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The Doctrine of Christ

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    LESSON FORTY-EIGHT The Hope of the Church

    1. The church has always been taught to look forward to the coming of the Lord. Acts 3:21; Titus 2:11-13; Hebrews 9:28; 1 Thessalonians 1:9, 10; Philippians 3:20.TDOC 128.4

    2. Complete salvation or redemption will be revealed at the coming of the Lord. Romans 13:11; 1 Peter 1:3-5; Luke 21:27, 28.TDOC 128.5

    3. Christ in us is now the hope of glory, and that glory will be fully realized at the Second Advent of Christ. Colossians 1:27; 1 Peter 5:4; 2 Timothy 4:7, 8.TDOC 128.6

    4. The duty of the watching and waiting church is to proclaim the gospel of the coming King. Matthew 28:18-20; 4:14; Revelation 14:6-14.TDOC 129.1

    NOTES
    The polestar of the church

    “The hope of the church, then, is the personal return of her Lord. As Dr. David Brown stated it in his book on the Second Advent sixty years ago, ‘the Redeemer’s second appearing is the very polestar of the church.”TDOC 129.2

    The next great event

    “The next great event in God’s program for the redemption of the world is the coming again to the earth of the Lord Jesus Christ. The last chapter of the Old Testament points forward to his second coming. The last recorded words of the Lord Jesus are his words of promise, ‘Surely, I come quickly,’ in the last chapter of the New Testament. The last recorded prayer of God’s people in the Word is the answer of their heart to this promise, ‘Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”TDOC 129.3

    Read the “Source Book,” page 8, “The Hope of the Church.”TDOC 129.4

    A personal coming

    “The Bible describes the second coming of Christ as personal, glorious, imminent. By ‘personal’ is meant all that may be suggested by the words ‘visible,’ ‘bodily,’ ‘local;’ and all that may be contrasted with that which is spiritual, providential, figurative.”TDOC 129.5

    “The blessed hope.”

    “The coming of the Lord has been in all ages the hope of his true followers. The Savior’s parting promise upon Olivet, that lie would come again, lighted up the future for his disciples, filling their hearts with joy and hope that sorrow could not quench nor trials dim. Amid suffering and persecution, ‘the appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ’ was the ‘blessed hope.’ When the Thessalonian Christians wore filled with grief as they buried their loved ones, who had hoped to live to witness the coming of the Lord, Paul, their teacher, pointed them to the resurrection, to take place at the Savior’s advent. ‘Then the dead in Christ should rise, and together with the living be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. And so, he said, shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.’ On the rocky Patmos the beloved disciple hears the promise, ‘Surely I come quickly,’ and his longing response voices the prayer of the church in all her pilgrimage, ‘Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”-The Great Controversy, 302.TDOC 129.6

    The church waits for him

    “The door of the unseen world closed behind Christ as he ascended from Olivet, but not forever. It will open again; and this same Jesus shall so come in like manner as the apostles beheld him go. He has gone to prepare a place f or those who love him and keep his word; but ‘if I go,’ he says, ‘and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and take you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also.’ That is the final hope of the Christian faith. It is for the fulfillment of this promise that the church waits. The second coming of Christ and his resurrection stand and fall together; and it will not long be possible for those who look askance at his return to receive in all its fullness the revelation of life which he made when he rose again from the dead.”TDOC 129.7

    “The expectation of the coming of Christ out of the world of supreme truth and purity, where God is known and served aright’, to fulfill all his promises, this is the church’s and the believer’s great hope. It is set before us in the New Testament as a motive to every duty, as giving weight to every warning, as determining the attitude and character of all Christian life. In particular, we cannot deal aright with any of the earthly things committed to us, unless we deal with them in the light of Christ’s expected coming. This expectation is to enter into the heart of every believer, and no one is warranted to overlook or make light of it. His coming, his appearing, the revelation of him, the revelation of his glory, the coming of his day, and so forth, are pressed on us continually. In a true waiting for the day of Christ, is gathered up the right regard to what he did and bore when he came first, and also a right regard to him as he is now the pledge and the sustainer of our soul’s life: the one and the other are to pass onward to the hope of his appearing.”TDOC 130.1

    The Second Advent and modern thought

    “The hope of the second coming of our Lord has an important bearing upon Christian life and doctrine. It has a vital relation especially to some points of our faith which are being attacked or obscured by the subtle tendencies of modern thought.TDOC 130.2

    “1. It is bound up with belief in the supreme and infallible authority of the Holy Scriptures.”TDOC 130.3

    “2. It bears testimony to the presence of God in human history.”TDOC 130.4

    “3. It exalts the divine person and work of the incarnate Son of God.”TDOC 130.5

    “4. It takes due account of the fall of the human race.”TDOC 130.6

    “5. It presents a sublime view of God’s great purpose in his creation.”TDOC 130.7

    “6. It provides the most inspiring motive for Christian life and service. The great leaders who have left their impress on the history of the church did not discard this doctrine, but made it a real hope in their own lives. Martin Luther, in. the midst of the throes of the Reformation, wrote, ‘I ardently hope that, amidst these internal dissensions on the earth, Jesus Christ will hasten the day of his coming.’TDOC 130.8

    “The acute and learned Calvin saw that this was the church’s true hope. ‘We must hunger after Christ,’ he said, ‘till the dawning of that great day when our Lord will fully manifest the glory of his kingdom. The whole family of the faithful will keep in view that day.’ The intrepid soul of John Knox was nerved by this hope. In a letter to his friends in England he wrote: ‘Has not the Lord Jesus, in despite of Satan’s malice, carried up our flesh into heaven? And shall he not return? We know that he shall return, and that with expedition.’ John Wesley believed this same truth, as is shown by his comment on the closing verses of Revelation: ‘The spirit of adoption in the bride in the heart of every true believer says, with earnest desire and expectation, Come and accomplish all the words of this. prophecy.’ It formed the burden of Milton’s sublime supplication: ‘Come forth out of thy royal chambers, O Prince of all the kings of the earth; put on the visible robes of thy imperial majesty; take up that unlimited scepter which thy’ Almighty Father hath bequeathed thee. For now the voice of thy bride calls thee, and all creatures sigh to be renewed.’ It was the ardent longing of the seraphic Rutherford: ‘Oh, that Christ would remove the covering, draw aside the curtains of time, and come down. Oh, that the shadows and the night were gone.’ It was the prayer of Richard Baxter in the ‘Saints’ Everlasting Rest: ‘Hasten, O my Savior, the time of thy return. Send forth your angels and let that dreadful, joyful trumpet sound. Thy desolate bride said come. The whole creation said come. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.’ And if we would follow in the steps of these men, we will return to the simple, unmistakable New Testament type of experience, and, with faces uplifted towards the veil, within which the Lord of Glory waits, and with hearts all aglow with a personal love for him, we will carry on through all our life and service the same apostolic prayer.”TDOC 131.1

    A test of our personal relation to Christ

    “The hope of the Lord’s personal return enables us to realize Jesus as the living One, the same yesterday, today and forever. We remember his past-this is the object of faith; we have communion with him now in love, and we look forward to hi elf coming to us this is our hope. God is the God who was, and is, and is to come; hence the Scripture must needs be prophetic; communion with the living God must include the expectation of the future kingdom. Our personal relation to Christ is tested by our attitude to his promised second coming. If we trust in him, we know that when he comes again without sin, it is to receive us unto Himself. It we love him, and our life is hid with him in God, we know that when he shall appear, we also shall appear with him in glory. If we are faithful and loyal, suffering for his sake, and patiently fulfilling the work assigned to us, we know that at his coming he will give us the crown, and associate us with himself in his kingdom. The hope of the return of the Lord Jesus illumines and quickens every Christian grace and energy. It gives the right direction and aim; it supplies the true motive and strength.”TDOC 131.2

    The great apostasy

    “In the first four centuries the doctrine of Christ’s return to establish the kingdom was held almost unanimously by believers. In the apostolic churches the hope of Christ’s coming was the joy and strength of Christians. They realized that they belonged not to this world or age; they waited for their absent Lord; and the martyrs were able to suffer and die with joy unspeakable and full of glory, because they held fast the promise given to all that overcome, and they looked forward to the glory of Christ in his kingdom. Primitive Christians were unworldly, because they were other worldly, citizens of the age to come.TDOC 132.1

    “As the church gained a position of worldly ease and power, she forgot that during this dispensation, the times of the Gentiles, Christians are to be a little flock, whose only mission is to testify, to suffer, and to wait, whose only weapons are those of the Spirit, whose only protection is the promise of Christ, and whose only glory the hidden glory of the indwelling Savior. As the pagan element entered the church, the Jewish Scriptural element disappeared. Instead of hoping for the coming of Christ, the church rejoiced in her outward power, and the recognition and help of the world. Romanism is a false and carnal anticipation of the millennium. The true church is a widow, poor and helpless, trusting in her Lord, and waiting for his return; the false church is a queen, and no widow at all, giving thanks for her prosperous condition, and boasting of her power and splendor. The true church calls herself an election, a witness for God, separated from the world, shining as a light in darkness; the false church boasts of her comprehensiveness, her large numbers, her increasing popularity, embracing all nations and all civilization. The doctrine of the second coming of Christ and his kingdom could never be held in a church which is in its inmost essence a false anticipation of the millennial kingdom-a confusion of church and kingdom. The rights which Rome as a harlot usurped shall then be exercised in holiness by the bride of the Lamb.”TDOC 132.2

    Coming!

    “Thou art coming, O my Savior,
    Thou art coming, O my King,
    In thy beauty all resplendent;
    In thy glory all transcendent;
    Well may we rejoice and sing:
    Coming! In the opening East
    Herald brightness slowly swells;
    Coming! O my glorious Priest,
    Hear we not thy golden bells?”
    TDOC 132.3

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