The Second Advent
Mr. Andrew Borland, M.A., is the Editor of The Believer’s Magazine published by John Ritchie Company, Kilmarnock, Scotland. We strongly recommend that you give earnest attention to this article, the first of a series by this capable writer on the Second Advent of Christ.
Christ Will Come Again
Divine history may be summarized in three outstanding features preserved for the intelligent reader of the Bible.
(1) The First Advent of the Son of God. Is it not significant that these expressions are used about that advent and its purpose? (a) “When the Fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son” (Gal. 4:4). (b) In the parable of the householder a similar expression occurs. After introducing “servants” and “other servants,” the parable continues, “Last of all He sent unto them His Son” (Matt. 21:37). (c) Summing up his teaching about the finality of the death of Christ, the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews states, “Now once in the end of the ages hath He appeared to put away sin” (Heb. 9:26).
It is apparent that the inspired record is drawing attention to the fact that past history was inexorably leading up to a long predicted event, the coming of the Deliverer promised so far back as the time of Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:15). However else we may read the Old Testament story, our paramount interest should be in the discovery that events recorded therein were preparatory for the singular event of the arrival of the promised Seed of the Woman. The period covered by that Advent is almost incomprehensibly short, only some thirty-three years, but it was sufficiently long to disclose the inveterate hatred of the human heart toward the purpose of God, and to accomplish the will of God in providing in the planned death of the Son of God a means of escape from God’s wrath. That First Advent was completed and fittingly brought to a God-appointed end in the ascension—the return to heavenly glory of the Man of Calvary.
(2) The Absence of the Son of God from the Earth. The scene of His victory over death and Satan is a period of undisclosed duration. Already it has extended two thousand years, and no one knows how long or how short its future duration will be. It will be ended by another divinely appointed event.
(3) The Second Advent. There need be no hesitation in accepting as authentic and reliable the promise of the Son of God on the eve of His departure from this scene of His redeeming activity, “If I go I will come again” (John 14:3) The analogy of the high priest of Israel on the Day of Atonement is fittingly used in the hymn about the return of our Great High Priest:
And though a while He be
Hid from the eyes of men,
His people wait to see
Their Great High Priest again.
In brightest glory He will come
And take His waiting people home.
The present interval has been circumscribed in a most impressive manner. The Lord’s Supper is stated to be a proclamation of His death “till He come” (1 Cor. 11:26). During the Lord’s absence His servants are expected to respond to the directive, “Occupy (be busy) till I come” (Luke 19:13). In a world, corrupt and hostile, it is imperative for the true disciple to heed the word of advice from the glorified Lord of the churches, “Hold fast till I come” (Rev. 2:25).
The Importance of Constant Study
The constant study of the Second Advent is important for various reasons, three of which may be mentioned.
First, it is important because the subject occupies an outstanding place in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. In the former volume, in both the major and the minor Prophets, there are glowing predictions of the blessings attendant upon the coming of Messiah to set up His kingdom (Isa. 11:3-9f.; Zech. 8:20-23). Psalm 72 inspired James Montgomery to write his heart-stirring hymn, “Hail to the Lord’s Anointed.” It hardly needs to be remarked that no subject receives more attention in the New Testament than that of the Second Advent. The Epistles to the Thessalonians deals almost exclusively with the theme, and one interpretation of the Book of the Revelation sees therein depicted events at and subsequent to the Lord’s return.
Second, neglect of its study has brought incalculable less to the Church. In the early Christian centuries the hope burned brightly, but when worldliness and materialism gripped the minds of people, and unconverted masses were incorporated into a spurious church, the truth of the Second Advent was lost. Only fitfully and in a few localities did the light shine in the prevailing darkness and it was not until the nineteenth century that the truth of the Lord’s return began to engage the serious attention of Bible scholars. Even since this renewed interest began, there have been periods when the light of the hope has been dimmed by other concerns.
Third, interest in the Second Advent should produce certain evident results.
1. It should create a longing for the establishment of the kingdom of God, when the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of the Lord and His Christ (Rev. 11:15). How ardently the exercised and instructed Christian should pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as in Heaven”! A knowledge of the divine intention both for the Jews and the Gentiles should keep alive interest in passing events which may shed some light on the development of God’s plan working itself toward the appointed end.
2. It should encourage interest in the spiritual welfare of others. A genuine realization that the coming of the Lord is sure, and may be drawing nigh, cannot but create concern for others. Communities of Christians have been revived, and individual lives have been truly dedicated to the service of the gospel when it was believed “that the Lord Jesus will be revealed from Heaven in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1:7-8). How does such a thought affect us?
3. It produces a true perspective of life. Two worlds claim our attention and interest, this world and the next. The teaching about our Lord’s return should quicken our desire for the heavenly country. Where one’s treasure is, there one’s heart is directed. As the Apostle Paul says, “Set your affection on things above” (Col. 3:2). The exercised Christian lives “looking for that blessed hope, and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ” (Tit. 2:13). The things of earth lose their grip upon the believer in proportion to the intensity of his conviction that “Jesus is coming again.”
Some Reasons For Believing
There are good reasons for believing in the Second Advent of Jesus Christ.
1. Attention has been drawn to the numerous prophetical announcements in the Old Testament. Many of those prophecies had their fulfillment in the birth, life and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. Many others await fulfillment when the King comes to set up His Kingdom.
2. Christ’s statements assure us. In many of His parables the Lord spoke of His return in power and great glory. Chapters 24 and 25 of Matthew’s Gospel are sufficient proof of that. To His distressed apostolic band the Saviour said, “If I go … I will come again.”
3. Angelic declaration nerved the bewildered disciples when they heard the words, “Why stand ye gazing up into Heaven? This same Jesus who is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into Heaven” (Acts 1:11).
4. Apostolic corroboration. Without collaboration all the writers of the New Testament epistles agree on that one point that “Jesus is coming again.” Trace the recurring references thereto in the writings of Paul, Peter, James, John and Jude. It was “the hope of His calling” (Eph. 1:18) which carried them on and through the opposition which was encountered at the commencement of the church age.
5. Apocalyptic assurance is given in the last book of the Bible. The announcement occurs several times, “I come quickly.” Revelation 19 describes how He who is called Faithful and True descends from Heaven on a white horse, followed by the armies of Heaven, to smite the nations and rule them with a rod of iron. His victory will be complete, for he is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It is of that triumph we think when we sing,
Look, ye saints! The sight is glorious;
See the Man of Sorrows now;
From the fight return victorious,
Every knee to Him shall bow.
Crown Him, crown Him,
Crowns become the Victor’s brow.