The Unity of Bible Testimony to the Coming of Christ.

By Mr. William Carr, of Rochester, N.Y.

Taken from Things to Come Magazine, August, 1894

(At the Glasgow Conference) June, 1894.)


THE truth of the Lord's coming runs like a golden thread from Genesis to Revelation. It is not a new doctrine, but an old truth. Let us briefly look through our Bibles, and see how all witnessed concerning it, from the time that the first and oldest preacher began to preach of the "coming of the Lord," namely Enoch, reference to which is made in the Epistle of Jude, beginning at the 14th verse. "And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam," etc., to end of verse 15.

We get several things in the life of this wondrous preacher. He walked, he waited, he pleased God. And he preached of the coming of the Lord, resurrection of the dead, and the judgment of the ungodly.

The last words of Jacob were also about the Lord's coming. Gen. xlix. 10. In this verse we get what we frequently get in Scripture — the first and second coming of the Lord so interwoven that only those who are taught of the Spirit can distinguish the difference. Gen. xlix. 10: "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah... until Shiloh come." That is the first part. " And unto Him shall the gathering of the people be." That has not occurred, but it will very soon. That is the second coming.

Moses' last words in Deuteronomy xxxiii. 25: "Thy shoes shall be iron and brass," &c., to end of verse 27.

Has that yet been done? There are millions of Jews to-day that are trodden down under despotism. Never yet has that advent been accomplished referred to in verse 27: "But He shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them. Israel then shall dwell in safety alone." Has Israel ever yet dwelt in safety? Quite the contrary. Witness the history, and read* from the beginning to the end. Instead of their treading upon their high places, they are being trodden under foot all over the earth.

Balaam. Numbers xxiv. 17. He tried to curse Israel, but God turned the curse into a blessing; and we find him saying, in verse 16, "He hath said which heard the words of God," &c. There are four things in this verse — 1st, he heard the word; 2nd, he knew the knowledge; 3rd, he saw the vision; 4th, he had his eyes open. That is what we need to-day. " I shall see Him, but not now: I shall behold Him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel." The "Star" came, but the "Sceptre" has not yet come. The Sceptre shall rise out of Israel — that which is spoken of in the 2nd Psalm: "He shall rule them with a rod of iron; He shall dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." That is the way the heathen are to be treated.

We hear a great deal about the preceding verse: "Ask of Me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance," etc., and there most people who quote these words stop. Why don't they read the next verse, "He shall break them with a rod of iron," etc.? That is evidently referred to here by the Sceptre that shall rise out of Israel to "smite" and destroy the enemies of Jehovah. (Num. xxiv. 17.)

Job xix. 25. In the city where I come from some of our Congregational ministers tell us that Job was a myth. He is a beautiful myth. It is very significant that the book of Job is a key to the Bible, and you will find in one chapter alone nearly every doctrine in the New Testament, notably the 33rd. Hear Job xix. 35: "I know that my redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another." Now we have had Enoch, Jacob, Moses, Balaam, Job — surely witnesses enough to establish the truth from the Old Testament.

And now to speak of the Psalms in a general, way, and you may prove this for yourselves. As I read I see that out of one hundred and fifty psalms, ninety speak of the second coming of our Lord. Possibly I may be mistaken, but it would be very easy to correct this, and a profitable study to do so.

Prophecy is full of it; sixteen books of the Old Testament, and one in the New (Revelation). The coming of the Lord is the burden of prophecy. I may say it is the fulfilment of every hope; it is the accomplishing of every promise of the Word of God; and it is the time of rewarding for the deeds done in the body. Isaiah begins this prophecy; Malachi ends it. Prophecy is always associated with Israel and the nations; never connected with the church.

Then, coming to the New Testament, the evangelists speak of it something like one hundred times. In John xiv., "In my Father's house are many mansions," &c. There is one other reference I will speak of without reading it, that parable of our Lord concerning the nobleman who " went into a far country to receive a kingdom and return." The "nobleman" was our Lord, the "far country" heaven, the "kingdom" that which we read of in the book of Revelation. Our Lord received the seven-sealed book, the title deeds of the kingdom. It is a principle of God's truth, that judgment always precedes blessing and glory; therefore we are pre-millennialists on principle. We are forced to be, because it is the principle of God's truth, and I am sure if our brethren who take the other view would only see this, they must necessarily be pre-millennialists too.

Now I am going to the book of Acts, where our Lord ascends into heaven, where He is taken away from His disciples. I love to think of that glory-cloud that covered them all those years in the wilderness; how it came down once more, and took 'Him away to heaven. Acts i. 11: "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?" &c. Now notice the simple statement (and the more simple we take it the more we shall be assured) that the "coming of the Lord " is to be personal, literal, visible; and more than that, as we, if we had time, could prove, that the very spot from which He ascended is the spot to which He will descend. " His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives." "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." To any plain man, to any sensible man, if I should say to you I go through that door, and as I go away so I will come back again, it would not need any Greek or Hebrew to understand that. It only needs common-sense and plain English to understand it. "Shall so come this same Jesus in like manner as ye have seen Him go."

The Epistle to the Romans is made up of three parts — the first eight chapters of doctrine; the next three of dispensation; the last four practical. The second division of three chapters — ix., x., and xi., are all associated with the resurrection — restoration — and restoration of God's people Israel, which is always connected with the coming of the Lord. The apostle takes occasion in the sixteen chapters of the first Epistle of Corinthians to correct sixteen errors into which they had fallen. Yet bad as they were they still clung to the hope of the Lord's coming. " Seeing ye come behind in no gift, waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (i. 7.)

In the next epistle (Galatians) we find something remarkable, and yet not remarkable. In this Galatian epistle we find three things conspicuous by their absence. There is nothing about singing, as there is in many of the other epistles; neither did the apostle ask them to pray for him, as he does in many of the other epistles. The Galatians could not do it. They were living under law. And the great majority of professing Christians are the same. I don't believe they can either sing or pray, and if they do, it doesn't go much higher than their heads. To sing praise to God we must sing with the spirit and with the understanding — to pray acceptably. " We know not what we should pray for as we ought;" hence the Spirit must "help our infirmities." (Romans viii. 26.) If we pray it must be "with the spirit," and with the understanding also. And those who have got into that legal condition spoken of by the apostle in the Epistle to the Galatians (one of the coldest and severest of all the epistles), have very little use for the truth of the Lord's coming, whether pre-millennial or post-millennial.

In the next epistle we find nothing about the coming of the Lord, because we are viewed as with Him "quickened," "raised," and "seated together in heavenly places in Christ," one with Him in glory by faith, soon to be with Him literally. I must stop here for a moment to say that I believe that is the truth that we as Christians need to believe — that is the truth that we as preachers ought to preach to-day — the gospel of the glory. We speak too much about earthly, worldly, and carnal things. We are occupied with worldly things, "minding earthly things." Possibly some here to-day may be in the condition in which I was some years ago — striving, climbing, agonizing, and praying, getting up a round of the ladder day by day, finally falling perhaps further than I had got up. I was not making very much headway. One day I opened my Bible and found that instead of being at the foot of the ladder to agonize and struggle, God had put me at the top. How true it is that God always gives us the best. Satan tries to keep us from realizing our blessed position in Christ. Since I saw that truth, that I had died and was risen again in Christ, my whole Christian life and character have been changed. I don't struggle any more. I just enjoy myself. In the Epistle to the Philippians iii. 20, " Our citizenship is in heaven, from whence we look for the Saviour also, the Lord Jesus Christ." If we are citizens up yonder we are not citizens here. I don't know how it affects you to get hold of that truth. I know what it did for me. Although a politician for many years, holding six positions under the United States government, "I quit," and I have no use for politics any more until He comes, whose right it is to reign. So about our "glorious body,'' we are to get it when Jesus copies. Oh, how great is this truth, how practical it is, how real it is!

In Colossians we read, "For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God," etc. (iii. 4.) And I believe that one glimpse of that glory that is to come — that glory that is eternal — because it is His glory, and unfading, will make all glory down here look very dim.

Now the Epistle to the Thessalonians contains in every chapter some reference to the coming of the Lord; and that blessed chapter, the fourth, seems to be the culmination of it, "For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord." It was not Paul who said it It was "By the word of the Lord." "If we believe that Jesus died and rose again" — we all do of course we do! Well, even so — if we believe the first, we must believe the second.

Notice that 14th verse, "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him." Then he tells us how — "For the Lord Himself" — not another. When He wants His people, the Jews, He sends His angels to gather out His elect from the four corners of the earth (Matt. xxiv. 31); but when He wants His church He will not trust that to the angels. "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."

Now two or three things in conclusion about the practical part.

The Lord's coming is the time of reward. (1 Peter v. 2-4.) And I cannot help, as I go over all these things about the Lord's coming, dropping a word to the Christians who are here to-night. I believe your calling and mine, my brother, is to "feed the flock of God." I don't know how it is in your country, I have just come from my own (America), but it is lamentable and appalling, the ignorance of the children of God about the word of God. God help us who know the word to see the awful responsibility that is upon us; and to see the other thing — the wondrous glory awaiting those who " feed the flock of God." " Feed the flock of God which is among you." Read to end of verse 4, " And when the chief shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away." I am looking for that crown, and it only comes to. those who "feed the flock of God." Our Lord Himself, in the Gospel of Luke, said that there would be no reward until He came. When thou makest a feast do not call the rich and those who can pay you back; but call the poor, the maimed, the blind, for they cannot recompense thee, but thou shalt be recompensed. When? Not when you die. You are not going, as some of the preachers say, to get a robe and harp when you die. But Jesus said ye shall be recompensed "at the resurrection of the just." The resurrection of the just and the coming of the Lord are one and the same; "and he that hath this hope in Him" (as we read in i John iii. 3), "purifieth himself even as He is pure!"

Now to sum up briefly, How is He coming? when is He coming? and where?

How will He come? Literally, visibly, personally, as we have seen.

When will He come? At any moment — and we believe from the teaching of God's word that the only thing that hinders His coming is that the last member of the body of Christ may be gathered in. May we live so that we may not be ashamed before Him at His coming. He may come then at any moment

Where will He come? First in the air, to meet the members of His body. And the members of the body and the living Head will be united in heaven. Afterwards He will come to the earth, and His feet shall stand, as we have said, on the Mount of Olives.

God grant that this may be a blessed practical hope to us from this night May we see how full the Scripture is of it, and how it runs like a golden thread from Genesis to Revelation.