“And unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”b
“Yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” That Word of God comes to us with greater emphasis today than ever before.
The end of all things is at hand.
It is the last hour.
All the signs point to the fact that it has already grown very late in this last hour. The voice of Jesus declares louder than ever, “Behold, I come quickly.” He is hastening to come.
“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” And he that has eyes to see, let him regard the signs of the times.
We are accustomed to speak of a twofold coming of Christ, a first and a second coming. Scripture also refers to the birth of Christ and His dwelling among us, with its accompanying suffering and death, as a first coming. And it refers to His return with the clouds of the heavens as a second coming.
It is interesting to note that the prophets of the Old Dispensation spoke of but one coming of Christ, They included in that coming His incarnation, His death on the cross, but also His final coming in judgment. However, this does not mean that they were mistaken on that score. It cannot possibly mean that the Holy Spirit, who spoke to them of the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow, had deceived them. God is not a man that He should lie. When the Spirit spoke to the prophets of the coming of the Son of Man, He displayed before their wondering gaze the broad panorama of the future as one glorious coming unto salvation. They saw it all as a single moment, without realizing that some two thousand years would elapse before that coming was completed. We might compare them to a traveller approaching a mountain range that looms up in the distance before him. He sees the various snow-capped peaks, one towering above the other, but they all seem to make up one solid formation, without a break anywhere. He may wonder how anyone ever scaled that range, or managed to find a pass through it. Yet as he proceeds on his way, the pass opens up before him and he soon finds himself in a series of mountains with canyons and broad expanses of valleys separating them. He travels many miles before he has left behind that last towering peak that seemed so near when he first saw it. So also the prophets of old saw the whole new dispensation as one great event in the unfolding of the counsel of God. They saw the coming of Christ as one great work of salvation, beginning with the incarnation and reaching its culmination in the day of judgment.
This places us, as church of the new dispensation, in a very peculiar position. We are living right in the midst of the coming of the Son of Man. On the one hand, we look back and see the fulfillment of prophecy in the birth of Jesus Christ from the virgin. On the other hand, we look ahead into the not too distant future, awaiting His final coming with the clouds. Ours are the last days.
Upon us has come the end of the ages. And the time is short.
Christ came once.
He is coming again.
He shall appear a second time to those who wait for Him unto salvation.
The text speaks of Christ coming as an appearance.
We saw Him for a period of some thirty-three years while He fulfilled His ministry among us, and then we saw Him no more. He is no more among us. But He will return, and we shall see Him again, never to be separated from Him.
Emphasis must necessarily fall on the fact, that it is Christ whose appearance we anticipate. He is the Son of God, Who took on our flesh from the virgin Mary. Of Him the Scriptures say that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the Only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” It is true, that not all who saw the man Jesus saw Him as the Son of God. But neither could they ignore Him, or fail to pass judgment upon Him. Many heard Him speak, and marvelled at His words, yet soon turned away in scorn. Many saw His miracles and were impressed, but at the same time they hated Him in the blindness of unbelief. Even His own brothers did not believe on Him for some time. The scribes and Pharisees called Him a glutton and wine bibber. They branded Him as a blasphemer, because He called Himself the Son of God. They condemned Him to death as a criminal unfit for human society. They cast their resentment in His teeth, even while He hung on the cross. But there were others who saw Him with an eye of faith and confessed that He was the Christ, the Son of the living God. By special revelation, the wise men knew Him, also the shepherds, and Simeon and Anna, they all worshipped before Him. Peter confessed as the spokesman for the other disciples: “Thou hast the words of eternal life.” And after the resurrection Thomas addresses Him as, “My Lord and my God.”
He appeared once.
Concerning this appearance the apostle John writes in his epistle, that He is the word of life, “which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled.” He revealed Himself as the Son of God in mighty words and works. He did even more. He wilfully took upon Himself the wrath of God against sin, and gave Himself unto the accursed death of the cross. He committed His body to death and the grave. And He arose again on the third day as complete victor over sin and death. For a period of forty days He made His appearances unto Him disciples to reveal to them the glory of His resurrection. And then He did not merely disappear from view, leaving them in the dark as to where He had gone, but He ascended to heaven before their eyes. They saw the heavens receive Him as He was hidden from their sight. And they were assured by the angel that stood among them at that moment, that this same Jesus that was taken up from them into heaven, “shall so come in like manner”.
We saw Him once, and we see Him no more among us. Yet we shall see Him again, for He is coming a second time.
The next major event we expect on God’s calendar is that the Son of Man is coming with the clouds of the heavens.
Behold, I come quickly.
Appearing unto salvation.
Christ will appear a second time unto salvation.
This could not possibly be taken to mean that this is the specific purpose of His coming in distinction from His first, implying that His first coming was not unto salvation. That cannot be the case, for all that Jesus ever is and does is unto salvation. His very name Jesus implies this. Jesus means Jehovah salvation or Savior. He is Jesus-Savior when He comes into our flesh, and lies in the manger. He is Jesus in His public ministry, Jesus in His suffering and death, Jesus in His resurrection and ascension, Jesus as our exalted Lord at the right hand of power and glory. He is Jesus when He comes to judge the living and the dead. In all that He does He is always carrying out the divine program of salvation. He saved His people from their sins.
The contrast between His first and second coming is brought out in the phrase ‘without sin.’ The text states that He will appear without sin unto salvation. This implies that His first coming was with sin. He appeared the first time with sin unto salva tion. When we see Him again, it will be without sin.
To say that Jesus appeared with sin does not mean, of course, that Jesus was a sinner, even as we are. That would be contrary to all the Scriptures, which teach the every opposite. He knew no sin. He was like ujito us in all things, sin excluded. All His life He walked among sinful men without participating with them in their sins. Repeatedly He was tempted of Satan, yet He never fell into temptation. At the close of His life He could challenge the whole world with the demand: “Who of you accuses me of sin?” And the whole world certainly joined together as one man in a last vicious, yet futile attempt to accuse Him. How diligently Annas sought to find some charge against Him. How vainly the Sanhedrin wrestled to build up a case against Him. How reluctantly Pilate admitted over and over again, “I tell you, I find no fault in this man.”
When the text says that He came the first time with sin it means that He bore the sins of many. He was made sin for us. He had taken upon Himself the form of a servant, and humbled Himself to death, even the shameful death of the cross; and all this because of our sin.
We more commonly refer to Christ’s second coming as a coming in judgment. This is also entirely according to the Scriptures, which speak of the great and terrible day of the (Lord, when the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. Then will the Son af Man come in His glory, and all His holy angels with Him, and He will sit upon the throne of His glory, and before Him will be gathered all nations, and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth the sheep from the goats. (). Already there are many forebodings of that day of His coming. Scripture speaks of wars and rumors of wars, famines, pestilences and earthquakes in divers places. But Scripture also points to many other signs. Think of the amazing changes and developments that have taken place during the past fifty years. Only a few decades ago people crept along by horse and buggy, or by the slow chugging automobile. Today we race along the highways at a speed of sixty or seventy miles an hour, we fly through the air at hundreds of miles per hour, and we hear of speeds that far exceed the speed of sound. Consider all the inventions of the past few years that are supposed to serve to make our life easier and simpler. Has this all served to give us more time for study and quiet reflection? Has it made our lives simpler? The very opposite is true, for we are busier now than ever. We experience more in a lifetime than Methuselah could ever dream of experiencing in his nine hundred and sixty nine years. Think of the inroads that radio and television have made upon our home life, often helping along to destroy whatever family life is left in the homes. Think of the rapid development of sin. Excess drinking, gambling, vices of every sort are openly condoned. Divorces have become almost as common as marriages. A pleasure mad world is taking her last fling, dashing headlong to destruction, even as she glories in her shame. Consider the apostacy in the church. For much that calls itself church today has become nothing more than a social center which still has the form of godliness, but has lost the power thereof.
Our world is striving for unification to every sphere of life. Nations seek unity, corporations expand, the churches amalgamate together. All are preparing for the coming of the man of sin, the power of antichrist that must still appear before Christ returns. In the meantime, this world of sin has discovered the power of the atom, but only begins to realize what this harnessed power can do toward her own destruction. As the first world mocked at the idea of a flood with water all around her, so this present world scorns the thought of a judgment with fire, even while the consuming power of fire is impressed upon her every day.
He who cometh will come, and will not tarry.
But for the church of Jesus Christ that spells victory. The Lord saves His church through judgment. As Noah was saved by the waters of the flood, and as Lot was delivered from Sodom before the fire rained from heaven, so the Lord delivers His people out of the midst of His judgments unto their eternal salvation.
Unto those who wait for Him, He shall appear.
They are those who wait patiently and assiduously for His coming. You can recognize yourself as belonging to these saved, if you bear this earmark.
Their whole attitude is that of expectation. When visitors are expected in the home, we soon notice an air of expectancy about the house. When, for example, a son returns home on a furlough, there is a hustle and bustle everywhere. Mother is making the preparations for supper. Father is getting ready to go to the train. Restlessly every one watches the clock. Likewise the believer prepares himself spiritually waiting and watching in prayer.
Moreover, those who wait for Him grow increasingly eager for His coming. They long to see His day. They do not become sallowed up in the affairs of this life. They do not seek their treasure here, but they seek their treasure in heaven. They do not try to gain all this, and heaven besides. But they are pilgrims, strangers in the world, ever striving to attain’ to the things that are above. They guard their souls from the snares and temptations of sin.
They wait with patience.
The night often seems long and dark, the enemy presses sorely, the sufferings of this present time burden them. But they bear all these things for Christ’s sake. They knew whom they have believed, and are persuaded that He is able to keep that which they have committed to Him unto that day!
To such the promise is sure: He shall appear!
He will find them ready, waiting and watching.
Watch ye, therfore. Yea, watch unto prayer.