A LIST OF SCRIPTURES REFERRING TO MESSIAH'S SECOND STAY ON EARTH. POST- AND PRE-MILLENNIALISM DEFINED. POST-MILLENNIALISM EXAMINED. SEVEN MAIN OBJECTS OF OUR LORD'S RETURN: HE GATHERS AND DELIVERS THE LITTLE FLOCK; CLEANSES AND DELIVERS THE GREAT COMPANY; DEVELOPS THE YOUTHFUL WORTHIES; OVERTHROWS SATAN'S EMPIRE; ESTABLISHES GOD'S KINGDOM ON EARTH; MINISTERS RESTITUTION OPPORTUNITIES; TESTS AND REWARDS THE NON-ELECT.
ANY treatise on the subject of the Millennium would be incomplete without a consideration of our Lord's Second Advent, since this happy event is so closely associated with the Millennium. Because the purposes of the Millennium and our Lord's Second Advent are so similar, we can truthfully say that when we are discussing the purposes of the one, we are at the same time discussing the purposes of the other. This will explain why we deal so extensively with the purposes of our Lord's Second Advent in this book.
All Christians will agree that the Bible teaches Messiah's Second Advent. Bro. Dwight L. Moody once said that one verse out of every seven in the New Testament refers to our Lord's second stay on earth. Even a larger proportion of such passages is found in the Old Testament. And it is because there is so large a proportion of such verses in that section of the Scriptures that the Jews at His first Coming, overlooking the relatively small proportion of prophecies respecting His First Advent, expected Him to come but once, and that to reign. Thus, unprepared to accept the meek and lowly Jesus, as fulfilling the promise of the conquering and reigning Messiah of their expectations, they rejected Him; and thus their table [the prophetic Scriptures] as foretold, became a snare to them. (Ps. 69:22, 23; Rom. 11:9, 10). Believing that our readers would be pleased to have a list of choice Scriptural
references to our Lord's second stay on earth, we submit the following, which is by no means an extended one: Gen. 3:15; 22:18; 49:10; Num. 24:17-19; Deut. 18:15, 18, 19; 1 Sam. 2:10; Job 19:25; Ps. 22:27-29; 72; 98; 110; Is. 2:1-4; 11:1-11; 25:6-9; 35; 42:1-4; 49:1-12; 52; 59:16-20; 60; 61:4-11; 62; 63; 65; 66; Jer. 23:5, 6; 33:15-18; Ezek. 36; 37; 38; 39; Dan. 2:34, 35, 44, 45; 7:13, 14, 18, 22, 26, 27; 12:1-3; Hos. 2:14-23; 14; Joel 2:21-28; 3:9-21; Amos 9:11-15; Obad. 17-21; Micah 4; Nah. 1:15; Hab. 3; Zeph. 3:8-20 Hag. 2:6-9; Zech. 9:10; 8:20-23; 13; 14; Mal. 3:1-5; 4; Matt. 16:27; 23:39; 24; 25; 26:64; Mark 13:27, 32, 35, 36; Luke 9:26; 12:37-46; 17:20-37; 18:8; 19:12-27; 21:25-36; John 14:3; 16:16-22; Acts 1:6, 7, 11; 3:19-21; 15:14-18; Rom. 8:17-23; 1 Cor. 1:7, 8; 4:5; 11:26; 15:21-28; Phil. 3:20, 21; Col. 3:4; 1 Thes. 1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:15-17; 5:1-5, 23; 2 Thes. 1:7-10; 2:1-12; 1 Tim. 6:14, 15; 2 Tim. 4:1, 8; Tit. 2:13; Heb. 9:28; Jas. 5:1-9; 1 Pet. 1:4-9, 13; 4:13; 5:4; 2 Pet. 1:16-19; 3:3-14; 1 John 2:28; 3:2, 3; Jude 14, 15, 24; Rev. 1:7; 3:11; 5:9, 10; 16:15; 19:11-21; 20; 21; 22:1-7, 17, 20. We suggest that all these references be looked up and studied carefully. Many others could have been added; but these will be sufficient for the present. They certainly show that the Scriptures teach Christ's Return and Kingdom.
POST- AND PRE-MILLENNIALISM DEFINED
All Christians agree that the Bible teaches that the whole world will be converted to the Lord, and that the Church will reign for a thousand years over a converted world amid blissful conditions. But all Christians do not agree as to the time relationship of that Reign and Jesus' Return. Some claim that that Reign will precede, others that it will follow Christ's Return. Those who hold the former view are called Post-Millennialists, i.e., those who teach that Christ comes after the Millennium; and those who hold the latter view are called Pre-Millennialists, i.e., those who teach that
The Main Objects of Our Lord's Return.
Christ comes before the Millennium. According to the former view Christ returns to take over a world that has been converted, and that has been reigned over by the Church in the flesh for a thousand years, and to wind up all earthly things; according to the latter view He returns to reign a thousand years over, and to convert the world. Let us in the light of the Scriptures, reason and facts examine both of these views to learn which is correct. We will first consider the Post-Millennial view: that Christ returns after the Millennium of the Church to take over a converted world, and to wind up all earthly things.
For many reasons we consider Post-Millennialism to be erroneous. In the first place, there is no Scripture that teaches that Christ comes after the world has been converted, and has been reigned over by a triumphant Church a thousand years. If the Scriptures do not teach it, we should not accept it as a matter of religious faith; for we are expressly charged not to think beyond what is written (1 Cor. 4:6). Again, such a view is contrary to the Scriptures, which teach that because none would know beforehand the day and the hour of our Lord's Return, the Lord's people should watch for the event as possible at any time, lest it overtake them unawares (Matt. 24:42-44; 25:13; Mark 13:32-37; Luke 12:35-40). If before the Lord's Return the Church is to convert the world and to reign over it for a thousand years, those living before the conversion of the world and the Church's triumphant Reign of a thousand years would know that the Second Advent would be at least a thousand years in the future; and that therefore it would be foolish to tell them to watch, lest the Lord's Return overtake them unawares. Such an admonition would be inapplicable, until the thousand years would be almost entirely over, if Post-Millennialism were true. Furthermore, the Scriptural descriptions of the conditions at the time of Christ's Return are not those of a converted world, but
of an unconverted world, with the nations angry and in rebellion against God, whose displeasure is then poured out upon them (Ps. 2:1-12; Rev. 11:18; 19:11-21). They tell us that the last times will be especially dangerous because of their wickedness (2 Tim. 3:1-8); that evil men will wax worse and worse (2 Tim. 3:13); that so many would then depart from the faith (1 Tim. 4:1) that there would be scarcely any of the faith found in the earth (Luke 18:8); that the good and the evil would grow together, with the latter predominating, until the end of the Age (Matt. 13:30, 39); that false teachers would be so subtle that, if possible, the very Elect would be deceived (Matt. 24:24); that at that time scoffing at our Lord's Presence would abound (2 Pet. 3:3, 4); and that the rich in grasping for wealth would be oppressing the poor, waxing wanton and living in self-indulgence (Jas. 5:3-6). These Scriptural descriptions certainly prove that the world will be unconverted at the time of Christ's Return, and therefore refute Post-Millennialism.
If the present rate of conversions continued, and if present instrumentalities and powers were the only ones available, the world never would be converted; for in heathendom, to every convert made since the great missionary crusade began 160 years ago, there have been more than 70 heathen born. At that rate the heathen world under present conditions and with present instrumentalities and powers never would be converted. Even if heathendom should become externally Christianized like Christendom, there would still probably be 999 persons out of every 1000 that would need conversion; for it is doubtful whether there are more than 500,000 genuine Christians among the more than 500,000,000 professing Christians. This leads us to a further remark, i.e., the number and power of willing workers and of their willing supporters is utterly insufficient to cope with the obstacles presented by the devil, the world and the flesh to the work of converting the world. And even if we had a sufficient force with
The Main Objects of Our Lord's Return.
the necessary power for the work, there would not be time enough at our disposal to accomplish such a gigantic task, which would require centuries for its completion; for the sign prophecies, as well as the time prophecies, all indicate that we are now living in the time of Christ's Second Advent. Hence there is not the time available in which to convert the world before Christ comes.
Further, wherever Post-Millennialism prevails it leads to a lowering of Biblical standards of doctrine and practice and to secularizing the Church, which effects prove that it is not a Scriptural doctrine. The reason is apparent: Comparatively few humans aspire to the holy life, self-denying service and cheerful endurance for righteousness that the Bible inculcates for saints. Centuries ago this was by many experiences found out. Hence, to gain those who were repelled by such exalted doctrines and precepts, the worldly-wise clergy compromised their principles, accommodating their teachings to the ideals of those whom they sought to win; and as a result they lowered Biblical standards of faith and life. This policy led to many errors of doctrine and practice; to worldliness instead of saintly living, serving and sufferings; to the union of Church and State; and to the reign of papacy and of certain Protestant Churches, with State support. Thus Post-Millennialism has always led into these wrongs. Consequently its bearing evil fruit proves it to be an evil tree, under whose shade we should cease to remain.
Post-Millennialists seek to prove their position by certain Scriptures, which, however, they misapply. They claim that Christ's statement that the Gospel would be preached to all nations before His return (Matt. 24:14) proves their contention; while in truth the passage does not contain the thought of the world's conversion. It only says that the Gospel will be preached among all nations for a witness; but says not one word as to how the witness would be received. From the fact that Jesus commands His disciples to make
disciples not only, as hitherto they did, among Jews, but among all nations (Matt. 28:18, 19), they construe that their theory is right, ignoring the fact that a command not to limit their conversion activities to one nation, but to enlarge them toward all nations, does not necessarily mean that all nations will be converted. In a similar manner St. Paul's statement (Acts 17:30), which shows that whereas formerly God commanded only some—the Jews—to repent, He now commands all, Jews and Gentiles alike, to repent, they twist into meaning that all will be converted during the Gospel Age. They forget that commands are not always realized, e.g., this command to the Jews that they repent. While the Lord gave these commands, He also prophesied that they would not be realized, as the quotations above given show. Nor are we to reason that the Lord would not have given His disciples these commands, if they would not be realized; since He has given many commands that have not been fulfilled, e.g., the Ten Commandments. Rather, we are to conclude that He gave them to His followers, knowing that their efforts to fulfill them would result in a worldwide testimony of the coming Kingdom being given (Matt. 24:14), and in developing in His disciples noble characters fitting them for the Kingdom (1 Cor. 4:16-18). Thus our examination of Post-Millennialism proves that there is nothing in Scripture, reason or fact that proves it; while there is much in Scripture, reason and fact that disproves it.
SEVEN MAIN OBJECTS OF OUR LORD'S RETURN
As will be shown later from Acts 3:19-21 and other Scriptures, our Lord returns at the beginning of the Millennium, at which time He winds up Gospel-Age affairs and inaugurates the work of the Millennium. The time of His second stay on earth will be seen to coincide with the Millennium, during which, among other things, He accomplishes "the restitution of all things," the main object of His Return (see The Divine Plan of the Ages, Chap. 6). But other objects of His
The Main Objects of Our Lord's Return.
Return are important also in relation to the Millennium; hence they come within the scope of this book, and will be treated in logical order. According to the Scriptures, we find that our Lord returns for many purposes, of which in this book we will discuss mainly the following seven: (1) to gather together and deliver the Little Flock from the earth; (2) to cleanse and deliver the Great Company; (3) to develop the Youthful Worthies; (4) to overthrow Satan's Empire; (5) to establish God's Kingdom; (6) to bless with opportunities of Restitution the whole human race, both the living and the dead; and (7) to test and reward each member of the human race. In this chapter we will discuss briefly each one of these; in succeeding chapters we will give more details on them.
HE GATHERS AND DELIVERS THE LITTLE FLOCK
(1) He comes to gather by the Word of Truth and to deliver by His power His prospective Bride, the Little Flock. The Church has been espoused to Him (2 Cor. 11:2). In holy chastity she has kept herself pure from all worldly affiliations and alliances, witnessing to and longing for His Kingdom, when she is to be married to Him. Her loyalty to Him has cost her much, yea, everything of this world. This loyalty pleases her Lord; and returning, first of all He gathers her together through and to the Truth, the "meat in due season" (Matt. 24:28, 31, 45; Luke 12:36, 37, 42). This feast of Truth is her farewell banquet before her marriage, and greatly has she enjoyed the feast that He Himself provides for her. Then, as a part of His Second Advent work, comes her deliverance in the First Resurrection, through which He changes her from humanity to Divinity, from weakness to power, from dishonor to glory, from corruption to incorruption, from mortality to immortality (2 Pet. 1:4; 1 Cor. 15:42-54). Thus He comes again to receive her unto Himself, and to give her the place that He has prepared for her, that where He is there she may also be (John 14:2, 3). The sleeping part of the Church
precedes in the resurrection that part which is living (1 Cor. 15:51, 52; 1 Thes. 4:15, 16). Afterwards as one after another of the living saints finishes his course, at the moment of death through sharing in the First Resurrection he joins the Lord in the air, and thus will ever be with Him (1 Thes. 4:17). Arrayed as His glorified Bride and as the City of God [religious government of God] the Church will shine resplendent and all-glorious (Rev. 21:9-22:5; Ps. 45:13).
CLEANSES AND DELIVERS THE GREAT COMPANY
(2) A second purpose of our Lord's Return is to cleanse and deliver the Great Company, the Bride's "companions." Through measurable selfishness, worldliness, sin and error, this class has failed to qualify for Brideship with Christ. The spots that have accumulated on their garments (Ps. 107:10, 11; Jude 23) must be cleansed. Therefore, during the Epiphany period of His Second Advent (Mal. 3:2, 3; Matt. 25:10, 12; 1 Cor. 3:13), He puts them through some very severe experiences in "the Great Tribulation" (Matt. 7 26, 27; 1 Cor. 3:13, 15; Ps. 107:12; Cant. 5:6, 7; Rev. 7:13, 14), through which they learn to recognize the folly of their past course and to cleanse themselves, however with the loss of all the idols of self, the world, sin and error, to which they bowed down (Rev. 7:14; Mal. 3:3; Ps. 107:13-16; 1 Cor. 3:15). After their cleansing will come their deliverance, amid which they will greatly rejoice in the Lord's salvation (Ps. 45:14, 15; 1 Cor. 3:15; Rev. 19:7-9), as they are ushered into the King's Palace to be bridesmaids of the Bride, the Lamb's Wife.
DEVELOPS THE YOUTHFUL WORTHIES
(3) Jesus returns also to develop the Youthful Worthies. They are thus designated because, as the Ancient Worthies came into activity on the stage of God's Plan before the opportunity was opened for any one to enter the High Calling to the Divine nature and joint-heirship with Christ, so the Youthful Worthies come into activity on the stage of God's plan after
The Main Objects of Our Lord's Return.
the opportunity to enter the High Calling for the Divine nature and joint-heirship with Christ is closed. According to the Bible, the opportunity of entering the High Calling was to be closed after "the fulness of the Gentiles" [the full number of the Elect from among the Gentiles] should come in (Rom. 11:25). This synchronizes with the end of the reaping of the present Harvest. But as before the opportunity to enter the High Calling was opened, many, the Ancient Worthies, desired to and did serve God faithfully, so since the opportunity to enter the High Calling has closed many desire to and do serve God faithfully. Since they show the same spirit of devotion to God as the Ancient Worthies, and that under largely similar conditions, God purposes to associate them with the Ancient Worthies in Millennial and Post-Millennial rewards and service. Hence the similar and contrasted names of these classes.
We understand that as in 2 Tim. 2:20 the vessels of gold and silver refer respectively to the Little Flock and the Great Company, so the vessels of wood and of earth refer respectively to the Ancient and the Youthful Worthies. As in Ps. 72:3 Jesus with His Church, and the Ancient Worthies, as the two chief ruling powers in God's Kingdom, are symbolized by the two mountains of Jerusalem, so the Great Company and the Youthful Worthies, as the two subordinate ruling powers of God's Kingdom, are symbolized by the two little hills of Jerusalem. This class is symbolized by the box tree (Is. 60:13). They are typed by Abednego (Heb.—servant of the messenger) in Dan. 3:12. Moreover, the Lord in the Tabernacle picture has shadowed forth these four classes: the priests to the east of the Tabernacle typing Jesus and the Church; the Kohathite Levites to the south of the Tabernacle typing the Ancient Worthies; the Merarite Levites to the north of the Tabernacle typing the Great Company; and the Gershonite Levites to the west of the Tabernacle typing the Youthful Worthies (Num. 3:6-8; 1:49-54; 3:23, 29, 35, 40-51; Heb. 12:23); while Israel,
whose camp surrounded the Tabernacle at a distance, represents the world of mankind, the Restitution class.
The Scriptures tell us less of the Youthful Worthies than they do of the other three ruling Kingdom classes. It is because they have the faith of Abraham that they will be blessed with him with the privilege of blessing all nations (Gal. 3:6-9). These, having the faith quality, accept the message that preaches repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus and therefore are justified by faith. Heeding the Lord's invitation to consecrate, they give Him their hearts (Prov. 23:26). There being no opportunity for them to win a crown with Christ, He does not beget them of His Spirit, but gives them a new human heart to love truth and righteousness, and to serve Him. They, too, like the Little Flock, become dead to self and the world and alive to God, practicing watchfulness and prayer, studying, spreading and practicing the Word and suffering because of faithfulness to that Word. Thus they, too, must become faithful to the Lord, even unto death, if He deems it necessary. With the Ancient Worthies they will then share in a "better resurrection" (Heb. 11:35) than that of the world, but it will be inferior to that of the Church and the Great Company. Thus they will in the beginning of the Millennium be raised perfect human beings, and with the Ancient Worthies will be made princes throughout the earth. During the Millennium they will be inspired by God to see visions of His Plan unfolding at that time (Joel 2:28), and will co-operate with the Ancient Worthies in uplifting the race from the fall. At the end of the Millennium, with the Ancient Worthies they will for their faithfulness be made spirit beings with heaven as their eternal home.
OVERTHROWS SATAN'S EMPIRE
(4) A fourth object of our Lord's Return is the overthrow of Satan's Empire. Satan has an empire over the human family as the prince and god of this world, the prince of the power of the air, and the ruler
The Main Objects of Our Lord's Return.
of its kingdoms (John 16:11; 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2; Luke 4:6, 7). His Kingdom has three departments through which he, though invisible, has held the race in subjection to himself: (1) false religions, (2) oppressive governments and (3) predatory aristocracies. Evil indeed has been his reign, as all history attests. Terribly has he mistreated the human family, his blinded and deceived subjects: for by error he has deceived and distressed them; by sin he has depraved them, physically, mentally, morally and religiously; by the evil conditions in the earth under the curse he has impoverished them; by his fallen angels, his evil companions, he has misled them; by the death process he has bruised them; by the death state he has ruined them; by oppressive governments he has tyrannized over them; by false religions he has debased them; by predatory aristocracies he has exploited them; by wars he has devastated their homes and lands and murdered vast numbers of them; by famines, pestilences, tidal waves, tornadoes, volcanoes, earthquakes, heat, cold, floods and droughts he has plagued them; by the persecution of the righteous and the exaltation of the wicked he has enslaved them. Surely the Scriptures rightly call him, as Pharaoh's antitype, the oppressor (Ps. 72:4; Is. 9:4; Heb. 2:14). But the days of his empire are numbered. The Bible assures us that it will be overthrown through the great Time of Trouble (which began with the two phases of the World-war and will progress with possibly a third phase, followed by World-revolution and then will culminate in World anarchy); and that it will be accomplished by the Lord in His Second Advent (Is. 35:3, 4; Rev. 11:15, 18; 14:4-20; 19:11-21; 16:18, 19; 18:8-10, 18-21; 17:4, 5, 16, 18; 2 Thes. 2:8, 9; Dan. 2:34, 35, 44, 45; 7:9-14, 17, 26; 12:1; Zeph. 3:8, 9; Joel 2:1-11; 3:9-14); and that as a result, instead of oppressing the race any more, Satan will be bound for the thousand years of Christ's Reign, and be unable then to deceive the nations (Rev. 20:1-3).
ESTABLISHES GOD'S KINGDOM IN THE EARTH
(5) A fifth object of our Lord's Return is the establishment of God's Kingdom throughout the earth. God has in innumerable Scriptures promised to establish His Kingdom of righteousness and peace on the ruins of Satan's Empire, which is to be swept away to make room for Christ's Kingdom. In the first part of this chapter we have referred to some of the Scriptures that promise such a Kingdom. During the time before the Gospel Age Jehovah prepared, in the persons of the Ancient Worthy class, the Kingdom's chief princes, as earthly representatives of our Lord Jesus and His Church (Ps. 45:16; Is. 1:26; 32:1; Matt. 11:11; Heb. 11:39, 40); and during the Gospel Age He has, in the persons of Jesus and His Church, been preparing the Kings of His Kingdom (Heb. 1:3, 8, 9; 12:2; Rom. 8:17; 2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 1:6; 5:10; 11:15; 19:16; 20:4-6). The coming of this Kingdom has been the hope and prayer of the faithful ever since it was promised (Gen. 12:3; 22:16-18; Heb. 11:13-16; Matt. 6:10; 2 Tim. 4:8; Tit. 2:13; Rev. 22:20). The Scriptures teach very clearly that Christ returns in order to establish this glorious Kingdom in which He will reign, with the Church as His joint-heir (Dan. 7:13, 14, 18, 22, 26, 27; 2:44; 12:1-3; Obad. 21; Is. 35:4-10; Matt. 25:31; Luke 19:15, 17, 19; Acts 15:14-18; Rom. 8:17; Col. 3:4; 2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 20:4-6).
This Kingdom will be an absolute monarchy; hence its government will not be of the people nor by the people, but will most emphatically be for the people. Its Rulers being perfect in wisdom, power, justice and love sufficiently guarantees both their worthiness to hold office and their efficiency to rule. The arrangement that they will establish for mankind will be conducive to Truth and Righteousness and inconducive to error and sin. This will reverse entirely the conditions prevailing in Satan's Empire. Instead of the earth being then under the curse, it will be turned into an Edenic
The Main Objects of Our Lord's Return.
condition. Instead of sin and error prevailing, righteousness and truth will prevail. Instead of false religions, oppressive governments and predatory aristocracies holding sway, the true religion of God, teaching perfect truth and righteousness, the fostering Government of Christ Jesus and the Church, blessing everybody, and the faithful servants of Jehovah as a benevolent aristocracy effecting the prosperity of all, will hold sway. Instead of losses, disappointments, sorrows, tears, crying, sickness, weakness, dying, and death, there will be prosperity, hope, joy, pleasures, laughter, convalescence, strength, health and life, abundantly available for all. Instead of Satan and his fallen angels controlling almost every one, Jesus and the Church will control all. Instead of wars between nations and hatred of man to man, there will be "peace on earth and good will to men." Instead of the righteous being persecuted, they will be exalted. Instead of the wicked being exalted and rewarded for wrong-doing, they will be abased and striped for their reformation. These conditions will certainly be conducive to truth and righteousness, and inconducive to error and sin. And Christ returns, among other reasons, to establish such a Kingdom. This fifth object of His Return to earth, is most highly desirable.
MINISTERS RESTITUTION OPPORTUNITIES
(6) A sixth object of our Lord's Return is to bless the whole human family, living and dead, with opportunities of obtaining Restitution. Restitution means a return to an original estate. The original estate of the human family was the image and likeness of God, as these were exemplified in Father Adam and Mother Eve. By the image of God we understand the perfection of being, the condition of being very good, to be meant (Gen. 1:26, 27, 31; Heb. 2:6-8; Col. 3:10; Eph. 4:23, 24); and by the likeness of God we understand man's rulership over the earth, even as God is Ruler over the Universe, to be meant (Gen. 1:26, 28, 29; Matt. 25:34). The image of God implies perfection
in the physical, mental, moral and religious faculties. Adam and Eve, before the fall, and Jesus, when on earth, were examples of this perfection (Heb. 2:6-9). The likeness of God implies a perfect earth with perfect rulers in charge. But as St. Paul implies (Heb. 2:8), the image and likeness of God (the original perfection of being and rulership) have been lost; and in the place of the image of God has come physical, mental, moral and religious degradation. In the place of the likeness of God has come the tyranny of the cursed earth (Gen. 3:17-19) over man, greatly oppressing him, until it extinguishes his life. All this the Scriptures assure us came upon man because of the sin of Adam, man's example in the original trial (Gen. 3:1-24; Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:21, 22). Now the human family is but a wreck of what it was in Adam and Eve. This sad, undone condition of our race has deeply appealed to the compassion of our Creator, who amid the sentence of His displeasure (death, not eternal life in torment) has remembered His mercy toward fallen and condemned man in sending His well-beloved Son into the world as man's Ransom-price from death (Matt. 20:28; 1 Tim. 2; 4-6; John 3:17; Rom. 5:7, 8, 16-19). As Christ's First Advent was to lay down the Ransom-price (the Gospel Age, forming a parenthesis for the selection of His Bride between His two Advents, has been to make its blessings available only for the Elect, His Church), so His Second Advent is to make the Ransom-price available for the recovery of the non-elect, in a restitution, a return to the original estate, from the ruins of the lost image and likeness of God brought upon all by heredity through Adam's sin.
Thus the death of the sinless Jesus provides merit sufficient for the deliverance of all from the demerit of Adam's sin, and guarantees an opportunity to obtain full deliverance from its effects, a Restitution to the original Adamic perfection. And it is to effect the restoration of the glorious image of God, to offer the race perfect bodies, minds and hearts, and to effect the
The Main Objects of Our Lord's Return.
restoration of the marvelous likeness of God (i.e., to offer the race a perfect rulership over an Edenic earth) that Christ returns to this earth. All who will obey the reasonable requirements of Christ's Millennial Kingdom will obtain all these blessings. And to obtain their share in them all of the dead who were excluded from the opportunities of becoming members of the Elect (to which only the faith class, those who can walk by faith, trusting where they cannot trace God, have been invited) will be awakened and brought back to this earth; for why should that part of the unbelieving class which happens to live at the time of Christ's Return be favored with opportunities of Restitution, and that part of the unbelieving class which happened to die before that time be excluded from those blessings, since God's ways are equal and impartial (Ezek. 18:29-32), and since death does not of itself fix character?
We will now quote and explain some Scriptures which teach the lines of thought just suggested:
Acts 3:19-21 testifies: "Times of refreshing [this word is used to denote the re-enkindling of life and the promotion of growth effected by rain falling upon mown and burnt grass, to which the fallen human family is compared (Is. 40:5-8), and which is expressly stated to be the effect of Christ's Reign upon our race, mown down by the curse, and burnt by the fierce rays of sin (Ps. 72:6, 16)] shall come from [on account of] the presence of the Lord [The Greek for presence is face, i.e., favor (Num. 6:24-26); for during the reign of sin God's back, not His face, is represented as turned toward man (Jer. 18:17); but during the Millennium, as this passage indicates, He will turn His face toward man, beaming with grace, mercy and truth for man's restoration. Please note that this is represented in the next verse as being associated with Christ's Return]; and He shall send Jesus Christ, which [who] before [during the Gospel Age] was preached unto you, whom [Christ] the heaven must receive [retain;—how long?] UNTIL THE TIMES OF RESTITUTION OF ALL THINGS
[every feature of the image and likeness of God is to be restored to the willing and obedient in the Millennium] which [things] God hath spoken [promised] by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began." This passage expressly teaches us that Christ does not return until the Times of Restitution, the Times of Refreshing; therefore He returns to restore to, and to refresh the race with, its original condition. St. Peter tells us that this is the testimony of all the holy prophets, as also quotations above given prove.
Acts 15:14-17 is another passage to the point: "Simeon [Peter] hath declared how God at the first [beginning at the home of Cornelius (Acts 10)] did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people [the Church, Christ's Body] for His name [The Jews, expecting but one Advent of the Messiah, had difficulty in reconciling their hopes of His glorious Reign with sending the Gospel to Gentiles. St. James harmonizes the seeming contradiction by pointing out that there are two Advents; that the time parenthesis between them is filled in by the selection of the Bride for Christ from among Jews and Gentiles; that after this will come Messiah's glorious Reign; and that this view of matters harmonizes the facts with the Scriptures]. And to this agree the words of the prophets, as it is written [There is no contradiction between the teaching of the selection of Christ's Bride and His blessing the world of mankind. All that is needed is that they be kept separate and distinct as to the time of their operation: First the Bride is selected, then come the Second Advent and the reign of blessing], After this [after visiting the Gentiles to select the Bride] I will return [the Second Advent begins], and will build [erect in royalty] again the Tabernacle of David [the house, family of David, in great David's greater son, Jesus], which is fallen down [when Zedekiah, 607 B.C., was dethroned, David's royal house fell down, i.e., it ceased reigning]; and I will build again the ruins thereof [with and since the fall of David's royal house, Israel as a kingdom has
The Main Objects of Our Lord's Return.
been in ruins; but this kingdom is to be restored at the Lord's return, after the testimony would be given in all the world for the selection of the Bride of Christ (Acts 1:6-8)], and I will set it [the Kingdom] up, [why does He return and establish the Kingdom?] that the residue of men [residue means that which is left after a part is taken out of it; the residue of men, therefore, means all not taken out as prospective parts of the Bride, i.e., the whole non-elect world, living and dead] might seek after the Lord, and [Greek, even] all the Gentiles [Greek, nations] upon whom My name is called." There is a difference between "the people for His name" and "all the nations upon whom My name is called." It is the very same difference that exists in the way in which a wife is called by her husband's name and in the way in which a piece of property has in the deed its owner's name put upon it. This passage clearly shows that our Lord with the completion of the Bride's selection returns to establish God's Kingdom, and to bless all those who were passed by and left unhelped while her selection was being made. Hence it implies blessings for the living and the dead.
2 Thes. 1:10 shows that Jesus not only returns to be glorified in His saints, but to be admired, worshiped, by those who will believe in that day, the Millennial Day of a thousand years. Rom. 8:17-21 shows that the whole human creation under the effects of the curse is kept waiting for deliverance until Christ and the Church as God's Sons are manifested in glory for this work. (See also Col. 3:4.) A similar thought, based upon the picture of the Israelites waiting for the high priest to come out of the Tabernacle at the conclusion of the sacrifices (Lev. 9:22) to bless them, is given in Heb. 9:28, where Christ is represented as coming again for the blessing of those who await Him, which according to Rom. 8:19, 21 includes the entire human family. Ps. 22:27-29 is a glorious testimony to this thought. V. 27 shows that there will be a general indoctrination and conversion of the human
family combined with universal worship of God. V. 28 shows that these three blessings will be due to the kingdoms of this world becoming the Kingdom of our God and of His Christ, and to His acting as Governor over the nations (Rev. 11:15). V. 29 (see A. R. V.) shows that the good, "the fat", will appropriate to themselves the Kingdom's blessings, and render God service therefore; while the dead, "they that go down to the dust", i.e., those of the dead who could not continue to live because the Adamic sentence forced their death, will be subject to the Lord. This passage emphasizes the fact that those from whom in this life the Lord did not remove the Adamic sentence, and who therefore could not prevent their own death ("even he that cannot keep his soul alive"), would in the Kingdom serve the Lord as a result of the Kingdom's blessings.
Likewise, Ps. 86:9 is to the point: "All nations that Thou hast made [He made them all, yet the vast majority of their members have passed away in death without worshiping Him] shall come and worship before Thee, and glorify Thy name" [See Rev. 15:4]. This passage implies that they must return from the dead to get this blessing of serving and honoring God, a thing that the vast majority of them did not do in this life. Dan. 7:13, 14 and Is. 35:4-10 show the same glorious blessing resulting from Christ's Second Advent. The blessings that the returned Lord will give the race in its living and dead members are most eloquently, beautifully and comfortingly set forth in Ps. 72:1-19. Is. 25:6-9 is another beautiful summary of the Kingdom work following our Lord's Return. The glorious feasts of uncontaminated and nutritious Truth are described in v. 6; while, as a part of the Kingdom's work, the destruction of sin and error is described in v. 7 (see 1 Cor. 15:56, 55, where the question, "O death, where is thy sting [sin]?" implies the answer, "Nowhere," for it will then be out of existence). V. 8 shows that both the
The Main Objects of Our Lord's Return.
dying process and the death state will be utterly blotted out of existence, with all tears and the persecution of the righteous, through the glorious Kingdom of God which Christ returns to establish. See St. Paul's comment on v. 8 in 1 Cor. 15:55-57 and his description of the same thing in 1 Cor. 15:21-26. Please compare v. 9 with Rom. 8:19, 21.
Rom. 14:9 expressly tells us that Christ died (gave Himself as our Ransom) that He might become the Lord, Ruler, both of the living and the dead. Hence His death will yet, in His Kingdom, bless all of Adam's dead race. Phil. 2:6-8 describes His sacrificial death; and v. 9-11 show His consequent exaltation to be the Ruler over (1) all in heaven, which occurred at His ascension; (2) all on earth, which has not yet occurred, but which will occur after His return in the Kingdom; and (3) all under the earth [the dead] which also has not yet occurred, but which awaits His Second Advent and Kingdom, when, as already done in heaven, every tongue on earth and under the earth will acknowledge Him as Lord, thereby glorifying God.
See also God's oath on this very point, in Is. 45:22, 23, and remember that the oath to this thing is based upon, and is explanatory of, the Oath-bound Covenant (Gen. 22:16, 18), by which God bound Himself to Christ and the Church, the Seed (Gal. 3:8, 16, 28, 29), to use them to bless all the families, nations and kindreds of the earth, resulting in the whole earth becoming full of His Glory (Num. 14:21; Ps. 72:19; Is. 11:9; Hab. 2:14; Matt. 6:10). And since the vast majority died unblessed, this passage implies their awakening for this blessing. Thus we see that a sixth object of Christ's Return is the blessing of the whole human family, the living as well as the dead, with opportunities of restitution.
TESTS AND REWARDS ALL RESTITUTIONISTS
(7) A seventh object of our Lord's Return is to test the human family as to its fitness or unfitness for everlasting life, and to render the final decision in each
case—everlasting life on earth for the faithful restitutionists and everlasting destruction for the wicked; for "the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels; and then [during the Millennium] he shall reward every man according to his works" (Matt. 16:27). We are not to think that all who will be given the opportunity will attain Restitution—a return to the original estate of the human family in the image and likeness of God—and be rewarded with everlasting life. Only those who faithfully use this opportunity will be given the perfected earth (Restored Eden—Is. 35; 51:3; 66:22; Ezek. 36:35) as their eternal abode and kingdom. This is shown, e.g., in Matt. 25:31-46. That the righteous Restitutionists will be given eternal life is shown in v. 46; and that their inheritance will be, not in heaven, but on earth, is shown in v. 34: "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared FOR YOU from the foundation of the world." These "sheep" are the "other sheep" referred to by our Lord in John 10:16, and are not to be confused with the Gospel-Age sheep, the Gospel Church. These Restitution sheep, those who by the end of the Millennium will have the Golden Rule of love inscribed in their hearts (Matt. 25:35-40), will inherit the kingdom and honor prepared for mankind "from the foundation of the world"; for God made mankind to "have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth" (Gen. 1:28; Ps. 8:5-8).
This earthly dominion, or kingdom, which the Lord will in the end of the Millennium give to His Restitution sheep, He will tell them was "prepared for you [not for His Church, which were chosen out of the world (John 15:19; 17:16), but for the tested and approved world of mankind] from the foundation of the world" (Is. 45:18). This kingdom and honor prepared for man is quite different from the Kingdom
The Main Objects of Our Lord's Return.
of Heaven, the "inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you [the Church]" (1 Pet. 1:4), which the Church, tested and found faithful during the Gospel Age (Rev. 17:14; 1 Pet. 4:17), inherits and shares with her Lord (John 14:2, 3; Rom. 8:17; 2 Cor. 5:1, 2; 1 Thes. 4:17). The Church's kingdom and honor were ordained before the world unto her glory (1 Cor. 2:7), for she was chosen or designed in Christ "before the foundation of the world" (Eph. 1:4).
Just as the Church has throughout the Gospel Age been fully instructed, thoroughly tested, lovingly chastised and justly sentenced—"which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye [the Church] may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer" (2 Thes. 1:5); so God "hath appointed a day [the Millennial Day], in the which he will judge the world in righteousness [during the thousand-year judgment Day, when Satan is bound, so that he can deceive the nations no more until their final testing time during the Little Season at the end of the Millennium—Rev. 20:3] by that man [the Christ, Head and Body—1 Cor. 6:2; Matt. 19:28] whom he hath ordained" (Acts 17:31). No one, whether of the Church or of the world, will be given eternal life, either as a part of the new heavens or the new earth (2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1), until they are first instructed in the way in which they should go (Ps. 32:8; 25:8, 9; Is. 42:1-4; 1 Tim. 2:3-6), thoroughly tested (Ps. 139:23, 24; Jer. 11:20; 2 Thes. 1:4, 5; Jas. 1:12), and disciplined, or chastised (Heb. 12:8, 11; 1 Cor. 11:31, 32; Is. 26:9), for their correction and development into characters fitted for eternal life.
In the Millennial Judgment Day those Restitutionists who under the light of Truth then given are rightly exercised under chastisements intended for their correction and perfecting (some receiving many stripes,
and some few—Luke 12:47, 48), and faithfully stand under the testings that will be given them (Deut. 13:3), thus proving themselves fully loyal to the principles of truth and righteousness, will be given the earth as their eternal inheritance, and they shall dwell therein forever (Ps. 37:9, 11, 29, 34); but all who refuse to reform under the favorable conditions of the Millennial Judgment Day will be destroyed from among the people in the Second Death; for they will die again, and thus be blotted out of existence forever (Acts 3:22, 23; Ps. 37:9, 10, 20, 28, 34-36; Rev. 20:14, 15; 21:8). The "goats" of the parable, those who externally reform during the Millennium, but who do not have the love of God written in their hearts, nor exercise it toward their fellow men, will be cast into everlasting fire (everlasting destruction—Ps. 145:20; Ob. 16) prepared for the devil and his angels (Heb. 2:14; Rev. 20:9); thus they "shall go away into everlasting punishment [Greek, kolasin, which means literally, a cutting off; "punished with everlasting destruction"—2 Thes. 1:9]: but the righteous into life eternal" (Matt. 25:41, 46); for "the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life" (Rom. 6:23). Thus Jesus will accomplish this seventh object of His Return to earth, viz., testing each individual of the human family as to his fitness or unfitness for eternal life, and rendering the final decision in each case—everlasting life on earth for the righteous and everlasting destruction for the wicked.