"Behold, I Come Quickly"
General Douglas MacArthur thrilled a war-weary world to new hope with the now famous words, "I shall return." Jesus Christ the Captain of our salvation, has lifted a lost and sin sick world to an incomparably greater hope with the simple words, "I will come again," or "Behold, I come quickly."
This terse promise appears repeatedly on the closing pages of the Bible. A faithful congregation that had kept Christ's word and had not denied His name found comfort in the promise, "Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." Rev. 3:11. Three times in the closing chapter of Revelation those same words reappear. They are to be found in Revelation chapter twenty-two, verses seven and twelve, and finally in the closing words of the book the Lord promises, "Surely, I come quickly," to which the aged apostle John responded, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." Rev. 22:20.
This promise, "behold, I come quickly," should stir each of us to prepare now for Christ's promised coming. These words should thrill us with the hope of f uture bliss, and, at the same time sober us with the possibility of future punishment. It will not be our purpose in this article to study every contextual implication connected with this expression wherever it is found in God's word, but rather it will be our purpose to motivate-to stress the urgency of immediate action-on the basis of the challenging words, "Behold, I come quickly."
Christ will come quickly in the sense that he will come swiftly, unexpectedly, as a thief would come in the night. His coming will be unheralded and unannounced.
Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come." "Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Matt. 24:42, 44.
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night 2 Pet. 3:10.
These and many other scriptures clearly teach that Christ will come suddenly and without warning. Hence he will come quickly as He promised. Despite popular misconceptions to the contrary, Jesus said plainly that there would be no signs of his coming. (Matt. 24:36-51). He even said that no man, not even the angels in heaven, knows when he will return (Matt. 24:36).
In spite of the obvious force of clear scripture on the subject, time setters have been trying to get Jesus back to earth in every generation. William Miller, for example, predicted that Jesus would return in 1844. Many of Miller's disciples sold their homes, took their children out of school and sat down to wait for the Lord to come. After the promised day came and went, they were in despair. Some of them committed suicide, and many never regained faith in God or man. This tragic story, with only slight variations, has been repeated many times as self-appointed prophets have lured their gullible followers into feverish expectancy which, in turn, gave place to the aftermath of faith-shattering disillusionment.
The would-be prophet, who is so brazenly conceited as to set the time of Christ's coming, not only flies in the face of clear scripture, but in doing this, he also opposes one of the gospel's greatest motives for day-by-day preparedness. The very fact that we do not know when Christ will come should impell each of us to live consciously and constantly in the sober realization that this might be the day.
We need to be impressed with the repeated admonition to "watch" and "pray" for "you know not the hour." There is among us an urgent need for the restoration of the spirit of constant watchfulness and preparedness that characterized early Christians. The fact of Christ's second coming is certain. ". . . I will come again . . ." (John 14:3). The exact time of His coming is to us unknown. Therefore we must be ready at all times.
Some of the same false prophets who have presumed to set a time for Christ's return have also been among the leading exponents of the so-called "gospel of the second chance." Charles T. Russell, who predicted that Christ would come in 1914, was one of those who espoused the theory that the unrighteous would be afforded a second opportunity for repentance after this life. The scriptures clearly refute this error. Paul said in 2 Cor. 5:10: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." The basis for judgment, according to Paul, will be the things done in the body. "The body without the spirit is dead" (James 2:26), and hence we conclude that when the body dies the basis for judgment ceases and therefore the eternal destiny of the individual is sealed at death (Heb. 9:27). No wonder Paul urged Christians to "live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world" (Titus 2:12). If we fail in this life to fit ourselves for eternity, we have missed our only chance, for the Bible knows nothing of a "second chance." This brief life is our only period of probation.
"What is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away" (James 4: 14). When this short, uncertain, vapor-like experience ends, our judgment is fixed and final. Since the sealing of our eternal destiny is just as close to us as our death, each of us can, in a sense, appropriate to ourselves individually the words, "Behold, I come quickly."
The brevity and uncertainty of life; the inevitability of death; the fact that we know not when Christ will come again; the awesomeness of the judgment day; the horrors of hell and the bliss and beauties of heaven should impell each of us to obey the gospel of Christ and then live in faithful service to him through the rest of our days.
"Only one life
Twill soon be past.
0nly what's done
For Christ will last."
Those of you who have carefully read the articles contained in this issue of Truth Magazine have been impressed with your responsibility before God. Having carefully studied these articles, you are made to understand that the Bible is inspired and is, therefore, our all-sufficient guide religiously. Doubtless you have come to appreciate the fact that God's will for us today is revealed in the New Testament. You have learned that in New Testament times men and women became Christians by believing in Christ; by repenting of their sins; by confessing their faith in Christ and by being baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of sins. You now understand that those who thus obeyed the Lord were added by him to the church-the glorious, bloodbought body of Christ.
Now a tremendous responsibility rests squarely upon you. You must give answer to the question, "What shall I do with Jesus which is called Christ?" The Saviour, through his word, is calling you to obey him today. Satan is saying, "Wait for tomorrow -- wait for a convenient season." What will you do? Will you reject Christ and in so doing turn down the sweetest invitation the world has ever known? Or, will you fly to his arms of mercy; obey his saving gospel; become a member of his church and walk daily in the light of his truth until he calls you home? Which will it be? We pray and plead that you will obey Christ now. "Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation."
Truth Magazine I:12, pp. 20-22