The Thomas Pages homepage
Evangelism & Christ's Return
–  CONTENTS –
1. Introduction 2. A Motivator 3. A Sanctifier 4. An Encourager
Introduction
The various views of Christ's Second Coming within the Christian Church
have had widely differing effects on the Church's attitude to its task of world evangelisation.
End-of-the-world
views (eschatological views) that reduce the idea of Christ's Return to a non-historical subjective event, or spiritual truth, generally seem to regard evangelism as a commission to save society (such as, by espousing socialism as a way to bring God's kingdom on earth) rather than as a commission to confront at a personal level, with eternal absolutes of human existence, concerning the individual's ultimate destination.
 
Even among so-called conservative evangelical Christians the various views of Christ's Return affect the mission of the Church quite differently.
One of these views is a particular version of the so-called Dispensational view.  
It
sees the period of the Christian Church's history as ending some seven years before Christ's Return.
 
After
this ending of the Church's role in human history, it sees a spiritually renewed Israel (of 144,000 tribal Israelites) during this seven year interval, who will evangelise the world and so complete Christ's mandate given to His disciples (Matt.28:18-20): doing so without the Holy Spirit, what the Church with the Holy Spirit did not or could not do.
 
This
way of thinking usually makes a distinction between a gospel of grace (as the message of the Church) and the gospel of the kingdom (as the message of a renewed Israel). But this distinction is directly contradicted by the apostle Paul's description of his gospel as "preaching the kingdom" (Acts 20:25) to the leaders of the Ephesus church.
 
arrowA
zealous promoter of the modern missionary movement, Dr Oswald J Smith, regarded this Dispensational view as "a dangerous heresy", saying of world-evangelism according to this view –
"They are saying: 'This is not the task of the Church at all, the Jews are to do it; we should leave it for them after we have been raptured away.' I know of no heresy that can do more to cut the nerve of missionary endeavour." (emphasis mine)
 
  He challenges the implications of such a view with –
"Do you mean to say that after the Holy Spirit has gone, and we are told [by them] that He is to go when the Church goes, do you mean to say that the Jews can accomplish more in seven years or less, without the help of the Holy Spirit, in the midst of persecution and martyrdom, than we have been able to accomplish in nearly two thousand years, with the Holy Spirit's aid, when it has been easy to be a Christian? Preposterous! Impossible!"
 
So Theologian G Eldon Ladd remarks instead of the above, that –
"Christ is tarrying until the Church has completed its task. ...
Let us then not be dissipating our energies in differences over the Rapture and the Tribulation. Rather let every believer who cherishes the Blessed Hope give himself in unstinted measure to the prosecution of world-evangelisation; for then will Christ come."

 
A Motivator  
Christ,
while answering as to when the end of this age and His Coming would be, said –
 
  "this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come." Matthew 24:14 RSV.
Matthew's
report of Christ's statement is in parallel with Paul's words concerning the consummation of God's purpose with the physical nation of Israel:
 
  "a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles has come in" Romans 11:25 NAS.
There
is a delay or postponement in God's program for this evil age. Judgment has been put on-hold! It waits for the whole world to be reached by the gospel that Jesus preached. It is the completing of the "testimony to all nations", the making up of the "fulness of the Gentiles" – and "then the end will come"!
 
 
Concerning this end of the world, Peter implies that the obedience of Christ's Church to her Lord causes a "hastening" of the day of God (II Pet. 3:12). That is, that the end of this age is not an appointed date (secret or otherwise), but is determined by God's purpose through the Church's obedience.
 
This
issue in principle, applied from the cosmic to the local level of God's people, is behind Paul's admonition that under God he is ready to punish all disobedience "when" the obedience of the Church "is complete" (II Cor.10:6).
 
If
the extent of this age is determined by the Church's completion of its mandate to disciple all nations (Matt. 28:19), what zeal should characterize our living, our giving, and our going for Him? The responsibility resting on the Christian Church is the pivot upon which the meaning of world events turns.
 
All earthly events are to be understood in the light of Christian mission, therefore without this perspective world events will be misunderstood!
To
no other agency has the mandate for world evangelisation been given than the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. It bears a responsibility unparalleled! – not simply in its institutional or organized form but more directly as God's people because we are God's people.
 
All
the Church's ability, skills, gifts, qualities, experience, etc., is part of the achieving of this historical purpose. It is the Church, as the work of God the Spirit, that brings the age to come. Not only is this directly true at the individual level of personal spiritual experience now ("tasted ...the powers of the age to come", Heb.6:5) but it is also historically true in precipitating the end of this present evil age.
 
Thus,
to the Church – the Second Coming of Jesus Christ her Lord is the great, yes, awesome motivation to complete the task and bring the tortured course of human history and a groaning creation to a proper end. This is not an event to be passively waited for, as some would treat it. It is the climactic conclusion of the Church's pilgrimage of service. It is to be striven for – to bleed and die for – until He crowns our labour with His all-glorious coming.
 
A Sanctifier  
The
expectation of Christ's Second Coming is a biblical incentive to live life free from the ungodly entanglements and even well-meaning pre-occupations of this age. Paul called upon the Christians of empire's capital city –
 
 
"salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed;
the night is far gone, the day is at hand.
Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light;
let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in revelling ..."
Romans 13:11-13.
  And again, to princely Corinth of notorious immorality he writes –  
 
 "the appointed time has grown very short; from now on,
let those who have wives live as though they had none,
and those who mourn as though they were not mourning,
and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, ...
For the form of this world is passing away." 
I Corinthians 7:29-31.
The
radical effect on a Christian's normal social intercourse when living in the light of Christ's Return is spelled out in these quotations. This same sense of urgency and goal-directedness is present in Paul's exhortation to Timothy –
 
  "Take your share of suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
No soldier on service gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to satisfy the one who enlisted him."
II Timothy 2:3-4.
 
The influence of the prospect of Christ's Second Coming is to be seen, not only on the life style of one who believes, but also corporately in the action of the Church in the world. The Wheaton Declaration of the congress on the Church's world-wide mission in April, 1966, representing evangelical missionary societies of some 71 nations, reads –
"we have often failed to stress sufficiently the blessed hope of our Lord's
return as an incentive to personal holiness and missionary passion".
 
A
conference of German theologians in 1970 issued the Frankfurt Declaration in similar spirit. It reads –
"We stress, however, that unlike the eternally valid reconciliation with God through faith in the gospel, all of our social achievements and partial successes in politics are bound by the eschatological "not yet" of the coming kingdom and the not yet annihilated power of sin, death, and the devil, who still is the "prince of the world." This establishes the priorities of our missionary service and causes us to extend ourselves in the expectation of Him who promises, "Behold, I make all things new" (Rev. 21:5 RSV.)"
 
It
is true that the Church must empathize with those to whom it ministers. It must suffer with those who suffer as Christ also clothed Himself with the human condition in order to reach the lost.
 
 
Because of this an emphasis on the Second Coming of Christ to bring an end to this evil age is seriously needed as the necessary corrective medicine to prevent the mission of the Church from being swallowed up in political programs and social renewal to change this world's systems (as the political socialism apparent in much Anglican effort today).
 
An Encourager  
Jesus
warned His disciples that He sent them out as sheep among wolves. Paul also warned his converts that –
 
 
"through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God"
Acts 14:22.
 
The anticipation of opposition and suffering in this present world gives renewed focus to the significance of Christ's coming.
 
Peter encourages the believers with –  
 
"though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, ...may redound to praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ."
I Peter 1:6-7.
  The Return of Jesus is an incentive to persevere in the face of opposition.  
In
the spiritual warfare of preaching the gospel and living the Faith in a condemned world in order to save some the anticipation of our Lord's Return fortifies the soul and strengthens one's resolve to obey Him and carry out the great commission. The word of Christ which points to world-wide evangelisation as a prerequisite for the ending of this age is preceded by the Lord's warning that –
 
  "they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake." Matthew 24:9.
Paul
therefore comforts believers by reminding them that their suffering and persecution not wasted. It is so that they –
 
 
"may be made worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering – since indeed God deems it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant rest with us to you who are afflicted,
when the Lord Jesus is revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire,
inflicting vengeance upon those who do not know God and upon those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus."
I Thessalonians 1:5-8.
Clearly,
the cost of world evangelisation is not hidden in the Scriptures and should not be hidden to our thinking. Christ said, the servant is not greater than his master and so as Christ suffered in fulfilling the commission of His Father we also are called upon to suffer in fulfilling Christ's commission (John 15:20).
 
The
blessed hope of the Church, the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, is our joy, our consolation, and our exceeding great reward. This understanding strengthens our determination to carry out His commands to the ends of the earth to the glory of God the Father.

Revelation 22:17, 20.
 
"The Spirit and the Bride say, 'Come.' And let him who hears say, 'Come.'
And let him who is thirsty come, let him who desires take the water of life without price.
He who testifies to these things says,
'Surely I am coming soon.'
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!" ... ... ...

The Core Concept The Darby Deception A Chronology of Confusion
Elijah, Sign of the End His Bride's Day God Comes

back
Copyright © Lloyd Thomas 1997-2016. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Feel free to copy, as long as this full copyright notice is included.

FOR A ROUGH TRANSLATION SIMPLY CHOOSE A LANGUAGE