By J. B. Chapman
The Scriptures abound in threats to the world and promises to the Church that Jesus Christ will come back to the world a second time. The hope of the world is in the salvation that Jesus provided at His first coming. The hope of the Church is in the second coming of Christ. These two points of view must be clearly understood. It is no more valid to preach that the second coming of Christ is the hope of everyone than it is to preach universal salvation. When Christ comes the second time He will bring no offering for sin. His coming is more directly connected with judgment than with mercy.
It is folly for us to talk of the second coming of Christ as our hope unless we gladly and fully accept the full benefits provided for us when He first came into the world. At His first appearance, His life, ministry, death and resurrection provided a complete solution for the sin problem — a full cure for the disease of sin. “Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Mt. 1:21). “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9). “Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate” (Heb. 13:12). “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2). What more could be promised? What addition could be made? The Blood of Jesus was shed in this world and it is available now. If it cannot make an end of sin in us now, it can never do it, unless we are ready to admit that death or some other real or imaginary thing is to assist God in ridding His people of sin.
Jesus solemnly spoke of being prepared for His second coming: “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Mt. 24:44). To be ready is to be “blessed and holy” (Rev. 20:6), that is, regenerated and sanctified. Holiness of heart and life are the only qualifications for joyously meeting Jesus at His Second Advent. If these are the qualifications, and we are to be always ready, then it is evident that we must get the blessing of a clean, holy heart, and keep it continually, and live a life of righteousness in our everyday conduct with others. To say that we will be given holiness at the appearing of the Lord is mere presumption, just as is the claim that there will be further opportunity to repent after death (Heb. 9:27-28). “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 Jn. 3:1-2). Now if this were the end of the passage we might suppose that being “like him” means being cleansed from sin at His coming. But the third verse is in direct connection with verses 1-2 and refers to a present accomplishment: “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” The hope of seeing Christ as He is, and of being in a glorified body and in a glorified world as He is, has this practical effect upon all who possess it — they at once apply themselves to the conditions for being made pure from sin, for sin is the one thing that will keep a soul from entering into that happy state. The claims of those who say they are hoping for His soon coming are validated only by their pressing immediately into the grace of holiness of heart, and then by living holy lives from thereon to the end.
The Church, that is, the body of true believers who welcome Christ at His Second Advent, is, according to John of Revelation, like a pure bride adorned in pure, clean, white linen (Rev. 19:8). For such a Church, Jesus is said to have given Himself, “that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:26-27).
Jesus Christ is coming back to the world in glory and power. The signs of the times indicate that His coming draweth nigh. To many thoughtful observers, it appears that Jesus could come now at any time and do no violence to the prophecies that set forth the conditions that will prevail upon the earth and in the Church when He appears. But the important questions are: Are you ready? Do you have on the wedding garment of Bible holiness? Is your heart clean from all outward and inbred sin? Does the Holy Spirit possess and rule your heart completely? Are you sanctified wholly just now?
Taken from Holiness – The Heart of Christian Experience, by J. B. Chapman. Holiness and the Second Coming of Christ was condensed and revised, and may be reproduced and distributed.