of Gospel Tracts
1. He Comes Again!
Do you doubt it? Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has certainly been here once. Why should it seem to you a thing incredible that He should return?
About A.D. 30 He made His exit from this world by way of a malefactor’s cross, erected at Golgotha, just outside Jerusalem. Rejected by the world, stripped and dishonoured, He died. Is it likely that the violence then done to Him is never to be reversed? Is He to lie for ever under the shadow of apparent defeat? Is there no more to be expected?
A sober review of the situation in view of His greatness and glory leads us to expect that a day must come when He will assert Himself and make His power felt in the earth. But we are not left to an expectation based upon what is reasonable, since quite plainly before His departure He predicted His second advent. To his disciples He said, “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 to Myself” (John 14:2-3).
Again, directly He had left the earth and ascended to heaven, the message came to His disciples through angels, “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 1:11).
Nothing could be plainer or more definite than these two statements. The second has about it a fullness which reminds us of a legal document, which has its meaning hedged about with words, so as to eliminate all possible misconception.
“This same Jesus,” and not another; for indeed no substitute is possible.
The One who is to come is the very Jesus who “is taken up from you into heaven.” The disciples had just seen Him go. This makes the identification doubly sure.
He shall “come,” and moreover, He shall so come in like manner,” as He went.
How did He go? Was it an imaginary proceeding, or even something of a spiritual or mystical nature? No, it was not. Just before He left He had demonstrated to His disciples that He was not risen from the dead as a Spirit Being only, but that He was in a body of flesh and bones, and He even did eat before them. He went actually and bodily. Then He will come again actually and bodily. He went personally and visibly; then personally and visibly He will come again. This is what the Divine message, conveyed through angels, explicitly declared. Do you believe it? If not, why not?
Is it because such a visible and personal return of Christ would upset all your plans and disturb your life down to its deepest foundations? Is it because you are quite unprepared to meet Him, never having given Him any place in your life, never having believed in His name? Then your disbelief in the prediction of the Second Advent must be just a case of wishful thinking. You think it cannot be true because, if true, its consequences to you would be serious, and even disastrous.
But wishful thinking is always a foolish proceeding, and never more foolish than when indulged in as to matters of eternal import. Better, far better, face the fact that He is coming. And in addition, face the very strong probability that He is coming very soon.
Moreover it is your wisdom to do this, since now there is life and salvation through His name, offered to you in the Gospel. At His first coming He took up the tremendous question of human sin and guilt. He died not merely as a Martyr or Example, but as the great and never-to-be-repeated Sacrifice for sin. Then it was that, “He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Heb. 9:26).
This great atoning work of His was crowned by His triumphant resurrection from the dead, which attested the efficacy of His sacrifice for sin.
So surely as He did this “shall He appear the second time without sin [or, apart from sin] to salvation” (Heb. 9:28). For those who trust Him, His second coming will bring not judgment but salvation in its full and final sense.
For those who refuse or neglect Him, it will precipitate a disaster of utmost solemnity, for He will be “taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1:8).
If you have never yet put your faith in Him, do so now. Then, instead of being sceptical or fearful as to His coming again, you will anticipate it with joy.
2. Someone is Coming, But Who?
It is fairly obvious by now that the world itself, and every nation in it, badly needs the advent of someone with ability and authority to put things right. Diplomacy and politics are a hopelessly tangled skein. The passions of men, whether individually or in communities, are running like a river in flood. A strong directing hand is an urgent necessity.
You may not be an observant person; your mind may be so absorbed with your own little concerns that you are hardly aware of what is transpiring many yards beyond your own doorstep. Still this matter concerns you. If you are asleep to the urgent needs of the world in this hour, the devil is not, and he will see to it that a man shall be found with apparent fitness for this great task; only, like everything that Satan does, he will be a colossal fraud.
Cast your mind back over the past. Recall all the great names of history as far as you know them. Of all these great ones, to whom would you most confidently commit your destiny and the destiny of the world? Would you say Napoleon, or Mohammed, or Julius Caesar, or Nebuchadnezzar? We think not. These were tyrants all. We should be pretty well unanimous in saying that all our concerns could rest in no better hands than those of Jesus of Nazareth, if only He should reappear.
Now this is exactly the good news we bring you. He is most certainly coming again.
Towards the time of His first coming men’s minds were in expectancy, and taking advantage of this the devil endeavoured to discount His appearance by raising up false Christs. To these He referred when He said, “All that ever came before Me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep [i.e. those who were truly His disciples] did not hear them” (John 10: 8).
It is evident that similar tactics are again being employed by the powers of darkness. On all hands it is being felt increasingly that unless some great one does appear who can successfully tackle the giant problems which are being created, the world will soon be hardly worth living in.
Various false religious cults all agree in promising the advent of such a great one, for whom in these later years the term “super-man” has been coined. Satan will take care to raise up in his time the man who will make a show of fulfilling the expectations he has fostered.
Of this one—the antichrist to be—the Saviour Himself spoke when He predicted as follows: “I am come in My Father’s name, and ye receive Me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive” (John 5:43).
It is not difficult to see why he will meet with such general acceptance. With great natural powers and attractiveness, he will unite Satanic allurements. There will be every kind of natural beauty which appeals to men’s senses and passions, why they should desire him. He will be, in short, the exact opposite to the gracious Saviour of whom it was said, in view of His first coming, “He has no form nor comeliness [or, lordliness], and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected of men” (Isa. 53:2-3).
Our message, however, is that this rejected One will not remain rejected and despised for ever. He is coming, and coming quickly, in glory and power. “Behold He comes 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” (Rev. 1:7).
This glorious sequel to His first coming is proclaimed in the Bible in the clearest and most constant fashion. It is necessary to the vindication of God’s plans. It is unthinkable that the lonely cross on the little hill outside Jerusalem should be the last word of His story. No! He who died for our sins as Son of Man must be revealed in majesty as Son of God. Then will the solution of all earth’s sorrows and warrings be at hand.
But this hope raises at once a pointed and personal question. How do I stand in regard to the Christ who is coming? How do you? He will put all things to the test. Who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appears? for He is like a refiner’s fire and like fuller’s soap (Mal. 3:2). His appearing will also mean the instant overthrow of Satan’s nominee Antichrist. That lawless one shall be destroyed “with the brightness of His coming” (2 Thess. 2:8).
We do not so much urge upon you the question of how you will stand in relation to Christ then, as how you stand in relation to Him now. The former might only lead you to speculation or the making of resolutions to be attempted by-and-by. The latter can be decided at once. You need but an honest and sincere conscience to settle in an instant whether you are for Christ or His foe; and if the verdict of your conscience is that you are wrong, you may get put right without a moment’s delay.
Faith in Christ now, means glory with Christ then.
The believer looks forward with joy and not fear. He knows who is coming, and that before the moment of His public display in the clouds of glory He will come into the air to receive His saints to Himself according to His own promise in John 14:3, and as described by the Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17.
If you believe in His name, you too may cherish this blessed hope for yourself, and rejoice also in the expectation of being with Him in His bright appearing. You are His and on His side. When the world talks boastingly of the great ones to come, you will say with faith and a burning hope, “Yes, Someone is coming, and who that Someone is I know—my Lord, my Saviour, and my God!”
This is a day of programmes. Every party, every federation, every government has one, and each is very wonderful according to its authors and supporters.
It may never have occurred to you that God has a programme. All history, whether Biblical or secular, may seem to you like a meaningless tangle, and so indeed it is if the silver line of God’s purpose, running through it all, be not perceived. Most people fix their eyes on the noisy surface waves of human strife and overlook the great tide beneath the waves. That tide is created by the flowing current of God’s will and purpose, and it is true that—
“The waves may break in failure
But the tide is sure to win;”
God has a programme. Its foundation lies in the great redemption work accomplished by His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, when at the consummation of the age of man’s testing He appeared, a Man amongst us men, to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself (Heb. 9:26). Its climax will be reached when that same Jesus appears in glory to assert God’s rights, and establish His kingdom
At the present moment God’s programme involves the taking out of the Gentile nations “a people for His name” (Acts 15: 14), but that work concluded, and the Church of God, which is composed of all those so taken out by conversion and the reception of the Spirit of God, thus completed, the present gospel age will terminate. God’s house will be filled
What will signalize that great moment? In other words, what is the next event on God’s programme? We have no hesitation in replying. The translation of the church, according to 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; when “the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout 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.”
Read those words again, slowly and with care. A great event like that may happen in your lifetime. We do not say that it will, but it may.
Do not denounce that Scripture as an impossible and incredible prediction. Quite impossible, quite incredible, of course, if the first advent, the incarnation, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus from the dead, were impossible and incredible things. If, however, you accept those, then there is nothing unbelievable about this.
Further, do not overlook the fact that translation has already happened twice. First before the flood when Enoch was God’s witness and prophesied of the appearing of the Lord in judgment. He witnessed to judgment, as recorded in Jude 14, 15, but he never saw it—not even the first drops of the coming flood. He was safely housed in heaven before it came, being translated by faith “that he should not see death” (Heb. 11:5).
Again it happened when, the northern Israelitish kingdom having gone utterly to the bad, Elijah the Tishbite was raised up. He witnessed to judgment also and was even commissioned of God to anoint Jehu the king who should execute judgment on Ahab’s house, and Hazael, king of Syria, who should execute judgment on the guilty people. Yet he himself saw not one stroke of that judgment. He was translated to heaven previously, without dying, in a chariot of fire (2 Ki. 2).
Exactly thus will it be on a third occasion. Only this time not one saint alone, but the myriads of the redeemed will be in question. It will be the great migration and not like an early swallow or two, lonely pioneers in advance.
Sound out the glorious tidings—Jesus is coming again! He comes as the glorified Lord to reign, but first He comes into the air to call His own. Mark the order revealed in those verses in 1 Thessalonians 4, coupled with the corresponding passage 1 Corinthians 15:42-54.
First, the raising of the dead, or sleeping saints, in glorified bodies.
Second, the changing of the living saints into an equally glorified condition in the twinkling of an eye.
Third, the catching up, or rapture of all together into the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and once with Him, to be with Him for ever.
This is the moment of the first resurrection—that resurrection out from among the dead for which Paul looked (Phil. 3:11). The wicked dead will sleep on in their graves for at least a thousand years. The unsaved, who are living upon earth at that moment, will be left behind for the outpouring of the pent-up wrath of God upon the earth, then ripe for judgment.
Oh, the bliss of the glorious moment when Jesus comes for His own! What a consummation! What a prospect both for our adorable Lord and for us! No wonder His word is “Watch”!
A glorious prospect indeed: but only for the believer. If you are unsaved you have no part nor lot in this bright expectation. It is all light for us; it is all darkness and gloom for you. It will be the drawing of the line; the final closing of the door of mercy behind your back. Then shall be brought to pass that saying, “And the door was SHUT.” Why risk that? Why not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ now?
When He will come we do not know though all points to this grand consummation being very near. That He will come, we do know, for we have His word for it. “I will come again and receive you to Myself” (John 14:3), and His word never fails. Perhaps it will be to-day, and then in the twinkling of an eye—
Out of the partings, there to part no more,
Into the glory of the golden shore;
Out of the conflict to where conflicts cease,
Into His presence, which is rest and peace,
Even so, Amen.