THE PAROUSIA (2)
“We reprint this article under the deep conviction that the truth of our Lord’s “presence” in the heavenlies, as the junction of the dispensations of grace and judgment, is the keystone in the arch of prophecy which alone adjusts, into an intelligible whole, the events of the coming crisis.” – D. M. PANTON.
“PAROUSIA” - a word which is the cardinal pivot of all Second Advent truth, and the keystone in the arch of unfulfilled prophecy - in itself states merely a stationary presence, and is a coming only when linked with words implying motion. The ‘Parousia of Christ,’ used by the Holy Spirit as a technical expression, the Psalmist exquisitely unfolds. “He bowed the heavens also, and came down; and thick darkness was under His feet . . . He made darkness His hiding place, His pavilion round about Him; darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies” (Ps. 18: 11). Christ’s downward motion stops: His people’s upward motion stops: the Lord silently forms His Royal Court in a pavilion of cloud. The Parousia is thus secret - a hiding place; it is stationary - a pavilion; it is invisible - in thick darkness ; and it is the centre of rapture “He sent from on high, He took me.” For thus our Lord is to return. He ascended visibly, and was wrapt from sight in cloud: but He is to “so come in like manner” (Acts 1: 11) - that is, the process is to be reversed: He descends invisibly, concealed by clouds, and then bursts forth, visibly and bodily, as the Sun of righteousness. The interlude is the Parousia. The Parousia serves purposes of vital import to the Church. It is thither saints are to be rapt, encompassed, as our Lord was, with clouds: “we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up [‘a sudden and irrestible seizure by a power beyond us’: Dr. Eadie] in the clouds to meet the Lord”; a reunion, not on earth, nor in the heaven of heavens, but “in the air” (1 Thess. 4: 17); as homing doves flock to their airy dovecotes (Is. 60: 8). The Parousia is our ark of refuge. “In the covert of Thy Presence Thou shalt hide them from the plottings of man: Thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues” (Ps. 31: 20). It is the heavenly Tabernacle. against which Antichrist, enraged by the loss of his prey, hurls impotent blasphemies. “And he opened his mouth for blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, even them that tabernacle in the heaven” (Rev. 13: 6). Thus the ‘epiphany’ or manifestation to the Church [of the firstborn] (1 John 3: 2; 2 Tim. 4: 8) occurs in the ‘parousia’: the epiphany to the world (2 Thess. 2: 8) is delayed until the ‘apocalypse’ (2 Thess. 1: 7).
The Parousia is also the judgment court of the Church. judgment begins at the House of God (1 Pet. 4: 17): for “after a long time the lord of those servants cometh and maketh a reckoning with them” (Matt. 25: 19). Within the Parousia are enacted the Virgins, the Talents, the Pounds: here converts are presented by the evangelist (1 Thess. 2: 19): here the disciple’s heart and life axe examined (1 Thess. 3: 13), and blamelessness (1 Thess. 5: 23) or shame (1 John 2: 28) revealed. For the Household is examined in camera: the Bema is set up in the Throne-room: and the approval of the Judgment Seat is the supreme reward of the disciple, and an incorruptible motive of holiness. “We make it our aim to be well-pleasing unto Him. For we [disciples] must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Cor. 5: 10).
The Parousia of Christ runs simultaneously with the Parousia (2 Thess 2: 9) of Antichrist: the heavenly Parousia is the advanced outpost whither God recalls His ambassadors, on the outbreak of war against the world and the last judgments of God. “The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High uttered His voice ; hailstones and coals of fire. And He sent out His arrows and scattered them; yea, lightning, manifold, and discomfited them” (Ps. 28: 13; Rev. 8: 5; 10: 3; 1l.: 19; 16: 10). But Antediluvian and Sodomic wickedness recur, and remain obdurate, during the Parousia. Matt. 24: 37. At length ripeness of iniquity below, and the close of the judgment scene above, together, produce the break-up of the Parousia; scattering clouds on a sudden reveal to every eye the triple glory (Luke 9: 26) burning in the heart of the Pavilion. “For as the lightning cometh forth from the east, and is seen even unto the west; so shall be the presence [see Revised Margin throughout] of the Son of Man” (Matt. 24: 27); who shall paralyse Antichrist by the manifestation, or outburst, of His Parousia (2 Thess. 2: 8) ; and “then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matt. 13: 43). Our Lord’s feet alight upon Olivet. Zech. 14: 4.
So the Presence is to be the lode-star of the Church [of the firstrborn]; for its Bema is the criterion for all regenerate life and conduct. Unfulfilled prophecy all lies after the [first] Rapture: nothing stands between us and the summons of God. No premonitions, no warnings, no signals, no prophecies: “know this, that if the master of the house had known in what watch the thief was coming” - silently, secretly, suddenly, as a thief comes – “he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken through. Therefore be ye also ready; for in an hour that ye think not the Son of Man cometh” (Matt. 24: 43). Holiness is the supreme passport into the Presence. Luke 21: 36; 1 John 3: 3. “The miller’s apron, the baker’s cap, the labourer’s coat, the housewife’s gown, are all suitable material for ascension robes”: every day, every hour, puts in a stitch, or drops one, in the garment of our coming glory. Rev. 19: 8. “What I say unto you I say unto all, WATCH.” (Mark 13: 37).