MAJOR BIBLE THEMES
Louis Sperry Chafer
"Bible doctrines are the bones of
revelation and the attentive Bible student must be
impressed with the New Testament emphasis on sound
doctrine (Matt. 7:28; John 7:16, 17; Acts 2:42; Rom.
6:17; Eph. 4:14; 1 Tim. 1:3; 4:6, 16; 6:1; 2 Tim.
3:10, 16; 4:2, 3; 2 John 1:9, 10)."
~ Dr. Louis Sperry Chafer ~
The studies presented
herein are a continuation
of Major Bible Themes which, Lord willing, will
eventually be presented
in its entirety. Major Bible Themes may serve as a wonderful outline for personal or group
Links to previous studies in the series may be found in our
pages. ~ editor
Chapter V: GOD
Chapters VI - XII:
GOD THE SON
"But when the
processes of redemption are in progress, as recorded
in the New Testament,
the clearest distinctions are drawn as to the Person
and work of each."
GOD THE FATHER
"The Father is
presented as electing, loving, and bestowing."
CHAPTER V: GOD THE
Three Persons are
indicated in the blessed Trinity - the Father, the Son, and the
Holy Spirit - and these three are one God. The Father is not the
Trinity, the Son is not the Trinity, nor is the Spirit the
Trinity. Since the Old Testament reference to Deity is almost
universally to the Triune God, there is comparatively little
mention in that portion of the Scriptures of the three Persons
in the Trinity. But when the processes of redemption are in
progress, as recorded in the New Testament, the clearest
distinctions are drawn as to the Person and work of each. The
Father is presented as electing, loving, and bestowing; the Son
is presented as suffering, redeeming, and upholding; while the
Spirit is presented as regenerating, energizing, and
sanctifying. This chapter is concerned with the person of the
Father - the ﬁrst of the blessed Trinity - who is set forth in
the New Testament in two aspects:
I. THE GOD AND FATHER OF
OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
The relationship which exists between the ﬁrst and second
Persons of the Trinity is, in the Scriptures, likened to that
relationship which exists between a father and a son. The
relationship, though nowhere clearly explained, is fundamental
in the divine being and has always existed. He who was
the ﬁrstborn of every creature
was the only begotten Son
from all eternity (John 17:5; Col. 1:15-17; Heb. 1:5-10), and He
who in the fullness of time that He might be incarnate was
begotten by the overshadowing power of the Highest and born of a
virgin (Luke 1:35), was with the Father and was coequal with Him
from the beginning (John 1:1, 2). While the relationship between
the ﬁrst and the second Persons of the Trinity is actually that
of a father to a son and a son to a father (2 Cor. 1:3; Gal.
4:4; Heb. 1:2), the fact of this relationship is an illustration
of vital truth which accommodates itself to the mode of thought
of a ﬁnite mind. The truth that the Father is the Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ, though slightly mentioned in the Old
Testament (Psa. 2:7; Isa. 7:14; 9:6, 7), is one of the most
general teachings of the New Testament.
1. The Son of God is said to have been begotten of the Father
(Psa. 2:7; John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9).
2. The Father acknowledged the Lord Jesus Christ to be His Son
(Matt. 3:17; 17:5; Luke 9:35).
3. The Father is acknowledged by the Son (Matt. 11:27; 26:63,
64; Luke 22:29; John 8:16-29, 33-44; 17:1).
4. The fact that God the Father is the Father of the Lord Jesus
Christ is acknowledged by men (Matt. 16:16; Mark 15:39; John
1:34, 49; Acts 3:14).
5. The Son acknowledges the Father by being subject to Him (John
6. Even the demons recognize this relationship between the
Father and the Son (Matt. 8:29).
II. THE FATHER OF ALL AMONG MEN WHO BELIEVE ON CHRIST
The student should be warned against the modernistic teaching
which is now so general and which claims that God the Father is
the Father of all mankind, and that there is therefore a
universal brotherhood among men founded upon a supposed
universal fatherhood of God. It is true that the human race at
its beginning was the offspring of God
(Acts 17:28, 29). But, when tracing the genealogy of Christ,
Luke declared each and every generation until Adam to be the
offspring of the preceding generation; Adam alone is called
the son of God (Luke 3:38).
On the other hand, the Scriptures teach that all who believe on
Christ unto salvation are sons of God; not on the ground of
their ﬁrst or natural birth into the Adamic family, but on the
ground of their second or spiritual birth into the family of God
(John 1:12; Gal. 3:26; Eph. 2:19; 3:15; 5:1). By the
regenerating work of the Spirit the believer is made a
legitimate child of God. God being actually his Father he is
impelled by the Spirit to say Abba,
Father. Being born of God, he is a partaker of the
divine nature, and on the ground of that birth, he is heir of
God and a joint-heir with Christ (John 1:12, 13; 3:3-6; Titus
3:4-6; 1 Pet. 1:4; Rom. 8:16, 17). The impartation of the divine
nature is an operation so deep that the nature thus imparted is
never said to be removed for any cause whatsoever.
When the teachings of the Scriptures relative to the present
power and authority of Satan are considered, added proof is
given that all men are not children of God by their natural
birth. In this connection the most direct and faithful sayings
of Christ are in evidence. Speaking of those who disbelieved He
said: Ye are of your father the devil
(John 8:44). Likewise, when describing the unregenerate He said,
The tares are the children of the
wicked one (Matt. 13:38). The Apostle Paul wrote of
the unsaved as being The children of
disobedience, and The
children of wrath (Eph. 2:2, 3).
Emphasis should be placed on the fact that it is not in the
power of any one to make himself a child of God. God alone can
undertake such a transformation, and He undertakes it only on
the one condition which He Himself has imposed, that Christ
shall be believed upon and received as Saviour (John 1:12).
The following passages give clear instruction regarding the
Fatherhood of God: John 20:17; 1 Corinthians 15:24; Ephesians
1:3; 2:18; 4:6; Colossians 1:12, 13, 19; 1 Peter 1:3; 1 John
1:3; 2:1, 22; 3:1.
1. Where does the emphasis
fall in the Scriptures on God as One Person, and where on the
separate Persons of the Trinity?
2. What ministries are exercised by the Father, by the Son, and
by the Spirit?
3. What human relationship is used in the Scriptures to
illustrate the relationship which exists between the First and
Second Persons of the Trinity?
4. What Scriptures indicate that this relationship existed from
5. What Old Testament passages teach the relationship of Father
and Son in the Godhead?
6. Name six ways in which the divine Father and Son relationship
is acknowledged and asserted in the New Testament.
7. To whom other than Christ is God said to be Father?
8. Is the doctrine of the Universal Fatherhood of God and the
Universal Sonship of Man taught in the Scriptures?
9. How may man be said to be the offspring of God?
10. By what process does he become a child of God?
11. What is imparted through the new birth?
12. Do the Scriptures imply that the new nature could ever be
13. Indicate some Bible passages which describe the
relationships which the unsaved sustain to Satan and to God.
14. Who alone is sufﬁcient to accomplish a regeneration of lost
"The Son is
presented as suffering, redeeming, and upholding."
GOD THE SON: HIS PRE-EXISTENCE
Being at the same time
perfectly human and perfectly divine, the Lord Jesus Christ was
both like and unlike to the sons of men. The Scripture is clear
regarding His likeness to men (John 1:14; 1 Tim. 3:16; Heb.
2:14-17), presenting Him as a man among men, who was both, who
lived, who suffered, and who died. The Scriptures are equally
clear as to His unlikeness to men; not only in the sinless
character of His human life, His sacriﬁcial death, His glorious
resurrection and ascension, but in the fact of His eternal
On the human side he had a beginning; He was conceived by the
Holy Ghost and born of a virgin. On the divine side He had no
beginning; He was from all eternity. In Isaiah 9:6, we read:
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.
The distinction is obvious between the child which was born and
the Son which was given. In like manner, it is stated in
Galatians 4:4, But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth
his Son, made of a woman, made under the law. He who was the
eternal Son was, in the fullness of time,
made [the offspring] of a
The fact of the pre-existence of the Son of God is established
by two distinct lines of revelation - (1) as directly stated,
and (2) as implied:
I. AS DIRECTLY STATED
The pre-existence of Christ is asserted in an extensive body of
Scripture which is of great importance since it enters vitally
into the revelation of the fact of His Deity. By these
Scriptures the Son of God is seen to be in His inﬁnite
Person and eternal existence coequal with the other Persons of
the Godhead, and this fact is unaffected by His incarnation. The
Scriptures state: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word
was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the
beginning with God (John 1:1, 2);
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah,
though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of
thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel;
whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting
(Micah. 5:2; note also, Isa. 7:13, 14; 9:6, 7);
Jesus said unto
them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am
(John 8:58; note also, Exod. 3:14; Isa. 43:13);
And now, O
Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which
I had with thee before the world was (John 17:5). The following
passages are of equal import: John 13:3; Philippians 2:6;
Colossians 1:15-19; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 1:3; 13:8.
II. AS IMPLIED
The Word of God constantly and consistently implies the
pre-existence of the Lord Jesus Christ. Among the obvious proofs
of this fact several may be noted:
1. The works of creation are ascribed to Christ (John 1:3; Col.
1:16; Heb. 1:10). He therefore antedates all creation.
2. The Angel of Jehovah whose appearance is often recorded in
the Old Testament is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ.
Though He appears at times as an angel or even as a man, He
bears the unmistakable marks of Deity, He appeared to Hagar
(Gen. 16:7), to Abraham (Gen. 18:1; 22:11, 12; note John 8:58),
to Jacob (Gen. 48:15, 16; note also, Gen. 31:11-13; 32:24-32),
to Moses (Exod. 3:2, 14), to Joshua (Josh. 5:13, 14), and to
Manoah (Judg. 13:19-22). He it is who ﬁghts for, and defends,
His own (2 Kings 19:35; Zech. 14:1-4; 1 Chron. 21:15, 16; Psa.
3. The titles of the Lord Jesus Christ indicate His eternal
Being. He is precisely what His names imply. He is "The Son of
God," "The Only Begotten Son," "The First and the Last," "The
Alpha and Omega," "The Lord," "Lord of All," "Lord of Glory,"
"The Christ," "Wonderful," "Counsellor," "The Mighty God," "The
Father of Eternity," "God," "God with us," "Our Great God," and
"God Blessed Forever."
These titles relate Him to the Old Testament revelation of
Jehovah-God (comp. Matt. 1:23 with Isa. 7:14; Matt. 4:7 with
Deut. 6:16; Mark 5:19 with Psa. 66:16; and Psa. 110:1 with Matt.
Again, the New Testament names of the Son of God are associated
with titles of the Father and the Spirit as being equal with
them (Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:38; 1 Cor. 1:3; 2 Cor. 13:14; John
14:1; 17:3; Eph. 5:5; Rev. 20:6; 22:3), and He is explicitly
called God (Rom. 9:5; John 1:1; Titus 2:13; Heb. 1:8).
4. The pre-existence of the Son of God is implied in the fact
that He has the attributes of God - Life (John 1:4),
Self-existence (John 5:26), Immutability (Heb. 13:8), Truth
(John 14:6), Love (1 John 3:16), Holiness (Heb. 7:26), Eternity
(Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:11), Omnipresence (Matt. 28:20), Omniscience
(1 Cor. 4:5; Col. 2:3), and Omnipotence (Matt. 28:18; Rev. 1:8).
5. In like manner the pre-existence of Christ is implied in the
fact that He is worshiped as God (John 20:28; Acts 7:59; Heb.
Therefore it follows that since the Lord Jesus Christ is God, He
is from everlasting to everlasting.
This chapter, which of necessity has emphasized the Deity of
Christ, should be closely connected with the following chapter,
which emphasizes the humanity of Christ through the incarnation.
1. What two widely distinct
natures united in Christ?
2. Wherein was He like unto men?
3. Wherein was He unlike to men?
4. Name the two distinct lines of revelation which establish the
pre-existence of Christ.
5. Indicate the important Old Testament passages which teach the
pre-existence of Christ.
6. Indicate the important New Testament passages which teach the
pre-existence of Christ.
7. Since it is recorded that He is the Creator, could it be
possible for Him to have been created?
8. Point out the various ministries of Christ on earth as the
"Angel of Jehovah."
9. Repeat from memory the various divine titles which are
ascribed to Christ in the Old Testament.
10. Repeat from memory the various divine titles which are
ascribed to Christ in the New Testament.
11. Name the attributes of God which are ascribed to Christ with
12. Is there any divine attribute which is not ascribed to Him?
13. What Scriptures prove that Christ was and is worshiped as
14. Are you fully convinced as to the pre-existence and absolute
Deity of the Son of God?
GOD THE SON: HIS INCARNATION
John states (John 1:1) that
Christ who was one with God and was God from all eternity,
became ﬂesh and tabernacled among us (John 1:14). Paul
likewise states that Christ, who was in the form of God, took
upon Him the likeness of men (Phil. 2:6, 7); and
God was manifest in the
ﬂesh (1 Tim. 3:16); and He who was the effulgence of God's
glory and the express image of His person (Heb. 1:3), took upon
Himself the seed of Abraham and was in all things made like unto
His brethren (Heb. 2:16, 17). Luke, in greater detail, presents
the historical fact of His incarnation, both as to the
conception and birth (Luke 1:26-38).
When considering the result of the incarnation, two important
truths should be recognized: (1) Christ became at the same time
and in the absolute sense very God and very man, and (2) in
becoming ﬂesh, He, though laying aside His glory, in no sense
laid aside His Deity.
The Bible presents many contrasts, but none more striking than
that one Person should be at the same time very God and very
man. Illustrations from the Scriptures of these contrasts are
many: He was weary, yet He called the weary to Himself for rest.
He was hungry, yet He was "the bread of life." He was thirsty,
yet He was "the water of life." He was in an agony, yet He
healed all manner of disease and soothed every pain. He "grew,
and waxed strong in spirit," yet He was from all eternity. He
was tempted, yet He, as God, could not be tempted. He became
self-limited in knowledge, yet He was the wisdom of God. He said
(with reference to His humiliation, being made for a little time
lower than the angels), "My Father is greater than I," yet He
also said, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father," and, "I
and my Father are one." He prayed, yet He answered prayer. He
wept at the tomb, yet He called the dead to arise. He asked,
"Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?" yet He "needed not
that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man." He
said, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" yet it was
the very God to whom He cried who was at that moment "in Christ
reconciling the world unto himself." He died, yet He is eternal
life. He was God's ideal man, and man's ideal God.
From this it may be seen that the Lord Jesus Christ sometimes
functioned His earth-life within the sphere of that which was
perfectly human and sometimes within the sphere of that which
was perfectly divine. His divine Being was never limited in any
degree by the fact of His humanity, nor did He minister to His
human need from His divine resources. He could turn stones into
bread to feed His human hunger, but this He never did.
The student should observe (1) the fact of Christ's humanity,
and (2) the Biblical reasons for His incarnation. *
I. THE FACT OF CHRIST'S
1. The humanity of Christ was purposed from before the
foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). The signiﬁcance of the
Lamb-type is in the sacriﬁcial, blood-shedding, physical body.
2. Every type and prophecy of the Old Testament concerning
Christ was an anticipation of the incarnate Son of God.
3. The fact of the humanity of Christ is seen in His
annunciation and birth (Luke 1:31-35).
4. His life here on earth revealed His humanity, (1) by His
human names: "The Son of man," "The man Christ Jesus," "Jesus,"
"The Son of David," and the like. (2) By His human parentage: He
is mentioned as "the fruit of the loins," "her ﬁrstborn," "of
this man's seed," "seed of David," "seed of Abraham," "made of a
woman," "sprang from Judah." (3) By the fact that He possessed a
human body, soul, and spirit (1 John 4:2, 9; Matt. 26:38; John
13:21). And (4) by His self-imposed human limitations.
5. The humanity of Christ is seen in His death and resurrection.
It was a human body that suffered death on the cross and it was
the same body which came forth from the tomb in resurrection
6. The fact of the humanity of Christ is seen in that He
ascended to Heaven and is now, in His human gloriﬁed body,
ministering for His own.
7. When He comes again it will be the "same Jesus" coming as He
went in the same body, though gloriﬁed, in which He became
II. THE BIBLICAL REASONS
FOR THE INCARNATION *
1. He came to reveal God to
men (John 1:18; 14:9; Matt. 11:27; Rom. 5:8; 1 John 3:16). By
the incarnation, the incomprehensible God is translated into
terms of human understanding.
2. He came to reveal man. He is God's ideal man and as such is
an example to believers (1 Pet. 2:21); but He is never an
example to the unsaved since God is not now seeking to reform
the unsaved, but rather to save them.
3. He came to provide a sacriﬁce for sin. For this reason He is
seen thanking God for His human body and this in relation to
true sacriﬁce for sin (Heb. 10:1-10).
4. He came in the ﬂesh that He might destroy the works of the
Devil (Heb. 2:14; 1 John 3:8; Col. 2:13-15; John 12:31; 16:11).
5. He came into the world that He might be a merciful and
faithful high priest in things pertaining to God (Heb. 2:16, 17;
8:1; 9:11, 12; 9:24).
6. He came in the ﬂesh that He might fulﬁll the Davidic covenant
(2 Sam. 7:16; Luke 1:31-33; Rom. 15:8; Acts 2:30, 31, 36). In
His gloriﬁed human body He will appear and reign as "King of
Kings, and Lord of Lords," and will sit on the throne of His
7. As incarnate, He becomes Head over all things to the Church,
which is the New Creation, the new humanity.
In the incarnation, the Son of God took upon Himself not only a
human body, but also a human soul and spirit. Thus becoming both
the material and immaterial sides of human existence, He became
entire man, and so closely and permanently related to the human
family that He is rightly called "The Last Adam," and "the body
of his glory" (Phil. 3:21) is now an abiding fact.
He who is the eternal Son, Jehovah-God, was also the Son of
Mary, the Boy of Nazareth, the Teacher and Healer of Judea, the
Guest at Bethany, the Lamb of Calvary. He will yet be the King
of Glory, as He is now the Saviour of men, the High Priest, the
Coming Bridegroom and Lord.
1. Is it reasonable to
believe that God in the Person of His Son for self-manifestation
and for redemption should for a little time take upon Himself
the form of ﬂesh?
2. Name several passages which state both the Deity and the
humanity of Christ.
3. In considering the Incarnation, what two truths should be
4. Indicate some of the strong contrasts between the divine and
human natures of Christ which are presented in the Records of
His life here on earth.
5. Did He ever minister to His human limitation from His divine
6. What relation do the blood-shedding types of the Old
Testament bear to the humanity of Christ?
7. Suggest some proofs of His humanity from His birth and life
here on the earth.
8. What proofs of His humanity are presented in the death and
resurrection, the ascension, and the second coming of Christ?
9. How did He reveal both God and man through His humanity?
10. Was a human body essential in the sacriﬁce for sin?
11. Was a human body evidently essential in the work of
destroying the works of the devil?
12. In fulﬁlling the high-priest type, was His incarnation
13. As fulﬁller of the Davidic covenant, was it necessary for
Christ to be born into the human family?
14. Since He is Head over the New Creation which is composed of
the redeemed from earth, is it essential that He shall be
GOD THE SON: HIS SUBSTITUTIONARY DEATH
Whether in Bible doctrine or
in common speech, the word substitution means the replacement of
one person or thing for another. Though not a Bible word, its
speciﬁc meaning when related to the Scriptures is concerning the
work of Christ on the cross, and by it is indicated the fact
that those unmeasured, righteous judgments of God against the
sinner because of his sin were borne by Christ substituting in
the sinner's room and stead. The result of this substitution is
itself as simple and deﬁnite as the transaction - the Saviour
has already borne the divine judgments against the sinner to the
full satisfaction of God. There is therefore nothing left for
the sinner to do or for him to persuade God to do; but he is
asked to believe this good news, relating it to his own sin, and
thereby claim his personal Saviour.
The word substitution fails to represent all that is
accomplished in the death of Christ. In fact there is no
all-inclusive term. By popular usage, the word atonement has
been pressed into this service; but the word atonement:, which
does not once appear in the original text of the New Testament,
means, as used in the Old Testament, only to cover sin. However,
the word atonement does clearly indicate the divine method of
dealing with sin before the cross. In the Old Testament, while
requiring no more than a symbolic animal sacriﬁce for the
remission of sins (Lit. toleration, Rom. 3:25), and winking at
sin (Lit. to overlook and not punish, Acts 17:30), God was
acting in perfect righteousness since He was awaiting the coming
of His own Lamb who would in no way pass over or cover sin, but
who would take it away for ever (John 1:29).
In attempting to consider the full value of the death of Christ
we should distinguish:
1. That the death of Christ assures us of the love of God toward
the sinner (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8; 1 John 3:16; 4:9); added to
this, there is, naturally, a reﬂex inﬂuence or moral appeal
through this truth upon the life of the one who really receives
it (2 Cor. 5:15; 1 Pet. 2:21-24); but this appeal concerning the
manner of daily life is never addressed to the unsaved.
2. The death of Christ is said to be a redemption or ransom paid
to the holy demands of God for the sinner and to free the sinner
from just condemnation. It is signiﬁcant that the one
discriminating word for, meaning "instead of," or "as a price
paid for," is used in every passage wherein this aspect of truth
appears (Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45; 1 Tim. 2:6).
In like manner, the death of Christ was a necessary penalty
which He bore for the sinner (Rom. 4:25; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 1:4;
3:13; Heb. 9:28).
So, also, the death of Christ was an offering for sin, not as
the animal offerings of the Old Testament which could only cover
sin in the sense of delaying the time of righteous judgment; but
as taking it to Himself, bearing it, and bearing it away forever
(John 1:29; Isa. 53:7-12; 1 Cor. 5:7; Eph. 5:2; Heb. 9:12, 22,
26; 1 Pet. 1:18, 19).
3. The death of Christ is represented on His part as an act of
obedience to the law which sinners have broken; which act is
acceptable to God in their stead (Gal. 4:4; Phil. 2:8; Rom.
4. The death of Christ was a priestly mediation by which the
world was reconciled unto God. Reconciliation results when
enmity is removed, and, while it is never implied that the
world's enmity toward God is removed, it is declared that the
judicial state of the world is so altered before God by the
death of Christ that He is said to have reconciled the world
unto Himself. So complete and far-reaching is this provision
that it is added in the Scriptures that He is not now imputing
their trespasses unto them (2 Cor. 5:18, 19; Eph. 2:16; Col.
5. The death of Christ removed all moral hindrances in the mind
of God to the saving of sinners. By that death God is
propitiated and thus declared to be righteous when He, (1)
anticipating the value of the sacriﬁce of His Son, passes over
the sins of His people who lived before the cross (Rom. 3:25;
Heb. 9:15, R.V.), and (2) to be just at the present time when He
justiﬁes those who do no more than believe in Jesus (Rom. 3:26).
This aspect of the death of Christ is to be distinguished from
all others because of its effect upon God. Since, in that death,
His inﬁnite love and power are released from restraint by the
accomplishment of every judgment which His righteousness could
demand against the sinner, God is more advantaged by the death
of Christ than all the world combined.
6. Christ, in His death, became the Substitute bearing the
penalty belonging to the sinner (Lev. 16:21; Luke 22:37; Isa.
53:6; John 10:11; Rom. 5:6-8; 1 Pet. 3:18; Matt. 20:28). This
fact is the ground of assurance for all who would come unto God
for salvation. It presents something for every individual to
believe concerning his own relation to God on the question of
his own sin. A general belief that Christ died for the whole
world is not sufﬁcient; a personal conviction that one's own sin
has been perfectly borne by Christ the Substitute is required -
a belief which results in a sense of relief, joy, and
appreciation (Rom. 15:13; Heb. 9:14; 10:2). Salvation is a
mighty work of God which is wrought instantly for the one who
believes on Christ.
7. The death of Christ is often misinterpreted. Every Christian
will do well to understand thoroughly the fallacy of those
misstatements which are so general today:
a. It is claimed that the doctrine of substitution is immoral on
the ground that God could not in righteousness lay the sins of
the guilty on an innocent victim. This statement might be
considered if it could be proved that Christ was an unwilling
victim; but the Scriptures present Him as being in fullest
sympathy with His Father's will and actuated by the same inﬁnite
love (Heb. 10:7; John 13:1). Likewise, in the inscrutable
mystery of the Godhead, it was God Himself who was in Christ
reconciling the world unto Himself (2 Cor. 5:19). So far from
the death of Christ being an immoral imposition, it was God
Himself, the righteous Judge in inﬁnite love and sacriﬁce,
bearing the full penalty that His own holiness required of the
b. It is claimed that Christ died as a martyr and that the value
of His death is seen in the example He presented of courage and
loyalty to His convictions even unto death. The sufﬁcient answer
to this error is that, since He was God's provided Lamb, no man
took His life from Him (John 10:18; Psa. 22:15; Acts 2:23).
c. It is claimed that Christ died to create a moral effect which
is that, since the cross displays the divine estimate of sin,
men who consider the cross will be constrained to turn from
lives of sin. This theory, which has no foundation in the
Scriptures, assumes that God is now seeking the reformation of
men; while, in reality, the cross is the ground of regeneration.
1. What is the meaning of
substitution when related to the death of Christ?
2. If this work of Christ's is already accomplished, what
obligation now rests on the sinner?
3. What is the Bible meaning of the word atonement, and what
relation does atonement sustain to the sacriﬁce of Christ?
a. What assurance is given the sinner by the death of Christ?
b. Is there any appeal by the cross to the unsaved as to
a. Describe the death of Christ as a ransom.
b. To whom was the ransom paid?
c. Describe that death as a necessary penalty.
d. Describe that death as an offering for sin.
6. Describe Christ's death as an act of obedience.
a. Describe Christ's death as a priestly mediation.
b. Who was reconciled, and to what extent, in the death of
c. Why is God not now imputing sin unto sinners?
8. What effect did the death of Christ have upon God in respect
both to the sins before the cross and the sins after the cross?
9. In view of Christ's substitution for sinners, what became of
the necessary divine penalty imposed on men because of sin?
10. In the light of Satan's purposes, is it reasonable to expect
that the doctrine of saving grace through the cross will be
misunderstood by the unsaved?
11. What answer should be given to one who claims that the
doctrine of Christ's substitution is immoral?
12. What answer should be given to one who claims that Christ
died as a martyr?
13. What answer should be given to one who claims that Christ's
death was only to produce a moral inﬂuence on men?
14. What answer do you give when the Word of God states that
Christ died as a substitute for you?
GOD THE SON: HIS RESURRECTION AND ASCENSION
I. THE RESURRECTION
For as in Adam all die, even so in
Christ shall all be made alive (1 Cor. 15:22).
However, in John 5:25-29, wherein the universal resurrection is
also mentioned, a sharp contrast is drawn between the
resurrection which is unto life, and that which is unto
condemnation (note Acts 24:15; Dan. 12:2). The order between
these two aspects of resurrection and the resurrection of Christ
is set forth as a procession (1 Cor. 15:20-24): (1) Christ in
His resurrection is said to precede all others and to be the "ﬁrstfruits."
None other has been raised as He was raised (1 Tim. 6:16; 2 Tim.
1:10). (2) "They that are Christ's at his coming." This group,
it should be observed, is strictly limited to, and all-inclusive
of, those who are Christ's, and in point of time their
resurrection follows that of Christ by at least the present
period which has already continued two thousand years. (3) "Then
cometh the end," meaning the last resurrection in the order of
procession, and is the resurrection unto condemnation which
includes all the remainder of the human race.
The time of the resurrection is declared to be "when he [Christ]
shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father;
when he [Christ] shall have put down all rule and all authority
and power." This kingdom reign of Christ, it is stated, will be
for a period of one thousand years (Rev. 20:4, 6), and, in
accordance with the above passages, will be followed by the
resurrection of the dead, both small and great, who shall then
be judged at the Great White Throne and there condemned for ever
(Rev. 20:11-15). As added evidence that there will be a partial
resurrection at the coming of Christ, it is stated that "the
dead in Christ shall rise ﬁrst" (1 Thess. 4:16, 17), and Paul
testiﬁed that he desired to attain to that particular
resurrection which is out from among the dead (Phil. 3:11).
From the Scriptures which are cited above, it is seen that, in
spite of the almost universal impression to the contrary, there
is no so-called "general resurrection" including all the dead to
be raised at one time.
The resurrection of Christ is unique. Others who were actually
dead have been restored to life (2 Kings 4:32-35; 13:21; Matt.
9:25; Luke 7:12-15; John 11:43, 44; Acts 9:36-41); but all such
were only returned to their former existence and were thus
subject again to the ﬁrst death. The resurrection of Christ was
into a new sphere as the "last Adam," the Head of a new race or
a new species. Christ came forth with the new, deathless, gloriﬁed
body which is the pattern of that body which shall be given to
every believer when Christ comes again (Phil. 3:20, 21). Though
the soul and spirit are endless in their existence, it is only
the resurrection body which is said to be immortal. Therefore,
since Christ alone has received the resurrection body, it is
written of Him that He only hath immortality, dwelling in light
(1 Tim. 6:16).
The saints before the cross believed in the resurrection (Gen.
22:5; Psa. 16:9, 10; 17:15; Isa. 25:8; 26:19; Hos. 13:14),
though the word does not appear in the Old Testament. We have
also the testimony of Job (Job 14:14, 15; 19:25-27), and of
Martha who voiced the conviction of the people of her day (John
11:24). So, also, the resurrection is mentioned as one of the
major features of Judaism (Heb. 6:1, 2). The Old Testament
revelation was incomplete, for it was Christ who "brought life
and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 Tim. 1:10).
Since the import of the resurrection transcends all
dispensational bounds and is eternal in its issues, it is to be
classed as one of the seven greatest divine undertakings - (1)
the creation of the angelic hosts (Col. 1:16); (2) the creation
of the material universe including the ﬁrst Adam; (3) the
incarnation; (4) the death of Christ; (5) the resurrection; (6)
the second coming of Christ; and (7) the ﬁnal bringing in of the
new heavens and the new earth (2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1; Isa.
66:22). Of these great undertakings, two are closely related to
the resurrection of Christ:
First. - His resurrection is related to His death as being the
consummation of all that was undertaken and accomplished by the
cross both in Heaven and on earth. He was delivered for our
offences, and raised again for our justiﬁcation (Rom. 4:25).
Second. - His resurrection is related to the ﬁrst creation,
which was ruined by sin, only to the extent that He is the Head
of a New Creation which came into being when He arose from the
dead and which partakes of His inﬁnite perfection. The New
Creation is composed of all those who have believed and being
regenerated are united to Christ by the baptism with the Spirit
(1 Cor. 12:13; 2 Cor. 5:17; 1 Cor. 6:17; Gal. 3:26), and are,
therefore, accepted before God as He is accepted (Eph. 1:6), and
destined to share His inﬁnite glory (Col. 3:4; John 17:24). As
the Sabbath was instituted to commemorate the accomplishment of
the ﬁrst creation (Gen. 2:1-3; Exod. 16:29, 30; Neh. 9:13, 14),
so the observance of the ﬁrst day of the week commemorates the
accomplishment of the New Creation. There is no commandment to
observe, or any record of observance, of the seventh day after
Christ rose from the dead (note Hos. 2:11; Col. 2:16).
There is but one general reason revealed for the death of Christ
and that reason is because of sin; but there are at least seven
reasons given for His resurrection: (1) He arose because of what
He is - being the Eternal Son, it is not possible for Him to be
holden of death (Acts 2:24); (2) He arose because of who He is -
being the Son of David, He must yet sit upon David's throne (2
Sam. 7:16; Luke 1:31-33; Acts 2:25-31; Rom. 1:3, 4); (3) He
arose to be Head over all things to the Church which is His body
(Eph. 1:22, 23); (4) He arose to be the giver of resurrection
life (John 12:24); (5) He arose to impart His resurrection power
(Matt. 28:18; Rom. 6:4; Eph. 1:19, 20); (6) He arose that
sinners might be justiﬁed (Rom. 4:25); and (7) He arose that He
might appear in Heaven as the pattern, or ﬁrst-fruits, of all
who, being saved and conformed to Him, will yet appear with Him
in glory (1 Cor. 15:20-23; Phil. 3:20, 21).
II. THE ASCENSION
The Scriptures indicate two ascensions of Christ into Heaven:
First. - On the day of His resurrection, Christ ascended into
Heaven as the "Wave Sheaf." In fulﬁlling this Old Testament type
and the eternal purpose of God, it was necessary that He should
appear in Heaven as the earnest of a mighty harvest of souls
whom He had redeemed and who, in the divine purpose, came out of
that tomb with Him to share His eternal glory. So, also, He,
having accomplished the sacriﬁce for sin, must present
His own blood in Heaven (Lev. 16:1-34; Heb. 9:16-28). Not having
yet ascended, He said to Mary, Touch me not; for I am not yet
ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them,
I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and
your God (John 20:17). That He ascended on that same
day is evident; for He said unto them at evening,
Behold my hands and
my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see (Luke 24:39).
He returned to earth from Heaven to accomplish His post-resurrection ministry.
Second. - After forty days He ascended to Heaven and was seated
on His Father's throne, and there took up His present heavenly
ministry as Head over all things to the Church: (1) As the
bestower of gifts (Eph. 4:8-11), (2) as Intercessor (Heb. 7:25),
and (3) as Advocate (1 John 2:1, 2).
1. What proportion of those
who die will experience resurrection?
a. What event stands ﬁrst in the order of resurrection?
b. What time period falls between the ﬁrst and the second
a. What event stands second in the order of resurrection?
b. What time period stands between the second and the third
4. What event stands third and last in the order of
a. Indicate the distinction that should be made between a
resurrection and a restoration.
b. Have any, other than Christ, experienced a real resurrection?
a. What is immortality?
b. Why is it yet limited to Christ?
7. What evidence have we that the Old Testament saints believed
in a resurrection?
8. Name the seven greatest
9. What relation does Christ's resurrection sustain to His
a. What relation does Christ's resurrection sustain to the New
Creation and the recognition of the ﬁrst day of the week?
b. How many celebrations of the resurrection of Christ has God
appointed for each year?
11. Name the seven reasons
indicated in the Scriptures for the resurrection of Christ.
12. What evidence have we that Christ twice ascended into
13. State what was accomplished in the ﬁrst ascension.
14. What ministries did Christ undertake at His ﬁnal ascension?
GOD THE SON: HIS PRIESTLY MINISTRY
As High Priest over the true
tabernacle on high, the Lord Jesus Christ has entered into
Heaven itself there to minister as Priest in behalf of those who
are His own in the world (Heb. 8:1, 2). The fact that He, when
ascending, was received of His Father in Heaven is evidence that
His earth-ministry was accepted. The fact that He sat down
indicated that His work for the world was completed. The fact
that He sat down on His Father's throne and not on His own
throne reveals the truth, so constantly and consistently taught
in the Scriptures, that He did not set up a kingdom on the earth
at His ﬁrst advent into the world; but that He is now
"expecting" until the time when that kingdom shall come in the
earth and the divine will shall be done on earth as it is done
in Heaven. The kingdoms of this world
are yet to become the
kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for
ever and ever (Rev. 11:15), and the kingly Son will
yet ask of His Father and He will give Him the heathen for His
inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for His
possession (Psa. 2:8). However, Scripture clearly indicates that
He is not now establishing that kingdom rule in the earth (Matt.
25:31-46), but that He is rather calling out from both Jews and
Gentiles a heavenly people who are related to Him as His Body
and Bride. After the present purpose is accomplished He will
return and set up the tabernacle of David which is fallen down (Acts
15:13-18). Though He is a King-Priest according to the Melchisedec
type (Heb. 5:10; 7:1), He is now serving as Priest and not as
King. He who is coming again and will then be King of kings, is
now ascended to be head over all things to the church
which is his body (Eph. 1:22, 23). His present priestly
ministry is threefold.
I. HE IS THE BESTOWER OF
According to the New Testament, a gift is a divine enablement
wrought in and through the believer by the Spirit who indwells
him. It is the Spirit working to accomplish certain divine
purposes and using the one whom He indwells to that end. It is
in no sense a human undertaking aided by the Spirit.
Though certain general gifts are mentioned in the Scriptures
(Rom. 12:3-8; 1 Cor. 12:4-11), the possible variety is
innumerable since no two lives are lived under exactly the same
conditions. However, to each believer some gift is given; but
the blessing and power of the gift will be experienced only when
the life is wholly yielded to God. (In Romans 12, the truth of
verses 1 and 2 precedes that of verses 6 to 8.) There will be
little need of exhortation for God-honoring service to the one
who is ﬁlled with the Spirit; for the Spirit will be working in
that one both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Phil.
In like manner, certain men who are called his
gifts unto men
are provided and locally placed in their service by the ascended
Christ (Eph. 4:7-11). The Lord did not leave this work to the
uncertain and insufﬁcient judgment of men (1 Cor. 12:11, 18).
II. THE ASCENDED CHRIST AS PRIEST EVER LIVES TO MAKE
INTERCESSION FOR HIS OWN
This ministry began before He left the earth (John 17:1-26), is
for the saved rather than for the unsaved (John 17:9), and will
be continued in Heaven so long as His own are in the world. As
Intercessor, His work has to do with the weakness, the
helplessness, and the immaturity of the saints who are on the
earth - things concerning which they are in no way guilty. He
who knows the limitations of His own, and the power and strategy
of the foe with whom they have to contend, is unto them as the
Shepherd and Bishop of their souls. His care of Peter is an
illustration of this truth (Luke 22:31, 32).
The priestly intercession of Christ is not only effectual, but
is unending. The priests of old failed because of death; but
Christ, because He ever liveth, hath an unchanging priesthood.
Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost
[without end] that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth
to make intercession for them (Heb. 7:25). David recognized the
same divine shepherding care and its guaranty of eternal safety
III. CHRIST NOW APPEARS
FOR HIS OWN IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD
The child of God is often guilty of actual sin which would
separate him from God were it not for his Advocate and what He
wrought in His death. The effect of the Christian's sin upon
himself is that he loses his fellowship with God, his joy, his
peace, and his power. On the other hand, these experiences are
restored in inﬁnite grace on the sole ground that he confess his
sin (1 John 1:9); but it is more important to consider the
Christian's sin in relation to the holy character of God.
Through the present priestly advocacy of Christ in Heaven there
is absolute safety and security for the Father's child even
while he is sinning. An advocate is one who espouses and pleads
the cause of another in the open courts. As Advocate, Christ is
now appearing in Heaven for His own (Heb. 9:24) when they sin (1
John 2:1). His pleading is said to be with the Father, and Satan
is there also ceasing not to accuse the brethren night and day
before God (Rev. 12:10). To the Christian, the sin may seem
insigniﬁcant; but a holy God can never treat it lightly. It may
be a secret sin on earth; but it is open scandal in Heaven. In
marvelous grace and without solicitation from men, the Advocate
pleads the cause of the guilty child of God. What the Advocate
does in thus securing the safety of the believer is so in
accordance with inﬁnite justice that He is mentioned in this
connection as "Jesus Christ the righteous." He pleads His own efﬁcacious
blood and the Father is free to preserve His child against every
accusation from Satan or men and from the very judgments which
sin would otherwise impose, since Christ through His death
became the propitiation for our (Christians') sins (1 John 2:2).
The truth concerning the priestly ministry of Christ in Heaven
does not make it easy for the Christian to sin. On the contrary,
these very things are written that we be not sinning (1 John
2:1); for no one can sin carelessly who considers the necessary
pleading which his sin imposes upon the Advocate.
The priestly ministries of Christ as Intercessor and as Advocate
are unto the eternal security of those who are saved (Rom.
1. Where is Christ said to be
throughout this present age?
2. What ministry does He now exercise?
3. Name the three services Christ is now undertaking in Heaven.
4. What is a spiritual gift and what is accomplished by it?
5. When did Christ's priestly intercession begin, and how long
will it continue?
6. What aspect of the Christian's life does Christ's
7. Wherein does it guarantee the believer's safe-keeping?
8. How long will Christ's priestly ministry continue?
9. What aspects of the Christian's life does Christ's advocacy
a. What is the penalty of sin in the Christian's life?
b. What must he do to be restored to fellowship and blessing?
a. How does Christ now fulﬁll the place of an advocate?
b. What effect would the Christian's sin produce were it not for
12. What is the signiﬁcance of the title, "Jesus Christ the
13. For whose sins is Christ the propitiation?
14. Why is it more difﬁcult to sin after we understand we are
eternally secure through the advocacy of Christ?
GOD THE SON: HIS COMING FOR HIS SAINTS
The doctrine chosen for this
chapter is one of the most important themes of unfulﬁlled
prophecy. The student should be reminded that prophecy is God's
pre-written history and is therefore as credible as other parts
of the Scriptures. Almost one-fourth of the Bible was in the
form of prediction when it was written. Much has been fulﬁlled,
and in every case its fulﬁllment has been the most literal
realization of all that was prophesied. As pre-announced many
centuries before the birth of Christ, He, when He came, was of
the tribe of Judah, a son of Abraham, a son of David, born of a
virgin in Bethlehem. In like manner, the explicit details of His
death foretold in Psalm 22, a thousand years before, were
The Word of God also presents much prophecy which at the present
time is unfulﬁlled and it is reasonable as well as honoring to
God to believe that it will be fulﬁlled in the same faithfulness
which has characterized all His works to the present hour.
The fact that Christ is to return to this earth as He went -
this same Jesus, in His resurrection body, and on the clouds
of heaven (Acts 1:11) - is so clearly and extensively taught in
the prophetic Scriptures that this truth has been included in
all the great creeds of Christendom. However, the doctrine of
the return of Christ demands most careful and discriminating
In common with Bible students generally, distinction is made
between two yet future events. We therefore assign the study of
one - Christ coming for His saints - to this chapter, and the
study of the other - Christ coming with His saints - to the
following chapter. Though but one aspect of truth is indicated
by each of these titles, the Scriptures reveal that much more
will be accomplished in each of these events than the titles
suggest. Conforming to the incomplete statement of truth
proposed by these titles, we observe that in the body of
Scripture assigned to this chapter, Christ is seen descending
into the air and there receiving to Himself the saints who are
caught up from the earth to meet Him - some of these to be
raised from the dead and some to be translated from the living
state (1 Cor. 15:22, 23, 51, 52). However, in that body of
Scripture assigned to the next chapter, He is seen descending to
the earth (Zech. 14:4-7) with His gloriﬁed saints as His
bride attending (Rev. 19:7, 8, 14; Jude 1:14), to sit upon the
throne of David (Luke 1:32), which is also
the throne of His glory
(Matt. 25:31). Though these two events differ in every
particular, they are often confused, and for this reason this
chapter should be closely compared with the one which is to
In contemplating the prophetic doctrine of Christ's coming for
His saints, it should be noted:
First. - The order of these two events is obvious: Christ cannot
come to the earth with His saints until He shall have come for
them. They must be gathered together unto him
(2 Thess. 2:1) before they can appear with him in glory (Col. 3:4). Though
these events are probably separated by only a brief period of
time, according to prophecy, there is much to be fulﬁlled
between these events which is world transforming (2 Thess. 2:3,
4; Rev. 4:1 to 19:10).
Second. - The long predicted second coming of Christ to this
earth will be completely fulﬁlled when He comes with His saints,
and, therefore, the coming of Christ for His own sustains no
relation to it whatsoever. The two events are not two phases or
aspects of one divine undertaking. The Scriptures present the
coming of Christ for His own as a mystery or sacred secret (1
Cor. 15:51) - meaning something hitherto unrevealed, but to be
understood after it is divinely disclosed (Deut. 29:29; Matt.
13:35). The New Testament revelation concerning Christ's coming
for His own could not have been seen in the Old Testament since
it is only one aspect of truth (God's way of taking His people
out of the world) related to the Church; which Church is a
sacred secret, having been nowhere directly anticipated in the
Old Testament. Likewise, the Church could not have been revealed
in the Old Testament since it is only one of the divine purposes
in the present age; which age is itself a sacred secret, not
having been revealed in the Old Testament (Matt. 13:11). In
contrast to all this, the second coming of Christ is in no sense
a mystery or sacred secret, since it is one of the most
important themes of the Old Testament (Deut. 30:3; Psa. 2:1-9;
24:1-10; 50:1-5; 96:10-13; Isa. 11:10, 11; Jer. 23:5, 6; Ezk.
37:21, 22; Dan. 7:13, 14; Zech, 2:10-12).
Third. - As revealed in the Scriptures, His coming for His
saints is the next event in the order of the fulﬁllment of
prophecy, and is, therefore, that for which the child of God
should be waiting (1 Thess. 1:9, 10), and looking (Phil. 3:20;
Titus 2:11-14; Heb. 9:28), and which he should be loving (2 Tim.
The Scriptures bearing on the coming of Christ for His own are
explicit: In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 it is revealed that when
Christ comes the dead in Christ will rise ﬁrst
and the living saints, together with them, will be caught up in
the air to meet the Lord and to be forever with the Lord. In 1
Corinthians 15:51-53, the same fact of the resurrection of the
Christ and the transformation of the living is set
forth; but with the added revelation that the translation and
transformation of the living saints will be as suddenly as
twinkling of an eye, and at the sounding of the
last trump. In John 14:1-3,
it is disclosed that Christ will receive His own unto Himself:
not into the mansions, but into the place which He has gone to
prepare. Again, in Philippians 3:20, 21, it is stated that at
His coming he shall change our vile body, that
it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to
the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto
himself. In like manner, the time of Christ's coming for His
own will be the time when they shall appear before His judgment
seat to receive their rewards for service (1 Cor. 3:11-15; Matt.
16:27; Luke 14:14; 1 Cor. 4:5; 2 Tim. 4:8; 2 Cor. 5:10).
As certainly as the coming of Christ for His saints is not
revealed in the Old Testament, so certainly it has no relation
to the unsaved. To the Christian, however, it is, in the purpose
1. A Comforting Hope. - Comfort is derived from the fact that
Christ may come at any time and that there is not a whole
lifetime, necessarily, or until death, before the believer may
see his Lord, and also from the fact that when He shall come the
child of God will be instantly in the presence and fellowship of
those loved ones who were saved and who have gone on before (1
2. A Purifying Hope. - No one can contemplate the fact that
Christ may come at any moment and not have his conduct affected
by that belief (1 John 3:1-3).
3. A Blessed Hope. - There is nothing comparable to the
expectation that, through riches of grace, the saved one will
see his Lord face to face, be with Him, and be like Him (John
14:3; 1 Thess. 4:17; 1 John 3:3).
a. What portion of the Scriptures was prophecy at the time it
b. Is prophecy as credible as history?
c. In what manner has prophecy been fulﬁlled?
2. What may we conclude as to the literal fulﬁllment of unfulﬁlled
3. What are the major differences between the events prophesied
to accompany the coming of Christ for His Church and His coming
to this earth with His Church?
a. Why must one of these predicted events precede the other?
b. Are they separated by an extended period of time?
5. What relation do these events sustain to each other?
6. What is the meaning of the word mystery as used in the
7. Why is the coming of Christ for His own a mystery while the
coming with His saints is not?
8. According to prophecy what is the next event to be fulﬁlled?
9. What attitude should the child of God sustain toward the next
10. What is predicted to take place when the Lord comes for His
11. Is the coming of Christ for His saints a doctrine of the Old
12. What relation do the unsaved sustain to the coming of Christ
for His own?
13. Name three impressions this truth should make on each
14. What practical effect does this truth have on your own life?
GOD THE SON: HIS COMING WITH HIS SAINTS
Since the theme of this
chapter is so commonly confused with that of the preceding one,
it is important that the two be studied together in order that
the contrasts which appear at almost every point may be
discerned. The title of this, as of the previous chapter, is
based on one aspect of truth within the whole doctrine which
this chapter is supposed to cover. The doctrine to be considered
contemplates all that enters into the world-transforming event
of the Second Coming of Christ, while the fact that the saints
will return to this earth with Him when He comes is,
comparatively, a limited portion of the whole revelation.
I. CERTAIN VITAL FACTS ARE
TO BE NOTED IN CONNECTION WITH THIS DOCTRINE:
1. The Bible teaches that the Lord Jesus Christ, will return to
this earth (Zech. 14:4), personally (Rev. 19:11-16; Matt.
25:31), and on the clouds of heaven (Matt. 24:30; Acts 1:11;
Rev. 1:7). It should not be difﬁcult to believe the testimony of
these Scriptures, since God has promised it and since He who
went on the clouds of heaven has already spent forty days on the
earth in His gloriﬁed, resurrection body.
2. The general theme concerning the return of Christ has the
unique distinction of being the ﬁrst prophecy uttered by man
(Jude 1:14, 15) and the last message from the ascended Christ as
well as being the last word of the Bible (Rev. 22:20, 21).
3. Likewise, the theme of the Second Coming of Christ is unique
because of the fact that it occupies a larger part of the text
of the Scriptures than any other doctrine, and it is the
outstanding theme of prophecy in both the Old and New
Testaments. In fact all other prophecy largely contributes to
the one great end of the complete setting forth of this crowning
event - the Second Coming of Christ.
II. THE COMING OF CHRIST
PRODUCES FAR-REACHING EFFECTS:
1. The nation Israel, God's chosen earthly people, to whom at
least ﬁve-sixths of the Bible is addressed and with whom the
great covenants are made (Rom. 9:4, 5) - which covenants secure
to that nation a land, a nation, a throne, a King, and a kingdom
- are now scattered throughout all the nations of the earth
(Deut. 4:26-28; 28:63-68; Jer. 16:13), and are to remain
scattered until they are gathered into their own land (Deut.
30:3-6; Isa. 11:11, 12; 14:1-3; 60:1-22; Jer. 23:6-8; 32:37-44;
33:7-9; Ezk. 37:21-25; Micah 4:6-8) under the reign of Messiah
at His return. Though every covenant with His earthly people was
in full force when Christ came the ﬁrst time, and had been for
hundreds of years, not a semblance of their fulﬁllment was
experienced at that time; but the Scriptures declare that all
these covenants will be fulﬁlled when He comes the second time.
These covenants are of endless duration and are as secure as the
faithfulness of God who has sworn with an oath concerning them.
The nation will possess their land at the coming of their King,
and He will sit on David's throne (Luke 1:31-33). The Deliverer
coming out of Sion shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob (Rom.
11:26, 27. See, also, Ezk. 37:1-14). The return of Christ to the
earth and its blessing to the nation Israel is the great burden
of Old Testament prophecy.
2. The redeemed ones of this age - the Church which is His body
- are seen coming with Christ when He comes again (Rev. 19:7-16;
1 Thess. 3:13; Jude 1:14). The Church is the Bride of Christ
(Eph. 5:25-33; Rev. 19:7; 21:9) and as such will have right and
title with Him as consort in His reign (2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 20:6;
22:5). Until the Church is taken to meet the Lord, she is His
espoused awaiting her wedding day; her marriage will be in
Heaven, and she will return with Him after the wedding (Luke
3. The nations of the earth will be brought into judgment when
Christ comes and when He sits on the "throne of his glory"
(Matt. 25:31-46. Note, also, the "Smiting Stone" of Dan.
2:31-45). Three classes are in view at the judgment of the
nations - the sheep, the goats, and "my brethren." Though the
sheep and the brethren are both under divine favor, it must be
observed that they are not the same. The sheep are to enter the
kingdom on the ground of their treatment of the brethren. So
also, the goats are to be rejected on the same basis. The Church
is not in view. This judgment occurs after the Church has been
received into Heaven, and after the "Great Tribulation" (Matt.
24:21) when Israel - "my brethren" - will have experienced her
supreme suffering at the hands of the nations (Deut. 4:29, 30;
Psa. 2:5; Jer. 30:4-7; Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:9-28; 2 Thess.
2:8-12; Rev. 3:10; 7:13, 14; 11:1 to 19:6). This judgment will
determine the nations which are to enter the kingdom of Messiah
on the earth. Again, this judgment should be distinguished from
that of "The Great White Throne" which follows a thousand years
later, and after the kingdom rule of Christ in the earth.
4. All creation will be restored to its Edenic glory when Christ
returns (Rom. 8:19-23).
5. Satan will be bound and conﬁned to the abyss for a thousand
years when Christ returns (Rev. 20:1-3).
III. TWO EVENTS
The two events - Christ's coming for His saints and his coming
with His saints may be distinguished thus (for brevity, the ﬁrst
event will be indicated by a, and the second event by b):
(a) "Our gathering together unto him"; (b) "The coming of the
Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thess. 2:1).
(a) He comes as the "Morning Star" (Rev. 2:28; 22:16; 2 Pet.
1:19); (b) as "The Sun of Righteousness" (Mal. 4:2).
(a) The "Day of Christ" (1 Cor. 1:8; 2 Cor. 1:14; Phil. 1:6, 10;
2:16); (b) "The Day of the Lord" (2 Pet. 3:10).
(a) A signless event: (b) its approach to be observed (1 Thess.
5:4; Heb. 10:25).
(a) A timeless event - at any moment; (b) fulﬁllment of prophecy
to precede it (2 Thess. 2:2, 3; note, "Day of Christ" should be
"Day of the Lord" in verse 2).
(a) No reference to evil; (b) evil ended, Satan judged, the Man
of Sin destroyed.
(a) Israel unchanged; (b) all her covenants fulﬁlled.
(a) The Church removed from the earth; (b) returning with
(a) The Gentile nations unchanged; (b) judged.
(a) Creation unchanged; (b) delivered from the bondage of
(a) A "mystery" not before revealed; (b) seen throughout the Old
and New Testaments.
(a) Hope centered in Christ - "the Lord is at hand" (Phil. 4:5);
(b) "the kingdom is at hand" (Matt. 24:14).
(a) Christ appears as Bridegroom, Lord, and Head to the Church;
(b) He appears as King, Messiah, and Immanuel to Israel.
(a) His coming unseen by the world; (b) coming in power and
(a) Christians are judged as to rewards; (b) nations judged as
to the kingdom.
(a) John 14:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52; 1 Thessalonians
4:13-18; Philippians 3:20, 21; 2 Corinthians 5:10.
(b) Deuteronomy 30:1-10;
Psalm 72. Note all the prophets; Matthew 25:1-44; Acts 1:11;
15:13-18; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; 2 Peter 2:1 to 3:18;
Revelation 19:11 to 20:6.
1. Describe the manner in
which, according to prophecy, Christ will return to this earth.
2. What length of time has He already been here in His gloriﬁed
3. What is the ﬁrst prophecy uttered by man?
4. What is the last prophecy from the lips of Christ and the
last word of the Bible?
5. What theme of prophecy occupies more of the text of the
Scriptures than any other?
a. With what nation are the great covenants of the Scriptures
b. What do these covenants secure?
c. When are these covenants to be fulﬁlled?
7. What is the greatest burden of Old Testament prophecy?
a. What position does the Church occupy in the second coming of
b. What service is she appointed to render after His return?
a. What judgment awaits the nations at the coming of Christ?
b. What is the contrast between this judgment and that of the
Great White Throne?
10. What Scripture announces the deliverance of creation at the
second coming of Christ?
11. What changes are in store for Satan at the second coming of
12. Indicate fourteen contrasts between the coming of Christ
for, and the coming of Christ with, His saints.
13. Do you recognize anything in common between these two
14. Is the coming of Christ for His saints mentioned in the Old
Themes herein presented is its first edition
(copyright 1926), is in the public domain, and may be
freely downloaded in its entirety or chapter by chapter
Information for purchase
of the revised edition by John F. Walvoord (copyright
1974) may be found at the same address.
Dr. Louis Sperry Chafer (1871-1952)
was the founder of Dallas Theological Seminary, and from
1924 until his death, served as the its first President
and Professor of Systematic Theology. His
ground-breaking eight volume Systematic Theology,
first published in 1947-1948,
was the first systematization of a premillennial,
dispensational interpretation of the Scriptures.
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