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and apostles,36 were believers in the second advent of Christ? And because some, by setting dates, and other errors, have brought disrepute upon this doctrine, shall we cast it aside altogether?
But it may be you say (as we have been pained to hear from so many even earnest Christians):
"Well; I Don't Think It Concerns Me Much, Anyway;
I've always thought that in most cases it meant death, and if I'm prepared for death, that's enough; and there is too much speculation about it to suit me; and I don't believe it's a practical doctrine; and, more than that, I think it's a mistake to pay so much attention to it."
Yes, even thus do many Christians,—who profess to be members of the body of Christ,37 and who have been espoused unto one husband, that they may be presented to H im3S—summarily dispose of this precious truth, that Jesus is coming, to take unto Himself His bride.39
O, beloved, do not thus deprive yourself of this comforting truth. Please take your pencil and mark in your Bible the passages that pertain to it; and see
there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
5. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzzlah king of Judah: and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.
(36) Acts 15:15. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
16. After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:
17. That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and
all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.
(37) 1 Cor. 12:27. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
(38) 2 Cor. 11:2. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
(39) John 14:3. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
Eph. 5 :23. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the Saviour of the body.
32. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
How Large a Portion of the Word Is Devoted to It.
If the Holy Ghost has deemed it so important, is it not worthy of our attention 1 The Word exhorts us 40 to give attention to it;*1 and the danger of condemnation is to them who do not.42
Again, please to examine the passages cited under the heading, "A Practical Doctrine," on page 180 and see how Jesus and the apostles used this doctrine to incite us to watchfulness, repentance, patience, ministerial faithfulness, brotherly love, etc., and then decide whether anything could be more practical.
Surely no doctrine, in the Word of God, presents a deeper motive for crucifying the flesh, and for separation unto
(10) 1 Thes. 4:18. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
1 Cor. 1:7. So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:
(41) Rev. 1:3. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
(42) Luke 12:45. But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to-beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken;
46. The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.
Luke 21:34. And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.
35. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.
36. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
1 Thes. 5 :1. But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
2. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
3. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
4. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
5. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
6. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
7. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.
God, and to work for souls, as our hope and joy and crown of rejoicing43 than this does.
For the whole teaching of it is, that our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven; from whence, also, we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body.44 It awakens groaning for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.45
It gives us a view of the world, as a wrecked vessel,46 and stimulates us to work with all our might that we may save some.47 Most, if not all, of the evangelists of our day are animated by this doctrine, and surely their work is practical.
(43) 1 Thes. 2:19. For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?
Dan. 12:3. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
(44) Phil. 3:20. For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
21. Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
(45) Rom. 8:23. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
Luke 21:28. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
(46) Matt. 7:13: Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
14. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
1 Thes. 5:3. For when they
shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh 'upon them, as' travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
2 Pet. 2 :3. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words made. merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
4. For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
5. And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;
6. And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;
7. And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:
8. (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds :)
9. The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:
2 Pet. 5 :5. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by
Again, Peter says, "We have a more sure word of prophecy*, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed (as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise) in your hearts" ;48t and he exhorts us to be mindful of these words.49 Therefore we are not speculating when we prayerfully study prophecy.
*Gr. We have the prophetic word more confirmed. See Tregelles' punctuation.
the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
6. Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
7. But the heavens and the eartn, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
8. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
9. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
10. 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.
11. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
12. Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
(47) 1 Cor. 9:22. To the weak became I weak; that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
(48) 2 Pet. 1:19. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the daystar arise in your hearts:
(49) 2 Pet. 3:1. This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:
2. That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior.
Perhaps you ask, "Are not these prophecies to be interpreted 'spiritually'? And does not this 'coming' mean our acceptance of Him at conversion, and the witness of the spirit? Or does it not mean His reign over the Church?" etc.
No! Not at all. Think a moment. Do you condemn the Jews for rejecting Christ, when He came in such literal fulfillment of prophecy, and yet reject the same literalness about his second coming? This is not consistent, and while we believe Luke 1:31, to be literally true, let us believe likewise in regard to verses 32 and 33.
"31. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name Jesus.
"32. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His Father, David.
"33. And He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end."
The inconsistency of accepting literally verse 31, and 'spiritualizing' 32 and 33, is clearly illustrated by the following account of a conversation between a Christian minister and a Jew:
"Taking a New Testament and opening it at Luke 1:32, the Jew asked: 'Do you believe that what is here written shall be literally accomplished,—The Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His Father, David; and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever?' 'I do not,' answered the clergyman, 'but rather take it to be figurative language, descriptive of Christ's spiritual reign over the Church.'
"'Then,' replied the Jew, 'neither do I believe literally the