W. Bramwell Dick.
It is interesting to notice that among the last words spoken by the Lord Jesus as He entered upon the dark night of His betrayal was the promise of His coming, and that His very last message, ere the volume of inspiration was closed, was the renewal of this promise. It is also noteworthy that while the promise seemed to have been forgotten, or treated with neglect by His people, it was in what appears to be the beginning of the last period in the history of the Church as a responsible witness for Christ upon earth, that the precious truth was revived. We invite our readers to consider with us:-
1. The Promise.
2. Its Significance.
3. Its Practical Application.
(1) The Promise. It was in the upper room, on that darkest of all nights, surrounded by eleven sorrowing disciples, that the Lord Jesus told them that He would come again. Let us note three things in His announcement. (a) Who will come. When Israel will be regathered He will send His Angels to do that (Matt. 24:31). But when His Saints are to be gathered home, He will come Himself! "I will come again." (b) "I will come." That word could be used only by a divine Person. He who uttered the seven "I wills" recorded in Exodus 6 is the One who, having become Man, spoke the "I will" to His disciples that night. (c) "And receive you unto Myself that where I am there ye may be also" (John 14:3). He will take us home to be with Himself. It is the Person, not the place that constitutes home. It will be:-
"The Father's house, the Father's heart
All that the Son is given
Made ours the objects of His love
And He our joy in Heaven."
That will make His dwelling place home to us. His presence, the Father's love radiating the whole scene, that will be our portion throughout eternal ages. But He waited till the whole divine plan had been unfolded, the blessings that are ours in Christ; the truth of the Assembly; the restoration of His ancient people; the heading up of all things in Himself; the ultimate and complete triumph of God; before He sought to stir the bridal affections of His Saints by presenting Himself as "the Bright and Morning Star." Thus showing that when the night was at its darkest; when things spiritually seemed to be at the lowest point, those whose hearts beat true to Him might be encouraged by the knowledge that the darkness of the night was nearly at an end, and that soon He would come to claim His bride. The effect, as set forth in Revelation 22:17, was instantaneous. Awakened from slumber, moved in response to divine love, the bride joins with the Spirit, and the Spirit and the bride say, "Come." Hearts, hitherto unmoved, are touched as they hear the call: — "let him that heareth say, come. And, O, so like our precious Lord! there sounds out a last invitation to those who do not know Him. "Let him that is athirst, come! And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Then, as if there were those who had heard of His coming, but, as time passed they asked, "How long, O Lord, how long?" He gives His final message. "Surely I come quickly," which calls forth the glad response. — "Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus." How it delights His heart to tell us. How it should rejoice our heart to respond. Are there things that hinder this? The intrusion of the world, the desire to get on, the pull of business, ambition for family prosperity, and, correspondingly, the slackening of interest in the Lord's things; in the furtherance of His interests; the prosperity of His Assembly; and, in a word, the settling down for a good time here? May it be the Lord is using present happenings in this war-stricken world to stir us up, to remind us that He is coming and that we may expect Him at any moment. May we hear His voice; respond to His message, and then we shall sincerely echo the closing prayer. "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with all the saints. Amen." W. BRAMWELL DICK.
THE RAPTURE AND ITS SEQUEL — No. 2.
While the prospect of the rapture, of which we wrote in the last issue, must fill with joy the hearts of all who love the Lord Jesus, the knowledge of that which will follow gives cause also for unbounded delight. (1) Because Christ will have His rightful place. (2) Because all will be under His control; and, (3) Because all will lead to the fulfilment of the divine purpose. Following the rapture, interest will first centre in Heaven where two great happenings will take place: (a) "The Judgment Seat of Christ" for believers (2 Cor. 5:10); and, (b) "The Marriage of the Lamb" (Rev. 19:6-9). The first is the necessary prelude to the second. The Judgment Seat will not be of a penal character. For those who will appear there "the sins" question has been settled at the Cross, and, on the ground of the work accomplished there, they will, when they stand before Him, be in the likeness of the One who died for them. Then all will be seen at its true value as appraised by Him.
"Deeds of merit as we thought them,
He will tell us were but sin;
Little acts we had forgotten,
He will tell us were for Him."
We cannot fail to see the connection between this and the bridal dress of Rev. 19:8; "for the fine linen is the righteousness of the Saints." What a day for our blessed Lord that marriage day will be! Great will be the day of His coming forth as "King of Kings, and Lord of Lords"; but greater far surely will be the day when He shall claim His bride whom He saw in the mirror of eternity; for whom He came into manhood and gave Himself; whom now He nourisheth and cherisheth; and whom on that day He will present to Himself all glorious (Eph. 5:25-32). As to events that will happen upon earth, we cannot do better than refer to an informative pamphlet by our esteemed Editor, entitled "The Kingdom of God." If in the first Epistle to the Thessalonians we learn about the rapture of the saints, in the second Epistle we are informed as to the appearance of Anti-Christ, the debut of the Man of Sin, and we learn that those who would not receive God's truth will accept Satan's lie! Then there will be the remnant of Israel who will at last recognise and receive their Messiah. They will ask, "What are these wounds in Thy hands?" He will answer? "Those with which I was wounded in the house of My friends" (Zech. 13:6). Then shall come forth their confession: "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5). These will be the Evangelists of that day, and going to the numberless people who have not heard the Gospel of the Grace of God (and to none other), they will proclaim "the Gospel of the Kingdom" (Matthew 24:14); will call for allegiance to Christ; and Matthew 25:31-46 indicates the result of their labours. Then will come the great tribulation when a man will demand universal worship and those who refuse to do him homage will suffer. At last, and when least expected, the Lord will come in kingdom, power and glory, and there will be His beneficent reign for a thousand years. Finally, Satan, loosed from his imprisonment, will make his last attack only to see his hordes wiped out by fire from Heaven, and he himself will be consigned to his everlasting doom — the lake of fire. The last act in the drama of this world's history will be the "Great White Throne" for all those who have died out of Christ, and from which they will be sent to share the doom of Satan for ever. Thus will the way be cleared for the absolute triumph of God over the enemy, the victory of good over evil, and the introduction of a world "where sin, nor want, nor woe, nor death can come," but where God shall be all in all. The consideration of that, however, we must leave for our next paper, if the Lord will. W. BRAMWELL DICK.
THE RAPTURE AND ITS SEQUEL — 3.
"Then cometh the end" — and what an end! What we outlined in our last paper is tersely summed up in the triumphant resurrection chapter:- 1 Corinthians 15:24-28. Religionists, politicians, social reformers and others may have there own ideas as to when the end will be and what it will be like, and these may be coloured by their particular obsessions. We turn, however, to the infallible Word, and there we find in a few sentences just what will happen. As we have already indicated, and as this chapter shows so plainly, the Lord Jesus Christ will take the reins of government. He will put down all that is contrary to God. "He must reign" and "He will reign." The last enemy with which He will deal, will be what was the first enemy, and which for well nigh six thousand years has decimated homes, has broken hearts, and has wrought havoc irrespective of position, nationality, age, or anything else. Death will be annulled, everything in the Universe will be brought into subjection to Him, and "then cometh the end." There will immediately follow "A new Heaven and a New Earth" (see Revelation 21:1-7), no more sea, which certainly means no more separation, but also no more commotion, no more war, no more evidence of the work of Satan. There the Assembly will have her own peculiar place as the bride of Christ, and, a thousand years after the marriage, she comes forth "prepared as a bride adorned for her husband," in other words, in all the loveliness and beauty of Christ Himself. God's original purpose to dwell with men will be realised, and He will dwell with them. All that marks and mars this world now, and with which we are so sadly familiar, will then be done away; no more tears, nor death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor pain, but all things new! Then will sound forth the note of complete and final victory:- "IT IS D0NE." He who on the Cross, with His dying breath, said, "It is finished," will, from the throne, exclaim, "It is done." The great, mighty, marvellous work accomplished. He will deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father, that God — the triune God, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit — "that God may be all in all." In the Council chamber of Eternity the plan was formed; in the region of time, for some four thousand years, man took his own way, sinned with a high hand, disgraced himself and dishonoured God. His crowning act was when he "crucified the Lord of Glory." God made man's great sin the occasion for displaying His great love.
"Where sin o'er all seemed to prevail,
Redemption's glory shed."
At the Cross the foundation was laid in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, on the ground of which every sinner can be saved who believes in His Name; for clearing the world of every trace of sin, and of meanwhile forming the Assembly to be the vessel for the display of God's purpose centred in the risen and glorified Man at His right hand. That accomplished, all creation will, we suggest, re-echo the cry, "IT IS DONE!" and will be vocal with the praise of Him Who has done it!
"To Him that is able to do far exceedingly above all which we ask or think, according to the power which works in us, to Him be glory in the Assembly in Christ Jesus unto all generations of the age of ages. Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21, New Trans.). W. BRAMWELL DICK.