Manner of Christ’s Coming

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“Manner of Christ’s Coming”

The Signs of the Times 10, 27. 1884

E. J. Waggoner

Last week we gave two texts (John 14:1-3; Heb. 9:27-28) which contain a direct promise of Christ’s second coming.

If the subject were mentioned nowhere else in the Bible, these two texts would be sufficient.

They are unequivocal statements of a fact, and the promises of God are not yea and nay. From those texts, we concluded that the second coming of Christ must be as real and literal as His first.

We shall now produce positive testimony to that effect. We would first, however, remind the reader that every text that speaks of the manner or object of Christ’s coming is additional proof of the fact that he will come again. In His first letter to the Thessalonians, the apostle Paul warns the brethren against indulging in hopeless sorrow for their dead friends, as though they were lost.

He assures them, “by the word of the Lord,” that those who live until the Lord comes will have no precedence over those who fall asleep in Jesus. We will not be with Christ any sooner than they are. And then he proceeds to tell how this can be.

Christ's Coming“For 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 Thess. 4:16-17.

We shall have occasion to use this text again, and we pass it for the present.

Turning to the first chapter of Acts, we read the account of Christ’s ascension.

In his gospel, Luke had previously written,

“And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.” Luke 24:50-51.

In Luke’s second narrative, we have this  account:

“And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”  Acts 1:9-11.

There is no mistaking these words. Christ was there in person. In bodily form, while in the act of blessing His disciples, He ascended to heaven. And the angels declared that “the same Jesus”“the Lord himself,” 1 Thess. 4:16-should come in exactly the same manner as had left the earth.

Now, as showing the perfect harmony of the Bible narrative, we quote right here the words of John:

“Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” Rev. 1:7.

The one who claims that the coming of Christ is death, or conversion, or anything else than a literal return to earth, squarely contradicts these plain texts. Our Saviour foresaw that before His return many would be engaged in this very work. In order to draw the attention of man away from the real advent of Christ, as  described in the Bible, Satan, and his angels will transform themselves, not merely into angels of light, but into the appearance of Christ himself, and will “show great signs and wonders; insomuch that if it were possible, they  shall deceive the very elect.” Matt. 24:24.

They will claim that Christ is already come, and will work miracles to support the claim.

How, then, can we be sure that they are not the Christ; here is the sure guide:

“Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth; behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Matt. 24:26-27.

The reason why it will be impossible to deceive the elect is because they will remember and implicitly believe the plain declarations of the Bible. These texts prove not only that the coming of the Lord is a literal event, but that it is yet future.

Do you still say that it took place on the day of Pentecost?

We answer that Paul’s words in Heb. 9:28 were written many years after that time. None of the apostles had written a line at that time, and, since the resurrection of Christ, had engaged in no public work whatever. Is it claimed that the destruction of Jerusalem answers to the coming of the Lord, we remind you that the  book of Revelation was written more than a score of years after Jerusalem was conquered by Titus; and in that book, besides the description already quoted (Rev. 1:7), almost the closing words are these: “And, behold, I  come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” Rev. 22:12. “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly.” Verse 20.

These forbid the application of the promise to any event before the close of the first century. 

Again, no event has ever yet occurred comparable to the coming of the Lord as described in the Bible. Peter, in answer to those who, professing to be able to see no signs of such an event, derisively asked, “Where is the promise of his coming?” says:

“But 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.” 2 Pet. 3:10.

The psalmist says:

“Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence; a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a  covenant with me by sacrifice.” Ps. 50:3-5.

The heavens have not departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; not yet as the glorious appearing of the Son of man in those opening heavens dazzled every eye as does the vivid lightning flash.

Not yet have

“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 free man, 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 sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.” Rev. 6:15, 16.

The time is still future when the voice of the Archangel and the trump of God shall call the dead in Christ from their graves, and when the living righteous, with glad accord, shall unite in the exclamation: “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.” Isa. 25:9.

That day will not pass and leave saints and sinners alike unconscious of its arrival.

The Lord comes, not as an intercessor, but as a king, “without sin.”

There is thenceforward no more mercy for sinners-they receive according to their deeds; no more trials for saints-he appears to them unto salvation. This being so, it is manifestly fool-hardy in anyone to say, “We shall know more about it when it comes than we do now.” Yes, we will; but those who put off their knowledge of it until it comes, will learn to their sorrow. While the signs that show that coming near are fulfilling all around us, let us search the Scriptures that we may be children of the light, and, having our lamps trimmed and burning, be able to hail our Lord with joy when he returns. E. J. W.

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