The Return of Our Lord

The Return of Our Lord

John Bramhall

The second advent of Christ will catch the unsuspecting world with surprise and terrible destruction (1 Thess. 5:3), but no believer should be unaware of its approach for it is written, “Ye brethren are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief” (1 Thess. 5:4). Yet, how many Christians are alert to the nearness of this great event? Do we actually realize the signs on the horizon that clearly indicate “the coming of the Lord draweth nigh” (Jas. 5:8)? John wrote, “The whole world lieth in the Wicked One” (1 John 5:19), and it is fast asleep in his arms; but no believer should be, for we are exhorted to be morally and spiritually awake! (1 Thess. 5:6-10).

Our Lord said, “Of that day and hour knoweth no man,” etc. (Matt. 24:36), yet in the same discourse He tells three parables that reveal the existence of signs prior to His return. The parable of the fig tree (Matt. 24:32, 33) which emphasizes the fact of signs; the second, about the days of Noah (Matt. 24:37-41) to demonstrate the need of signs, making the godly aware of His coming and arousing the unbelievers; the third, of the householder (Matt. 24:4244) to establish the value of signs that encourage us to “Watch.” It is the purpose of the Lord to awaken His people and guide them by these signs through the deceptive, dangerous days at the end; but it requires spiritual eyes and obedient hearts to discern His near return. Are we that awake today?

In addition, there are three special spheres of significant interest today, plainly declaring the approaching advent of our coming Lord, each of them foretold in the Word of God. They are — (1) The Political Realm. (2) The Moral Realm. (3) The Ecclesiastical Realm.

The Political Realm. What a world of paradoxes we live in! Special efforts are made for world peace, but we hear of “wars and rumors of wars.” Excessive spending to preserve life and health, but billions spent for life’s destruction! Increase of culture and refinement, yet never more barbarism in the world than today! Astounding developments in education, but never greater moral blindness! Great efforts to produce unity among nations, yet producing less cohesion than ever. How will it end?

The same question arose in the mind of Nebuchednezzar centuries ago, “what shall be in the latter days?” Through Daniel, God revealed that immediately prior to the second advent of Christ, a world empire with a federation of ten kings would exist (Dan. 2:43, 44, etc.). God confirmed it to Daniel in a later vision (Dan. 7:23, 24); and again to the Apostle John was it revealed (Rev. 17:12-14). Christ foretold the political conditions of the turbulent time prior to His coming (Matt. 24 and 25). His words of Matthew 24:4-8 seem descriptive of present day chaos. Surely the disintegration of nations is definitely upon us, rapidly coming into the final phase of Gentile history when this federal empire under Satan will rule the world (Rev. 13). BUT DO WE SEE THIS APPROACH?

The Moral Realm. The description of “the last days” is forcefully depicted by the Apostle in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 where he records the abnormal times when iniquity will bring the return of the old evils of heathenism in the midst of Christendom! Every feature in this prophecy prevails today! Let us not close our eyes to these facts for they definitely precede the advent of our coming Lord!

Paul also said that evil men and seducers from true godliness and right morals shall wax worse and worse, deceiving themselves and others (2 Tim. 3:13). Such men profess being enlightened and free men, but they only become darkened in their philosophies and enslaved in selfishness and sin, though claiming to be advancing. The rejection of God’s Word for moral guidance can only increase the recession of men into moral darkness that becomes as heathenish and immoral as that of the ancient world!

In Revelations 9:20, 21, the Seer describes the character and conduct of human society at the end time prior to the Lord’s return. Murder is a common crime, not exceptional. It is even true now! Sorceries, which in the Greek is the word “pharmakia,” means “the administering of drugs” (Thayer’s Lexicon) and this predominates today. The impure practice in the field of pharmacy has developed vice and sin for it is not restricted to the useful sphere of health. It’s illicit use now inflames the vilest of passion that rot away the moral fibre of human society, leading to that which is next linked with it — Fornication. We see that society is now deluged with the subversion of the sanctity of marriage and its laws, for the sins of fornication and adultery have increasingly become a public feature of the social decay in these days. Dishonesty or Thefts prevail everywhere, with complete disregard of other’s rights, obliterating moral distinctions in order to practise fraud, theft and deceit wherever possible! Do these facts declare the near advent of Christ or not? Let God’s Word speak to our hearts and consciences today!

The Ecclesiastical Realm. The New Testament contains serious warnings of the declining state of the Church toward the end. “In the latter times some shall depart from the faith” — drawn away by demoniac influence. Cheating their own consciences, men become exponents of the teachings that have seduced them (1 Tim. 4:1-7). The Apostle Peter confirms this in his second epistle also, chapter two. The unfortunate tolerance and lack of conviction in Christians today increases this departure, though they themselves may not depart from the truth.

Jude traces this in three stages: “The way of Cain … the error of Balsam … the gainsaying of Korah” (Jude 11). God demands atonement through the blood of Christ, but many ecclesiastics follow Cain’s bloodless sacrifice, leading many to perdition. True men and women of God willingly sacrifice position, wealth and life for the sake of divine principles, but Balsam and his kind compromise principles for worldly position, wealth and personal advantage. The final stage of this apostasy is in “the gainsaying of Korah,” who, though a priest of God, stood up publicly and contended against the truth of God to his own destruction and that of his followers (Numbers 16). Today, in the highest places of Christendom, many boldly stand up and oppose the Word of God to teach what they claim is advanced learning. The Scriptures hold out no hope of a general recovery from these things and warn that at the end the churches will be in a state of declension (Rev. 2 and 3). It is further unfortunate that even true believers have “itching ears” and help multiply such teachers whose motive is only to please the ears and satisfy the taste of the people (1 Tim. 4:3, 4).

In the light of God’s Word, we must recognize that a strong ecumenical movement in Christendom will culminate in the final apostasy, following the rapture of the Church! (2 Thess. 2:1-3). The ultimate unity of all religions into one world system will come and accommodate the ideas of each constituent under the deception of the devil. Yet at the zenith of its ease and power it will meet its doom. The political federation will destroy the religious systems that have so long deceived the world, thus fulfilling God’s judgment (Rev.17:16, 17). In turn the political powers will be destroyed at the Lord’s appearing — Revelation 19:11-21. Do We Really Observe these things Coming or Are We Sleeping?

If these world-wide signs are fast developing toward their finality, my beloved fellow-believer, how near are we then to the blessed hope that Christ will come for His true ones? Are we morally and spiritually awake? Do we show by our character and conduct in life now, that we are waiting for our Lord from Heaven? Should we close our eyes to the evidences around us that were foretold in God’s Word, and not live as those who wait for HIM? God forbid! “Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when He cometh shall find watching!” (Luke 12:37). Then “let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord” (Luke 12:35, 36).