No one will deny that it contains figures of speech, symbols and types; but is there no way of distinguishing its figurative language from that which is to be received as literal? If there is not, it must be confessed that it is no longer a revelation, but a concealment of God's will, and for all practical purposes it becomes as useless as the ambiguous responses of the ancient heathen oracles.
Nor do I know of any way wherein the common sense of the great bulk of mankind can ordinarily be exercised upon the words of scripture, to deter- mine their meaning, except by applying to its language the same criterion by which it judges of the sense of words in general ; which is their natural, obvious, and primary construction, ac- cording to the rules and idiom of the language or dialect, in which they happen to be expressed.
HI, pp. This being one special means for the preaching of the gospel, which was com- manded to be preached, not only to learned men, but to all men. And therefore, unless we will imagine the Holy Ghost and them to have been wilfully wanting to their own desire and purpose, we must conceive that they are intended to speak plain, even to the capacity of the simplest; at least, touching all things necessary to be pub- lished by them and believed by us. I, pp. Hooker also says, 44 I hold it for a most infalli- ble rule in expositions of sacred Scripture, that when a literal construction will stand, the furthest from the letter is commonly the worst.
There is nothing more dangerous and delusive than that art which changes the meaning ol words, as alchemy doth or would the substance of metals ; making of anything what it listeth, and bringing in the end all truth to nothing.
Left Behind Theology - A Critical Look
It is written in human language by the agency of human beings, and unless we can arrive at its meaning precisely as we arrive at the meaning of any other book, obviously it is of no real value. Of course there is no reference here to the spiritual understanding or practical reception of its precious truths for which we are indebted to the Holy Ghost, but only to the rules of interpretation that are just the same as those employed in knowing the mind of an uninspired author. While this principle will be admitted by every one with regard to the testimony of the Scriptures concerning events that are past, strange to say, it will be denied by many with regard to their testimony concerning events that are future.
But sureiy it is difficult to conceive why the rules of interpretation which apply to one class of events do not equally apply to the other. It is difficult to conceive why we should feel that we are on solid ground while reading of that which has already transpired, and that we are on a dark and tem- pestuous sea without chart or helm or compass, while reading of that which is to come. In either Digitized by the Christ's coming literal. As previously stated our great need in the study of the doctrinal, historical, or prophetical statements of the Bible is an humble and submissive spirit ever uttering the reverent cry, " Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.
We know it simply upon the testimony of God's word ; and upon the same testimony we may know that He is literally to come again. It is not denied that there aie tropes and types, shadows and symbols in the Bible, but the question is, are they found in the numerous and explicit statements that set forth the second coming of Christ?
If there is anything in the language announcing the doctrine of His future advent which has a figurative meaning, of course it must be so taken ; but this is a different thing from saying that the advent too must be figurative.
Getting to Know Us
Certainly it is not very consistent to acknowledge, as all do. We read the predictions uttered by the ancient prophets concerning His first coming, and find that they were literally and perfectly fulfilled even in the minutest particulars j for the place of His birth, His conception by a virgin, His lowly appearance, His rejection by Israel, the characteristics of His preaching and works, His entrance into Jerusalem upon an ass, His betrayal for thirty pieces of silver, the smiting and spitting which He suffered, the piercing of His hands and feet, the parting of His garments and casting lots upon His vesture, the offer of vinegar to Him to drink, the manner of His death and burial, and Digitized by the CeM Christ's coming literal.
It is not going too far, perhaps, to say, that if those who now think that the predictions of His second coming are not to be taken literally but figuratively had lived when the predictions just mentioned were delivered, they would have insisted on spiritualizing them away, declaring that the language demanded a two-fold or ten-fold sense. Nothing like this is found in the predictions of His second coming. Leaving out the symbols of Daniel and the Book of Revelation that are connected with other events beside His personal appearing, there are hundreds of verses in the Old and New Testaments which assert in plain and simple language that He will come again.
It may be confidently affirmed that all of these verses mean precisely what they say, and nothing else; that they always set forth His personal, literal return to the earth, and never in a single instance do they refer to the destruction of Jerusalem, or to the power of the Holy Ghost, or to the death of the Christian as implying and involving His advent; and hence wherever in the Scriptures we read of His coming again, we are to think only of Him, and of His real, actual descent from the skies, as the Blessed One who dventist Research 4 6 MARANATHA.
This statement which may appear very rash to some will be confirmed by a patient perusal of the passages where the promise of Christ's coming is given. It will be impossible to ex- amine every such passage here, but a portion of the Scriptures teaching the doctrine of the second advent may be presented, as a fair illustration of the rest. Let us turn, then, first of all, to the affecting narrative of the interview between Jesus and His disciples just before His separation from them.
Observing the grief occasioned by His announcement that He was about to take His departure, He tenderly said, "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. Keeping in mind that He was on the eve of leaving His disciples, not figuratively, but literally Digitized by th Christ's coming literal.
Is it not certain that His disciples so understood Him, and is it not certain that He would have corrected their mistake, if He thought of one thing, and they of another thing entirely different? Truly we may repeat here His own blessed words : M if it were not so, I would have told you. It is needless to say that our Lord could not be guilty of such trifling and prevarication as this, and hence it is a perversion of Scripture to say, as many do, that the promise "I will come again" is fulfilled in the death of the believer.
But that the Saviour wished His followers to understand Him as implying His literal return to the earth is evident from another scene subse- quent to His resurrection. He appeared to them on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, and after restoring Peter, not to his relationship as a saved sinner, which had not been and could not be lost, but to the conscious enjoyment of communion with the Lord whom he had denied, Jesus said to him as He said when He first called him from his boat to make him a fisher of men, "Follow me.
Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? It is apparent from a glance at this interesting passage that the disciples understood the coming of Christ in a literal sense, and that they could not have regarded it as fulfilled in the death of a Christian. Indeed it is apparent that they regarded His coming as directly opposed to death in every respect, for owing to His remark con- cerning John, there went abroad a rumor among the brethren that that disciple should not die, or in pther words that the coming of the Lord would prevent his death.
Peter knew that he must die, because a moment before the Master had signified by what death he should glorify God ; but with regard to John there was an im- pression that he would be delivered from death, because of the saying, " if I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Let us pass on, however, to the chapter which presents to us the risen Lord leading out His disciples as far as Bethany, and renewing their great commission to be His witnesses in the power of the Holy Ghost unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Luke tell us in his gospel that when He was parted from His disciples, and carried up into heaven, " they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy," Luke xxiv: 52 ; and surely their joy in their ascended God was kindled to a brighter glow by the promise of the two men in white apparel, who may have been, as has been suggested, Moses and Elias, and who assured them that He, not the destruction of Jerusalem, nor death, but He Himself would come again. Addison Alexander remarks on the wistful gazing of the disciples, "Their astonishment seems to show that they despaired of ever seeing Christ himself again ; whereas he had repeatedly declared that he would come again, and in the very way that he had now departed ;" and the phrase in like manner he says, "never indicates mere certainty or a vague resemblance ; but wherever it occurs in the New Testament denotes identity of mode or manner.
IT may be well to glance at some of the other passages in the New Testament which men- tion the coming of our Lord. There are thirty- two Greek verbs which are rendered in our English version by the word come, but there are only four nouns that are rendered by the word coming. The first of these apokalupds is defined in Bagster's Greek Lexicon as meaning, "A disclosure, revelation, manifestation, appear- ance," and is used in the following places in connection with our Lord's second advent : "Waiting for the coming [the revelation, or manifestation] of our Lord Jesus Christ," i Cor.
The second Greek noun isodos is found only five times in the New Testament, and in four of these it is rendered by the word entering in, or entrance. In one passage it is translated coming, where we read, " When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. The third Greek noun elusis is used but once when Stephen said in his defense, " Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted?
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The fourth Greek noun parousia is found twenty-four times in the New Testament, and in the following places it is connected directly with the second advent of Christ : " What shall be the sign of thy coming? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? The other passages in which the word parousia is found are as follows : " I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus," 1 Cor. The reader now has before him every passage in the New Testament where the word coming is used in allusion to the future return of our Lord, and he can judge for himself whether it is to be taken in its plain, obvious, literal and personal meaning.
By comparing it with the same word used in other passages in a different connection, it is evident that it can not be under- stood except in a literal sense without a gross perversion of the Sacred Scriptures. When the Saviour, or the Holy Ghost by the Apostles, speaks of His return they always speak of it as a revela- tion, an appearing, a coming ; and the last word when applied to men, invariably denotes, as already shown, their personal presence. If there is a Greek word whose precise sense is established by competent authority beyond room for question, it is,.
When, therefore, we read of the future parousia of our Lord, it is shameful trifling with the word of God, for those who profess to be its expounders to tell us that it means nothing in particular, or something as unlike the presence, the coming, the arrival, the advent of Christ, as night is unlike day.
As the result of this long continued trifling, it has come to pass that when a large majority of Digitized by the Cert Christ's coming literal. If the various journals of the country should announce that a foreign Prince was coming to America, and then the recognized expounders of these journals should declare that nothing more was meant than the destruction of some city in the Western con- tinent, or the visitation of cholera, the necessary effect would be that those who had confidence in the expounders would cease to expect his arrival, and they would also cease to expect any trustworthy information from public prints which they had been taught to believe said one thing while they meant another thing entirely different.
No one can doubt that the coming here is literal and personal. Of course it is meant in such passages that He Himself, and not something else, had come into the world, and that He Himself, and not some- thing else, would leave the world, and go to the Father. Then speaking of the Holy Ghost, He says, "When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me," John xv : 26 ; " it is expedient for you that I go away : for if I go not away, the Com- forter will not come unto you ; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of right eousness, and of judgment. Howbeit, when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth : for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak : and he will show you things to come," John xvi: Here too it will be admitted that the coming of the Spirit is literal and personal, and so it was at once understood by the disciples.
But we also find Him saying, "Watch there- Christ's coming literal. Therefore be ye also ready : for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of ju. Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when he cometh shall find so doing. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My Lord delayeth his coming; anJ shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken ; the Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him," Matt, xxiv : There are many such expressions as these scattered throughout His discourses, and can any one doubt for a moment that He referred to His future literal and personal advent, just as He did when speak- ing of the first literal and personal advent, and of the literal and personal coming of the Holy Spirit?
At all events He uses precisely the same language, and His disciples must have understood Him in precisely the same sense. But besides making confusion of the Scrip- tures, if such a principle of interpretation should be applied to any other doctrine, it would certainly be fatal to the truth, and it may be, ruinous to the soul. If those who oppose the doctrine of our Lord's pre-millennial advent have a right to say that when He spoke of His coming again He meant the destruction of Jerusalem, the Universalist with as much reason may insist that when He spoke of His coming to judgment He meant nothing more than the destruction of Jeru- salem.