WHY I BELIEVE CHRIST IS COMING
Wm. G. CHANNON.
FOR more than a score of years now the truth of the Lord's Return has been with me something more than an article of creed : it has helped my life, and shaped my thinking. It was this particular truth perhaps more than any other, which induced me to commit my life to the work of the ministry.
In my early teens I had that revolutionary experience which is known by the old-fashioned term of "conversion." It was by means of a very unlettered man, who knew more about grace than about grammar, that I became converted. He was the instrument which God chose to bring me to Himself, and build me up into the Christian faith.
I can never forget how one afternoon as I left the train to continue on my further journey to school, I saw outside an Anglican Church an announcement to the effect that in that Church certain days would be given to the contemplation of the truth of the Second Advent. The names listed on the notice-board were names which in the past were well-known. So I decided that for a few afternoons, instead of studying trigonometry, I would go and listen to the addresses that were to be given on the Second Advent. There I learned that one day "this same Jesus" would come again. I grant you there was a good deal said that was beyond me.
As I look back over the years I ask myself the question, "What has this truth of the Second Coming meant to me?" To begin with it gave me a new sense of awe at the wonder of redemption's plan. I had grasped the fact that in our Lord's redemptive mission there were four great epochs ; but I had yet to learn that these all awaited their consummation. As to His Incarnation I could worship the infant Redeemer at Bethlehem's manger. As to His death on Calvary, I could "survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died." As to His Resurrection I could stand at the open sepulchre, and hear the angels say, "He is not here ; He is risen." And touching His Ascension I could gaze, with the wondering disciples, into the heavens, which received back the Saviour after those thirty and three years of triumphant life. I could do all that ; and then I learned that He was to come again the second time to receive the fruits of His Passion. Believe me, although I have had to submit to the discipline of study, and of theological examinations, I have never lost the thrill of that discovery.
This truth, further, gave me a better understanding of the Word of God. I would even go so far as to say that, in many respects, the truth for which we stand here is a key to the Scriptures. There are large tracts of the Bible which cannot be understood apart from it. Almost one-third of the word of God is devoted to it in one or other of its aspects; sixteen of the prophetic books of the Old Testament, part of the Psalms, a large section of the four Gospels; some part of almost all the Epistles, give to this truth a prominent place ; whilst the last book in the Bible, the Book of the Revelation, is almost entirely given over to events associated with it. It is not too much to say that, in my experience, this truth made the Bible a new Book to me.
Furthermore, it gives me a better understanding of the true function of the Church. You know the popular fallacy, that it is the business of the Church to Christianise society, to convert the world. What a hope ! If the Church is to be so enlarged as eventually to embrace all nations, then I submit to you on any showing, she is fighting a losing battle. If I really believed that it was the business of the Church to convert humanity, I should forthwith quit the ministry. I search the Bible in vain for any commission to convert the world. We are to evangelise it, but we are never led to believe that men everywhere will accept our message ; on the contrary, we are assured that they will reject it ; but it is still obligatory on our part to bear witness to it. This truth taught me that these are the days when God is calling out a people from the world, a people for Himself, and that when that work is complete, Christ will return for, and reign with, them. Many a time that thought has helped me to keep my sanity in the face of great odds. That is what God is doing.
Then also this truth gave to me an added incentive to holiness of life. "Every man that bath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure"(1 John 3 : 3). Here was the thought which came to me in the glow of my early enthusiasm. This truth was to influence my conduct, I must do nothing, say nothing, go nowhere, which would, in any way, be inconsistent with the thought that at any time Christ might come. Let me be found in all things doing His will, that I be not ashamed before Him at His Coming. That, I know, has been, and I trust, is your experience. If His death affords the means, then His Coming supplies the inspiration for a holy life. And, of course, when I use the word "holy" I do not mean anything squeamish. When I talk about holiness I mean something very practical, and very beautiful, too.
Then I found that this truth gave me a quickened zeal for service. There are those who say that the Second Advent cuts the nerve of Evangelism. That is utter nonsense! I could prove it to be such on many grounds. Some of our greatest and most successful missionaries have been Second Adventists. When Moody discovered the truth that Christ would return he affirmed that he put two days' work into every one. I know what it did for me; I was filled with a zeal to make Him known ; it gave me a desire to go out into the open-air and to speak simply, and yet faithfully, for Him. Did not the same desire possess the Apostle Paul ? "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing ? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming ?"
This truth gave me a keener appreciation of the Holy Communion service. To the vast majority who observe this Service it is simply one of remembrance. But I discovered that the Communion Table was, in effect, a bridge ; and I could never convey in words the thrill that was mine when next I broke bread and poured out the wine ; for it was not only a service that was retrospect, but one which gave me a glorious prospect - "Till He come." Every time we come to the Lord's Table we pass another milestone. The thought is not only that of remembrance, but hope. Incidentally, how do those who reject this truth explain the words which they use at the Communion Table, "Till He come" ? Thank God in Churches where the pulpit has been silent on this truth, the Table has always been eloquent.
Furthermore, this truth gives me the power to comfort the bereaved. Paul used this truth for the self-same purpose. "Wherefore comfort one another with these words." This truth is a healing balm to the heart that has been crushed and broken by bereavement.
This truth also gives me the solution as to the goal of history. It did a great thing for me when it did that. Every thoughtful person must have a philosophy of history. Surely we all ask ourselves at times, "What is the meaning, and purpose, and aim of human existence ?" How often we hear it said, "What is it all going to lead to? What are we here for? Do men just live and die, and is this process to go on indefinitely? Is this dismal process never to be arrested?" Yes, every thoughtful person must have some view as to the manner in which the chapter will wind up. This Book tells me that man, unaided by God, has always failed, and that he always will. It tells me that there will be wars and rumours of wars. I learn from its pages that men's hearts will fail them for fear for what is coming on the earth. God knows that is true. Someone said recently that the atomic power is here to stay. "Yes", was the retort, "but are we?" I learn from the Word of God that human standards of government will give way to His righteous reign, when "the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ." I do not know when the Saviour will return, but I know he is coming. I am not confused as to what the issue of it all will be. Let the world go down in darkness, and it surely will, we know that there is coming the dawn of a new day. We live in a world of delusions. Man can never fulfil the promises that he makes. We know what is to be the goal of all human history. It lies in the return of Christ to reign.
Let me now conclude with this. In my 18th year I went to a great meeting in the Royal Albert Hall ; the chairman was Dr. F. B. Mayer, and Miss Parkhurst was one of the speakers ; and the Rev. Walter Young led the choir. At the close of that meeting Dr. Mayer asked everyone present to stand. And after he had repeated the words "Surely I come quickly," I shall never forget how the cry rang out from the great multitude gathered there, "Even so, come Lord Jesus." The years have sped by since then. Tonight our faces are towards the sunrise, and we say with renewed intensity : "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." And He will.
- The Advent Witness.