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The New Testament Use of the Second Coming

It is essential to Christian Doctrine, Duty, and Character.

 

One of the main reasons why God lets us know what will happen in the future, and about Jesus Christ returning one day to set up His eternal kingdom, is that it should impact our lives in such a way that we will be pleasing to God and be worthy of His kingdom.

It used to be that every prophetical work had something to say on the practical nature of this doctrine. One has referred to the hope of the nearness of the Second Advent and its practical tendency, and takes the ground that it is a chief characteristic of the true Christian. He said, "But only too frequently does this way of thinking assume such a form, that the longing for the Coming of the Lord and the glory of His holy Kingdom, as well as sympathy in the fortunes of the church at large is too much impaired. At times, on the other hand, and among the pious, when the life of faith rules in due force, we again meet likewise with the apostolic hope and aspiration in living freshness.  That watching and hoping are so familiar to us, is a defect. The more we become heavenly in our character and thoughts, the more also does the stream of human history appear to us a hasting toward the Coming of the Lord."

The closer we get to God and the more we fill our lives with His Holy Word the more we will see how everything is moving toward the fulfillment of setting up the Theocratic Kingdom here on this earth, and that nothing has happened outside of God's will and control that could ever stop that from happening.

But of what practical use is the doctrine of Christ's coming and of His Millennial Kingdom? If we are saved is that not enough? Does it matter if I get rewards or not, just so long as I am going to heaven? Ignorance of the nature and the results of the Blessed hope alone can produce such questions and thinking. This ignorance, also, is utterly unjustifiable in any believer of the Scripture. It is God's Word, and directs us to believe and act. Abraham believed God and acted without hesitation when he was called upon to offer up Isaac as a sacrifice (Hebrews 11:17-19). In fact, in Hebrews, none of the ancient worthies refused any truth revealed and acted upon them with total belief. Even if nothing else could be asserted respecting it other than it is a revealed truth without any special bearing, we ought to receive and, if demanded, proclaim it.

Like Abraham (Romans 4:18-21), we give glory to God and secure His divine approval, by our faith in His Word. We should live a life of faith from this since faith honors God and His Christ. Our life will no more center on the flesh, but on Christ; like John "He must increase, and I must decrease." This doctrine, so prevalent throughout scriptures, leaves us without excuse. It requires a willing perverseness to avoid it, and willing blindness to avoid seeing it.

The doctrine of the Second Coming is so far-reaching and has such decisive influence that it materially affects the interpretation of the Bible. Depending on how you view the kingdom of God and the definitions you give it, how you interpret and apply the covenants, prophecies of the Old and New Testaments, parables, thousands of passages or even entire chapters or books, will be understood very differently from the meaning attributed to them by others of different beliefs. This is readily seen in just how some define the kingdom as the church, some take the literal meaning as given in the Bible, or even just being good in your heart. The Kingdom, the Gospel of the kingdom, the reign of Christ and all the multiple subjects that go with it have an important and very different meaning other than the sense usually given to them in modern times.

Any doctrine, such as this, which has such an influence in determining the meaning of Scripture, its application, etc., must be of great importance. It is even a school of Scripture interpretation as it infringes upon and affects some of the most commanding points of the Christian faith. When we give ourselves over to the Kingdom it will stop at nothing until it has engulfed the entire system of one's theology and the whole tone of spiritual character. "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:" (Prov. 23:7). If you live by what the Scriptures say about the kingdom you will be a part of the kingdom, if you live like the world, then you most likely will not attain anything higher than this world.

The doctrine of the kingdom deals mostly with eschatology (prophecy, the things of the future). The more time advances toward Christ re-establishing His kingdom here on the earth, eschatology must become less and less an unimportant appendix and more of a primary location of Christian doctrine. The personal relationship that we sustain to the future, the nature of the things discussed, the interest of the world, the honor and glory of the Redeemer, all go to show that this doctrine must necessarily assume a prominence and greater influence as the interest in it increases.

And there are many subjects that are of great importance and high interest so connected with this doctrine that they cannot escape notice:
1) The nature, manner and time of the Messianic Kingdom to be set up.
2) The nature, manner and time of the second Coming.
3) The nature, manner and time of the completion of redemption.
4) The precise destiny of the believer, the Church, and the world.
5) The destiny of the enemies of God.
6) The destiny of the Jewish people.
7) The course and order of events pertaining to the last times.
8) The signs preceding the Advent and pertaining to the last times.
9) The stages of the Advent.
10) The resurrection and translation.
11) The rise, progress, and end of the Antichrist.
12) The Millennial reign, blessedness, and glory.

All these different subjects of such great interest give eschatology a grandeur as in the destiny of the race as a race under the mighty Theocratic King and His incorporated rulers.

Our lord's return has been one of the fundamental articles of the faith of Christendom in every age of the church's history. To hide this important doctrine under a bushel is at once a defect of teaching and in opposition of the mind of Christ and His apostles.

Some of the things connected with Christ's Coming are thought of as so essential to the completeness of a Christian's character, that the true believer is represented as having them. Take, for instance, I Corinthians 1:7:

"So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:"

This is undoubtedly a leading, distinguishing characteristic of a believer. A Christ-like character demands the heart and attitude of a fully developed waiting, watching servant. This constant expectation of our Lord's Second Coming (Romans 8:19), when He shall be revealed in His glory unto all (Colossians 3:4), is one of the characteristic features of early Christianity.

This posture of waiting for our Lord is the greatest proof of maturity and richness of the spiritual life. It functions and cooperates with Faith, whereby we believe the promise of Christ; Hope, we look on its fulfilment; and Love, where that anticipation is lit up with earnest desire. This waiting also evidences the highest obedience to the command of our Saviour, and that our mind was full of the promises relating to his Coming (Enoch walking with Christ, abiding in Christ, and proclaiming His Coming).

The right waiting for the Coming of Christ allows us to be neither idle nor unfruitful, but should inspire us with an earnest zeal constantly to appropriate and improve every spiritual gift. On I Cor. 1:7 again, the waiting displays they had grace given them earnestly to desire and to wait for the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus. There was an earnest wish to see Him, and a confident expectation and firm belief that He will return, is an evidence of a high state of piety. This demands strong faith and will do much to elevate the feelings above the world, and to keep the mind in a state of peace (abiding in Christ).

"But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer." (I Pet. 4:7)

It ought to be the chief concern of believers to fix our minds fully on Christ's Second coming.

"And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come." (I Thess. 1:10)

To wait for the Son of God is the most appropriate mark of a true Christian. Otherwise, where is our faith? In the service of God, we are kept and established by the expectation of Christ; or else the world drags us back to itself, and we grow weary.

Theophilus Gale:
"We see the true reason why so many professors, and some truly godly, are so far behind in their Christian race, and have so much of their work before them. . . Whence comes all this but from want of serious, lively expectations of their Lord's approach? Believe it, there is a deep mystery, a spiritual art and skill in Godliness which none arrive unto so soon as they who wait for the Coming of their Lord. What made the Thessalonians, in a short time, to arrive unto such high pitches of Christianity, but they imbibed or sucked in, at their first conversation this principle of waiting for the Coming of the Lord (I Thess. 1:10)? And O' that professors would try this experiment! Verily, we should not have such complaints, decays, follies, and scandals, among professors, as we now everywhere find. It is a sure and fixed rule, that no one hath made a
further proficience in the school of Christ, than he can with hope and joy expect the Coming of Christ."

The affectionate longing for the appearing of the Lord in glory, presupposes a high degree of spiritual life; and, on the other side, is admirably fitted to nourish, to perfect, to purify our lives.

Anyone can see the multiplicity of subjects that this doctrine stands related and interwoven to. . . hence, the extreme significance of the exhortation of Paul :

"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come."  (I Timothy 4:1-8)

From this, it falls upon you how you treat these commands and exhortations and fulfill them in your life. To the extent that you believe and look for Christ's Second Coming will you contain these elements of a Christ-like and Christian walk in your heart, mind and soul.


Remember, these are the elements that lead to ruling and reigning with Christ in His Kingdom...