"It is sufficient for us to know, that God's mode of procedure has always been at variance with that which man in his wisdom vainly proposes; and that when a new era has arrived, it has been inaugurated strictly in accord with His own Word but never in accord with popular expectations. The views so universally prevalent on this subject, so opposite to the simple language of the Bible and the child-like faith of the early Church, are, on this ground alone, open to suspicion. It is enough for us to receive predictions, and, actuated by the past literal fulfilment, by faith in God, to believe them as recorded without the addition of another and differing sense, and of apologies for the ancient weakness and credulity."
(George N. H. Peters, THE THEOCRATIC KINGDOM, Vol. 2, p.80)
There are those who would have us believe that everything God has tried with men has failed each time – so much so that He is forced continually to try something new, only for that too to fail. Even the Gospel shall fail in the end. The world has been given into Satan’s hand and cannot be rescued. What doleful nonsense this is and completely out of tune with Scripture teaching. What a contrast to the hope we read of in the pages of the Bible. Such negative thinking flies in the face of everything we know of our God and Saviour in Scripture. Paul writes to the Thessalonians these words of great encouragement (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4):
“But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.”
This is our ‘blessed hope’, not our unseen removal from this scene, but the highly visible return of Christ to this world to gather all believers to Himself and dash to pieces His enemies like a potter’s vessel. That is the reality, that is the truth and it is from this perspective that we should live our lives on earth: knowing that whatever occurs, be it good or ill, God’s purposes in Christ Jesus, His Son, shall prevail. The end will be soon, swift, unexpected, and for which the unbeliever will be totally unprepared.
Everything, everything that is and everything that happens from the moment of creation and forever, serves the eternal purpose of God; it is impossible that anything of it should fail. Even the unbelief and wicked ways of men all serve God’s purpose; they do not subvert it. All is leading to that moment, when those redeemed by the precious blood of Christ out of every kindred and tongue, and people, and nation shall reign on earth unto God as kings and priests – ten thousand and thousand of thousands. The cry will go out with a loud voice.
“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.”
The whole of creation shall bless Christ forever and ever. What a Gospel, what a victory! What possible grounds can there be for us to hang our heads, to creep around the place like paupers and vagabonds? Sure in the eyes of those who know not God we as the scum of the earth, to be trodden on, despised. “We are,” says the apostle Paul, “made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.” However, the truth is otherwise: we are the servants of the most high God, His representatives on earth. Let us never forget this, and it is for this reason we are so esteemed.
Of all the doctrines of the Gospel, the one about which Christians have become most unlike the first Christians, in their sense of its true value, is the doctrine of Christ’s second advent. I am obliged to say this of all denominations of Protestants. I know’ not of any exception. In our view of man’s corruption, of justification by faith, of our need of the sanctifying work of the Spirit, the sufficiency of Scripture--upon all these points I believe we should find the English believers were much of one mind with believers at Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi, or Rome, in former times. But in our view of the second advent of Christ, I fear we should find there was a mighty difference between us and them if our experience could be compared. I am afraid we should find that we fall woefully short of them in our estimate of its importance: that in our system of doctrine it is a star of the fifteenth magnitude, while in theirs it was one of the first. In one word, we should discover, that compared with them in this matter, ac slumber and sleep.
These words are part of the Lord’s Prayer. Did you ever consider what they mean? Did you ever consider what they mean? The subject is one about which many mistakes prevail. It is one about which is most important to your own comfort to have clear views. Give me your attention, while I try to explain to you the kingdom of God.
In the days of the apostles the disciples were comforted and encouraged by the prospect of the personal return of the Lord Jesus Christ. An angel had said to them, as they watched the Lord depart from the earth, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11) This, and not death, was the hope of the Church; and thus it ought to have remained up to His actual return. His coming should have continued to be the hope of the Church; but this, alas! for centuries has not been the case.
“And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”