Chapter 32 The Consummation Of All Things

This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven (Acts 1:11).

This is the first message from heaven to earth after our Lord’s ascension. He and His disciples had been standing on mount Olivet when He was taken up from them—“and a cloud received Him out of their sight” (1:9). Then came heaven’s first message spoken by two angels who seemed to know these men well since they addressed them as “men of Galilee.” The cloud is important for had there been no cloud the Lord in ascending would have grown smaller and smaller in their eyes, and God never intends His Beloved to become small in our eyes.

What the Lord Said About His Coming Again

Our Lord said nothing about His coming again until after Peter made the great confession at Caesarea Philippi, six months before His death on the cross—“Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Then He unveiled three more secrets—of the Church (v. 18)—of the cross (v. 21)—of His coming again (v. 27). He said He would come as “the Son of man”—a term full of significance and comfort for us who are of human stock. It was as the Son of man that He lived and toiled on earth—as the Son of man that He suffered and died on the cross—as the Son of man that He ascended into heaven. He took our humanity back with Him to glory—a humanity He did not have when He came out of that glory. He is a Man in glory now, and as the Son of man will come again, and to show that He is the Son of God He will come in “the glory of His Father.”

What the Apostles Said About His Coming Again

Every New Testament writer refers to our Lord’s coming again. It was this blessed hope which inspired their faith and witness—their unworldly character—their moral intensity—their command of the future. Peter says: “When the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (1 Peter 5:4). “Hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13). John says: “When He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). Jude says: “Building up yourselves on your most holy faith…looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ” (vv. 20, 21). Hebrews 9:28 says: “Christ…shall…appear the second time.” Paul in Romans describes two features of His coming. First, to reveal the sons of God (8:19). Many of them have been hidden in quiet places. He will display all who are His and will be admired for His wondrous work in them. Secondly, He will deliver the whole creation from its bondage (Romans 8:20, 21). The earth must be redeemed—delivered from its groaning and from all its frustration and impediments which are at present in it. Our bodies are in that material creation and will be resurrected at the time of the earth’s renewal. “The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain … but ourselves also … even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for … the redemption of our body” (8:22, 23).

What the Angels Said About His Coming Again

I will emphasize just one thing. It is, they said, to be “this same Jesus” (Acts 1:11). They used His human name—Jesus. They, too, spoke of Him in His coming as “the Son of man.” There are mighty and great things bound up in that title. It denotes His relation to-and work for —the redeemed sons of men. And He came to destroy all the works of the devil in us so that we should be made like Him.

All of this must have its application in our lives. We should not emphasize signs of His coming. They have their place. We must not dismiss the “signs of the times.” There are such signs, but we are on much safer ground when we stand in the realm of spiritual realities. Signs may be very fascinating to the flesh but it is far more important for us to advance in Godlikeness in view of His coming again. The Cross is the basis for that blessed hope. I am sure we please the Lord more by gathering around His table to remember Him and what He did to give us such a hope. “Thou art coming! At Thy table we are witnesses of this,” says the hymn writer. When Abraham’s servant went to seek a bride for Isaac and found Rebekah, you will notice that while he had a long way to come for her, she also had a long journey to meet Isaac—six hundred miles through desert land. It was no sudden jump from Mesopotamia to Canaan. It was a long, exacting, and weary journey—all of which involved a great exercise of faith. There was much to leave behind to undertake that journey. In the same way, we are to move toward our Lord as He moves toward us. We must leave behind all that is fleshly and, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, be occupied with the blessed hope of meeting our Heavenly Bridegroom.

Christ is coming! let creation
From her groans and travail cease;
Let the glorious proclamation
Hope restore and faith increase:
Christ is coming!
Christ is coming!
Come, Thou blessed Prince of peace.

Long time exiles have been pining,
Far from rest, and home, and Thee:
But, in heavenly vestures shining,
They their loving Lord shall see:
Christ is coming!
Christ is coming!
Haste the joyous jubilee.

With that blessed hope before us,
Let our joyful songs be sung;
Let the mighty advent chorus
Onward roll from tongue to tongue:
Christ is coming!
Christ is coming!
Come, Lord Jesus, quickly come.

—John Ross Mac Duff