The Doctrine of the Second Coming of Christ.
The Second Coming of Christ is made known:
- In the teachings of Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself taught in clear, unmistakable language His coming again to the earth, not only in those wonderful words of comfort found in John 14:1-3, but also in many other places in the Gospels. In parable and exhortation, before His disciples, before the multitude, and when arraigned before His judges, He talks of His coming again (Luke 17:20-37; 19:11-27: Matt. 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21).
- By the witness of angels. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews lays special stress on the trustworthiness of the testimony of angels. He speaks of it as being "steadfast," since angels are ministering spirits, messengers, the very mouthpieces of God. Everything the angels--the annunciators of Christ's first coming--said about the coming was true. The angelic testimony regarding the Second Coming of Christ is found in Acts 1:10, 11. These words are capable of no other interpretation than that the same Jesus the disciples beheld vanishing from their wondering view would again come to the earth as they had seen Him leave it. The entire Book of Revelation may be regarded as angelic testimony to the Second Advent and the accompanying events, for Christ "sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John."
- In the preaching of the apostles. Jesus promised the apostles that He would send unto them the Holy Spirit to "guide you into all truth"; "show you things to come"' and "bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26; 15:26, 27; 16:13-15). It is, therefore, important to know what these men thus equipped have to say concerning this subject. These all, with no uncertain sound, give a united testimony to the fact of Christ's coming.
- Peter's testimony (Acts 2:30-36; 3:19-26; 1 Peter 1:5, 7, 11, 13; 4:7, 13; 2 Peter 3:3, 4, 7-10, 12, 14);
- Paul's testimony (1 Thess. 1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:14-18; 5:23; 2 Thess. 1:7-10; 2:1-11; Rom. 2:16, 8:18, 19-23; 11:25, 26, 13:11, 12: 1 Cor. 1:7, 8; 5:5; 2 Cor. 5:1-10, Phil. 1:6; 3:21; 2 Tim. 4:1, 8; Titus 2:13);
- John's testimony (John 14:1-3; 21:22; 1 John 2:28; 3:32; Rev. 1:7, 11:15-17; 22:7, 12, 20);
- James's testimony (James 5:7-9);
- Jude's testimony (Jude 14, 21, 24).
The vital relationship it holds to other doctrines.
It is easily demonstrated that the statement of the second coming of Christ as recorded in the New Testament is bound up with every fundamental doctrine. It is so woven into these basic doctrines of the Christian faith that the one cannot be denied without denying the others. Like the ephod of the high priest which was so wrought of gold and linen that the linen could not be extracted without pulling apart the gold wire, neither could the gold wire be removed without destroying the linen, so the Second Coming and the great fundamentals and all the flowering beauties of the Christian faith are so inextricably inwrought that the hand which damages the one destroys the other.
The doctrine is bound up with:
- The doctrine of the Resurrection(1 Cor. 15:23; cf. John 5:28, 29 with 1 Thess. 4:16-18);
- The doctrine and promise of the transformation of the living (1 Cor. 15:51; 52);
- The doctrine of sonship with God and likeness to Christ (1 John 3:1, 2);
- The doctrine and promise of rewards (2 Tim. 4:7, 8; Rev. 22:12; 1 Peter 5:4);
- The doctrine of the Atonement (cf. Heb. 9:14-28 with Luke 1:8-10);
- The doctrine of future judgment (2 Tim. 4:1);
- The doctrine of sanctification (1 Thess. 3:12, 13; 5:23, asv).
The practical value of the doctrine.
The truth of the Second Coming is eminently practical. It is bound up with every practical exhortation to Christian obligation, service, and attainment, including exhortations--
- To meet together on the Lord's Day (Heb. 10:25);
- To observe properly the Lord's Supper (1 Cor. 11:26);
- To love one another (1 Thess. 3:12, 13);
- To patience (James 5:7, 8);
- To holy living (1 John 3:3; Titus 2:11-13; 1 Thess. 5:23);
- To watchfulness (Mark 13:34-37);
- To Christian activity (Rom. 13:11, 12);
- To abide in Him (1 John 2:28);
- Not to judge one another (1 Cor. 4:4, 5);
- To pastoral fidelity (2 Tim. 4:1, 2; 1 Peter 5:2-4);
- To comfort and console those who mourn their Christian dead (1 Thess. 4:16-18);
- To zeal for the salvation of souls (2 Cor. 4:3-5; cf. 1 Thess. 2:19, 20 with 1 Thess. 1:9, 10).
The emphasis placed upon it by the early church.
The early Christian church believed in and ardently longed for the coming of Christ to overthrow the powers of evil and paganism as represented by the Roman Empire and to reign victorious in lands over which Caesar's eagles had never flown (1 Thess. 1:9, 10; Titus 2:13; Heb. 9:28).
Schaff, the eminent church historian, writes:
"The most striking point in the eschatology of the Ante-Nicene age is the prominent chiliasm, or millenarianism, that is, the belief of a visible reign of Christ in glory on earth with the risen saints for a thousand years before the general resurrection and judgment. It was a widely current opinion of distinguished teachers, such as Barnabas, Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Methodius, and Lactantius. The Christian chiliasm is the Jewish chiliasm spiritualized and fixed upon the second, instead of the first, coming of Christ. It distinguishes, moreover, two resurrections, one before and another after the Millennium, and makes the millennial reign of Christ only a prelude to His eternal reign in heaven, from which it is separated by a short interregnum of Satan. The Millennium is expected to come not as the legitimate result of a historical process, but as a sudden supernatural revelation."