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trine of the Fathers, placing so much stress upon what we think they believed and taught, and yet upon this most important theme, cast aside what we know was their faith and testimony? Is it consistent? Dear reader, do let us here emphasize Paul's exhortation to the Thessalonians: "Brethren, stand fast and
Hold the Traditions
(teachings) which ye have been taught whether by word or by our epistle."39 That is, whether taught in writing, or orally, see Verse 5. Now, what were these traditions (teachings) if not the coming of Christ and the Reign of the Saints, of which Paul and the other Apostles wrote so freely? Being thus exhorted, it is reasonable to believe that they did hold them, and that they are the very traditions which Whitby and the other authorities clearly prove were held by the early Church. Then let us also hold,-not the comparatively modern post-millennial theory of Whitby, -but the aged faith of the Fathers.
The Apostles Were Not Mistaken.
We cannot believe (as some assert) that the Apostles were mistaken, and consequently not inspired upon this theme, nor that they and all the early Christians mocked themselves with false hopes in regard to the pre-millennial coming of Christ. They watched and waited for the return of our Lord, as a sure event, the hour of which none but the Father knew, but which had been enjoined upon them as uncertain40 and imminent.41 And as they passed away
(39) 2 Thes. 2:5. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
15. So then, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which ye were taught whether by word, or by epistle as of ours.
(40) Mat. 25:42. Watch therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
43. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known
in what watch the thief would
44. Therefore be ye also
(41) Luke 12:35. Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;
36. And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord,
to the unseen domain of Paradise, they have left us the written Word, their reiterated traditions (teachings handed down), and their great hope. So we take up their vigil, hopefully watching, not daring to say that He will come tomorrow, nor a thousand years hence, but only this are we sure of, He may come now.
God has held this glorious hope constantly before the Church, to keep her in her proper attitude of expectancy and longing, until the Bridegroom comes. Like Israel in the wilderness, we should realize that we are pilgrims and strangers, seeking a Land, a City, and a King, which are beyond our Jordan of death and resurrection.
Death and Resurrection is the common lot of the great mass of the Church. But, of course, there will be some living when Christ comes, 42 who will not die but be changed in a moment,43 43 and be caught up, like Elijah, with the raised saints to meet the Lord in the air. 1 Thes. 4:16-18.
It may be at morn, when the day is awaking,
It may be at midday, it may be at twilight,
While its hosts cry Hosanna, from heaven descending,
Oh, joy! Oh, delight! should we go without dying;
We here present the following diagram, merely as an outline of the order of events, in connection with our Lord's return. We exhort (1 Thes. 4:18, margin) a faithful study of it, together with the references and explanations appended, believing that, as an object lesson, it will be a great help to the reader to understand these mighty questions.
-The birth of Christ, the King of the Jews. Mat. 2:2. -The death and resurrection of Christ. A-Ascension of Christ. Acts 1:9. D-Descent of the Holy Ghost. Acts 2.
Church-Mystical body of Christ. Eph. 1:22-23; 3:3-6; Rom. 12:4-5; Col. 1:24-27; 1 Cor. 12:12-27; and the Bride of Christ, Eph. 5:21-23.
De-Descent of the Lord (1 Thes. 4:16) to receive His
Bride. John 14:3.
R-Resurrection of the just. Lu. 14:14; Acts 24:15; 1 Thes. 4:15-16; and change of living believers. 1 Cor. 15:23, 51, 52.
Rapture-Translation of the saints who (like Enoch) are
This is our gathering together unto Him. 2 Thes. 2:1.
So shall we ever be with the Lord. John 12:26; 14:3; 17:24; 1 Thes. 4:17.
It is the Hope of the Church. Phil. 3:20-21; Tit. 2:13; 1 John 3:2-3.
And the redemption mentioned in Lu. 21:28; Rom. 8:23; Eph. 4:30.
Wherefore, comfort one another with these words. 1
Thus the Church escapes the tribulation. Lu. 21:36; 2 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 3:10.
T.-Period of unequaled tribulation to the world (Dan. 12:1; Mat. 24:21; Lu. 21:25-26), during which-the Church having been taken out-God begins to deal with Israel again (Acts 15:13-17; Psa. 51:18; 102:16), and will restore them to their own land. Isa. 11:11; 60; Jer. 30:3; Jer. 31; 32:36-44; Amos 9:15; Zech. 8:10; Rom. 11.
Antichrist will be revealed. 2 Thes. 2:8.
The vials of God's wrath poured out. Psa. 2:1-5; Rev. 6:16-17; Rev. 14:10; 16. But men only blaspheme God. Rev. 16:11-21. Israel accepts Christ (Zech. 12:10-14; 13:6), and are brought through the fire. Zech. 13:9. They pass not away. Mat. 24:34; Psa. 22:30.