CURRENT ERRORS CONCERNING THE SECOND COMING
W. P. CLARK
While there are many who deny the truth of the Second Advent altogether, casting ridicule on it, and terming it mere Jewish apocalyptic aspirations, there are many others who hold honestly mistaken views of the Advent through misinterpretation of Scripture, principally from neglect, or ignorance of dispensational truth.
We propose to give some, if not all, of these (as we read the Scriptures) mistaken views, and for want of space only quote one or two apposite texts of Scripture to disprove each.
There are those who teach "the end of the world" and "a setting up of The Great White Throne", or "General Judgment of Mankind", immediately after the present condition of the world’s history, ignoring, or ignorant of, or denying the Rapture of the Saints, the Parousia, or Presence in the air of our Lord, the Bema, or Judgment Seat of Christ, and the Great Tribulation; in proof of all which there are a multitude of texts too numerous to set out here; confusing the Millennium, or ‘Golden Age’ as they term it, with the eternal happiness of the saved.
Others say that Christ returns to each individual at conversion. On the contrary, sinners are exhorted to come to Him, not He to them, "Come into Me, all ye that are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11: 28), and, "Him that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out" (John 6: 37). He did however promise to "come in" if anyone will hear His voice and open the door.
Some say He comes a second time to a believer at death but surely death cannot possibly be the "looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing [‘appearing of the glory’ R.V.] of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Titus 2: 13)? Place the word ‘death’ wherever the Second Coming is referred to, and note the absurdity it makes! The last two interpretations would necessitate not a Second Coming only, but a vast multitude of Advents.
Some confuse the Second Coming of Christ with the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Yet the Lord said, "I will send" - not come - "another" - not Himself - "Comforter."
A very common view is that our Lord returned at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70; and this view is based principally on His statement -"This generation shall not pass away until all these things have come to pass-" (Matt. 24: 34), thus assuming that the words ‘this generation’ necessarily meant the life-time of those present, a span of life of about thirty-three years. On the contrary, they have other meanings. Reference to a dictionary will show that the primary definition of ‘generation’ is race, stock, breed. The word was so used by John the Baptist and our Lord when they termed their hearers ‘a generation of vipers’; and in the text in question it seems to mean the generation, or stock, of the Jewish nation, and this is being literally fulfilled to this very day. Another meaning assigned is that "these things" - at some future time - would all be fulfilled within the space of one generation or span of life, not necessarily the generation living when the words were spoken.
any case, it is quite certain that "these things",
viz. the world-wide preaching of the
Gospel of the Kingdom, the great Tribulation, the return of Christ
in glory, and the re-gathering of the elect mentioned by our Lord immediately
preceding the words, never occurred at the time of, or before, the siege of
Jerusalem; and our Lord certainly never came in the clouds of Heaven with power
and great glory. If He did, it is
nowhere recorded, as such a stupendous event would surely be! The result of the siege of
There is a mistaken idea that the Rapture, or the Catching up of the Saints, and the Parousia, or Presence of Christ in the air, cannot occur until the Gospel of the Grace of God for Salvation is preached in all the world. This mistake is based on Matthew 24: 14, but the Gospel there spoken of is the Gospel of the Kingdom, not the Gospel of [eternal] Salvation. The Gospel of the Kingdom was preached by John the Baptist and by our Lord as "at hand" and offered to the Jewish nation, and by them rejected. Now the Gospel of Salvation through the blood of Christ is proclaimed unto all the world until He come, when the day of Salvation ends, and the Gospel of the Kingdom will again be proclaimed throughout the world.* As far as is revealed, nothing need be fulfilled before the rapture, except the completion of the Church** - the Body of Christ - and at any moment when the last member is brought in, the Lord will come in the air for His own, but much has to be fulfilled before He returns with His Saints to reign.
[* When we speak today of the millennial
Was there not a "church," under
the leadership of Moses, "in the wilderness"
(Acts 5); and are Old Testament saints not
part of the
A similar mistake to the foregoing is that the Millennium or Kingdom Age will be accomplished by the gradual conversion of the World through the preaching of the Gospel, confusing Evangelization with conversion, and after this Christ will return. On the contrary, the Scriptures affirm and "the Spirit saith expressly," that "in the latter times men shall depart from the Faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons" (1 Tim 4: 1), and, "this know also that in the last days perilous times shall come", followed by a long list of details (2 Tim. 3: 1). Such a view might well induce despair in our hearts when we realize there are more heathen to-day in proportion to professing Christians than there ever were, despite over a hundred years of the preaching of the Gospel world-wide; and this disproportion is growing every day as the population increases. If we know the Kingdom will come before Christ returns, why the constant necessity of watching for Him? No, there will be no [millennial] Kingdom without [the bodily presence of] the King. "When the Son of Man shall come in His glory and all the angels with Him, then shall He sit on the throne of His glory and before Him shall be gathered all the nations" (Matt. 25: 31).
More mischief has been done, and more ridicule and discredit cast on the truth, by the attempt to fix a date for Christ’s return. The Seventh Day Adventists fixed the year 1844, and the Millennial Dawnists, 1874, and when both proved false, they tried to wriggle out of it by saying that "He then entered the sanctuary and began to cleanse it", and set forth other absurd theories. "Of that day and hour knoweth no man" (Matt. 24: 36), and "Watch therefore, for ye know not what day your Lord cometh" (Matt. 24: 42). It is true He - has given us signs - which are coming to pass at the present time - by which we can discern His near approach; but these signs mostly refer to His coming with His Saints to set up the [millennial] Kingdom, and not His Coming in the Air for His own. How near then may the latter event be!
There are Christians who believe in the pre-tribulation rapture of the whole Church, and say that no [regenerate] believer will pass through any part of the tribulation. On the other hand, there are those who believe in the post-tribulation rapture, viz, that the whole Church will pass through it. There are, and have been, devoted Christians on both sides; and each side is able to cite texts of Scripture which would, if divorced from other Scripture, prove their contention. Scripture cannot contradict itself: there must therefore be some solution of the difficulty, and this we believe will be found in the doctrine known as "the selective or partial rapture of the Saints"; i.e., that some will altogether escape the tribulation - they who love His appearing and look for Him (Heb. 9: 28), the firstfruits of the rapture: others will have to pass through at least part of the Tribulation. One consideration alone will preclude the belief in the post-tribulation contention, and that is that there will be no time for the Bema or Judgment-Seat of Christ where the millions of believers in all ages will be judged, and which we presume will take some considerable time. A conclusive text is Luke 21: 36, which disproves both theories: "Watch ye therefore, and pray always that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things and to stand before the Son of Man." Therefore some will escape, and others will not. Even if this is written only to Jews - the favourite expedient for getting rid of this and other plain statements of Scripture - then Revelation 3: 3 and 10 - a warning and a promise - written to the Churches, and not the Jews, are equally conclusive. In the first verse the warning is that Christ may come and leave behind unwatchful believers: in the latter verse - and the Greek is undoubtedly "out of" and not "through" as some assert. Christ pledges himself to keep from the hour of trial which is to come upon the whole world - undoubtedly the Great Tribulation - all who keep the word of His patience, and only those. In any case every believer must, before the end of the Tribulation, and before Christ returns to reign, be caught up to the Bema where all must appear,* although not necessarily at the same time; for it is there awards will be made, determining the position of each and every believer in the Kingdom, or their exclusion from it. If on the one hand, all escape the Tribulation, or on the other hand, all go through it, why the repeated admonition of our Lord to "watch"?
[* There is no scriptural evidence to suggest that ‘every believer must, before the end of the Tribulation, and before Christ returns to reign, be caught up to the Bema where all must appear.’ AT THE END of the Tribulation, there will be believers (who were not “able to escape” at the time of the first rapture, Luke 21: 36) - who will be alive and “left till the coming of the Lord” (1 Thess. 4: 15).]
A question which has created considerable contention is whether all believers will share the Millennial Reign of Christ. It is clear that all who participate in it will reign; there is no Scripture which even suggests that any believer will be a subject in it. Two texts are sufficient to disprove that every believer will share in the Kingdom. "If we suffer, we shall reign with Him" (2 Tim. 2: 11). "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me on My throne" (Rev. 3: 21). Do all believers suffer? Are all overcomers? The Crown and the Prize may be lost. "Hold fast that which thou hast, that no one take thy crown," says the Lord from the Glory. "Let no man rob you of your prize," says Paul. "If there be a bare possibility only of exclusion, should we not make sure of entrance? Our non-belief will not affect the fact, if it is a fact!"
it is asserted that the
The conclusions set out above, elaborated from time to time by various authors are the result of a prayerful study of the Scriptures, but we would not wish to be dogmatic. At least, they are worthy of consideration by all who wish to study the Word of God and to know and teach the whole truth.
The problems connected with our Lord’s return become more thrilling as the event draws nearer; and careful thinking, challenges the current view - an extraordinary example of ‘wishful thinking’ - that all believers, including the grossest backslider, will escape all coming judgments and at once ascend with Christ the throne of the world. It is most difficult to understand how the grave warnings of our Lord and the Apostles, constantly repeated, could have been so ignored, and can still remain so unheeded. The issue at stake is far graver than a mere divergence in exposition: it is the fearfully practical issue of our plunge into the Great Tribulation, or our escape; the inconceivable glory of enthronement over the world, possibly only a few years hence, or a lost crown and throne.
Although there will be differences of judgment on subordinate points, the main issue with grace and understanding, leads us towards the highest. "LET NO MAN TAKE THY CROWN" (Rev. 3: 11).