THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST.
You that have been here the last three Sunday mornings remember that I have been talking about Christ. Three weeks ago, this morning, we were looking at Christ in the Old Testament, and how the prophecy was fulfilled in regard to his coming; and the next Sabbath we were talking about his birth: and last Sunday of John, the forerunner to introduce him; and you remember that I have spoken here, during the last three months, of his birth, his life, his miracles, his parables, his death, his burial, his resurrection and his ascension. Now, this morning I want to talk about his coming again. (A voice: "Amen!") There is more said in the Epistles about the Lord Jesus Christ returning to this earth than there is about baptism. There is no denomination, no church scarcely, but that lays great stress upon that order; and God forbid that I should say anything that would give you to understand that I look upon it lightly. I think that every order that the Lord has given us, and ever commanded us to do, ought to be carried out literally; but we find that this doctrine has been, as it were, laid aside by the churches sometimes—they have forgotten all about it. But I don't know anything that will quicken the Church to-day so much as this precious doctrine of our Lord's return. (A voice: "Amen.") If I read my Bible correctly, in the Epistles baptism is referred to thirteen times and the Lord's return upwards of fifty times. So that it is not an unscriptural idea that I want to bring before you this morning. If the Word of God doesn't teach it, my friends, don't you receive it; but let us be ready and willing to bow to Scripture, because we read that all Scripture is given by inspiration; that-we are not to be one-sided Christians, and take up one truth and harp on that all the time; but we are to take up the whole Word of God.
Just turn to the 2nd epistle of Peter, the 1st chapter and 19th
verse: "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 day-star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prqphecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation." No private interpretation. It is for the whole Church of God—the whole family of God. "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
Now you know Gabriel came down to announce the conception of Christ, and angels came to announce his birth: angels came to announce his resurrection; angels came to announce his return. When those apostles stood there gazing up into heaven, two angels dropped down there. "And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them: "Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not hero, but is risen; remember how he spake unto you when he v>as yet in Galilee, saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and bo crucified, and the third day rise again." Yes. thank God, he-is coming again, just as he went. (A voice: "Amen!") We are going to see him in person; he that left this world blessing it—for that is the way he left this world, blessing it—is coming back to bless his own church and to receive them that have waited for his return. If you read the 26th chapter of Matthew, the 64th verse, you will find that it was just this very thing that caused his death. When the high priests asked him who he was, and if he was the true Messiah, what does he say: "Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Herenl'ter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." That was enough. The moment they heard that, they accused him of blasphemy and condemned him to death, just because he said he was coming again. "Ye shall see me coming in the clouds of glory."
Now, let me say that this doctrine has suffered a good deal from those who claim to be its friends, because they set a time—a certain day—for his coming. Now, we read here in Matthew, 24th chapter and 30th verse, that no man knows when he shall come. "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, hut my Father only." It seems to me that the devil is all the timo trying to counterfeit these precious truths, so that the mass of Christians will not believe it. Now, there it is clearly taught that the day and the hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels in heaven. Now, when a man comes and tells you that he knows when Christ is coming—that he is coming next year, or in 1980, or in any particular year or at any particular time, he has got no truth for that assertion. "The day and, the hour knoweth no man." I think if we knew the day and the hour of his coming, we wouldn't be watching for his coming. All through the Scripture we are told to watch for his coming.
"Therefore be ye also ready, for in(such an hour as ye think not the Son of man coraeth." And then we are also taught that his coming shall be sudden. We find in that 24th chapter, 35th verse: "But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark. And knew not until the flood came and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." Now, we have that order that the time of his coming is unknown; that he is coining unexpectedly. In another place it says that he is coming like a thief in the night. He is coming suddenly; but let us bear in mind that he is coming, because that word has gone out.
Now, I can imagine some of you say, "He is coming to us when we die." But that is not what is taught here. Death ia not the coining of the Lord. Just turn to the 21st chapter of John, 18th verse: "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When tfcou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldst; but when thou shah be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me." Now, the thought I want to call your attention to is this; that Christ didn't look to his death and his coming as one and the same thing. He kept them distinct. His coming is one thing; his death is another. You and I may be summoned away before Christ comes; but I am not taught anywhere in the Scripture to look for death. That is not in the Scripture. We are told to look for the coming of the Lord. Now, Peter wanted to know what John should do. "Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me." That is, you are to follow me,and not look to see what this disciple or that disciple is going to do. "Then went this saying 'abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die; yet Jesus said not unto him, he shall not die; but. If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?" There is a difference between death and his coming. Now, I think that we make a great mistake in saying that death is the coming of the Lord. Death is one thing; and the coming of the Lord is another. Why, the year of jubilee will burst upon this world by and by; and we shall come up out of our graves. That is distinct and separate from death. It will be all life then. We shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye. Enoch w*s one type of life, he was caught up into heaven. Elijah was translated from earth to heaven, in a fiery chariot. These two represent
ed the first two dispensations; and so Christ, who represented the third, has gone up; and when he comes these bodies shall come forth from their graves. We are not going to die. If the world remains, if we wait until Christ comes, we are going to defy death. Death has been conquered, and by and by, I don't know when, in the fullness of time, we shall rise victorious to glory. He shall come and set up his kingdom on earth. As we read in the prophecy of Daniel, that stone cut out of the mountains without hands is growing, and it is going to fill the whole earth. God has decreed it.
Now, I think it is decreed in Thessalonians, and if you have your Bibles here I should like to have you turn to Thessalonians, because this passage is written, just as it were, to the young converts. Every chapter in that first Epistle is a sermon to young converts about his coming. "For the Lord himself shall desoend 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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." That is the comfort of the church; not that we are agoing to die, but that the Lord may come at any time and take us away into that bridal chamber. Now, it is said that his coming in judgment on the earth to dash the nations to pieoes that have disobeyed him, is one coming, and that his coming to take his bride away is altogether different. So his first coming is in the air; and that is when we shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voioe of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first." Then, over here, in the 5th chapter of John, 25th verse, "Verily, verily, I say unto you. The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself. And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man. Marvel not at this, for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in their graves shall hear his voice. And shall come forth."
And by and by these slumbering bodies shall be awakened by the trump of God; and they shall come forth from their graves, and fly to meet the King of Glory. "And they shall come forth, they that have done good, unto the resurreotion of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." Now, you take a strong piece of magnet, and then have little pieces of iron or steel, mixed up in some sawdust; and just hold that magnet over it. Every partiole of steel and iron will fly to meet that magnet. So when He shall come upon the earth, every one of his chosen shall fly to meet him. The hour is coming when the trump shall sound; the Lord of Hosts shall come. Oh, Christ is going to come. Let us be waiting and watching and praying that He may come quickly.
Now, there are three great facts taught in Scripture. First, that Christ is coming again. The next, that the Holy Ghost was to come on us here, in the world. Now, do you believe that this assembly would have been drawn together for the past three months, if it had not been for the power of the Holy Ghost? Do you believe that men would have been converted, if it had not been for the power of the Holy Ghost. Is there any eloquence, any power in man that can turn the whole current of men's lives; that can transform * poor, miserable drunkard, one who has made his home a hell, who ha» beaten and abused his wife. Can any eloquence, any power in man, I say, do that unless it is by and through the power of the Holy Ghost? The next great fact that this Bible teaches is, that he is coming again. What is it that makes the 14th chapter of John so sweet? You know there is probably not a chapter in the whole Bible that is read so much as that one in John. What makes it so sweet? why, because it tells us he shall come again. "Let not your hearts be troubled; ye believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so 1 would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." Then what does he say? "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." That is the key-note to the 14th chapter of John—not that he isgoinp to send death, or send some angel after us; but that he is coming himself. He himself is coming back after his bride. He came down here to get a bride, and the world rose up and cast him out and said he shouldn't have a bride. Then he went up above, and has been there these 1800 years gathering out his bride. Some one says, vou can get some idea of how magnificent these mansions are by the time he takes to get them ready.
Now, there is no place in the Scripture where we are told to watch for signs—the rebuilding of Babylon, or the returning of the Jews to Jerusalem; but all through Scripture we are told what to do— iust to watch for him; just to be waiting for our Lord's return from heaven. In Paul's Epistle to the Philippians we read: "For our conversation 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, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself." "Looking for our Lord and Savior." And that's the attitude of every true believer in this world, with loins girded, lamps trimmed and burning, watching for the coming of the bridegroom. Thank God, he wil! say when Christ comes, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh." Now, he says again here, in the 3d chapter of Titus and the 13th verse: "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearingof the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ."
Now, if you will just take your Bibles, a great many of you will find that, over and over again, the Lord has said that we are to be waiting and watching for his coming. The last prayer in Scripture —what is it? "Come quickly, Lord Jesus." And that ought to be the cry of every child of God: "Come quickly, Lord Jesus." Think of the war that ia bursting upon the nations across the waters. Think of the blood and carnage. Think of the widows and orphan children, of the suffering that is going to be in those nations. But, thank God, when he comes there will be no more war. (A voice: "Amen.") There will be no more suffering. There will be peace. Then, in the 13th chapter of Mark, the 32a verse, it says: "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray for ye know not when the time is. For the Son of man is a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore, for ye know not when the Master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning. Lestcomingsuddenlvhe find yousleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch." He may come in the morning; he may come in the evening; he may come at the cockcrowing. In another place, Luke 17th chapter, it says: "Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken and the other left." Christ is going to take out his chosen from among the scoffers. By and by, he is going to separate his children, and the scoffers and the workers of iniquity. They may scoff and laugh now; but I tell you, by and by, there will be nothing left of them. My friends, you will find it to be true that every portion of the Old Testament referring to Christ's coming has been fulfilled. Now, people say this is so wonderful, so beyond all reason, so beyond all common sense that we cannot lay hold of it. Now, his second coming cannot be sc wonderful as his first coming. If a man had stood up and said that Christ was going to be born of a virgin; that he was going to be laid in a manger; that he was going to be the son of a carpenter, and going to work at the carpenter's trade himself (as he did), there wouldn't have been a man in the world who would have believed him. "Oh, that is figurative," they would have said. And that's just the way men talk now, and just figure away everything. The Sc lpture was literally fulfilled. He came, just the way that the prophets said he would come; and once, as I said the other morning, h-a had to ride into Jerusalem, because it was prophesied that he shou'd. Everything was fulfilled. Now, this prophesy in the New Testament about his coming, in my mind, my friends, I haven't ,he slightest
doubt but that it is going to be fulfilled. That same Jesas that was crucified at Mount Calvary, we shall see at Mount Calvary again— see his hands and his feet pierced with the nails; and'it is a question in my mind whether the Jews will not receive him when he comes back. They will receive him as the true Messiah, and take up the glorious news of the coming of the Messiah, and spread it around the world.
A great many say: "This doctrine of the second coming of Christ cannot affect me. He can't come in my day. A great many things have got to take place before he comes. The thousand years of the millennium have got to come before he does." That is just the way I used to talk. "Why," I used to say, "He can't come in my day. Don't you know that there is to be one thousand years of the millennium; that righteousness must increase and wickedness must decrease before he comes?" Ah, my friends, but since I have got a little better acquainted with the Word of God, I find that is not God's plan; that is not what is taught here. Why, just see what he says: "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come." That doesn't sound like the millennium, does it? "For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy." "Boasters. There is some boasting done here in Boston. "Without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good. Traitors, headv, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God." I think we are coming pretty near those days now. "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof; from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts; ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth; men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further, for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was. But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, long-suffering, charity, patience. Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra, what persecutions I endured; but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men andsedu«ers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived." The fact is, my friends, the world is going to destruction; and what God wants is to have us come out from it. "Wherefore oome out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." And he is now redeeming his children, taking them out from the world; and the sons of Light ought to grow stronger and stronger; but the wicked men are waxing worse and worse.
When we read over here about the coming of the Son of God, that it shall be as in the days of Noah. How was it then? Were men then praising God, living for God's glory? Just see what it says: "But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriare, until the day that Noe entered into the ark. And knew not until the Jood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be." There will be drunkenness in the world when He comes. Don't flatter yourselves, my dear friends, that the world is going to be better and better. The world has not got better. It may be that the children of God are getting stronger and stronger; but this world is like a wrecked vessel. It is going to pieces on the rocks, and God wants you to do everything you can to rescue your souls. Now, some people say, "O don't preach that! You will drive away people by preaching that doctrine." I don't know of anything that will quicken men; I don't know of anything that will take the me n of this world out of their bonds and stocks quicker than that our Lord is coming again. The way it looks to me is this: Here is a vessel going to pieces on the rocks. God puts a life-boat in my hands, and says: "Rescue every man you can. Get them out of this wrecked vessel." So God wants us to get our family out of the wrecked world into the ark of safety, as Noah did his family, and have them in Christ; and if they are in Christ, they are safe.
Let me callyour attention to 2nd Peter, 3d chapter, and 3d and 4th verses: "Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation." Are we not just living in those days? Just look at the scoffer saying "Where is the promise of his coming? Everything is moving on. The sun, moon and stars are shining just the same as they have been from the creation. Where is the promise of his coming? Why, we are going on to perfection! Everything is growing better and beter." But that isn't what this Word teaches. It teaches that the heavens shall roll up like a scroll. He wants us to get into Christ, and if we are in him we are saved. Just turn to the 48th verse of the 24th chapter of Matthew: " But, and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, my lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to smite his fellow-servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of; and shall out him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
There is another warning. I have only time to jdst touch on this wonderful subject. The Bible is full of them. I want to urge these young converts to begin and study the whole Word of God. I don't want them to be hoggish,and take up one partonly,but the whole Word of God; so that at these times you may know just what you are to receive and what you are to reject, and that you have got a reason for the hope that is within you.
Now I want to call your attention to another thing; that is, that every time you go to the Lord's table, you will go there not only to show forth his death, but what else? "For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come." How many that go to the Lord's table ever think of his return? Now, I will tell you where men make a great mistake. They go to the Lord's table with dread. I used to dread communion Sundays—» weak from this Sunday, I am told, is communion Sunday. I used to dread it. We used to have it once in three months. Now it is once a month; and I hope we will have it every Sabbath. I used to go there thinking of my own sins, and the short-comings of the committee; and it was most unpleasant. But I found out that I was to go there to remember him; and now it is a place of rejoicing. I try to think just as little of myself when I go to the Lord's table as I can. There isn't any place in the Scripture where you are told to examine yourselves when you go there; but you are to go there to remember the Lord, and that he is coming back again. That is what we are to think about. We are to think of his death until he comes.
But then I can imagine that some of you say that, if I preach this doctrine, that the world is going to be destroyed, that grace has been a failure. Now let me say, right here, that grace has not been » failure. Man has failed to lay hold of it; and the world has spurned the Word of God, just as the Jews did Christ, years ago. They would not receive him. Now, the grace of God is over all the world, and the world has rejected it. Thank God, here and there is one that will lay hold of it; and if men won't take hold of it, they ought not to complain that God is going to punish them for it. Because, when he sent his prophets, they killed them; they crucified his son, and would not receive the Holy Ghost; and they trampled his Word under their feet. Why, you cannot say he is unjust. If a man says. "I hate the grace of God, the gift of God; I don't want the salvation of God through Jesus Christ;" if a man wants to be excused from the marriage feast of the Lamb, why, don't go off and say grace has been a failure; but they have failed to lay hold of it.
Now, there is another thing; that when Christ comes we are going to be reunited with our loved ones- There are a good many here in
this congregation that have got more friends in heaven tnan on earth. Some of you mothers have got more children there than down here. Yes, there is a better day for us, my friends. Glory and honor to God; Christ is coming back; and I am going to see my loved ones again. I an just waiting and watching for the hour when I shall hear that trump sound; and I shall be released to meet those loved ones; and those that are with me, that are in Christ, shall go up together, and we shall be forever with the Lord. Oh, how we ought to hail that day, and how the church ought to be watching! Oh, that God would wean us from the world, that we should not have our hearts set on things down here, but on things above, where Christ is. I want to call your attention to a few passages of Scripture. In 1st Corinthians, 11th chapter, 25th and 26th verses, it says: "After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the New Testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come." In Luke, 19th chapter, 13th verse, he tells us to use our talents until he comes. We must fight the good fight of faith until he comes. "And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come." In 1st Timothy, 6th chapter, 12-14 verses: "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. 1 give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession. That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ." In 2d Thessalonians, 1st chapter, 7th verse: "And to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels." In James, 8th chapter, 8th verse: "Be ye also patient; establish your hearts; for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh." In 2d Timothy, 4th chapter, 8th verse, we are to wait for the crown of righteousness: "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." In 1st Timothy, 2d chapter, 5th to 8th verses: "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ; who gave himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time. Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity."
"I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting." In 1st Thessalonians, 4th chapter, 13th and 14th verses: "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even
as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coining of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words."
We are to wait for Satan to be bound until he comes. Oh, he's going to be bound that day, and Christ, who has a right to take the throne of David, is going to take it. Let us pray that he may come quickly. Let that be the burden of our prayers.