II. THE AUTHORIZATION OF OUR HOPE.
(Except from the book "The
Redeemer's Return" by Author W. Pink)
The insufficiency and failure of
the various hopes of the world reviewed above, serve only to furnish
a background upon which, by way of contrast, may shine forth more
prominently and gloriously the certainty and sufficiency of our
hope. Every hope of man which originates in his own mind and
heart is doomed to end in disappointment. If men refuse the light
which is furnished by Divine revelation then they must expect
to remain in darkness, and, as our Lord said, "If therefore
the light that is in thee be darkness how great is that darkness!"
(Matt. 6:23). The value of a hope lies in the authorization of
it, what then are the grounds for our hope?
What warrant have we for expecting
the Return of the Redeemer? After all that has been said in the
previous pages and in view of the various Scriptures therein cited,
a lengthy reply to this question is not necessary. In brief, it
may be said, the inspired and infallible Word of Him who cannot
lie is our warrant and authorization for looking for that Blessed
Hope. But, briefly, to particularize.
1. We have the Promise of the Lord Jesus Himself.
We have already quoted from John
14 in other connections but we now refer to it again. On the eve
of His crucifixion our Saviour turned to His disciples and said,
"I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare
a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto
Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also" (John 14:2,3).
Here is an assertion about which there is no ambiguity whatever.
Here is a promise that is positive and unequivocal. Here is a
word of comfort from the lips of Truth incarnate. The Lord who
has gone away from this earth to prepare a place for His people
is coming back again for them, coming back in person, coming to
receive them to Himself that they may be with Him for evermore.
2. We have the word of Gods messengers at the
time of His Sons Ascension.
These words are recorded in the
first chapter of the Acts which presents a scene of unusual interest
and importance. Our Lord's sojourn upon earth was now to terminate.
The time of His departure was at hand. The great purpose of the
Divine incarnation had been accomplished. The cross and the empty
sepulcher lay behind, and now the Saviour of sinners was to be
exalted to the right hand of the Majesty on high. Together with
a few of His disciples He went as far as Bethany, and lifting
up His hands He blessed them, and while in the act of blessing
them He was "parted from them, and went up into heaven"
(Luke 24:50,51). And a cloud received Him out of their sight,
and then we are told, "While they looked steadfastly toward
heaven as He went up, 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
into heaven" (Acts 1:10, 11). Here again is a statement
that is clear and simple. Here again is a promise that is plain
and positive. The Lord Jesus has gone up into heaven, but He is
not to remain there for ever. The "same Jesus" which
ascended is to descend: the "same Jesus" which was seen
returning to this earth. The absent One is coming back, coming
back in person in "like manner" as He went away.
3. We have the inspired testimony of the apostles.
We have already shown in a previous
chapter that each of the apostles bore witness to the Second Coming
of Christ. Their testimony is clear, full, and uniform. At this
point we shall select but a single passage, a familiar one, from
the epistles of the apostle Paul. In 1 Thess. 4:13-18 we read,
"But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning
them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which
have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again,
even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which
are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent
(i.e., "go before"0 them which are asleep. For
the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with
the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the
dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain
shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the
Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore
comfort one another with these words."
The above passage is the most comprehensive
statement upon the Redeemer's Return which is to be found in the
apostolic writings. The importance of the communication contained
therein is intimated by the prefatory clause - "This we say
unto you by the word of the Lord," an expression which is
always reserved for those passages of Divine revelation which
are of peculiar importance or solemnity. Here again we learn that
Christ is going to return in person - "The Lord Himself."
Here again we have a positive promise - "The Lord Himself
shall descend." And here again, the Second Coming
of Christ is presented as the "blessed hope" of the
Church - "comfort one another with these words." We
reserve further comment upon this passage for a later chapter.
4. Finally, we have the Promise of the Lord given
from the Throne.
We have previously pointed out that,
some fifty or sixty years after His ascension to the right hand
of God, Christ sent His angel to the beloved John on the Isle
of Patmos saying, "Surely I come quickly" Rev. 22:20).
This was our Lord's last promise to His people, as though
to intimate that He would have them continually occupied with
His imminent Return. Perhaps this will be the best place to meet
an objection that is frequently made by those who seek to find
flaws in the Word of God. It is said that the Lord Jesus here
made a mistake. He declared that He was coming quickly
and more than eighteen centuries have passed since then and yet
He has not returned!
The explanation of this supposed
difficulty is very simple. When the Lord Jesus said, "Surely
I come quickly," He spoke from Heaven, and Heaven's measurement
of time is very different from earth's. Never once while He
was here upon earth did the Saviour say or even hint that He would
return "quickly." On the contrary He gave plain intimation
that after His departure a lengthy interval would have to pass
ere He came back again. In the Parable of the Nobleman He spoke
of Himself as One taking a journey into "a far country"
(Luke 19:12). On another occasion He represented an evil servant
saying, during the time of His absence, "My Lord delayeth
His coming" (Matt. 24:28). While in the Parable of the
Talents He openly declared that "After a long time the
Lord of those servants cometh and reckoneth with them" (Matt.
25:19). What we would here press upon the attention of our readers
is, that, each of these utterances were made by our Lord during
the time when He was still upon earth and therefore they
must be considered from earth's viewpoint; but when the Lord Jesus
said "Surely I come quickly" He spoke from Heaven
and concerning Heaven's measurement of time we need to bear
in mind that word "Beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing,
that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand
years as one day" (2 Pet. 3:8). In the light of the last
quoted Scripture it is easy to understand Rev. 22:20 - if our
Lord returns before the present century terminates He will have
been away but two days!
"Surely I come quickly."
These are the words of our ascended Lord. This is His promise,
sent from the very Throne of Heaven. This is His final word to
His people before they hear his "shout" calling them
to be with Himself. This, then, is the warrant, the ground, the
authorization of our Hope.
| ARE YOU READY FOR THE RETURN OF