Chapter 6 - Secrecy, Manifestation, and Signs of Imminence

All that remains to be considered can be stated in few words. As to the secrecy of the rapture of the saints, it is a point of small importance, reached only by inference, and need not be discussed at all. It is "when Christ our Life shall appeal-," that "we shall appear, (or be manifested) with Him in glory" (Col. iii. 4). Thus we may argue that we shall not be manifested before. But it affects no point of all that we have been looking at, so far as I am aware, however it be decided.

As to the manifestation, or appearing, or revelation of Christ, it is that which is most largely spoken of in Scripture, as we might expect, for various reasons.

1. It is that which connects itself with prophecy and the blessing of the earth. It is the rising of the Sun of righteousness in contrast with the simple heavenly radiance of the Morning Star.

2. It connects thus with the rights of Christ as to the earth, the place of His rejection.

3. It connects with the rewards given to His peo­ple, so far at least as these have to do with the kingdom and its displayed glory. And thus we can understand that we are to "wait" for it, as that in which every one will "receive his praise from God." Timothy’s being exhorted to "keep the commandments without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of Jesus Christ" (i Tim. vi. 14), while often urged to the contrary, in fact shows how such things are to be taken. The appearing is the goal of responsibility; the time between this and the end of the path here would not affect the matter of the exhortation; and no one would contend that the apostle meant to guarantee that Timothy would live until the appearing.

Signs are all connected with the appearing necessarily, but yet so far as they are manifested, will only be more forcible for those who are expecting to be with the Lord before it. We are not taught that we need them, but are not certainly to ignore what is before our eyes. Times we cannot reckon, inasmuch as we are in that gap of prophetic time in which all Christianity has its place. Our Lord has also given us warning with regard to this (Acts i. 7). In the same passage we find Him telling His disciples that they were to he His witnesses "to the ends of the earth." That this and other declarations implied some lapse of time before His return is undoubted. We must remember, of course, that this did not imply for them what it does for us, and that Augustus Caesar could command "all the world" to be taxed (Luke ii. i). In the parables of the talents (Matt. xxv. 19) "after a long time" the absent lord returns and reckons with his servants; but it is with the same servants whom he left when he went away. Nothing hints to us as a delay of generations long. We are in other circumstances, in a world that widens no more, looking back over the Church’s history as Revelation has at last unfolded it to us, and finding ourselves certainly near the close, and how near we cannot say. Is there another page yet to be written? We do not know; but certainly of all men that ever lived we should be "as men that wait for their Lord."

A clear view gained of what is prophesied as to the end, with the knowledge of what the Church of God is, and its place amid the dispensations, will make all else clear as to what in this respect may not have been considered.