Chapter 3 - The Resurrection of the Saints and the Great Tribulation

It is evident from what we have been considering that the writers from whom we have been quoting are involved in the same great error. Over-looking the meaning of the time-gap in which we are, and ignoring or belittling the mysteries which give Christianity its distinctive character, we can be said to be in the "last days" of Jewish prophets, and "partakers of the promise given through Abraham to the sons of Israel." There is but one passage that I know which may seem to assert the first, and that is the quotation of Joel by Peter on the day of Pentecost (Acts ii. i7). But that is quoted to the Jews over whom through Christ's intercession the mercy of God was yet giving time for repentance (Luke xiii. 8,), so that if even yet they repented nationally, the times of refreshing would come from the presence of the Lord, and He would send Jesus Christ again to them (Acts 19-21). This was soon ended by the rejection of the message. That "in the end of these days" (of the prophets, Heb. i, Gk.) "God hath spoken to us by His Son" says nothing of our place in them, and no more than Heb. ix. a6, which asserts what in reality is very different. The sanctuary could not have been opened for us if the ages of probation had not been actually ended for us; nor could the history of Israel have disclosed its types, if for us the "ends of the ages" had nbt "arrived." Yet the "end of the age" has in the prophetic sense not yet arrived (Matt. xiii, 39; xxviii. 2o): so that we cannot be in it; and the age to come has still a probationary character for men at large. For us the cross of Christ has already manifested the character both of the flesh and the world, and we need nothing else to manifest it. But how important for us to realize the gap in prophetic time in which we stand. We are now to go in company with some other writers who have given us their refutation - to themselves such - of the views for which we are contending here. If they come to us in fragmentary, and perhaps disorderly fashion, the responsibility is not our own. It is due very much to the lack of seriousness with which the subject seems to be taken up. As Mr. Cameron affirms, "None of the learned students of prophecy in Germany seem to think the modern vagary of a secret rapture of the Church before the end-time is reached is worthy of serious consideration." We can but lament the influence which the attitude of these learned Germans seems to have exerted over others in this matter, even when they can afford some brief moments to it. Their language is too often tinged with a scorn which might be spared without injury to their arguments, and which can only impress favorably those for whom the larger part of the argument is the man who uses it Their method seems to be to gather up a sheaf of statements in denial of what they are dealing with, point them with scripture references, and launch them at the unwelcome doctrine; leaving the point and propriety of the application often to be determined or taken for granted as suits best the temper of the reader. We shall have occasion to point this out as we proceed; but it certainly makes less easy the examination of arguments which have often to be first discovered, and perhaps unsuccessfully. A tract is lying before me of twenty-one small pages, fourteen being taken up with an enumeration of the texts which have the words to show what the Scriptures say as to the question, "Can the Parousia (Coming in Person) of the Lord be separated from His Epiphaneia (Shining upon); or from His Apokalupsis (Revelation)?" The writer (Mr. Robert Brown) cautions us at the outset, "that positive and absolute statements of the Divine Word must of necessity be received before, and must therefore override, all inferences from other passages which seem to contradict them; as such inferences are, of course, merely human." He concludes with some inferences of his own, which are, of course, as open to question as those of any other, and which we shall take up as such, but in the order which may be most convenient for us, and putting along with them the statements of other writers, as far as they may serve to give completeness to the subject before us. But in the first place the question in the title of his tract is misleading, and as a consequence the classification of some of his texts likewise. For no one, as far as I am aware, would contend that the coming of the Lord could be separated from His manifestation or revelation. What is contended for is that the coming of the Lord into the air, as announced in 2 Thess. iv., takes place previous to, and in fact some time previous to, His coming on to the earth with the saints He has gathered to Himself before. Both would be His coming; and therefore the merely quoting texts with the word "coming" in them would settle nothing. But the passage itself declares that those who sleep in Jesus God will bring with Him; when He appears therefore, they shall appear with Him. That the Thessalonians needed to know, that the dead had not lost their place with Him in that day. How then would this be accomplished? The dead would first be raised and the living then changed and caught up, with them. And so they should be ever with the Lord. It was in fact a new revelation, and so the apostle announces it as what he said "by the word of the Lord." The twenty-fifth of Matthew had shown that the living saints would go forth and meet Him, but had said nothing about the dead at that time. The apostle adds as to the dead. Dr. West indeed declares with his usual strong assertion, that "the word of the Lord" here is nothing but the Lord's "Olivet discourse" (Matt. xxiv.; xxv.). "It corrected the Thessalonian error as to the 'any-moment view.' Paul appeals to it to decide the question. He calls it the 'word of the Lord.' He had it on his table when he wrote both letters to the Thessalonians(!) He uses its very language. The seventieth week covers his own words in 2 Thess. ii. r-8. "  But that settles nothing as to what is here. Where is the declaration in the Lord's prophecy as to the resurrection of the sleeping saints? One can only suppose that the gathering together of the elect from the four winds is taken to mean this; but the proof of it must be found, if found at all, elsewhere. Moreover the apostle does not speak as if he were citing. In i Cor. vii. ro, where he does cite, he says, "not I speak, but the Lord." Here it is the phrase used for a special revelation (See i Kings xiii. 2, 32; 2 Chron. xxx. i2; LXX.): "I say to you," but "by the word" or "a word of the Lord," (for there is no article,)-that is, by a revelation. Our assurance of this will be still more confirmed if we consider that Paul it is to whom especially belongs the revelation of the "mysteries" (Eph. III. 3- 9), among which is that of the Church as the body and bride of Christ (Eph. V. 32). Could there be a thing which required less (as we would suppose) a special revelation to make it known to him, than the institution of the Supper of the Lord? It is narrated by three of the evangelists, and as the common feast of Christians was known to every one; and yet, as showing forth in the participation of it the unity of the Body of Christ (i Cor. x. i's), and thus coming into the special sphere of his commission, it has to be the subject of a special revelation to him (i Cor. xi. 23). It is therefore in perfect accordance with this that the taking home of the Bride (Eph. v.27) should be in like manner the subject of a special communication. Thus everything unites to refute Dr. West's assertion. He has more, however, upon the subject of the resurrection of the saints which we must look at as nearly concerning us here. "Its time-point," he says, "is given with the utmost precision in the Scriptures. It is the time-point of the Second Advent for the salvation of the righteous and the destruction of the wicked, even as at the one time-point Noah and his family entered the ark, and the ungodly perished in the flood; and Israel was redeemed when Egypt was whelmed in the sea; and the Church fled to Pella when Jerusalem was destroyed. It is a time-point for both judgment and salvation. Asaph calls it the "shining of the Lord (Ps. 1. x-6). Isaiah calls it His 'appearing' (lxvi. 5) in order to raise the holy dead, deliver Israel, destroy the Antichrist, and bring to victory the Kingdom. Five times in the Old Testament this illustrious Parousia of Christ is described, (1) as the coming of the Son of man in the clouds of heaven (Dan. vii. 13); (2) of the Conqueror from Bozrah descending over Edom (Isa. lxiii. i-6); (3) of the coming of the Lord to Olivet (Zech.xiv.5); (4) and to Zion (Isa. lix. 20); and (5) in clouds both for Judgment and Salvation (Ps. i. i-6; xcvi. i xcvii. 2-8; xcviii. 1-9; cx. i-v; lxxii. 2, 4, 18, 19; cxiii. 2-17)." That is not the whole, but we pause here for the present. It is a good specimen of the style of argument on the part of one of the liveliest opponents to what he calls the "Any Moment Theory." One naturally supposes that all these references are to establish the time-point of the resurrection of the saints. That is what he is speaking of; but by a turn which, if we are not to call "dexterous," we must ascribe to his perplexingly involved style, a number of texts which merely speak of judgment and salvation at the appearing of Christ, come to look as if they were proof-texts of what he is seeking to establish even the Church's flight to Pella when Jerusalem was destroyed! Let us examine, however, as far as necessary, what he has set before us. And first as to Noah and the flood, we may frankly admit the application to the coming of the Lord which He Himself makes (Matt. xxiv. 37-41). "The one shall be taken and the other left." But we must handle such things more carefully than Dr. West: "taken" how and for what? Those whom resurrection takes out from among the dead are saints and taken for glory. At the rapture of the living saints, it is the same. In Noah's time, "the flood came and took them all away;" those taken are the judged and not the saved. When the Son of man comes in the clouds of heaven, there will be a real correspondence with this. When the purification of the earth is in question, as it will be then, "the Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His Kingdom all things that offend." But that is neither dead nor living saints. The application here, therefore, fails entirely. But Dr. West has forgotten Enoch; though, as a living saint removed to heaven before the judgment of the earth, he occupies a sufficiently striking position to attract attention. One who actually prophesied, Jude tells us, of the coming of the Lord, and seems to fill the gap that would otherwise be left in what is really a very striking picture of the times that are at hand. But the application fails Dr. West. If Enoch had been taken away at the time when those shut up in the ark were nearing deliverance, how readily would he have seen and seized so fair an argument. But Israel was redeemed when Egypt was whelmed in the sea! True; but I see nothing that points in that either to the Coming, the Resurrection, or the
(Editor's Note: Our source cut off the chapter here...sorry for the inconvenience)