The Great Physician's Rx for Mankind

By John Wesley White

When I was at Oxford, I had the opportunity to hear C.S. Lewis, who used to come back from Cambridge to give lectures.

In one of his talks, he said that a person may be about to be married, but before the wedding takes place, Christ may come and call His responding bride to the Marriage Supper of the Lord. So, he said, make your first priority a preparation for that event.

He went on to say that one may be a scientist on the verge of a society- changing invention, but, before he reaches his goal, Christ may come. So get ready now for that event. That way, instructed Lewis, you live in a constant state of meaningful expectation. Furthermore, every time the coming of the Lord is mentioned in the Scriptures, it is used as a basis for the Creator to say to His created, "Prepare to meet thy God."

More and more it appears to me that nearly everyone expects to have a showdown of some kind with God, somewhere, sometime.

At the time of his death in 1983, Gordon Sinclair was the most outspoken agnostic in Canada. I was listening to his strong disapproval of the prima donna treatment a Toronto Maple Leaf hockey star was getting from the press. Sinclair stormed, "You'd think it was the second coming of Christ!" Calming down, he relented that he didn't know why he referred to the second coming of Christ because he didn't believe in it. But many of his listeners, myself included, were not convinced.

Instinctively man has always somehow expected, whether in dread or welcome, an ultimate confrontation with God - a time when ".. . every knee shall bow... and every tongue shall confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Rom. 14:11). If he confesses here and now, it spells salvation forever with Christ. If he remains impenitent, it spells eventual submission, yes, but simultaneously a sentencing to the doom of the damned.

Readiness - the Key Word

Two days before Jesus' trial and crucifixion, His disciples asked Him the fateful question. "What will be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?. . ." (Matt. 24:3). Jesus' answer was a 94 - verse resume of signs which, when fulfilled, would constitute the signal for His return to this earth to set up His kingdom. The whole treatise turns on Matthew 24:44: "Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh."

Readiness - that's the key word; and it occurs several times in the New Testament with regard to the Lord's coming again.

Christ himself is ready at any moment to return. As St. Peter puts it, He ". . . stands ready to pass judgment on the living and the dead" (1 Pet. 4:5; NEB). With His wondrous gift of eternal life, He is "already at the door!" (James 5:8- 9; Phillips).

Being the most festive event in history, the Second Coming is often compared in the Scriptures to a marriage, our Lord having gone to prepare a place for us and assuring us that "the wedding is ready," or again, "All things are now ready."

Believers are to expect the return of Christ at any moment. In short, we are to live in a state of perpetual readiness for His return. This was His message in the parable of the 10 virgins: They that were ready went.. ." (Matt. 25: 10).

St. Paul begins his last chapter to Timothy with the "charge. . before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom" (2 Tim. 4: 1), and concludes: "Now the prize awaits me, the garland of righteousness which the Lord, the all-just Judge, will award me on that great day; and it is not for me alone, but for all who have set their hearts on his coming appearance" (2 Tim. 4:8; NEB). Sandwiched between is the avowal: "I am ready."

Gwen Beck, a school teacher in Cody, Wyoming, where I was holding a crusade, informed me that four years earlier her life had been constant confusion. A concerned sister on the East Coast sent her a copy of the first edition of my book, Re-entry.

When Gwen read it, the warning of Jesus that we are to "be ready" for the coming again of Christ especially touched her. Gwen said, "I simply was not a Christian. This led me to confess on my knees that I was a sinner, and I asked Christ to come into my life, and to be filled with the Holy Spirit." Jesus did just that, and with this new hope, Gwen's has been a life of unceasing fellowship and service to Christ.

Latching On to Anything

The coming again of Jesus Christ is imperative. Man is so fast degenerating within and so inevitably being dashed headlong toward destruction from without that, apart from the intervention of God, he simply cannot save himself.

Lewis Thomas, 'in his 1984 best seller, The Unforgettable Fire, laments that his experiences both as a physician and a philosopher have assured him that we earthlings face "epidemic disease, meteorite collisions, volcanoes, atmospheric shifts in the levels of carbon dioxide, earthquakes, excessive warming or chilling of the earth's surface." But we will not be done in by these. We will do it to ourselves by warfare with thermonuclear weaponry, and it will happen. So reasons the secular humanist.

Jesus foresaw this with divine precision when He replied to His disciples, who had inquired about the signs of His coming: "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened" (Matt. 24:21-22). So our Lord Jesus Christ will come again.

Out in front of our church, there was a sheet of ice, and my lovely wife and I were obliged to cross it to get to our car. Kathleen, who is from Ireland and not born with skates on her feet as Canadians have been thought to be, was gingerly looking down and cautiously picking every step. She thought that I was just ahead of her on her right; but someone had waylaid me, and I had dropped a few paces behind.

Into the place I should have been strode a man with a clerical black coat like mine, also on his way to his car. Reaching out and seizing his arm, my wife, without looking up, implored, "Darling, let me hang on to you or I will fall on this ice!"

Overhearing her request, I accelerated briskly, calling from behind, "Kathleen!" She thought at first that she was hearing stereo or something. Listening to our embarrassed apologies, the startled gentleman generously commiserated, "Anyone will latch on to anything on this slippery surface!"

Recuperating from the incident, it struck me: Anyone will latch on to anything to keep from falling on the slippery surface which is the world today. And that is just what people are doing. Those who do not choose Christ and go to be with Him when He comes again are going to be reaching out in every direction as conditions in the world worsen.

St. John, in the Revelation of Jesus Christ, foresaw this: "Then the kings of the earth, magnates and marshals, the rich and the powerful, and all men, slave or free, hid themselves in caves and mountain crags; and they called out to the mountains and the crags, 'Fall on us and hide us from the face of the One who sits on the throne and from the vengeance of the Lamb.' For the great day of their vengeance has come, and who will be able to stand?" (Rev. 6:15-17; NEB).

Man's Fragile Future

Winston Churchill wept in the House of Commons as he reviewed "the awful unfolding scene of the future."

Syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman asked of thinking people, "With Armageddon around the comer what are intelligent people to do? Wrap ourselves in mourning sheets and wait for the end? [We] are not talking about death, but extinction. Not talking about our future but about any future. This, while we see that nuclear sword of Damocles hung over us like some apocalypse without the promise of redemption." The last lament is what's wrong with the secularist.

Jesus urged us that when the apocalypse approached look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh" (Luke 21:28). That's our hope: redemption!

Only the Christian can stand up and be genuinely jubilant, for as St. Paul wrote to the Philippians, "Of one thing I am certain: the One who started the good work in you will bring it to completion by the day of Christ Jesus" (Phil. 1:6 NEB).

St. Paul was certain of the day of Christ because the coming again of the Lord Jesus is immutable: it is a changeless fact. Affirmed the writer to the Hebrews, "Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation . . ." (Heb. 6:17- 18). "This is a powerful encouragement to us, who have claimed his protection by grasping the hope set before us. That hope we hold. It is like an anchor for our lives, an anchor safe and sure" (Heb. 6:18-19; NEB).

I realize that some people find the facts of Christ's coming again unbelievable. We have been told by NASA that by A.D. 2000 some people will have moved to the moon, where they'll live in airconditioned modules growing, among other things, tomatoes as large as watermelons. They'll be surrounded by serving robots who'll mine the moon as well as cook the food and make the beds. But there's a problem .

It's astonishing the number of people who believed that the moon landing was a staged hoax. Why? Because the physics of space travel were beyond them. They were not prepared to take by faith what they couldn't understand.

The fact that we can't understand the astrophysics of Christ's coming again does not alter the fact that He is coming.

Everybody wonders about the future, but no one knows exactly what the future holds. Alvin Toffler, author of Future Shock and The Third Wave, came out in 1985 with his Previews and Premises, assuring us that without a transformation of our social institutions, man's future is more fragile than at any time in human history.

Actually, it's the spiritual transformation of individuals by Jesus Christ that provides hope for the future.

When God Shows His Face

St. Paul was certain of one thing: the Day of Christ! Dean W. R. Matthews of St. Paul's Cathedral in London is right in saying that the world is living on a volcano, not a rock. But the Christian's hope rests, ultimately, not on military defenses but on the coming again of Christ.

St. Paul wrote in I Corinthians 3:11, "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." The superstructure the believer builds on this foundation will be manifest at the coming of Christ.

The late Chief Justice Earl Warren claimed he always read the sports section first in his newspaper because it at least had some cheerful news. "The front page has nothing but man's failures," he wrote.

In a world of gloom, man can turn to the Bible for the good news of Christ's coming again. A university student who was a star football player came forward in a crusade meeting one night to commit his life to Christ, explaining, "I got tired of playing the game without being able to see the goal posts." Without a goal, life has no direction.

A compass, wherever it is, always points north. So a believer's life should always point in the direction of Christ's coming again.

"To me the Second Coming is the perpetual light on the path which makes the present bearable," reasoned G. Campbell Morgan. "I never lay my head on the pillow without thinking that perhaps before I awake, the final morning may have dawned. I never begin my work without thinking that He may interrupt it and begin His own."

"Though He tarry past our time," reasoned Matthew Henry, "He will not tarry past the 'due time.' " There is a time, an exact time, on God's blueprinted schedule of events when Jesus Christ is due to return.

The coming again of Jesus Christ is Immanuel, that is, "God with us." Both in rapture and revelation, the return of our Lord will be personal.

"If God is so wonderful," mused the little Italian girl, "why doesn't He show His face?" That is precisely what He did do in the person of Jesus Christ and will do again at Christ's second coming.

"Look, he is coming . . ." exulted John in Revelation 1, and "every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.

'I am the Alpha and the Omega,' says the Lord God, 'who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty' " (Rev. 1:7-8; NIV).

Perhaps John was thinking of that unforgettable moment when Jesus stood before the Sanhedrin in the house of Caiaphas, about to be condemned. Cross-examined by these green-eyed earthlings, our wonderful Lord burst forth in solitary assurance: that, one day, they would ". . . see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven" (Mark 14:62; NIV).

"The Lord himself shall descend," St. Paul assured the Thessalonians. On ascension day, on the Mount of Olives, the disciples made the point that "This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1: 11; NIV).

The theologian Bengel exegetes that the Greek present participle used here implies that the Second Advent, as the first, will be a bodily return of Jesus Christ.

A little girl from the farm was with her parents riding an elevator to the top of a high skyscraper. A Christian, she asked at the eightysixth floor, "Mommy, does Jesus know we're coming?"

One thing among others is certain in the Bible, and that is that Jesus Christ knows we're going up to be with Him forever - because He is personally coming to get us.

The historian Massilon wrote, "In the days of primitive Christianity, it would have been apostasy not to sigh for the return of the Lord."

Every time the true Christian goes to the holy communion table to celebrate the Lord's Supper, he must focus on the return of Christ to derive meaning, "This do in remembrance ... till He come." Every time he goes to work, he ideally hears his Lord's words in his ears, ". .. occupy till I come" (Luke 19:13), for "Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching" (Luke 12:37).

From Gloom to Glory

The coming again of Jesus Christ is immense: the most glorious "trip" man will ever have taken.

St. Paul inspired the young preacher Titus with the ecstatic aspiration, "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13).

Just when it appears that the world is going up in smoke and man has reached his perigee, Jesus said, look to the apogee: "At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory" (Luke 21:27; NIV).

Queen Victoria left us a beautiful portrayal of the apogee. She was barely 18 when she ascended the throne of the British empire upon which the sun never set. Officially attending Handel's The Messiah for the first time, she was instructed: "The point at which the 'Hallelujah Chorus' is sung, the entire audience will rise, as has been the custom since the days of George the First. But you are the queen. You alone remain seated."

When the glorious chorus was reached, all stood with military punctuality. Her Majesty alone remained seated. But when that thrilling, transcendent passage "King of kings and Lord of lords" was reached, the queen rose and bowed, and not a member of the grand audience missed the significance.

Oh, what a day! "When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory," rejoiced St. Paul (Col. 3:4; NIV).

St. Peter exulted, "And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away" (1 Pet. 5:4; NIV).

"Eternal Glory to the Heroes" was Izvestia's prepared headline for the reentry of the Soyuz II trio. But glory was turned into gloom when the hatch door was opened and the cosmonauts were found strapped in their seats without any signs of life. This tragedy is in direct contrast to the coming of Christ, when death will be turned to life and gloom to glory.

"To him who is able to keep you from falling," pronounced St. Jude in his benediction, is the One who on the day of His coming will "present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy" (Jude 24; NIV).

Looking For His Appearing

The second coming of Jesus Christ is indeed the perpetual light on the path of the believer, which makes the present delightful. If Jesus Christ is not coming again, we should close our Bibles and our churches.

If we believe that He is indeed coming, the accusation of being cruel for remaining silent is not a strong enough indictment. We ought to study about His coming, sing about it, preach it, talk about it, write about it, and spread the precious word of hope everywhere.

Said our Lord, "If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels" (Mark 8:38; NIV).

Eddie Fisher remarked on a radio program that during the course of the day he had discussed everything from ingrown toenails to the second coming of Jesus Christ. If ingrown toenails might be thought of as the low point of his conversation, certainly the high point was the second coming of Jesus Christ.

The coming again of Jesus Christ is imminent. No prophetic event or events await fulfillment prior to His coming for His church. All of the New Testament writers exhort us to be "watching for," "waiting for," "looking for ... .. praying for," "hastening unto," and "expecting at any moment" the return of Christ.

As Martin Luther said, "Christ deigned that the day of His coming should be hid from us, that being in suspense, we might be, as it were, on the watch."

The signs to which reference has been made refer primarily to Christ's coming to this earth to setup His kingdom. But His "appearing" to His own in the air to withdraw His church is referred to comparably often and always in the sense of its occurring at any moment. We are to be looking for that blessed hope, for he will not appear to everyone: ". . . unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation" (Heb. 9:28).

St. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians that "God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ (I Thess. 5:9). He defined Christians as those who "turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come" (1 Thess. 1:9- 10).

I feel sure that Paul was here referring to what would happen on earth to those who did not turn to Christ and so would be left to endure the consequent apocalyptic judgments. This same idea is to be found in the Revelation of Jesus Christ, where our Lord assures, "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth" (Rev. 3: 10).

No Countdown

To the Philippians, St. Paul admonished, "Let your magnanimity be manifest to all" for "the Lord is at hand" (Phil. 1:13). To the Corinthians, "So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Cor. 1:7-8).

To Timothy, Paul admonished, "In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Tim. 6:13-14;NIV).

The church father Cyril wrote 1,640 years ago, "Look thou for the Son of God to judge the quick and dead. Venture not to declare when, nor on the other hand slumber, for He saith, 'Watch.' We are looking for Christ."

Adjudged the historian Gibbon, "As long as this error was permitted in the church, it was productive of most salutary effects on the practice of Christians."

Dwight L. Moody, like Luther and Wesley, preached constantly that Christ's coming was imminent, declaring, "Nowhere am I told to watch for the millennium but for the coming of the Lord."

Since Christ's coming is imminent, each of us must at all times be at our best. Our coming Lord is the expectation of every watching Christian, the wave of welcome which will greet the faithful with "Well done, good and faithful servant ... enter into the joy of your master" (Matt. 25:21;RSV).

The coming again of Jesus Christ is immediate. There will be no countdown for the coming down of our Lord to take us home. One Greek scholar calculates that the familiar "in the twinkling of an eye" of I Corinthians 15:52, which is read at nearly every Christian burial service, refers, as close as one can humanly conceive, to no time at all. That leaves no opportunity for the thief to repent or the prodigal to come home.

Jesus did not say that His coming would be a clap of thunder, but as lightning . . ." (Matt. 24:27). We can with some accuracy time thunder bursts by the lightning flash because sound travels 86,000 miles per second. But lightning comes without a precursor.

Declared our Lord in His revelation to John, "Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the Temple of my God (Rev. 3:11-12).

George Washington had a cook who was as prompt as the first U.S. president was truthful. "Gentlemen," said Washington to his guests, "I have a cook who never asks whether the company has come, but whether the hour has come!"

". . . A time is coming," said Jesus to His disciples, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God: and those who hear will live" (John 5:25;NIV). All of His disciples of that time fell into that category. Others, Jesus said later, will tarry till I come. . ." (John 21:22). These could include you.

Insanity or Repentance?

A United States senator reasons, "The hands of the clock are moving on toward midnight of the brief day left to us."

"Whom the gods would destroy," goes an ancient Greek proverb, "they first make mad." "If other planets are inhabited, they must be using this earth as a lunatic asylum," mused George Bernard Shaw.

I do not believe that a compassionate Jesus will permit the pressures of an age, for which our minds were not designed, to continue to build up until there is mass insanity. Instead He invites, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 4:17).

Some years ago I received a letter from Paul Shields. He had been converted through the reading of my first edition of Re-entry.

He wrote: I was born the son of missionary parents while they were serving the Lord in Nigeria, While a teenager in Toronto, I rebelled. I began to smoke tobacco - then pot - to drink heavily, and after many violent confrontations with my parents, I moved out. I became a drug addict, got married, had a kid, and moved to the West coast. My life turned from bad to worse.

In Vancouver my drug addiction became chronic: soft drugs, hard drugs - and hard liquor. Finally, out of work, no money, heavily in debt, and my wife planning to separate from me, I was at the bottom. I knew it. I couldn't help myself at all.

Disenchanted by my addiction, one Sunday night I remembered a book that had been put in my hand by some goody-two-shoes. It was Re-entry. I pulled it out and started to read. I couldn't put it down. The more I read, the more paralyzed with terror I became. Soon I fell under the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

There I was alone at 3 a.m., crying my eyes out. I knew what I had to do. I had to give my heart to the Lord Jesus Christ and ask Him to give me the peace and security I so desperately needed. I was instantly delivered and have been ever since. My wife came to know the Lord. My life has been turned around.

I first met Paul in Toronto at the Central Baptist Seminary, from which he graduated and was later ordained into the ministry to serve as a Baptist pastor.

A World that Groans

When does one become a citizen of the kingdom of heaven? When that person is born again!

Wrote St. Paul to the Philippians, "We are citizens of heaven, and from heaven we expect our deliverer to come, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transfigure the body belonging to our humble state, and give it a form like that of his own resplendent body, by the very power which enables him to make all things subject to himself' (Phil. 3:20-21; NEB).

For this reason, as the Apostle wrote to the Corinthians: "Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.... We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord" (2 Cor. 5:6,8; NIV).

"Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come" (2 Cor. 5: 1 5; NIV).

Ours is a world that groans, as St. Paul wrote to the Romans - groans for the redemption of the physical order, groans for freedom, groans for wholeness.

David Lawrence expressed in U.S. News & World Report, "A climax of some kind seems to be approaching the world over." God's climax is the coming of Jesus Christ.

Omar Bradley, the late American military general, observed incisively: "We know more about war than about peace, more about killing than about living. This is our twentieth century's claim to progress. Knowledge of science outstrips capacity for control. We have too many men of science; too few men of God .... The world has

achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience - a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants." Will the world get ethically and spiritually better? Yes, but not until it gets worse, and Christ comes. "The facts," says Intelligence Digest, "show that the forces in the world struggle are grouping themselves for a decisive show- down." Man simply cannot better himself Before his death, elder statesman Konrad Adenauer remarked, "Security and quiet have disappeared from the lives of men." The only answer is emigration to be with Christ for those who entrust themselves to Him.

When the tyrannies of the Old World in Europe grew too great, the freedom lovers immigrated to a New World of freedom and challenge. Ruptured by a world of escalating pressures, one of these days Christians are going to be raptured to the glories of heaven. The Quest for Immortality What is eternally gratifying is that the coming again of Jesus Christ brings immortality. Jesus Christ came "to bring life and immortality to light through the gospel." When someone repents of sin and receives Christ as Saviour and Lord, Jesus says, "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish . . ." (John 10:28). Jesus Christ gives us "eternal life" with a body of immortality. "Lay hold on eternal life," exhorted St. Paul (I Tim. 6:19). Pop songs reveal how people yearn for a life and a relationship which will last. "Love Me a Million Years," sings one; and another, "Forever and a Day"; and another "From Here to Eternity." Arthur Clark, author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, said to Walter Cronkite on CBS that he craves to live another 20 years, and then he might be able to go on living forever.

"The moon-walk goal is really a quest to live forever," observed that peerless science fiction writer Ray Bradbury on the same CBS program, adding, "This has been the quest of religion, politics, and science - to escape death." We are living in a sad world.

"If I were God," ruminated Goethe, "this world of sin and suffering would break my heart!" Jesus said to His disciples that, previous to His coming, there would be "the beginning of sorrows" that would then sharply increase. I saw the actual headline, "The Beginning of Sorrows," in a paper recently. The World Health Organization says that in our world there are 11 million lepers; 50 million people with onchocerciasis; 190 million with filariasis; and 200 million with schistosomiasis.

We have already identified Jesus' forecast of famines as a harbinger of His return to earth. Annually, 62 million earthlings, deprived of food, wither away in famines and die from starvation. Who cares? Jesus does!

And He's coming back surely and suddenly, sometime, to feed sumptuously and clothe lavishly those who otherwise would have perished in hunger. Meanwhile, the highest motivation for us to live selflessly is the anticipation of Jesus Christ's coming again.

The president of the Lutheran Church in America noted the obscenity of Time magazine having on one page pathetic, tragic pictures of starving people in Ethiopia, and alongside it an advertisement: "For the woman who has everything, think of gold this Christmas" (1984).

In Pope John Paul II's Christmas homily, he picked up on St. John's ancient exhortation to the Laodiceans to prepare for Christ's coming again. The pope drew the contrast, "Are there not people rich in material goods, power, fame, and yet who are tragically poor? Poor by reason of the great emptiness of the human heart which has not opened itself to God. And are there not poor people who are materially disadvantaged, persecuted, oppressed, discriminated against who are rich? Rich with that inner wealth that flows directly from the heart of the God-Man Jesus Christ."

"If there is a God, why doesn't He show up?" snaps the agnostic. He has already: 2,000 years ago in His incarnation. And He will show up again. Jesus Christ is coming and as His Revelation previews, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with I them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God" (Rev. 21:3). "And God shall wipe every tear from their eyes; there shall be an end to death, and to mourning and crying and pain; for the old order has passed away" (Rev. 21:4; NEB).

The Christian's Incentive

The coming again of Jesus Christ is implicational. "Behold, I am coming soon!" stressed our Lord in the final chapter of the Bible. "My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done" (Rev. 22:12;NIV).

Throughout the New Testament, it is clearly taught that when Christ appears for His church, the first item on the agenda will be the review of believers' works. Thereupon prizes, crowns, and rewards will be distributed, and status in the life hereafter confer-red according to our faithfulness.

"For we must all appear before the Judgment seat of Christ," St. Paul apprised the Corinthians, "that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad" (2 Cor. 5:10;NIV). On this basis, he admonished: "Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God" (I Cor. 4:5;NIV).

It is understandable then that St. Paul should bring to a climax that chapter devoted to the coming again of Christ, I Corinthians 15, with "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain" (1 Cor. 15:58;NIV).

Similarly, I Thessalonians, which St. Paul devoted to the denouement events, is brought to a climax with the aspiration, "May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Thess. 5:23;NIV).

St. Peter shared the same ultimate concern: "Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God. . ." (2 Pet. 3:11-12;NIV).

Added the aged St. John: "And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming" (1 John 2:28;NIV). Going on to give a vivid account of the coming again of Christ, St. John sums up, "Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure" (I John 3:3;NIV).

A very vigorous controversy in American government for many years has been how much of the GNP should be spent on exploration of space. Currently the estimate is I percent.

Frank Borman, currently president of Eastern Airlines, is a potent protagonist of the concept that an escalated emphasis on space exploration will assist rather than diminish the solution of the problems of poverty and pollution here on earth.

For example, the Discovery and Challenger spaceships were able to monitor the movement of the Sahara southward into the central Africa greenbelt, which thereby escalated famine in places like Niger and Chad; solutions could then be prescribed. They were also able to spot mineral distribution and wealth deep in the earth by the highly sophisticated equipment aboard.

If man could invent equipment to discover treasure on (and under) the earth from the heavens, how much more can Jesus' exhortation to lay up treasures in heaven be realized by faithful believers on earth!

Asked what the greatest thought that ever crossed his mind was, Daniel Webster replied, "My accountability to the Almighty God."

"There is no such incentive to evangelism," reckoned D. L. Moody, "as the pre-millennial coming of our Lord. Emphasize what God hath emphasized."

In the Presbyterian Confession of 1967, it is pointed out that "the life, death, resurrection, and promised coming of Jesus Christ have set the pattern for Church missions."

Think of what a congregation like the Peoples Church of Toronto does to evangelize the world. In addition to the hundreds of workers who have gone forth from the congregation through the years, a million and a half dollars are being given annually for foreign missions to get the gospel out to the ends of the earth. What rewards will be forthcoming at Christ's return to those who pray, give, or go forth to evangelize the world! Christ is coming. What an incentive to evangelize!

The First Step Toward Heaven

Finally, the coming again of Jesus Christ is impending. Whether the Scriptures are referring to the appearance of Christ for His church or His coming to earth to set up His kingdom, reference to His return always has attached to it the urgent exhortation to be ready.

Oh, the drama and import of Jesus' words! "Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.... Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left" (Luke 17:30,35-36).

"Watch ye therefore," warned our Lord, "for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch" (Mark 13:35-37.

Christian, never let the realization fully escape your consciousness that at any moment Christ may come again. Be always, and do always, those things that would please your Lord were He to come this minute.

In Joel's ancient prophecy we read, "Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision. For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision" (Joel 3:14).

In the light of the Lord's coming, Joel gave us that gospel promise which has been quoted wherever heralds of salvation have gone. "And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be delivered. . ." (Joel 2:32). To be rightly related to Jesus Christ is to be ready for His, coming again.

As Neil Armstrong stepped on to the moon, he declared, "One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind!" The Chinese have an old proverb: "The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step."

Certainly the journey to heaven begins with one step: the step of faith that puts our foot down on the promise of the Word of Christ that He will take to His celestial and eternal home all who on this earth place their firm belief in Him as Saviour and Lord. Only that person can join in the final aspiration of Scripture, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!"

Preaching the Christ of the Second Coming

There is one teaching that is more important than the preaching of the second coming of Christ. It is the preaching of the Christ of the second coming. The two are inseparable, of course.

From ancient times, the proclamation of the former has turned millions of people to seek the latter. St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians in his first epistle, at the end of the fifteenth chapter, that magnificent account of the second coming of Jesus Christ!

But the magnificent account of that passage is matched by the first four verses which express in essence and comprehension the clear plan of salvation, "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures" (1 Cor. 15:1-4).

That, my friend, is the good news, the gospel, God's plan for you to be forever saved, to be ready to go when Christ comes again.

On September 5, 1953, during a month-long crusade in Britain, I preached a message on the second coming of Christ. I was recently informed that in the Packed crowd in the large tent that night was Constable Baird, his gracious wife, and his three sons - Trevor, 19; Neville, 14; and Clifford, 8.

At the end of the address and in response to the invitation of Jesus to do so, many people came forward and gave their lives to Christ. Among those confessing Christ were Constable and Mrs. Baird and a very decisive and determined Clifford. He was forever changed.

On the way home that night, the father asked Neville and Trevor, "Should the Lord come again tonight, would you go to be with Him?" They didn't think they would. After a grave spiritual struggle, 14-year-old Neville made his response on September 22, and about a week later, Trevor did so.

They were completely changed by giving their lives to Christ. Today Clifford is a psychologist and university instructor living a life of enthusiastic service for Christ, as is his brother Neville and their families in Wheaton, Illinois.

Trevor served for a dozen years as minister of one of Canada's great churches, where it was my privilege to preach.. He asked me to speak there on the second coming of Christ, which I did. That night his son Stephen, 19, came forward to surrender his life to Jesus. Trevor exclaimed, "That's three generations of my family - my parents, the three of us brothers, and now my son - all coming to the Lord through your preaching the message of the second coming of Christ."

Friend, before you put this book down, ask yourself, "Am I a total believer in the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour and Lord? If Jesus were to come this moment, is my life entirely His?"

If you have the slightest doubt, pray this prayer to Christ, who actually is on the doorstep of your life, "Lord Jesus Christ, come into my life in all Your fullness, cleanse me by Your shed blood from all of my sins, and fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Help me to read Your Word each day. And help me always to be ready for Your coming again by daily prayer and the determination to share my faith with others in the worship and fellowship of Your church. I thank You, Lord Jesus Christ."

Editor's note: Questions regarding specific source references should be directed to John Wesley White, P.O. Box 120, Markham, Ontario UP 7R5.