It has been the privilege and duty of the Church throughout her history to be looking for the return of the One to whom she has been espoused. Had her eyes never wandered from that expectant gaze, she would have been saved much sorrow and shame at His coming, for she has lost her Scriptural character and much of her witnessing power whenever she has said “My Lord delayeth his coming.” It is then that she has fallen to beating the manservants and the maidservants, and has become drunken with the wine of this world.
True devotion to Christ must naturally issue in a deep desire to be with Him and to see Him face to face; and though it is quite possible to have been misled or untaught in regard to the conditions of His coming, the contemplation of such a promise from Him can but kindle a glowing hope in a truly devoted heart. It is a direct contradiction to claim supreme affection for Him, and yet be careless of His promised return, or wholly contented while separated from Him. The world, that cannot comprehend such devotion to Christ, will easily chide the believer, and denounce him for what they now call his “other worldness” when his affections are set on things above, “where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God,” and when his heart rejoices in the certain hope that “when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.”
It was necessary for Satan to rob the Church, to a great extent, of her “blessed hope” of Christ’s return, before he could attract attention to his own attempts at world improvement, and establish his own authority as ruler over this age. Expectation along the God-appointed lines must be abandoned, for the most part, before humanity can be federated, and religious institutions be made to co-operate in the Satanic program.
This vital key-truth of the imminent return of Christ was, therefore, first discredited, and then followed by an attack upon the deity of the Son of God and His sacrificial death; which attack is ever increasing, and must increase to the very end. The body of truth concerning the Lord’s return is so extensive that there have always been some humble and devout souls who have dared to believe His promises, and thus the real Church, to some extent, her watch has been keeping.