The Second Coming of Christ
William Nicholson, 1862
"Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people. And he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him!" Hebrews 9:28
The expectation of any important event generally produces interest and excitement. This was the case with the Jews when they were slaves in Egypt or when captives in Babylon.
The first advent of Jesus as announced immediately after the fall of man, was an object of special interest to angels and to men. "Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and was glad." "Kings and prophets desired to see what you see!" "And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says: Let all God's angels worship him." Hebrews 1:6
The second appearance of Christ will be a most important event, and pregnant with the most interesting and solemn results to saints and sinners. It is ever so represented by the sacred writers; an event earnestly desired by the righteous — an event terrible to the ungodly, who have, during their career of iniquity, a "fearful expectation of God's judgment, and the raging fire that will consume his enemies!" Hebrews 10:27
The subject of the text is, The Second Coming of Christ. "He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him!"
1. This is a fact established,
(1.) By reason and conscience. God is the moral Governor of this world; all creatures are responsible to him. He therefore, who made us and governs us, has a perfect right to summon us to give an account of our actions done on the platform of human existence, and at a period, and in that manner, which his infinite wisdom may devise.
The justice of God is not clearly displayed in the dispensation of things in the present state. The righteous, who are the excellent of the earth, are afflicted — while wicked men generally prosper.
The consciences of all men point to a future state of retribution; witness the consternation and dread of Belshazzar and Felix.
(2.) By the uniform testimony of Scripture.
Enoch predicted it, Jude 5:14, 15.
Abraham reasoned about it, Genesis 18:25.
Job exulted in the expectancy of it, Job 19:25-27.
The Psalmist sublimely describes it, Psalm 50:1, etc.
It is also asserted by Solomon, Ecclesiastes 3:17; 12:14.
With the assurance of his second appearance for glorious purposes, Christ comforted the hearts of his disciples, John 14:2, 3. And when he ascended, angels declared, Acts 1:11.
Besides, the day is appointed, "God has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead." Acts 17:31. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad!" 2 Corinthians 5:10
2. The Second Advent of Christ shall be very different from his first appearance."Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people. And he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him!"
(1.) He shall not then come in a state of humiliation. At his first coming, he took on him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of sinful flesh. He passed through all the circumstances of humble birth, though he was God manifest in the flesh. He was subject to poverty, hunger, thirst, fatigue, reproach, and persecution. Then he "made himself of no reputation," etc.
He will not come to be mocked and buffeted, and scourged, and spit upon, and crowned with thorns!
(2.) He shall not come to expiate sin. "He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him!" At his first appearance the guilt of men was charged upon him as upon a surety who had undertaken their cause. "God laid help upon one that was mighty;" and therefore he "bore the sins of many." "He who knew no sin, was made sin (a sin-offering) for us." "He bore our sins in his own body on the tree." The sacrifice once offered for the sins of many, will forever perfect those who are sanctified, and "there remains no more sacrifice for sin."
The ends of justice are fully answered; and having died for sin once, he dies no more. Gethsemane's agony and bloody sweat; the ignominy, the shame, the bodily and mental pangs of Calvary's cross — he will endure no more. "It is finished" once and for all!
3. The Second Coming of Christ will be magnificent and glorious.
More glorious than the return of the mightiest conqueror from the field of triumph, more glorious than the proclamation and coronation of kings and emperors. These occurrences are but faint emblems of "the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ."
It will be magnificent and glorious as to:
(1.) Christ's person. That will be so glorious as to be admired: "When He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed!" 2 Thessalonians 1:10.
He will not appear then as the subject of poverty and weakness, and contempt, as he did at his first coming, "He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not!" Isaiah 53:2-3. "There were many who were appalled at him — his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man, and his form marred beyond human likeness!" Isaiah 52:14
But he shall come the second time very differently, "They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory!" Matthew 24:30.
He will come with a personal glory and majesty exceeding that described in Isaiah 6:1-4, or that by Daniel 7:9, or that by John, Revelation 1:13, etc.
Compared with Christ's power, the power of all earthly kings is but the power of the moth. And compared with his glory, the splendor of regal pomp is but the glimmering of the glowworm!
He shall come with the power of Omnipotence. That power by which he made the universe, he shall bring with him to punish his foes. He shall come with all the glory of his perfections shining brighter than ten thousands suns! He shall come with the glory of his spotless and exalted humanity, and with all the glorious majesty of his divinity!
(2.) Christ's attendants. He will appear as a King, with a retinue of "mighty angels," Matthew 25:31. If when the law was given at Sinai by the ministration of angels, the fire and smoke so filled the people with awe and dread — what will be the manifestation of the Son of God when he shall come in the glory of his Father, and of all the holy angels?
The angels are called his reapers. Matthew 13:39. "This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth!" Matthew 13:49-50
(3.) Christ's office. He will be the Judge of all. There is a solemnity and a majesty connected with this office which is overwhelming. He will judge immortals — upon his judgment will be suspended the salvation and perdition of the myriads congregated before his bar.
Great must be the excitement of the man who stands before the bar of an earthly judge, to be tried for his life and eternal state by the all-knowing Son of God — how solemn will this be!
4. The Second Coming Christ will be gracious. "To bring salvation to those who are waiting for him!"
The design of his appearance will be to complete the salvation of his people, and this will divest judgment of all its terrors for them. The salvation of the Church is not yet completed — the bodies of those who are in glory are yet in the grave — part of the Church are in heaven — part on earth, etc. etc. "He will come to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him!"
(1.) To redeem their bodies from the grave. The resurrection of the body is so abundantly attested and confirmed by the resurrection of Christ, that the reunion of the component parts of our nature is rendered a matter of absolute and infallible certainty, 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Philippians 3:21. Until this period arrives, a part of the temple of the Holy Spirit lies in ruins, a part of the curse denounced on man remains uncancelled.
Until the resurrection, the enemies of Christ will not be completely vanquished; but that event will destroy death, and him that had the power of it, even Satan.
Then shall the saints be rescued from the iron barriers of the tomb, and rise into immortal health and beauty — and they shall be subject to sin, and death, and corruption, no more.
(2.) Having raised the bodies of the righteous, they shall be gathered to his right hand as the sheep of his fold, as the "blessed" of the Lord. "And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other!" Matthew 24:31.
They were dear to God . . .
when he chose them from the foundation of the world,
when Christ died upon the cross,
when he appeared before the heavenly throne as their intercessor,
and they shall be dear to him when he appears to judge the world!
They are his lambs — and not one of them shall be lost!
They are his children — and not one of them shall perish!
They are his jewels — and they shall be all fixed upon his mediatorial diadem, to shine to his glory forever and ever!
(3.) They shall be acknowledged and acquitted by Christ before assembled myriads! "He who overcomes will be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. Revelation 3:5. "They will be mine, says the LORD Almighty, in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him!" Malachi 3:17
However despised on earth they may have been, the Judge will not then be ashamed to call them his brethren.
Many charges have been brought against them by Satan, by man, by conscience, and by the law as a broken covenant of works. But there will be no charge heard to their harm at the last day — nor any condemnation. They shall be pronounced and publicly declared righteous — as righteous as if they had never sinned. The righteous Judge will pronounce them righteous through the perfect obedience of Christ, even unto death.
(4.) He will admit them to an eternal Heaven. This shall be the last intended item of salvation carried into execution. God has prepared for them a city, an eternal inheritance, an ever increasing felicity, of which it is said, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined — what God has prepared for those who love him!" 1 Corinthians 2:9
No earthly pencil can fully delineate that Heaven, of which this world is but the antechamber — the brief and shadowy outline. No tortuous snake rolls under the flowers of Paradise, nor funeral mound disturbs the surface of that field — all is holiness, all is life. God made it for his redeemed people, and adapted it with elements of eternity for an everlasting joy. Hence this Heaven prepared by God himself exceeds the eloquent descriptions of man or angel. Its materials, we cannot explain or duly illustrate — deathless harps, golden pavement, walls of crystal, emerald, ruby, amethyst. Towers and domes fused in a burning sky; like a pageant of clouds in their red repose. The presence of Christ, the society of saints and elect angels, the vision of God, the well-remembered way, the seven-fold thundering Hallelujah, "We shall be forever with the Lord!"
5. The coming of Christ is to be desired and expected. "To bring salvation to those who are waiting for him!"
Christians "love his appearing." 2 Timothy 4:8. This implies:
(1.) A firm belief that he will come the second time.
(2.) Faith in Christ the Mediator, to constitute us "the blessed" at that period.
(3.) Earnest desire and expectation of it. It is the coming of him who is to finish our salvation.
(4.) Frequent application for Divine aid to prepare us.
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right: Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world!" Matthew 25:31-34