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"Teaching the things concerning the kingdom of God..."


Part 253





            “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (Rev. 22:12).


            It was the last night of the revival in the sleepy little south Alabama town.  The congregation was softly singing, “Just as I am,” and the preacher was standing in front of the pulpit with both arms raised in invitation.  He knew there were people present who needed to receive Christ as Saviour.  “Jesus Christ could come tonight,” he urged.  “Will you be ready for Him?  The trumpet may sound before this meeting is over, or before you awake in the morning.  When that happens the graves in the cemeteries will burst open and the dead rise, and those living who are ready will go soaring off into space to meet the Lord.  Everywhere people will suddenly be missing without any clue as to where they may be.  Husbands will miss their wives, and wives, their husbands; parents will miss some of their children, and children will miss father or mother or  both.  They will be searching for them in all possible hiding places, but will  not be able to locate them.  Loud wailing will ensue, and hearts will be filled with the dread of unknown and hostile powers.  Finally, after days of fruitless searching, they sit down in dumb resignation and despair.  The Antichrist will then appear and the Great Tribulation will begin.  Those of you who are left will have  to go through seven years of hell on earth.  The scenes of earth will be indescribably bewildering and terrifying.  Oh, why not make things right with God tonight so you will be spared from such a time of trouble and punishment!”


            I was just a boy at the time, but it made a profound impression on me.  In fact, when I saw my first aurora borealis, it nearly scared me to death.  I was sure Jesus was coming at last, and I knew for a certainty that I was not ready for it.  On another occasion I arrived home from school one late afternoon.  I stepped off the school bus in our rural district and made my way up the embankment to the house.  The house was open, the windows up, the doors unlocked; but no one was to be found.  Mother wasn’t there.  My brothers weren’t there.  The house was empty!  I called but no one answered.  I checked across the road at the neighbor’s house and they were gone, too.  Suddenly a terrible fear seized me and my blood ran cold.  “Oh, my God!” I thought, “the rapture has taken place and I have been left.”  There is no doubt that I was the happiest little boy in the whole world that afternoon when my mother came walking across the hollow.  Of course, Jesus hadn’t come that day nor has He come (in that manner) any other day in the past seventy-two years.  Looking back, I wonder why it took me so long to question what the preacher said.


            Of course, among those who believe in the return of the Lord, most simply take it for granted that His return could take place at any moment.  But is that true?  Is it possible that you might step out the front door of your home tonight, see a bright light flashing across the sky, and suddenly realize that Jesus IS RETURNING, and He is returning NOW?  After all, Jesus did promise to return.  “I go to prepare a place for you.  And  if I go…I WILL COME AGAIN, and receive you unto myself” (Jn. 14:2-3).  “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Mat. 24:27).  “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me…” (Rev. 22:12).  Make no mistake about it!  Jesus did promise to go away and to return to planet earth.

            Before the Lord Jesus Christ left this earth to ascend into the heavens of the Spirit, He said, “I will come again.”  He, as the glorified Christ, repeated these words to the apostle John on the lonely isle of Patmos in our present text.  Twenty-one times, at least, Jesus speaks of His coming again, and most of these references are made on the eve of His departure.  It was in the shadow of the cross that He foretold His advent in glory.  He declared, “The Son of man shall come.”  “They shall see the Son of man coming.”  “Your Lord doth come.”  “When the Son of man shall come…”  “When He cometh in the glory of His Father…”  “Ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord,” etc., etc.  Our Lord did clearly — not once or twice, but repeatedly, and at definitely marked crises in His ministry — declare that He would come again.


            Plain as Jesus had made the promise of His coming to His disciples, at the time of His ascension, they still did not seem to grasp its significance.  A faithful group of His  followers stood looking upward on that historic occasion.  As the Lord ascended, He perceived their consternation and sent messengers of assurance: “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 into heaven” (Acts 1:10-11). 


            No subject in the entire Bible has gendered more interest, study, speculation, and theological debate than the return of Christ.  It has been interwoven into practically every theory, creed, or doctrine expounded by man.  Through the centuries it has been the object of scorn and mockery by enemies of truth, and not a few times has it, through ignorance and carnal reasoning, suffered abuse and distortion by well meaning friends.  No subject has been more misunderstood or misconstrued than this great truth; and yet it is the hope of the ages.  The focus of the entire scriptures is upon this wonderful event.  It is significant to note that when men drew near to God they would receive glimpses of this truth.  Certainly the scriptures have much to say about it but only the blessed Spirit of Truth can make it substance in our lives.


            Most of the differences in scriptural interpretation among Christians is the result of an incomplete knowledge of the plan and purpose of God.  Much of what is taught and believed in Christian circles today is derived from the wrong source — Bible study!  That statement may astound you, and you may demand to know why I say that the great mass of confusion in Bible teaching stems from the wrong source — Bible study.  What’s wrong with Bible study?  Isn’t this very article an effort in Bible study?  Ah, there is nothing whatever wrong with Bible study IF WE HAVE THE RIGHT TEACHER TO TEACH US!  Christians gather together in Bible Schools, Bible study groups, Sunday Schools, etc., to study the Word of God, but the problem with the vast majority of such groups is that they have the wrong teacher — the human understanding, natural reasoning, and the carnal mind!  They try to decipher the deep and wondrous spiritual mysteries of the Word of God with the human intellect and fleshly logic, instead of allowing the One whom God sent to be our teacher, the Holy Spirit of Truth, to unveil to spiritual minds and transformed hearts the hidden mysteries of the kingdom of God, His ways, and His great plan and purpose.  If we all have the right teacher we will all be taught the same thing, and what we learn of Him will be the truth.  What He teaches is truth; He cannot give us anything else but truth.


            When we think we know it all, we shut ourselves off from further revelation, and make it impossible for the Spirit of Truth to guide us into all truth.  We need to pay heed to the Biblical injunction, “If any man think he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know” (I Cor. 8:2).  Yes, we still have a lot to learn, there is yet much of the total picture to be revealed to us, and as the beams of divine revelation stream from the glory above, let us ever walk in that light, and as we do, it will be fulfilled in us what the scripture says, “The path of the just is as a shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day” (Prov. 4:18).  There  are many precious Christians who believe, and have received the Lord Jesus as their Saviour, who try to fit into this one initial experience with the Lord, all the parts of the Word of God that pertain to further experiences.  The infilling of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit, stages of growth and development in Christ, overcoming, maturity and brideship, sonship and reigning with Christ, and many others; they think these have all been incorporated in this first experience of regeneration.  Yet, those of us who have received the infilling of the Holy Spirit as a further experience, know what blessing and reality they are depriving themselves of when they assume that they have received the gift of the Holy Spirit when they first believed.  The baptism in the Spirit is not the ultimate either, as many seem to believe, it is merely the gateway into a vast spiritual world where there await more and more wonderful experiences and attainments in the Lord, as we continue to walk in the Spirit and grow up unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ!


            In entering upon this grand and wonderful portion of God’s Word we desire to do so with profound reverence and humility of spirit, dreading to rush in where angels fear to tread; and anxiously desirous to bring out of the inspired words what is really in them, and to put nothing into them that is not really there.  As I have said, there is no subject where there seems to be more of the confusion that attends carnal minds conjuring up inaccurate and half-stated and fancifully conceived theories than this subject of our Lord’s coming again.  It will take  intense spiritual effort, and much prayer and holy brokenness before God, to lay aside all one has heard and hears, to lay down all preconceived notions and ideas, to find out just what the Holy Spirit teaches.  The one question ultimately must be, What does the Word of God actually teach? And not, What have men taught?  We must be determined to be committed to the Spirit of Truth and the Word of God only, in receiving an understanding of Christ’s coming, irrespective of any and all traditional views which might tend to influence a forced or unnatural conception.  We must be willing to let inspiration lead and  interpretation follow.  Some will be tempted  to stop and ask, “Why! how can that be!” regarding some particular point.  And perhaps nowhere more than at the point of truth we shall now set forth!


            It may surprise some of my readers to learn that the Bible nowhere speaks of the “second coming” of Christ.  Interesting, isn’t it — how some of the major and most commonly accepted doctrines and practices of professing Christianity cannot even be found in the Bible?  There is no mention whatever of such things as Christmas, Easter, the Immaculate Conception of Mary, Mass, Popes, Cardinals, a man called “the pastor,” infant baptism, Trinity, holy relics, candles, prayer books, church buildings, or — the “second coming”!  The Spirit of God has dealt with me powerfully through many years that the Lord’s people should purge their vocabulary and terminology, and remove even from their consciousness the multitude of non-scriptural and extra-biblical expressions carried over from the house of the harlot, Mystery Babylon.  We have both parroted and coined a great many unscriptural terms that have been so misleading and have lead us astray in our understanding of the scriptures and the wonderful plan of God.


            We have been so completely saturated, so thoroughly brain-washed in the errors of the carnal church systems of man that we do by rote and speak by habit the ridiculous absurdities imbibed in the pews of Babylon.  How astounded we are when once we learn the truth  and discover that the cherished teaching or hallowed practice we have unwittingly assumed to be godly and spiritual truth is not only unfounded in the holy scriptures, but actually an abomination in the sight of God!  And this term — “the second coming of Christ” — is not scriptural, either, and cannot be found anywhere in  the Bible; yet it has influenced the thinking and teaching of most Christians to accept and believe concepts that simply are not true.  We have been so confused in our thinking that everything in the scriptures pertaining to the coming of the Lord, His appearing, His manifestation have to fit into His coming as a man two millenniums ago, or to His so-called “second coming” when every eye shall see Him.  This is wrong. Very wrong.


            May the blessed Spirit of God come speedily with His coal of fire from off the holy altar of Eternal Truth and forever sanctify our speech!  The “second coming of Christ” is not a biblical phrase.  It has no scriptural warrant.  It is my deep conviction that it should be discarded altogether, for it is the cause of much confusion of thought and not a little outright error.  Many texts speak of the coming of Christ, the coming of the Son of man, the coming of the Lord, or similar phrases.  But if you consult any Bible Concordance such as Strong’s and look up the word “second” you will find that it never occurs with a word that can be translated “coming.”  There is one passage in Hebrews that does say this: “So 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” (Heb. 9:28).  This beautiful passage, however, is not referring to Christ coming to earth a “second time.”  The writer is drawing the picture of the ministry of the Old Testament high priest when he went into the Most Holy Place of the tabernacle on the day of atonement to offer the blood of atonement upon the mercy seat for the remission of the sins of the people.  It was there, in the Most Holy Place, before the throne of the Lord, that the high priest “appeared” in the presence of God on behalf of the sins of every Israelite.  He is saying that Christ is now our great high priest, and just a few verses above the passage we quoted above he shows how our Lord, after His death as our sacrifice, took His own blood and entered in, not to the Holy Places made with hands, but into heaven itself, now to APPEAR in the presence of God for us (Heb. 9:24).  Christ “showed up” as it were, before God, with His atoning blood,  on behalf of the sins of all humanity.  And just as the high priest of Israel went into the Most Holy Place to appear” before God with the blood, and once the sacrifice was accepted, he came out of that Most Holy Place to appear” a second time, not this time in the Most Holy Place before God, but now in the Outer Court before the people, sin having been dealt with; and just as he “appeared” this second time before the people free from sin and bringing salvation,  SO shall He appear this second time UNTO THEM THAT LOOK FOR HIM, WITHOUT SIN, UNTO SALVATION!   It is in the “Outer Court” of our spiritual experience that we “see” Christ as our Saviour.  Can we not see by this that this “second appearing” has nothing to do with His “second coming” to earth — instead, it is His high priestly appearing before the Father in heaven contrasted with His appearing unto us bringing His full and free salvation!  HIS PRIESTHOOD is the whole theme of the book o f Hebrews.  That is the mystery.


            How often  our hearts have thrilled as we have read the many wonderful passages concerning the coming again of our Lord!  But the preachers, when preaching from these texts, always add the word “second” to each one, and proceed to preach on  “the second coming of Christ”!   They invariably add the word “second” to every “coming” in the New Testament, and then add the “second coming of Christ” to nearly every chapter in the Bible — even in the Old Testament.  Adding “second” to the word “coming” does violence to the meaning every time.  Jesus did not say, “the second coming of the Son of man.”  James did not say, “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the second coming of the Lord.”  Peter did not ask, “Where is the promise of His second coming?”  Paul did not say, “Then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall destroy…with the brightness of His second coming.”  Jesus did not tell John on Patmos, “And, behold, I come the second time quickly.”  There is no justification whatever for adding “second” to any of these inspired passages or to the scores of others that speak of His coming.  I have all the confidence in the world that the Holy Spirit inspired them to be written exactly as they should be written — without the word second!  You will have to rewrite the entire New Testament to support the doctrine of the “second coming” of the Lord.  The “second coming” is  not a scriptural expression and first occurred among Christians as late as the middle of the second century after Christ.  I cannot emphasize  too strongly that the word “second” is never used in holy writ with the word “coming.”  That is the simple and plain and incontrovertible truth, and this fact is elementary and basic to a correct understanding of the coming of the Lord!


            We have been led to think in terms of the first coming and the second coming, whereas the Bible speaks in terms of the progressive revelation of Jesus Christ.  Our God does not talk about the “first coming” and the “second coming” — He talks about the progressive revelation of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  For example, let us take a look at that thought in Micah 5:2, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto me who is to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been of old, from everlasting (Hebrew: from the days of antiquity).”  Notice, His “goings forth.”  The plural is used.  The goings forth of the Lord speak about the Lord Jesus Christ!  Now, the idea of “goings” has to do with the onward marching of God — the on-going revelation of Himself and the progressive unfolding of His purpose, step by step.  This is what is indicated here.  This is what history is all about, the progressive revelation of Jesus Christ, the marching forward of God, visitation after visitation, revelation after revelation, the ever-increasing unveiling of Himself to man.


            The term “second coming” implies that there has been only one coming of Christ thus far.  That is not true!  It may surprise you to learn that the scripture does not treat His coming at Bethlehem as an isolated event.  Although it is important, it is not considered out of proportion to other and comparable events.  His coming as a man was a step in the development of God’s plan for redemption of the world.  Actually, Bethlehem is one in a series of appearances of Christ into the world!  The pages of the Old Testament are literally sprinkled with the accounts of the Lord’s comings, beginning in Eden’s blest garden and continuing through all generations of old.  On the very day that man sinned he heard the Voice (the Word, Christ) walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Gen. 3:8).  The casual way in which this is stated indicates that this was a normal event, perhaps a daily appointed time at which the Lord manifested His presence to communicate to the man He had placed on this planet.  We know of a certainty that the Lord had appeared to both Adam and Eve before this because, when the Lord formed Eve, He then “brought her unto the man” (Gen. 2:22).  The Lord freely conversed with them following their transgression, and the Lord still walked among men even after Adam was banished from the garden, for Cain, after he slew Abel, “went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod” (Gen. 4:16).      


            In Genesis 17:1 we find that “The Lord appeared unto Abraham.”  In Genesis 17:22 it says, “God left off talking to Abraham, and went up from Him.”  Interesting, isn’t it, that the mount of Olives was not the first time or place where the Lord ascended!  In Genesis 18:1 we read, “And the Lord appeared unto him.”  Then in Genesis 18:33, “The Lord went His way, as soon as He left communing with Abraham.”  In Genesis 26:24 we see that “the Lord appeared unto him (Isaac) the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee.”  In Genesis 35:7 it says, “And he (Jacob) built there an altar, and called the place El-beth-el (the house of God): because there God appeared unto him.”  The Lord appeared unto Moses in the burning bush and spoke to him out of the fire (Ex. 3:15-16).  After Moses had led the children of Israel out of Egypt Christ walked among them in mighty manifestation of power and glory and provision.  When the tabernacle in the wilderness was erected, “the Lord appeared in the tabernacle in a pillar of a cloud (His coming in a cloud is nothing new, either!)” (Deut. 31:15).  He did not just visit them, He dwelt in their midst in  the Holiest of all, appeared there continually in His glory, and communed with Moses and Aaron.  And then we read that “they drank of that spiritual Rock which followed them: and that Rock was Christ” (I Cor. 10:4).  The “rock” which gave water to the thirsty multitude was not a native rock of the desert where they were, for it was a special rock, it was a traveling rock which went along with them, it was a spiritual rock — it was a Christophany — an appearance and manifestation of Christ!  And just as Jesus in Galilee fed five thousand people from five loaves and two fish, so He supplied water out of the Rock which He was to two million Israelites in the desert!  So, it’s a little late, my friend, to tell me that the coming of Jesus in flesh two thousand years ago was the “first coming” of Christ!  


            The Lord again came to Israel in the wilderness in another form.  “And the Lord said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak unto thee…and mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it…and the Lord came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount” (Ex. 19:9,18-20).  In the days of Samuel the prophet “the Lord appeared…in Shiloh: for the Lord (continually) revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh” (I Sam. 3:21).  In II Chronicles 3:1 the “Lord appeared unto David…in the place that David had prepared in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.”  In I Kings 3:5 the Lord appeared to Solomon.  And this star-studded record of the Lord’s comings in the Old Testament times takes on special significance when Israel exclaims, “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” (Jer. 31:3).  Ah, yes — “His goings forth have been of old, from the times of antiquity!”   


            We dare not lose sight of the fact that our Lord has already had many comings, many appearings.  We have limited the comings of Christ strictly to two because of our unscriptural terms “first coming” and “second coming,” whereas the truth is that He came; He continued to come; He comes; He continues to come; He will come; and He will continue to come!  There are also numerous “comings” and “appearings” of the Lord in the New Testament.  BUT THEY DO NOT ALL REFER TO THE SAME EVENT.  The word “coming” is very often used in scripture of a visitation or manifestation of the Lord to judge or bless or accomplish some specific aspect of His great plan and purpose among His people and in the earth.  One would think, listening to the preachers carrying on about “the second coming of Christ,” that every time the Lord says, “I will come,” He is speaking of one, specific, particular, singular event sometime out in the future.  I do not hesitate to tell  you that this is a great error.


            Revelation 2:5 tells of a coming of our Lord.  “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”  Since Jesus had gone, a coming of Jesus would certainly be a return.  So what does the Lord say?  He warns the church at Ephesus that if it does not repent, “I WILL COME…QUICKLY!”  “I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place.”  Have you noticed that the terminology the Lord uses is precisely the same as in our text?  “Behold, I come quickly.”  And yet — almost any preacher on earth will tell you that the Lord’s coming quickly upon the church at Ephesus is not the “second coming,” but His promise to come quickly in Revelation 22:12 is the “second coming”!   There can be  no doubt — the childish traditions of the church systems have clouded men’s minds with darkness and have hung a veil of blindness over their eyes!


            There is neither time nor space to discuss in detail all of these comings and appearings of the Lord  in one brief article, so we will mention them only briefly in passing.  On the day of Pentecost Christ came again as the Comforter.  “And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of Truth: whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you (in the person of Jesus), and shall be in you.  I will not leave you comfortless (orphans): I WILL COME UNTO YOU.  Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.  At that day (when I come unto you) ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I IN YOU…if a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and WE WILL COME UNTO HIM, and make our abode with him” (Jn. 14:16-20,23).


            Ten days after that little group of ardent disciples stood gazing up into the heavens in bewilderment, wondering at the phenomenon of their beloved Master rising bodily from their midst and disappearing into the cloud, they were startled by another manifestation of the miraculous.  It was the day of Pentecost, and as they were waiting and praying in the upper room in Jerusalem, the power of God manifested itself in their midst.  Had not the messengers declared, “This same Jesus shall so come in like manner AS YE HAVE SEEN HIM GO INTO HEAVEN?”  And now, when the day of Pentecost had fully come, suddenly “there C-A-M-E  F-R-O-M  H-E-A-V-E-N a sound as of a rushing mighty wind…and there APPEARED UNTO THEM cloven tongues (the Logos, the Word) like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost…”  Ah, it was the fulfillment of the messenger’s promise unto them, this SAME JESUS had returned in  mighty Spirit power, they heard Him come, He came from heaven, and they SAW Him come, even as they had seen Him go into heaven!  Can you not see the mystery?


            Their minds were now enlightened with a better understanding of those things yet to come in the outworking of the Father’s plan and purpose.  They had been assured that their Lord would return.  The messengers had said that “this same” Jesus would so come “in like manner” as they had seen Him taken into heaven.  But not until the Spirit of the ascended Lord came upon them and into them at Pentecost did they begin to understand the meaning of His “return.”  Their faith had been strained by the fact that His ministry had come to such an abrupt and fatal end, and before many of the promises of God concerning the work of the Messiah had been fulfilled.  But now He was here again — and this time IN A MANY-MEMBERED BODY!  Please don’t write to me explaining that the disciples were still expecting the Lord to come years after the day of Pentecost had come and gone, certainly they were expecting the Lord, for He comes in many-faceted ways, just as He did in the Old Testament, as we will show more plainly in a moment; but this particular coming of the Lord on the day of Pentecost was clearly prophesied by the Lord Himself, and He came just as He  promised, praise His wonderful name!  “I will not leave you comfortless: I WILL COME UNTO YOU.”  And Paul says, “Now THE LORD is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (II Cor. 3:17).


            As our spiritual senses are awakened, the Christ comes to us within ourselves.  His comings are many and the timings and purposes wrought out in us by them are of Him.  But they are all designed to cause us to cast off the earthly image and to grow up into the heavenly image.  They are to cleanse, purify, judge, correct, encourage, strengthen, mature, and transform us into the full stature of the Son of God.  Let us look at some of the many facets of His coming.  In Mark 13:26 He comes with CLOUDS.  In Matthew 24:27 He comes as LIGHTNING.  In Revelation 16:15 He comes as a THIEF.  In Matthew 25:6 He comes as the BRIDEGROOM.  In Revelation 2:28 and 22:16 He comes as the MORNING STAR.  In Malachi 4:2 He comes as the SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS ARISING.  In Malachi 3:1-3 He comes as REFINER’S FIRE and FULLER’S SOAP. In Philippians 3:20-21 He comes in RESURRECTION POWER.  In II Thessalonians 1:7-8 He comes in FLAMING FIRE.  In I Thessalonians 4:16-17 He comes IN THE AIR.  In Hosea 6:3 and James 5:7-8 He comes as RAIN.  In Revelation 19:11 & 14 He comes ON A WHITE HORSE IN WARFARE.  In Matthew 25:31-34 He comes as KING.  In I Peter 5:4 He  comes as the CHIEF SHEPERD.  In Matthew 16:27 He comes WITH HIS ANGELS.  In Jude 14 He comes WITH HIS SAINTS.  In John 14:18 He comes TO HIS SAINTS.  In II Thessalonians 1:10 He comes IN HIS SAINTS — GLORIFIED.  In Jude 14-15 He comes in JUDGMENT.  In Revelation 22:12 He comes WITH REWARDS.  Time and space fail me to tell of how He comes leaping upon the mountains and skipping upon the hills, He comes with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, with the trump of God; He comes to the mount of Olives, He comes to His temple, He comes in glory, He comes as Lord, He comes in His kingdom, He comes as seasons of refreshing, and on and on and on…   Oh, He comes in ever so many ways, when we think not, but in His every coming He comes to take us away from our personal sense of self and bring us into union with Himself.  He comes to make us sons of God!


            Like a choir of many voices and as the sound of many waters, the testimony of the Word of God resounds with abundant and stunning and inescapable evidence that the coming of Christ is not a single event, but includes many different manifestations.  His coming to each of us is a many-sided experience.  To multitudes He appears as Saviour.  They find Him at the crossroads of their lives.  He becomes their salvation but they never venture any deeper to know Him intimately.  They have only a superficial knowledge and experience of Him.  To others He appears as Chief Shepherd and Bridegroom.  They hear His voice and are moved by His love, and follow on to purify and prepare themselves to know Him in deeper measures of intimacy and union.  To others He appears as a Thief. He comes into their world uninvited and unannounced, He overtakes them unexpectedly and breaks up their life style and smashes their religious games.  He apprehends them as He did Saul of Tarsus suddenly on the road to Damascus, and calls them to a walk they never even dreamed existed.  And unto others He appears as Fire, consuming their hay, wood, and stubble, eliminating by the spirit of burning all that is of self and not of God, and refining the gold of their inner man.  Oh, yes!  The coming of the Lord is as many-faceted as the most dazzling crystal of earth or the most beautiful diamond known to man!


            If the coming of the Lord is not a progressive revelation in many manifestations, then, pray tell me, which of the many “comings” enumerated above IS THE SECOND COMING?  When He says, speaking of the Comforter the Father would send, “I will not leave you orphans: I WILL COME TO YOU,” is that the “second coming”?  Or when He says, “I will come unto you as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth,” is that manifestation His “second coming”?  Or is it when He comes as lightning — as sudden, bright flashes of revelation — or as the sun of righteousness rising with healing in His wings bringing in the full day of the knowledge and power of the Lord?  Or is it when He comes as the Bridegroom, or as the King, or with a shout, or with His saints, or in His saints?  Paul said that Jesus would come with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God.  Yet the Lord Jesus Himself declared that He would come as a thief.  Certainly thieves do not blow trumpets and shout!  Nor did Jesus blow trumpets and shout, nor did He ride a white horse with armies following Him, nor did He have a sword coming out of His mouth when He ascended from the mount of Olives, yet the literalist preachers are sticklers for the idea that He must return literally and physically “in like manner” as the disciples saw Him go into heaven.  And it would seem that if He came as rain and as fire at the same time, the rain would put out the fire!


            But these are not contradictions.  They are word pictures to help our finite minds comprehend more clearly some of the great factors involved  in the on-going coming of Christ and what His coming means to the whole creation.  When we put all these together and add to them all the other illustrations of the Bible pertaining to Christ’s coming, we begin to understand that what we are to look for is not a human being coming down through the literal clouds, setting fire to the earth and toppling the mountains, but mighty manifestations of the risen and glorified and ascended and enthroned Lord of heaven and earth, leading to the transformation of mankind from selfishness and hatred to compassion and love; from war and destruction to peace and reconstruction; from dead in trespasses and sins to alive in Christ; from the carnal mind to the precious mind that was in Christ Jesus; from sickness, sorrow, and death to health, happiness, and life; from funeral processions  to the quickening power of His resurrection!


            And hence it is that so very few Christians have really scriptural or spiritual thoughts about the coming of their Lord.  They are looking into prophecy for the church’s hope — but they confound the “sun of righteousness” with the “morning star” — they mix up the coming of Christ “with His saints” and His coming “in His saints” and then speak mostly of Him coming “for His saints,” which expression is not even in the Book!  They have not the foggiest notion what is the difference in time or manifestation between His coming as Rain or His coming as Fire; His coming as Saviour or His coming as Lord; His coming as Lightning or His coming with Clouds; His coming as Bridegroom, or His coming as King.  Not very many know when or how the Lord comes in any of His manifestations, therefore, they cannot know how to MEET HIM!     


            These are not things we can figure out with the natural mind for we must spiritually discern and respond to the Lord’s comings in our midst and in our individual lives.  Jesus said, “Occupy till I come.”  In  the midst of all our activity we are to ever look for His comings!  We must be spiritually perceptive and awake at all times.  Then, recognizing His presence and turning aside from all that would distract, we can move with Him in His visitation.  As we respond to His comings, be it in blessing, refreshing, quickening, enlightenment, Lordship, fellowship, transformation — or in correction, judgment, stripping, purging, or cleansing — we shall come to KNOW HIM in all His glorious and eternal reality and be made like Him as His very own sons and daughters in the earth.  Oh, listen for the sound of His comings!


                                                            Jesus is coming again and again,

                                                                 Coming in glory and power —

                                                            Not just the future, and not just the past,

                                                                 But coming each moment and hour.


                                                            He is a river of Life flowing free,

                                                                 Has no beginning or end —

                                                            He never leaves or forsakes us because

                                                                 He’s coming again and again!


    Anne Ashworth Speegle


            “Behold, I come quickly…” (Rev. 3:11; 22:12; 22:20).


            There is an important and sublime truth contained in these beautiful words.  The word “quickly” is from the Greek tachu meaning shortly, without delay, swiftly, speedily, or suddenly.  While there is significant truth, little understood by the average Christian or preacher, in each shade of meaning of this word, it is to the thought of the speediness or suddenness of the Lord’s coming that I would now draw your reverent attention.  When John uses this word, he is not using it in the sense of time in terms of hours, days, months, or years, but in the sense of events happening suddenly and in rapid succession once they begin.  This principle of suddenness adheres to almost all the “appearings” and “comings” of the Lord.  Look closely for a moment at the following examples: “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple…He shall come, saith the Lord of hosts…and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness” (Mal. 3:1,3).  Here is a great one: “Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping” (Mk. 13:35-36).  “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men” (Lk. 2:13-14).  “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:2-4).     


            Then there is poor Saul of Tarsus, who ran headlong into a blinding “suddenly.”  “And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shown from heaven a great light round about me.  And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecuteth thou me?” (Acts 22:6-7).  It was there that the Lord “appeared” unto Saul, transforming him into Paul the apostle.  The angels’ sudden appearance at the birth of the Christ child was “in the fullness of time.”  Centuries of prophetic voices accumulated until one night they poured out on a Judean hillside, scattering excited shepherds into a hasty search for the Messiah’s birthplace.  Pentecost took place because its time had “fully come,” and suddenly the Spirit of the ascended and glorified Christ Jesus swept gloriously into the lives of those waiting for the promise.  Things happen swiftly, speedily,  suddenly in our individual lives, in the midst of the Lord’s people, and among the peoples and nations of earth because the time comes when God is ready to act, and suddenly He comes!  And we are admonished by the Lord to watch diligently for His coming, “lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping!”


                                                            Thou shalt know Him when He comes,

                                                            Not by any din of drums,

                                                            Nor the vantage of His airs,

                                                            Nor by anything He wears;

                                                            Neither by His crown,

                                                            But His presence known shall be

                                                            By the holy harmony

                                                            Which His coming makes in thee.


            “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”


            Two things are said concerning “works” in the book of Revelation.  Of the overcomer it is stated that their works “follow them.”  “Blessed are the dead which die (to self and the world) in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them” (Rev. 14:13).  Rest from “our labors,” His works raised up in us — these are the works that “follow us,” just as signs are said to follow those who believe!  The writer of the book of Hebrews tells us that this glorious gospel “at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them which heard Him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His will…”  Then we read, “These signs shall FOLLOW THEM THAT BELIEVE…” (Mk. 16:17).  When John writes that “their works do follow them,” the Greek text reads, “their deeds, business.”  Their business is the Father’s business; thus we could say of these sons, THEIR MINISTRY FOLLOWS THEM.  It is not that they are out “beating the bushes” trying to stir something up for the kingdom of God.  Rather, like Enoch, the seventh from Adam, who “walked with God, and was not, for God took him,” the “taking” was the result of his “walk” with God, it was just naturally that which “followed.”  When we cease from our own labors, becoming workers together with God, results will automatically follow such a resting and relationship with the Father.


            The second thing said concerning “works” in the book of Revelation is that the Lord comes to reward every man according as his work shall be.  Please notice, my brother, my sister, God is not here speaking of work that is in the past, work that has already been accomplished, but of work that shall be.  The traditional view has been that we work for the Lord throughout our lifetime on earth, then at the end of the age Christ comes and hands out rewards for our faithfulness.  There is undoubtedly truth in that thought too, as Paul says in II Timothy 4:6-8, but clearly here, in the Greek text of the passage now under consideration, the work is future tense — according as his work shall be.  Oh, yes, God still has much work to be done in His great and eternal kingdom, for His plan is the plan of the ages, and in the ages yet to come every son and daughter of the Lord will be about their Father’s business until all creation is redeemed, restored, transformed, and brought into the full measure of His Life — God all in all — EVERYTHING TO EVERYONE!  Christ will be present in every work we do, for we rest from “our labors,” to be about our Father’s business.  And every kingdom work we perform will immediately yield its own “reward,” Christ present and glorified within us will advance us from glory to glory unto glory indescribable and incomprehensible!  Isn’t it wonderful!


            In a very real sense, God owns us.  The apostle Paul reminds us, “For ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Cor. 6:20).  The great King of this kingdom expects to see a profit for all of His time, effort, and sacrifice.  God, of course, is not interested in making money.  He already owns everything.  God is in the business of developing His family — sons with character.  If those of us who are called now succeed in qualifying for positions of rulership, we will in turn be able to help millions of others become worthy citizens of the kingdom.  We are not power hungry, seeking position for position’s sake.  Oh, no!  But in any kingdom, the higher one advances in  the government of that kingdom, the more potential and ability he possesses to serve and bless others.  To put it in business terms, our future profit to the kingdom of God will more than make up for our present losses — if we stay with the organization and apply the new lessons!  Saints are capable of making costly mistakes.  Have you ever felt that God has given up on you?  Do you feel like  you are wasting His time?  Sometimes our mistakes can be very costly to us, too!  Have you ever felt that the cost was too high, and that you are wasting your time?  Let’s see what God says: “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it unto the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).


            God has great plans for us!  I feel sure that, unworthy servant that I am, my reward for what I have done thus far will be small and paltry indeed!  But our Father is investing in us today with every intention of making a profit, an increase in His investment, and expanding His kingdom.  Our all-wise Father sees our potential.  He knows our capacity to grow and develop.  He is keener at discerning it than we are.  He is also very aware of our weakness, and is ready to help.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” said Paul.  The children of God make a lot of mistakes, for children are children.  Our ability to learn from our mistakes is part of what God uses  to build character in us.  In the Revelation we read that it is the overcomers — those who don’t leave God’s school or resign from His calling — who ultimately are given power in His kingdom.  “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne” (Rev. 3:21).  “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more” (Lk. 12:48).  Have you made costly mistakes?  Have you been stumbling and seemingly wasting God’s time?  Don’t give up!  Don’t resign!  Don’t drop out of God’s school!  His investment in you is too great!  He will see you  through!  Graduation day is coming!  Then the real work will begin!  Right now we’re just “working our way” through school!  The positions in His authority and government and glory are waiting!  Learn the lessons that will help you to better serve in the kingdom of God.  If you do, great heavenly wealth and power and opportunity lie ahead for you in the age and the ages to come.  Through you creation will be lifted, redeemed, restored to life and liberty and glory — and that’s where the real profit begins! “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”


            Let us learn our lessons well — and let us never presume that we have attained to something in God that we have not yet qualified for.  And let us never grasp after a place or position the Father has not conferred upon us.  There is no need to DECLARE OUR OWN SONSHIP — the Father Himself declares His sons.  “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.  This is my Son, hear ye Him.”  Some today have grown weary of waiting for the manifestation God has promised, so they have “watered down” the hope and settled for a lesser reality, declaring themselves sons of the kingdom on a lower plane than God has called us to.  Some have settled for a “revival” realm, some for a “New Testament Church” realm and now speak disparagingly of what they term “classical sonship.”  These impetuous and unreliable souls just can’t wait for the Father’s appointed time!  The place that God has called us to will be in His time, not ours.  “The heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; but is under tutors (in God’s school) and governors until the time appointed of the Father” (Gal. 4:1-2).  Press on, saints of God!


To be continued…      J. PRESTON EBY



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Updated by Sharon Eby 11/02/2017 11:13:36 PM