Torrey - Christ - 8.1- The Fact of His Coming Again

I. THE FACT OF HIS COMING AGAIN. John 14:3 — "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." Hebrews 9:28 — "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." Philippians 3:20-21 — "For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself." 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 — "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." Acts 3:19-20, RV — "Repent ye therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that so there may come seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord; and that he may send the Christ who hath been appointed for you, even Jesus: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things whereof God spake by the mouth of his holy prophets which have been since the world began."

First Proposition: Jesus Christ is coming again.

Christ's coming again is not at the death of the believer. He does not come again at death "with a shout" and those who are alive and remain are not caught up at the death of individual believers. ( John 14:3 and Thessalonians 4:16-17 manifestly refer to the same event. They are exactly parallel in the three facts stated: (1) the "I will come again" of Jesus, equals "The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven" of Paul, (2) the "Receive you unto myself" of Jesus, equals the "Shall be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord" of Paul, (3) the "That where I am, there ye may be also" of Jesus, equals the "So shall we ever be with the Lord" of Paul. Paul's words are manifestly an inspired commentary on those of Jesus, and the reference of the words of Jesus to His coming at death is thus made impossible.) "Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?

Follow thou me" ( John 21:22) shows how utterly impossible it is to make Christ's coming refer to death. "If I will that he tarry" evidently means, "If I will that he remain alive." Now put Christ's coming at the believer's death and you get this nonsense: "If I will that he remain alive until he die, what is that to thee?"

The "coming again" in the verse given above is not the coming of Christ at the coming of the Holy Spirit — that is, in a very real and important sense, a coming of Christ. This appears from John 14:15-18, 21-23 — "If ye love me keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."

But this coming of Christ is not that which is referred to in the passages under consideration. All of these promises but one ( John 14:3) were made after the coming of the Holy Spirit and pointed to a coming still future. Jesus does not receive us to be with Him at the coming of the Holy Spirit. At the coming of the Holy Spirit, He comes to be with us ( John 14:18,21,23). He does not at His coming in the Spirit "fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of His glory" ( Philippians 3:20-21). There is no trump of the archangel, no shout, no resurrection, no rapture in the clouds, at this coming of the Christ. In other words, this coming in hardly any detail conforms to the plain and explicit statements of Christ and the apostles concerning His coming again.

The "coming again" mentioned in the verses above was not at the destruction of Jerusalem. The destruction of Jerusalem was in a sense the precursor, prophecy, and type of the judgment at the end of the age, and therefore in Matthew 24 and Mark 13 the two events are described in connection with each other. But God's judgment on Jerusalem is manifestly not the event referred to in the texts given above. On that occasion those who sleep in Jesus were not raised, living believers were not caught up to meet the Lord in the air, and the bodies of believers were not transformed.

Years after the destruction of Jerusalem we find John still looking forward to the Lord's coming ( Revelation 22:20). John 21:22-23 says, "Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. Then went this saying abroad among the brethren that that disciple should not die: yet; said unto him, He shall not die; but if I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?" These words were written years after the destruction of Jerusalem. Not any one of these events, nor all of them together, nor any other event that has yet occurred fulfills the very plain, explicit, and definite predictions of Christ and the apostles regarding Christ's coming again. The coming again of Jesus Christ, so frequently mentioned in the New Testament as the great hope of the Church, is still in the future.