IMPRESSIVE EVENTS OF MESSIAHS IMPENDING ADVENT
(THE NECESSITY, NEARNESS AND NATURE OF
Our 5th Booklet is closely linked with its predecessors.
No. 1 (God is Science PLUS) dealt with the Greatness of God, His Omnicompetent Wisdom and Power as Creator, and the alternative to Evolution (unproved, yet assumed and asserted as fact).
No. 2 (Glories of Messiah) was concerned with the Greatness of Christ (Greek form of Hebrew Messiah - Anointed Prophet, Priest and King), Deity Incarnate - the Lord of both Old and New Testaments, Jehovah, Who appeared and spoke to men, Israel in particular, and Who is shortly appearing again.
No. 3 (Wonders of the Word) explained the Divine Logos - Personality Eternal, Creative, Commanding, Foretelling, with therefore, Programme and Timetable.
No. 4 (Gods Overall Plan for
Man) gave details of the two Coming Kingdoms, with their Rulers and
Subjects (and Rebels), in their relation to the 3-fold division of the human
race as Jew, Gentile and the
Now No. 5, with title as above, gives steps and stages of Messiah Christs Return to this planet - from Heaven, first to the Air, then to the Earth, for purposes of adjudicating humanity, in the order of Church. Jew, Gentile (for Judgement must begin at the House of God, Whose House we are, if ...).
The Necessity and Nearness of the Lords Return - as indicated in our sub-title, will occupy us as Signs of the Times before we attempt to enumerate and arrange in order the Nature of His Return, which is more complicated - or complex - than many people imagine.
We shall thus have to challenge a number of accepted but over-simplified views, which it will not be sufficient to contradict or reject off-hand, for we shall try to avoid unfounded tradition, one-sided sectarian slogans, and the sentimental elements of popular hymn-theology, basing our balanced pre-views, not on isolated and selected texts, but on all relevant Scriptures (looking to the original wherever possible).
1. Let us then begin with The Necessity of the Lords Return.
God is far more reasonable, patient, responsive, concessive, yes, and even permissive, than we are apt to allow; alternatively, He is far less autocratic, authoritarian and coercive than those who misunderstand Sovereignty can accept.
In fact, Gods judgements are often evils that man brings upon himself - after due warning. The classic example is the hardening of Pharaohs heart: this was precisely what the Pharaoh desired; he slammed the door of his heart in the face of God. Who then turned the key; so it is true that his heart was both self-hardened, and also God-hardened. He called the Exodus plagues down upon himself. Similarly, it may well prove that the Apocalyptic plagues will be not alone God-inflicted, but also self-inflicted by man through various pollutions.
Hence, while it is true that the impending Messianic Judgements are necessitated by both angelic and Divine prediction, the fact remains that human sin needs - calls for, brings down, Gods prophesied sentences of doom, wrath long since pronounced upon mans provocative evil-doing, in neglect, rejection, and rebellion.
Man has got himself into a state where he is now beyond self-control, a deaf state in which he is quite unable to hear the still small voice of warning, a dull state in which nothing short of earthquakes, thunders, volcanic eruption, catastrophe, can move him, and make him exclaim: This is the Finger of God!
God is the God of order, harmony, peace, mercy - and judgement is His strange work. So He cannot, He will not, be indefinitely ignored. For this is His world, His universe. The humanist with his expected Super-Man - cannot put man right; man is not self-sufficient, he depends even if he denies it - he depends upon the super-human: this, in spite of a brief but boastful lull of Peace and Security! (1 Thess. 5: 3).
We may therefore assert that man needs a strong, firm Ruler in every land, and over every land, a dictator, who shall possess absolute power and authority, which he shall not abuse, for personal ends of aggrandisement, wealth and indulgence, nor shall he allow his underlings to abuse their delegated power: in a word, he must be righteous, and so must they. For, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Any government is better than no government at all - which is anarchy, and a strong government is better than a weak government, to ensure justice at home, and peace abroad.
Now the Bible is essentially, and basically, a political book. It gives us in miniature the history of experiments in human government - with both extremes, from lawlessness (or anarchy - as at the end of the Book of Judges: 17: 6; 21: 25) to tyranny - as under Rehoboam (son and successor to Solomon), whose self-indulgence and oppression led to revolt and civil war: 1 Kings 11: 9-11, 26-40; 12: 20; ultimately, to general godlessness and captivity.
Man cannot control or govern himself, for man is not like the animals, which are needing no boss over them: so we read in the Divine Record: It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps (Jer. 10: 23; Prov. 16: 1-3), for the way of man is not in himself as all history confirms. Man needs God in his heart, and over his head. David had the right idea: He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds, as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain; yes, David had the right idea, for he got it from God Himself, under Divine inspiration: 1 Sam. 23: 2-4. The ideal form of government is Benevolent Despotism - a Theocracy, with the King himself setting the example of God above and God within him, and the people following his example in their own homes.
Moses was devoted to the Lord, meek, i.e. unself-seeking, like those who shall shortly inherit the earth. Joshua, his servant and successor, set an example in his own home, though offering the challenge of choice to the people: As for me, and my house, we will serve the Lord: Josh. 24: 15, following in the patriarchal tradition: Gen. 18: 19.
But rulers grow old, and weak - and their children do not always follow them, as with Samuel; 1 Sam. 8: 15. So the people demanded a visible King, like the nations round about, from whom they should have remained separate and different.
Apart, intermittently, from
Israel, the nations have never known theocracy; and with the Church so split
and splintered - and Christian hearts so divided, men have never been attracted
to Divine authority and rule; but when they see the power of God, and learn Who
Messiah-Christ really is, and what He is really like, powerful, all-knowing,
incorruptible, merciful, sympathetic, alive, deathless, omnipresent,
accessible, available, the Jehovah of the Old Testament, and the Jesus (Super
Star) of the New - and today, they - that is, all but the incorrigibly
self-sufficient humanists, will receive Him and welcome Him as The Desire of all Nations and of their own: Hag. 2: 4-9.
This reception will follow impending earth-shaking, and universal
nation-shaking, and we are rapidly moving that way. Gods Law shall be written in the hearts of
the Church, and in the hearts of
God then will be recognised as Science PLUS, and the Glories of Messiah will he known and acknowledged. Moreover, The Wonders of the Word will be common experience. And Gods Overall Plan for Man will be clear to all willing and capable of understanding it.
When, the Prince of Peace appears in Person, the nations will not learn war any more; there will be peace in every heart, as with so many Christians today - and likewise trust, so that spying will cease as well. Moreover, shop stewards will not be needed to see fair play between masters and men. And there will be no more wage claims and clamours, and hurtful strikes.
Meanwhile, the Lords Return and Reign are vitally necessary, and this should be the Churchs Work in the world Today - to make known, appealingly and attractively this Good News.
2. The Nearness of the Christ Messiahs Return.
As in the case of an operation, its urgency is evidence of its proximity.
When we feel things cannot go on much longer, that is a sign that a change is imminent. When we cannot put up with it any more, we may be assured that deliverance and relief are at hand: 1 Cor. 10: 13-14 (but do not seek relief at anyones hands except Gods - for that is idolatry).
God has a programme, and He correspondingly has a Timetable.
Human history is now nearly 6000 years old and it is to be followed by the Sabbath of God. Sabbath really means 7th so, just as the week of mans work, and probation, is almost finished, so surely is the Sabbatic Rest (Heb. 4: 5-11) of God at hand.
Now is our Salvation nearer than when we believed - we see the Day approaching: Roms. 13: 11; Titus 2: 13; Heb. 9: 28; Tim. 4: 8.
After the work, the wages; after the writing, Pens down, times up - and its now adjudication and examination; after the sowing, the reaping - first harvest, then vintage (Rev. 14) Whatsoever a (Christian) man sows, that shall he also reap - only more so, whether sowing to the flesh, or to the spirit. And nothing shall be hidden, all shall be made known even more than on television today.
We do not know the hour or the day,
but we can tell the time of year.
There never was such a time for
revival of national sovereignty as there is today, whether in the Near East or
the Far East, throughout the whole of Africa, in
Nation shall rise against nation; kingdom against kingdom - terrifyingly, depressingly, except for Christian believers - who are bidden Chins up! Lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh: Lk. 21: 28.
Yet not only are the states of Israel and of the world definite and reliable signs of the times, but the state of the Church - Churches, if you will - is a sign of the times as well, or as ill.
The world as a whole, or as consisting of non-Jews, and non-Christians, is not getting better, not evolving.
And what does the history of the Church reveal? Not the Church invading the world, savingly, but the contrary: the world, invading the Church, perilously.
With rare, but shining,
Till almost 1800, there was not much missionary activity in the world. The Church however was not to become a leavening process on earth, neither was it to uproot the tares sown among the wheat, yet the Church has often sought to leaven - or christianize - the world with disastrous results, so that Christendom has been mistaken for Christianity, and people have spoken of Christian nations; but even England - or Great Britain - has never been a Christian country, nor Belfast a Christian city. And the Middle Ages were never really Christian centuries.
While as for Christian crusades and wars - to root out infidelity and non-conformity - persecution has produced many a Christian martyr and anti-Christian cynic.
The first two paragraphs of the Epistle Dedicatory in our Authorised Version of 1611 hardly explain why 9 years later the Pilgrim Fathers set out across the Atlantic in search of religious liberty, hardly to be had at home.
Hospitals, schools and universities had already been founded a century or two earlier to spread and show the Christian Faith (and we still see FID. DEF. - Defender of the Faith on our coins), but the Lord Himself asked: When the Son of man cometh, shall He find - not faith, in money, science, diplomacy, bombs - but THE Faith, on the earth? And He left it questionable; actually, THE Faith - Once for all delivered unto the saints is rarely taught in its purity, fulness and power.
Paul gives us a description of the sorry state of affairs in the Church - in the latter days: 2 Tim. 3: 1-5; 4: 2-4. The Master Himself had declared that because lawlessness shall abound, the love of the majority shall wax cold (Mt. 24: 12).
Similarly, Paul told the Ephesian
believers in Acts 20: 28-35, that grievous wolves should enter in among them,
not sparing the flock, and that even from
among themselves sectarian errorists should arise. Amongst the Corinthians, too, there was already a party spirit, with
followers of Paul, Apollos, Peter, and Christ Himself: 1:
1, 10-13; 3: 1-6; so that the apostle, despite their many spiritual
gifts, could not treat them as grown-ups.
But not only were they puffed up, and perched on pedestals, reigning as
kings while Paul was, as it were, an outcast, despised, (4: 9-18); far worse, there was incest among them worse than the
heathen (5: 1-5), and it
threatened to spread (vv. 6-8); lastly, they
actually took their differences into the heathen courts, thus publicising their
errors and failures, and tacitly admitting their incapacity to suffer wrong and their lack of wisdom, authority and
saintliness that might have qualified them to judge, in the Age to Come, the
subjects in Christs Kingdom as well as angels: 6:
1-8. Paul had to inform them that
such low-class [regenerate]
believers would be excluded from the
The Thessalonians - matched by some, poor, persecuted, generous, single-minded believers today - were model Christians (for that is the meaning of ensamples, or exemplary Christians: 1 Thess. 1: 6-10). Even the Macedonian believers at Philippi, who made Paul constantly grateful and glad (1: 3-9), composed as they were of such shining converts as Lydia, the ex-Pythoness, the one-time jailer, and their households, had a living fly of death in their box of spikenard, so that Syntyche experienced, as poetess Fay Inchfaun put it, How odious Euodias can be (and perhaps vice versa). We cannot always rejoice in ourselves or our circumstances, but we can always rejoice IN THE LORD, Who giveth songs in the night: Job 35: 10; Acts 16: 25; Phil. 2: 2-11. (Although I remember the weakness of the flesh when, in the big pulpit of the huge building that is Surrey Chapel, Norwich, the Secretary arose, blew a short signal on his whistle, and the congregation arose too, singing a song of praise and assurance is they filed out and down into the basement, while the enemy planes roared overhead).
Our Lord never said: Only believe! as the way of [our future] salvation; on the contrary: Except your - repeat your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees Seek ye first the Kingdom of God: Strive to enter in; Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple: Mt. 6: 33; Lk. 13: 24; 14: 25-35. Can the light in us become darkness - beneath the bed or bushel of comfort or business? Can the salt in us become insipid or imperceptible?
tribulation we must enter
Now the apostle Paul who uniquely bade us follow him, as a successful follower of the Lord - his own, and ours, (Phil. 3. 17), was a devoted and single-minded bond-slave of Christ Jesus, pressing toward the mark (or goal) for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, of which, only right at the end, he was certain: 2 Tim. 4: 6-8.
So many drop out of the running; they do not endure unto the end: 2 Tim. 4: 16-18; 1 Tim. 6: 17-19; Col. 1: 22-23; Phil. 3:
17-19; Ephes. 4: 22-32; Gals. 5: 7-10;
Now so far we have looked at several reasons for believing that The Coming of the Lord is very near, and also very necessary.
Before we consider its nature, however, we shall attempt to answer a number of questions, such as: Will there be a time of revival before the Lord returns? Will there be more specific indication of an internal and spiritual kind - corresponding to the migratory or homing instinct in the animal kingdom?
We shall have to strive hard to divest our minds of a number of party or denominational traditions or slogans (like THE Rapture of THE Church - which are tendentious, or question-begging). In their place we must put - and keep - the actual words of Holy Scripture. To this end we shall also need to note the very words of the Lord the Spirit - e.g. COMING, which is not just a straight and simple downward journey. It is, in fact, quite complicated - or complex. Behold, I come quickly! - or is it suddenly, swiftly? For the words were uttered some 1900 years ago. Besides, the seemingly simple works of God are complex - but they will stand, and reward, careful study.
The Return of the Lord, if it could be shown, at intervals, on a slow-motion film, or by a series of snaps, would be seen as:-
1. Departure from Heaven;
2. Descent to air;
3. Arrival there;
4. Stay there - for a considerable interval, with much time-consuming work to be done, many people to be interviewed, interrogated, adjudicated - probably in differing groups, then
5. Publicity, with Judgement of Gods earthly people, Israel, Judgements upon the enemies of the Lord, in battle, Judgements, of the Living Nations, non-combatants, and Descent of the Lord from the air to the earth, and the Proclamation and Establishment of His [Millennial] Kingdom here on earth.
All this could be represented by a vertical line, broken at the meeting-place of the Lord and His people; then, by a horizontal line indicating the duration of the Lords Stay in the air: finally, by, as it were, the continuation of the vertical line earthwards, as on our cover:
This is not very complicated, but it does answer and settle one very important question, viz.: Will the Lords Return be secret or open for all to behold? ...
There are believers who have been taught, and who hold tenaciously to the idea, that there can be no Secret Coming, and they quote the reference to the LIGHTNING. They will necessarily omit the opposing reference to the THIEF, and to all that will take place during tile interval or stay in the air: for the Lord is coming to JUDGE HIS PEOPLE - individually as well as personally, serially as well as successively, and of course in private, in His Pavilion, in camera, behind locked doors, as during the upbraiding in the Upper Room: Mk. 10: 14.
In Heaven, we may assume, there will he a Gallery of a Great Cloud of Witnesses, intensely interested in their successors as Rulers over the nations in the Age to Come: Which things the angels desire to look into (1 Pet. 1: 12 end; Heb. 2: 5; Rev. 2: 26-27; 1 Cor. 6: 2-3).
At this point, we may as well introduce the 3 Greek words used by the Lord Himself, and by the Holy Spirit. The first word is PAROUSIA, connected in its composition with PARAllel (alongside) and ESSence (being).
Now this word - PAROUSIA - which occurs 7 times in the 2 Thessalonian Epistles, is each time rendered COMING 1st Ep. 2: 19; 3: 13; 4: 15; 5: 23; 2nd Ep. 2: 1, 8), but in itself it contains no sense or statement of movement, or motion. It is therefore best translated by PRESENCE, VISIT, STAY, BEING ALONGSIDE. Coming is, of course, implied, but the Greek word for come is quite different: it is erchomai (e.g. Rev. 3: 11; 22: 12, 20; Jn. 14: 3). No Bible student without at least a working knowledge of Greek can reasonably claim a hearing in prophetic studies. Did Enoch declare: The Lord cometh (erchomai), or came (elthen; Nestle), in Jude 14? It is false philosophy, and false logic, to assert, with evolutionists and uniformitarians, that the present is the key to the past: No Divine intervention now; therefore no Divine intervention in the past - or ever!
The Lords Own clue is the exact opposite: AS IT WAS. SO SHALL IT BE! The past is the key to the future. God has already intervened in judgement - and that is evidence that He can - and will - again so intervene. Hence, Enochs word was also a warning - announcing the impossible Flood, as in, it is said, his own sons name: Methuselah. Thus, Enochs prophetic words: The Lord cometh ... to execute judgement are doubly true, as the translators must have felt.
Now the same applies to
The very purpose of the Corning, the Parousia, is adjudication, that is, investigation, and condemnation - or commendation; in other words, a verdict - after examination and publicity - for or against, favourable or hostile, good or bad: 1 Cor. 5: 10. It is according to our works, That he hath done - means his activity, his actions, practices, his deeds, his conduct, his works - whether we admit this, or no; and a closed mind - closed by false teaching, tradition, complacency - just cannot take it in.
Now the investigation and adjudication take place inside the Parousia-Pavilion, or Court of appeal - public to the angels and our fellow-believers, but in private as far as the outside world is concerned.
So much, for the moment, on the Parousia.
Now a word on the EPIPHANY, or Appearing.
EPI-PHAN-Y is, ultimately, SHINED UPON, that is, visible, appearing; hence, APPEARANCE, MANIFESTATION. Our word PHENomena really means visible things, by light shining upon them, made manifest, caused to appear. Thus we read: We must all APPEAR - be MADE MANIFEST, VISIBLE, EXPOSED, before the Bema, or Judgement Seat, of Christ: 2 Cor. 5: 10); cf. appear, appear, manifested, manifested, manifest in 1 Jn. 3: 2, 5, 8, 10 - but When He shall appear, we shall be like Him does not mean that His Presence will perfect us instantaneously so that no investigation will be needed; that would contradict the very idea of an investigation, we shall not all immediately be made perfect! We shall appear as we - still - really are).
The third word here to look at - or into - is APOCALYPSE, or RE-VEL-ATION, which is making public, visible. This applies to the termination of the PAROUSIA, and its internal EPIPHANY.
The first part will be private - but the end will be public.
Here, then, is the answer to the question of the Secret Coming, that many believers deny. They seize upon the figure of LIGHTNING, and ask whether this is visible or no? There is no question at all; of course, lightning, is visible - and the end of the PAROUSIA will most certainly be visible; but the Lord also speaks of His THIEF-LIKE Coming; why do our friends omit this?
The Lord enjoins WATCHFULNESS - Why? Because, if we will not watch, we shall not know. This He makes quite clear to the angel - the minister or pastor in charge of the Church in Sardis: Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I WILL COME ON THEE AS A THIEF, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee (Rev. 3: 2-3).
Does a thief shine in like lightning, or come with a masked - and invisible - dark lantern in secret? The Lord had already said almost the same thing to His disciples in the Gospels: Mt. 24: 42-44; Mk. 13: 33-37; Lk. 21: 34-36. Now will any persist in denying the THIEF-LIKE COMING OF THE LORD?
The Coming of the Lord will, then, quite definitely, be in two stages - first, to the air (1 Thess, 4: 17), which will be in secret, invisible, thief-like; the second, which will be public, visible, lightning-like, down to the earth.
You disagree? That does not prove this wrong!
You were not brought up to believe that! But was your upbringing wholly and exclusively Scriptural? Yes, you reply. It says that every eye shall see Him! But that will be true at the Apocalypse - and not till the Apocalypse, not during the Epiphany!
This leads on to two further questions.
1: Will all the Lords people be caught up at once? (i.e. all the dead and all the living).
2: Will all the Lords people pass through the Tribulation?
Taking the 2nd question first, What is the Tribulation? Is there only ONE?
There are, Christians who are certain that no believers can pass through THE Tribulation, THE GREAT Tribulation; they may admit - as indeed they not only may, but must, that through much tribulation we must enter the Kingdom of God: Acts 14: 22; looking into the original, however, they discover that what it really says is Through many afflictions (dia polloon thlipseoon). They may then recall Pauls words to the Philippians (1: 29): Unto You it is giver, in the behalf of Christ NOT ONLY TO BELIEVE ON HIM, BUT ALSO TO SUFFER FOR HIS SAKE (true only of the joint-heirs of Roms. 8: 17-18, though but few have noticed this!); having the same conflict (agoona) which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me. They may recall, too, the feelings - convictions, rather - of the Apostles Peter and John (beaten, yet unbeaten!) rejoicing that they were accounted worthy to suffer shame for His Name - forbidden and threatened, yet they ceased not, but daily in the Temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and declare Jesus as the Messiah.
But, particularly, our friends may remember that the Great Multitude, in white robes triumphant before the Throne of God in heaven had come OUT OF (Gk. ek) THE AFFLICTION THE GREAT.
To me, at any rate, and to some others, it is thus clear and conclusive that some believers will pass THROUGH and be BROUGHT OUT, OF THE GREAT Tribulation.
But does that prove that all believers will have to - must - pass through it? Definitely not!
Did my father pass through THE Great Tribulation? Or your grandfather?
The answer lies in the fact that there are two kinds of tribulation, even two kinds of Great Tribulation, What two kinds are these?
Just as there are two kinds of martyrs (witnesses) - life-long and death-short, so to speak, so there are two kinds of tribulation, chronic, and acute. You can give up your life in 5 minutes, or in 50 years.
Many, many Christians have never suffered much, either for Christ, or with Christ. But even in this country there were Christians who suffered, even unto death, a few centuries ago; even in this century there are Christians who are suffering terribly in Communist countries; but not everywhere, all down the centuries.
However, we are told specifically how we may (not evade, but) avoid even the Great Tribulation when it comes, short and sharp, under anti-Christ. The Philadelphian angel was granted a provisional and consequential or contingent escape, an escape of reward (rather than of grace), a sort of quid pro quo, a keeping for having kept, because ... therefore; to quote Rev. 3: 10: Because thou didst keep My word about (?) endurance, I also will keep thee from (out of) the hour of temptation (trial) ‑ c.f. Jn. 12: 27 - which shall come upon all the world to try them that dwell upon the earth. That retrospective commendation and prospective promise is individual; here is the more general but equally contingent consequence: Watch ye therefore and (because of the world-wide snare), pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man (Lk. 21: 34-36).
As so often, the truth lies between two extremes: Not all believers will escape the Great Tribulation; not all believers will have to endure it.
Our Lord (it is agreed) is the Nobleman going into a far country, to receive for Himself a Kingdom - and to return (Lk. 19: 12-28), with the command to His ten servants: Occupy till I come (erchomai). Left on their own - on probation, to test alike their loyalty and fidelity, their devotion and industry, in making the most, by trading, of the ten pounds entrusted to them, they were to be rewarded on His Return with positions of authority - ruling with Him - in His [Millennial] Kingdom. When He was returned, having received the Kingdom, then He commanded these servants to be called unto Him, to whom He had given the money, that He might know how much every man had gained by trading. This is all adjudication Parable, a Pre-view of the Bema (or Judgement Seat) of Christ.
This parable of the pounds in Luke is paralleled in Matthew by the very similar parable of the talents in chapter 25: 13-30. Here we have the introduction of the investigation and adjudication with a reference to the Lords long absence, now very close on 2000 years (or 2 thousand-year days by the parable of the Good Samaritan: Lk. 10, - where the penny, or denarius, represented in the where-withal of life for the morrow, for the reward or wage of the Labourers in the Vineyard was a denarius, the livelihood of the coming day: Mt. 20: 2 - earned by the determined and energetic 11th hour workmen in the little time left at their disposal). In Luke 19: 16 we hear the industrious servant confessing: Lord, Thy pound hath gained ten pounds - and his reward was authority over ten cities (cf. Decapolis); in Matthew 25: 20 we hear the correspondingly enterprising servant saying - without boasting, for the reward is not of grace, but of works: Behold, I have gained ... five talents more. The Lords Well of Luke 19: 17 is rightly rendered in Matthew 25: 21. 23 by Well done! Rule over many things, and entrance into the Joy of the Lord (for which He put up with the terrible Cross and the Agony in the Garden: Heb. 12: 2) - the Joy of enthronement at the Right Hand of the Father in Heaven: Rev. 3: 21-22. The Race of endurance is set before us, and The Good Agony (Gk.) with its Love of His Appearing, and the Crown of Righteousness, awarded by the Righteous Judge, the Umpire and Adjudicator, Who has Himself already been awarded Crown and Throne and Sceptre: Heb. 1: 8-9; Ps. 2: 6-9; Rev. 2: 26-27; 3: 21-22. He has also been anointed (in Messiahship) with the oil of gladness (Joy) above His Fellows.
Here, then, is the much needed incentive that is so rarely taught, to spur [regenerate] believers on; it is a Prize indeed, a Heavenly Calling - inspiring the Apostle Paul: Phil, 3: 10-14, to intense and all-absorbing concentration of devotion. So very many Christians drop out of the race (and even get off course) because they fancy all is of grace, and that they will be alright, though mere babes, born again, indeed, yet as being [initially] saved without works, and without hope - or knowledge of this special Joy of the Lord - His Joy, set before Him, as the Incorruptible Crown - that Paul strove for - is set before us: 1 Cor. 9: 24-27 (where castaway - rendered rejected in Heb. 12: 17 - means disqualified for the Crown as Israel - our danger-signal in the following chapter: 1 Cor. 10: 1-12 - forfeited the Kingdom).
Here, then, also, is the much needed sanction, warning, threat - the possibility of positive loss at the Judgement Seat of Christ, His Bema of adjudication, that most evangelists avoid.
In the two parables quoted from, more space is given to the fearful and unprofitable, the wicked and slothful servant (WHOM SOME EXPOSITORS DECLARE WAS NO SERVANT AT ALL!!), who, again perhaps relying on all of grace, hid his Lords money, fancying it would be acceptable, when it represented to Him serious loss. The Lord Who gives the increase of harvest, IS HARD - upon the lazy, presumptuous, cowardly. profitless servants: BUT VERY FEW CHRISTIAN TEACHERS WILL AGREE WITH THIS, OR WITH ME (who do not matter, except that I have to be faithful as a steward, and not a mere man-pleaser). So I repeat, disagreement with me will not prove you are right!! The Coming [Millennial] Kingdom is a Kingdom of Reward: Rev. 22: 12; 11, 18, entrance into it being the prize for good works - as distinct from the Eternal Kingdom of Grace that follows - but who would deliberately choose darkness for the Thousand Years? Here, then, are the sanction and the incentive that the flagging and flabby Church of today so badly needs.
1 Jn. 2: 28 tells us of the possibility of our being ashamed away from Him at His Appearing, if we do not abide in Him, with His words abiding in us.
Now the Lord Jesus Christ - the Messiah, and Jehovah - informs us as to those of whom He Himself will be ashamed at His Return. He Who is the Word of God identifies Himself with His words concerning the historicity and Creation (not Evolution!) of Adam and Eve (Mk. 10: 6), concerning His Lordship, and the everlastingness of His utterances.
Do we make the Word of God of none effect through our (evangelical) traditions, and our denominational slogans? (all of grace; by faith alone).
What does hiding in a napkin mean? or light under a bushel? or under a bed?
Could it mean that we have kept the sacred deposit of [our initial, and of a future (1 Pet. 1: 5, 9.)] salvation to ourselves, never using our testimony to win others to the Lordship of the Messiah? or that we have allowed business interests and advantages to seal our lips, and stop our witness? We ought to be proud of God, and of His Word; we ought, too, to qualify ourselves to defend it, make it known as error-free - even free of alleged scientific mistakes, declaring it to be worthy of fullest acceptance, in view of the erroneous theories, and changing opinions of men, in these dark days of despair, uncertainty, apathy and fear.
It is very clear that not all believers will win Christs [Millennial] Kingdom of Reward, and earn His approval at His Judgement Seat: there are repeated catalogues of excluding sins: sexual impurity, anger, sectarianism and erroneous separatism that will shut believers out of the Kingdom of Reward for suffering and good works: 1 Cor. 6: 9-10; Gals. 5: 19-21; Ephes. 5: 3-7; 1 Tim. 9-10. The teacher who asserts that these are impossible to Christians is, consciously or no, a deceiver, or even worse. Once a believer gets out of touch with God, he can become guilty of almost anything. Be not partakers implies that we can partake of sins, and of judgement. Where are the informed and fearless teachers who dare proclaim these warnings? The watchmen who are afraid to declare the whole counsel of God may suffer loss because of their lukewarmness, timidity, and disloyalty.
Will any one - any believer - presume when about to be beaten with many, or with few, stripes, to oppose all of grace, boast of his freedom, by new birth, or at a great price, and his citizenship of the Heavenly Jerusalem? but if so, will his threatened beating be averted? (Lk. 12: 45-48). We mostly use a little Bible within the Bible - full of promises, devoid of warnings, whether specifically to believers, or awful examples given in the 0ld Testament: therefore, unhappy surprises - as well as happy ones - are in store for us. But how little do we know the full revelation of God! Why did I have to leave typewriter for concordance to get the reference to degrees of stripes? Thank God for the exceeding great and precious promises but do let us note any conditions attached, and make sure we qualify to inherit the blessing!
And why is all this indisputable Scriptural teaching unpopular, and unpalatable?
Why do we call our righteousnesses filthy rags, when they are nothing of the kind? These words were spoken on behalf of Jewish religious hypocrites two or three thousand years ago (Isa. 54), in contrast the good deeds of the people of God are called fine white linen: Rev. 19: 7-9. Did the Lord call Marys deed a good work - or a filthy rag? Surely that would hardly be an incentive or an encouragement to doing good - which we can do, and many Christians actually do, some occasionally, some all the time, as the Word of God repeatedly affirms. Teachers have no right - in fact they are quite wrong, to declare, stretching Roms. 3: 12 unwarrantably and limitlessly, that no one ever did, does, or will do - indeed cannot ever do, GOOD.
The other way round, the broad way - easy, crowded, popular, pleasant - is removed from Christian possibility, together with stripes and darkness, and every threat and warning that even a blind outsider can clearly see are needed for [regenerate] believers - The broad way is made non-applicable to the Church, so that she is robbed of challenging sanctions, as well as of stimulating incentives, and so that every encouragement is given to harmless backsliding and unattractive drop-outs, yes, spiritual drop-outs, who once ran well! The Pharisees will be offended at that saying; yes, but what was the Lords reply? What was Pauls example?
I for one, I hope, am taking no risks. Paul was not sure of his Crown till just before his being offered: Phil. 3: 11-14, 2 Tim. 4: 6-8 - so how can I be? And if I am offered a Crown or Sceptre, or Throne - when the angelic heads abdicate (Rev. 4: 10; Heb. 2: 5), in favour of Christs Fellows and Joint-Heirs, I shall certainly not cast that Crown down: so I have tried to encourage our people to sing: Till we take our crowns before Thee.
My Incentive or Prize is thus approval at Christs Judgement Seat, it is being accounted worthy to live and reign with Him for The Thousand Years before Eternity proper begins: Heb. 4: 11; 2 Thess. 1: 5-7; 1 Cor. 9: 24 end; Phil. 3: 13-14; Rev. 2: 25-27; Rev. 3: 21.
My Sanction or Deterrent is that no man take thy Crown, The rest of the dead lived not again till The Thousand Years were finished: Rev. 3: 11; 20: 5.
Well, that is all the space we
can spare for our main concern - the
Now how long will the Parousia-Presence - the Judgement-Pavilion - remain in the air? It will be there a minimum of 7 years, though some have thought, since RAPture is REAPing, that it will last all the days of the harvest - with each day standing for a year. The Harvest will consist of First fruits (Rev. 14), General Harvest, and finally Corners of the Field, some of whom at least will be the victims of Satanic attack: Rev. 12: 17. Here, almost unnoticed, we see a double remnant of the Womans Seed (the Greek is plural) - those who keep the commandments of God (Old, Testament saints), and those having the witness of (or to) Jesus (Christians).
One shall he taken (favourably), one is left (for a time - since we must all appear before the Judgement Seat of Christ). Will the one left behind become restored from backsliding? Will others non-believers - develop faith when they see, from the missing, the truth of Rapture? These are interesting, and not idle questions. Besides, there is coming a time of revival, though just when we do not precisely know; but what we do know is that whosoever shall call on the Name of the Lord shall be saved: Acts 2: 16-21 (BEFORE that great and terrible Day of the Lord - ushered in by wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath, not occurring at Pentecost; accompanied or preceded by a mighty outpouring of the Spirit of God).
With the [watchful] saints gone (salt and light removed from the earth), corruption and darkness will be ready to spread; yet there is also, it seems, to be a period of peace - false alike in its nature and its impermanence. Wicked men will boast that they have achieved it - without the Prince of Peace: 1 Thess. 5: 3 (Peace and security - with its modern ring: cf. Security Council). The First Horseman of the Apocalypse - definitely not our Lord, Who is, however, depicted upon a White Horse in chapter 19 - goes forth conquering and to conquer, in peaceful penetration; but only to be succeeded by the Second Horseman, who was given power to take peace from the earth: Rev. 6: 2, 4.
This false peace on earth, in the absence of the peacemakers, will deceive many. For, sudden destruction cometh upon them (1 Thess. 5: 2, Rev. 6: 4-8), and great slaughter ensued, with famine and rationing.
Will this be the time when the
nations shall unite to plunder prosperous and defenceless
This new Exodus may well be very soon now, though just how soon we cannot say.
Israelis may be driven out wantonly, and at short notice, deliberately to disrupt the economy of the Promised Land, with its population suddenly doubled from three to six million.
The evacuation will doubtless be both hurried and speeded up, unexpected and unprepared for, but a self-appointed Protector, coming in His own name (Jn. 5: 43), will be welcomed with his show of friendship and patronage. A treaty will, it seems, be signed by him, a seven years pact, only to be repudiated and broken by this false and treacherous pseudo-benefactor, after three and a half years, or in mid-week: Dan. 9: 27.
In recent years and decades,
With the Church [of the firstborn] removed,
The material prosperity that have accompanied Israeli aspiration and industry, backed by
the miraculous 6-day war of 1967, draw attention to
The (self-styled) Church had for
Now listen to this: God Who
makes the sun, the moon, the stars, to shine, and Who causes the sea twice
daily to advance and retreat, declares: When day and night cease (Gen. 8: 22; Jer. 33: 19-22),
when ocean tides stop ebbing and flowing, then the seed
of Israel also SHALL CEASE FROM BEING A NATION BEFORE ME (UNDER MY EYES) for
saith the Lord; if heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the
earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of
Apart perhaps from As I live, saith the Lord, could language be bolder,
stronger and, humanly speaking, more daring, than Jehovahs Own recorded and
reiterated words? So, ignore the ignorant,
hardened and twisting - isms and ists - whatever and
whoever they may be, and cheer up.
The Lord of hosts has - in His works and words - a reputation for
reliability, still to be proved, and enjoyed, and admired, through
The modern Northern Pharaoh, like his Egyptian original and prototype,
will shortly thrust
(You can read about this Coming Invasion in a tiny booklet free for s.a.e. - reproducing an Open Letter sent from USA in 1968 to Soviet Premier Kosygin).
chapters 38 and 39, and see what God is going to do,
The closing 9 verses are
impressive and thrilling; they begin : I will set My Glory among the heathen (the Gentile
nations around - on audible radio and visible TV), and
all the heathen shall see My judgement that I have executed, and My Hand that I
have laid upon them. So the House of Israel shall know that I
am the Lord their God from that day forward. They end: Neither will I hide My
Face any more from them: for I have poured out My Spirit upon the House of
Israel will have ceased to look to Britain or USA for protection or support; on the contrary, they will look to Jehovah (Whose Name they will not, then, out of superficial and superstitious reverence, be afraid to spell in full, or to pronounce), Who will have given them, a new and united heart, so that they will, like homing doves, INSTINCTIVELY, turn to Jehovah, the God of Israel and the God of the whole earth. He it is Who will pour out upon them the Spirit of Grace and Supplications (Zech. 12: 10). They will throw targums and tantrums to the winds, and learn from the pure Torah alone, free from mere rabbis and traditions, and see the Old Testament continued and completed in the New, now no longer a forbidden book.
After standing still - in feet and mouth and heart to see the Salvation of the Lord, they will in unison shout in grateful, praiseful triumph: Lo, this is our God, we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the Lord: we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His Salvation (Isa. 25: 9).
There will then be no further need for Missions to Jews, so they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know Me, from the least to the greatest (Heb. 8: 8-12).
When the Lord turned again (fully and finally) THE CAPTIVITY OF ZION, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them. The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad. Turn again our captivity, 0 Lord (Ps. 126: 14).
people shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in
I will send My Messenger, and He shall prepare the way before Me: and the Lord, Whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His
Temple, even the Messenger Whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come, saith the
Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day
of His Coming? ... And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He
shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may
offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then
shall the offering of
In the apocalyptic
pre-millennial judgements, 144,000 of all the tribes of the children of Israel will
be marked with a preserving seal, before Messiahs [Millennial] Kingdom on and over this earth; in the Eternal Kingdom, on the New Earth,
the Great City, the Holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having
the GLORY OF GOD, had a wall ... and
twelve gates ... and names written thereon, which are
the names of the twelve tribes of the children of
Finally, what about the judgements upon the Gentiles - heathen nations, neither Church nor
As a class, only the Church - the entire Church [of the firstborn (See: Heb. 12: 14-23)], will be raised from the dead at Christs Return, joined with the raptured living; yet with them it would seem that the prophets and martyrs of old, together with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and David (Lk. 13: 28-29; Ezek. 34 and 37) will be present.
There will be no other Jews,
unless Ezek. 37 (
As to Gentiles, in near-resurrection (normally of the body), it seems that the spirit of Nero (in a counterfeit resurrection, the 8th being one of the 7 deceased emperors: Rev. 13: 3-18; 18: 8, 10-11) alone arises temporarily.
judgement of the Gentiles - and Jews - of all preceding generations will be
after the Millennium, and will decide who shall enter (as subjects) the Eternal
Kingdom on the New Earth. This judgement
will be at the Great White Throne; it is often called The Final (or Last) Judgement, or The Great (or
Last) Assize. It will be (so to speak) a
sort of double resurrection, with a dual verdict, which many have never
perceived, through the wrong (theoretical assumption that all the works are bad
works; this is what was taught me: But, my dear boy,
theyre all bad works! Yet I was never convinced and, when I discovered for myself John 5: 28-29, backed by Romans
2: 5-11, 14-16, I became quite convinced of the opposite. I saw the
Now will there be a period of Revival before the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord - when Gods [Holy] Spirit is to be poured out upon all flesh? It seems to say so in Joel 2: 32; 3: 11-14, 16-21.
Similarly, will there be a time of peace, even if spurious, because it will not last? Again, it seems to say so. Because men will boast that they have achieved Peace and Security! without the Prince of Peace: 1 Thess. 5: 3; again, the First Horseman of the Apocalypse (6: 2) apparently advanced by peaceful penetration, and the Second Horseman (not this time on a white, but on a red horse) had power to take peace from the earth; so peace must have been there.
We may then enquire, Will the period of Revival and the period of the False Peace coincide? This may well be.
Alert Christians will not be deceived by the False Peace - premature, and short-lived, but will use it to spread the Good News, which will of course include warning. Like John the Baptist, the Heralds of Messiahs Coming and Kingdom will cry: Flee from the Wrath to Come - Who may abide the Day of His Coming?
With Christians - effective Christians - gone (and are you - am I - an effective Christian? Not all are, not all the time!), with the salt removed, and the light as well, with the brakes removed from the great descending coach of humanity, permissiveness will increase, unchecked, darkness will increase, un-illumined, and a crash will ultimately and inevitably follow.
Besides, Satan in person - and with his minions, fallen angels, is going to be cast out of Heaven (Rev. 12: 9-10), and the climax will rapidly come.
Israel, returned in full to the Land of Promise, will be Gods only representatives on the earth, and Satan will seek to surround the Holy City (Zech. 12 and 14), and destroy the Witnesses of Jehovah-Jesus, converted to Him (Hebr. the 1st and Last) Whom they pierced (Zech. 12: 10).
The armed enemies of God and of His people will be destroyed in the Battle of Armageddon, as clearly indicated in Rev. 19, and other Scriptures.
Before Armageddon, there will be a succession of restrictive and destructive attacks on a godless and self-sufficient technological society. The breaking of the seals of judgement, and the outpouring of the vials (bowls) of wrath will, as indicated, repeat in measure the plagues of Egypt, upon the self-declared agnostic Pharaoh. In Him we live, and move, and have our being; every breath we take, every mouthful of food we swallow, every ounce of strength or skill we possess - all comes from God in the last analysis, and when men finally tell God to depart from them, He will depart, taking His gifts with Him. Attempting to live, to exist, on their own resources, will spell Hell. A colleague once said to me: I dont want anyone to die for me: Ill stand on my own feet! But were they really his feet? And what did his feet stand on?
God Who lends us life, can recall it whenever He wills, and by whatever means He wills. With arthritis in knees and feet, as well as elsewhere, I have learnt how very dependent I am: and with very nearly dying two years ago, I know it is the Lords mercies I have not been consumed. How am I here? By the grace of God! And why am I here? To the glory of God, I trust. Occupy till I come!
Here will be Gods answer to the population-problem, terrible as it will be.
Not by sterilisation, state-imposed, or self-imposed, much less by the colonisation of the planets. The disasters, calamities, catastrophes, earthquakes, and terrible unseen and unheard-of horrors, will be, in very large measure of mans own causing, by rejecting His Creator. Whom even little children today are not allowed to remember. Even the picture cards, to be collected in albums, given away in tea-packets (e.g. Brooke Bond - to whom we have just protested) put over evolution, with its fanciful millions of years. Gods last loud world-wide word to man is: Fear God, and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgement is come and worship Him That made heaven and earth, and the fountains of waters: Rev. 14: 6-7. It is Good News - not eternal, or of Eternity, but of the Millennial Age to Come.
Mans misleaders, and misrulers, will be removed, and the military population destroyed: then the civilian population will be adjudicated (Mt. 25: 31-46), separated as sheep from goats.
The First Advent of our Lord has
been called a Reconnaissance visit, brief, but searching and revealing, in
preparation for the Adjudication of the
This world-wide but temporary Kingdom, which the prophets [of God] foresaw and described, and which was heralded by John Baptist, by our Lord Himself, and by His Twelve Apostles, is itself but a foretaste - and sample - in The Age to Come, of the Everlasting Kingdom of God: in the Ages of the Ages, or, for ever and ever, on the New Earth, in contrast to the reigning for ever, for an Age, the Age to come, on this (restored) earth.
As in the Millennial Kingdom of Reward for good works, for devotion and suffering, faithfulness unto death by all the martyrs (chronic and acute), there will be both Rulers and subjects, and the 3-fold division of mankind as Jews, and Gentiles, and the Church of God, so apparently will it be in the Everlasting Kingdom of Grace on the New Earth, with its Metropolis, the New Jerusalem, descending from Heaven.
So must we reconcile any seeming discrepancy between Free Gift and Reward, which are taught so clearly, so emphatically, and so repeatedly in Gospel and Epistle, though so rarely distinguished by Christian teachers and evangelists.
The latter, often out for quick decisions, often secure superficial and temporary results, unable to provide either incentive or sanction, since they make sweeping promises without conditions, warnings or threats, and ignore the cautionary tale and awful example of Israels history, and their failure to enter (or retain) the Promised Land.
Where is the challenge (taken up by the Apostles, especially Paul) to forsake all, and follow the Christ, the King?
Where is the distinction, indeed, the contrast, between faith and works, between gift and reward, between the shaken and the unshakable Kingdoms: Heb. 12: 28, in our evangelical campaigns?
This booklet has been written, based. as we trust. upon the Word of God alone. to instruct and correct, to stir and stimulate, ministers of the Gospel and lovers of the Word with its wonders and truth.
A. G. TINLEY, B. A. July, 72.
* * * * * * *
In the dusk of our sorrowful hours,
The time of our trouble and tears,
The frost at the heart of the flowers,
And blight on the bloom of the years,
Like the mother-voice tenderly hushing
The sound of the sob and the moan,
We bear when the anguish is crushing,‑
He trod the wine-press alone.
From Him, in the night of His trial,
Both heaven and earth fled away;
His boldest had only denial,
His dearest had only dismay:
With a cloud oer the face of the Father
He enterd the anguish unknown;
But we, in the murk of our midnight,
Shall never endure them alone.
We bend in the human frail fashion,
And sway neath the weight of the rod,
But swift in its blessed compassion
Still hastens the help of our God:
And the sigh of the spirit faint-hearted, -
Goes up in a song to the throne,
Such strength in its need is imparted,‑
He trod the wine-press alone.
And, therefore, He knows to the utmost
The pangs that the mortal can bear;
No servant hath pain that the Master
Refuses to heal or to share:
And the cries that ascend to the Loving,
Who bowd Him for us to atone,
Are hushd at the gentle reproving -
He trod the wine-press alone.