Baines The Hope of the Church

Baines The Hope of the Church is a 7 chapter work on what the focus of our hope is according to Scripture, dealing with Christ´s Second coming, etc

cBaines The Hope of the Church is a 7 chapter work on what the focus of our hope is according to Scripture, dealing with Christ´s Second coming, etc

The Hope of the Church.

by T. B. Baines.
Section 1 of: The Lord’s Coming, Israel, and the Church.
Chapter 1. Direct teaching concerning the Lord’s return for living believers.
Chapter 2. Indirect references to the Lord’s coming for living believers.
Chapter 3. The coming of the Lord with His saints.
Chapter 4. The teaching of our Lord’s parables concerning His coming.
Chapter 5. The return of Jesus for believers who have “fallen asleep.”
Chapter 6.”The first resurrection.”
Chapter 7. A general resurrection and judgment at the end of the world, not taught in scripture.

Excerpt from Chapter 1

Chapter 1.
Direct teaching concerning the Lord’s return for living believers.

The point of most immediate interest to the believer is the meaning to be attached to the phrase, “The Coming of the Lord:” Does Scripture in these words speak of the Christian’s death, or of Christ’s coming to raise and judge the dead at the end of the world? Or do the words hold out a hope of a totally different nature? I propose, in this first part, to examine what the Word of God says about the Coming of the Lord, first as is affects the living saint and next as it affects the dead. The Old Testament Scriptures are full of the coming of Messiah in glory and power. Indeed the Jews were so occupied with these prophecies that they overlooked these which foretold His coming in weakness and humiliation. His coming in power is often spoken of by Jesus Himself and by His disciples in their converse with one another.

They ask, “What shall be the sign of Thy coming?” (Mat 24:3); are told to watch, “for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (v. 42); and admonished by the question — “When the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” (Luk 18:8). Christ’s second coming was, therefore, expected by the disciples, and held a considerable place in His own teaching. But in the epistles there appears another fact, a “mystery” hidden from the Old Testament prophets, and only hinted at by Jesus himself. This is that the Lord’s coming is divided into two different acts. The prophets, almost invariably, foretell only the coming of the Messiah Himself, and though one of them declares — “The Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with Thee” (Zec 14:5) — nothing here, or elsewhere in the Old Testament, indicates who these saints are. The New Testament, however, not only shows that in this glorious advent Christ will be accompanied by His saints, but makes it plain that these saints are believers, displayed in glorified bodies, and in the likeness of the risen Lord Himself. In order for this, however, it is necessary that before Jesus comes to reign over the earth, his saints should have been taken up to heaven. Accordingly the epistles make known that the first act in the Lord’s coming will be to take believers to be with Himself, and the second His return with them to the world. When our Lord was on earth the time for revealing this mystery had not arrived, so that He usually speaks of his coming in general terms, without distinguishing its two different parts. Hence it is only from the epistles that we can fully understand His teaching on this subject, though when seen in their light, its Divine perfection becomes obvious.

In the first three gospels especially, the two parts, though both alluded to, are so blended, that it will be desirable to postpone the examination of their teaching until we have discovered the key by which its hidden treasures are unlocked. In the fourth gospel, however, though the mystery is not distinctly revealed, the return of the Lord for His saints is held out as a hope before the hearts of the disciples. On the night of His betrayal, Jesus says, “Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you; 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” (Joh 14:1-3). These words were spoken to comfort his disciples on His departure. He tells them that while absent He will prepare a place for them; and will presently return to take them to be with Himself.

This passage is often applied to the death of believers. Such an interpretation, however, is unwarranted by other scriptures, and is open to serious objection. The disciples knew, not only of a resurrection, but of the separate existence of the spirit, whether in happiness, like Lazarus, or in torment, like the rich man. If, therefore, Jesus was only telling them that after death their spirits would be with Him in paradise, He merely told them what they knew. Concerning death, moreover, it is said that the believer goes to be with Jesus, never that Jesus comes for the believer. Nor would the hope given to the disciples, at such a crisis, be that of entering into any imperfect state, such as the existence of the spirit even in paradise. The passage implies completeness, that perfect reunion which only takes place “when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality.” Death is not the believer’s hope, but the redemption of the body.”If our earthly house of this tabernacle be dissolved,” still the hope is the “house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” Paul is willing no doubt, “to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord,” but his desire is, “not that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life” (2Co 5:1-9). This, the perfect state, is the true Christian hope, and surely in the parting words of comfort to his disciples, when promising to come again and take them to Himself, nothing short of the fulfilment of this hope can have been in the Lord’s mind.

That these words disclose a new prospect, not the spirit’s presence with Jesus after death, is clear from the closing verses of this gospel. There our Lord first foretells Peter’s death; then, being asked what should become of John, replies — “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?” (Joh 21:22). Now this could not mean that John might live till the end of the world. But neither could it mean that John might go to be with Jesus at his death. In this case, how would he have differed from Peter or any of the other disciples? Moreover, such an interpretation would rob the words of all meaning, making them equivalent to this — “If I will that he lives till he dies, what is that to thee?” The coming referred to, therefore, is neither the departure to be with Jesus at death, nor His appearing at the end of the world.

Its true character is not far to seek. It is here spoken of, not as one of an indefinite number of similar events, like the deaths of individual believers, but as a single transaction, of which the disciples had already heard. Such a transaction Jesus had but lately named when He promised to come again for His disciples. It is true He did not distinguish it from the other part of His coming, but He brought it out as a special feature, and it was to this feature that John’s heart would turn when he heard the words uttered. What can be simpler? On a solemn occasion Jesus tells his disciples that He will come to take them to Himself. Shortly afterwards He bids them not to be surprised if one of them tarries till He comes. However little the disciples might yet be able to distinguish between the two pasts of His coming, there can surely be no doubt that these utterances were meant to bring before their minds the same blessed hope. These two passages, then, teach us: First the return of Jesus for His saints, not at death or the end of the world, but at some definite though unrevealed period, when all shall be brought together to the place He has gone to prepare for them; and secondly, that this coming again, though uncertain as to time, might occur before the death of one, at least, of the apostles. So the disciples understood it, for there “went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die” (Joh 21:23), and though the Holy Ghost corrects this error, we are never told that it consisted in believing that Jesus might come in John’s lifetime; still less in believing that if He did come, John would not die. Christ’s own words expressly authorised the former belief; and other parts of Scripture make it clear that Christians living at the Lord’s coming will be translated without seeing death. The disciples’ error, therefore, did not consist in this understanding of the words of Jesus; but in adding to those words, and thus converting a statement that John might tarry into a prediction that he would tarry.

More Works on the Second Coming

Second Coming Topics

TW Modules on the Second Coming: https://twmodules.com/tag/second-coming/

Hope of the Church
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