Thursday, August 29, 2019

Spurgeon on Imminence

Some time ago in a Facebook group a fellow claimed - among other things - that pretribbers worship the "Golden Calf of Imminence."

I've even read an article desperately trying to make a case for imminence being a bad thing. The idea was that, because of human nature, belief in imminence doesn't really generate urgency. This ties in with the charge that those of us who believe the church is raptured before "Antichrist's Great Tribulation" will struggle with our faith once we're in it. These are nothing short of broad-brush conceited assumptions, intended to push a rapture timing view.

I've noted before how some of my pretrib friends are ex military and ex police officers. Many of those who aren't have exhibited remarkable examples of deep faith in Christ while experiencing personal affliction. The faith of these people has often been uplifting to me.

Frankly, the only "golden calf" I see possibly being worshiped is that particular posttrib rapture position. There's also personal pride at work in assuming "human nature" somehow doesn't apply to the so-called "prepared" non-pretribber. 

Anyway, what's good for Spurgeon should be good for me and just about everyone else,

Oh, Beloved, let us try, every morning, to get up as if that were the morning in which Christ would come! And when we go up to bed at night, may we lie down with this thought, “Perhaps I shall be awakened by the ringing out of the silver trumpets heralding His coming. Before the sun arises, I may be startled from my dreams by the greatest of all cries, ‘The Lord is come! The Lord is come!'” What a check, what an incentive, what a bridle, what a spur such thoughts as these would be to us! Take this for a guide of your whole life – act as if Jesus would come during the act in which you are engaged – and if you would not wish to be caught in that act by the Coming of the Lord, let it not be your act. ~ Charles Spurgeon

P.S. Spurgeon's advice holds true whether one applies it to the rapture, second coming, or death.

A lengthy Addendum...

The goal of this post wasn't to defend the doctrine of imminence. This isn't about whether belief in an imminent rapture is biblical or not - it's about bias. Some posttribbers aren't just satisfied with disproving imminence. They go to lengths to question whether living with an imminent-coming attitude can be a "sanctifying" process.

I cited Spurgeon (though he was Historicist Premil) because he saw the value in continuous "imminent" living. I could have listed other examples.

First of all any sanctifying process necessarily involves the work of the Holy Spirit. The Christian either co-operates with or hinders this process. Secondly, the fact that living under conditions of imminent death should spur a Christian to live for the Lord (the Puritans were great examples) validates Spurgeon's point. If one is convinced that Christ can come back suddenly, or of imminent death, one ought to live in a godly manner (See Sermons of Robert Murray M'Cheyne page 70).

Years ago I worked for a boss who would often tell us he was going out for a given amount of hours. He would invariably return much sooner than he'd indicated. Given that my desk was in front of the entrance and with my back to it, I learned to expect him at any time. It encouraged diligence. There wasn't the same sense of watchfulness when we knew he was on an inter-State business trip, because he couldn't walk through that door at any time (Matt 24:48-50; Luke 12:35-38). 

As for Gentile and Jewish Christians in the tribulation - once they see tribulation events occurring in real time, it should spur them to be alert. The issue is that this is still future. We've seen about two thousand years of church history with the Lord's return still pending. What ought to maintain the church's vigilance?

The ‘when’ - the day and the hour of His [Christ's] Coming - was to remain hidden from men and Angels. Nay, even the Son Himself - as they viewed Him and as He spake to them - knew it not. It formed no part of His present Messianic Mission, nor subject for His Messianic Teaching. Had it done so, all the teaching that follows concerning the need of constant watchfulness, and the pressing duty of working for Christ in faith, hope, and love - with purity, self-denial, and endurance - would have been lost. The peculiar attitude of the Church: with loins girt for work, since the time was short, and the Lord might come at any moment; with her hands busy; her mind faithful; her face upturned towards the Sun that was so soon to rise; and her ear straining to catch the first notes of heaven’s song of triumph - all this would have been lost! What has sustained the Church during the night of sorrow these many centuries; what has nerved her courage for the battle, with steadfastness to bear, with love to work, with patience and joy in disappointments - would all have been lost! The Church would not have been that of the New Testament, had she known the mystery of that day and hour, and not ever waited as for the immediate Coming of her Lord and Bridegroom. ~ Alfred Edersheim

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