden harp and sings of that hour when the Lord shall come in His glory; when the trees of the wood shall clap their hands; when the mountains shall flow down at His presence, the waves of the sea fling their hallelujahs on the resounding shore; and when the earth shall own the Lord is coming, coming not the first time to die, but the Second time as the risen one to live and reign and with none to dispute Him.
In the Song of Songs we who believe are by nature before God as black and uncomely as the sun-burned tents of Kedar, but by grace in God's sight as beautiful as the Tyre-woven curtains of Solomon.
The breath of the spring time is in the air. The voice of the turtle dove is to be heard in the land. It is the time of love and for hearts to find their mates. The leaves of the fig tree of Israel are beginning to put forth. The seeds of hope sown in the graves of the Christian dead and watered with tears from the anguish of the living are ready to bud and blossom forth in the full flower of their assured immortality. The voice of the Bridegroom may be heard saying to the Church: "Come away my beloved. Come thou rose of Sharon and thou lily of the valley," and presently we see the Bridegroom Himself descending and the Church going up out of the wilderness leaning on the arm of her Beloved.
So we may learn and quickly if we will, that the Song of Songs which is Solomon's is the celebration of the nuptial hour when our Lord shall come the Second time to take His affianced Church to Himself and make her the heavenly bride of His unfolding and unfading glory.
The prophet Isaiah hears the seraphs sing their "holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory" till the posts of the door are moved at the wonder of the song. He sees the glory of the Coming of the Lord. He tells us the Lord is coming with fire and with His chariots like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire.
Jeremiah announces the Lord is coming the Second time. When He comes He will make Jerusalem the throne of His glory. Unto it shall be the gathering of the nations. They shall gather unto it in the name of the Lord, and neither shall they walk any more after the imaginations of their evil heart.
Ezekiel beholds the Lord seated on a throne high and lifted up. He sees Him coming out of the purple dawning of the east. He restores Jerusalem. He builds the temple till the shining spendour of it shall fill the promised land; and in a voice as the sound of many waters He says this temple shall be the place for the soles of His feet and thus rebukes those who try to keep Him from dwelling bodily in the land as though forsooth He should lose His heavenliness by so doing, forgetting that earth is His rightful home and is to be His eternal dwelling place. Yea and Amen when He comes to His own again He shall dwell in the midst of His ransomed forever. And the nations of the earth as they ascend to the heights of Jerusalem to behold His glory and to worship Him in His holy temple as they catch the first glimpse of the city, its gardens like unto the garden of the Lord, the temple with its shekinah cloud by day and the flaming fire by night that shall make it to be no more night but day, shall cry out, not "Jerusalem," but "Yaveh Shamma—the Lord is there." And from henceforth this shall be the name of the city.
Daniel has visions in the night. He beholds the Lord as the Son of man, as eternal judge and king of all the earth. He sees Him coming to the Father to receive His title deeds and then descending in clouds of glory to establish the kingdom that shall never pass away.
From Hosea to Malachi the Minor Prophets echo with the declaration the Lord is coming and always this coming is the Second.
Hosea foresees Israel will forsake the Lord and for many days be as a dead man out of sight and forgotten. But in the latter times when the Lord Himself shall return Israel will awaken and own Him as Lord and king.
Joel tells us the armies of the world league shall be gathered against Jerusalem and under their godless, Devil-incarnate head shall defy the Lord of hosts; that the Lord will come, overthrow them with a great slaughter and deliver the holy city from the treading down of the Gentiles forever.
In Amos the Lord is coming to restore the kingdom to Israel and set up and establish the throne of David.
Obadiah warns us of the day of the Lord, the day that is introduced by the Second Coming of the Lord.
Joel teaches us under the madness and folly of Gentile rule ploughshares are to be beaten into swords and pruning hooks into spears and the nations are to give themselves to war and all the horror and desolation of it. But this Scripture is never quoted by those who preach peace where there can be no peace. Always they quote Micah who tells us the swords will be beaten into ploughshares, the spears into pruning hooks and the nations shall learn war no more.
The two prophets seem to stand in absolute opposition to each other.
They do not.
Joel tells us what will happen just before the Lord comes.
Micah tells us what will take place after the Lord comes.
In Joel the Lord will come, meet the armies of the League in the valley of decision, the valley of Jehoshaphat, and overthrow them; then will the implements of war be beaten into the implements of peace and war be at an end forever.
Micah announces the end of war and the beginning of lasting peace will come as the consequence of the Lord's appearing in glory and not till He does so appear.
Nahum proclaims the Second Coming. The Lord's way shall be in the whirlwind and the storm, the clouds shall be the dust of His feet, the mountains shall quake at Him, the hills shall melt and the very earth burn at His presence.
In Habakkuk the Spirit carries human language to its loftiest height till it glows on peaks of thought sublime.
The prophet sees the Lord coming the Second time. His brightness is as the shining light. In His hands once pierced for such as we is the hiding of His power. Pestilence and burning coals are His vanguard. He stands and measures the earth. He drives asunder the nations. The everlasting mountains are scattered. The perpetual hills bow before Him and the inhabitants of the onlooking worlds lift up their voices and sing: "His ways are everlasting."
Zephaniah proclaims the Second Coming.
The Lord will come and smite the world league in the pitifulness of its gathering and the pigminess of its might. He will pour forth His indignation and fierce anger upon all the exaltation and pride of man. He will devour the earth with the fire of His jealousy, deliver Jerusalem, turn to the people the pure speech of the old Hebraic tongue, bid Zion to sing, Israel to shout and calling Jerusalem her daughter, bid her to rejoice. He will overthrow the false Christ and as the true Messiah will Himself dwell in the midst of Jerusalem forevermore.
Haggai declares the Lord will come and will shake all nations so that only the things which are of God may remain.
Zechariah tells us in terms so plain, so clear no one need misunderstand nor be in darkness for a moment that the Lord is coming the Second time.
He will come with all His saints. His feet shall stand in that day on the Mount of Olives; and that no false teacher nor wilful perverter of the truth about the reality of the Lord's bodily presence on the earth at that time may have even the shadow of a shadow to rest on, and as a proof that this coming is not spiritual but actual and the testimony of His very feet under the most pronounced topographical conditions, the prophet says the mount on which those blessed and real feet shall descend is not only on the Mount of Olives, but that "Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east."
At the touch of the Lord's feet this wondrous and sacred Mount of Olives will split in twain. One half of it will roll like a wave northward. The other half will roll to the south. A great valley will be formed. That valley is named in Scripture, but never has been found on any map and cannot be found in Palestine to-day. It is the valley of Jehoshaphat, the valley of decision, the valley of judgment of the nations. And into this valley pell-mell shall rush the Antichrist-led and Devil-deceived armies of the league of ten nations to find their overthrow at the hand of the Lord and the inauguration of that hour when the once despised and crucified Christ shall be the revealed and recognized God of the whole earth; when there shall be one Lord and His name one—even that name which is above every name whether in heaven or on earth—the name of Jesus.
Malachi closes the book of the Old Testament. He beholds our Lord Jesus Christ coming the Second time. He sees Him coming as the rising sun filling the heavens and flooding the earth with the benediction of His majesty and might.
From Malachi to the New Testament we pass over four hundred years of prophetic silence and then we are in the book of the Gospel according to Matthew.
Here we are face to face with the night of nights.
The stars like silver squadrons sail close to the waiting earth. The angels fling down their wreath of natal song and the virgin mother cradles upon her white and unsullied breast the Christ of God.
We follow Him in the days of His unfolding ministry. Every time He touches the earth His footsteps leave a benediction. Each time He breathes the air He sweetens it. His low and modulated voice starts a note of music whose rhythmic accents have not done sounding and whose heavenly harmony outsings the discords of earth. He looks daylight into blind eyes. He cools the fever pulse to quiet beating. He makes the lame man to leap as a hart. He hushes the storm on Galilee till the ruffled, windswept waters are as calm and peaceful as a babe upon its mother's breast. With a word He raises the wept -for dead. Everywhere and at all times His miracles are wrought, not merely that He may do good and bring needed blessings as He passes by, but as the credentials and sign warrant of the truthfulness of His claim that He is Son of God, God the Son, the Anointed of the Lord and Israel's king.
But in all His ministry of hand or word never does He speak save incidentally of His first coming. Always and in fullest degree He speaks of His Second Coming. Seated upon the Mount of Olives He affirms, after the cross shall have slain and stained Him and the grave shall have briefly held Him He will come again; but, just before He comes it will be as it was in the days of Noah—a time of materialism, sensualism, the culture of self-consciousness, an hour of boasting, pride, lawlessness and war; and when He is revealed it will be as with the driving judgment of the flood.
In the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew and the first part of the chapter He declares He is coming as the bridegroom comes—seeking the marriage hour of his bride.
In the last part of the chapter and as the climax of His bridegroom coming He will appear as the king of glory and the judge of the living nations.
When He stands before His guilty judges and their suborned witnesses and while they mock and deride Him He breaks His hitherto amazing silence not to demonstrate to them the truth of His incarnation nor the proof of His preexistence, but in calm and measured utterance to tell them that after they shall have put Him to death He will come the Second time; and they shall see Him descending from heaven seated upon the cloud of shekinal glory and with the power of God.
In Mark He is the householder who goes into a far country, gives to each of His servants a work to do, puts the porter on guard to watch the door of the house and announces that no one in heaven nor on earth knows when He will return. He will return, He will come the Second time. It will be in one of the four watches of the spiritual night. It may be at even, it may be at midnight, it may be at cockcrowing and it may be in the morning. Because it is certain He will come, but uncertain when He will come, each one who claims to be His servant is under bond to watch. The whole household must be in the attitude of watching, of readiness and expectation; and His word of exhortation and warning to His Church is:
"What I say unto you, I say unto all—watch."
In Luke He is the nobleman who goes into a far country to get the title deeds of His kingdom and return. When He returns He comes first to His servants, gathers them to Himself and rewards them. After that with them He executes judgment on His enemies and then sets up His kingdom.
In the Gospel of John He eats with His disciples the last and memorial supper. He goes out with them, bids them lift their glances to the wide, extended sky where the jewelry of the night as the scattered largess of a king burns in the fire of opal, the purple and violet of amethyst and the white splendour of uncounted diamonds. He assures them these gleaming things are no fiction fire -flies of gaseous worlds in the making, but illuminated dwelling places in His Father's house. He is going thither. He will ascend into that congeries of inhabited worlds and will prepare a place for them, a glorious palace home befitting their high estate; when all is ready He will come back and receive them in corporate unity to Himself.
His words are simple, but the simplicity is the simplicity of light and every accent is as the touch of peace to troubled hearts; for this is what He said:
"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."
In the book of Acts, in the first chapter you have a scene no artist has really ever painted, no writer ever fairly portrayed and no mortal tongue can fittingly describe.
Our Lord is going up from the Mount of Olives. He is going up from the midst of His disciples. He is going heavenward. The disciples watch Him as He ascends. He enters a cloud. Do not, I beseech you, imagine for a moment this cloud is a fog bank, a mass of watery mist and vapour; it is the shekinal cloud which once covered the tabernacle in the wilderness and was the vehicle of His presence when Israel in that far time marched on their way to the promised land. It is His chariot of state. In this chariot sent to meet Him He passes between the onlooking worlds ever higher and higher till at last He takes His seat upon the throne of the Highest at the right hand of the invisible majesty.
Then, as through the dimness of their tears the disciples watch Him disappear, they hear a voice which says to them:
"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."
"This same Jesus."
Mark that well!
The Jesus who on the Sunday night of His resurrection did meet these disciples in the upper room and said to them as they shrank back into a frozen silence of hope and fear:
"Peace be unto you."
"Why are ye troubled?"
"And why do thoughts arise in your hearts?"
"Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have."
Still these disciples were afraid, afraid it could not be true.
Then He showed them His hands and His feet that they might see where the nails had gone in, torn through the flesh and left eternal wounds as the chevrons of glory.
And still the silence of hope mingled with fear.
Then he said:
"Have ye here any meat?"
And they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.
And He took and did eat before them.
He had said to them He was flesh and bones, not flesh and blood.
He was not flesh and blood because in the sin-offering all the blood must be poured out at the bottom of the altar, and He was Himself the antitypical sin-offering. He had poured out His blood. It had run as a living stream from every vein and artery.
Because He was the sin-offering in death, in resurrection He became for the first time a priest—high priest after the order, not of Aaron, but Melchisedec.
That very morning as the high priest He had ascended to heaven, within the vail, and sprinkled His redeeming blood (how is not revealed) on the eternal throne, changing it from the throne of judgment to a throne of grace. That night He stood before them He was their high priest, not of earth, but heaven. He breathed upon them, imparted to them the Holy Spirit—the Comforter—linking them to His immortal body. He remained with them, going and coming, during forty days, operating with them officially by and through the Holy Spirit as His unseen executive; for we are told that, "until the day he was taken up he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles;" and then, finally, as this scene in the book of Acts shows us, ascended to His high-priestly function and unceasing service of intercession.
He is seated in heaven now, seated there as the same Jesus who met His disciples that first Sunday night, the same Jesus who ascended out of their midst from Olivet. This same Jesus! The same not only in realistic, human body, but the same in character, full of the same measureless compassion and grace as when He sat on the well curb in Samaria and though thirsting as a real man for real water offered to give to the sinful woman who by divine and eternal ordination met him there, the water that should be in her as a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
This same Jesus is coming again, not a phantom, not an impalpable spirit, not a ghost Christ, but a Christ who is a real man of real flesh and real bones.
This is the key-note of the book of Acts.
He who died for men, who has sanctioned the Holy Spirit to operate in His name, speak in His name, reveal to us the things that are His and show us things to come concerning Him, He is coming again, coming not only as very God, the Holy One of Israel, He who has been exalted to be both Lord and Christ, but as this loving, tender, compassionate Jesus, and in a body that may be seen and handled—a body of flesh and bones.
In Romans we have the promise the Lord is coming to bruise Satan under His feet and the feet of His saints; and according to the calendar of heaven and the way in which they measure time there this great event must come to pass, as it is written, "shortly."
In First Corinthians the Lord is coming to raise the dead who shall be His "at his coming."
In Second Corinthians He is coming to transfigure the living who believe in Him and thus clothe them with their "house from heaven," give them the body that shall be the handiwork of God and not man.
In Philippians our citizenship is in a country which is in heaven from whence we are to look for a Saviour, even the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change this body of our mortal humiliation that it may be fashioned like unto His immortal and glorious body, a change which He will effectuate by that mighty power according to which He is able to subdue all things unto Himself.
In Colossians our life is hid with Christ in God, a double environment of security, and when Christ who is our life shall appear, we shall appear with Him also in glory.
In the epistles to the Thessalonians each chapter closes with a testimony to the Second Coming.
In the first epistle in the first chapter the Apostle commends the Thessalonian Church because they had turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God and to wait for His Son from heaven. From the beginning the Apostle Paul taught the new converts the next possible event might be the Coming of that Lord whom he had declared had been sacrificed for them, was now risen and in heaven. This was the one supreme thing for which they were to be in readiness every day—the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In the second chapter he assures the Thessalonians he will meet them in the presence of the Lord at His Coming; when He comes and they are all gathered before Him, saved through the Gospel Paul has preached to them in the demonstration of the Spirit and power, they will be the guarantee and occasion of the crown he shall receive.
In the third chapter he exhorts them to increase and abound in love to one another that their hearts may be established unblameable in holiness before the Lord when He shall come the Second time with all His saints.
In the fourth chapter he announces as a special revelation from the Lord that the Lord Himself is coming to awaken those whom He has put to sleep in His name. He will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God. The dead in Him shall rise first, then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up with them in clouds to meet the Lord in the air; so shall we ever be with the Lord and with one another.
In the fifth chapter the Coming of the Lord for His saints as just noted in the fourth and preceding chapter will bring in the day of the Lord; and we further learn this coming for the saints not only precedes the day of the Lord, but as the introduction to it will be as secret, sudden and unknown to the world as is in general the coming of a thief.
In the second epistle, in the first chapter the Lord is seen coming with all His saints to execute judgment on the ungodly and the unbelieving.
In the second chapter we learn the word, "Rapture," so often given as the name and title for the translation of the Church to meet the Lord, while it may be a deducible truth and exegetically, or, rather philologically sustained, is not the Holy Ghost title. The true and Scriptural title is: "Our gathering together unto Him."
In this chapter we learn also when the Church has been gathered to the Lord in heaven the man of sin, the Antichrist will be revealed; then will the Lord appear in glory, overthrow him and his league of nations and set up the heaven-ordained kingdom of righteousness and peace.
In the third chapter the Apostle prays the Lord may direct their hearts into the love of God and into—patient waiting for Christ.
In the First Epistle to the Thessalonians the Lord comes FOR His Church.
In the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians He comes WITH His Church.
In First Timothy He is coming that He may be shown forth as the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.
In Second Timothy He is coming to judge the quick and the dead and to give reward to all those who love His appearing.
Titus gives us the inspired and official title of the Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ as, "That Blessed Hope."
In Hebrews we see this age is the antitypical Day of Atonement; just as at the close of the day in Israel the people were waiting for the man who led away the scapegoat into the wilderness to come back without it as evidence their typical redemption was complete and secure for another year; just so our Lord Jesus Christ having appeared in the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, reconcile the world to God and bring in the day of grace and salvation, to them that look for Him shall He come the "second time, without sin, unto salvation"; that is, He will come back not as the sin offering, but as the triumphant Redeemer and as witness that our redemption will then be completed by Him in the immortal bodies He shall give us.
James testifies that in the closing hours of this age Capital and Labour will look at each other with wrinkled brows, clenched hands and nervous, impatient expectation.
He exhorts the Christian labourer to be patient because, as he says, "the Coming of the Lord draweth nigh," is so near, so imminent He standeth as a judge—verily "at the door"—and ready to intervene.
In the First Epistle of Peter the Lord is coming to justify the faith of His elect.
In the Second Epistle He is coming to bring in the new heavens and the new earth.
In the First Epistle of John we who believe are sons of God. It is not yet manifested to the world what we really are, nor what we shall be; but we know when He shall appear we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is. When He shines out we shall shine out with Him.
We are told every one who has this hope in him, purifieth himself even as he is pure.
And thus in this special fashion the Holy Spirit affirms the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ is not only the climacteric of our avouchment as sons of God, but, when held as a hope in the heart, will keep us pure and clean as the Holy Christ Himself.
In the Second Epistle of John we are warned false teachers will abound; teachers who shall deny the eternal incarnation of the Son of God. They will deny He is coming the Second time; but, above all, they will deny He could possibly come in the flesh.
The Apostle unhesitatingly affirms those who hold and teach this falsehood are nothing less than antichrists; and he warns us as faithful followers of the true Christ not to receive them into our houses, nor bid them Godspeed.
Jude is the smallest, that is to say, the shortest, of all the epistles. It is a clasp between the Old and the New Testaments.
Jude tells us Enoch the seventh man who lived on the earth testified, not of the first, but the Second Coming, saying:
"Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints."
Then we find ourselves in the Revelation.
This is the book of the Consummation.
The supreme subject is the Second Coming.
There are twenty-two chapters.
Each of the chapters portrays conditions and circumstances leading up to the great climax—the Second Coming and the immense and measureless consequences—the millennial reign and the eternal state.
The book is like the roof of a great cathedral, like the interior of the roof, groined and panelled—each panel a chapter.
It is like the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in which, however, may be found figures and forms such as Michel Angelo never drew nor such even as his imperial and suggestive mind could conceive.
You will find in these chapters the figures of wild beasts, the dragon, fallen angels, fiends from the pit, that old Serpent called the Devil and Satan. If you will read and listen you will hear the blast of trumpets, the breaking of vials, the sounds of woe, the tramp of marching feet, the clash of battle, fire falling out of the heavens, trees and grass in flame, the waves of the sea turned to blood, fountains and streams become as wormwood and gall, the sun as black as a starless midnight, the moon hanging in the lowering heavens like a clot of blood, earthquakes, the scarlet tongues of outpouring volcanoes, thunderings and lightnings, all manner of wickedness and pervading sin, a world quivering as a ship in the storm, the bending heavens as though unbolted and insecure, all foundations apparently shattered and the universe itself as though rushing forward to its funeral pyre.
Heaven opens and the Lord comes forth riding a white horse, followed by armies on white horses, the horses the symbols of His power, each hoof beat as it smites the slant of heaven the sound of swift descending judgment.
On the Lord's head are many crowns.
He is wrapped in a garment dyed in blood.
His eyes are as a flame of fire. His glances penetrate to the secret intents and purposes of the heart. They get behind every cloak of deception and every pretense. All the spotted nakedness of interior and intensive sin is revealed. Nothing remains in shadow, everything is illuminated to bareness, and the searching light of His looks goes through every fibre of being.
He is coming to reign and rule.
All the things the chapters record have been driving us to look forward to that; the woe, the anguish and the hell on earth have been pleading and crying out for a master to master and put an end to the cataclysms of catastrophic iniquity; the very nature of things has been testifying that He must come.
He is responding to the demand that lies in the nature of things.
He is coming to reign and rule as a king. He is not coming with an olive branch in one hand and a cooing dove on His shoulder.
He is coming with a rod of iron. He is coming to trample all opposition beneath His feet, put down all rule and authority, break to pieces and shatter as a potter's vessel the pride of nations and the self-exaltation of man.
He is coming to establish peace, but not by means of compromise, by gentle and persuasive ways, but by war and as a man of war, as the man who is very God and judge omnipotent.
The book closes with the thrice repeated announcement from the Lord Himself:
"Behold, I am coming quickly."
This is the last utterance of the Lord from heaven.
To this the Church replies with its last recorded prayer:
"Amen, even so, come, Lord Jesus."
When you close the book you feel the next thing is—the Coming of the Lord.
If the value of a statement or doctrine is to be measured by the number of times repeated, then, since from Genesis to Revelation, in every form of human language the Second Coming is proclaimed, is stamped upon almost every page of the Bible, is inwrought with every fibre of truth it finally presents; since in the New Testament alone it is mentioned directly and indirectly more than three hundred times, as there is no other theme in the Bible that approaches it in frequency of repetition, it should seem that this event and doctrine of the Second Coming with all its promises and certified consequences should easily be of supreme and all-compelling importance; and because the Holy Spirit has made it of such importance I am under bonds to preach it.
Those who persist in saying it is incidental, secondary and sporadic might well be said to be of that class of theological disputants who never study their Bible; for the fact is should you cut out every reference to the Second Coming, its cognate truths and all the events to which it gives emphasis, you would have but a fragment of the Bible; and the Book upon which faith is founded, from which hope casts its glances heavenward, sees light in the grave and immortality assured, would be but as a broken reed, a garment of beauty torn and shredded, or as a harp whose main chord had been snapped asunder.
The Second Coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ is Bound up With Every Fundamental Doctrine, Every Sublime Promise and Every Exhortation to High, to Holy and Practical Christian Living
IT is bound up with every fundamental doctrine.
The resurrection from the dead, the transfiguration of the living, the judgment seat of Christ, the judgment of the living nations, the consequent judgment of the white throne, the rewards of the righteous and the punishment of the wicked.
It is bound up with every sublime promise.
The recognition of the dead, the overthrow of Satan, the deliverance of creation, the triumph of God and Christ and the eternal felicity of the saints.
It is bound up with every exhortation to high, to holy and practical Christian living.
We are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is. On the Lord's day we are to break bread and drink the fruit of the vine, show forth the Lord's death and make known to heaven and to earth that the only ground of approach to a holy God is the sacrificial offering and vicarious sufferings of the Son of God and God the Son, and that on the ground of His atoning blood as our sin offering and personal substitute we claim Him as redeemer, saviour and interceding priest.
We are to love God and love one another.
We are not to judge one another.
We are not to cast stumbling blocks in each other's path.
We are to walk worthy of our vocation.
We are to let our moderation be known to all men.
We are to be patient, long-suffering and forbearing.
We are to engage continually in prayer and supplication.
We are to live blamelessly before men and holily before God.
As pastors we are to shepherd the sheep over whom God has made us to be overseers.
We are to feed the flock, not with the philosophies and fictions of men, but with the truth of God.
We are to restore the wandering, sustain the weak and comfort the sorrowing.
We are to go to the house of mourning and give consolation to those who are Christians and who weep above their Christian dead.
As preachers we are to preach the Word. We are to preach in season and out of season, and to exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.
We are exhorted to this high, this holy, this exalted and practical Christian living, this reincarnation of Christ in daily experience, this translation of His character, this manifestation of His guiding and ruling presence, not by the fact that we must die and appear before God, but by the fact the Lord Himself is coming, may come at any time, that any moment we may meet Him at His judgment seat.
In all the universe of God there is nothing so impressive as the thought that you, that I, that we must give a personal account to God for the manner in which we have used our time, our talent, our opportunity and substance; and when we are told—as we are told in Holy Scripture—that any moment we may be summoned to give an account of our stewardship, and that without dying, just suddenly, without a moment's warning, translated bodily and with all the sense of the daily life we have been living upon us into the presence of Him whose name we have been professing—impressiveness has reached its ultimate and exhortation the fullest leverage of appeal.
And he who says the Coming of Christ considered as a doctrine, as a truth or a motive, is not intensely practical and all-compelling to Christian devotion and service, is either blindly and excuselessly ignorant of the Word of God or brutally and perversely guilty of denying a truth that flashes like lightning from one end of the Bible to the other and illuminates every hortative passage in the Word of God.
When thus you are face to face with the indisputable fact that every basic doctrine of the Christian faith, every outshining promise of hope, of comfort, of consolation, of abiding peace, every appeal to the noblest and purest life as a Christian, every demand that the Christian shall unceasingly be the light of heaven in the spiritual darkness of earth is bound up inextricably with the fact of the Second Coming, it carries with it the inevitable corollary that the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ as a certified and imminent event is the very sum and substance of all available motives that can lead to a life of practical service to God and man.
Only at the Coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ Will Redemption be Complete and the Blood of the Cross be Justified
OUR Lord Jesus Christ did not come into this world that He might go through the unspeakable horror of the cross; He did not hang on that brutal and torturing instrument of death as the criminal of the universe; He did not receive the down sweep of the essential antagonism of a holy God against the sin He represented; He did not cry the cry of the lost, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?"; He was not flung out like a derelict thing into the black, starless night of God's inexorable law, measureless wrath and indignation where His humanity unanchored and alone was forsaken both by God and man; He did not hang there in the torment of His body, suffering all the agony the most exquisitely wrought, nerve -centered body of the universe could suffer of physical pain and anguish; God did not make Him to be sin and treat Him as the blackest and most repulsive thing in existence; He did not lay upon Him the weight and demerit of a world's guilt that He might suffer in His innocence, His purity and innate sinlessness on behalf of the vilest outcast this side of Gehenna, the lake of fire, just that He might keep us from lying, cheating, swearing, getting drunk, giving ourselves up to immorality, licentiousness and sensualism; He did not send Jesus Christ His only begotten and well-beloved Son to die a spectacle to heaven, to earth and hell that He might make us merely decent and right and morally correct in our relations to one another. All that is involved in the fact of redemption just as fragrance is involved and included in the rose, as harmony is expected to be a part of music and rhythm as well as metre a part of verse and song.
Cleanness and morality are involved quantities in a Christian. The moment the new life of the risen Christ is wrought in a believer and he is linked up by the Holy Ghost to the glorified body of the Son of God he has in him all the impulse and power of the highest morality, the most exalted purity, the rarest spirituality and the discernment of spiritual things. All that is self-evident—but the Son of God came into this world and went through the amazing tragedy and sacrifice of the cross to do something more than to make us merely moral and good. He came into the world, He died the foreordained death of the cross that He might deliver us from death and the grave.
Death is the blackest and most shameful blot on the face of the earth, the grave the most repulsive of scandals, drawing the trench of its corruption and stain round the girdle of the globe.
To bring a human being into the world, give him no choice of father or mother, of place, of time and circumstance, endow him with a brain to think, a heart to feel and love and then set him face to face with death, hide from him the hour of his going like a criminal who knows not the hour of his execution; to allow the old to live till they are withered, shrivelled and helpless, a burden to others and a still greater burden to themselves, cursing the fact they must live and yet afraid to die; to take a young man in the splendour of his youth, on the threshold of assured success, snatch him away without warning from the parents devoted to him, the wife who loves him and the children dependent on him; and then leave them both, the decrepit and useless old and the needed young to drop into the tongueless silence of the grave, that silence broken only by the sound of the clods as they fall on the coffin lid or the plash of tears, or the choking sob; to allow the living whose hearts are torn and twisted and smashed by the robbery that death brings upon them to stand there and strangle themselves with the unanswered and unanswerable questions: "Whence," "What," and "Whither," and then say all this is the work of a good, a compassionate, a tender and loving God, and that death is as natural as birth?
Those who say and teach that death is as natural as birth are guilty of pure unintellectualism and are unwarranted deniers of the facts.
The birth of a child is like the coming of the dawn. It is like the note of a new and joyous song. It is the revelation of a new world, a world of life, of hope, of promised and larger activities. No one who is sane and true and wise will deliberately seek to hinder birth; but death! ah! everything is against death and by right against it.
Every fibre in the body repudiates death. Pain is the protest of life against it and the scout that brings in news of its approach. The brain, the mind, the heart shiver at it, not merely because of the native fear at the unknown, but at the mockery it makes of life, the uselessness of living a time, at the longest, so brief, so full of disappointment and bitterness, a life where plans are never accomplished nor hopes fulfilled, where tears and sorrow outweigh laughter and song.
Every remedy taken from materia medica, every operation of the surgeon's knife that adds even a day to the sufferer's existence, every hospital, every precaution and invention to prevent accident, all the genius exercised by man to conserve health and strength are a protest against death and a proclamation that it is unnatural, a discord and a wrong.
Every human being who has the slightest pulse of sentiment, who is not sunken in the soddenness of moral unconsciousness feels that death is the shadow shutting out the sun of day and hiding the stars of night, the false note that breaks the lilt in any song, the thief who takes the treasure no money can replace, the mocker who bids us readjust our days and live as though those whom we have loved and lost had never been a part of us, so that their going has put more of death in those of us who remain to live than life—even the brute beast feels and knows death is—an enemy.
Nor does God Himself leave us in any doubt about it.
He says death is an enemy; even as it is written:
"The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death."
And since in itself it is an enemy, it is, necessarily, the work of an enemy.
It is the work of an enemy who has the power of death.
He who has the power of death is—the Devil; even as it is written:
"Him that had the power of death, that is, the devil."
The Son of God came into the world that He might destroy the Devil and his work of death.
He came to abolish death and bring life and immortality to light.
He came to make us something more than—just moral.
He came to make us—immortal.
There is only one man in the universe who has immortality; and that man is He who is our Lord Jesus Christ, very God and yet true and actual man.
There is not an immortal human being on earth to-day.
There is no such thing as an immortal soul.
But here I bid you halt!
Let no one take up this statement and go hence and say I teach the final annihilation of the soul.
He who should go forth and say that would be, after what I shall further tell you, a robber of truth and character.
On this round earth at this hour there is no man who has spoken more, written more and, under God, done more to rebuke and smite this slavering, slobbering, unintellectual and Devil-inspired deception known as Russellism, Christadelphianism and Seventh Day Adventism than the man who now speaks to you.
I affirm here that by the will of God the soul must exist forever whether it be in heaven or in hell; but, I say to you the preacher who seeks to deny and overthrow the doctrine of annihilation by defending the immortality of the soul is beaten before he begins. He has his pains for his labour. He can find no such expression as "immortal soul" in the Bible nor any such doctrine taught there. Above all, he is guilty of excuseless philological blundering. The soul is immaterial. Immortal is applied to that which is material. The words, "immortal," and "immortality" are never applied in the New Testament to the soul—never! but always and exclusively to the body.
To be immortal means to have a deathless, incorruptible body like unto that of the Son of God.
This, and this alone—as related to man—is Scriptural immortality. The Son of God came into the world to give this boon of immortality to men.
This is the supreme objective of redemption.
Till that objective is obtained redemption is not complete and the blood of the cross is not justified.
Do you call the redemption of Paul complete so long as his body lies mingled with the dust of the highway by the banks of that yellow Tiber where he was slain?
Do you call complete the redemption of those you love and I love so long as the Devil like the strong man armed with the law holds the mortgage on their bodies and keeps them in his dark and worm-filled house—the grave?
It is true, blessedly true, thank God, the moment a believer dies he is absent from his home in the body and immediately present at his home with the Lord in the third heaven, in the beautiful country of Paradise, in the Holy City, the place prepared.
It is true the dear departed ones are clothed with the white robe of immaculate light woven on the unjarring looms of heaven, a temporary clothing which preserves their form and makes them visible and recognizable to one another; but with it all they are disembodied, and in spite of the comfort and the consolation of it, in spite of the fact that their state is "far better" than this at its best, still they are souls whose vehicle is no longer body, but spirit (wherefore after death they are sometimes spoken of as spirits); nevertheless, the Son of God did not come to make us eternal, even if happy—ghosts.
If Christians should continue to die and should remain as white clothed ghosts in heaven forever they would be an incongruous environment and abiding scandal to the immortality of the Son of God Himself. A living, immortal man shining in a glorified human body surrounded by bodiless souls forever! What a contradiction that would be, what a scandal, indeed. It would be the declaration that the Son of God had power to rise from the dead, make His own body immortal, impervious to death, but in respect to those for whom He died and who died trusting in His promise He either did not have the power or did not care to keep His promise.
Such a conclusion in either member of the proposition is impossible. It is impossible, for no such postulate as inability or faithlessness can be laid against the Son of God.
By His own immortality as the first-fruits of them that slept, as the ordained forerunner and sample of all those whom He has redeemed He is, and in the nature of things, under bonds to give immortality to each, to raise the dead and transfigure the living in His likeness.
As the dead can be raised and the living changed only when He is personally present then He must come to this world again to give that immortality of which seated on yonder throne in heaven He is the promise and the pledge.
He made this promise by the grave of Lazarus.
Standing there with His cheeks wet with tears of sorrow over the one He loved and in profound sympathy with the grief-stricken sisters, groaning in Himself, not merely as one who was under the spell of sorrow and heartache, but full of "indignant protest" (this is the meaning of the word "to groan") against the havoc of death as the work of that being whom we so familiarly call "Devil," without stopping to measure his dignity, malignity and power, He said:
"I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die."
Wondrous, gracious, far reaching and full of measureless comfort is the promise, but nine out of ten who repeat it seem never to have comprehended the full import of it.
For this is what He meant.
Listen to it as I quote it in its fullness of intent:
"I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet—when I come again—shall he live:
And whosoever liveth and believeth in me—when I come again—shall never die."
Nor is this a fictional fancy of mine, but the direct declaration of the Holy Spirit to the Church speaking through the Apostle Paul; for he says:
"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.
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then (and not till then—not when we die and go to heaven, but when the dead are raised and the living are changed—then—and not till then) shall be brought to pass the saying that is written (written by the Prophet Isaiah in the twenty-fifth chapter of his prophecy), death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"
And mark it well, the context of this Holy Ghost promise is the declaration that the resurrection of the dead, the transfiguration of the living, this changing from mortality to immortality will be the resurrection and the transfiguration of those who are "Christ's at His coming."
Yes! He will come.
He will descend from heaven with a shout of command. He will pass it on to the archangel. The archangel will pass it to the angel who is called the "trump of God." He will cause a sound, a blast, an utterance of power at which the doors of graves of every sort shall open outward, every secret hiding place of the purchased dead will be revealed and the sacred dust will bloom with life; for, in the body of every regenerated soul there is planted the germ of the new body; and just as the buried seed is linked by the unseen air to the fructifying sun in heaven and as at a given moment we call the germination is quickened and at last comes forth in new form yet the same essential embodiment as when planted; so, the regeneration nucleus of the new body is held by the Holy Spirit (of which the air is the symbol) to the risen, glorified body of the Son of God in heaven; and no matter what may befall the body in which it was buried it will abide to that hour we call the resurrection and transfiguration and at the shout, the voice and action of the trump of God will come forth in the glow of unfolded and eternal beauty as the sheath, the house, the home, the perfect dwelling place, the royal robe of the souls the Lord shall bring with Him; while the living shall flash forth in the same immortality and glory.
Yes! the dust of death shall bloom and mortality shall put on immortality at the Coming of the Lord.
And I for one want Him to come.
I have loved ones waiting within the gates of the upper city for that morning hour.
I have one there my heart in these days yearns to see.
But a short time ago death with rude and sudden hand snatched from me my only child, the son of my heart; a son grown to splendid young manhood; a son who loved me, reverenced me, believed as I believe, a member of my own Church, baptized by my own hand in early days: a son on whom I hoped to lean in peace if the shadows should deepen round me ere my Lord might come. And in the going of that beloved son of mine the light of day has seemed at times to fail, the stars of heaven have grown so dim and far away I think of them often as tears of distant eyes that pity me. There are moments when I crave him as a hungry man does food and as a thirsty man in desert ways yearns for a draught of limpid waters. I have a hurt here in the heart of me no medicine of earth can cure; but because I know when the Lord comes this son of mine shall rise and I shall meet him and the old glad life renew in larger, richer, fuller measure; and because I know there is only the sound of the trump between me and that longed-for hour; that the door of heaven is always ajar and my Lord may come at any moment and bring us to the hand clasp and the love embrace again, I bear my hurt, I rest in the Lord and preach this blessed hope to other hearts that ache—the Coming of Him who is the resurrection and the life and whose last earthward utterance to His Church is:
"Behold, I come quickly."
Not Till Our Lord Jesus Christ Comes the Second Time Will the Church be Exalted into Her True Function of Rulership Over the World
THE Church was not sent into the world to convert or Christianize it.
It was sent into the world to preach the Gospel to every creature.
It was not to condone the world but to condemn it.
With its twin doctrines of Incarnation and Regeneration it was to ring the knell of evolution and deny the hope of any saving energy in the flesh.
It was not to flatter, to paint, to gild nor endeavour in any wise to reform or organize the world.
It was to deal with the world, with the system called the world, as a ship pounding to pieces, and pounding helplessly, upon the rocks of fallen human nature, the dethronement of God in the soul and the enthronement and exaltation of self-interest in the soul.
The Church in its ministry and widely commissioned effort was to plunge, as a well-equipped and perfectly manned life-boat may do, into the sea and surf of natural and Satanic things and get men out of an old system under the doom and judgment of God into Christ as the head of a new system under grace and the coming glory of God.
The Church was not to build up a kingdom during the absence of the Lord.
On the contrary, she was to recognize herself as the affianced bride of a rejected king and coming bridegroom.
She was to walk in separation from the world, refusing the seductive enticements of her would-be lovers and with an upward and heavenly look serve while she waited for a returning Lord.
The Lord did not come.
The Church grew weary of her vigil.
She exchanged the heavenly for the earthly look.
She met the Devil and felt the magic of his bewitching glances.
He had led her Lord to the mount of temptation. He had shown Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. He offered them to Him on condition that He would turn His feet out of the pathway that led to the sacrificial cross. He offered them on condition that He should refuse to go to the cross and there in the agony of His soul and body and on the loom of His vicarious sufferings weave the seamless robe of divine righteousness for sinful men.
The Lord refused.
The Devil turned and slew Him.
He now led the willing Church to the same mountain height of temptation.
He tempted her with the same temptation he had offered her Lord: The rulership of the world.
If she would turn aside from a heaven-ordained bridegroom and a king whose face she could not see, she might win the world as her kingdom and rule it in spite of the cross.
The offer of world rulership sounded pleasant in her ears.
She fell into the arms of the world.
The world became her paramour.
She became the world's mistress.
Out of that ungodly and sensual alliance was born the illegitimate child, that woful ecclesiastical offspring, we call the Roman Catholic Church.
The Roman Catholic Church became the Holy Roman Empire.
The Empire was the Church.
For long and dismal ages the Roman Church exhibited to perfection the evil, the folly and fatality of that false and deceptive proposition that the Church is the kingdom of Christ on earth.
Then came the Reformation. It so smote the Catholic Church that men imagined the tiara to be broken, crushed and scattered to the winds forever.
They were mistaken.
It came from underneath that blow almost as if it had risen from the dead.
To-day it is more populous than ever, having a membership of at least two hundred millions. It has a more intensely emphasized solidarity. It is filled with enthusiasm, with ever-increasing arrogance and persistent aggression.
It is the religious incubus of the hour, the spiritual paralysis of nations and their most dangerous political menace.
With brazen effrontery and calculating boldness it has its clutch upon the throat of this Republic, controls its government from the Presidential office down through army and navy, has open mass in the shipyards of the latter, in camp and barracks its priests are masters and its wily knights of Columbus have obtained governmental favours and consideration the Young Men's Christian Association would not dare to claim.
It rules your cities, holds the balance of political power and can, when it will, elect a President, and will promptly do so when the candidate for that high office shall be willing, as already it has been done by the present occupant of that office, to visit the Vatican or officially recognize the civil as well as religious authority of the Pope or receive the Apostolic delegate of the Papal See.
The clutch of Romanism with its strangle hold is on the throat of what remains of Protestantism.
Protestantism is the after birth of the Reformation.
Protestantism repudiated all the temporalities of Rome but held on to the proposition that the Church is the kingdom of Christ on earth.
Protestantism is to-day broken up into multiplying fragments. If there be any unity remaining in it it is the unity that comes from the compromising denial of the convictions that led to the original break into fragments; a unity that hopes to maintain itself by classifying many of its former convictions as "non-essentials" and thus constitutes a combination that must become more and more colourless and inefficient in respect to doctrine.
Some of its theological institutions are nothing better than clearing houses of infidelity and the curricula made up of Jericho theology. It has universities in which many of the professors have been graduated in Germany, having passed through the poison gas factory of the Berlin university, and under the camouflage department of "sacred literature" are sending out the mentally and spiritually asphyxiating poison of German rationalism, inoculating every fresh lot of newly made ministers and would-be missionaries with rank unbelief and Bible repudiation, distributing the poison into the back counties as well as municipal centers until there are scores of men who once stood for a whole Gospel and a certified Word of God who now stand first on one foot then on the other debating with themselves whether this Scripture that was once considered holy and sufficient is after all a revelation from God or an invention of man.
A large number of men who are at the front in the teaching, the management, the organization and control of the churches of the different denominations repudiate practically every fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith.
They deny the Virgin birth.
The denial of the Virgin birth puts a stain upon the mother of Jesus as of a woman who has broken wedlock and sends her son forth as a bastard, an illegitimate who had no legal right to come into the world; and then illogically, if not hypocritically, those who deny it bid us take this son and make Him the exemplar of righteousness, forgetting or ignoring the self-evident fact that if, indeed, He had but a human and natural father then was He bred in sin and unfit to be set up as the supreme standard of righteousness and holiness among men.
There are those who deny the sacrificial character of the death of the cross.
They repudiate atonement by the shedding of blood.
When we tell them it is written without shedding of blood there is no remission and it is the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, that alone cleanseth from all sin they fling up their hands in protest, tell us we are to be numbered among the figures of the past and that the theology we seek to maintain is the theology of the butcher shop, the barbarous doctrine of the shambles and the shadow of old -time tribal gods whose vengefulness and wrath could be appeased only by the murder of a victim.
They repudiate the doctrine of the bodily resurrection of the Lord.
His body has long ago mingled with the dust of Palestine and been blown afar by careless winds. If He rose at all it was as the principle of righteousness and truth, whatever such a resurrection may mean. They will no longer tolerate the insistent need of regeneration. It has been said that "if a man is well born the first time he does not need to be born the second time."
In the nature of the case such teaching rejects our Lord's bodily ascension to heaven and His session as a glorified man who is very God at the right hand of the Father.
Above all, and as a further consequent of such an attitude, teachers of this class repudiate with an almost hysterical outcry, not only the thought that the Lord will come a second time to this world, but that those who love Him and yearn to see Him will ever behold Him coming in visible glory so that they may stand face to face with Him and get the very touch of His hands upon them in the vital benediction for which they are longing.
These advanced teachers repudiate the Bible as the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God,
The Pentateuch, the writings of Moses, is a bundle of folk lore, Moses himself a fiction no more substantial than Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The historic books of the Old Testament are unreliable and therefore not history at all. The book of the prophet Isaiah instead of one author has many, each in turn contradicting the other. The book of Ezekiel from its incomprehensible wheels as they flash by the banks of the river Chebar to the impossible temple and its animal offerings with the ever-deepening river flowing out of it, is as mystic as the amazing cherubim which the prophet seeks, but apparently fails, to describe. The prophecies of Daniel were written long after the events they pretend to foretell. From Genesis to Malachi the Old Testament is in reality the mixed history of a tribal people with a national god whose attributes and demands are no more authentic and authoritative than those of the gods of Greece and Rome.
The New Testament while a degree of advance on the Old by reason of the progress of the times and the more cultivated environment of its origin is not a whit more divinely inspired. The three Synoptic Gospels are witnesses summoned to court where their success is the contradiction and confusion of the story they attempt to tell. The book of Acts is a combination pamphlet put together by the followers of Peter and Paul as an attempt to compromise between the one who was the Apostle to the Circumcision and the other who was the Apostle to the Gentiles.
The epistles of Paul are filled with the pernicious influence of apocalyptic, Jewish fictions and the crass concept the Apostle had of the kingdom of Christ. Page after page is filled with proof that he expected the Lord to come in his day and was sorely mistaken, making that confession at the close of his writings and turning his attention to death and the grave, no longer having expectation of the Coming of the Lord as the daily hope of the Church.
It is these palpable errors of Paul, his honest, but undoubted mistakes that are wholly responsible for that strange thing (so the Post-millennialists think it) known as Pre-millennialism, a system of teaching which stands for a whole Bible, a Gospel of redeeming blood, a risen and actually coming Saviour, coming again in the flesh, and seeks with an insistent and constant "thus saith the Lord" to win the souls of men to a grace-given and grace-dealing Saviour. (And I may say in passing that Paul, under God, is undoubtedly responsible for this doctrine so persistent and aggressive, this doctrine of Premillennialism.)
To the advanced theological professor Revelation is a piece of crazy quilt patchwork, so full of symbols that have no intelligent meaning, symbols that can be interpreted by twenty different expositors in twenty different ways, is so full of monsters and nightmare doings that only an unbalanced mind could have written it and one equally unbalanced would alone attempt to decipher it.
To these teachers and leaders who count themselves as progressive followers of the Christ of God, who practically set aside the matter of miracles as no more worthy of credence than the stories of Alice in Wonderland, the final place of the deposit of authority is in the individual and subconscious mind.
These professors, teachers and leaders to a large degree are an expression of Protestantism.
Protestantism to-day stands for everything in general and nothing in particular, except its protest against being definite and particular.
It has thrown eschatology overboard.
It no longer has any interest in hereafter things.
There may be a holy city in heaven; it does not know, it will not affirm for nor against; but it does know there are unholy cities on earth.
The streets of the upper city may be paved with gold; it will not enter into controversy about it; but it is certain the streets down here are paved with poor asphalt and trodden by footsore and weary men.
Heaven may be more desirable than earth. The condition there may be a great advance on this. Advanced thinkers in Protestantism will neither affirm nor deny that; but they are convinced the conditions down here should be made much better and if possible even that of heaven on earth.
The truth is, both heaven and hell, like angelology, have fallen out of modern theology. Heaven is too high and hell too deep. No telescope has ever revealed the one and modern sweetness, gentleness and light repudiate the cruelty and sufferings of the other.
The Gospel for the individual soul, the soul the Son of God once outweighed against a whole world in all that the world might stand for of wealth and riches and power and attained ambitions, saying the profit in the gain of a whole world would not equal the loss of one soul, has been set aside.
Instead we have that modern and amazing evangel known as the "Social Gospel."
Here for illustration are two old people living in a miserable cabin in a reeking, malarial swamp with a dozen children drinking in the poison of their environment. What folly to spend time and money on the father or mother. How inefficient any effort to save the children just one by one. Get to work at once and drain the swamp, drive out the poisonous and infectious insects with which the place is swarming, fill in the land with fine clean earth, plant flowers and sow seeds of fruitful harvests, let the salt sea blow in and breathe across the spot.
The old people may die, in all probability they will, but under right and sanitary conditions the children will grow up into vigorous elements of a strong and worthful society.
Why spend time, money, heart and enthusiasm in seeking to overcome or straighten out and make correct the bent lives that have come down to us through the unsanitary moral conditions of a previous generation? We have had wretched laws, desperate customs, children have grown up under them to become fathers and mothers of generations no better than themselves.
It is neither economy of mind nor matter, so the modernists teach, to build mission houses, gather the people, old and young, and frighten them with the thought that when they die they shall pass into an environment worse than the one in which they are endeavouring to eke out a handicapped existence. Let us do the wise thing—go not so much to the prayer meetings, but to the legislatures, get bills passed, laws made that will drive out the false and disastrous conditions now obtaining; legislate so that it will no longer be possible for people to drink themselves drunk, steep themselves in drugs, smoke themselves yellow with tobacco, yield to the fascination of gambling in any form. Let society be cleaned from these evils and the result will be certain. A generation that shall never see a saloon, a bottle of wine or whiskey; a generation that will never know the meaning of rum and tobacco and will never see a house of ill fame will be a generation that must grow up in righteousness and truth. There will be no more drunken brawls, no multiplied lawlessness, no diseased bodies, no moral leprosy. The world will be safe for each individual. Each individual will have a saved, moral life here, a life lived in obedience to the laws of nature, and as the laws of nature are the laws of God, in obedience to God. And what danger can the hereafter, if there be such a thing as the hereafter, hold for any one who is so obeying the laws of God?
Get society right and the individual will become right.
That is the modern Gospel.
That is the message to a needy world:
"Get society right and the individual will become right."
I do not interject here in full testimony the nevertheless fact that such a pagan city as Rome, or licentious Corinth or idolatrous Ephesus were lifted into cleanness and moral decency, not by legislative action, by reorganization of local conditions, but by the regeneration of one individual at a time until the divine sanity and personal spirituality enthroned in them built up societies, assemblies of such heaven-given health that the old social conditions were overthrown; so overthrown by the personal Gospel Paul preached that throughout Asia Minor the people had been turned away from the worship of their gods, in Ephesus the temple of Diana was largely deserted and the craftsmen who made the silver, souvenir images of the goddess complained their business was almost at an end.
Strangely enough the advocates of this social Gospel set up the individual life of the Son of God as the means by which society is to be made right; but they set up, not the life He is living now as the risen, glorified God-man; on the contrary the life He lived before He died, the character He exhibited as a social reformer and an exemplar in righteousness. Men, they say, are not to be saved by the death Christ died, but by the life He then lived. He is to be taken as the proof of the doctrine of evolution and the possibilities in the natural man. He is the most advanced son of God who ever lived. All other men are innately sons of God, but undeveloped.
The fact of Christ, it is said, is a sublime encouragement to any man. He has only to copy Him in His words and deeds to find the divine life unfolding. Get away from the sacrificial Christ, this modern Gospel teaches, to the social Christ, the Christ who was interested in the poor and needy and who arraigned wrong social conditions; take the attitude of Christ in relation to the evil of His times and with Him as the inspiration institute right legislation and right social conditions and the world will soon approach the condition of heaven on earth.
This is the infidellic drive of Protestantism today.
Protestantism has come down from the plane of the supernatural to the plane of the natural.
Every day Protestantism is becoming more and more a society for competitive morality.
In short, the Protestantism of the hour is a combination of religiousness, civilization, Christianity, socialism, pagan philosophy, unitarianism and the energy of the flesh.
Nor need we be startled at this as though some strange thing had taken place. Long ago the Apostle warned us that it would be necessary to preach the Word in season and out of season—just as a watchman is under bonds to flash light in the darkness—because the time would come when the Church should have a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof; when it would not endure sound doctrine, but in obedience to the itching of the flesh should heap to itself teachers who should endeavour to respond to these worldly demands; teachers who in the end should turn the people away from the truth and turn them to the fictions and fables of men; teachers of whom the Apostle Peter warned who should bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord who had bought them, teachers whom Jude foresaw would creep in unawares.
Men who consult the chart of a seacoast which marks the place of breakers and treacherous, hidden ledges, now and then thrust out through the white foam like the gleaming sharp teeth of waiting sharks, are not startled when they see the surf breaking at the indicated spot and hear the roar of the waters where it was announced they should lift up their thunder; they are not surprised, instead their confidence in the accuracy of the chart is emphasized.
Likewise when those who have read the forecast in Holy Scripture, while they may feel a certain grief at the facts as they are, rejoice when they see these things that even the failure of man as man and the betrayal of committed trust bear witness to the accuracy of Holy Writ.
With all its failure the professing Church still claims to be the kingdom of Christ on earth and asserts its determination to rule the world. Rome holds to the idea with unfailing faith and with consistent Jesuitical and political scheming is moving forward with united front to temporal sovereignty. Protestantism with its new watchword of a "reorganized world" is making all its plans to attain the place of power by social, moral and political means.
What would be said of a queen who entered into partnership with men whose hands were still red with the blood of her murdered husband and rejected king? What could be said but that she had wholly forgotten or proved totally false to the principles for which her husband had died?
What shall be said of a Church which seeks to enter into partnership with a world that slew her Lord; which under all the smile and smoothness of moral, social and philosophical phrases and all the hypocritical laudations of His human character rejects His deity and hears in His cry of agony on the cross the proof that He was only a man who failed as other men have failed at the last.