James v. 8
The Greatest Moments in the World's History.
I WANT to call your attention to the fifth chapter of the Epistle of James, and the eighth verse:
"Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.''
Eighteen hundred years ago, the Apostle, in writing this Epistle, and writing it especially to his own people, turns to them in their trials and persecutions, exhorting them to be patient, and to stablish their hearts. On what ground? ''The coming of the Lord draweth nigh."
This chapter commences with a denunciation of the rich who were grinding the poor. The whole Epistle is more or less filled with the sufferings of God's people. But the Epistle of James does not stand alone in this. We find the same thing in the Second Epistle of Peter. There we are told, not that the world will get better, but that in the last days, there are to be false teachers, as there had been in Israel, false prophets. Jude tells the same story; that connected with the last days, there is to be a growing tide of evil. John states that in the last days, there are to be many Antichrists. And Paul, in that closing Epistle of his, just before he was to receive a crown of martyrdom, and writing by the Spirit of God, gives us the character of the last days. He says, "In the last days"—grand times shall come? No— "perilous times shall come and he gives a long record of evils that are to be in the last days. What was to be the cure for it all? What were God's people to look for? We have it here: "Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh."
That was a wonderful moment when, away back in the ages of past eternity, God Almighty called the universe into being by the word of His mouth. That was another wonderful moment—an awful moment—when he who was created, the mightiest angel of all, fell by pride from the place God had put him in. That was another awful moment in the history of God's dealings with the world, when the woman listened to the lie of the serpent. And, my friends, do not you make any mistake; there is a real, living devil. Many people seem to think that the prince of darkness has gone to sleep; but, nevertheless, it is certain that he is carrying on his work only too successfully. And his two lies are still ringing in the souls of men: ''Ye shall be as God," and "Thou shalt not surely die." The first man listened, and, as a consequence, upon man has come all the evils of the Fall.
But, as we return to the future, we find there are three great movements coming. You may ask, ''How can we tell anything about the future?" The answer is simply, because God has made it known to us.
The first great moment of the future is that moment when—
THE LORD COMES INTO THE AIR
for His people. The first great fact of Christianity was accomplished when Christ, having died for our sins, and having been raised from the dead, ascended up to Heaven and sat down on the right hand of God. Dear friends, there is a real Man in Heaven to-night, with marks of nail wounds in His blessed hands and feet, and the spear wound in His side. The God-Man is on the throne.
The second fact of Christianity was the personal coming of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, on the day of Pentecost. The authority of Christianity is vested in the Christ of God on the throne. The power, the dynamics, is in the person of the Spirit. But the third fact of Christianity is connected with the fulfillment of the Lord's promise in John xiv. In that farewell address, He tells them, ''Let not your hearts be troubled . . . In my Father's house are many mansions." Plenty of room in Heaven! The heavenly city, which is distinctly said to be "the Bride, the Lamb's wife," is thought by some to be Heaven, and they have gone and measured it up! Why, Heaven is the centre of the infinite universe, the throne of the Eternal! And as we think of the mighty worlds that have been rolled into space by the power of God, and there maintained by His all-controlling word, how blessed to know that this Almighty God is my Father, and His dwelling-place my home!
The Lord goes on to say, "If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." He has gone up to Heaven, and He has been preparing a place for His people. And what more does He say? "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again." How did He go? The disciples were all gathered around Him, and He was talking to them about the kingdom, and also about the power. And never you separate these two things. I know a class of people who can talk learnedly about the kingdom but know little of the power.
And then "He was taken up" from them into Heaven. They saw Him go, and they looked after Him, and "a cloud received Him out of their sight." And, as they stood looking up, two men arrayed in white, appeared and said to them, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into Heaven? This same Jesus"—the very same Person—"which is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into Heaven." How did He go? Personally. How will He come again? Personally. Yes, I believe in the personal coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. You need not tell me that death is His coming. People say, when a Christian dies, "Do not they go to be with Christ?" They do; but do not you know what God's Word says about death? God's Word says that death has a "sting." I do not know how it is with you in this country [England], but in ours [America], those reptiles that have a sting, we call serpents. Do you like serpents?
I do not love death. I thank God for the ray of light behind it. I saw a dear little boy two years old, laid in the grave just a fortnight ago. He was drowned at the seaside. His sad death was a great blow to his dear parents, who are both Christians; but there was a ray of light that came right down from the glory of God into that little grave. What was it? It was the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ is coming again, and that when He comes, that little one will be restored back to his father and mother, never more to be separated again. We can thank God that death is not the Lord's coming. Why? Because death separates us. There is a child I love, sitting at my table. Death comes and takes him away from me, and I lay him in the cold grave. Is that a blessing? No. The blessing is that the Lord Jesus Christ will come, and then, in the twinkling of an eye, that little one and the others who went away before me, are with me again!
But an important question comes up here. When may that moment be? Said a lady to me in the city of Buffalo, "Mr. Sims, do not you think that the Lord must come within five years?" I replied, "I am not looking for the Lord's coming in five years." "Then when do you expect Him?'' "I am looking for Him to-night."
Eighteen hundred years ago, the Lord gave His word, "I will come again." And afterwards, two men came from the glory and gave a similar message. Then the Spirit of God, through the Apostles has re-echoed again and again the same declaration. And not only so, but they tell the manner of His coming. ''The Lord will descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God." They tell us that "the last trump," as mentioned in 1 Cor. xv., is a military phrase. There was the sounding of three different trumpets for the Roman army. The first was to waken the army, the second to gather them together, and when "the last trump" sounded, the army was to march. So, the Lord will come with a shout to waken his people; He will come with the voice of the archangel to gather the mighty host of the redeemed together; and then, at the sounding of the last trump, the whole army of God will march together right into the living blaze of the glory! And thank God, the Church of God will be together then. Down here it’s different; sections are knocking their heads together, so to speak, but when the Lord comes, they will all go up together, "one Church!"
And remember this advent of Christ may occur to-night. I do not say it will be to-night, or next week, or next year, but God's Word teaches me, the Lord may come at any moment now. And if He comes, what then? Oh, what a separation then! In that moment, the difference will be manifested between those who have been "born again" and those who are only professors. Every child of God will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, and the unconverted will be left behind. And what will they do who are left behind? The twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew tells us. You remember that when the cry went out, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him," the five foolish virgins said unto the wise, "Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so . . . but go and buy for yourselves." And the bridegroom came. And what happened? "They that were ready went in with Him to the marriage, and the door was shut. Afterward came the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered them, and said, Verily, I say unto you, I know you not." Oh, what an awful cry there will be heard in London when the Lord comes! What an awful cry will be wrung from some of you who have heard the Gospel time after time and refused to accept it!
THE SECOND GREAT MOMENT
is that moment when the Lord Jesus Christ will come to earth to set up His kingdom. Some of you may say, "Is not His kingdom set up yet?" No. His kingdom is formative now, but the little stone has not yet fallen on the feet of the "image." The kingdom has not been set up in power on the earth. When the King comes, then will the kingdom be. And in Rev. xix., the King of kings comes, and His first act is judgment. The little stone falls upon the feet of the image, that is, the Lord destroys the great Roman army which is gathered against Him. This ushers in His millennial reign, and as the Lord's coming for His saints is personal, so His coming to the earth with His saints and his millennial reign will be personal.
But we must pass on to the consideration of the last great moment of the world's history. That moment when, with a receding heavens and earth, the unsaved shall stand to give account to—
THE JUDGE UPON THE GREAT WHITE THRONE
of all their wicked deeds and words and thoughts. Ere this, the righteous have gone into their eternal bliss, and now the unsaved stand, time gone, the very earth fled away, to receive their sentence.
"And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heavens fled away . . . And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God, and the books were opened . . . and the dead were judged . . . according to their works . . . And whosoever” —oh, listen to that word whosoever, for your soul's salvation may depend upon it—"whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." Who will be there? Not the righteous. I thank God that I believe John v. 24. That verse says five things, and they all go together. Listen to them. The Lord says, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment; but is passed from death unto life." No believer will be there.
Oh, what an awful moment that will be for those who, after the deeds of their life are read out, shall go from that great white throne down to the lake of fire! Who said that? There are some people to-day that tell us, "It is no use your preaching about hell; there is no hell at all." Over in Canada, a man asked me one day to ride in his buggy with him. I got in and began talking to him about his soul. He said, "I wish you would attend to your own business." "This is just my business," I answered, "this is precisely what the Lord has sent me out here for." ''My dear friend," he continued, "when a man dies, that is the end of him; you may take my word for it." And that was all I could get out of that man. "But I am not willing to take your word for it," I said. Oh, friends! when I turn to the Word of God, which shall stand when the heavens and the earth shall have passed away, I read that those who are not written in the book of life shall be "cast into the lake of fire." May God save you from running any risk of so terrible a fate!
"The Morning Star" 1894