15 Nov You Have Been Warned!- D.C.C. Watson
At the bottom of the road which climbs 6000 feet to Kota¬giri you cannot fail to notice a large sign in Tamil and English which commands: “NO OVER¬TAKING ON CORNERS! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.” At no point on the ghat road is there room for three vehicles abreast; and, especially at some corners cut through the rock, there is space only for two. . . with a precipice below. At such a place a collision or swerve would mean certain destruction.
Overtaking is not confined to motorists: it is a universal habit. The merchant tries to sell faster than rival firms. The Government servant seeks higher appointment by passing more exams. -The college student aims at a First Class in order to prove him¬self better than his fellows. All very fine as a driving motive in life, so long as you can see your way ahead…so long as you can accurately predict, for example, what will. be the state of the world, your country, your family and yourself, one year from to¬day’s date. But if you ‘can’t see round the corner, what to do? Consult an astrologer, some will say; and there is no surer way to lose good money. The alterna¬tive is to consult the Bible and see what GOD has to say about the future.
Has God a plan for the ages? Yes! The next event on His programme is the second coming of Jesus Christ to judge the living and the dead- and it may be just around the corner! So anyone who plans his life without reference to this tremendous certainty is heading for eternal destruction. Be warned in time and get right with God! Before you finish reading this article you may have to stand before the great white Throne (Rev.20)
Scholars tell us that in the. New Testament there are more than 300 references to this sub¬ject, so its importance is obvious. It must be admitted, however, that some Christians have found it hard to believe ‘it a literal, visible return of Christ. They say that He came at Pentecost that He came at the destruction of Jerusalem; that his Kingdom will come gradually, by the preach¬ing of the Gospel until every nation has become Christian. We have no space here to discuss these or other theories, but we shall set out the positive teaching of Scripture.
The first thing to get settled in our minds is
The Fact of Christ’s return: In Acts 1.11 we read: “This same Jesus, who is taken from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.” An angel announced Jesus’ birth, and so it happened angels announced His resurrection and the disciples found it true; angels have foretold His coming again, and we may rest assured that they were not mistaken. How did He go up into heaven? In a cloud, before a’ their eyes, in his crucified, glori¬fied body. How shall He come again? On the clouds of heaven so that every eye shall see Him and in the same glorious body (Rev. 1.7).
Other passages teach us that His coming will be not local but universal. When He came the first time, it was to an obscure hamlet in a remote outpost of the mighty Roman Empire. Humble shepherds alone knew that the Lord of glory had been born. But this time all nations shall be gathered before Him; captains and kings, Prime Ministers and Presidents, Marshals and Field Marshals—yes every knee shall bow and every tongue shall con¬fess that Jesus Christ is Lord! (Phil.2.11). “As the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Math. 24: 27) Lightning can go seven times round the earth in one second; and though we cannot picture the exact method that God will use, the analogy of television is enough to show us that it will be possible for all the world to see Him simultaneously. An interest¬ing conclusion may be drawn from Luke 17:31-34. Verse 31 speaks of some men being in the field in that day; while V. 34 speaks of others being in bed in that night. Evidently, then, when Jesus comes it will be day in, some parts of the world, night in others. Only Divine omniscience could have made such a state¬ment 1500 years before Galileo.
We shall next consider
The Time of Christ’s return: This has exer¬cised the hearts of believers and the ingenuity of scholars in many ages; and, because their conclu¬sions have often proved wrong, the whole subject has fallen into disrepute. But a careful reading of Matthew 24 & 25 shows it was His intention that every genera¬tion of Christians should look forward to His return. This was the “blessed hope” which should sustain them in the fits of per¬secution, and inspire them to carry the banner of the Gospel unto the uttermost parts of the earth. This was the message that Paul preached to his early converts (I Thes. 1:10); and which he made the basis of his last charge to Timothy (II Tim. 4.1). To say they were deceived or mistaken is very far from the truth. Rather, like the Old Testa¬ment saints in regard to Christ’s first coming, they “died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” (Heb. 11:13).
However, there is one factor in the ‘time’ question which does seem especially relevant to 1959. Jesus said: “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Mat. 24:14). There can be no. doubt that we are today much nearer to the fulfillment of this prophecy than were the Christians of the 1st or the 19th century. The Gospels have been translated into many major languages, and though the majority of earth’s population has not heard the ‘good news’ in its purest form, yet it can truly be said that every nation has access to it. For instance, it is estimated that there are 40 million (2016 census) Protestant Christians; but the Bible has been in print in Chinese for a century, and Mr. Chou could, if he would put a Gospel in the hand of every boy and girl in every school throughout the land. “Light is ‘come into the world but men loved darkness rather than light.” The same could be said of every other nation represented in UNO. They know what Christianity is, but officially they have rejected it as the only way of salvation for mankind. So, as far as we can see, the time is ripe NOW for the end of the world and the Return of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Thirdly, let us consider
The Events at his coming: Unfortunately much controversy has raged ‘round this subject, and one group’s interpre¬tation has sometimes even been made a barrier to fellowship with another group of Christians. The “blessed hope” has become a biased argument! We shall do well to remember the comment of Frances Ridley Havergal, that “none of us will have time to say ‘I told you so!’ “ ; and the best seats in heaven will be reserved not for those who have held the most “correct” views but for, those who have laboured most faithfully for their Master.
In the UESI we agree only on the “expectation of the personal return of the Lord Jesus Christ”, and individual members will have their own opinion on the order of events. However, all evangelicals agree that His coming, whether in two stages or one, will mean the final REDEMPTION of believers and final separation of unbelievers from Christ. The words used about the latter are terrible indeed: “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel.” (II Thes. 1:7, 8). But those who know and obey Him shall be caught up to meet Him in the clouds, and so shall we be ever with the Lord and with our loved ones ‘’who have died ‘in Him’ (I Thes. 4:14-17).
The New Testament concen¬trates our attention not on details of our new curriculum in Heaven, but on the kind of life we should be living now on earth in view of the glorious future that awaits us. Paul sums it up in three words: “sober, righteous, and godly” (Titus. 2:12); and in closing we shall consider their meaning.
1. Sober. This means “hav¬ing perfect control of your hotly”. Is your body your master or your slave? How many hours Christians waste in sleep, which might be used for Bible study and prayer! How much money is thrown away on coffee snacks, which might be used for the Lord’s work! If we really believ¬ed that, He might come today, would we not be more careful stewards of our time and our treasure?
Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission, while a medical student determined that he would give at least one hour a day to God, even though it meant getting up at 3 a.m. some¬times. John Wesley ate nothing but potatoes for two years to make sure that he was master of his appetite. And his mother wrote these memorable words: “Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, takes off the relish for spiritual things; whatever increases the authority of your body over your mind; that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may be in itself.”
2. Righteous. This means very much more than honesty in exams. The `word is interpreted for us by Christ in Matthew 25:34-46. The righteous are those who feed the hungry, clothe the naked, entertain strangers, visit the sick and those in prison. Beware of `spiritualizing’ this passage. Beware of thinking it does not apply to you. The Lord Jesus meant exactly what He said. Is there a Jail in your town? Is anyone preaching the Gospel there? You can get permission, at least to talk to the prisoners. Is there a hospital? You don’t have to be a doctor to visit and give sympathy to the sick. Get busy! The time may be short.
3. Godly. This word may be interpreted by the Parable of the Pounds in Luke 19:12-27. “Do business till I come” (see the vernacular translation) was the noble¬man’s command; and a godly man is one who knows that he belongs to God, so that God’s business is his business. What is God’s business? “To seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19.10) ; and every Christian is a shareholder and an employee. “What is your job?” someone asked Armour, the American millionaire. “My job is being an ambassador for the Lord Jesus Christ”, came the reply, “and I pack pork to pay expenses.”
You may not be able to preach, but perhaps you can paint posters to advertise meetings. You may not be a millionaire, but you can certainly give one tenth of your personal allowance for God’s work. You have hands and feet and you could try peddling gospels from house to house on Sunday afternoons. Or, ask your Pastor how you can help in church work. Remember it was the man who had the least talents was feared to do anything for his master. So begin now to do something for the Lord Jesus Christ. “Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.”
Enough has been said to show that the Return of Christ is no mere visionary dream which may divert us from the humdrum duties of today. On the contrary, it is the most powerful incentive to holy living, to active philanthropy and to world-wide preaching of the Gospel. “Evangelize to a finish to bring back the King!” was the watchword of a former generation; and we earnestly hope that it may become the watchword of the Union of Evangelical Students of India. Now that you have been warned, make sure that others read. (Or hear) the warning too!
Reprint from THE EVANGELICAL STUDENT, Jan — Feb, 1959