|Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the
sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and
the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the
heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the
sign of the Son of Man in heaven: and then shall all
the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see
the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven
with power and great glory| (Matt.24:29, 30).
Having shown the Necessity of Christ's Return, having dwelt upon the Hope of His appearing, having pondered some of the bearings and types of the Fact of His Second Advent, we are now ready to discuss the Time of His Return and to consider the question -- When is our Lord coming back again? By the |Time| of the Redeemer's Return we do not mean the date, but the position which this great event occupies in God's dispensational programme. Concerning this phase of our subject there is wide difference of opinion. Two positions have been taken and the advocates of each appeal to the Scriptures in support of their conflicting views. These two positions are known as Pre-millennialism and Post-millennialism. The word |millennium| means a thousand years, and |pre| means before and |post| means after. One school of theologians believe and teach that the Lord Jesus will return before the Millennium, another school insist that He will not come back again until the close of the Millennium, in fact not until the end of the world, the end of time itself. As the point at issue between these schools is of great importance and as this book may fall into the hands of a number of people who are bewildered by this contradictory testimony and who are anxious to know what the Scriptures really say upon the matter, we have decided to devote a separate chapter to an examination of the question -- Will Christ return before or after the Millennium?
When is our Lord coming back again? In seeking a satisfactory and authoritative answer to this question our first need is a candid mind, and unprejudiced heart, a teachable spirit. It is impossible for us to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord while we cling to our own pre-conceptions. The initial requirement in every student of Holy Scripture is that he shall bow to the authority of the Word and submissively receive at its face value all that God has revealed. We need to approach the Sacred Volume in the attitude of learners, willing to have our own ideas of Truth corrected, and prepared to have our beliefs formed and moulded by the teaching of Holy Writ. Such as assertion may perhaps appear a platitude, yet we are fully assured that it is a timely reminder. One of the main hindrances which prevents many of God's children apprehending Divine Truth is that they read the Bible through the eyes of others; they read it with opinions already firmly formed, they read it with prejudicial interest. This is largely true with reference to the subject of our present inquiry. People have been taught by some |Doctor of Divinity,| or Seminary professor that the world is growing better, that the Gospel will eventually win all men to Christ, and that the Millennium is to be ushered in by the efforts of the church. It is difficult for those who have been taught thus to set aside the effects of such teaching and come to the study of the Bible to find out exactly what it says concerning these things. Yet we must do so if we would learn God's mind on the matter. It is |What saith the Scriptures?| not What does our church teach? not What does our Creed or Catechism say? not What did my godly parents tell me? but -- What saith the Scriptures? We repeat, in seeking an answer to the question -- When will our Lord return? Before or after the Millennium? we need to approach the Bible with an open mind, willing to be instructed by the One who inspired it, and coming to it in the spirit of the child Samuel saying, |Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth.|
What is the Time of our Lord's Return? As stated above, two general answers are returned to this question. One class of theologians argue that our Lord will not come back again until after the Millennium; another class declare that He will return before the Millennium. In order to be fair to each of these schools we will first give a brief description of their respective positions.