The Practical Results of Second Coming Teaching

By H. A. Wilson

Taken from Grace and Truth Magazine 1923


God gives the doctrine of Christ's Second Coming such a place in His Word as indicates its great practical value. He led the writers of the Bible to record this Hope so frequently that even its bitterest enemies are forced to admit that "it appears on nearly every page of the New Testament and on many of the the Old." Surely God must have considered this subject of the utmost practical value, or He would not have given it such a large place in His Word, for that is intensely practical. And if any further evidence be needed to convince the skeptic, he has only to turn to the pages of the Bible and he will find that God has repeatedly used the Hope of Christ's return as the basis for some of His most practical appeals to the believer. He would not have done this unless it had some power to produce in the believer's life the things for which He appealed. The very fact that God has seen fit to emphasize this doctrine by frequent repetition, and by the vital connection in which He has placed it, proves its importance in His consideration.

The results which follow when the truth of Christ's second coming is taught demonstrate the wisdom of God in His use of this doctrine. Many have found it a safe-guard of faith. It has incited God's children to holy living. It has impelled them to abounding service. When rightly understood it so defines the mission of the believer as to prevent confusion. And sorrowing souls find in it the comfort which they so sorely need. Nothing is more essential to the happiness and usefulness of the soul than these things, and that which contributes in the greatest measure to the upbuilding of the Church, the Body of Christ is that which does most to make the individual believer happy and useful. The One Who has the interests of every believer and the welfare of the Church closest to His heart has seen fit to use the truth and the Hope of Christ's second coming largely to assist in accomplishing His desires for them both.

That the teaching of Christ's return safeguards the believer's faith is clearly indicated in II Thessalonians 2:1-3:

"Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him,

"That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by Spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the dav of Christ is at hand.

"Let no man deceive you by any means, for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition."

Evidently the Thessalonians were in danger of having their faith shaken by false teaching. In order to guard them God led the Apostle to warn them of the danger, and to oppose the false teaching with the truth of the second coming.

The appeal and instruction which were thus brought to the Thessalonian believers are badly needed in our own time. A host of false teachings have arisen which have, in their confusion of the doctrine of the second coming, a common basis for many of their different errors. "Christian Science" spiritualizes the truth of Christ's return and makes it to mean that God had promised to give a new revelation of truth to the world through Mrs. Eddy. Russellism misinterprets the Scriptures relating to the second coming and teaches that when Christ does come again it will be to give men a second chance to be saved. Modernists fail to distinguish between Christ's coming for the Church and His coming to establish His Kingdom, and as a result find "irreconcilable contradictions" which to them prove this Hope a "mistaken relic of Judaism." They then proceed to argue that a book which contains such glaring errors cannot be verbally inspired. Post-millennialists, failing to observe the scriptural relation between Christ's Kingdom and His Coming, spiritualize the Blessed Hope, or insist vociferously that the Church is to bring in the Kingdom. While still others, who believe (but imperfectly understand) the doctrine, are ensnared in the confusion of "year-day" vagaries and seek to set dates for the second coming. The only safeguard for the faith of the believer, who is assailed on every hand by these and countless kindred heresies, is a thorough understanding of the Bible teaching about. Christ's return.

Its value from this standpoint can be appreciated only when one considers that it is a veritable key to Bible study, for only Bible instructed Christians have an established faith. It is impossible to observe the fundamental dispensational distinctions of God's Word and at the same time to ignore the truth of the second coming, for it is one of the most outstanding of such distinctions. Without this key much of the typology of the Old Testament is meaningless, as is much of the symbolology of the New, for the types and symbols point both to the Cross and to the Kingdom. The books of the Prophets are locked to the understanding if one has not a knowledge of this truth, for they testify both "of the sufferings of Christ and of the glory that should follow." So closely is the second coming of Christ related to God's grace and faithfulness in His dealing with Israel that one cannot be understood without the other. And it is hard to find an essential truth in God's Word which is not vitally linked in some way with the doctrine of Christ's coming. This being true it is evident that one cannot possess such an understanding of God's Word as will establish his faith unless he knows that Jesus is coming again. And thousands have testified that the Bible became a new book to them when they first learned this truth.

Another practical result of the teaching of Christ's return which grows out of the first is that it incites the believer to live a holy life. Understanding of God's Word, to which a knowledge of this truth contributes so largely, is absolutely essential to a godly life. The Psalmist indicated this when he wrote:

"Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy Word." (Psa. 119:9.)

In addition to contributing to the knowledge which alone can empower a Christian to live holily, the second coming Hope furnishes a powerful incentive to do so. Paul, led of the Spirit, wrote:

"When Christ Who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.

"Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry." (Col. 3:4-5-)

Believers are to share in Christ's second coming glory. "When He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." Surely, then, we should so yield to Him as to permit Him now to manifest in our lives the power which shall then transform our bodies.

The believer who really learns the power of the Blessed Hope will find that it does increase his eagerness to live for the Lord. He will desire so to live that when Christ appears he may not be ashamed before Him. A beautiful Christian girl once came to the Bible teacher who had taught her about the Second Coming, and gave him an offering, saying "That is picture-show money." When asked to explain she said, "I used to go to the movies three nights in the week. One evening, after I had learned that Jesus was coming again I was sitting there and I began to think about the truth I had learned. 'Suddenly the thought flashed through my mind, 'If Jesus were to come tonight I would not want Him to find me here.' I left immediately, and have never returned. On the contrary I have saved the money which I would have spent in that way, and now 1 want you to use it for God." Many have shared with that young woman in experiencing this blessed effect of the Second Coming teaching.

The desire to win the approval of Christ when He returns also impels the believer to abundant and faithful service while waiting for Him. Surely none have excelled the Apostle Paul in zealous and self-sacrificing service, and he has given us the secret of his faithful ministry in an appeal to the Corinthians. After a thrilling description of the Second Coming, and the attendant resurrection of believers, he says:

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." (I Corinthians 15:58.)

When Christ comes again the real worth of the believer's service will be manifested, and at that time he will receive his reward. This is constantly held before us as an inspiration to service, and the power which this prospect exerted throughout his own life is further indicated by the Apostle in II Timothy 4:7-8. Here he says:

"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 day, and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing."

It is simply a matter of fact that every outstanding soul winner and leader in effective Christian work has been a believer in the truth of Christ's return, and has found in that Hope a strong inspiration. The New Testament is the inspired record of the Hope which dominated the early disciples. Luther, Calvin, Knox, Wesley, Rutherford, Baxter, McCheyne, Spurgeon, Moody, Chapman, Pierson, Brookes and a host of others, were confessedly; looking for Christ's return. And what an imposing list might be made, of men who are now living, and serving, and waiting for the Blessed Hope. Investigation has shown that no real, constructive, soul winning work has ever been done, or is now being done, save by men who believe that Jesus is coming again.

One does not need to search far for the reason for this. Knowledge of this truth does more than to arouse God's children to faithful and aggressive service. It so directs that service that it is effectual ini accomplishing God's purposes. Many postmillennial, social-service cranks complain that "premillennialism cuts the nerve of missionary effort." There is much truth in what they say, — from their standpoint. When a man believes that Jesus Christ is coming back again: when her' believes the plain statements of God's Word which clearly reveal that the kingdom is to be established through His personal coming, and not through human efforts: when he believes that the individual soul must be born again through faith in Jesus Christ; and when he has searched his Bible in vain for any indication that God has planned to save the world through "social regeneration" he loses his enthusiasm for the postmillennial brand of missionary effort. Premillenarians have little enthusiasm for any form of so-called Christian work which diverts^ their efforts from the mission which the doctrine of Christ's Second Coming clearly reveals to be God's puri pose for Church, and for His servants.

The nature of this mission and its relation to the Secii ond Coming is set forth in Paul's instructions 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;

"Preach the Word. Be instant in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine." (H Timothy 4:1-2.)

Jesus is coming to judge. Believers will be saved but unbelievers will be condemned. Faithful servants will be rewarded, but unfaithful ones, though saved, will be rebuked. There is no time to waste on non-essential pursuits. The believer should preach the Word. It alone. has power to save the souls of men. Purely moral reform movements must perish, with their results, when Christ comes. Nothing will stand the awful judgment of that day save the soul which has been born again through trusting Jesus, therefore "Preach the Word!" Believers in Christ's coming are notoriously preachers of the Word. They may, perhaps engage in social service and similar activities, but always as a means to an end, — the end of getting the Gospel to the individual soul. In the light of the plain teaching of the Bible concerning Christ's coming they keep steadily at their God-given task of preaching His Word. And because the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which lies in the heart of that Word, "is the; power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth," it inevitably follows that those who permit the Blessed Hope to direct them as to their mission become the outstanding soul-winners and the real spiritual leaders of all times.

One  other intensely practical result of the teaching of Christ's return be considered, though more will be found as the doctrine and its outworking are studied. The Hope of Christ's Second Coming comforts the believer. The Apostle Paul, writing to those who were mourning the loss of loved ones, says:

"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 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." (I Thessalonians 4:13-18.)

A lovely Christian woman once lost a beautiful daughter, who had been the joy of her heart, after a lingering and most painful sickness. Within a few months her mother, a devoted and noble Christian, who had brought blessing to every life which she touched, was suddenly removed in an exceedingly shocking and painful accident. When her pastor was calling a few days after the mother's funeral this Christian woman, who had only recently learned the truth of Christ's Second "Coming, said, "I do not know how I could possibly stand the grief, if it we're not for the Blessed Hope that Jesus is coming again, and that I shall be reunited with my loved ones then. I think if it were not for that Hope I surely should go mad. It has been an inexpressible comfort to me." Yes, thank God, the Hope of Christ's return has power to comfort His children.

Dr. James H. Brookes has left us a clear testimony to the exceedingly practical value of the Blessed Hope to the one who cherishes it. After telling how he came to' see this truth, he says:

"This was many years ago, and the conclusions then reached have been deepened by every day's study of the Word of God, and by the actual condition then and now of the Church and of the world. It has made me a lonely man, but it has been an unspeakable blessing to my soul, especially in times of sore affliction and discouragement. It has uprooted selfish ambition and a desire for human applause, and caused me to aim at least to bear a true testimony for our now rejected Lord, with a longing to be well pleasing to Him at His coming. Especially does 'that blessed hope' throw a gleam of glory upon the graves of my beloved dead. It frets me no longer because so many of my dear brethren cannot see this precious truth, which shines like the sun at noonday from the Word of God, and which is a veritable key to unlock the meaning of the Scripture. John the Baptist was a faithful witness when he said, "A man can receive nothing except it be given him from heaven.' (John 3:27.) God forbid that a poor sinner should judge them, for to their own Master they stand or fall."

The wise minister, who would establish the faith of souls committed to his care; who would lead them into close fellowship with God, and into a life which reflects His holiness; who would arouse them to earnest service for their Master; who would see them rendering to Him Scriptural and effective service, which is unalloyed with non-essential substitutes for Gospel preaching; and who would bring them comfort in the hour of deepest sorrow, will not neglect teaching the Blessed Hope of Christ's Second Coming.

"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and world 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 even our Saviour Jesus Christ." (Titus 2:11-13.)