Torrey - Christ -8.6- The Time of Christ's Coming Again

VI. THE TIME OF CHRIST'S COMING AGAIN. Matthew 24:36,42 — "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. Watch therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come." Mark 13:32 — "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the son, but the Father."

First Proposition: The exact time of the coming again of Jesus Christ is not revealed to us.

Calculations from the data given in Daniel by which some try to fix the exact date of Christ's return are utterly unreliable. They attempt the impossible. The statements were not intended to give us a clue to the exact date of Christ's return. It is a part of God's purpose and method in dealing with humans to keep us in uncertainty on this point. The prophecies of Daniel were extant in the day when Christ uttered Mark 13:32: "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." And Christ doubtless understood the lessons those prophecies were intended to teach, but He distinctly declares that even He did not know the day or the hour of His coming again. Any teacher who attempts to fix the date of Christ's return is at once discredited; it is unnecessary to wade through his calculations. God does not desire us to know just when His Son shall return. Acts 1:7 — "And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power." He does desire that we shall be always ready for that return. Matthew 24:44 "Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh."

Second Proposition: The coming again of Jesus Christ will be at a time even His disciples don't realize. Even the faithful and wise servant will be taken unaware, but he will be found doing HIS Master's will. See also verses 45 and 46. Luke 17:26-30 — "And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even so shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed."

Third Proposition: The coming again of Jesus Christ will be at a time when the world is absorbed in its usual occupations. 2 Thessalonians 2:2-4 "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 day 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; Who opposeth and exalted himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God."

Fourth Proposition: The coming again of Jesus Christ will not occur until after the man of sin is revealed.

Of course the day of the Lord is the time of the Lord's coming to the earth.

This is preceded by His coming in the air to receive His bride, the church, unto Himself ( 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). There is nothing to show that quite an interim may not occur between this coming of Christ for His saints in the air and His coming with His saints to the earth. But there are indications that there must be such an interval. Christ has much to do with His people before He comes to deal with the world. It is distinctly taught that there is now a restraining power that hinders the manifestation of the man of sin ( 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 RV). It is natural to presume that this restraining power has something to do with the church. 1 Timothy 4; 1 — "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils." 2 Timothy 3:1-5 RV — "But know this, that in the last days grievous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, railers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, implacable, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good, traitors, headstrong, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power thereof: from these also turn away." Luke 18:8 — "I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.

Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?"

Fifth Proposition: The last days, and the time of the coming again of Jesus Christ, will be a time of apostasy and grief, and faith will be hard to find.

Second Timothy 3:1-5 gives an accurate picture of our own time. But we should bear in mind that earnest followers of God and students of the Bible have often thought in times past that the coming of the Lord was very near.

So it was and they were not mistaken, as were those who thought it was so far away that they let it have no effect over their lives. The multiplying iniquities of our day; the apostasy of many professed Christians, preachers, and professors of theology into damning error and unbelief; the increase of lawlessness on the part of great corporations on the one hand and the oppressed poor on the other; these are all signs of His coming, which may be very near at hand. Men's hearts are "fainting for fear, and for expectation of the things which are coming on the world" ( Luke 21:26 RV). But when we see these things begin to come to pass, we should then look up and lift up our heads because our redemption draws near ( Luke 21:28). Mark 13:34-36 — -"For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for we 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." Luke 12:35-36 — -"Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord, when he will return from the wedding: that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately." Matthew 25:13 — "Watch therefore; for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh." Matthew 24:42,44 "Watch therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh."

Sixth Proposition: We are repeatedly exhorted to be watching, looking and ready for our Lord's return; it must, therefore, be an event that, as far as we know, may occur at any moment.

There is no event or series of events predicted in Scripture that must occur before Jesus comes to receive His own unto Himself. There are events that must occur before He comes to the earth with His saints (2 Thessalonians 2). He may come for us as far as we know at any moment, and we should be always ready.

QUESTION: IS not the world to be converted before Jesus Christ comes?

ANSWER: Scripture shows us a world anything but converted when He comes. Revelation 1:7 — "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen." Matthew 25:31-32 — "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats." 2 Thessalonians 2:2-4,8 — "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 day 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; Who opposeth and exalted himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God." And then shall that Wicked one be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming." Luke 18:8 — "I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.

Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" Luke 21:35 — "For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth." 2 Timothy 3:1-5 — "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 — "And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and they that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day."

These passages show us two classes — converted and unconverted — at the revelation of Jesus Christ from heaven.

QUESTION: How shall we explain Matthew 24:14 "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come?"

ANSWER: This verse tells us that the gospel is to be preached "for a testimony'' (RV) unto all the nations, not that all the nations will be converted. In a sense, this has already been done. ( Romans 10:18 — "But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their works unto the ends of the world." Colossians 1:23 RV — "If so be that ye continue in the faith, grounded and stedfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel which ye heard, which was preached in all creation under heaven; whereof I Paul was made a minister.") It shall be preached "before the end come," but the coming of Jesus Christ to receive His own is not the end but the beginning of the end.

QUESTION: How shall we explain 2 Thessalonians 2:1 4 "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 day 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; who opposeth and exalted himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God"?

ANSWER: It is true that the man of sin must be revealed before "the day of the Lord is present" (RV). But the day of the Lord is not the coming of Christ to receive His church but, rather, that which follows it. How closely it follows it, it is difficult to say. The Thessalonians were troubled by the doctrine that the Day of the Lord was, not at hand, as the Authorized Version reads, but already begun. Paul shows them this could not be, for "the man of sin," who was to be especially dealt with in the Day of the Lord, had not yet been revealed. There is reason to think, as already said, that the taking away of the church must precede this revelation of the man of sin.

One widely accepted theory states that "the man of sin" has already been revealed in the Pope. But he does not fulfill the picture. In the Pope there is a preparing for the man of sin.

QUESTION: Will the church pass through the great tribulation?

ANSWER: It is clear from the Bible that the church will pass through tribulation ( Acts 14:22; and other passages), but that does not prove at all that the church will pass through "the great tribulation," when God deals with a Christ-rejecting world. There is much to indicate that the church will be sheltered during this period. (See Luke 21:36. See also the whole book of Revelation where everything after 4:1 has to do with the time after "the Rapture of the church.") QUESTION: Is the world getting better?

ANSWER: 1 John 5:19 RV — "We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in the evil one." In biblical usage, "the world" is the body of men and women that rejects Christ and lies in the wicked one. The devil is its God ( 2 Corinthians 4:4), and of course it is necessarily growing worse. But if we mean by "the world" what people usually mean when they ask this question — the entire mass of humanity, Christians and non- Christians — then it is to be said that there are two developments going on side by side, the development of the kingdom of God and the development of the kingdom of Satan, to be brought to a crisis when the Antichrist is developed at the head of the one and the Christ appears at the head of the other. This crisis will end in the complete victory of Christ and the kingdom of God. In the meantime, God is gathering out of the world a people for His name ( Acts 15:14), and His people are growing in the knowledge and likeness of Him. On the other hand, there is a development of "the mystery of lawlessness" ( 2 Thessalonians 2:7 RV), resulting in increasing error and apostasy in the professing church as well as out of it, and in growing immorality and especially the development of anarchy or "lawlessness" among all classes of society.