Brethren Archive

The End of the Age.

by Alex H. Stewart

“Now once in the end of the world (that is, morally) hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Heb. 9: 26).
All that had been done up to that point, when our Lord offered Himself as a sacrifice for sin, was the bringing out of sin in the first man.  All trials ended in failure; man was a “deceitful bow” who never did or never could go straight, but there followed immediately the putting away of that sin in the second Man.  Then we read of the coming of this same Jesus for the second time, to take possession, to claim, all that to which His first coming has given Him title.  Of course, all these things were His before, “for by Him, all things were made and without Him was nothing made that was made” (John 1:3).  However, in His second coming, He takes possession of all that His precious blood has bought back again to Himself: “He shall see the travail of His soul and be satisfied,” wrote Isaiah long before (Isa. 53: 11).  “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him, shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Heb. 9: 27, 28).  All who partake of the bread and fruit of the vine in the Lord’s supper, look for Him, at least by profession.  We show forth His death till He comes (I Cor. 11: 26).
The end of the first man is to die; that is all he can look forward to.  “Sin, when it is finished, brings forth death,” and “there is no discharge in this war,” that is, in the battle of life.  Yet that is not man’s end but rather his beginning.  He begins then for eternity—terrible thought, beginning an unending existence in judgment!  “Everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (II Thess. 1: 9).
But God has, in Christ, begun something new, that is, for all who trust and love our Lord Jesus, whether they be Jew or Gentile.  We may “look for Him the second time without sin unto (final) salvation.”  The first time He came in lowly grace.  Then He did take up the sin question and settled it once for all, to the glory of God, when He was made a sin offering—Himself the sinless one.  Having finished that work, He comes the second time “unto salvation.”  “For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry” (Heb. 10: 37).
In Christ’s second coming, there is no question about sin whatever, but the full bringing out of God’s purpose of blessing, the result of the putting away of sin at Calvary.  Man’s portion here, because of sin, is death and judgment, as contrasted with life and glory for all His own.  “We rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5: 2), in contrast with having “sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3: 23).
Note another thing in Hebrews 9:24, priesthood is brought in.  Our Lord, who died that we might live, now lives that we might never die.  “He appears in the presence of God for us.”  All orthodox Christians believe our Lord is now in Heaven, but how few appreciate the glorious fact He is there for us!  He is hidden from the world (as Joash of old was hidden in the temple) as He said: “The world seeth Me no more,” but He appears in the presence of God for us.
“Lord of Glory, we adore Thee!
Christ of God, ascended high!
Heart and soul we bow before Thee,
Glorious now beyond the sky:
Thee we worship.
Thee we praise—
Excellent in all Thy ways.”
The word “appears” is a legal term, I believe, indicating Him as the One who represents His people.  What joy, what delight to know, from the inspired Word, that Jesus our blessed Lord, as our great High Priest, is representing us every day and every hour in the presence of God.  He has taken that place and is set down at God’s right hand, having by Himself purged our sins (Heb. 1: 3).  We need such an High Priest in our daily walk.  We have to walk as pilgrims and strangers in a seducing world, though we are not of it, for “our life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3).  We are in the position of Stephen who, being full of the Holy Ghost, looking up into Heaven, through the rent veil, saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7: 55).  We see Him seated in perpetuity until His enemies were all made His footstool (Acts 2: 35).  The heavens were opened to Stephen’s spiritual gaze while his enemies were blind to the glory of Christ.  “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (II Cor. 4: 4).  In the New Translation by J. N. Darby, it is rendered, I believe rightly: “So that the radiancy of the glad tidings of the glory of the Christ, who is (the) image of God, should not shine forth (for them).”
In the four Gospels, Christ as Man, glorified God; and in the Epistles, God glorified a Man, the Man Christ Jesus. 
The crucifixion of Christ was the utter rejection of the last Adam, the second Man, by the first man.  That was man’s answer to God’s “What shall I do?  I will send My beloved Son; it may be, they will reverence Him when they see Him.  But when the husbandmen saw Him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir; come, let us kill Him, that the inheritance may be ours” (Luke 20: 13, 14).  All God’s dealings with man, as man, ended there, and now the world is called “this present evil world,” and men are called “enemies of God” (Rom. 5: 10). 
Do not be fooled by Christmas songs such as “Let earth receive her King,” or any such other phrase.  Calvary tells out all that is in the heart of man and also thank God, all that is in the heart of God for man.  The veil is rent.  We may go directly to God now through the new and living way consecrated for us; there is no more distance.  “If we draw nigh to God, He will draw nigh to us.”
“The veil is rent—our souls draw near
Unto a throne of grace;
The merits of the Lord appear,
They fill the holy place.

Within the holiest of all
Cleansed by His precious blood;
Before the throne, we prostrate fall,
And worship Thee, O God!”

“Our Hope” 1953


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