IV. CHRIST OUR COMING LORD.
"I will give him the morning star." Rev. ii. 28.
The Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is a distinct and important part
of the Apostolic Gospel. "I declare unto you the Gospel," Paul says to the
Corinthians, and then begins to tell them of the Resurrection and the Second
Advent. It is, indeed, good news to all who love Him and mourn the sins and
sorrows of a ruined world.
It is the glorious culmination of all other parts of the Gospel. We have
spoken of the Gospel of SALVATION, but Peter says our salvation is "ready
to be revealed in the last time." Then only, when we stand amid the wreck
of time and secure upon the Rock of Ages,
"Then, Lord, shall we fully know,
Not till then, how much we owe."
We have spoken of SANCTIFICATION, but John says: "When He shall appear, we
shall be like Him, and every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself,
even as He is pure." And we have spoken of DIVINE HEALING, but Paul says:
"God hath given us the 'EARNEST' of the resurrection in our bodies now,"
and Divine healing is but the first-springing life of which the resurrection
will be the full fruition.
So that the truth and hope of the Lord's coming is linked with all truth
and life, and is the Church's great and blessed hope. In the very beginning
of human history God placed this great hope before His children. In the hour
when man fell from Paradise, God erected in that fallen Eden in the majestic
figures of THE CHERUBIM, the prophecy and symbol of man's future glory. The
faces of the lion, the ox, the man, and the eagle, were the types of royalty,
the strength, the wisdom, and the lofty elevation to which redeemed man was
to rise in Jesus. These figures run through all the dispensations. They are
God's portrait of His redeemed child after redemption's work is done. God
sets before Himself and before man His sublime ideal for his future, and
He will never rest till it is fulfilled. It is, therefore, well that besides
the Gospel for the present, we should understand, and live under the power
of THE GOSPEL OF THE FUTURE and the blessed and purifying hope of Christ's
I. WHAT WE MEAN BY CHRIST'S COMING.
We do not mean His coming to the individual Christian's heart. He does thus
come most truly and graciously, and this is the blessed mystery of which
we have already spoken in connection with our sanctification. It is "Christ
in you, the hope of glory." But this is not His second coming. Some persons
are ready to say, with a great show of spirituality, I have the millennium
in my heart, and the Lord in my heart; let those who have not, speculate
about a material coming. Well, Paul had the Lord in his heart, and a millennium
as near to the third heaven as these persons will probably claim; and John
was about as near his Redeemer's heart as any of us can ever expect to get
on earth; but they did speak and write in terms like this: "Then we which
are alive, and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall be caught up in
the clouds to meet the Lord in the air." "We "We know that when He shall
appear, we shall appear with Him in glory." "Behold, He cometh with clouds,
and every eye shall see Him. Even so, come, Lord Jesus."
Indeed, the more we know Jesus spiritually, the more will we long for His
personal and eternal presence in the fuller and more glorious sense which
His personal advent will bring.
We do not mean His coming at death. It is doubtful whether He does really
come for us at death. Lazarus is represented as borne by angels into Abraham's
bosom; and Stephen at his glorious departing saw Jesus in heaven on the right
hand of God, rising, it is true, to receive and honor His faithful servants,
but not coming for him personally. The contrasts between death and the Lord's
coming are very marked. We are not told to watch for death, but are delivered
from its fear, but we are to watch for the Lord's coming. Death is an enemy;
His coming a welcome visitation of our dearest friend. Death is a bitter
bereavement to the heart; the Lord's coming is the very consolation of the
bereaved, and the antidote of death. If death and the Lord's coming were
identical, then the apostle would have said to the Thessalonian believers:
"I would not have you ignorant concerning them that are asleep, that ye sorrow
not as those that have no hope, for the Lord has come for them, and will
soon in like manner come for you in death, and you shall be sweetly united
in death once more." Does he say that? No! But he does say: "The Lord shall
DESCEND FROM HEAVEN *** and THE DEAD IN CHRIST SHALL RISE first, and then
we that are alive shall be caught up together with them, to meet the Lord
in the air, and so we shall be ever with the Lord." It is not death he points
them to, but that which is to overcome death, and of which he says in writing
to the Corinthians: "Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written,
'Death is swallowed up in victory.'" If the Lord's coming is to swallow up
death in victory, it is very certain that it cannot be the same thing, or
it would swallow up itself.
We do not mean the spiritual coming of Christ through the spread of the Gospel
and the progress of Christianity. This is nowhere recognized in the Bible
as the personal coming of Christ. "Behold, He cometh with clouds, and EVERY
EYE SHALL SEE HIM, and they also which pierced Him, and ALL KINDREDS OF THE
EARTH SHALL WAIL BECAUSE OF HIM." Now, that is not the way they do when they
receive the Gospel. They rejoice. But now they are startled and discouraged.
And they cry, as represented in another place, to the rocks and the mountains
to fall upon them and hide them from the wrath of the Lamb. So, also, the
angels, speaking of this event to the eleven disciples, say: "This same Jesus
SHALL SO COME IN LIKE MANNER AS YE HAVE SEEN HIM GO INTO HEAVEN." This cannot
be the publication of the Gospel, but must be HIS PERSONAL, VISIBLE, AND
GLORIOUS APPEARING. The Gospel is to be widely diffused; His truth is to
prevail; His cause is to triumph, but He is coming personally, and He is
infinitely more than even His truth and cause.
II. WHAT DO WE MEAN BY THE MILLENNIUM?
Some persons have stated that the doctrine of the millennium is a modern
invention, and that the word itself is not found in the Bible.
The word millennium is not English, but is the Greek word for a thousand
years. It is used repeatedly in the twentieth chapter of Revelation to
denote the period during which Christ shall reign with His saints on the
earth after the first resurrection. It is a time of victory, joy and glory.
Seven especial facts are recorded concerning it here:
The resurrection and re-union of the saints.
Their reward and reign.
The complete exclusion of Satan from the earth.
The personal and continual presence of Jesus with them on earth.
The suppression of all enemies and the universal reign of righteousness.
The duration of a thousand years.
The immediately succeeding revolt of Satan and sinful man, and the final
judgment of the wicked.
If there was no other reference in the Bible to this time of blessing, these
elements alone would be sufficient to constitute a state and time of exalted
glory and happiness. Much more do they suffice to identify it as the golden
age of which former prophets wrote and spake, when righteousness, truth and
peace shall "cover the earth as the waters cover the sea."
III. THE ORDER OF THESE TWO EVENTS.
This is the next question to be settled, and upon it hang most of the issues
of the question. Is the coming of Christ to precede or follow this millennial
The most obvious reason for believing that it precedes it, is found in the
very passage just referred to where these events are both described. There
can be no question that here the coming of the Lord precedes and introduces
the millennium. His coming is minutely depicted in the whole procession from
heaven to earth. Then follows the conquest and punishment of His earthly
foes, the binding of Satan, the resurrection of the saints, the reign of
the risen ones and the thousand years. The only way it is attempted to set
this aside is to represent it as figurative and spiritual. Dean Alford's
strong sense and honesty is the best answer to this. If this be so, he declares,
then adieu to all definiteness and certainty in the Scriptures. If this be
not a literal coming, resurrection, and millennium, then we do not know what
our Bibles mean about anything.
The next argument for Christ's premillennial coming is the emphatic use of
the word, "WATCH," in connection with it. Many times are we told to watch
for it. Now if it is to be preceded by a spiritual millennium, the Lord would
have told us to watch for this. How could the early Church watch for His
coming, how can even we if we know that it is to be preceded by a clear thousand
years? The very word watch means immanency, and it is not immanent, if ten
whole centuries must intervene. If it be objected that as a matter of fact
Christ's coming did not occur during more than ten centuries, this does not
alter its immanency. An event may be liable to occur at any moment for years,
and yet be long retarded. That is quite different from its being understood
as not to occur until the later period. Although God knew just the moment
when His Son should appear, yet He wanted His Church to be always expecting
it-at even, or at midnight, or at the cock crowing, or in the morning. The
announcement of a fixed previous millennium would have been fatal to this
design, and the Church would have gone to work to make her own millennium
without Him. This is just what the Romish Church did, when Pope Hildebrand
announced in the tenth century that the millennium had begun, and that Christ
was already present through His vicar. And some Protestant teachers have
the assumption to tell us today that this century of progress is the first
age of the millennium.
The next proof of a premillennial coming is found in the picture Christ gives
us of the condition of things as they were to be down to the close of the
Christian age, and up to the very hour of His coming.
Just glance at a few bold touches in the picture.
Some seed fell by the wayside and the fowls of the air devoured them; some
fell on stony places and perished; some were choked by thorns, and some fell
on good ground and bore fruit.
But soon the enemy sowed the tares, and both grow together till the harvest.
The Church, externally, grows up into luxuriant strength like the mustard
plant, but internally is full of leaven. The true and pure are like the hid
treasure and the pearl, so hard to find. The net gathers of every kind and
only the angels can separate the evil at the last.
As the ages roll on, there looms up the picture, not of a millennium, but
a "Falling away first." "Wickedness shall abound and the love of many shall
wax cold." "Many shall depart from the faith, giving heed to doctrines of
devils." "In the last days perilous times shall come." There shall be plenty
of church members, "having a form of godliness"; but these shall be the very
enemies of the Cross of Christ, "denying the power thereof." A holy, happy
world will not be waiting to welcome its King, but "as a snare shall He come
unto all that dwell on the earth." "When they shall say, 'Peace and safety,
then sudden destruction.'" And when it bursts upon them, it shall find them
"as it was in the days of Noah and of Lot"; and the Master even asks, "When
the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?"
This is God's picture of the future of earth until Christ's coming. It does
not look much like a previous millennium.
No, nor does the story of eighteen centuries move towards a spiritual millennium.
New York with half the proportion of church goers and nearly double the ratio
of drunkards, has not grown any nearer to it in two hundred years; London,
with three million souls who never enter a church; Berlin, with one minister
to fifty thousand people; these three capitals of the three great Protestant
nations of earth hold out no signal of its coming. And what shall we say
of wicked Paris, and rotten Constantinople, and idolatrous India, and
conservative China, and savage Africa? When is there coming to them as much
millennial light as we have? When will the Christian nations begin to move
toward their golden age? Oh, if this be the best God has for us, then prophecy
is an exaggeration and the Bible a poetic dream. Thank God, He is coming
and His Kingdom shall transcend our brightest hope, and His own most glowing
The strongest objections that are made to this doctrine are:
It dishonors the work of the Holy Ghost, as if He were incompetent to fulfill
His administration, and were represented as having failed in His great mission
to convert the world, and some other means had had to be provided. In reply
it is enough to say that the Holy Ghost has not undertaken to convert the
world, but to call out of it the Church of Christ and prepare a people for
His name, and when this is done, and all who will accept Jesus as a Saviour
have been called, converted and fully trained, the time for the next stage
will have come, and Jesus will come to reign and restore His ancient people
for their privileges and opportunities. The work of the Holy Ghost will not
cease then, for He shall abide with us for ever, and the ages to come shall
afford unbounded and more glorious scope for His grace and power.
It is objected that such a doctrine discourages Christian missions, and saps
the foundations of the Church's most glorious hopes and prospects. On the
contrary, it opens a prospect of far grander glory to the Church at her Lord's
appearing, and bids her go forth, rapt with the desire to hasten it, to prepare
the world for His appearing; for as an incentive to this work, He Himself
has told her that when the message of salvation has been proclaimed to all
the world, then shall the end come. The fact is that a large majority of
the missionaries now in foreign lands believe and rejoice in the blessed
hope of the Lord's coming, are animated by it to labor for the world's
evangelization, and cheered by the blessed thought that their task is not
to convert the whole human race, but to evangelize the nations, and give
every man a chance to be saved if he will; and they would, indeed,
be distracted and dismayed at the prospect they behold, did they feel that
the world must wait until the present agencies have wrought out its full
salvation, while meanwhile three times its entire population every century
is swept into eternity unsaved. The coming of Christ is not going to suspend
mission work. It will bring the most glorious and complete system of
evangelization earth has ever seen. And under its benignant influence the
heathen shall all be brought to Jesus; all nations shall be blessed in Him,
and all people shall call Him blessed. The most ardent friends of lost humanity
must long the most for this, the world's best hope.
It is objected that this doctrine leads to fanaticism. Anything may be abused,
but in the sober and Scriptural faith of this doctrine there is nothing fitted
to minister to rashness, presumption or folly. Let us very carefully avoid
all attempts to prophesy ourselves, or be wise above that which is written;
but let us not be intimidated by the devil's howl, from the fullness of God's
truth and testimony. This truth will make us a peculiar people. It will take
away the charm of the world, and separate us from it. It will make us very
unlike many selfish and comfortable Christians, and will set our soul on
fire to serve God and save men. And if that be fanaticism, then welcome such
It is objected that it is gross and material, tending to promote earthly
and carnal hopes in the heart and the Church, like the earthly ideas and
ambitions of the primitive apostles which the Master rebuked, and taught
them rather to look for a spiritual kingdom and a heavenly home. That was
the extreme then, may not the opposite be now? Is not the true need the spiritual
first, afterward the material, the resurrection life of the soul first, then
the resurrection of the body? We do not hold nor teach any gross or material
idea of the material idea of the millennial age. The bodies of the saints
will be spiritual, and like His own. But if He was pleased to take such a
body into the heavenly world and make it the center and crown of creation,
is it anything but an affectation to try to be more spiritual than our Lord?
Nay, it is all spiritual, and the true purpose and end of redemption is that
"our whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming
of our Lord Jesus Christ," and "the whole earth be filled with His
V. THE SIGNS OF HIS COMING.
While the day and the hour shall be unrevealed, yet His children "are not
in darkness that that day should overtake them as a thief." "None," as the
end approaches, "none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall
There is a distinct order revealed. He will first come for His own waiting
ones, and they, with the holy dead, shall be caught up to meet Him in the
air. The wicked world shall be left behind; a formal church and a multitude
of nations shall live on and scarcely miss the little flock that has just
been caught away. Then will begin a series of judgments and warnings, ending
at last in the descent of Christ in power and glory, the revelation of His
righteous judgment against His open enemies, and the beginning of His personal
reign. There will thus be two appearings of Jesus Christ-the one to His own,
the other, later, to the entire world; the first as a Bridegroom, the second
as a King and Judge. The signs of the one do not therefore apply to
the other. The first of these appearings is not so sharply defined as the
other. It is more immanent and uncertain, and may come at any hour.
Many of the most important signs of the Lord's coming have already been
fulfilled. For example:
The political changes and developments of Daniel's great visions have apparently
all occurred. The great empires have come and gone, and the minor kingdoms
which were to succeed them are now covering the regions which once they
The predicted "Falling away," has long ago begun, and the man of sin has
sat in God's temple already the full time of the prophetic cycle, and the
process has begun which is to "consume and destroy unto the end." The Papacy
has fulfilled almost all the lineaments of its marvelous portrait.
The Mohammedan power has waxed and waned, and the waters of this great spiritual
Euphrates are being dried up every day to prepare the way of God's kingly
The Jewish signs have not been less remarkable. Jacob is turning his face
again to Bethel, and Jerusalem is preparing to put on her beautiful garments
again. Her sons are slowly gathering, while jealous nations are hastening
the exodus, and fulfilling unconsciously the voice of prophecy.
The intellectual signs are not less marked. Knowledge is indeed increased,
and many run to and fro, while human philosophy talks of evolution and declares
that all things continue as they were, and nature is immutable and only
The moral signs are even more marked than Daniel's picture. "The wicked shall
do wickedly," was never more true than today. Portentous forms of wickedness
startle the moral sense every day, and invention is as ripe in evil as it
is in material art.
The religious signs are growing more vivid. Lukewarmness and worldliness
in the Church, intense longings after holiness on the part of the few, and
a mighty missionary movement are the features of the age, and the signs of
prophecy, that point to the day of the Son of Man.
And finally, an earnest, a growing and a world-wide expectation of His coming
on the part of all those who love His appearing, is as profound today as
it was in Judea, and even the Gentile world in the age preceding His advent
at Bethlehem. The morning star is in the East. "The children of the day"
have seen it. The cry has gone forth, "The night is far spent, the day is
at hand"; and soon the Sun will fill the sky and cover the earth with millennial
VI. THE BLESSINGS OF HIS COMING.
I. It will bring us Jesus Himself. This is the best of its blessings. Like
all the other sections of this Gospel, this, too, is the Gospel of Himself.
Not the robes and the royal crowns, not the resurrection bodies or reunited
friends will be the chief joy, but
"Thou art coming, we shall see Thee,
And be like Thee on that day."
It will bring us our friends. "Them who sleep in Jesus will God bring with
Him." They shall be alive, they shall be recognized, they shall be gloriously
beautiful, they shall be ours forever. Not only the old ones, but such new
ones, the good of all the ages, the men and women we have longed to know.
What a family!
"Ten thousand times ten thousand,
In shining garments bright,
The armies of the ransomed
Throng up the steps of light;
O then, what rapturous greetings
On Canaan's happy shore,
What knitting severed friendships up,
Where partings are no more."
It will bring us perfect spirits, restored to His image, glorious in His
likeness, free from fault, defect, or imperfection, removed above temptation,
incapable of falling, and overflowing with unutterable blessedness. We shall
wear His perfect image; we shall know as we are known; we shall be as holy
as He is holy; we shall possess His strength and beauty and perfect love.
The universe will gaze upon us, and next to the glory of the Lamb will be
the beauty of the bride.
We shall have perfect bodies; we shall possess His perfect resurrection life;
we shall forget even what a pain was like; we shall spring into boundless
strength; our hearts shall thrill with the fullness of immortal life, and
space and distance be annihilated. The laws of gravitation will hold us no
more. The streets of the New Jerusalem vertically and horizontally, the length
and breadth, and the height thereof are equal. Our bodies shall be the perfect
instruments of our exalted spirits, the exact reflection of His glorious
It will give us the sweetest and highest service. It will be no idle, selfish
ecstasy, but will bring a perfect partnership in His kingdom and administration.
We shall, perhaps, be permitted to fulfill the ideals of our highest earthly
experiences, and finish the work we have longed and tried to do-with boundless
resources, infinite capabilities, unlimited scope and time, and His own presence
and omnipotent help. The blessed work will be to serve Him, to bless others,
and to raise earth and humanity to happiness, righteousness and Paradise
It will banish Satan. It will bind and chain the foe and fiend, whose hate
and power have held the world in ages of darkness and misery. Oh, to be free
from his presence for even a day! to feel that we need no longer watch with
ceaseless vigilance against him! to walk upon a world without a devil! Lord,
hasten that glorious day!
And it will bring such blessings to others, to the race, to the world. It
will stop the awful tragedy of sin and suffering; it will sheathe the sword,
emancipate the captive, close the prison and the hospital, bind the devil
and his henchman, Death; beautify and glorify the face of the earth; evangelize
and convert the perishing nations, and shed light and gladness on this dark
scene of woe and wickedness.
There shall he no more crying,
There shall be no more pain.
There shall be no more dying,
There shall be no more stain.
Hearts that by death were riven,
Meet in eternal love;
Lives on the altar given
Rise to their crowns above.
Satan shall tempt us never,
Sin shall o'ercome no more,
Joy shall abide forever,
Sorrow and grief be o'er.
Jesus shall be our glory,
Jesus our heaven shall be;
Jesus shall be our story,
Jesus who died for me.
Hasten, sweet morn of gladness,
Hasten, dear Lord, we pray;
Finish this night of sadness,
Hasten the heavenly day.
Jesus is coming surely,
Jesus is coming soon;
O let us walk so purely,
O let us keep our crown.
Jesus, our watch we are keeping,
Longing for Thee to come;
Then shall be ended our night of weeping,
Then we shall reach our home.
VII. THE LESSONS IT LEAVES.
Let us be ready. "The marriage of the Lamb is come and His wife hath made
herself ready, and to her it was GRANTED that she should be arrayed in fine
raiment, clean and white." Thank God that the robes are given. Let
us have them on. WHITE ROBES. When the Bride is dressed, the wedding must
be near. So let us hasten His coming.
Let us be watching. "Behold, I come as a thief: blessed is he that watcheth
and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame."
Let us not put off the wedding robe for an hour. Let us remember His words.
"When these things begin to come to pass, then lift up your heads and bend
YOURSELVES BACK (Dr. Young), for your redemption draweth nigh." Keep your
faces turned heavenwards until your whole being shall curve heavenwards,
like a dear, old colored saint we know, whose body, when she speaks and prays,
describes a circle bending towards the sky.
Be faithful. It is to bring the reward of faithful servants. Let us "look
to it that we lose none of the things which we have wrought, but may receive
a full reward." "Hold fast that thou hast that no man take thy
In the ancient Church there was a noble band of forty faithful soldiers in
one of the Roman legions who were condemned to die for their faith in Jesus.
They were all exposed on the centre of a frozen lake, to perish on the ice,
but allowed the choice of recanting from their faith at any moment during
the fatal night by walking to the shore and reporting to the officer on
As the night wore on the sentinel on shore saw a cloud of angels hovering
over the place where the martyrs stood, and as one by one they dropped, they
placed a crown upon the martyr's brow and bore him up to the skies, while
all the air rang with the song, "Forty Martyrs and Forty Crowns." At last
they had all gone but one, and his crown still hung in the sky above and
no one seemed to claim it. Suddenly the sentinel heard a step, and lo! one
of the forty was at his side. He had fled. The sentinel looked at him as
he took down his name, and then said: "Fool, had you seen what I have seen
this night you would not have lost your crown. But it shall not be lost.
Take my place, and I will gladly take yours;" and forth he marched to death
and glory, while again the silent choir took up the chorus, "Forty Martyrs
and Forty Crowns. Thou hast been faithful unto death and thou shalt receive
a crown of life."
God help us to hear that chorus when He shall come!
Be diligent. There is much to do. You. can "hasten the coming of the day
of God." The world is to be forewarned. The Church is to be prepared. Arouse
thee, O Christian. Give Him every power, every faculty, every dollar, every
moment. Send the Gospel abroad. Go yourself if you can. If you cannot, send
your substitute. And may this last decade of the nineteenth century mean
for you and for this world, as nothing ever meant before, a time of preparation
for the coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!