Mark iv. 24
"Take Heed How Ye Hear."
by B.W. Newton
IT is being said by many, that it is wrong to expect any event to intervene between the present moment and the return of the Lord; that to teach any to expect such intervening events is sinful, for that such teaching necessarily destroys the effect which the expectation of the coming of the Lord is intended to produce on the minds and ways of God's people.
But do they who say this, remember that, in speaking thus, they condemn the teaching of the Apostles and of the Lord Jesus Himself? Did not the Lord Jesus, in all His prophetic instructions to His disciples, emphatically dwell on events that were to occur between His departure and return? Did He not speak to them of the mission of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter? That was one great intervening event. Did He not also speak to them of the consequences of the coming of the Holy Ghost, namely, that they should be His witnesses, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth? (Acts i. 8.) Did He not likewise say that they should be rejected, persecuted, and in many cases, put to death? "They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you, will think that he doeth God service . . . But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them." John xvi. 2, 4. See also Luke xxi. 16, 17. "Ye shall be betrayed both by parents and brethren, and kinsfolk, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for My name's sake." Thus then, the early Church during the brightest and holiest period of her history, when their faith was strongest and their faithfulness greatest, were taught by the Lord Himself to expect intervening events, and those of the deepest personal interest to themselves; for many of them were taught to expect death. ''Some of you shall they cause to be put to death.'' Did the expectation of these things produce an injurious effect upon their souls? Did it take from them the right and proper hope of their Lord's return? And what were the Lord's last words unto Peter? "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, when thou wast young, thou girdest thyself and walkest whither thou wouldest; but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shalt gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake He, signifying by what death he should glorify God." John xxi. 18. Here, then, was an event of the deepest personal importance, expected by Peter before the return of his Lord. And did Peter conceal from the Churches the fact that his martyrdom must precede the return of the Lord? On the contrary, he expressly notified it to them; and told them that they would live on afterwards and would need the admonitions that he addressed to them. "Moreover, I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease, to have these things always in remembrance." 2 Peter i. 15. The Apostle Paul also spake of his own death, and warned Timothy and others of things that were to be expected afterward. "I am now," said he, "ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand," 2 Timothy iv. 6. And at the time that he thus predicted his own decease, he spake also of the coming condition of the professing church: ''the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts, shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears, and they shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned unto fables."
It is evident then, that the Lord and His Apostles were in the habit of teaching that many intervening events were to occur between the then present moment and His return. And what if any, in the days of the Apostles, had ventured to affirm that the expectation of such intervening events was dangerous and detrimental to the soul? How would the Apostles have dealt with such a statement? They would, no doubt, have remonstrated and reasoned, and sought patiently to win back the gainsayer. But what if the assertion were persevered in? What if their teaching, and the teaching of their Lord was perseveringly denounced as evil and disastrous in its results? How then would the Apostles have acted? I will not answer the question; I prefer to leave it to the consciences of those concerned.
Every thing that the Scripture has predicted must come to pass in every jot and tittle. See, in the closing chapter of the book of Revelation, what is said respecting those who either "add to," or "take away from," the words that God hath written. Rev. xxii. 18.
"Perilous Times" Aug. 1907