The World's Redemption


Chapter 9 - The Literal Return of Christ to the Earth

Many profess to believe in the return of Christ, who make what the word of God says on the subject of none effect by holding popular traditions. THE TRUTH is such a perfect system that it will not admit of the introduction of one error without making confusion. The return of Christ is a burning and shining light throughout the Scriptures, and upon it depends the resurrection of the dead, the reward of the righteous, the fulfillment of the covenants of promise--in short the world's redemption. This important truth is nullified by the belief that all good men go to heaven when they die, and that heaven, not the earth, is the everlasting abode of the righteous, and that all the good have gone there and are saved. Why should Christ return to the earth, if, "at the end of the world," all the good of Adam's race are to be taken to heaven, and all the wicked are to be plunged into a hell of torment and the earth burned up? Where is there room left for a belief in the personal return and reign of Christ on the earth? Belief in the second coming of Christ by those who are wedded to the theory of heaven-going at death is very inconsistent. The false theory will not harmonize with the truth. It is more consistent to hold the radical "orthodox" theory of heaven-going and deny entirely the personal coming of Christ. But the only safe way is to accept the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. What has every reader of Scripture a right to expect from the prophecies and promises we find, in the Old Testament especially? The very first promise we have, that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head, would surely give us to understand that Christ, who is the seed of the woman referred to, will accomplish what is implied by bruising the serpent's head. What evil had the serpent introduced into the world? It had really been the cause of all evil, in whatever form it might appear and to bruise the serpent's head could mean nothing else than to remove all the evils of which the serpent's lie was the first cause. We come along down the ages until the time when the seed of the woman appears. Does He bruise the serpent's head to the extent that the promise would imply? Does He remove the evils, with which the world had then become full? The only sense in which it can be said that he bruised the serpent's head is, so far as it applied to Himself, He gained the victory over death and the grave, in Himself and for Himself, but death still held in the tomb all those who had died in the faith and it was declared by the apostle it was heresy to teach that the resurrection was past already. Hence so long as death held in its grasp those who had died in the Abrahamic faith, the serpent's head had not been bruised. Look at the world at the time Christ was here and trace its history to the present; view it as it is today and who can say that the serpent's head has been bruised? Who can say that sin with all its resultant evils has been eliminated from the earth? Here is a work that Christ as the seed of the woman was to do. He came; he went, but he did not do it. Shall we say that He has failed to do the work allotted to Him? Nay, verily.

PART OF HIS MISSION NOT FULFILLED

Again we go back and read that the whole earth was to be filled with the glory of the Lord. From numerous testimonies we may be sure that this wonderful work was to be performed in and through Christ, for whom and on account of whom all things are created. Did he, when he was here eighteen hundred years ago, fill the earth with the glory of the Lord? Nay verily. We have seen from the covenants of promise that the world was to be given into His hands and that He would bless all nations of the earth. He came, but all nations of the earth are not blessed. The covenant with David was that God would give to Christ his throne, and that He would reign over the house of Jacob for ever. The house of Jacob is still scattered among the nations of the earth; the throne of David is in ruins; Christ has been here, and has gone. The covenant is not fulfilled. Will it never be fulfilled? Who would dare say that God's promises will fail? We go back again to Moses, and hear him declare, "A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things." The prophet came, and appeared unto Israel. Did they hear Him? No, they did not. They have not heard Him yet. "Blindness in part has happened to Israel" and Christ has become a "stone of stumbling and rock of offense" to them, and yet Moses truly declared that they should hear Him in all things--He was to be a prophet like unto Moses, to do what Moses did. As Moses appeared to Israel and was refused for a time, so Christ appeared to Israel and was refused for a time. Will He yet do as Moses did, deliver Israel? Will He yet be a prophet whom they will hear in all things? He must be or the Scriptures of truth are broken, and the word of God has failed, which is impossible. From the prophecy of Isaiah we have learned that there was a son to be born, and a child was to be given, and he was to be the Prince of Peace, and of the increase of his government and peace there was to be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. When He came, those whose hearts had burned in contemplation of the fulfillment of these promises believed that He would fulfill them. They had a right to expect a fulfillment of what God had sworn to, and they had a right to expect that Christ would be the one who would fulfill them, for they could not be mistaken in regard to His identity. They could feel sure that He was the seed of the woman, that He was the seed of Abraham, to whom the promise was made, that He was the prophet like unto Moses, that He was the seed of David, who would build up the ruins of David's throne, and reign over the house of Jacob. They could be sure that He was the very person, all the marks of identity necessary were in Him. I say again, that they had a right to expect from these promises and prophecies that He would accomplish the things predicted. Had they been challenged, had some one said to them, You have no right to expect such things, they could have readily pointed them to, Thus saith the Lord, "The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head." "To thee and to thy seed will I give the land for an everlasting inheritance, and in thy seed shall all families of the earth be blessed." "A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you; him shall ye hear in all things"; "As truly as I live the whole earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord"; "The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David, he will not turn from it, of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne," and David says of this that it is "all his salvation and all his desire." To Isaiah's prophecy they could point, and ask, Who is this child that was to be born, and the son that was to be given? The only answer that could be given is that He was the one who was born in Bethlehem. Very well, then they could say, to that son, that child, was the throne of David to be given; and that He was to reign over the house of Jacob, for in the very same passage it says that the government was to be upon His shoulders, that He was to be the Prince of Peace, and of the increase of his government and peace there should be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. What else could they expect but that He would be the one to fulfill these glorious promises? Where is the mistake? He did not fulfill them. Did he fail? No, indeed. There is a mistake somewhere. Where is it? It is a mistake that never can be corrected if Christ does not return to the earth again and fulfill all these burning words of Scripture. A Prince of Peace is what He is called. A king that shall reign in righteousness and rule with equity, and when contemplating His birth, Mary cries out prophetically, "He hath showed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever" (Luke 1: 51-55). Zacharias saw that through Him would be fulfilled these prophecies and declared, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; as he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began; that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant, the oath which he sware to our father Abraham" (verses 68-73). At His birth angels appeared and identified Him as the promised Prince of Peace, and a multitude of the heavenly host cried out in praise to God saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will toward men." Here is the Prince of Peace; here are angels' voices proclaiming Him the one that was to bring peace on earth and good-will toward men. We accompany them; we see that the child is born, and that the son is given; we watch Him as He grows in stature and in wisdom; we listen to Him at twelve years of age, confounding the doctors in the temple; we hear Him even at this youthful age saying, "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business," showing what an exalted idea He had of the great mission entrusted in His hands. At thirty years of age He is heralded into public life by His forerunner, John, crying out, "Behold, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." Never man spake as this man spake; never man did what this man could do. He is wonderful in all that pertains to the great work of His life. Surely this is the Prince of Peace; surely this is the one that will bring peace on earth and good-will among men. We have only to wait but a short time to realize these inspiring prophecies which made the hearts of ancient seers burn with joyful expectation. We continue to accompany Him, filled with joy in the hope of the ecstacy with which such a fulfillment shall thrill the world. We are upon tip-toe looking and listening for peace, sweet peace, for a troubled world, and at last we hear Him saying, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I come not to send peace but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household" (Matt. 10: 34-36). Here is a blow that strikes all our hopes and expectations down to the ground. What shall we do? We step up and ask Him, Are you not come to bring peace on earth and good-will among men? Are you not the prince of peace who is to bless all nations of the earth, and fill the earth with the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea? Is God's word a failure? Here is Israel crying out under the bondage and oppression of the Roman galling yoke; they are looking to you for deliverance; the prophets of old have told us that you are to be their deliverer. Is all this a failure? Again He answers us in words that overcome us with discouragement and despair; instead of words of peace He speaks words of war; instead of words of consolation and comfort for a suffering world, He predicts times of greater trouble yet to come, declaring, "There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken" (Luke 21: 25, 26). Now what shall we do? I ask the question, I press the question, what shall we do? Christ has appeared and these promises and prophecies have not been fulfilled. Instead of bringing peace, He says He has sent a sword; instead of blessing the world of nations, He says there shall be distress of nations with perplexity; instead of filling the earth with the glory of the Lord, the world has passed through the darkest ages of its history since that time; instead of executing judgment, justice and righteousness upon the throne of David, David's throne is still in ruins; instead of being a prophet like unto Moses, whom Israel should hear, they cry out, "Away with him, we will not have this man to reign over us"; instead of receiving the land promised to Abraham for an everlasting inheritance, and blessing all nations of the earth, the land is still in desolation, and all nations are groaning underneath the burdens of a cruel oppression. Christ has been here; He appeared, He has disappeared, and that behind dark and dismal clouds that hang over the earth like the pall of death. Behind a frowning providence He has hid His face. Is all a failure? Is all a failure, I ask? Is the Bible a falsehood and a fraud? Must we hand it over to the infidel and admit that it is what he claims? Nay, verily, a thousand times nay. But if Christ has gone away to remain away; if there is no second coming of Christ to really and literally fulfill these promises then God's word has failed. Where lies the trouble? In the word of God? In a failure on the part of His beloved Son, the man at His right hand? No, indeed, a thousand times no. "As truly as I live all the earth shall be filled with my glory"; "my word shall not return to me void, it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." Where is the trouble? The trouble is in the apostate religious world. It has departed from the truth and given heed to fables which have fixed upon the minds of the people a tradition which has sent Christ and all his redeemed ones to heaven as their eternal abode, and predicted the destruction of this fair earth of ours, and thus the word of God in all these grand promises is made of none effect. But, dear reader, are you not willing to come to the rescue to snatch the Bible as a brand from the burning, vindicate its truth and the veracity of its Author, and spare not, cry out; echo and re-echo that He is yet to come. He who was led as a lamb to the slaughter will yet personally, literally and substantially appear again, the next time as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and that then He shall finally and for ever bruise the serpent's head, and ultimately eliminate from the earth the last vestige of evil; that He will then be the seed of Abraham who will possess the gate of His enemies, and bless all nations of the earth; that He will then be a prophet like unto Moses, whom Israel shall hear in all things; that He will then be all David's salvation and desire, the one whom David, as a prophet, knew would be raised up to sit upon his throne; of the increase of whose government and peace there should be no end, upon the throne of David; that He shall then be the Prince of peace; then the words of the heavenly host shall find gladsome fulfillment, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men," and then shall be realized the words so imperatively declared by Jehovah, "As truly as I live the whole earth shall be filled with my glory." He shall then put all enemies under His feet, destroying the last enemy, death; and thus the world's redemption shall be a glorious fact through Him who, having become a multitude, will be a habitation of God through the Spirit, when God shall be all and in all, and a redeemed world will cry out, "Hosanna! Hosanna! to Him that cometh in the name of the Lord."

It is not necessary to quote further from the numerous testimonies of the Old Testament Scriptures to prove the second coming of Christ. The fact that the larger part of the Old Testament prophecies remain unfulfilled, and their fulfillment depends on His second coming, is sufficient of itself to show that, since the word of God cannot fail, Christ must return again to accomplish all that the law and the prophets require in and through Him. As to the New Testament it really ought not to be necessary to cite the numerous testimonies in proof of such clearly revealed truth. The truth upon this and upon all other subjects would be very easily understood were it not for the speculations and perverseness of the religious world, which cloud and obstruct the way to a clear understanding. The following are some of the passages which declare in unmistakable language Christ's return to the earth; and when we say Christ's return, we mean His return in a real, tangible, personal sense, with no mystic or so-called spiritual meaning attached. We mean His coming as real as His going was, and let the reader keep this in view in examining these passages, and it will be seen no other conclusion can be reached.

Matt. 25: 31--When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all his holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory.

Luke 19: 12-15--He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. And it came to pass when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him.

John 13: 33--Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me; and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go ye cannot come.

John 14: 3--And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you, (here, not there) unto myself, that where I am there ye may be also.

Acts 1: 9--And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go.

I. Cor. 1: 7--So that ye come behind in no gift, waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall confirm you (at his coming; not at their going) unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I. Cor. 15: 23--But every man in his own order; Christ the first-fruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.

Phil. 3: 20--For our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Col. 3: 4--When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

I. Thess. 1: 9, 10--Ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; and to wait for his Son from heaven.

II. Thess. 2: 1--Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him.

Verse 8--And then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.

II. Tim. 6: 1--I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom, preach the word.

Verses 7, 8--I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that (not this) day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

Tit. 2: 12, 13--Teaching us that denying all ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, looking for that blessed hope and the glorious APPEARING of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Heb. 9: 28--Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him SHALL HE APPEAR THE SECOND TIME without sin unto salvation

I. Peter 1: 7--That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ.

1. John 3: 2--Beloved now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

Rev. 1: 7--Behold he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also that pierced him; and all kindreds of the earth shalt wail because of him

Rev. 16: 15--Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth.

Rev. 22: 7--Behold, I come quickly; blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of this book.

Verse 12--And behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give to every man according as his work shall be.

Verse 20--He that testifieth these things saith, Surely, I come quickly. Amen. Even so, Come, Lord Jesus.

Yes, many will say, no doubt the Scriptures teach the second coming of Christ, and everybody believes in it. But how is it believed in, in what sense? Some will say that He comes in a sort of an unexplained, inexplicable spiritual sense at the death of every believer to take the soul to heaven; others will say that He is coming at what is called the "end of the world," simply to raise the dead and take all the residue of the redeemed to heaven, when the earth is to be burnt up; but neither of these speculations is in harmony with the testimony cited. When the angels declared His coming again, they did so in words which cannot be misconstrued or perverted to make them suit human speculations. "This same Jesus whom ye have seen go into heaven shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go" is what the angels say. He went bodily, literally, and they saw Him go. He will come in like manner, and "every eye shall see him, and they that pierced him shall behold him." There can, therefore, be no question about the literality of His coming.

Not only so, but what I wish to impress upon the reader's mind here is that salvation depends upon His coming. It is in "the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory" that the twelve apostles are to receive their reward. For Peter's question was, "What shall we have for following thee?" What shall be our reward? And the Savior's answer is that they shall be rewarded "in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory," that it is then that they shall "sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matt. 19: 27, 28). That which Peter and the apostles are to have for leaving all and following Him is not to be had until "the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory." When shall the Son of man sit in the throne of His glory? He answers, "When the Son of man shall come in his glory and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit in the throne of his glory" (Matt. 25: 31). Let the reader examine further along in the chapter and it will be seen that it is at this time that Christ will call before Him those who are to be judged, separating them one from another, the good from the bad; and punishment is inflicted upon the bad and rewards are meted out to the good. To those on the right hand He says, "Come ye blessed of my Father inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;" and it is then that the wicked go away into the punishment of the age, and the righteous into the life of the age (verse 46) . Hence the reward of the righteous and punishment of the wicked depend upon the second coming of Christ. He does not reward the righteous first and then judge them. He does not judge them until He comes the second time. He does not reward them until after He has judged them at His second coming. Therefore the salvation of every follower of Christ depends upon His second coming.

In the parable of the nobleman He shows them that before the establishment of His kingdom can take place, and therefore before we can enter the kingdom, He must go to heaven and return. During His absence there is a command for faithful followers to obey, a commandment which unfaithful men have perverted and disobeyed. What is that command? It might be as well here to emphasize what it is not. He does not command them to occupy till they shall go to him in heaven, the very thing that popular religious teachers tell the people they must do. Were we to ask them what our duty is, and what our hope is, the answer would be, Occupy, to use the word the Saviour used, as long as you live in this life, until you die, and then you will go to heaven. But what is the command of the Saviour in the case? Here it is in words unmistakable, "Occupy till I come." (Luke 19: 12-27.) It is further said that "when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him." Now let us suppose him calling his servants when he was here on earth, and just upon the eve of his departure telling them, "Occupy till I come." I am going away to heaven and I am coming back. I want you and all your successors, or whoever would faithfully follow me, to occupy, that is, believe me, and obey me during my absence; be faithful to me till I return, for I will return, and when I do, I will call you into my presence to give an account of how you have conducted yourselves during my absence, and your reward and punishment shall be accordingly. Can anything be plainer than this? Can anything be more directly opposed to popular theories than this? If the servants to whom he addressed himself went to heaven to him as soon as they died, they have been with him ever since. How then shall we understand him saying that when he would return he would call them together. If they have been called together to him in heaven two thousand years before, how can He call them together here when he returns to this earth? And let it be observed that the calling together is to judge them before they are rewarded, whereas, if they had been in heaven and had been rewarded for two thousand years, and then called back here to earth, we should have a reversal of the order of things, in such a manner that if an ordinary judge were guilty of such an absurdity, he would be declared unfit for his office.

John 14: 1-3, is quoted by some to prove that Christ intended that his disciples should go to heaven to him. We shall give special attention to this passage of Scripture further on, but will simply say here that there is not a word in the text about their going to heaven. What the text teaches is that Christ was going there, and that Christ was coming back. For he declares, "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again." Come again for what? Mark the next words, "and receive you unto myself." After Christ should have received them in heaven two thousand years before, how could he come again to receive them? The receiving here is when he comes again, and not when they go to him. This receiving when he comes again is that, "where I am," that is, where I am when I come again, or, if you like, where I am now when I am uttering these words, "there ye may be also." That he did not mean that they were to go to heaven to him is clear from the fact that He told them, "Whither I go ye cannot come," and the apostle Paul declares of God in heaven, that "no man hath seen Him, nor can see Him, whom no man can approach unto." The Saviour also declares that "no man hath seen God at any time." In the declaration of the angels upon the occasion of Christ's ascension to heaven, when they assure us that his coming will be in like manner to his going, let it be observed that this was given as a consolation to our Lord's anxious disciples. If ever a little company of people were anxious they were at that time, and they had reasons to be so. When we take into consideration the state of things in the world at that time, the trials and hardships through which the disciples had passed in company with their Lord and Master; the cruelty which he had suffered at the hands of the Jews and Gentiles, when his faithful followers were terror-stricken and amazed, so much so that Peter was dazed and so staggered that he hardly knew what he was saying when he denied his Master in that trying hour when Jews and Gentiles sought his destruction. I say, when we consider what they had passed through, and the threatenings which seemed to confront them on every hand, and then to think that their only hope, the one in whom they had placed their implicit trust and confidence, the Shepherd of the sheep, was about to be snatched away and leave them in a dark and cruel world, as sheep without a shepherd, we can get a faint idea of the anxiety of the little company in that trying hour. If ever men needed consolation, real consolation, not flattery, not mere poetic words, but a consolation full of reality, they needed it at that time. Not only so, but they needed such consolation as would bring them as nearly as possible to its realization. Whatever promise the angels had for those men it should be such as would be nearest to them, the first blessing they would realize as a deliverance from the troubles and trials through which they were passing. According to the popular world, that which was nearest to them in the way of deliverance was death, and the consolation which would have been given to them by the leaders of religious theories of our times would have been, Why stand ye gazing up into heaven? Why are you so anxious? It will only be a few short years till you die, and then you shall be wafted away on angel's wings to heaven, to Christ, to bask in bliss eternal. I ask you, dear reader, would this not have been the consolation given by popular pulpiteers? Is not this the consolation they give now to men and women who are distressed? But how different the consolation given by angelic messengers who came with heavenly authority; who came with consolation which had its foundation, not in flattering, foolish poetic flights, more noted for their poetry than their truth; but in words of living truth they declare the deliverance which awaited those anxious people was not to be at death. It was not to be until Christ, whom they had seen going into heaven, would so come in like manner as they had seen him go. This was their consolation. Hence upon the second coming of Christ depended the salvation of those who had faithfully followed him.

We can understand now why the apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthians says, "So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." Why it was that he said, "Christ the first-fruits; afterwards they that are Christ's at his coming;" why he declared to the Philippians, "Our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour;" why he said to the Colossians, "When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall we also appear with him in glory;" why he said to the Thessalonians, "Ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven;" why he declared to the same church, "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him," showing that it is when the Lord comes that we are to be gathered together unto him, and it is not that we are gathered together in heaven before he comes. And in harmony with all this he declares, in writing to Timothy, "I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom." Whom is he to judge? The quick and the dead. When is he to judge them? At his appearing and His Kingdom. When will he reward them?--before he judges them? No. Therefore not before he appears. Whom is he to judge, again I ask? The quick. Who are they? Those who are alive when Christ comes; and those who are dead, not alive,--two classes--He will raise the dead, and they with the quick, the living, will be gathered together unto him, and he will judge them, and this will be at his appearing and his kingdom. It cannot be made plainer. Is it not a wonder that the world has gone astray from such clear teaching? The apostle, himself, when he came to face death, declared that he had fought the good fight, and kept the faith, and that henceforth there was laid up for him a crown of righteousness. Henceforth, that is from the time I die forward until a certain time, there is laid up, or reserved for me a crown of righteousness. If popular theories are true, Paul was mistaken, for that was not the time when the crown of righteousness would be laid up, that was the time when he would receive it. The moment he died he would mount triumphant to heaven, and there would be crowned with his crown of righteousness. But Paul did not understand it so. His faith, the good fight for which he had fought, was a faith that believed that from the time he died forward his crown of righteousness would be laid up for him. And now let us ask him when he expects to receive that crown of righteousness. And he answers, "which the Lord, the righteous judge shall give me;" here we have really the answer, for he had just said to Timothy that the righteous judge would judge the quick and the dead at His appearing, and it was as a righteous judge that he would give Paul his crown of righteousness. Inasmuch as His appearing as a righteous judge would not take place until His second coming, how could Paul receive his laid-up crown of righteousness at the hands of the righteous judge until the righteous judge had come to judge the quick and the dead, among whom the apostle Paul was numbered? But he does not stop there, he proceeds further, "which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day"--not this day. Mark you, not now, the day of my death, but at that day, the day at the end of the time during which my crown of righteousness shall be laid up, then the righteous judge shall give it to me at that day. What day, Paul? "And not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." No wonder then, that Paul said "that we, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, should live soberly, and righteously, and godly in this present world, looking for that blessed hope and glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ."

In writing to the Hebrews the apostle shows us that this coming, of which he is speaking, and in which centers his hope and the hope of every follower of Christ, is the second coming. It is not a spiritual coming that is taking place all the time, at the time of every believers death; in fact, that would not be a coming at all, that would be a staying here, for every moment of time, according to popular theories, believers are dying, and it is not imaginable that Christ would be going and coming as rapidly as every individual believer dies. It would be Christ here all the time to receive the soul of every one as it leaves the body, and Christ in heaven all the time receiving them there, and that would be no coming in any sense. But the apostle says, "Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." Note the words. They are full of meaning. They not only tell us that He will appear, but that this appearing of which he is speaking is Christ's second appearing. Our relation to that appearing is also set forth, for it is said, to them that look for Him, that is to them that look for His second coming, He shall appear to their salvation, which surely would imply that He will not appear to the salvation of those who do not look for His second coming, who do not "occupy" till the nobleman returns. Yet they change and pervert His word and persist in going to Him, instead of His coming to them.

These words of the apostle find a type in the High Priest under Moses. In this same chapter he has given a detailed account of the Holy places of the tabernacle, and of the High Priest going into the Most Holy place on the day of atonement, which he shows was typical of Christ going into heaven. As the High Priest appeared in the Most Holy in behalf of Israel in order that atonement might be effected between the nation and their God, so Christ has gone into heaven as the high priest of the Israel of God there and now to appear on their behalf, where "He ever liveth to make intercession for us." He is now within the veil. And here we might ask, What were the children of Israel to do while their priest went into the Most Holy to make the atonement? Were they not to remain outside and await his return, when he would confer upon them the blessings? Supposing some of them should have invented a new theory, and declared that it was the duty of the congregation not to wait till the priest should come out, but go to the priest in the Most Holy, and supposing they should have attempted to carry this new invention into effect, what would have been the result? They would have been stricken with death in a moment. The moment one put a foot upon the threshold of that Most Holy place he would have been stricken down. Hence, then, they must remain outside waiting and watching, listening to the ringing of the bells upon the priest's garments as to whether even he was acceptable in the Most Holy, and whether his offering in their behalf would be accepted of God. To them that faithfully waited his return, looking for him, he appeared to their salvation, or rather to their atonement, which meant, really, the saving of the nation, and their being permitted to continue in national life. Some of them became impatient and refused to wait in the proper attitude for the return of the High Priest, and Paul says they sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play, and with many of them God was not well-pleased. Now apply this type to the antitype; the true church of Christ is the congregation, and the High Priest has gone into the Most Holy place to appear in the presence of God in their behalf. What are we waiting for? Waiting His return, and those who have apostatized are sitting down to eat and to drink, and rising up to play, and speculate with theories of men, with new inventions; instead of waiting the return of the High Priest, they are to enter and go right into His presence. How can they be said to be looking for Him and waiting His return? They are unfaithful, they are apostates, with whom God is not well-pleased. They are like the Israelites of old, and to them the High Priest will not appear the second time without sin to their salvation. He will only appear to the salvation of those who have occupied till He comes, who have turned from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His son from heaven. Therefore, says Christ, "Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth and keepest his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame" (Rev. 16: 15). Behold I come quickly, that is, quickly or suddenly, He meant, after the things previously shown had come to pass. John is taken down symbolically through the history of the world, from his day to the time of Christ's coming. The program of human events is caused to pass before him in panoramic view, and when he comes down to the time when the angel's words are to be fulfilled. Christ is to come again in like manner as He went into heaven, he hears Christ calling out from heaven, "Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book" (Rev. 22 : 7). And again he adds, "Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me to give every man according as his work shall be" (verse 12). "He that testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly," and the response of every true and faithful follower is, "Even so, come Lord Jesus." But mark the words, "Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." Too late! Too late! cries the popular theorist, Abel, Noah, Abraham, all went to their reward as soon as they died. Too late now to come to them to give them the reward according as their work shall be. Their reward has been a matter of experience for long ages before this coming. Too late! Too late! To the moles and to the bats let us cast these traditions of men, and let the words of Christ go down deep into our hearts; let us believe them; let us obey them; let us faithfully watch and wait his coming. To them that look for him, shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Dear reader, we beseech you to hear the voice which speaks from heaven, "Surely I come quickly," for we are in the days when "quickly" means more than it ever did before. It is for you to place yourself in such relation to God as to be able to respond, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." If you are an alien from the commonwealth of Israel this promise cannot cheer you. Only by the faithful believers of the true gospel can it be welcomed in these days when men's hearts are failing them for fear. Its contemplation quickens and stimulates such. It intensifies their earnestness, separates them from the world, with all its vanity, frivolity and selfishness; it gives solemnity to their deportment, attaches vital importance to their words and actions, and guides and guards them through a life of trials and affliction, with perils on the right hand and on the left. Think not that the task is too hard and the trials of faith too rigid. Faithful service brings its own reward even now, in a "peace of mind which passeth all understanding," and it makes sure an "inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled and that fadeth not away." With this blessing within reach why will you die? Give not yourself away, for that which is not bread nor for that which satisfieth not. The yoke is easy and the burden is light, and at the end there is a joy unspeakable and full of glory.