THE BASF - ITS IMPORTANCE AND TEACHING
“That for this purpose God will send Jesus Christ personally to the earth at the close of the times of the Gentiles – Acts 3:20,21; Ps 102:16,21; 2 Tim 4:1; Acts 1:9,11; Dan 7:13″
Having described how “the things concerning the kingdom of God” (Acts 8:12) are the things to do with a literal, future polity yet to replace the kingdoms of men upon the earth (Rev 11:15; Dan 2:44), the Birmingham Amended Statement of Faith next directs our attention to the One charged with the work of bringing these things about. The Lord Jesus Christ “personally” will be sent by the Father, at the time appointed (Hab 2:3), to execute the judgements written, and to set up the Kingdom fore-ordained from the foundation of the world. The Apostles recognised that for the Kingdom to come, its king must come first in order to establish it, even though the appointed time had not been revealed to them.
Accordingly, as we saw in our last article, they enquired after a forty-day period of instruction of such matters: “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). It is the Lord Jesus Christ who is to bring the Kingdom, which, as we shall see in our next article, is to be the ancient Israelitish polity restored.
There are those who believe that the Master’s promised return is not to be a literal, physical, personal descent to the earth; but rather that his coming will be in some ‘spiritual’ sense of an indwelling in men’s hearts. Similarly the Kingdom, it is thought, is not a literal one, but a ‘spiritual’ kingdom, where Christ reigns in men’s hearts – we considered this latter dogma in our last article. But those who hold such ideas manifestly do not understand either the nature of the coming Kingdom – or what it is to be ‘spiritual’ either for that matter.
They use the word ‘spiritual’ as a term of distinction for a thing that is not actual, tangible or real. They ‘spiritualise’ a thing in making it not real; thus the return of Christ becomes not a real and actual return of Christ, but a ‘spiritual’ (not real) one, with him, in some unknown way dwelling in men’s hearts. And the Kingdom becomes not a real kingdom, with a real king, ruling over a real territory, but a ‘spiritual’ (not real) kingdom – which in fact, is no kingdom at all, for it exists only in the abstract feelings and emotions of men’s hearts, finding no tangible counterpart in the actual world. But those who search the Scriptures daily to see whether these things are so, will quickly discover that the Bible does not use the word in such a way. For something to be “spiritual” in Bible terms is for it to be related to things of the spirit of God, rather than the flesh (1 Cor 9:11), or a thing teaching a particular principle of the spirit (1 Cor 10:4). It does not use the term as distinct from literal and real. On the contrary, it teaches in plain and unequivocal terms, the literal, and personal descent of Christ from heaven, for the purpose of establishing a new order of things upon the earth.
A PROMISE GIVEN BY ANGELIC MESSENGERS
Accordingly the angels that communed with the Apostles at the time of the ascent of the Christ to the right hand of His Father gave this promise: “this same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Here is language as plain and unequivocal as any man could desire; How will Christ come? As actually and literally as he departed. The risen Christ who ascended to the Right Hand of the Throne of the Most High, was no mere abstraction, but was the prince of life, able to demonstrate to those who disbelieved the marks of the crucifixion he endured on his hands and his feet – and to the extent of inviting any who doubted to touch, and hold them as proof of his corporeal existence in the land of the living (Luke 24:39, cp Mat 28:9). Even so, the marks of his sacrifice remain as tokens of his identity – and evidence that he indeed overcame the world. They have, as it were, become badges of honour, emblematic of the victory of Christ over the diabolos itself. It is then, this Christ who is to come; not an invisible spirit, but a corporeal immortalised man, who shall descend from in like manner as he ascended.
And with this, the apostles who witnessed the event agree:
“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the Heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:19-21).
“The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first …” (1Thes 4:16).
“At the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent: because He hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30).
“To you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe” (2Thess 1:7-10).
THE COMING JUDGMENTS
The last two passages indicate that the Lord Jesus shall come for the purposes of judgement. Proof that the judge is indeed he, is his being raised from the dead, which fact is itself an assurance that the Father’s purpose will stand sure, and that men will indeed experience His Judgements at the hands of His son. But he shall not come purely for judgement, for he shall also come “to be glorified in his saints.” So it will be, that whilst those who obey not the gospel being plainly presented to them shall be removed from his presence with age-lasting destruction, there will be others who eat and drink before him (Luke 14:15, 22:16,30), in admiration of his person.
THE BRETHREN OF CHRIST – PRINCES IN THE AGE TO COME
In fact, it must be so. Those who will have been confessed by the Master to be his brethren (Heb 2:11-13) shall live and reign with him. They will share in the power of his glory, sharing the ancient Davidic seat of power restored (cp Rev 3:21), and shall sing a joyful song to the Lamb who was slain for the remission of their sins: “ … thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Rev 5:9-10).
Indeed, we find that Christ’s brethren, themselves have a pre-eminent role to play in bringing the nations into subjection before the Great King. The Psalmist describes the time of their glorified singing:
“Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds. Let the high praises of El be in their mouth, and a two edged sword in their hand; to execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute upon them the judgment written: This honour have all his saints. Praise ye Yahweh” (Ps 149:5-9).
The saints of the Most High then, will themselves be involved in bringing the world into subjection to Christ. They shall execute the judgment written – which proves that they are not to bring the world into subjection by preaching alone. Rather, as the great company of the immortalised believers, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, they shall go forth with him to subdue the nations, to overthrow the kingdoms of men, and to establish the rule of Christ over them.
Such are things that cannot be ‘spiritualised’. They are real events which shall really take place. The Lord Jesus shall descend from heaven literally, and really. He shall be glorified in his brethren, who shall be immortalised with him, literally and really. And together, they shall go forth against the kingdoms of men as a crushing stone-power, to set up the kingdom of the Deity upon the earth (Dan 2:44) – a literal and real kingdom that shall not be left to others, but shall endure for ever.