Twelve Bible Dialogues
A Review of Twelve Basic Bible Doctrines
Harold P. Barker, with O. Lambert, C. A.
Miller, P. Brown,
Questions by S. W. Royes; Answers by H. P. Barker
IT is well to remind one another that what the Bible presents to us is not theories or opinions, but facts. And if anyone were to say to me, “What are the principal facts connected with Christianity?” I should reply that three of the most astounding facts are these:
(1) The throne of Deity is occupied by a Man.
(2) God the Holy Ghost is a Resident upon this planet.
(3) The Lord Jesus Christ has a peculiar treasure in the world, and is about to come personally to transfer that treasure from earth to heaven.
It is with the last of these three that we are concerned on this occasion. It is a fact that Jesus is coming again, as truly a fact as that He has already been here for thirty-three years, and died upon the cross.
Before we commence our questions, I will ask you to open your Bibles and read three striking passages, in which the second coming of the Lord is spoken of as a fact, first by an apostle, then by an angel, and thirdly by the Lord Himself.
First turn to 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17.
“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto THE COMING OF THE LORD shall not prevent [or “go before”] them which are asleep.
“For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
“Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
Now look at Acts 1:11, where we have angelic testimony to the same truth:
“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.”
The third passage I ask you to read is John 14:3, where the Lord Himself, while yet on earth, distinctly promises to return for the purpose of receiving His people to His Father’s house.
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I WILL COME AGAIN, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
These three passages suffice to show that the truth of the Lord’s second coming is an integral part of Christian doctrine. But, remember, it is not a mere doctrine, it is a fact; and as a fact we shall consider it.
When you speak of the Lord’s coming, do you refer to death?
Indeed I do not. Nobody who carefully reads the three passages I have pointed out could fall into the mistake of confounding the two things. When a believer dies, does the Lord descend with a shout? Does He come in like manner as they saw Him go? Are the sleeping saints called from their graves and summoned to meet the Lord in the air? Nothing of the kind takes place.
Let me try to show you, by a simple illustration, what death is for the Christian.
A gentleman enters one of the
stations and asks for a first-class ticket to
But mark this, the man in the first-class room and the man in the third-class room are both waiting for the same train.
In the same way there are two classes of believers bound for glory, and waiting for the Lord’s coming to take them there. There are those of us who are still alive, waiting in this dreary, uncomfortable third-class waiting-room of a world, surrounded by trials, subject to temptations, and beset with sin. Others there are who have, as it were, passed into the first-class waiting-room. They rest in a scene of unclouded peace, with neither sin, nor care, nor sorrow to mar their happiness. They are “with Christ,” but their bodies are in the grave. They have not yet entered into the fulness of resurrection life. They are still waiting—waiting for the very same thing that we are waiting for, namely, the coming of the Lord.
Death, therefore, for the Christian, far from being the fulfillment of his hope, is merely the servant that ushers him into the first-class waiting-room, where he will be “absent from the body, present with the Lord” until the day when Jesus comes.
Does not the Christian often experience the coming of Christ to his heart?
Yes, undoubtedly; but that is not what we are talking about just now.
I remember speaking to an old lady about the Lord’s coming. As I spoke, her face lit up with joy, and laying her hand upon her heart she exclaimed, “Oh, He often comes to me! Hardly a day passes without His coming.”
The dear old lady was right. Jesus does come to His peoples’ hearts in a spiritual way. But that is a very different thing from the coming of which we have read together.
If you will turn to John 14, you will see the two things. Read verse 23: “If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him.”
Contrast this with what we have already read in verse 3 of the same chapter. Verse 23 speaks of a spiritual coming of Christ and the Father to us; verse 3 speaks of the future, personal, actual coming of Christ for us. The one is what we may enjoy daily; the other is what we yet hope for.
Will the end of the world take place when the Lord comes?
No, indeed. Scripture is full
of promises and
prophecies which show that the world is to be the scene of wonderful
under the rule of Christ for a thousand years. Men shall beat their
ploughshares and live in harmony. Restored
With it the Lord will return as the rightful Heir to subdue the earth and reign in peace and justice, so that there will be a long period of time between His coming and the end of the world.
What will happen when Jesus comes?
If you will carefully read those verses in 1 Thessalonians over again, and compare them with 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52, you will find a very clear answer to that question. The living saints will be changed, the sleeping ones will be raised, and together they will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Those who are not Christ’s, whether dead or living, will be left behind.
You know what a magnet is, do you not? Suppose that upon this table I had a mixture of steel filings and chaff. I bring the magnet nearer and nearer to the table. What happens? Suddenly all the steel filings fly up and stick to the magnet. And what of the chaff? It is left upon the table unmoved.
That is just what will happen when the Lord comes. He has, indeed, been a magnet to these hearts of ours, charming and attracting them. When He comes, those with whom He has a link —the steel filings, the true believers— will by His power be gathered up to Him in the air. And what of those who know Him not—the chaff? They will for the time be left alone, but their career will soon be over: “He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matt. 3:12).
Will there be no chance of salvation for those who are left behind?
For those who have heard the gospel and refused it there will be none. They will be judicially blinded and hardened. Let Scripture speak as to this. Read the solemn words of 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12: “They received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
The door of mercy, now open so wide, will then be irrevocably closed. “When once the Master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us; and He shall answer and say unto you, I know not whence ye are: then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in Thy presence, and Thou hast taught in our streets. But He shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from Me, all ye workers of iniquity” (Luke 13:25-27).
These awfully solemn words answer your question clearly and decisively. No, there will be no salvation for those who refuse it now.
Will you make the distinction clearer between the Lord’s coming for His people and His subsequent coming with them?
A friend of mine was once
taking me for a stroll
“Yes,” I replied. “Is there anything noticeable about it?”
“It is called Sheriff’s Hill,”
he said, “and the
reason is this. In the olden days, when the circuit judges came from
Now this will, perhaps, help
in making clear the
distinction between the Lord’s coming for
His people and His subsequent coming with
them. You get both referred to in Scripture. First, “I will come again
receive you unto Myself.” That is His coming for us.
Then, in Jude 14, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten
thousands of His saints, to
execute judgment.” He is coming to hold the assizes, as it were, to
ungodly with His displeasure and “throughly purge His floor.” In this
be accompanied by His saints, as the judges in coming from
What will happen between the Lord’s coming for His Church and His appearing in power?
It would take me a very long
while to give even
an outline of the course of events indicated in the prophetic
happening in that period. We cannot even refer to the passages that
them. But I may briefly say that a careful study of Scripture would
lead us to
believe that as soon as the Church is taken to heaven, wickedness will
in the world with rapid strides, and will culminate in the “man of
under the direct influence of Satan, will head a most fearful apostasy.
will meanwhile be working in and through some of His ancient people,
gathering them again to the land of their fathers, and preparing them,
unheard-of sufferings, to be channels of blessing to the whole world.
same time remarkable developments will take place in the political
Then after many heavy strokes from God’s rod have fallen upon the earth, suddenly Christ will appear, with His saints, bringing swift destruction to the wicked one (antichrist) and his associates. But in order to trace out all these points in Scripture, a careful study of the whole scope of prophecy is necessary, which is quite beyond the limits of our present subject.
Can any date be fixed for the coming of the Lord?
We are told in Mark 13:35 to watch, because the hour of His coming is unknown. How could anyone watch for the Lord to come, if it were known that He would not come until a certain time? The exhortation to watch implies upon the face of it uncertainty as to the time.
I am well aware that many attempts have been made to fix dates for the Lord’s return. The only result of such attempts is to bring discredit upon “that blessed hope,” and cause it to be associated in people’s minds with folly and fanaticism.
Much confusion has arisen through people failing to see that the present time is an interval in the line of God’s dealings with men. When Christ was slain by the Jews, God suspended His dealings with them as a nation. From that day onward He has been occupied in saving by His grace those who compose the Church. When the Church is complete, the Lord will come and remove her from earth. Then God will take up the thread, so to speak, which He has dropped; and then the history of His earthly people will recommence and dates and times and seasons will again have a place. But no dates are connected with the present interval. At any moment we may hear the home-call. How sweet for those who are ready! Dear fellow-believer, think of it! Another moment, and you may hear the voice of the Beloved of your soul! Another moment, and you may feel the embrace of those everlasting arms! Another moment, and you may be at home —your home because it is His home; and you are His and He is yours!
Have we anything besides watching to do in view of the Lord’s coming?
Yes. We have to go out to meet Him (Matt. 25:6). Out from everything that we should not like Him to find us mixed up with; out from slothful ease; out from sinful habits; out from unholy associations.
Then we are told to occupy till He comes (Luke 19:13). We are to be engaged in looking after His interests during His absence, intent on serving Him.
If you read the New Testament you will be surprised to find how often the thought of the Lord’s return is brought in a practical way, to enforce various admonitions. To cherish this blessed hope and to live in daily expectation of the Lord’s return it to be a very practical Christian. “Every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure” (1 John 3:3).May it be ours, dear fellow-Christians, not only to “live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world,” but to look for “that blessed hope” and also for what will follow, “the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:12, 13).
Twelve Bible Dialogues -
Harold P. Barker et al.
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