His Coming Does Not Mean Death
His first coming did not mean death to the Jews, and they did not so understand it; neither does His second coming mean death to Christians, nor should they so understand it.
Jesus makes a clear distinction between death and His coming in John 21. He tells Peter how he should die, and then, by contrast, He speaks of John, saying: “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?” That is, that John might not die, but live till Jesus should come again. The disciples so understood it, and reported that he should not die.
Death is an enemy, and at Christ’s coming we are raised from the dead, and shout victory over death and the grave. “0 Death, where is thy sting’ 0 Hades, where is thy victory?”
If we are faithful unto death (that is, though faithfulness cost us our lives) He has promised us a crown but we do not receive it until He comes.
Nothing is promised us at death, except to be at rest in Paradise. But we are promised all things in the resurrection, when Jesus comes.
Therefore we find Paul yearning for this resurrection.
He did not want to be unclothed by death but clothed upon by the resurrection.
Let anyone insert “death” in the passages which speak of Christ’s coming and he will see that it will not apply. For instance:
“For ‘death’ shall come in the glory of His Father.” Mat. 16:27.
“When ‘death’ shall sit in the throne of His glory.” Mat. 19 :28.
“Hereafter shall ye see ‘death’ sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” Mat. 26 :64.
“Behold he (death) cometh with clouds and every eyu shall see Him.” Rev. 1:7.
“For our conversation is in heaven, from whence, also, we look for ‘death!” Phil. 3 :20.
If the reader thinks that these are exceptional passages, we beg of you to try it in other Scripture referring to His coming. The only possible similarity consists in analogy: in the fact that we do not know the time when we shall die. But thanks be to God, we may not die at all, for “We shall not all sleep.” 1 Cor. 15:51.
There will be one generation, at least, who will realize that the coming of our Lord is not death.
And if it is not admissible to say “for ‘death,’ himself, shall descend from heaven with a shout” (1 Thes. 4:16), neither is it admissible to say, “Watch, therefore j for ye know not what hour ‘death’ doth come.” Mat. 24 :42.
For, by such wresting of Scripture, we jostle this prominent truth, of our Lord’s advent, into the back-ground, and substitute therefor the ‘grim monster,’ death.
Death Is Not Practically the Coming of the Lord.
It is assuming too much, to say that death is practically, to the believer, “the coming of the Lord. For we do not know it, and the Scriptures do not assert it. On the contrary, the events which occur, as the Scriptures teach us, when the Lord comes, do not occur at the death of a Christian. The dead are not then raised, nor are the living believers changed, as they will be when the Lord comes. We know very little about Hades or the intermediate state of the dead. It is probably true that, since the resurrection of our Lord, the souls of believers, at death, go to a Paradise above, so that Paul could say “absent from the body, present with the Lord.” 2 Cor. 5 :8. But it would appear, from Rev. 6 :9-11 that certain of the departed souls yearn for the execution of Judgment, which occurs when the Lord comes. Spiritually, the believer is with Christ now, and always but, to be with Christ, bodily, is only to be attained by the resurrection, at His coming. Therefore, it is entirely unscriptural to instruct the believer to look for death, as being synonymous with, or equivalent to, the Lord’s coming.
Dr. David Brown’s Testimony.
Rev. David Brown, although a prominent Post-millenialist, recognizes this and he says: “The coming of Christ to individuals at death-however warrantably we may speak so, and whatever profitable considerations it may suggestis not fitted for taking that place in the view of the believer which Scripture assigns to the Second Advent.” And he very properly illustrates by the following passages:
“‘Let not your heart be troubled (said Jesus to his sorrowing disciples): In my Father’s house are many man- sions; I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go away’ – What then? ‘Ye shall soon follow me? Death shall shortly bring us together? Nay; but ‘If I go away, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am there ye may be also.’ John 14:3.
” ‘And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven, this same Jesus which is taken up, from you into heaven shall’ – What? Take you home soon to himself at death? Nay, but shall ‘so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.’ Acts 1 :10-11.”
“And,” he adds, “how know we that by jostling this event (the Advent) out of its scriptural place in the expectations of the Church, we are not, in a great degree, destroying its character and power as a practical principle? Can we not believe, though unable to trace it, that God’s methods are ever best; and that as in nature, so perhaps in revelation, a modification by us of the divine arrangements, apparently slight, and attended even with some seeming advantages, may be followed by a total and unexpected change of results, the opposite of what is anticipated and desired? So we fear it to be here.” We would that we had space to quote more, for we admire this frank admission-that death is not the coming of our Lord-from one who labors so hard to support post-millennialism. Again, the substitution of death for the coming of the Lord practically degrades the grand doctrine of the resurrection, from its lofty prominence in Scripture, to almost an unnecessary appendage.
But we believe in the preaching of Jesus and the resurrection16 and we look forward with joyous anticipation to the resurrection from the dead, as the time when Jesus shall give us the victory over death.
Oh! that Christians might realize “the grace that is to be brought unto” us (not at death but) “at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Nowhere in the Savior’s teachings are we commanded to watch or prepare for death. But we are commanded to watch and prepare for Christ’s coming.
Therefore, let us not be deceived by the thought that our great enemy, Death, is the precious coming of Jesus.
So, beloved, we conclude that this glorious doctrine does concern you.
Search the Scriptures.
Perhaps, you say: “I don’t know much about it, and I can’t understand it.” But do you want to understand it’ If so, God’s word is open to you. The Holy Spirit will teach you. He will show you things to come, and these pages are written with the earnest desire to aid you in the study of this truth.
Will you study it? Will you search for yourself, as did the noble Bereans? not merely to read through this little book, but to use it simply as an index, and go to the Word, search out the passages herein referred to, read them and pray over them, until the Holy Spirit guides you into the truth? If so, we believe that you will see the light, and find comfort to your soul.
Said a Christian, who had long opposed the truth of the pre-millennial coming of Christ: “I have spent the happiest night of my life, for last evening I saw the truth concerning the second coming.” It filled him with joy, and he is one who has been greatly used in leading souls to Christ. May God bless and thus use you, dear reader.