The convention theme, “Come, Lord Jesus,” is the response of the Church of Jesus Christ to His promise, “Surely, I come quickly.” This is a promise that Christ spoke many times; it was woven into all His ministry on earth. Think of the many parables which He constructed to drive home this truth: the tares, the dragnet, the marriage of the king’s son, the sheep and goats, the ten virgins. His angel assured the disciples on Olivet, “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.” His ambassadors, the apostles, wrote concerning this return from many points of view. And in the unusual book of Revelation we may discover that the theme of the revelation of John is that the Lord returns. In fact, in the last chapter of Revelation, the Lord literally states three times: “Behold, I come quickly.” These words do not merely form a fitting conclusion to the Book of Revelation, but they stand at the end of the entire Bible! We may consider the Bible a letter which Christ has addressed to His Church after He ascended into heaven. In this letter, all of which is perfectly trustworthy and true, He has revealed the Father, and the Father’s good pleasure in saving a people in His Son. What a beautiful conclusion to this letter to the Church! These words are not meant to frighten God’s people or to cause fear, but their purpose is to comfort, to inspire, to encourage!
The question that faces us at this convention is, what is our response to this promise of Christ? Personally, how do you react to the words, “Surely, I come quickly”? Thomas Guthrie, a Scottish minister of the last century, wrote, “If you find yourself loving any pleasure better than your prayers, any book better than the Bible, any house better than the house of God, any table better than the Lord’s table, any indulgence better than the hope of heaven . . . take alarm!” In other words, if our thoughts are bound up in this life, if we cherish the things of this present time, then Christ’s words are a bitter disappointment to us and they leave us cold. To put it more pointedly, why did you come to this convention with its well-publicized theme? Was it merely for a vacation? Was it to get out of the house and see part of the world, to have fun? Was the only purpose to meet and to date young men and women of our churches? Then take alarm! Because such a reaction is equivalent to saying, Lord, don’t come back. We are having a good time here. Stay away! To put it most pointedly, did you take your Bibles with you? With great care you packed your clothes, your perfumes and spices, and your sporting equipment, but did you take a Bible? And is it your desire to use that Bible here?
The Church of Jesus Christ responds to her Lord’s promise in a unique way. The apostle John answers for the Church with the words, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” The Loveland society has chosen a wonderful theme for this convention. They have given the speakers fine topics. And I know I speak for Rev. Moore and Rev. Decker when I say that we are eager to speak to you on these things. May God bless His Word unto us that it may serve as the basis for the fellowship of young saints who love Christ’s appearing!
I have been given the subject: JESUS’ QUICK COMING
Jesus came at Bethlehem in the fulness of time. He came to the Church in His Spirit on that glad day called Pentecost. He comes when the individual saint dies and goes to glory as far as his soul is concerned. These comings of Christ, however, are not the subject of this convention. The idea of the second advent is a future, visible, bodily appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ in power and glory upon the clouds of heaven, which appearance shall mark the end of this present world and usher in the final and everlasting state. Several elements of this definition ought to be observed more closely. First, the subject of the return is the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, still in inseparable union with the human nature. According to Acts 1, we expect the same Jesus which was taken up into heaven; our Lord will appear in His glorified resurrection body, a body which has passed beyond the power of death and has become incorruptible, glorious, and powerful … a spiritual body. In the second place He will be visible in such a way that all men everywhere shall see Him! (Confer Matt. 24:30.) I don’t understand that. How can millions of people standing on a round earth see His coming? But it shall happen.
And therefore, in the third place, the coming of the Lord is a miracle and a wonder of God’s grace. We ought not to form a natural picture of this tremendous event, as if the Lord will suddenly float before our eyes, sitting upon a fluffy cumulous cloud. The return belongs to that category of things which includes the incarnation, the death of the Son of God, the resurrection of the dead and the ascension into heaven! A category of events which we cannot understand, but which we believe nonetheless. The Son of God shall come! He shall come in His body bearing the cruel marks of the cross, and every eye shall see Him, also they which pierced Him.
This coming is not to be viewed as an isolated event, but must be seen as the culmination of God’s wise redemption plan. From one point of view, we may say that God created the heavens and the earth, ordained the fall, sent His Son born of a woman, in order that Christ might come with great power and glory. The coming of Christ which marks the end of the world is the purpose of all the history of the world. The end of time means that the purpose for which time has been created has been reached. This can perhaps best be shown by the use of the Scriptural idea of fulness. The Bible teaches that Christ returns only when a certain fulness has been reached. There must be a fulness of the measure of iniquity in the world. The sin of Adam must work through the human race until finally the seed of the serpent brings forth the Antichrist. It is impossible for the world to continue another day once that pre-ordained fulness has been reached. There must be a fulness of the suffering of the Church. And there must be a fulness of the redeemed. The end of the world cannot possibly come until the last elect child of God is born and comes to repentance. God is not willing that any of His should perish. Thus there will be a full harvest! And the beauty of the wisdom of our God in this is that all these fulnesses shall be reached simultaneously! The fulness of iniquity, of suffering of the host of the redeemed, all reach their endpoint together. And then Christ comes! In fact until the moment of His coming, Christ is working and reigning to accomplish these fulnesses. As the Lord of heaven and earth He supremely governs the Church and the world, the one by His grace, Spirit, and Word, the other by His mighty power according to which even the hearts of kings are under His control.
The Church has always confessed this truth, and confessing these things the Church, and the young people within the Church, necessarily take a certain position. First of all, it is a position of faith which gives substance to things hoped for and provides the evidence for things not seen. Scoffing unbelief say, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” They are willingly ignorant of the fact that God once destroyed the world with water, and that the present world is reserved unto a fiery end. They spout forth evolution, and their implication is that all things shall continue forever and ever, without cataclysmic change. But by faith the Church of Christ sees the meaning of the flood, sees the approach of the fiery end, has the victory in Christ, overcomes the world, and says, “Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!” Secondly, her stance is the forward-looking stance of the pilgrim and stranger. All the beauty of the heavenly Jerusalem is ever before her mind. She is concerned with the glory of God. She longs to come under the radiation of that glory and to reflect it perfectly. Thus with expectancy and longing she says, “Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!” And finally as she awaits her Lord, the Church lives antithetically in the present world. When God’s statutes are despised she is overwhelmed with grief. When His name is blasphemed she is pained. She does not seek the things that are below, but she seeks the kingdom of God and His righteousness. She forms no alliances with unbelief. Gladly she suffers when it is required of her. And when she hears that Christ will come to cast His and her enemies into everlasting darkness, she says, “Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!”
Since this response to Christ’s coming contains in it a note of urgency, the matter of the speediness of His return is of great import to us. This speediness, this coming quickly, must be carefully distinguished from several other aspects of the coming that the Scriptures hold before us. Otherwise it will seem that the Lord tarries and that the object of our hope is put off. And that leads to disappointment for as Solomon says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” The idea is not that Christ will come suddenly or unexpectedly, even though that is Biblical teaching. (Confer Matt. 24:36 and Rev. 16:15.) Nor is it the point that Christ comes soon, or that His coming is at hand. Again, the Scriptures teach this clearly, and it is a matter of great comfort that this is so. (Confer Heb. 10:37 and I Peter 4:7.) It is the last hour, and when the end of this last hour strikes, it shall strike with the sound of the archangel and the trump of God. The end is near because the end is next, the next event in the unfolding of the counsel of God. But again, this is not the point of our theme.
Positively, when Jesus says, “Surely I come quickly,” He is not saying that He shall come but He says that He is coming. So that the adverb “quickly” does not tell us when He comes so much as how He is coming. Quickly means that our Lord comes with speed, with haste, without any slackening of rate. And He does this all through this present dispensation, He has been coming ever since He ascended into heaven, and He is coming at this present time. He comes with speed because He is busy causing all things that remain in God’s counsel to be accomplished. All God’s counsel must be executed before the end can come, and Christ is the One Who is worthy to direct and control events to that end. Specifically, that He is coming may be seen by the fact that the elect are being brought into the fold. He is coming speedily in that the world’s measure of iniquity is being filled before our eyes. He is coming speedily in that Antichrist is now taking form and beginning to exercise his power. He is coming at the present time because we may see the signs of His coming as they are given us in the Scriptures. A later speaker will treat these signs in detail, but they are there, and they mean Christ is coming!
Further, the pace of events that signal our Lord’s return is not a steady, plodding pace, but these events accelerate geometrically. The rate of history increases . . . there is a gain in momentum. I read a while back that the first doubling of man’s knowledge took place about the year 1750. Then knowledge doubled again by 1900, again by 1950, and then again by 1960. In ten short years man doubled his knowledge, his accumulation of facts and data! Of course, man uses this knowledge to serve the Devil, and with its doubling there is a doubling of sin. But nevertheless this is fantastic! I read that if you look at the want ads of a large city newspaper, seventy- five percent of the jobs listed there were unheard of ten years ago. What an increase in technology, science, and inventions. Today when a person graduates from college he is already obsolete because of the discoveries and advances that are made daily don’t get a chance to trickle down into the educational systems of our land. Everything accelerates to the end. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, but He comes with all haste and speed! This coming of Christ throughout the ages is climaxed by His appearing. So that the second advent of our Lord is the culmination, the crowning glory of His coming throughout the ages.
When Christ appears, He shall accomplish four things. Having all power over the grave and death He shall call forth the dead out of the earth and the seas. The picture we ought to have at this point is that of every man, woman, and child who ever lived, standing with a body and a soul that will allow them to enter into their eternal destinies. Secondly, Christ shall pass judgment on the living and the dead. The book, that is the consciences of men, shall be opened and all men shall be judged according as they have done in the body, whether it be good or evil. The idea of this judgment is that it shall be revealed for all to see that in Christ God has always been a righteous judge, daily rewarding good with good, and evil with evil. Every thought shall be revealed, every work shall be recounted, the things done in secret shall be bared for all to see. The desperate wickedness of man’s heart shall be revealed and pride shall be seen in all its ugliness. When this is done, the ungodly shall call to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb!” But the Church, which is the Bride of Christ, and which is just as wicked by nature as the ungodly world, shall not fear or be perplexed. She sees and knows her sins, and she hates them. She knows they have been blotted out by the blood of the Lamb of God, and that the Lamb shall confess the names of the elect before the Father. She lifts up her head because her Judge is the same blessed Person Who offered Himself on the cross, removing the curse from her. God will see that blood! God will be pleased! God will cause the Church to possess a glory that has never entered into the heart of man to conceive. He will make our bodies like unto Christ’s glorious body. He shall cause us to know and love as we are known and loved. We shall be like Christ, and we shall ever be with our Lord!
Thirdly, at His coming Christ shall make all things new so that the present creation will take on its everlasting form. This old, tired, cursed creation will be burned with a fervent heat. Even now it groans and travails until Christ returns. All the upheavals, all the signs in nature, are so many birth pains which shall bring forth the new heavens and the new earth. And that new creation shall be a fit dwelling place for Christ and His Church. It will suit their glorified bodies, it will fit their constant activity of worship. It will be a kingdom of righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. There is no need of a sun or moon to shine in the new creation, for the glory of God will lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. That’s heaven . . . the place where God’s glory, the radiation of His perfection, shall shine without interruption or imperfection. And the Church shall be bathed in that glory, shall reflect that glory, shall partake of that glory! Do you want that? The question is not whether you want to escape hell; of course you do. But do you want heaven, when heaven is understood to be the glory of God, seen, reflected, enjoyed!
Finally, there shall be the final separation of the elect and the reprobate the believers and the unbelievers. For a few centuries the Lord allowed the wicked to live on the earth with His chosen ones. They served a purpose as the chaff serves the development of the wheat. But when the day of full harvest comes, the chaff is gathered together and burned. All the wicked are cast into the lake of fire which is the second death; Christ shall cast His and our enemies into everlasting condemnation. But the wheat shall be gathered into the garner. The Church, with each saint in his place, young and old, Jew and Gentile shall he translated into heavenly joy and glory . . . there to enjoy God forever!
What a tremendous climax to history! What glories of God shall be revealed in that day, and forevermore! What praises are due to Him! The Church triumphant in glory longs for that day. She cries, “How long, Lord, Holy and True, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” The saints in glory cry, “Come, Lord Jesus!” The Church on earth, in her preaching and praying, in her living and in her dying also says, “Come!” Do you say that, young people? If so, happy are ye! You are most blessed for your future is bright with the vision of heaven. If not, you are to be pitied. And my hope is that through all the activities of this convention you may be lead to that position of faith and hope. I thank you.