For the past 150 years, Seventh-day Adventists have been proclaiming the nearness of Christ’s second coming. Sister White and the early pioneers of the Church preached it. In fact, Sister White expected our Lord Jesus Christ to come within her life time. Now, she has passed to her rest in the year 1915. Today (in 2009), it is 94 years since her death and the church is still proclaiming the nearness of Christ’s second coming.
The second advent doctrine is one which can move people to do something about their religion. D. L. Moody made the following observation: “To my mind this precious doctrine—for such I must call it—of the return of the Lord to this earth is taught in the New Testament as clearly as any other doctrine in it; yet I was in the Church fifteen or sixteen years before I ever heard a sermon on it. There is hardly any church that doesn’t make a great deal of baptism, but in all of Paul’s epistles I believe baptism is only spoken of thirteen times, while it speaks about the return of our Lord fifty times; yet the Church has had very little to say about it. Now, I can see a reason for this; the devil does not want us to see this truth, for nothing would wake up the Church so much. The moment a man takes hold of the truth that Jesus Christ is coming back again to receive His followers to Himself, this world loses its hold upon him. Gas stocks and water stocks and stocks in banks and railroads are of very much less consequence to him then. His heart is free, and he looks for the blessed appearing of his Lord, who, at His coming, will take him into His blessed Kingdom.” – D. L. Moody, The Second Coming of Christ (Revell), pages 6, 7.
1. Hastening Christ’s Second Coming
The Bible tells us that there would be signs during the time of the end that Christ’s coming is near. As to the exact hour of Christ’s return, Jesus said, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” Matthew 24:36.
The twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew describes the signs of Christ’s soon return. Most of these signs are already fulfilled or are still currently in fulfillment. These signs show that Christ’s coming is near, even at the door. These signs only indicate that His coming is near, but the end is not yet. “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” Matthew 24:6-8.
There is one sign that brings about the end of the world: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Matthew 24:14.
Does “this gospel” mentioned in Matthew 24:14 include the basic Christianity gospel that is being preached by the other church denominations? Let us look carefully at what Revelation 14:6-12 has to say regarding “this gospel”:
“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”
We find that “this gospel” of Matthew 24:14 actually refers to the three angels’ message of Revelation 14:6-12 which has been entrusted by God to the Seventh-day Adventist Church to be preached to the whole world. When the three angels’ messages will have been preached to the whole world, “then shall the end come” as stated in Matthew 24:14.
The question to be asked is, Are God’s people to do what they can to hasten Christ’s second coming? The answer is a definite YES!
The apostle Peter wrote concerning the condition of the church and the world during the last days in 2 Peter chapter 3. In this chapter he explained the following:
- the reason for the delay of Christ’s second coming. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9.
- we can do our part to hasten Christ’s second coming. “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness. Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” 2 Peter 3:11, 12.
Sister White explains very clearly the reasons for the delay of Christ’s second coming.
“The long night of gloom is trying, but the morning is deferred in mercy, because if the Master should come so many would be found unready.” – Ellen G. White, Testimonies, vol. 2, page 194.
“Had Adventists after the great disappointment in 1844 held fast their faith and followed on unitedly in the opening providence of God, receiving the message of the third angel and in the power of the Holy Spirit proclaiming it to the world, they would have seen the salvation of God, the Lord would have wrought mightily with their efforts, the work would have been completed, and Christ would have come ere this to receive His people to their reward. ... It was not the will of God that the coming of Christ should be thus delayed. ...
“For forty years did unbelief, murmuring, and rebellion shut out ancient Israel from the land of Canaan. The same sins have delayed the entrance of modern Israel into the heavenly Canaan. In neither case were the promises of God at fault. It is the unbelief, the worldliness, unconsecration, and strife among the Lord’s professed people that have kept us in this world of sin and sorrow so many years.” – Ellen G. White, Evangelism, pages 695, 696.
“Had the church of Christ done her appointed work as the Lord ordained, the whole world would before this have been warned and the Lord Jesus would have come to our earth in power and great glory.” – Ellen G. White, Desire of Ages, pages 633-634.
The following statement is a serious reminder of what we may have to go through:
“We may have to remain here in this world because of insubordination many more years, as did the children of Israel.” Evangelism, 696 (1901).
Brethren and sisters, we need not remain here in this world many more years. We can do our part to hasten the second coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We do not have to stay in this world a day longer than is necessary. We must wake up out of our spiritual sleepiness, and get on with the things that are needful for our eventual salvation in these last days of earth’s history.
2. The Cause of the Delay
Some church leaders or members have correctly mentioned that the wickedness of this world must ripen first and then the end will come. However, brothers and sisters, in fact, the church has become contaminated by the prevailing wickedness of this world and this has caused the delay of Christ’s second coming.
“Jesus is about to leave the mercy seat of the heavenly sanctuary to put on the garments of vengeance and pour out His wrath in judgments upon those who have not responded to the light God has given them. ‘Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.’ Instead of being softened by the patience and long forbearance that the Lord has exercised toward them, those who fear not God and love not the truth strengthen their hearts in their evil course. But there are limits even to the forbearance of God, and many are exceeding these boundaries. They have overrun the limits of grace, and therefore God must interfere and vindicate His own honor.
“Of the Amorites the Lord said: ‘In the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.’ Although this nation was conspicuous because of its idolatry and corruption, it had not yet filled up the cup of its iniquity, and God would not give command for its utter destruction. The people were to see the divine power manifested in a marked manner, that they might be left without excuse. The compassionate Creator was willing to bear with their iniquity until the fourth generation. Then, if no change was seen for the better, His judgments were to fall upon them.
“With unerring accuracy the Infinite One still keeps an account with all nations. While His mercy is tendered with calls to repentance, this account will remain open; but when the figures reach a certain amount which God has fixed, the ministry of His wrath commences. The account is closed. Divine patience ceases. There is no more pleading of mercy in their behalf.
“The prophet, looking down the ages, had this time presented before his vision. The nations of this age have been the recipients of unprecedented mercies. The choicest of heaven’s blessings have been given them, but increased pride, covetousness, idolatry, contempt of God, and base ingratitude are written against them. They are fast closing up their account with God.
“But that which causes me to tremble is the fact that those who have had the greatest light and privileges have become contaminated by the prevailing iniquity. Influenced by the unrighteous around them, many, even of those who profess the truth, have grown cold and are borne down by the strong current of evil. The universal scorn thrown upon true piety and holiness leads those who do not connect closely with God to lose their reverence for His law. If they were following the light and obeying the truth from the heart, this holy law would seem even more precious to them when thus despised and set aside. As the disrespect for God’s law becomes more manifest, the line of demarcation between its observers and the world becomes more distinct. Love for the divine precepts increases with one class according as contempt for them increases with another class.” – Ellen G. White, Testimonies, vol. 5, pages 207-209.
Sister White goes on to explain that the church will be the first to receive the stroke of the wrath of God.
“The class who do not feel grieved over their own spiritual declension, nor mourn over the sins of others, will be left without the seal of God. The Lord commissions His messengers, the men with the slaughtering weapons in their hands: ‘Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.’
“Here we see that the church—the Lord’s sanctuary—was the first to feel the stroke of the wrath of God. The ancient men, those to whom God had given great light and who had stood as guardians of the spiritual interests of the people, had betrayed their trust. They had taken the position that we need not look for miracles and the marked manifestation of God’s power as in former days. Times have changed. These words strengthen their unbelief, and they say: The Lord will not do good, neither will He do evil. He is too merciful to visit His people in judgment. Thus ‘peace and safety’ is the cry from men who will never again lift up their voice like a trumpet to show God’s people their transgressions and the house of Jacob their sins. These dumb dogs that would not bark are the ones who feel the just vengeance of an offended God. Men, maidens, and little children all perish together.” – Ellen G. White, Testimonies, vol. 5, page 211.
3. Preparation for Eternity Takes Time
“Courage, fortitude, faith, and implicit trust in God’s power to save do not come in a moment. These heavenly graces are acquired by the experience of years. By a life of holy endeavor and firm adherence to the right the children of God were sealing their destiny. Beset with temptations without number, they knew they must resist firmly or be conquered. They felt that they had a great work to do, and at any hour they might be called to lay off their armor; and should they come to the close of life with their work undone, it would be an eternal loss. They eagerly accepted the light from heaven, as did the first disciples from the lips of Jesus. When those early Christians were exiled to mountains and deserts, when left in dungeons to die of hunger, cold, and torture, when martyrdom seemed the only way out of their distress, they rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for Christ, who was crucified for them. Their worthy example will be a comfort and encouragement to the people of God who will be brought into the time of trouble such as never was.” – Ellen G. White, Testimonies, vol. 5, page 213.
I wish to conclude this article with the following statement from the Testimonies, vol. 5, pages 213-214: “Not all who profess to keep the Sabbath will be sealed. There are many even among those who teach the truth to others who will not receive the seal of God in their foreheads. They had the light of truth, they knew their Master’s will, they understood every point of our faith, but they had not corresponding works. These who were so familiar with prophecy and the treasures of divine wisdom should have acted their faith.”
May we see the importance of helping to hasten the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Prayer: “Our Father in heaven, thank You so much for helping us to realize the times in which we are living, that our Lord Jesus is about to come soon. Please help us to do our part to help hasten the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ by consecrating ourselves to Your service and to proclaim the last gospel messages of mercy to the world. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
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Questions for Thought:
1. Why or what is the cause of the delay of Christ’s second coming?
2. Need we remain in this world many more years?
3. Does courage, fortitude, faith and implicit trust in God’s power come in a moment?