Category Archives: Presence

I Will Come Again

2nd coming“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.” John
14:3

When this age-abiding promise was first uttered by Jesus to his
apostles, it did not make sense. To the naturally minded men who
followed Jesus, they assumed the logical move would be for Jesus to
take charge as a King, throw off the yoke of Roman bondage, exalt the Jews and bless the world. Why should he leave now? There was work to be done here. When Jesus spoke of his death and strangely of his leaving, the idea simply did not fit into their expectations.
But as they wended their way along the path to Gethsemane, Jesus had assured them, If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again.

Dazed, these words made little impression on his little band. But forty days later on Mt. Olivet, huddled together in amazement with eyes turned heavenward, straining to catch the last glimpse of their
ascending Lord, this promise came alive. “I will come again.” Yes their beloved Master would return. The Apostles wove that glorious theme into the fabric of their ministry and their very lives.

No other doctrine is discussed more in the New Testament—over one third of its writings deal with this momentous event. How our hearts trill at the hope of being united with the returned Lord, our heavenly Bridegroom, seeing him as he is, living with him and experiencing his love forevermore—and the reality of reigning with him (Rev. 20:5) in a kingdom that extends to the ends of the earth, bringing “peace…like a river and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream.” Isa. 66:12

Long have faithful Christians prayed with the Apostle John, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” Centuries have passed. Seemingly nothing has
happened. But suddenly our day is charged with an air of expectancy.

Few would question that we are living in an unprecedented time of
human history. Most Bible-believing Christians feel we are living in
the very time the Bible says Christ is to return. There is a surge of
interest in prophecy—a revival of interest in the second advent. Many speak of the imminent coming of Christ. This expectancy is based on our Lord’s Great Prophecy recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 17 and 21. Many believe that the nearness of Christ’s return is indicated by such signs as the following: Israel restored (Matt. 24:32; Jer. 16:13-18); knowledge and travel increased (Dan. 12:40); evils exposed as never before (Luke 12:2; 1 Cor. 4:5); infidelity rampant from university to pulpit (Luke 18:8; 2 Tim. 4:1-4); men seeking pleasure, morality rotting (2 Tim. 3:1-5, 13); strikes, walkouts (James 5:1-4); racial strife, riots (Zeph. 1:7-9)’ juvenile delinquency (2 Tim. 3:2); wars and war preparations intensified (Joel 3:9-11); men crying fearfully for peace (1 Thess. 5:3, Luke 21:26); trouble everywhere (Matt. 24:21,22).

But let us take a closer look at our Master’s words and see what these signs really prove.

And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him
privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming [Greek, parousia], and of the end of the world? Matthew 24:3

Coming or Presence

The Greek word translated “coming” is parousia. It really means
“presence.” If parousia means “presence,” then the fulfillment of the
signs of this prophecy would mean that Christ is not coming shortly,
but he is already secretly here as a “thief in the night.” Remember, the Scriptures show that Christ’s initial return would be a thief-like, secret presence (1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 16:15) before “every eye shall see him.” The following dictionaries (standard works in fundamentalist and evangelical bookstores) confirm this definition of presence.

W. E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words:
Parousia, literally, a presence, para, with, and ousia, being…denotes
both n arrival and a consequent presence with.”

Robert Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible: Parousia, a being alongside, presence.”

Moulton and Milligan’s Vocabulary of the Greek Testament Foreword: “Parousia, as applied to the return of the Lord, is simply the anglicizing of the Greek word which literally means ‘presence.'”

The Bible Definition

However, we are not confined to dictionary definitions. The Lord has provided a Scriptural definition for the Greek word parousia. Parousia appears in Matthew 24:27 where it is mistranslated “coming.” The following chart compares its parallel citation in Luke 17:26, providing the Bible’s own definition for parousia.

Matthew 24:37Luke 17:26 But as the days of Noah were, = As it was
in the days of Noah, so shall also the parousia of the Son of man be =
so shall it be in the days of the Son of man.

The phrase “parousia of the Son of man” in Matthew 24:27 means the same as the phrase, “in the days of the Son of man” in Luke 17:26. the “days of the Son of man” (Luke 17:26) refers to the time that Christ is present, just as the “days of Noah” would refer to the time when Noah was present among his wicked generation. Therefore, parousia in Matthew 24:37 should be translated “presence of the Son of man” instead of “coming” of the Son of man.”
This is further confirmed by the Apostle Paul’s usage of the word. The thought of “presence” is plainly shown by the contrast with “absence” in Philippians 2:12. “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence [Greek, parousia] only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” This is also shown in 2 Corinthians 10:10.

Evangelical and Fundamentalist Consent to “Presence”

The Emphasized Bible translated by Rotherham is published by Kregel, an evangelical publishing house. Rotherham relates his struggle with the word parousia in the third edition of his translation. Although contrary to his theology, he acknowledged that parousia means “presence” and so translated it in every occurrence. He states on p. 271 in the Appendix:
“In this edition the word parousia is uniformly rendered ‘presence’
(‘coming,’ as a representative of this word, being set aside). The original term occurs twenty-four times in the N.T., viz.: Matthew 24:3, 27, 37, 39; 1 Corinthians 15:23; 16:17; 2 Corinthians 7:6, 7; 10:10; Philippians 1:26; 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 3:3; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 8, 9; James 5:7, 8; 2 Peter 1:16; 3:4, 12 and 1 John 2:28. the sense of ‘presence’ is so plainly shown by the contrast with ‘absence’ (implied in 2 Cor. 10:10, and expressed in Phil. 2:12) that the question naturally arises,—Why not always so render it? The more so, inasmuch as there is in 2 Peter 1:16 also, a peculiar fitness in our English word ‘presence.’

This passage, it will be remembered, relates to our Lord’s
transformation upon the Mount. The wonderful manifestation there
made was a display and sample of ‘presence’ rather than of ‘coming.’
The Lord was already there; and, being there, he was transformed (cp. Matt. 17;2,n.) and the ‘majesty’ of his glorified person was then
disclosed. His bodily ‘presence’ was one which implied and exerted
‘power’; so that ‘power and presence’ go excellently well together—the ‘power’ befitting such a ‘presence’; and the three favored disciples were at one and the same moment witnesses of both.”

Harry Rimmer (D.D., Sc.D.), who was styled “Fundamentalism’s
outstanding spokesman” until his death, admitted that the word
parousia meant personal presence. In his book, The Coming King, he
observed that the Greek word parousia is used 13 times in describing the return of Christ and not once does it have the thought of “coming.”

Christianity Today (a well-known evangelical magazine) published a
series of essays on “Fundamentals of the Faith.” the essay in booklet
form on “The Second Advent of Christ” had this to say about parousia: “…let us look at the Greek words used in the New Testament for the idea of the return. First of all, there is the word parousia, which means basically ‘presence.'”

No doctrine is more frequently mentioned in the New Testament that Christ’s second advent. Yet, few doctrines have been as greatly
fragmented into such diversified concepts. Much of the beauty of this doctrine has been wrested from the grasp of God’s people. All secular Greek dictionaries define parousia, “presence.” Most Biblical
dictionaries likewise define parousia, “presence.” Most current
fundamentalist and evangelical writings on the second advent usually begin by correctly defining parousia, “presence.” Then a strange thing happens. Somehow the word “coming” replaces “presence.” Incorrect theology requires parousia to be translated “coming,” but Scriptural harmony requires that it be translated “presence.”

“Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth”

Historically there is not a single Protestant concept of the second
advent that has an unbroken lineage back to the time of the
Reformation. Since that time, Bible-believing Christians have
fluctuated among a number of conflicting concepts.

Our purpose in this work is to set aside all theories of men and
ascertain from the Scriptures, and the Scriptures alone, the glorious
beauties of this momentous event. The faithful Christian is to “study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). The Word of Truth was originally written in Hebrew and Greek. But now the average Christian is no longer dependent upon the translators or scholars to determine the meaning of a specific Hebrew or Greek word in a given text. In fact, many of the new “translations” are mere
paraphrases of former translations, with little or no consideration given to the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. Further, even the best
translations have some flaws since they are the works of man.

The ready accessibility of Biblical concordances, Hebrew and Greek
dictionaries and lexicons in libraries and Bible bookstores is one of the blessings of our day. With the Bible in one hand and a concordance and lexicon in the other, the average Christian can verify the meaning of original words in the Hebrew Old Testament or Greek New Testament manuscripts. He can be a “workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

For many centuries, the church has been on a rough and stormy sea
longing for the blessed haven of Christ’s return. Now, with the chart
and compass of God’s word, the Christian can trace the various
independent lines of prophecy and see the blessed haven just before
him. As there is the danger of shipwreck upon reefs just beneath the
water’s surface along many shorelines, so the Christian must be his own mariner avoiding the ensnarements of unscriptural or even partially Scriptural theories on the second advent. As a “workman that needeth not to be ashamed,” he will utilize, whenever necessary, the tools that make the Hebrew and Greek texts of Scripture readily accessible.

If this work inspires the reader to a deeper search of the Scriptures on this subject, then it will have made a contribution to the fellowship of believers.

A Secret Presence Before “Every Eye Shall See Him”

Having observed that the word parousia means presence and not
coming, Matthew 24:3 properly reads: “What shall be the sign of thy
presence and of the end of the world?”

Luke 21:25 refers to “signs” in the plural.

The Scriptures show that the first stage of our Lord’s parousia,
presence, will be secret. “The day of the Lord will arrive [will be here,
Greek, heko—see Strong’s, Young’s or Vine’s] as a thief.” 2 Peter 3:10, Rotherham A thief enters a house quietly, doing a secret work.
Consequently, the first works of our returned Lord are during a secret presence. The world will, at first, be unaware that Christ has returned.

“But ye brethren are not in darkness that day should overtake[implies, a period of overlapping] you as a thief.” 1 Thess. 5:4 Later, his presence will be made manifest to all. The Scriptures use another Greek word, apokalupsis, to describe this revealment to all. “The Lord Jesus shall be REVEALED [apokalupsis] from heaven in flaming fire taking vengeance.” 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8 It is in reference to this revealment to all, that Scriptures like Revelation 1:7 apply; “He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him.” Christians, who are not overcharged with the cares of this life, will experience the joys of discerning the signs of his secret presence (Luke 21:34-36), before they are “caught up together” with him.

Signs of the King’s Presence

jesus-returnThe words of the Prophet, given in our text refer to the close of the present Gospel Age. It is the same Day prophesied by the Apostle Paul when he declared, “The fire of that Day shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” (1 Cor. 3:13.) It is the Day of which the Apostle Peter wrote so graphically when he said that in that great Day of the Lord the heavens should be on fire and the elements should melt with fervent heat, and that the earth and all the works therein should be burned up. (2 Pet. 3:10.) It is the Day of which the Prophet Zephaniah spoke when he said that in the great Day of the Lord all the earth should be devoured with the fire of God’s jealousy. (Zeph. 3:8) Isaiah, Jeremiah, and many of the faithful Prophets of God prophesied of this Day. The Prophet Daniel was instructed by the angel of the Lord that in that Day there should be a “Time of Trouble such as never was since there was a nation.” (Dan. 12:1) Our Lord Jesus Himself verified this prophecy, and added that never afterwards should there be such a time.—Matt. 24:21,22

The Scriptures call this Day “the Day of the Lord,” “the Day of Jehovah,” “the Day of God,” “the Day of Christ,” ” the Day of Vengeance,” “that great and notable Day,” etc. It is the Day in which the Old Order is to perish and the glorious New Order is to be ushered in. In foretelling this Day, both the Prophets and the Apostles speak of the class which will stand in this Day when all others shall fall. St. Paul says that everything which can be shaken down will be; and that only the Kingdom which will then be set up, and which cannot be shaken, will remain. (Heb. 12:25-29) The present order of society—the nominal church systems, financial institutions, political institutions—all —will go down in this time of trouble.

During this Gospel Age many who have not been Christians have associated themselves with the Church. The civilized world of today call themselves “Christians,” in contradistinction to the nations, which they call “heathen,” though from the Scriptural standpoint they are all heathen—Gentiles. Among all these various nations we find many religions, whose devotees claim that they have consecrated themselves to God. But the touch-stone by which these claims may be tested is the Word of God. See Gal. 1:6-9.

To the true Church of Christ alone will God give the Messianic Kingdom. Some who really have Christ and His work of sacrifice as their foundation will be saved, but at the expense of all their works, their character-structure, which the “fire” of this Day will consume. The tare class in the nominal churches will be bundled and “burned,” not as individuals, but as professed Christians; that is to say, their professions will be seen to be without foundation.

SAVED AS THROUGH FIRE

The ones who are upon the Rock Christ Jesus, the only true Foundation, are those who have accepted Jesus as their Ransom-sacrifice, and have consecrated themselves wholly to God through Him. All these “have been called in one hope of their calling.” (Eph. 4:4) Many of these will fail to make their calling and election sure and will suffer great loss. They did not build properly upon this Foundation, Christ, a structure of gold, silver and precious stones of Truth and of whole-hearted loyalty to the Lord. They will suffer the loss of the Kingdom, and through much tribulation will take a lower place, before the Throne—not rulers, but honorable servants of the ruling class. All who have been begotten of the Holy Spirit must, as we have shown elsewhere, either be born upon the spirit plane or lose life altogether. Those who prove wholly faithful will be born Divine beings. Those not wholly faithful, and who miss the great “prize,” though not denying the Lord that bought them, will be born spirit beings of a lower order.

The tribulations which characterize the end of this Age will thoroughly awaken these careless ones. Certain special tribulations, we understand, have come to those who were of this class all through the Age. But apparently a larger number of these are living now, at the close of the Age; and these must go through “the great tribulation,” and must wash their soiled robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Rev. 7:9-17) They will have a blessed portion after their purification, but far less glorious than that to which they were called.

The Apostle Paul in his writings lays special emphasis upon the fundamental importance of correct doctrinal teaching. It made no difference whether Paul or Apollos or even an angel from Heaven taught anything, it must be in harmony with the foundation doctrines which had been given them by the Lord. (Gal. 1:6-12) He assured the Church that what he had taught them was from God; and that even if an angel should bring them another gospel, it would be a proof that such angel had deflected from loyalty to the Lord. That Jesus Christ died to secure the Redemption-price for Adam and his race is the foundation doctrine of the church, which was received from Jesus Himself and from His faithful mouthpieces and which was shown in the Divinely given types of the Law. Whoever taught this fundamental truth faithfully was a real help to the people of God. Yet even such a teacher might help them to build, even on this proper foundation, a faith and character structure which would not stand the tests of the great Day of the Lord.

INVULNERABILITY OF THE TRUTH

This prophecy of our text is still in process of fulfillment. The “refiners fire” is even now doing its work, and thousands and tens of thousands are falling all about us. The Prophet’s query is very pertinent at this time. We see that the false teachings which have come down during these many centuries since the Apostles fell asleep have made humanity incapable of reasoning correctly on religious subjects. In the past we have had our own experiences along this line. Whenever anything religious was mentioned we seemed to lose our common sense. Now we have lost our fear of the dread penalty of using our reason. We have come back to the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles, and we find them grand and beautiful.

Those who have been teaching errors will soon be ashamed (Isa. 66:5), while the fire of this Day will only manifest the Truth to all. No power, no tongue, no pen, can successfully contradict the Truth, the great Divine Plan of the Ages. It is strong before its enemies and before all who make assaults upon it, and ere long the folly of its foes shall be made known to the whole world. “There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PRESENCE OF THE KING

The coming of the King to possess His Kingdom will mean a personal as well as a national and a church examination, judgment and treatment. It will mean, when the Kingdom is fully inaugurated, the suppression of vice in a manner and to a degree never attempted by any earthly reformer. There will be no license to do evil in any form. The only liberty granted will be liberty to do right. It is no wonder that so few experience joy at the proclamation of the return of earth’s rightful King to reign! To many it will mean the loss of their present advantages over their fellowmen. To many it will mean the prohibition and cutting off of sins now indulged in and enjoyed.

Nevertheless, both the King and the Kingdom are not only coming, but are here; and the present troubles and shakiness in church and state, and the general awakening of the people are the results of influences emanating from that King and Kingdom. Though men know it not, it is the work of the Kingdom of God that is even now preparing for the wreck of all the kingdoms of the earth, that the way may be opened for the establishment of righteousness in the world, that men’s hearts may be humbled and prepared for the righteous Government which is to take control of earth. Worldly men cannot realize this; for this Kingdom cometh not with outward observation—with outward show and display. Therefore they cannot say, “Lo, here,” or “Lo, there.”

In spite of the awful war now raging, growing fiercer and more deadly every day, these continue to hope for peace, trying to convince themselves and others that the trouble must soon be brought to an end, and that matters will then go on as formerly. They blind themselves to the true conditions and refuse to believe that God has determined to permit this trouble to spread and involve the entire world and to bring about the utter overthrow of the Present Order of things. Selfishness, pride and love of money have closed their eyes. We give here an extract from a poem written some years ago by a Christian minister, which forcefully describes present conditions and the judgment of God which is now to be visited upon the world for their lasting good:

“Woe to the Age when gold is god, and law a solemn jest, That helps the boldly vile to crush the noblest and the best! When Mammon o’er cheap millions flings, his gilded harness strong, And drives them tame beneath his lash, down broad highways of wrong; While Truth’s shrill clarion down the sky peals faintly o’er the rout, And dust and fumes of earth and sin shut Heaven’s blest sunlight out! Then look for lightning!—God’s red bolts must cleave the stifling gloom, In righteous wrath to purge the world in Sodom’s fearful doom!”

But we are thankful that while the judgments of a righteous God against sin must come at this time, yet the ultimate results will be glorious, when the world will come forth chastened, subdued, purified by the awful baptism of fire and blood; when they shall come to see that sin, selfishness and corruption have wrought their legitimate outcome. Then mankind will be ready to cry to the Lord and to long for His deliverance, and He will be entreated of them and will lift them up and bless them.

But the coming of the King means much trouble and the general overturning of the kingdoms of this world which, while professing to be kingdoms of God, are really under the control of the “prince of this world,” Satan, “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” (John 14:30; 16:11; Eph. 2:2) It means the shaking of society in a manner and to an extent never before known, and so thoroughly that another shaking will never be necessary. (Heb. 12:26,27) It means the breaking in pieces of the empires and governments of the world as a potter’s vessel. It means the passing away of the present ecclesiastical “heavens,” and the fall of many of its bright “stars.” At present the sunlight of the true Gospel, and the moonlight of the Law with its types and shadows, are obscured by the thick clouds of worldly wisdom. “The sun shall be turned into darkness, the moon into blood.”—Joel 2:30, 31

While many would rejoice to see society relieved of many of its selfish, life-sapping ulcers, they seem to realize that so just and impartial a Judge as the Lord Himself might cut off certain long-cherished sins to which they desire to cling; they fear to have their personal selfishness touched. And their fears are well founded. He will bring to light all the hidden things of darkness, and correct and suppress private as well as public sin and selfishness. He will expose depths of corruption never before realized. He will make “Justice the line and righteousness the plummet; and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.” (R.V.) He will “bring down them that dwell on high, the lofty city (Babylon). He layeth low, . . .even to the dust.” He will bring down them who have “made lies their refuge.”—Isa. 28:15, 17, 18; 26:5, 6

LIFT UP TRUTH’S GLORIOUS BANNER!

It is written that the Day of the Lord would come as a thief and a snare upon the whole world, and that only God’s fully consecrated Church would be in the light and not be taken unawares. Many of the consecrated have been deceived by looking for the Heavenly King to come again in the flesh. They forgot that the only reason for His coming in the flesh at His First Advent was “for the suffering of death” as man’s corresponding-price; and that now He is highly exalted, a glorious spirit Being. “He was put to death in flesh, but made alive in Spirit.” (1 Pet. 3:18) They forgot that the Apostle Paul also said,”Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet henceforth know we Him (so) no more.” (2 Cor. 5:16) The true children of God are coming more and more to see how the Master comes at His Second Advent, and are not expecting to see Him in the flesh and with their natural eyes.

We who know that the King of Glory and His blessed Kingdom are the only remedy for the wrongs and woes of man should be pointing the groaning creation to this Kingdom, rather than to the poultices of their own contriving which can do no real good. Tell them the meaning of present world-wide conditions, and how, beyond the troubles now overspreading the world, will come the glorious Times of Restitution foretold by all the holy Prophets since the world began. Tell them that the death of Jesus was the Redemption price for the entire race of Adam, and that His return is for the purpose not only of delivering His Church, but to bind Satan and set free all his captives, including all who are in the graves, giving all who will an opportunity to come into the liberty of sons of God, under the terms of the New Covenant, soon to be established.