03-10-18 THE APPOINTED DAY
OF JUDGEMENT - PART TWO
By John Aldworth
In 1 Cor. 1:7 the Apostle Paul described the state of the Corinthians and other Acts period believers as ‘waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’. However, a little research shows that actually it was the revelation (or revealing) of Christ they were waiting for, not his ‘Second Coming’.
The confusion stems from the difficulty translators of the King James Bible had with end time events. Like many today they did not believe there would be a special “Day of Christ’ in which from heaven He would reveal Himself in a blaze of unparalleled glory. Nor did they agree with scripture that several centuries later He would return and reign for a thousand years. Rather, they saw the humanly, not divinely, organised 'church' on earth as reigning in his stead. So they simply translated the several different Greek words for the Lord’s future dealings with men as ‘coming’.
But ‘coming’ is a poor translation of apokulapsis which in 1 Cor. 1:7 means an unveiling of that which has been hidden, or a ‘revelation’, as explained in the KJV margin note. Today, like the Corinthians we too await that revelation or unveiling of the full glory of our Lord. But it will come. Are we not told in Col. 3:1-4 that while at present both our life and Christ Himself are ‘hid in God’, in a future day He will appear in glory?
In 1 Cor. 1:7 it is certainly not the very different ‘Second Coming’ - as the Lord’s return to earth in the ‘Day of the Lord’ (1 Thess. 5:2) is commonly described - that is in view. If it were then the Greek word parousia, which means the personal, physical presence of a person to perform an official duty, would have been used. In 1 Thess. 4:15-16, for example, ‘coming’ is used to translate parousia and does indeed indicate the personal, physical return of the Lord to earth. No, it is the ‘Day of Christ’, the day of his ‘appearing’ (Greek: epiphanea) (Titus 2:13, 2 Tim. 4:1) that is referred to in 1 Cor. 1:7..
And ‘coming’ doesn’t even begin to describe what the Lord will do either in the “Day of Christ’ or in the subsequent ‘Day of the Lord’. Consider an example. When the Queen of Britain pays a state visit to New Zealand it is not just a ‘coming’. If it were she would alight from the plane, be greeted by the Governor-General, the Prime Minister and an array of other dignitaries, inspect the guard of honour, then promptly re-board the plane and fly out. That would have been a ‘coming’. In fact the Queen always stays several days to carry out official functions. Similarly, when the Lord makes his parousia (his ‘coming’) in the ‘Day of the Lord’ (Zech. 14:1) He will touch down on the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:4) but remain to rule for a 1,000 years over the earth (Zech. 14:9, Rev. 11:15).
But long before then He will have already ‘revealed’ or ‘unveiled’ his person, truth and glory to the world (1 Cor. 1:7) in the ‘Day of Christ’. And that unveiling will continue for several centuries. As God said Himself in Numbers 14:21: ‘But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord’.
Since, according to 1 Cor. 1:8, it is in the ‘day of our Lord Jesus Christ’ – not the ‘Day of the Lord’ - that the Corinthians are to be found ‘blameless’ it seems the ‘coming’ - or when better translated, the ‘revelation’ of Christ – continues throughout this new day. And since the Day of Christ is the same as the ‘heavenly kingdom’ or ‘kingdom of heaven’ that both Christ and the Apostle Paul spoke of, then qualifiying to be resurrected into it is, and must be, the Christian’s great and blessed hope (Titus 2:13). While Christ remains heaven during this period He will rule the world by delegating authority to selected saints who have been resurrected to be on earth. These will be the ones who have been ‘counted worthy’ to enter ‘the world to come’, just as Jesus said would be (Luke 20:35).
Importantly, it is the Lord’s exertion of his right to rule as Lord of all the earth that the Corinthians waited for. For it is his kingdom, his government that is his glory, a glory He will blaze forth at his ‘appearing’ (Titus 2:13, 2 Tim. 4:1 and Col. 3:1-4). The great good news the Apostle Paul has for us who believe these truths is that if we suffer with Him we shall also reign with Him (2 Tim. 2:12); if we die with Him we shall also live with Him ( 2 Tim. 2:11) and so ‘appear with Him in glory’ (Col. 3:4).
But God does not want this wonderful truth of a far better world to come to be known only by the believers He has chosen to be part of his forthcoming Government. In Acts 17:30-31 God speaks from Mars’ Hill to all men, through Paul, the ‘Apostle to the Gentiles’, commanding ‘all men everywhere to repent’ - that is, to have the ‘after mind’ of one who set his or her future hope on the forthcoming kingdom of God and the role the Lord might assign to them in it. To ‘repent’ then means to fully submit to the Lord and to pray for, hope for, believe in and live for the day in which God will judge the world in righteousness, the ‘Day of Christ’.
And, let me say again, it is in righteousness and not punishment for sin that God will judge the world. Christ as a man has already paid the price for our sin. Payment God will not demand a second time. So sin is not the issue. Allegiance and obedience to God and faith in his pronounced purpose to redeem mankind is.
But, many will say, the message of Acts 17:29-31 is only what Paul said. Some would even dare to say his words should be ignored and ‘just the words of Jesus in red in the gospels’ should be believed because ‘Paul had a different gospel’. Indeed much of Christendom does just that – set aside Paul’s pronouncements and hold rigidly to their own wrong interpretation of what he and the Lord said in his earthly ministry. Actually, of course, there is no conflict between the two. Granted, the Lord mandated certain things for Israel that do not apply to Gentiles today, but the coming ‘kingdom of heaven’ or ‘kingdom of God’, the pre-millennial Government of God over all the earth is not one of them. This glorious day when God will set things right is for everyone.
So why has it been so ignored for most of the last 2,000 years? Answer: Because the so-called ‘church fathers’ were so steeped in in worldly thinking they reinterpreted the teachings of Jesus and the apostles in the light of myth and superstition. Far from continuing the ‘apostolic tradition’, as they claim to have done, they set aside much of Jesus’s teaching and that of the apostles in favour of pagan philosophy. For example, the widespread belief that at death believers go to be with the Lord in heaven originates from Egyptian and Babylonian myth. As does the notion that there will be a great ‘Judgement Day’ in which all will be resurrected and despatched either to heaven or to hell, the latter being seen as a place of eternal torment.
Fact is the Reformers adopted with little adjustment the Roman Catholic dogma on future events, teachings which set aside the pronouncements of scripture in favour of a totally different scheme in which for thousands of years the 'holy catholic church' takes the place of the Lord Jesus Christ and is given the ‘pre-eminence’ that rightfully belongs to Him. In this view only the ‘church’ can admit and administer salvation to sinners. As to end time events, the Bible’s clear teaching that there will next be a ‘Day of Christ, followed by the tribulation and the ‘Day of the Lord’, is replaced by an unscriptural ‘last judgement’ which consigns all either to heaven or hell. And, in Catholic dogma, when all who have been saved through the ‘church’ are placed in heaven, then the earth is burnt up. Forcibly refuting that notion, the Word of God says thast far out in time there will be a new heaven and earth and a ‘Day of God’ in which Deity will dwell with man on earth – the ‘place of his rest for ever’ (2 Peter 3:12, Psalm 113:13-14).
In sharp contrast to today’s talk of going straight to heaven upon death Jesus taught that ‘only they which shall be accounted worthy’ will ‘obtain that world and the resurrection from the dead’ (Luke 20:35). ‘That world’ is the world to come, the ‘Day of Christ’, which sees God rule over earth in what the Lord called the ‘kingdom of heaven’. Evidently those deemed worthy to enter it will be resurrected to live again on earth, for in Luke 20:35 the Lord made no mention of heaven. What’s more in John 3:13 He categorically stated, ‘no man hath ascended to heaven’. And, in Acts 2:29 the Apostle Peter clinched the matter, saying that patriarch David was ‘both dead and buried’ giving the lie to the popular belief that David , Old Testaments saints and believers who have died since, are now in heaven.
However, such is the power of tradition that false, pagan beliefs persist as the doctrines held by most churches to this day. For example, most Christians see nothing more in Acts than the founding and development of what they now call ‘the Christian church’. But in his word God speaks of it as the first two stages of his kingdom, a beginning suspended at the end of the book of Acts by his bringing in the dispensation of the grace of God (Eph. 3:1-4).
As to the ‘Day of Christ’ (Phil. 1: 6, 10 and 2:16), the ‘Day of the Lord’ (1 Thess.5:2), and the ‘Day of God’ (2 Peter 3:12) the Church Fathers and their successors, the shapers of Roman Catholic, Anglican and Presbyterian theology, largely refuse to accept what scripture says about them, because they find no place in their ‘amillennial’ belief system for them. Amillenialism literally means ‘no thousand year reign’ and holds that there will be no future thousand-year period of time when the Kingdom of God will visibly flourish in the world under the personal rule of Christ when He is physically present on earth to effect it. They hold instead that Jesus inaugurated the Kingdom of God with his resurrection and that it is in operation now through the 'holy catholic church'. Which of course belies the Apostle Paul’s teaching (2 Tim. 4:1) that the heavenly kingdom of God's rule over earth is yet to come.
Frankly, such unashamed rejection of what God has actually said through his anointed, appointed apostles is inexcusable. Especially, when the truth of God’s proclamation that He will indeed ‘judge the world in righteousness’ at his kingdom has this set to its seal: That He will do so ‘by that Man (i.e. Jesus Christ) whom He hath ordained, whereof He hath given assurance in that He hath raised Him from the dead’ (Acts 17:31).
It ill becomes those who name the name of Christ and call themselves ‘Christian’ to deny the plain statement of scripture that in resurrecting Christ from the dead God has ‘given proof’ to all men that He has set the day and is about to ‘judge the world in righteousness’. Yet sadly multiple millions do. Surely, with God’s intervention in the ‘Day of Christ’ imminent it is high time for them to obey God’s commandments and ‘repent’. They should do that by renouncing their false theologies and simply believing without question what God has said and recorded in his written word, the scriptures.