TEXT: “Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:1-3.)
In the midst of a troubled and distressed world, here is a message of hope and good cheer: “I will come again,” says Jesus. An overshadowing fear is gripping all nations today. Civilization’s future is dark indeed. Night seems to be settling down upon a world that has been in rebellion against the Lord God of heaven. Men’s hearts are “failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.” (Luke 21:26.) But amid the darkness that enshrouds us is the blessed hope that gleams from the “gates ajar,” the hope of Christ’s Second Coming. In that hope there is light and peace for every troubled soul. The remedy for sin that God has provided will not leave man to struggle on forever amid the shadows of death. The Christ who died for man will come again and will save His people from everlasting death, and give them a new home, even Eden restored.
1. Will Christ Return?
Jesus promised His disciples-and through them the church-that He would return. His work of redemption for the human race cannot be complete until He returns to restore to man all that he lost through Adam’s transgression. “I will come again” has sounded down through the ages, giving man the one star of hope, shining brightly during a long night of sorrow and woe. As the time approaches for His return to earth, the night is getting darker, but that star of hope is shining brighter and brighter for the children of the King. His Second Coming is the one and only remedy for a sin-sick and war-torn world. That glorious event will bring the day of triumph to the church.
Recently it was our privilege to stand on the summit of the Mount of Olives. From its slopes the Blessed One returned to His heavenly Father’s throne. Our thoughts went back to that day. As the eleven disciples looked with amazement and sorrow at their departing Lord, “two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, You men of Galilee, why stand you gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven.”
(Acts 1:10, ll.)
This assurance made by the angel messengers still rings true. As surely as He went away, so surely will He return. As men saw Him go away, so will mankind see Him return someday. Not only a few on Mt. Olivet will see Him come, but “every eye shall see Him.” (Revelation 1:7.) Paul, in writing to Titus, speaks of Christ’s coming back to earth as “that blessed hope.” He says, “Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:12, 13.)
All the Bible promises that bear on the future blessedness of a redeemed church are made on condition that Jesus will come again to this earth. “Father, I will that they also, whom Thou has given Me, be with Me where I am,” can be answered only in the coming of Jesus the second time. As all history led up to the cross, and as it flows out from the time of His crucifixion, even so all history will end, so far as this “present evil world” is concerned, when He comes.
2. How He Will Come
It is good to know that when He comes, the dead shall hear His voice, and shall come forth from their dusty graves, and shall live. (John 5:28.) Paul speaks of the glory of His coming in these words: “The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17.) He will come as He went away-with a cloud of angels surrounding Him. A cloud of glory closed about His ascending form, and a cloud of glory will bear Him back to earth again, even as the two angels promised the eleven lonely disciples on Mt. Olivet that day so long ago. John the revelator agrees with this.
He says: “Behold, He comes with clouds; and every eye shall see Him. . . . and all kingdoms of the earth shall wail because of Him.” (Revelation 1:7.)
His Second Coming, then, will not be secret, unheralded, or unseen by the masses of humanity. No event of the past can be compared to that glorious day of His return. Christ illustrated that event by the bright flash of the piercing lightning: “As the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matthew 24:27.) As clear as these statements are relative to the nature of His Second Coming, yet many, very many, continue to look for Him to come in spirit form, in a secret place, in a spiritual way, or in a certain locality. His command to “watch. . . . lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping,” to “give them meat in due season,” to “be you also ready: for in such an hour as you think not the Son of man comes,” should cause every Christian man and woman to think deeply upon this subject at this time. The enemy of all righteousness is ever ready to lead the church and the world astray upon divine truth.
Through all ages he has sought to blind men’s minds by taking some truth and mixing it with much error. The Jewish nation was in an expectant mood, waiting for the coming Messiah, when Jesus Christ appeared. But Satan had so perverted the truth as to the manner of His coming as to make truth into a lie, and destroy the whole nation. A similar deception is now captivating the Christian world. That we are nearing the Second Advent of Christ, most Christian people will admit. Nearly all prophecies that point to that event have been fulfilled, or may now be in the process of fulfilment.
But again the people are being led astray regarding the nature and manner of His coming. A veritable wave of false teaching is sweeping the church in these last days, declaring that Christ will come in “rapture” when the prepared ones will be caught away from home and friends and taken to glory. Others are teaching that He will come silently, in spirit form; others, that He will come in some locality as a spirit being to heal the sick and raise the dead, but will leave the world to go on in its present state for ages thereafter. These views are entirely at variance with the Scriptures and with Christ’s own statements relative to His return to earth.
The Bible declares that He will come personally, visibly, with power and great glory, “and every eye shall see Him.” Why, then, you may ask, all this confused teaching about the manner of His coming? We find the answer in the warning that Christ gave, which is to be applied to the very days of His return to earth. He said: “If any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, 1 have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, He is in the desert; go not forth: behold, He is in the secret chamber; believe it not. For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matthew 24:23-27.) No statement could be clearer than this relative to that great event.
3. Why He Will Come
Jesus will not come to a converted world or to convert the world. At His first advent He came to bring life and “immortality to light through the gospel.” He came to “save His people from their sins.” He came as “the light of the world.” The passing ages since that day have seen the steady advance of His saving message of grace until today all tribes, languages, and nations of earth know something of the crucified and risen Christ. His prophecy, given amid the gathering shadows of Golgotha, have met a wonderful fulfilment. “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matthew 24:14.) His Second Advent will have an entirely different purpose. He will come as “King of kings, and Lord of lords.” (Revelation 19:16.) “And out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations: and He shall rule them with a rod of iron: and He treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of almighty God.” (Revelation 19:18.)
He is now, and has been since His return to His Father’s glory, a High Priest, applying His own blood for the sins of every repentant sinner. (Hebrews 8:1-6.) In that day just before us He will appear not only as King, but as the Judge of a world that has rejected His offers of mercy. Of that time He said, “When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: and before Him shall be gathered all nations. And He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats: and He shall set the sheep on Hie right hand, but the goats on the left.” (Matthew 25:31-33.) He will come to reap the harvest. “The harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.
As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:39-42.) This picture of His Second Coming is not pleasing to the carnal, sinful heart. It holds out no hope for the unrepentant sinner at that day; but it does hold much hope for the one who today will put away sin, and watch and wait for the glorious return of Christ. His coming will put an end to death and will usher in a day of everlasting life. The dead will be raised to life again-all who “sleep in Jesus”-when “the’ Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16.) The living saints will then be “caught up” and translated, thenceforth to be with the Lord. Such is the Bible teaching regarding the Second Advent of Christ.
4. How the Nations Will Be Affected
The truth is evident throughout the Scriptures that the nations of this world, which are essentially founded upon force, must ultimately give way to another conception of government-government founded upon truth, equity, and love. The Second Advent of Christ will be the most tragic and awful, and yet the most glorious, event ever to take place on this earth. The prophets of the Old Testament have described that hour as world shaking. (Jeremiah 4:23-27; Isaiah 24:1-17.) With these agree every Old Testament prophet who wrote of that event. Christ Himself, in speaking of that hour, used the most striking language, and summed it up in these words: “There shall he weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 22:13.)
The apostle Peter writes: “The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing, then, that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in all holy conversation and godliness?” (2 Peter 3:10, ll.) However, it was left to John the revelator to sum up the writings of all the prophets, and to give the most graphic and most startling statement regarding that hour when Christ shall come to judge the world: “The heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every freeman, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains. And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Revelation 6:14-17.) The wording of the sixteenth chapter of Revelation, along with the eighteenth and nineteenth chapters, leaves no room to question the fact that when Christ returns to the earth, the physical earth will be mightily affected. Civilization as we now know it will be entirely overthrown. We can do no better than to quote a writer who has given a pen picture of that hour when probation closes and Christ comes, the like of which has never previously been written. It is under such conditions that God “manifests His power for the deliverance of His people. . . .
Signs and wonders follow in quick succession. The wicked look with terror and amazement upon the scene, while the righteous behold with solemn joy the tokens of their deliverance. Everything in nature seems turned out of its course. The streams cease to flow. Dark, heavy clouds come up, and clash against each other. In the midst of the angry heavens is one clear space of indescribable glory, whence comes the voice of God like the sound of many waters, saying, ‘It is done.’ “That voice shakes the heavens and the earth. There is a mighty earthquake, ‘such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.’ The firmament appears to open and shut. The glory from the throne of God seems flashing through. The mountains shake like a reed in the wind, and ragged rocks are scattered on every side. There is a roar as of a coming tempest. The sea is lashed into fury. There is heard the shriek of the hurricane, like the voice of demons upon a mission of destruction.
The whole earth heaves and swells like the waves of the sea. Its surface is breaking up. Its very foundations seem to be giving way. Mountain chains are sinking. Inhabited islands disappear. The seaports that have become like Sodom for wickedness, are swallowed up by the angry waters. Babylon the Great has come in remembrance before God, ‘to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath.’ Great hailstones, every one ‘about the weight of a talent,’ are doing their work of destruction. The proudest cities of the earth are laid low. The lordly palaces, upon which the world’s great men have lavished their wealth in order to glorify themselves, are crumbling to ruin before their eyes.” [“The Great Controversy,” Pages 636. 637.]
The destruction of the present world, as here described, will prepare the way for the setting up of Christ’s kingdom. Daniel’s remarkable prophecy gives the same thought. The great image of the second chapter represented the nations of earth from Babylon to the last remaining nations of Europe. When these last have failed, “the God of heaven [shall] set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in. pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” (Daniel 2:44.)
5. Are You Ready to Meet Him?
There will be a people ready to meet Him, and of them the prophet declares: “It shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” (Isaiah 25:9.) This company will be without sin. They have been waiting and watching and praying for that glorious day when Christ will return in person. They have not been swept away with every false wind of doctrine. To them the Scriptures have borne a definite message, causing them to prepare for the overthrow of sin and the setting up of Christ’s kingdom of glory. In a revival meeting that was being held in a Southern city, after a number of calls had been made for people to surrender to Christ, an elderly minister rose and asked the privilege of telling a story.
In substance this is what he told: When he was a boy he lived on a sandy, wind-swept shore of the north Atlantic. One morning he rose early and saw that in the night a gallant sailing ship had missed its course and had run aground on the sandy shore, with all sails unfurled. He thought that when the high tide came in that night, the old ship would rise with the tide and sail on. The tide came, the ship rose, and the sails swelled with the breeze The watchers cried out, Sail on, old ship, sail on.” But to the dismay of all, the gallant ship failed to move, and when the tide went out, the ship sank still deeper into the sand Then he thought that with the next tide which would be a higher one, surely the old ship would free itself and sail to safety.
The high tide came, the ship slowly rose again, the sails swelled again with the wind, but something under that ship, like fingers of death, clutched at the stranded hull, and the tide went out, leaving the ship to settle still deeper into the sand. That night a mighty storm swept in from the sea; and when another tide came in, the gallant old ship was wrecked and strewn along the shore. So it is with many a soul. The call comes to surrender to Christ. The heart is touched by the Spirit of God. Right now the tide of God’s grace bears you up and seeks to start you sailing toward your Father’s haven of rest. Do you hear that call? Will you sail on tonight, or will you be held by the sinking sands of earth? Will you risk eternal life by waiting for another high tide of grace to call you? Jesus invites you to come just now, as you are, “without one plea.” Will you come?