Albert N. Martin
Turn with me, if you will please, to 2 Peter chapter 3. This will be one of the passages to which reference will be made in the opening-up of the Scriptures this morning.
2 Peter chapter 3, and I shall read in your hearing the first 13 verses.
This is now, beloved, the second epistle that I write unto you; and in both of them I stir up your sincere mind by putting you in remembrance; that you should remember the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and the commandment of the Lord and Saviour through your apostles: knowing this first, that in the last days mockers shall come with mockery, walking after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? for, from the day that the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.’
For this they wilfully forget, that there were heavens from of old, and an earth compacted out of water and amidst water, by the word of God; by which means the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: but the heavens that now are, and the earth, by the same word have been stored up for fire, being reserved against the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
But forget not this one thing, beloved, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness; but is longsuffering to you-ward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
Seeing that these things are thus all to be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy living and godliness, looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God, by reason of which the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? But, according to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness.
I would not weary you by telling you in the history of so-called Christian theology how men with keen minds and knowledge of many languages and a string of degrees have said, “We’ve got to dig through all of this and come up with the real historical Jesus. This Jesus, who makes claims to deity, this Jesus who makes claims that He will come in power and in glory at the end of the age—that is the Jesus of the fevered devotion and thinking of His followers, but surely the humble Rabbi out of Nazareth would make no such claims!” So they dig back into the stuff of their own unbelief and ignorance, while humble children of God come to the Scriptures and say: “My Lord said, ‘I am and you shall see Me coming in power and in great glory.’”
In fact, you know what the last recorded words of Jesus are in the Bible? Not, “I love you; I died for you; I will be with you in all of your trials.” The last recorded words of Jesus in the Bible: Revelation 22, verse 20.
He who testifies these things says, Yes: I come quickly. Amen: come Lord Jesus.
The Lord Jesus who testified of the things which John records, His last words to His Church through all of the ages that have unfolded since He went back to the right hand of the majesty on high are these words: “I come quickly.” To which the people of God, in every successive generation have answered in this eager anticipation of His return: “Even so come, Lord Jesus.”
There is no biblical Jesus without the Jesus who Himself affirms again and again the fact of His Second Coming!
Then we look at the words of the beloved Apostle John in 1 John chapter 2, the one who leaned upon the breast of Jesus; described as the disciple whom Jesus loved, not that He did not love the others, but apparently a peculiar measure, intensified love to this particular disciple.
1 John 2, verse 28: And now, my little children, abide in him; that, if [the Greek word ean, ἐὰν that can be translated ‘if’ in other context should be translated not ‘if’ but ‘when’] he shall be manifested, we may have boldness, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.
And when we turn to the letters of the Apostle Paul, five of the six texts that I’ve expounded in your hearing, demonstrating that eager awaiting the return of the Lord was normal, New Testament, Christian experience, five of the six texts came from the letters of Paul.
I love the unembarrassed dogmatism of the Apostle in a passage such as 1 Thessalonians 4. 1 Thessalonians 4, verse 14:
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also that are fallen asleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we that are alive, that are left unto the coming of the Lord, shall in no wise precede them that are fallen asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven.
There it is in artless simplicity. The Lord Himself; not one like Him; not one resembling Him; not one in the place of Him. The Lord Himself! “This same Jesus taken up from you shall so come.” The Lord Himself shall descend!
2 Thessalonians has a similar, artless, straightforward affirmation. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10:
And to you that are afflicted rest with us, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of his power in flaming fire, rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus: who shall suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and the glory of his might, when he shall come to be glorified in his saints.
When He shall come. He doesn’t stop to attempt to argue it. He simply states it straightforward, unequivocal: When He shall come.
We find the same emphasis in 1 Peter. I trust that some of you do remember when we worked our way verse by verse through that marvelous epistle. Here the Apostle Peter affirms with equal clarity and certainty the Coming again of the Lord Jesus. Chapter 1, verse 6 and 7, speaking of the great inheritance that awaits them; but in the present time, though they rejoice in this, there’s heaviness. They’re:
Put to grief in manifold trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold that perisheth though it is proved by fire, may be found unto praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
The Coming of the Lord is at hand. The writer to the Hebrews: He that comes shall come and will not tarry (10:37).
And inasmuch as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this comes judgment; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time, apart from sin, to them that wait for him, unto salvation (Hebrews 9:27-28).
Jude gives the same emphasis in verse 14 of his epistle; and the whole Book of the Revelation, what is it that we take out of it? The wonderful reality that Christ will come, and the various dimensions and events that are associated with His glorious Coming.
Now, this is just a sampling of the data of the New Testament. It affirms with unanimous voice the return of our Lord Jesus. As certainly as all the prophecies, in all of their particulars, regarding the first Coming were meticulously fulfilled, so will it be with respect to the Second Coming. Every prophecy will be meticulously fulfilled.
As certainly as God has kept them He will continue to keep the promise made to Noah:
As long as the earth remains there will never again be a universal Flood. Seed time and harvest, summer and winter (Genesis 8:22).
God has kept that commitment, and this is why we don’t nervously go around excited about all of the latest pronouncements of the environmentalists who pronounce such woe and doom upon us, because we’re committed to the belief that God will keep His promise! Not that we are indifferent and cavalier and prodigal with respect to the use of those things that God has given us, but we don’t have this nervousness that we must preserve things as they are. Someone has already taken that job on His shoulders!
We’re convinced that the God who speaks is the God that cannot lie, and that God has said throughout the Scriptures: Jesus is returning.
Bible References: 2 Peter 3:1-13; Revelation 22:20; 1 John 2:28; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-16; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; 1 Peter 1:6-7; Hebrews 10:37; Hebrews 9:27-28; Genesis 8:22