S. Lewis Johnson, from his Eschatology series:
Did you know that the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is mentioned over 300 times in the New Testament? Now there are three hundred and something chapters of the New Testament. In other words, in every chapter proportionately in the New Testament, we have some reference to the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus. There are some of the epistles who specifically have not just one but more than one reference to the Second Coming in those epistles.
We have the Second Coming mentioned 318 times. We have baptism, or we have the doctrine of baptism. mentioned only 19 times in 7 epistles. In other words, the Second Advent should have a great deal more emphasis in our Christian thought and life than the doctrine of water baptism. Yet observe the importance that the churches attach to baptism.
We have entire denominations called Baptist churches. We have large denominations calling themselves, Baptist churches. Now I know what you’re thinking about, you’re thinking about the Southern Baptists. There are lots of good brethren in the Southern Baptists. …
Did you know that there are over 20 different kind of Baptists? But now how many denominations do you know that are named the Lord’s Coming denomination, or the Second Advent denomination? We do have the Seventh Day Adventist but then they mixed up the truth with error in their title: The Seventh Day Adventist. And did you know that we have Seventh Day Baptists? We have a denomination of Baptists that call themselves Seventh Day Baptists.
Did you know that the Lord’s Supper is mentioned 6 times in the New Testament, but it is not in 20 of the 21 epistles of the New Testament. Not mentioned, and there are some groups that make a great deal over the Lord’s Supper.
The Second Coming of the Lord Jesus ought to enlarge in our Christian thinking. I have wondered if the church is not making the same mistake about the Second Coming that the Jews made about the first coming—not all the Jews, but some of the Jews. They did not make very much of the suffering and the cross and the literality of the first coming texts.
The earliest Christians made a great deal after they learned the truth of the suffering, the cross and the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus. And it seems to me that today we may be possibly erring a little too much by making a whole lot over the First Coming and sometimes de-emphasizing the reigning, the crown, the literality of the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus.
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From Sermon #391, The First Resurrection, Delivered on May 5, 1861:
I once had the misfortune to listen to an excellent friend of mine who was preaching upon this very text (Revelation 20:4-6, 12). And I must confess I did not attend with very great patience to his exposition. He said it meant blessed and holy is he who has been born again, who has been regenerated and so has had a resurrection from dead works by the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. All the while he was preaching I could not help but wish that I could propose to him the difficulty to make this metaphorical interpretation agree with the literal fact—that the rest of the dead lived not till the thousand years were finished.
For if the first resurrection here spoken of is a metaphorical, or spiritual, or typical resurrection—why the next where it speaks of the resurrection of the dead must be spiritual and mystical and metaphorical too! Now, no one would agree with this. When you read a chapter you are not to say, “This part is a symbol and is to be read so and the next part is to be read literally.” Brethren, the Holy Spirit does not jumble metaphors and facts together. A typical book has plain indications that it is so intended and when you come upon a literal passage in a typical chapter it is always attached to something else which is distinctly literal so that you cannot, without violence to common sense, make a typical meaning out of it.
The fact is, in reading this passage with an unbiased judgment—having no purpose whatever to serve, having no theory to defend—and I confess I have none, for I know but very little about mysteries to come—I could not help seeing there are two literal resurrections here spoken of—one of the spirits of the just and the other of the bodies of the wicked. One of the saints who sleep in Jesus, whom God shall bring with Him and another of those who live and die impenitent, who perish in their sins.
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From “Jews, Gentiles, & the Goal of Redemptive History”
Is the NT silent on the subject of Israel in her land? The Gentile focus of the NT surely accounts for what silence there may be; and in fairness this must be admitted. But even so, I am not at all sure the silence is as real as it is said to be. There is much more data available than is often admitted to the discussion. For example, there are necessary implications of terminology such as “in the regeneration,” “reclining with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” And several times the Second Coming is expressly linked with Palestine: the Mount of Olives, the flight on the Sabbath day, the temple, etc. And there is Jesus’ direct prophecy that “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Lk. 21:24). Of course there is much more, particularly in the book of Revelation At any rate, it is gratuitous to simply dismiss all of these things out of hand and then claim that the NT is silent on the subject of Israel in her land in the eschaton.
It is often assumed that Joshua 21:45 declares a full and final realization of God’s covenanted promises to national Israel. But the verse does not say that at all. Joshua was merely claiming that God had come good on all He had said. That in no way rules out a further and fuller realization of the same promises; this is evidenced by the (later) announcements of the prophets that God was yet to give Israel her land, and that as a permanent possession (e.g., Amos 9:13-15). In other words, Joshua was not at all saying, “This is it! That’s all!” He was merely showing God’s faithfulness in doing as He said He would do. If that is so, then the verse does not end the discussion of Israel’s inheritance of the land.
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From Coming Events and Present Duties, chapter 5 “Scattered Israel to be Gathered”
Reader, however great the difficulties surrounding many parts of unfulfilled prophecy, two points appear to my own mind to stand out as plainly as if written by a sunbeam. One of these points is the second personal advent of our Lord Jesus Christ before the Millennium. The other of these points is the future literal gathering of the Jewish nation, and their restoration to their own land. I tell no man that these two truths are essential to salvation, and that he cannot be saved except he sees them with them with my eyes. But I tell any man that these truths appear to me distinctly set down in Holy Scripture, and that the denial of them is as astonishing and incomprehensible to my own mind as the denial of the divinity of Christ.
. . .
I ask you, then, to settle it firmly in your mind, that when God says a thing shall be done, we ought to believe it. We have no right to begin talking of probable and improbable, likely and unlikely, possible and impossible, reasonable and unreasonable. What is all this but veiled skepticism, and infidelity in disguise? What has the Lord said? And what has the Lord spoken? What says the Scriptures? What is written in the Word? These are the only questions we have a right to ask; and when the answer to them is plain, we have nothing to do but believe. Our reason may rebel. Our preconceived ideas of what God ought to do may receive a rude shock. Our private systems of prophetical interprettation may be shattered to pieces. Our secret prejudices may be grievously offended. But what are we to do? We must abide by Scripture, or be of all men most miserable. At any cost let us cling to the Word. “Let God be true, and every man a liar.”
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From Sermon #582, June 16, 1864: The Restoration and Conversion of the Jews
ISRAEL IS TO HAVE A SPIRITUAL RESTORATION OR A CONVERSION. Both the text and the context teach this. The promise is that they shall renounce their idols and, behold, they have already done so! “Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols.” Whatever faults the Jew may have, he certainly has not idolatry. “The Lord your God is one God,” is a Truth far better conceived by the Jew than by any other man on earth except the Christian. Weaned forever from the worship of all images of any sort, the Jewish nation has now become infatuated with traditions or duped by philosophy.
She is to have, however, instead of these delusions, a spiritual religion—she is to love her God. “They shall be My people and I will be their God.” The unseen but Omnipotent Jehovah is to be worshipped in spirit and in truth by His ancient people. They are to come before Him in His own appointed way, accepting the Mediator whom their sires rejected. They will come into Covenant relation with God, for so our text tells us— “I will make a Covenant of peace with them,” and Jesus is our peace—therefore we gather that Jehovah shall enter into the Covenant of Grace with them—that Covenant of which Christ is the federal Head, the Substance and the Surety.
They are to walk in God’s ordinances and statutes and so exhibit the practical effects of being united to Christ who has given them peace. All these promises certainly imply that the people of Israel are to be converted to God and that this conversion is to be permanent. The tabernacle of God is to be with them! The Most High is, in a special manner, to have His sanctuary in the midst of them forever more so that whatever nations may apostatize and turn from the Lord in these latter days, the nation of Israel never can, for she shall be effectually and permanently converted.
The hearts of the fathers shall be turned with the hearts of the children unto the Lord their God and they shall be the people of God, world without end.
We look forward, then, for these two things. I am not going to theorize upon which of them will come first—whether they shall be restored first, and converted afterwards—or converted first and then restored. They are to be restored and they are to be converted, too. Let the Lord send these blessings in His own order and we shall be well content whichever way they shall come. We take this for our joy and our comfort that this thing shall be and that both in the spiritual and in the temporal throne, the King Messiah shall sit and reign among His people gloriously.
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From “Jews, Gentiles, and the Goal of Redemptive History.“
It should be noted further that the ground on which Paul bases his hope of the future conversion of “all Israel” is nothing other than Israel’s ancient covenants. In 11:29 Paul says this directly, and in 11:26-27 he cites by way of support and explanation a composite of passages from the Old Testament (Psa.14:7; Gen.17:4; Isa.59:20-21; 27:9; Jer.31:33). The language is reminiscent of more passages, particularly from the prophets, in which the Davidic, Abrahamic, and new covenants are held in view for the people. Significantly, these same passages speak to a time when Israel, in her own land, will again enjoy her prominence among the nations. Now clearly, no amillennialist will want to admit this; but then how are we to explain Paul’s appeal to these very passages? Are we to understand Paul as limiting their fulfillment to a soteric sense only? And if so, why? The Prophets certainly did not understand their word to be so restricted; they plainly held out a hope of salvation and restoration to the land and Israelite prominence among the nations. The hope of forgiveness which they offered the people was inseparably linked to and formed the basis of these other hopes, hence their equally vigorous heralding of them all. Nor does Paul indicate such a stripping away of the Prophets’ message. Indeed, at the very outset of his discussion he affirms that these covenants do indeed still belong to Israel (9:3-4). And at the conclusion he reaffirms the same (v.29). The question then is this: what exegetical warrant is there for allowing only a part of the covenants’ promises (i.e., the forgiveness of sins) and not the whole of them? In fact, if we would consider these covenants as still in force, the result would sound much like 11:15. And again, this fits very well with the premillennial scheme, but it is at this point the amillennialst must do some wiggling.
Nor is this an isolated argument. The prophets plainly and repeatedly spoke of the inviolability and unending certainty of Israel’s covenants. Paul alludes to and cites a sampling of these, noteworthy of which is his allusion in 11:8 to Deu.29:4. There Moses is promising the eventual realization of the land promise to Israel. He even explains that while this is conditioned on Israel’s faith, Israel will nonetheless enjoy the promise because God in grace will bring them back from their stubborn disobedience.
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From “Coming Events and Present Duties,” chapter 2 “Occupy Till I Come”:
The Lord Jesus during the present dispensation is like David between the time of His anointing and Saul’s death. He has the promise of the kingdom, but He has not yet received the crown and throne (1 Sam. 22:1, 2).
He is followed by a few, and those often neither great nor wise, but they are a faithful people. He is persecuted by His enemies, and oft times driven into the wilderness, and yet His party is never quite destroyed. But He has none of the visible signs of the kingdom at present: no earthly glory, majesty, greatness, obedience. The vast majority of mankind see no beauty in Him: they will not have this man to reign over them. His people are not honored for their Master’s sake: they walk the earth like princes in disguise. His kingdom is not yet come: His will is not yet done on earth excepting by a little flock. It is not the day of His power. The Lord Jesus is biding His time.
Reader, I entreat you to grasp firmly this truth, for truth I believe it to be. Great delusion abounds on the subject of Christ’s kingdom. Take heed lest any man deceive you by purely traditional teachings about prophetical truth. Hymns are composed and sung which darken God’s counsel on this subject by words without knowledge. Texts are wrested from their true meaning, and accommodated to the present order of things, which are not justly applicable to any but the period of the second advent. Beware of the mischievous infection of this habit of text-wresting. Beware of the sapping effect of beautiful poetry, in which unfulfilled promises of glory are twisted and adapted to the present dispensation. Settle it down in your mind that Christ’s kingdom is yet to come. His arrows are not yet sharp in the hearts of His enemies. The day of His power has not yet begun. He is gathering out a people to carry the cross and walk in His steps; but the time of His coronation has not yet arrived. But just as the Lord Jesus, like the nobleman, “went to receive a kingdom,” so, like the nobleman, the Lord Jesus intends one day “to return.”
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