Coming World Crises --Part 4

Coming World Crises
Part 4

James Gunn

These are the notes of lectures given to the Men’s Bible Class which meets every two weeks during the winter at Central Gospel Hall, 25 Charles St. E., Toronto, Canada.

“Prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” As a light shining in a dark place, during these lectures, prophecy illuminated areas which to the human mind seem quite obscure.

The Future of the Ecumenical Movement.
The Return and the Judgment Seat of Christ.
The Future of the Nations.
Europe in Prophecy.
Who Is Anti-Christ?
Russia Invades Israel!
Will the Church Go Through the Tribulation?
The Millennial Reign of Christ.
Climax of the Ages.

The Judgment Seat of Christ

—continued from last number

The Return of Christ

Mention has been made of the beginning and the ending of the Day of Christ; the former takes place when Christ comes to the air; the latter, when He comes back again to the Mount of Olives. He is coming to the air as the Resurrection and the Life. As the Resurrection He will raise the blessed dead, and as the Life He will transform the members of the Church then living.

From this knowledge it will be seen that Christ’s return to earth is in the two stages already mentioned; first, He comes to the air; second, He continues His descent to earth. In the first of these stages, He comes to meet the Church (1 Thess. 4:13-18); in the second, He comes to the earth with the Church. He comes to the air as the Bridegroom for His Bride, the Church, He continues to earth as King. He appears in the air as the Morning Star; He comes to earth as the Sun of Righteousness with healing in His wings. He comes to the air as the Lamb to be married; He appears in relation to matters on earth as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah in all His majesty.

That some time must elapse between these two stages is obvious. Events take place in both the air and on earth between them. Let us consider the one event in the Day of Christ that is very prominent in the Pauline epistles; namely, the Judgment Seat of Christ. Before doing so there are two or three important matters related to the return of the Lord Jesus which we ought to examine, albeit rather briefly, because they are pertinent to coming world crises.

The Imminence of Christ’s Return

It is frequently asserted that there are no signs given to the Church relative to Christ’s return, and that consequently Christians should not be looking for signs. This statement is not so meaningful when we understand that His coming for the Church His Bride is but one stage of the complete act, and that the signs of Christ’s return involve the whole act. Furthermore, while there are signs for Israel, there are also many indications of the “latter times” given to all believers, a number of them in Paul’s Church epistles.

Let us consider some of the many indications that prove we are in the days just previous to the coming again of the Lord Jesus.

I. The prevalence of travel: Michael said to Daniel, “Thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end; many shall run to and fro and knowledge shall be increased” (Dan. 12:4).

The statement, “Many shall run to and fro,” may be taken to indicate that the restlessness of the end times will manifest itself in extensive, speedy, frequent travel. The jet airliner has made the world small. Intercontinental travel is a daily occurence now.

II. “Knowledge shall increase,” denotes that in the end times there shall be extensive acquisition of knowledge with a corresponding dissemination of learning. Never in all of his history has man possessed so much knowledge; science has opened up large areas heretofore unknown. The dissemination of knowledge today is unprecedented. It is quickly divulged by means heretofore unavailable to the general public. It is spread rapidly by the news media: the press, radio and television.

III. Perilous times: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come” (1 Tim. 3:1). The word “perilous” is certainly descriptive of our times. In spite of the efforts of the United Nations Organization, political animosity abounds.

Instead of the nations being brought closer together, the strong spirit of nationalism has fragmented even empires and powers of long standing. Social and domestic infidelity has ruined family and community life in many places. Segregationalism and anti-segregationalism have developed to such an extent that racial wars are thought by some to be very imminent. On good authority we are informed that the number of earthquakes has increased, as have also the fury of hurricanes. These have penetrated into parts heretofore considered safe. What signs of the times!

IV. Apostasy: The extent of this evil leaves no doubt as to our being in the end times. “Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day (the day of the Lord) shall not come except there come a falling away, (an apostasy) first” (2 Thess. 2:3).

Today there is a general defection from the truth of God. Theology questions the inspiration of the Bible, the virgin birth of Christ, a physical resurrection, and the efficacy of Christ’s atonement. The general defection from the facts of the Christian faith is exemplified in the developments of the many modern cults.

Philosophy disposes of God and elevates man, making him the master of himself and of his future. Biology replaces when possible, the Genesis record of the creation of man by a modified form of Darwinism.

The apostasy penetrates into every discipline on the college curriculum.

V. Spiritualism: This satanic delusion is a definite sign of the last times. “In the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Tim. 4:1). The affairs at spiritualistic seances are not all trickery and deception. There are demons which possess human personalities. The witch of Endore is a concrete example, not to mention the many demon possessed persons of whom we read in the four Gospels. There are mediums, wizards, who peep and mutter and speak to the living as from the dead (Isa. 8:19).

The practice of eastern occultism by some of the western cults is evidence that many are giving heed to the doctrines of the devils, and are seduced by evil spirits.

VI. The conflict between management and labour: James says of the wealthy, “Ye have heaped together treasure for (in) the last days” (Jas. 5:1-6), and this apparently at the expense of the poor. James pictures the conflict between affluence and poverty, between materialism and want, between employer and employee, in the last days.

This conflict was never so evident as it is today. The unrelenting struggle to socialize the nations continues. Plans are made, white papers are studied to purposely deprive the wealthy of their excessive riches in order to equalize all.

The Christian caught in this confusion is exhorted to be patient unto the coming of the Lord.

VI. Israel: Israel has been called God’s sun-dial; through her He indicates to man His times and seasons in the schedule of His prophetic plan.

At the first Church council in Jerusalem, James said, “Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins there, and I will set it up” (Acts 15:14-16). What a statement! God has purposefully designed the ages. He has predetermined in this age to gather out from among the Gentiles principally a people. When this has been accomplished, He will restore the Hebrew nation under a descendant of David. To this the prophets agree. “I will bring again the captivity of My people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; .. and I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God” (Amos 9:14-15).

The restoration of Israel to nationhood is an indication of the closing of the Church age.

The manner of Christ’s return: He will return in person (John 14:3, Acts 1:11, 1 Thess. 4:16). Inasmuch as we shall consider later other details of the Lord’s second advent, we shall now focus our attention upon one of the events in the day of Christ, an event given much prominence in the writings of the Apostle Paul.

Christ’s Judgment Seat

There are four judgments which have to do with God’s prophetic program: The judgment of sin at the cross (Rom. 8:3), the Judgment of the Living Nations just before the Millennium (Matt. 25:31-46), and the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-15).

Judgment is God’s strange work, nevertheless, His righteous character requires it; righteousness demands equity, holiness and purity.

In the study of the doctrine covering the Judgment Seat of Christ, it is not adverse to holiness to ask when, where, why and how this judgment will be.

The time: Since it is to take place in the Day of Christ, for such are the implications in a number of Scriptures (2 Cor. 1:14, Phil. 1:6; 2:16), it must take place after the rapture and before, one would assume, the marriage of the Lamb.

The Greek word parousia that is used in regard to the coming of Christ means the presence of Christ. It does not intimate an event only, but the condition resulting from that event. Christ’s return for His Church will be an event that will place her in His presence, His parousia.

The Judge: The Lord Himself will be the judge. “To this end Christ both died and rose and revived that He might be Lord both of the dead and the living” (Rom. 14:9). His lordship, therefore, His judgeship, over men does not end with death (Rom. 7:1); His lordship over His own is not limited to this life only.

Attention has been called to the difference between the marginal reading of Romans 14:10 and 2 Corinthians 5:10. In the first we read of the Judgment Seat of God; in the second, the Judgment Seat of Christ. It is of God in its character; it is of Christ because God has committed all judgment into the hands of His Son (John 5:22).

The judged: This is the judgment of Christians. Each believer must appear before the Judgment Seat (Rom. 14:10). Each one must give account of himself (Rom. 14:12). “We must all be manifested before the Judgment Seat of Christ” (1 Cor. 5:10, J.N.D.).

It should ever be remembered that before the saints appear at the Judgment Seat of Christ, they will have been made perfect, completely transformed at the rapture of the Church (Phil. 3:20-21).

The place: That there will be an appraisal of the life of each Christian is clear. This appraisal will be made before the Judgment Seat or the Bema of Christ. The Greek word Bema used in this connection is a raised platform, a tribune, for an officiating judge (Acts 18:12-17), or for an army commander when instructing or addressing his troops. It was used at the Grecian games for the president or umpire when he was awarding the contestants. It seems that this Judgment Seat of Christ will be set up in the air.

The Reasons. Several considerations require attention at this point, first, the Judgment Seat of Christ is not a place of penalty (Rom. 8:1-3). There is no judgment for them who are in Christ Jesus. God judged sin in the abstract when He laid sin upon His sinless Son. The full penalty of sin has been endured for all who are in Christ Jesus.

Second, it is not a place of imperfection. Since at the rapture and the resurrection the saints are immortal and incorruptible (1 Cor. 15:52-53), it is obvious that before the Judgment Seat all will be perfect. Perfection will enable all to be in complete accord with the Lord’s appraisal of their lives.

Third, it will be a place of manifestation. The verb to appear in 2 Corinthians 5:10 might better be rendered to be made manifest. There will be a manifestation of the good (praiseworthy) and bad (worthless). The Greek word for bad does not mean that which is evil, but that which is of no worth, that which is unacceptable.