This is no more a
treatise on the Second Advent of Christ than a former chapter
was on the Holy Spirit. Our specific object is to point out the
connection between the Cross and the Coming. This will be seen
to be the fourth and final intersection on our diagram.
Just as Salvation,
Sanctification, the Holy Spirit, have been made something in
themselves, and have become isolated doctrines, separated from
their relatedness to all else, and have therefore become
abnormal and unbalanced, so has it become with the teaching
concerning the Lord's coming again. For a long time this matter
fell into abeyance and was neglected or rejected. Then came a
real awakening concerning it, and it was given its place again.
But, like every swing of the pendulum, it has either taken on
abnormalities, or become something in itself. In the one case it
does positive harm: in the other it does not do much harm or
good at all.
Some of us have
lived long enough to outlive many Second Advent theories - not
of cranks, extremists, or fanatics (although there have been
some of these) but of honest, devout, and otherwise balanced and
sound evangelical leaders. How sure some were that the German
Kaiser was the Antichrist! How much was published and said by
prophetic students that Allenby's entrance into Jerusalem was
the end of the times of the Gentiles! Then Hitler took his place
in the long line of Antichrists. A well-known evangelical leader
travelled to Rome with the express purpose of telling Mussolini
that he was the one raised up of God at the end-times to
reconstruct the Roman Empire according to prophecy, and
Mussolini took it on. Well, what about it all?
We are not
dismissing "signs of the times," for there undoubtedly are such,
but we do emphasise that the spiritual aspect of things is far
safer and more important than the temporal, fascinating as the
latter may be. Satan can sidetrack as much by means of
unrelated truth, as by positive error.
departure to be with the Lord, a beloved friend and servant of
God who had made prophecy his life-long study, and who was
well-known as an investigator, wrote to me and said that he had
been compelled to change his entire standpoint and much of his
interpretation in this whole matter. This is sad, if not tragic!
We do need to be on very safe and sure ground.
Lord's Coming is Rooted in the Cross
and is the definite
outworking as well as the outcome of it.
art coming; at Thy table
We are witnesses for this.'
The Table, which
shows forth His death, links that death with His coming again -
"'till He come."
To show that the
Cross is the basis of the Blessed Hope would be unnecessary
here, but to show how that is so may be important. The
reason for this is that so many have not got beyond the idea -
an idea never seriously thought out - that the Second Advent is
just an isolated event, or an event which, standing in a program
or time-table of dispensational movements, will just happen.
When the clock strikes twelve the Lord will come. Well, "within
His own authority" the Father may have the times and the
seasons, but in touching this matter we are confronted with one
of those inscrutable ways of God. There are several of them in
the Bible. To reconcile freewill and predestination lies with
the wisdom of God alone, we cannot do it. In the same way it is
beyond our understanding that a certain state which lies with
the volition of Christians should synchronise with a fixed point
of time for the Lord's coming. Yet it is beyond dispute that in
both the above matters the Bible is quite clear and emphatic.
The Lord will come at a time definitely known to and fixed by
Him, but, on the other hand, the Lord's coming will be just as
much a spiritual matter as a chronological one.
It is on this
spiritual side of Adventism that the Church and its teachers are
so weak. As truly as Abraham's servant, sent to fetch the bride
for Isaac, foreshadowed the Holy Spirit's being sent to fetch a
bride for Christ, so truly is it a matter of spiritual progress
on her part toward Him and the Spirit's showing of His things.
Rebekah did not make one sudden leap from Mesopotamia to Canaan.
It was a long, exacting and testing journey, and one involving a
great exercise of faith. There was the whole question of leaving
everything and everyone whose roots were in that land. There was
the matter of implicit trust in the servant. There was, no
doubt, a temptation more than once to wonder if the end was
sure. And there was the constant battle with the reactions
arising out of the weariness and the length of the unfamiliar
way. But all this had a necessary effect upon this elect bride
to both fit her for her great vocation and make the ecstasy of
realisation all the greater. This is at best a poor figure of
the spiritual side of the consummation of union with Christ at
The fact is that we
are to move just as much toward Him as He to us. The break with
all here in a heart way, the leaving of this world spiritually,
the occupation with the things of Christ, the patient endurance,
and the growth of faith, are indispensable and inseparable
factors in relation to His coming and our going on with Him.
Let there be
differences of opinion as to the willy-nilly translation of
Christians, or as to whether the whole Church will be caught up
at Christ's coming; it is not necessary to formulate theories or
teachings on such matters. Selectiveness of rapture may or may
not be held, but from one thing no one can get away, God has
left no room for theories here; a spiritual state of separation,
occupation, and expectation is invariably bound up with our
being received by Him at His appearing. Why argue otherwise and
support a presuming upon the grace of God? Why take risks on a
false idea of Grace when God has given us nothing but a positive
demand, saying nothing whatever about His having a place for
those who are less than one-hundred-per-cent going on with Him?
In our diagram there are two blue lines, and blue
stands for heavenliness. Israel in the wilderness was given a
blue token to wear on the border of their garments. This
betokened that they were - in God's mind - a heavenly people.
They no more belonged to the wilderness than they did to Egypt.
It was a place in which to know and prove their heavenliness -
heavenly life, resource, guidance, etc. - and it was always
pointing to "a heavenly country" which was really their own. But
Jordan was the way in, the real point of crossing. And Jordan
forever represents the Cross of Christ. As the Red Sea
represented what God did for them, so Jordan was the figure of a
work consummated in them.
"Ephesians" is the
counterpart of "Joshua"; it is "in the heavenlies in Christ,"
but the Holy Spirit took what was chronologically first -
"Thessalonians" - and caused it to be placed after "Ephesians,"
as much as to say - The Coming of the Lord (the main theme of
"Thessalonians") is the outcome of the Church's arrival at its
More will be said
on this when we deal with the Church in our next chapter, but
here we want to underline the Divine revelation that the Cross
separates us from this world, from this "flesh," from Satan's
authority, and joins us to Christ, brings us on to heavenly
ground, and constitutes us a spiritual people, and it is for
such that the Lord will come. When David was driven out of his
place by the usurper Absalom and his company, he exercised
sublime wisdom and faith by sending back Abiathar with the ark
into the city. It was his own foothold there. It was that which
would always give him a place, even where he was otherwise
repudiated. And to it he would return. It was his hold
and his magnet. The Lord will not just return as a matter of
course. He will come to and for something. It is a love matter.
He will come for His bride, but it has to be mutual. "Them that
have loved His appearing." So the Cross is as much a
part of the consummation as it is of the initiation, and by its
operation in the life as a principle and power the Lord will
come for "a people prepared." This preparation relates to heart
condition and not to mental apprehension of prophetic truth.