Prophecy Study: "The Return" A.W. Pink (Chapter One)Pt 2
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Chapter One7. The Redeemer's Return Is Necessitated By The Present Degradation Of The World
Here is a reason which ought to carry conviction to every mind. If there is anything which imperatively needs our Redeemer to Return it is surely this poor sin-cursed world of ours! Look at it and what do we see? A world everywhere racked with suffering and out of joint. A world convulsed with misery entailed by the Fall. A world now in its very death-throes, with hope almost completely gone. Everything that man could devise to better conditions and make this world a happier place has been tested and proven a failure. Every possible form of human government has been tried, each new one being as unsuccessful as the previous ones. Theocracy, democracy, and mobocracy (the French Revolution, and Russia today) have each been weighed in the balances and found wanting. Legislation, education and civilization have all been built upon, only to find in the day of testing that they were merely foundations of sand. Look where you will, on land or sea, in the air or beneath the waters, and you will witness sin and death holding high carnival. The world is dying for want of a competent Ruler.
On all sides iniquity is abounding more and more. Crime is increasing, morality is decreasing; godlessness and lawlessness are growing apace; while over all, hangs the dreadful pall of the world-war. In the physical world, despite all our enlightenment, modern discoveries and the organized activities of medical science, disease is carrying off an ever increasing multitude year by year. The educational world is mainly under the control of infidels and agnostics, under whose leadership the rising generation is taught that the faith once for all delivered to the saints is an idle superstition, or at best a religious garment which we have now outgrown. In the economic world, greed and dishonesty are rapidly eating out the very vitals of commercial stability, while the fight between capital and labor threatens a revolution such as this world has not witnessed since the days when the streets of Paris ran with blood. In the political realm there is so much chicanery, and "graft" and "party" principles are so selfishly pursued, that the self-respecting man is becoming loath to get mixed up with such filth and rottenness. Each "party" is as corrupt as the other, and the believer in Christ who is subject to God's Word will not hesitate to separate himself from that which offers his Lord no place and has no concern for His glory. In the moral realm, decay and putrefaction are witnessed upon all sides. Temperance Reform Societies, Purity-campaigns and Civic-righteousness Leagues are powerless to stem the tide of evil. The Drink-Bill of every civilized (?) nation is growing heavier every year. Immorality, both among the masses and those in high places, prevails to such a fearful extent, that our large cities are modern Sodoms and Gomorrahs. In the religious world, we gaze upon an apostate Christendom. Our Theological Seminaries, with very rare exceptions, are teaching Darwinism and Higher Criticism, while our pulpits are busily occupied with "echoing" these God-dishonoring and Scripture-denying heresies, and on all sides the Gospel is supplanted by political harangues or moral essays. The majority of our churches are more than half empty, while the mid-week prayer meeting is almost entirely a thing of the past. The few faithful servants of God that are left on earth are boycotted, maligned and persecuted. The Lord's Day has become a day of pleasure-seeking and now, Sabbath-desecration, in the form of seven days a week work on the farms and in the munitions factories, has been legalized by every nation that is now at war. And, as we have said, over all hangs the dreadful pall of this World War! Literally millions of men in the prime of their manhood have already been slaughtered, while millions more have been maimed for life in the vain effort to destroy militarism and establish a lasting peace. Innumerable homes have been plunged into grief, and there is no guarantee or even prospect but what millions more will suffer a like fate.
Today the world stands helpless before the inrushing tide of evil which threatens to decimate almost half of the human race, and in its impotency a grief-stricken humanity is everywhere lifting up piteous hands to Heaven as it cries for a Deliverer. True, the cry may not always be articulated, yet it is audible nevertheless. True, the world, as a whole, is blind to its spiritual wretchedness and apostate condition. True, the canal mind is still enmity against God, yet, intelligent men realize that the present order of things is a complete failure and are ready and longing for a New Order. The world cries for deliverance, what shall be Heaven's response? Again we say that only one answer is possible. While the Holy Scriptures reveal the fact that the severest of God's judgments have not yet been poured upon this world, which has for so long lived in pleasure and wantonness; while the Holy Scriptures reveal the fact that the darkest hour of the night of earth's sufferings and sorrows has not yet arrived; yet, they also teach, that at the close of this night, the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings (Mal. 4:2). "Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; He will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dump sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes. And a highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there: but the redeemed shall walk there: And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away"(Isa. 35:4-10). That will be Heaven's response to earth's agonized cry! Therefore we say that the present degradation and desolation of the world necessitates our Redeemer's Return to take the government upon His shoulder and to rule and reign in righteousness, for then, and not till then, will every world problem find its final solution.
8. The Redeemer's Return Is Necessitated By The Lamentation Of All Creation
The effects of the Fall have been far-reaching--"By one man sin entered the world"(Rom. 5:12). Not only was the entire human family involved but the whole "Kosmos" was affected. When Adam and Eve sinned, God not only pronounced sentence upon them and the Serpent but He cursed the ground as well--"And unto Adam He said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it, Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life: thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee" (Gen. 3:17, 18). These words suggest a solemn and far-reaching line of thought--Sin not only brings punishment to the actual transgressor but it also involves others in its terrible consequences. The punishment which was meted out to the antediluvians was not limited to the human family, it fell upon the lower orders of creation as well--all were swept away by the flood! The judgments which God sent upon the haughty Pharaoh extended to the fishes in the rivers and the cattle in the fields as well as to all his subjects! When the Angel of Death passed through the land of the Nile, he slew all the first-born of beasts as well as the first-born of the Egyptians (Ex. 12:12). When Jehovah's wrath visited the land of Palestine in the days of Israel's apostasy it descended upon the animal kingdom as well as the human, for we read, "How do the beasts groan! the herds of cattle are perplexed, because they have no pasture; yea, the flocks of sheep are made desolate" (Joel 1:18). And again, "How long shall the land mourn, and the herbs of every field wither for the wickedness of them that dwell therein? the beasts are consumed, and the birds; because they said, He shall not see our last end" (Jer. 12:4).
To what extent the entire universe has suffered the evil consequences of sin it is impossible to say, but certain it is that they are not limited to our earth. Adam was not the first offender, for before his fall Satan also had apostatized from his Maker. What other worlds were affected by Satan's fall Scripture does not inform us, yet we may infer from those principles which are revealed in God's Word that the awful consequences of Satan's rebellion were far-reaching in their scope. Astronomical observation reveals the fact that there are numbers of far-distant worlds upon which no life exists, while Scripture speaks of "wandering stars." The moon is a ruined planet where Death holds absolute sway and death is the wages of sin. If then Adam's transgression brought down upon the earth which he inhabited a curse from God, may we not soberly conclude that the fall of the highest of all God's creatures brought down a Divine curse upon those worlds over which he may have exercised a delegated rulership? Be this as it may, Scripture does reveal the fact that the consequences of sin have reached far beyond the four corners of our earth. We read "The heavens are not clean in His sight" (Job 15:15), and again, in Rom. 8:22 we are told, "For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now."
In the last mentioned Scripture we learn that the whole creation is in pain and misery. Surely this is abnormal. Surely things were not like this at the beginning, nor were they;' and surely things will not continue thus for ever, nor will they. We quote now the entire passage in which the above statement is found--"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to usward. For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the revealing of the Sons of God. For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of Him who subjected it in hope that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God" (Rom. 8:18-21, R. V.). The order of thought here appears to be as follows:- The whole of God's creation, which is directly concerned and connected with our earth, (The "whole creation" can not be taken absolutely for the unfallen angels must be excluded) suffered the consequences of Adam's sin, being brought under the bondage of corruption as the direct result. But this "bondage" is not to last for ever. A hope is set before creation: a promise has been given that it shall be "delivered" and in expectation of the fulfillment of this promise and the realization of this hope creation now "waits." The "hope" of creation is linked with "the manifestation of the sons of God" and "the liberty of their glory." The sons of God will be manifested or revealed with their Redeemer at the time of His Return for it is written "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory"(Col. 3:4). It is at the Second Coming of Christ, His return in "glory" that His people shall enter into the liberty of their glory. Then will it be that creation shall be delivered from its present bondage of corruption. Thus we learn that though the whole creation has suffered in consequence of sin, yet shall it soon share in the glorious benefits of the Death of Christ who came to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. How clear then is the need of our Redeemer's Return! None but creation's Creator (John 1:3) can emancipate it from its sufferings. Hence we say that the present lamentations of Creation necessitate and demand the personal Return of our Lord.
9. The Redeemer's Return Is Necessitated By The Supplications Of The Church
While our Lord was here upon earth He gave His disciples a pattern prayer saying, "After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven Hallowed by Thy name. Thy kingdom come" (Matt. 6:9, 10). The Redeemer taught His saints to look forward to the future, to be occupied with God's interests and purposes, and to pray for the coming of His Kingdom, i.e., the Millennial Kingdom. Thus we learn that our hope has to do, not with the present kingdoms of this world, but with the coming Kingdom of God, which hope will be realized at the return of the Redeemer Himself. It is clear from a number of Scriptures that the coming of God's Kingdom synchronizes with the Return of Christ (see Luke 19:12; Rev. 11:15, etc.). The Hope of the Church centers in Christ and has to do with the future rather than with the present, for "hope" always looks forward. Therefore it is that the prayers of the Church must conform to and correspond with its hope.
The last promise ever made by our Lord, made some fifty or sixty years after His ascension, given to the beloved John on the Isle of Patmos but recorded for the encouragement and joy of all His people throughout the Christian dispensation, was "Surely I come quickly" (Rev. 22:20). The response to this promise is the prayer inspired by the Holy Spirit, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." As this dispensation draws to its close and as the Return of Christ is daily coming nearer, the Holy Spirit is causing many to make this prayer their own. As the result of the recovery of the "Blessed Hope" which throughout the Dark Ages was lost to the Church, and as the result of the proclamation which is now being sounded forth far and wide, "Behold, the Bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet Him," companies of God's saints all over the earth are now daily crying, "Even so Come Lord Jesus." And our God is a prayer-hearing and a prayer-answering God! He who has taught so many of its members to long and pray for the Return of their Saviour must satisfy that longing and answer that prayer. Therefore we say that the expectations and supplications of the Church of God which He purchased with His own Blood necessitate the personal Return of our Redeemer.
10. The Redeemer's Return Is Necessitated By The Expectation Of The Dead In Christ
This argument may be summarized thus:--The Intermediate state into which the souls of the redeemed pass at death is not the perfect state, it is but an "unclothed" (2 Cor. 5:1-3) condition. Like their brethren who are still upon earth, those now in Paradise are "waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body" (Rom. 8:23). A countless multitude of those who fell asleep in Jesus are yet in the disembodied state, and in that state they are "waiting," waiting for the time when this corruptible shall put on incorruption and when this mortal shall put on immortality. Those, who while on earth, looked and longed for the Return of their Redeemer, and who are still waiting that blest event shall not wait thus for ever, as it is written, "For 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" (1 Thess. 4:16, 17).
In the last book of the Bible, where the veil that separates between the present and the future and between this world and the next is pulled aside, we find a Scripture that bears closely upon the point now under consideration. We refer to Rev. 6:9, 10--"And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the alter the souls of them that were slain for the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" This passage, stript of its symbolism, signifies that martyred believers now in the Intermediate state are waiting with eager expectation the time when God shall avenge their death, which time is reached immediately before our Lord returns to this earth. That which we wish to specially emphasize is the fact that souls now in Paradise are here represented as crying "How long?" Thus we learn that those "present with the Lord," as well as believers still "in the body," are eagerly expecting and waiting for the time of their Redeemer's Return. The answer made to these disembodied "souls" is very striking--"And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow-servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled" (Rev. 6:11).
The "dead in Christ" are waiting in hope, waiting for the fulfillment of that promise, "So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body" (1 Cor. 15:42-44). Is their hope nothing more than an idle dream? Are they to wait thus for ever? No, blessed be God. His Word, declares that at the time of our Redeemer's Return, "Them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him"(1 Thess. 4:14). Therefore we say that the present unclothed condition of the dead in Christ with their expectation of the Resurrection morn requires and necessitates the personal Return of our Lord.
To sum up. At least ten reasons require that Christ shall come back again -- the declarations of Old Testament prophecy; the affirmations of our Lord Himself; the ratification of the Holy Spirit through the writers of the New Testament Epistles; the humiliation of the Cross, requiring a corresponding vindication of Christ in power and glory; the present disorganization of Israel; the exaltation of Satan and the powerlessness of man to depose him; the degradation and desolation of the world; the lamentations of a Creation waiting to be delivered from its bondage of corruption; the supplications of the Church crying "Even so, come, Lord Jesus;" and the expectation of the dead in Christ waiting for their glorification, singly and collectively necessitate and demand the personal Return of our Redeemer.
Yes! Jesus is Coming!
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