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    CHRIST’S COMING NOT DEATH

    Did the disciples understand that Christ meant death when he spake to them of his second coming? We have a most forcible illustration of the fact that they did not so understand it in Christ’s words concerning the beloved disciple: “Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved, following (which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?) Peter seeing him, saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.” Did they decide that John, the beloved disciple, was going to die soon? Let us see: “Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die; yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?” Here is the most positive evidence that the disciples of Christ understood his coming to refer to something besides death.HPGO 32.1

    Calling death the coming of Christ would make an absurdity of the testimony of Paul to the Philippians, quoted above; for it would make him assert that our bodies were fashioned like unto Christ’s glorious body when they go into the grave. Paul was not expecting to go to Heaven at death, but he was waiting for Christ to come from Heaven. Not when his body should go into the grave, but when the time should arrive for it to be changed and fashioned like Christ’s body. His language in the same chapter plainly shows us what encouraged him to labor and suffer. “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” Verse 11. The Greek term employed in this text, and rendered resurrection, is ex anastasis, which signifies a rising from the dead, or, as Greek scholars say it might be rendered, “out from among the dead.” Paul did not merely wish to rise, but he wished to have a “part in the first resurrection.”HPGO 32.2

    The testimony of Christ to his disciples as he was about to leave them is important, when considered in its bearings upon this subject: “Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me; and, as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come, so now I say to you.” John 13:33. By looking at chap. 7:33, 34, we shall see what Christ had said unto the Jews: “Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto Him that sent me. Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me; and where I am, thither ye cannot come.” The testimony of Christ to the apostles, that they could not go with him, called forth earnest Peter, who said, “Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, “Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterward. Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake. Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.” John 13:36-38.HPGO 33.1

    This testimony of Christ troubled the mind of the disciples. Their hearts had been endeared to him by his many acts of benevolence, but now he tells them he is going back to Heaven-going to return to his Father, and that they cannot go. But he gives a word of consolation to cheer their troubled hearts. “Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 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 14:1-3.HPGO 33.2

    This text is often quoted: “I go to prepare a place for you,” “that where I am, there ye may be also,” thus designing to convey the idea that the saints go to be with Christ at death. But the text presents no being with Christ until he comes. “I will come again, and receive you unto myself.”HPGO 34.1

    James says: “Be patient, therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts; for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” James 5:7, 8. This text shows that, as the husbandman reaps his harvest, so the people of God, the wheat of the earth (Matthew 3:12), are to be gathered when Christ comes.HPGO 34.2

    Peter bears an interesting testimony on the subject of the hope as follows: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which, according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope [hope of life] by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in Heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season (if need be) ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations; that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise, and honor, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:3-7. From the testimony of Peter, we learn that the saints’ inheritance is reserved, to be revealed in the last time. Peter himself shows that the last time is the coming of Christ. It is at the coming of Christ that the lively hope, or hope of life, is to be realized.HPGO 34.3

    In giving his charge to the elders, Peter uses words that have an important bearing on this question also: “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ; and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed. Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lord’s over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” 1 Peter 5:1-4.HPGO 35.1

    Christ is the Chief Shepherd; ministers of the truth are under shepherds, called upon to labor, endure, deny self, and suffer for the good of the flock. To encourage them in the self-denying way, Peter points them to the great fact that Christ, the “Chief Shepherd,” is to return; that, when he returns, they shall “receive a crown of glory.” Then the crown is not promised at death, but “at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”HPGO 35.2

    We have now shown that the unanimous testimony of the New Testament, as well as the Old, is, that at the coming of Christ is the time when the saints are to receive their reward.HPGO 36.1

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