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Looking for Christ’s Coming
Prophecy - Signs
Friday, October 30, 2015
Alf Cengia

Are you looking for Christ’s coming at any moment? Alfred Edersheim certainly did. Moreover, he felt that it was vitally important for the fulfillment of the church’s mission to do so:

The ‘when’ – the day and the hour of His [Christ’s] Coming – was to remain hidden from men and Angels. Nay, even the Son Himself – as they viewed Him and as He spake to them – knew it not. It formed no part of His present Messianic Mission, nor subject for His Messianic Teaching. Had it done so, all the teaching that follows concerning the need of constant watchfulness, and the pressing duty of working for Christ in faith, hope, and love – with purity, self-denial, and endurance – would have been lost. The peculiar attitude of the Church: with loins girt for work, since the time was short, and the Lord might come at any moment; with her hands busy; her mind faithful; her face upturned towards the Sun that was so soon to rise; and her ear straining to catch the first notes of heaven’s song of triumph – all this would have been lost! What has sustained the Church during the night of sorrow these many centuries; what has nerved her courage for the battle, with steadfastness to bear, with love to work, with patience and joy in disappointments – would all have been lost! The Church would not have been that of the New Testament, had she known the mystery of that day and hour, and not ever waited as for the immediate Coming of her Lord and Bridegroom. ~ Alfred EdersheimThe Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (Emphasis mine)

Robert Murray M’Cheyne also looked forward to Christ’s any-moment coming. In his sermon on The Second Coming of Christ he tells his readers that Christ will come back suddenly and that the whole Bible bears witness to it. M’Cheyne wrote that Christians should continuously watch in context of not being found in sin at the coming of Christ. He added that it would be sudden to the world and to the children of God.

Christless souls, how dreadful is your case! Death may be sudden – oh! how awfully sudden it sometimes is. You may have no time for repentance – no breath to pray! The coming of the Saviour shall be more sudden still. Ye know neither the day nor the hour. You know not God – ye have not obeyed the Gospel. Oh! what will ye do in the day of the Lord’s anger? ~ Robert M. M’Cheyne (Sermons)

In the book Diary and Life, M’Cheyne’s friend Andrew Bonar made this poignant observation:

July 2nd. – Got of late some sight of Christ as partner for my soul, and have noticed that I do not pray in secret for Christ’s coming as I ought…

It’s important to note that neither Bonar nor M’Cheyne warned their readers about the coming of the Antichrist. This is most likely because they were intra-tribulationists. Their eschatology wasn’t refined at that point. Like their amillennial contemporaries, they saw the church as already being in a centuries long tribulation. This is contrary to what many premillennialists believe today and an important point – especially in light of Bonar’s following diary entry:

Thursday, Oct. 11th. – We have had three days of a most remarkable Conference on prophetic Truth, in Edinburgh, and the Free Assembly Hall too. Fifty years ago, those of us that held this truth were very much despised.

It’s true that Bonar wasn’t a pretribulationist – he would have been talking about prophecy relating to premillennialism. The church at the time was largely amillennial and historicist. Prophecy relating to a future Israel and its covenant promises was vigorously discouraged. People like Bonar, J. C. Ryle, George N. H. Peters and others were only rediscovering prophecy during their day (19th century). But they were the exception rather than the rule.

Sadly, we see this same despising attitude occurring today where pretribulationism is attacked for any number of myopic reasons. In too many cases these attacks are loaded with disinformation. We discussed this in prior essays HERE and HERE. For example, Joe Schimmel and others put together a four plus hour DVD (Left Behind or Led Astray?) attacking pretribulationism and John Darby. Jacob Prasch even referred to Darby as a cult leader. He was nothing of the kind despite the popular tendency to unfairly demonize him. I’ve noted before that the trailer (I haven’t seen the DVD) was loaded with propaganda. Interestingly, after Dr. Paul Wilkinson briefly responded to Schimmel’s DVD, he and Prasch felt that it warranted a one hour and 45 minute response! Critics of pretribulationism are too often thin-skinned when challenged. One participant complained that the DVD wasn’t an attack on pretribulationism. In fact it was.

For those interested, Dr. Wilkinson wrote another response at pre-trib.org. Once Lost Ministries has also responded to Left Behind Left Astray? HERE

Note that even Spurgeon wasn’t immune to throwing around misguided barbs. The following quote was once provided to me by an activist posttribulationist:

Distinctions have been drawn by certain exceedingly wise men (measured by their own estimate of themselves), between the people of God who lived before the coming of Christ, and those who lived afterwards. We have even heard it asserted that those who lived before the coming of Christ do not belong to the church of God! WE NEVER KNOW WHAT WE SHALL HEAR NEXT, AND PERHAPS IT IS A MERCY THAT THESE ABSURDITIES ARE REVEALED AT ONE TIME, IN ORDER THAT WE MAY BE ABLE TO ENDURE THEIR STUPIDITY WITHOUT DYING OF AMAZEMENT. Why, every child of God in every place stands on the same footing; the Lord has not some children best beloved, some second-rate offspring, and others whom he hardly cares about. These who saw Christ’s day before it came, had a great difference as to what they knew, and perhaps in the same measure a difference as to what they enjoyed while on earth meditating upon Christ; but they were all washed in the same blood, all redeemed with the same ransom price, and made members of the same body. ISRAEL IN THE COVENANT OF GRACE IS NOT NATURAL ISRAEL, BUT ALL BELIEVERS IN ALL AGES. Before the first advent, all the types and shadows all pointed one way-they pointed to Christ, and to him all the saints looked with hope. Those who lived before Christ were not saved with a different salvation to that which shall come to us. They exercised faith as we must; that faith struggled as ours struggles, and that faith obtained its reward as ours shall[22].

The capitalization is the posttribulationist’s own – presumably for effect. Here, according to my posttrib friend, Spurgeon “lambasts” Darby for his “private interpretation.” Interestingly, Spurgeon erroneously assumed that dispensationalists taught a different mode of salvation prior to Christ. He assumed the OT saints form part of the church and assumed a Covenant of Grace (nowhere ever spoken of in Scripture). Spurgeon also believed – as most Covenant Theologians did – that Israel was made up of all believers, rather than ethnic descendants of Jacob.

See Michael Vlach’s Has The Church Replaced Israel?

Though I’ve seen Spurgeon’s gripe cited here and there, no one has provided his biblical rebuttal to Darby’s teaching. That Spurgeon states an opinion doesn’t make it biblical truth. In fact, Chantry gently takes him to task over several issues on his blog. The lesson here is that while Spurgeon was undoubtedly a great man of the Lord, he wasn’t perfect. Ironically, Spurgeon also taught that we should expect Christ at any time:

That our Lord is coming, is certain; that his coming may be at any moment, is a matter of faith; and that we are ignorant of the time of his coming, is a matter of fact: “Ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.”

I’m with Edersheim, Bonar and M’Cheyne – they weren’t dispensationalists but they eagerly looked forward to Christ’s at-any-moment appearing based on their understanding of Scripture at the time. Do you?

Pretribulationists are often treated with scorn by those who think they know better. However, we shouldn’t let this attitude keep us from expecting the Lord’s imminent return. There’s a preponderance of biblical support for the view and the idea in various forms was around long before John Darby. Hopefully the following links will be helpful.

Maranatha!

Further resources:

Once Lost Responds to Left Behind or Led Astray? 

History of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Doctrine of the Church

The History of the Doctrine of the Rapture

A History of the Pre-Conflagration Rapture

John Nelson Darby and the Rapture

A Refutation of False Origin of the Rapture Theories

The Rapture Before Darby – William Watson

Pretribulational Rapture in 17th & 18th Century England

Why a Pretribulational Rapture?

About Alf Cengia

Last week: A Tale of Two Journeys



Source: http://www.zeteo316.com/looking-for-christs-coming/

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