Second Coming Of Christ*
by W. J.
The great event of the future is the
second advent of our Lord Jesus
Christ. The Scriptures plainly declare that this advent will be
personal, visible, sudden and unexpected, glorious and triumphant.
The New Testament teaches that our Lord will come in person. while the
Scriptures refer to great events in the history of the individual, like
death, and great events in the history of the Church, like the
outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost and the destruction of Jerusalem,
as comings of Christ, yet they also declare in no uncertain language
that there is to be a final triumphant return of Christ towering far
above these other partial and typical comings. 'The Lord himself shall
descend from heaven' (1 Thess. 4:16).
It is clearly taught in the New Testament that the Lord will return
visibly. His first coming was literal and visible, and we may be sure
that His second coming, which is so often linked with it in Scripture
statements, will be literal and visible too. '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 1:11 His second coming is to be as
visible as His ascension. 'Then shall appear the sign of the Son of man
in heaven : and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they
shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and
great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a
trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds,
from one end of heaven to the other' (Matt. 24:30,31).
The late Dr R. V. Bingham once held the common doctrine of a secret
appearing of the Lord and a secret rapture of the saints, but, on being
asked by his wife for a proof-text, he found that he could not produce
one. There are plenty of texts on the other side. Surely if it were to
be secret, it would not be 'with a shout, with the voice of the
archangel, and with the trump of God' (I Thess. 4:16).
Sudden and Unexpected
Speaking about the word 'apocalypse,' or 'revelation,' of the Lord,
used in the New Testament for His second coming, Dr Geerhardus Vos says
that the 'very idea of suddenness and unexpectedness seems to be
intimately associated with the word.' (Pauline Eschatology, p.79). It
15 as if a curtain were suddenly flung aside and the Lord of glory
revealed. His coming will be 'as a thief in the night. For when they
shall say, Peace and safety ; then sudden destruction cometh upon them'
(1 Thess. 5:2, 3). The Saviour Himself said that His coming would be
'as the lightning' (Matt. 24:27) as sudden, and as
visible. None will foresee it and all will see it at once. What a
warning this should be to careless sinners and to slack, easy-going
professors of religion !
Glorious and Triumphant
The contrast is often drawn in the New Testament between the two
appearings of our Lord. He came in the body of His humiliation, but He
will come in the body of His glory (Heb. 9:28). He 'took the form of a
servant,' but when He comes again 'every knee shall bow' to Him (Phil.
2:5-11). He came to be rejected and killed, but He will come 'in his
own glory and the glory of his Father and of the holy angels' (Luke
9:22-26). He came as a child but He will come as King of kings and Lord
of lords, victorious over every foe (Rev. 12:5; 19:11-16).
One of the common New Testament words for Christ's 'coming' would be
more properly translated 'arrival.' The New Testament writers
recognized indeed that Christ had already arrived, but 'the arrival,'
the epochal coming, the one fully worthy of the name, belonged to the
future. They had an intensively prospective outlook-for them the
momentous event is the coming of the Lord.
Another word for His second coming 'the revelation' is used in the
same way, as if this, rather than His first coming, was the revelation
Another term for it is 'the day' 'the night is far spent',
is at hand' (Rom. 13:12). When He comes, darkness will vanish for ever
for His own, and deliverance, joy, and blessedness will be ushered in.
Indeed, His second advent is described as 'our redemption.'
J. A. Bengel says beautifully (on Acts 1:11) 'Between His
and His coming no event intervenes equal in importance to these :
therefore, these two are joined together. Naturally, then, the apostles
. . . set before them the day of Christ as very near. And it accords
with the majesty of Christ that during the whole period between His
ascension and His advent, He should without intermission be expected.'
It was characteristic of the saints of the Old Testament that they
looked for the consolation of Israel, Christ's first coming. Now 'this
is pinned as a badge to the sleeve of every true believer, that he
looketh for and longeth for Christ's (second) coming' (John Trapp). The
New Testament keeps this great event constantly before our minds and
urges it on our attention, that we may be active, earnest, patient,
joyful and holy.
* Quoted from The Momentous
Event, W.J. Grier. The Banner of Truth Trust. 1945. Pages 9-12.