About Our Cover ...
Pictured on our cover is a rare view of Jerusalem, Palestine, dramatically outlined by the sun's rays. The shafts of light appear to reflect the very POWER of God, and the MESSAGE He sent to mankind from heaven over 1900 years ago!
That MESSAGE -- revealed throughout the Bible -- is the TRUE GOSPEL proclaimed by God's Divine Messenger, Jesus Christ! It's the GOOD NEWS of the soon-coming Kingdom of God on earth with headquarters at Jerusalem -- the future CAPITAL CITY of the world!
Learn in this second lesson of the Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course what the Bible reveals about the amazing Gospel of Jesus Christ -- and what it all MEANS to YOU!
HERE'S GOOD NEWS ... THE MESSAGE SENT FROM HEAVEN
WHY ISN'T the TRUE gospel of Jesus Christ being preached by the churches TODAY? WHY haven't most people heard Jesus' own gospel -- the message HE preached?
Understand that JESUS came into the world not as a HUMAN philosopher or idealist, but as A DIVINE MESSENGER DIRECT FROM GOD, the Creator of heaven and earth, the One who gives you your very life and breath, the One who is All-Wise and who knows the end from the beginning.
Have you ever HEARD His message?
From the beginning to the end of the New Testament, that MESSAGE -- that GOSPEL -- is repeatedly taught. And yet we have HUNDREDS of different denominations, each teaching a DIFFERENT message -- and all of them appropriating Christ's NAME to their messages!
WHY all this confusion? The truth is that men are unwilling to take Jesus' message LITERALLY. They fail to realize that the God who inspired Isaiah, Daniel, Micah, and the other prophets to write of His coming Kingdom, was the One who also sent Jesus into the world to PREPARE THE WAY for that Kingdom!
Jesus BEGAN His ministry when He came into Galilee, "PREACHING THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand: REPENT ye, and BELIEVE the gospel" (Mark 1:14-15).
Jesus proclaimed REPENTANCE in connection with the gospel of God's Kingdom, or government. He said you have to be willing to CHANGE -- TO REPENT of YOUR WRONG WAYS -- in order to ENTER that Kingdom.
Notice that Jesus didn't say, "Just believe in ME." He said, "BELIEVE the GOSPEL." What was this gospel -- or GOOD NEWS? Jesus came preaching the good news -- not only about Himself as Saviour -- but about the KINGDOM of God -- the MESSAGE that God is Supreme RULER of the universe, that He is soon going to establish His GOVERNMENT on this earth, and that we should BEGIN to acknowledge His rule in our lives NOW. This is the true gospel! That IS the MESSAGE Jesus brought to this earth from God the Father!
Most of YOU have been hearing a vague, sentimental gospel which DENIES the message Jesus brought from the Father about the SOON-COMING, WORLD-RULING KINGDOM OF GOD.
Instead, you hear a lot of vague, spiritual SOUNDING ideas like the following: "By Christians everywhere working together to bring peace, tolerance, and brotherly love, the Kingdom of God may at last be established in the hearts of all mankind."
Have YOU heard this kind of talk? Probably you have, because this is the kind of philosophy set forth by thousands of ministers throughout the world today. In spite of the gripping FACT of the prophesied end of this present age which we studied in the first lesson, these men apparently SEE NO NEED of God's intervention in human affairs. They TRY TO "SPIRITUALIZE AWAY" God's prophesied intervention, and to hide their eyes from the REALITY of mounting WORLD CHAOS and the threat of COSMOCIDE!
About the only time the expression "Kingdom of God" is used is to define an UNREAL state of idealism which "religiously inclined" men hope to attain some day THROUGH THEIR OWN EFFORTS. Of course, the name of God is employed to give the idea a more "spiritual" flavor, but everyone knows that the results would depend entirely on MAN'S INGENUITY.
Yes, most of you have heard MAN'S gospel about the PERSON of Christ, and MAN'S sentimental theories about a so-called "kingdom" to be set up in your "heart." But spiritual TRUTH does NOT proceed from human ideas and reason; it comes as a DIVINE REVELATION from God. It is contained in His Word -- the Bible!
Your BIBLE reveals God's Kingdom as an OBJECTIVE REALITY -- A LITERAL KINGDOM which will rule THIS EARTH. But WHO is to be the KING of that Kingdom? WHAT are its LAWS? WHEN will it take over the RULE of this earth?
As you study this introduction -- and the questions to follow -- KEEP THESE QUESTIONS IN MIND. The answers are found in YOUR BIBLE!
Before Jesus was born, an angel told Mary of His destiny: "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the THRONE of his father DAVID: and HE SHALL REIGN OVER THE HOUSE OF JACOB FOREVER; and of his Kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke 1:32-33).
This inspired angelic messenger from God revealed to Mary important truths of which this world is in TOTAL IGNORANCE! He revealed that CHRIST would some day take over an actual throne -- an EARTHLY THRONE -- the THRONE OF DAVID! History and prophecy both prove that David's throne is in existence TODAY -- awaiting Christ's return! (If you do not already understand this truth, write at once for Mr. Armstrong's free book, "The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy.")
The angel also foretold Christ was to rule over the HOUSE OF JACOB FOREVER. He did not say "reign spiritually, invisibly, in the hearts of believers." He said "reign over the house of Jacob" -- A LITERAL NATION. Christ is to rule from an actual EARTHLY throne!
Jesus himself preached throughout His entire ministry "the gospel of the KINGDOM" (Mat. 9:35) -- the GOOD NEWS OF HIS COMING WORLD RULE. The apostles knew that He would return and bring this present "world" (the inspired Greek word means "age") to an end by establishing His Kingdom over all nations. They asked Jesus for details: "What shall be the sign of Thy coming and of the end of the world?" -- "the end of this AGE" (Mat. 24:3).
It is well known that the early New Testament church expected Christ's RETURN TO THIS EARTH at THAT time. To teach them that this would not occur until a GREAT PERVERSION of the truth first set in, Paul was inspired to write that there would be a great "falling away" from the truth before Christ returned (II Thes. 2:3). It had commenced even as he wrote these words: "There be some that trouble you, and would PERVERT THE GOSPEL of Christ" (Gal. 1:7). The chief conspirator in that perversion was Simon Magus who masqueraded as the apostle Peter.
Then in our time -- at the crisis at the close of this age -- CHRIST SHALL RETURN TO RULE ALL NATIONS WITH A ROD OF IRON (Rev. 19:15) for a thousand years, or millennium (Rev. 20:4) here ON THIS EARTH (Rev. 5:10).
Stop and THINK. Do these scriptures indicate that the KINGDOM OF GOD was to be the church, or that the church -- MEN THEMSELVES -- would improve this world's society to the place that IT would be called the KINGDOM OF GOD? Definitely NOT!
Even the world-recognized historian, Gibbon, in his "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire", shows us that the EARLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH BELIEVED in Christ's LITERAL return to set up God's Kingdom here on earth. In his well-known 15th chapter on the Christian church, Gibbon says:
"The ancient and popular doctrine of the MILLENNIUM was intimately connected with the second coming of Christ. As the works of creation had been finished in SIX days, their duration in their present state, according to a tradition attributed to the prophet Elijah, was fixed at six thousand years. By the same analogy it was inferred that this long period of labor and contention, which was now almost elapsed, would be succeeded by a joyful SABBATH of a THOUSAND YEARS; and that Christ, with the triumphant band of the saints and the elect who had escaped death, or who had been miraculously revived, would REIGN UPON EARTH till the time appointed for the last and general resurrection."
Here is amazing proof even from a famous secular historian that Christ's message of God's rule here on earth was TAUGHT and BELIEVED by early Christians. Those who lived SHORTLY AFTER CHRIST, had the TRUTH. It had not been LOST yet!
The message of Christ's future establishment of God's rule here on earth was proclaimed by the Old Testament prophets, by the New Testament apostles and evangelists, by Jesus Christ Himself, and is even referred to in numerous secular histories!
This message is the very HEART of the true gospel of Christ! Study the following questions IN YOUR OWN BIBLE and PROVE this fact with your very own eyes.
This lesson is intended to direct you to the BIBLE -- to help you learn the truth of God's Word. Here is the method of study:
Is your Bible in front of you? If not, GET your Bible BEFORE YOU CONTINUE WITH THIS LESSON! Also several sheets of notebook paper, and a pencil or pen, so you can MAKE NOTES to help you remember what you learn. (This course is based on the King James Version of the Bible because we find its text the most accurate.)
REMEMBER -- you must open your Bible to EVERY passage we give you in answer to the questions we ask. You must read, and REREAD, and actually STUDY EVERY PASSAGE IN YOUR BIBLE. Don't forget that this is a BIBLE STUDY course -- a STUDY of the BIBLE, not just a study of the lessons we send you.
Now, with your Bible, a good DICTIONARY, and your notebook paper and pencil or pen on a desk or table before you, here is how you begin this study: Write down, neatly, on your paper, the caption "Lesson 2" and underscore it. Under that, write down the lesson title, and then beneath that the first question section heading. Finally, number each question AND WRITE DOWN THE ANSWER TO EACH in your own handwriting. As an EXAMPLE, for the first question section, this is what you will write on your paper: "Coming Kingdom Proclaimed." Then write:
1. Amos 3:7 -- "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets."
Also write in any other thoughts you want to remember as you go along. STUDY and UNDERSTAND each question and answer.
Be SURE to WRITE OUT the scriptures which answer each question. Writing down every word of each Bible passage and your own comments takes a little more time, but you will really LEARN and REMEMBER the Bible that way. And YOU CAN QUICKLY REVIEW YOUR LESSONS if you have them in this form.
Keep these lessons and your notes fastened in a three-ring loose-leaf binder for future reference.
WE ARE GIVING YOU THE BRIEF, COMPREHENSIVE, TRUE OUTLINE OF THE BIBLE. We know of no other place where you can obtain it! You will want to refer to these lessons AND YOUR OWN NOTES from time to time as you apply them to clear up related points in the Bible.
And remember, you are to spend at least one half hour EVERY day studying YOUR BIBLE with this Correspondence Course.
Now let's begin the lesson!
1. Does God intervene in world affairs without first revealing it to His prophets? Amos 3:7.
2. Hundreds of years ago did ISAIAH, the prophet, FORESEE a time when God shall establish His Kingdom here on earth? Isaiah 2:1-4. Is it pictured as being a LITERAL KINGDOM ON EARTH? (The mountains referred to here symbolically represent kingdoms or nations. See Dan. 2:35, 44.) Will there be strife and war in God's Kingdom as there is now among nations? Verse 4.
3. Is God's rule over this earth FORETOLD BY DANIEL? Read Daniel 2:36-45 and WRITE down verse 44. Will other kingdoms still be in existence when Christ BEGINS to set up His rule? Verse 44. What will happen to them? Does all this indicate that Daniel knew God's Kingdom would be a LITERAL kingdom with POWER over all the nations?
4. Did DAVID speak of God ruling over the earth? Psalm 67:4. 5. Did MICAH say God would establish His Kingdom ON THE EARTH in the future? Micah 4:1-5.
6. Where does JEREMIAH say the throne of this Kingdom will be located? Jeremiah 3:17.
7. Notice who Isaiah prophesied would rule over the earth. Isaiah 11:1-4. Who is the "STEM of Jesse"? Acts 13:22. Isn't it David? Then isn't the rod or shoot Jesus Christ? Verse 23. Does the BRANCH that grows out of Jesse's roots also refer to Christ? Jer. 23:5-6. This prophecy reveals that Jesus Christ will rule ON THE EARTH!
8. Did DANIEL foresee a time when the SAINTS will be given rule over the earth in God's Kingdom along with Christ? Dan. 7:18, 21-22, 27.
9. From our study, don't we find that the Old Testament PROPHETS and EVANGELISTS ALL AGREE in telling us that God will intervene in human affairs and establish His government -- His Kingdom -- here on earth under Christ? Does God's basic purpose ever change? Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8.
COMMENT: We have now seen that God, through many inspired Old Testament prophets, gave ADVANCE notice to the world of the coming Kingdom of God. But in addition to this, He also sent Christ as His SPECIAL MESSENGER to proclaim the ADVANCE news of this same glorious event. And God sent still OTHER MESSENGERS to proclaim the same GOOD NEWS or GOSPEL to us who live IN THESE END TIMES! Let's understand.
CHRIST -- the Special Messenger
1. Was Jesus sent to this earth with a specific MESSAGE? John 12:49; 14:24.
2. From WHERE was Jesus sent? John 3:13. WHO sent Him? Verse 34.
3. To WHOM was He sent? John 1:11. COMMENT: Christ was sent primarily to "His own" nation -- the Jews -- with His message of the Gospel CONCERNING THE COMING OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD. Later, however, He prophesied His disciples would PROCLAIM THE MESSAGE TO THE WHOLE WORLD (Mat. 24:14).
4. In the first sermon TO GENTILES, Peter tells more which verifies what we have learned, and adds to our knowledge about this New Testament message. Read Acts 10:36-37 and answer these questions: (1) Who sent this word, or message? (2) To whom was it sent FIRST -- to Gentiles? (3) By whom was it preached? (4) Where was it published or preached? (5) Where did Christ begin preaching it? (6) When did this message first begin?
5. Read Mark 1:14-15. (1) WHEN did this Message begin? (2) Who preached it? (3) From WHERE did He begin preaching it? (4) WHAT WAS THE MESSAGE, sent from God, that He preached?
6. In Mark 1, compare verse 1 with verse 14. Is the gospel OF Jesus Christ the very gospel He preached? -- the news of the coming of the Kingdom of God? Then it is NOT PRIMARILY A MESSAGE ABOUT HIMSELF PERSONALLY, is it?
COMMENT: Few know what "the gospel OF Christ" really is! People today are taught in the churches that the "gospel of Christ" concerns only the EVENTS in the life of Christ, and of His being our Saviour. THEY ARE NOT TOLD THE GOSPEL MESSAGE HE BROUGHT -- THE GOSPEL OF THE COMING KINGDOM OF GOD!
7. What does the expression in Mark 1:15, "the Kingdom of God is AT HAND," mean? Remember, the gospel of the Kingdom which Jesus preached was NOT a message about restoring self-rule to the people in Palestine 2000 years ago. How do we know? Let's read on.
8. When the Jews WANTED to make Jesus their king, what did He do? John 6:15. When the disciples asked if Jesus would restore the Kingdom then, what was His reply? Acts 1:6-7. Did Jesus deny the Kingdom would be of that age? -- did He not rather imply it would be of A FUTURE AGE? John 18:36. The Greek word used here for "world" is "cosmos," that is, the system of the age of MAN'S WAY. The meaning of Mark 1:15 is that THE TIME IS "AT HAND" FOR US TO REPENT SO WE CAN QUALIFY TO ENTER GOD'S KINGDOM.
COMMENT: The word "GOSPEL" MEANS "GOOD NEWS," or "Glad Tidings." You are now reading of the "Glad Tidings" of the Kingdom! God knows far more than WE can realize, what a joyous place it will be! FOUR THINGS ARE NECESSARY TO CONSTITUTE A KINGDOM: (1) TERRITORY of a (2) KING or ruler, over (3) SUBJECTS or citizens, with (4) LAWS and government. Therefore we might define the true Gospel as "the GOOD NEWS of the TERRITORY of a KING ruling over SUBJECTS with LAWS and government."
The true Gospel, therefore, includes the message ABOUT Christ who is the King. Christ, when He comes, will become the Supreme Ruler over ALL nations, ruling them by the Laws of God. And the true Gospel also includes the message of SALVATION by which one can become a member of the ruling SPIRITUAL Kingdom of God (John 3:3).
1. Did JESUS COMMAND HIS MINISTERS TO PREACH this same gospel? Luke 9:1-2. As the apostles went to the nations, were they to teach the SAME MESSAGE Jesus had taught them? Mat. 28:19-20.
2. Did PHILIP, the evangelist, preach the gospel of the Kingdom to the Gentile Samaritans? Acts 8:12.
3. Did PAUL preach the gospel of the Kingdom? Acts 19:8 and 14:22. Among the Gentiles in Ephesus, what gospel did Paul preach? Acts 20:25. What gospel did the Jews at Rome finally reject? Acts 28:23-24. Also READ verses 25-29.
4. Following the Jews' rejection of the gospel, did Paul preach the SAME GOSPEL TO THE GENTILES? Verses 28, 31. Then Paul preached ONLY ONE GOSPEL the gospel of the Kingdom of God -- to both Jews and Gentiles, didn't he?
5. Would FALSE MINISTERS attempt to preach "DIFFERENT" GOSPELS -- other gospels instead of the true gospel of Christ? Gal. 1:6. How many gospels are right, besides the ONE which Paul preached? Gal. 1:8. Are these other gospels actually PERVERSIONS of the gospel of the Kingdom brought by Christ? Gal. 1:7.
6. Since there are FALSE MINISTERS TODAY, wouldn't they therefore be PERVERTING CHRIST'S MESSAGE of the real territory, the rulers, the citizens, the laws, or the government of the Kingdom of God?
7. What gospel is to be preached and published TODAY? Mat. 24:14; Mark 13:10.
COMMENT: The preachers, as a whole, in these dark days do NOT preach the gospel of the imminent establishment of God's PERSONAL control over the earth and the preparation which we should make in view of this. Rather, their energies are occupied with the "Ecumenical Movement" -- a movement of MEN'S churches to band themselves together for mutual protection!
You have now seen that the gospel MESSAGE is proclaimed from one end of your Bible to the other. It is not some vague idea of uninspired men, but has been proclaimed "by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began" (Acts 3:21). It is the WORLD'S ONLY HOPE FOR PEACE!
Let us REJOICE in this GOOD NEWS! The next vital part of this lesson will reveal WHEN Jesus Christ will return to set up the perfect RULE OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD on this earth. Let's understand this all-important truth.
THE agnostic or the atheist may ridicule the teachings of Jesus Christ. But he cannot deny that JESUS CAME over 1900 years ago!
It is one of the most conclusively PROVED facts of history. (A soon-coming lesson will reveal the irrefutable proof!)
Yet what few realize is that JESUS PROMISED, "I WILL COME AGAIN!" (John 14:3.)
At His ascension, the apostles were startled by the appearance of two divine messengers who said: "This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, SHALL SO COME in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11).
PHOTO: Magnificent revolving studio globe vividly portrays WORLDWIDE scope of broadcast for Mr. Armstrong during each program. Tiny blinking lights represent over 300 stations carrying The WORLD TOMORROW!
PHOTO: Above, co-speaker, Mr. Garner Ted Armstrong, broadcasts THE WORLD TOMORROW. His dynamic and powerful voice is heard by multiple millions on every continent around the world! Below, modern web press of huge Ambassador College printing plant PRINTS Christ's Gospel message in THE PLAIN TRUTH magazine -- now read by MILLIONS of people each month!
PHOTO: Hundreds of broadcast tapes are duplicated every week on precision Ampex recording equipment, then sent to radio stations.PHOTO: Pontiff blessing followers. Roman Church ruled the nations during the Middle Ages.
Here we have two angelic messengers sent directly from God to confirm the words of Jesus that He would come again. The EARLY inspired New Testament church KNEW Jesus MEANT what He said. They believed it. They taught it. But the world has DISBELIEVED it.
Gradually, says Gibbon in his famous history, "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire", chapter 15, the fact that Jesus must come a SECOND TIME to intervene in world affairs was regarded as unnecessary. Within a century and a half after Christ, it was treated as a profound allegory -- as a fable of the Jews. Finally it was regarded as rank heresy and punishable by death. The WORLD STILL RIDICULES THE IDEA!
IN THIS FRIGHTENING ATOMIC AND SPACE AGE, some sober thought is once again being directed toward the possibility of divine intervention such as Christ's return. Yet among those who realize that God alone can save humanity, there is utter confusion -- there are literally hundreds of HUMAN IDEAS concocted to explain WHEN, HOW and WHY Jesus will return.
The CHURCHES ARE IN CONFUSION and doubt. Most do not believe God will intervene, yet they are afraid that man will obliterate human life!
It is high time we realize WHEN Jesus will fulfill His promise, "I will come again!"
Outstanding among the hundreds of differing ideas are THREE GENERAL CONCEPTS about Christ's return.
Certainly the MOST DEEPLY ROOTED CONCEPT is the ASSUMPTION THAT THE CHURCHES TODAY CONSTITUTE THE KINGDOM OF GOD, and that Jesus Christ CAME the second time through the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). Since Jesus declared in the gospel that He would return to rule, it is taught that Jesus committed to the apostles and their successors the right to rule and judge the nations.
From this concept developed the practice in the Middle Ages of church rule over nations, of imposing the ecclesiastical will on the temporal rulers of this earth. THIS MADE THE CHURCH -- which called itself the kingdom of God -- a PART OF THIS WORLD, a part of this system of human rule. It OVERLOOKS the fact that Jesus said: "My Kingdom is not of this world" -- this system (John 18:36).
This is the AGE of mortal human rule guided by the influence of Satan (Luke 4:5-6). Jesus' Kingdom is NOT OF THIS AGE. It is of the World Tomorrow -- "the world to come" (Heb. 2:5).
When asked if He would restore the Kingdom at that time, Jesus replied to the apostles: "It is NOT for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be WITNESSES unto me ... unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:6-8).
NEVER DID CHRIST COMMAND HIS APOSTLES TO RULE THE NATIONS OF THIS WORLD. INSTEAD, HE COMMANDED THEM TO WITNESS AND PREACH THE GOSPEL!
Notice that the apostles were NOT to know the time of the establishment of the Kingdom, but they WERE to be filled with the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. The coming of the Holy Spirit could NOT have been the second coming of Jesus Christ. Instead, the apostles were empowered by the Holy Spirit to be witnesses -- of what? -- of the resurrection and the gospel of the Kingdom. Jesus ordered the disciples to "teach all nations." He promised to be with them in Spirit until the END of this age -- the end of this present world of human misrule (Mat. 28:19-20).
"And this gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the END COME," said Jesus (Mat. 24:14). The end of what? This AGE, this world order -- WHEN JESUS WILL COME AGAIN! (Mat. 24:3.)
CHRIST DID NOT return to found the Kingdom in the days of the apostles. Instead, He ordered the gospel preached to PREPARE the world for His return -- His INTERVENTION in human affairs and to rule this world for 1000 years! (Rev. 20:4.)
Another and more modern concept is the doctrine that Jesus will COME ONLY AFTER peace and harmony permeate the EARTH and all nations are in perfect accord! What WOEFUL MISUNDERSTANDING of world events and Bible prophecy!
The restoration of peace and harmony FOLLOWS the intervention of Jesus Christ. Jesus is now in heaven. It is He "whom the heaven must receive UNTIL THE TIMES OF RESTITUTION" (Acts 3:21).
When Jesus returns, "the ambassadors of peace shall weep bitterly. The highways lie waste" (Isa. 33:7-8). The earth will be in chaos -- not at peace -- BEFORE He returns.
CHRIST DOES NOT COME AFTER A MILLENNIUM (1000 years) of perfect human rule. It is to ABOLISH HUMAN MISRULE and establish the Kingdom -- the rule -- of God that Jesus returns a second time. Resurrected Christians will then "live and reign WITH Christ a thousand years" (Rev. 20:4, last part). Since they will reign WITH Christ, He must already have come BEFORE the 1000 years commence!
The third general teaching is that Christ comes BEFORE the millennium. THIS WAS THE DOCTRINE TAUGHT IN THE EARLY NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH BEFORE THE TRUTH WAS LOST! The early inspired apostolic Church knew that Christ was to come BEFORE the Millennium.
The second coming of Christ is a vital part of the PLAN OF GOD. It is all through the Bible -- Old and New Testaments. God has been declaring the end or conclusion of His plan "from the beginning" through His prophets and apostles. But the world has not heeded their message (Isa. 46:10).
Jesus made VERY PLAIN, just before His ascension, that He would return visibly AFTER A FIXED SEQUENCE OF EVENTS. He gave an outline of these events to His disciples upon the Mount of Olives. You will find it recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21.
About sixty years later He gave the Revelation to John, giving a more elaborate and detailed account of world events that lead up to the Lord's Day -- the Day of the Lord, the day when Christ returns. These separate outlines of the same events are analyzed in Mr. Armstrong's FREE booklets, "The Key to the Book of Revelation" and "The Book of Revelation Unveiled at Last!" Be sure to SEND for them!
PHOTO: Above, a cremating oven used to burn human beings in one of Hitler's concentration camps. Right, a heap of ashes and bones -- the debris from one day's fiendish killing at Buchenwald!
PHOTO: Civilians of Weimar, Germany, stare in disbelief at grotesque pile of emaciated bodies tortured to death at Buchenwald, a nearby atrocity camp.
PHOTO: More senseless killings -- mute witness to the horrors of Hitler's Third Reich!
In Matthew 24:32-33, Jesus gave a PARABLE so that we might know the time of His return. Since Jesus put such stress upon watching and waiting lest that day come when we are not aware, it is high time that we STUDY and GRASP the significance of the SECOND COMING OF CHRIST!
1. Did the people in Jesus' day anticipate that the Kingdom of God would be established in their time? Luke 19:11. What did Jesus speak in final answer to this mistaken idea? Verse 12.
2. In this PARABLE, who is THE NOBLEMAN mentioned in verse 12? What is the far country? Compare Matthew 25:13, 14 and 15 with the parable in Luke.
3. Will Christ receive a kingdom while away in heaven? Compare Luke 19:12 with Daniel 7:13-14. Doesn't this parable plainly cover the PRESENT CHURCH AGE AFTER WHICH JESUS RETURNS from the far country -- heaven?
4. Is there a DURATION OF TIME during which the servants must trade and increase their talents? Who are the servants in Luke's parable? Are Christians ever called servants? I Peter 2:16.
5. WHAT DUTY must THE SERVANT FULFILL before the end of this age and the second coming of Christ can occur? Mat. 24:14. Did Jesus promise to be with His Church in its preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom UNTIL THE END OF THIS AGE? Mat. 28:20.
COMMENT: The GOSPEL of the Kingdom MUST yet in these final days GO TO ALL NATIONS BEFORE THE END comes! (Mat. 24:14.)
6. What was Paul's gospel? Acts 28:31. Was it the only one he preached? Gal. 1:9.
COMMENT: The churches today preach a gospel ABOUT Christ the PERSON -- and NOT the gospel message He came to preach. Their gospels are NOT the TRUE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD (Gal. 1:6).
7. Not long after the New Testament Church began, did FALSE TEACHERS arise proclaiming that the day of Christ had already occurred? II Thes. 2:1-2. Did Paul reject the doctrine that Christ had already returned a second time? Verse 3. Isn't it plain that the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2) was NOT Christ's second coming?
8. Was there to occur a falling into error at the close of the apostles' ministry, but before Christ returns? Verse 3.
9. Did Jesus also speak of it as occurring BEFORE He returns? Compare Mat. 24:5 with Rev. 6:2.
COMMENT: Jesus used the horseman of Rev. 6:2 to symbolize the FALSE ministers' claiming to represent Him or to be ruling IN His PLACE over a great mother church. The REAL Christ comes on a WHITE horse described in Rev. 19:11. Notice, too, that the perversion of God's Truth marks only the BEGINNING of a long sequence of events covering 1900 years and culminating in Christ's return!
1. Will the day of God's intervention and the second coming of Christ be universally expected? Matthew 24:36, 42, 44. Or will it COME AS A SURPRISE?
2. To what period in earth's history did Jesus compare His return? Mat. 24:37. Did the people before the DELUGE realize that God would intervene supernaturally? Do people today realize God will intervene in OUR day?
3. Will Christ come at the moment that we would suppose He should? Luke 12:40. Will we know the day and hour of His return? Mat. 25:13.
COMMENT: These utterances of Jesus have often been taken to mean that the APOSTLES would not know the day or the hour, but that WE in these last days can know it. This is NOT true! Notice:
4. Did Peter ask Jesus if He meant ONLY the apostles would be unable to know the hour or if HE meant all -- even WE today -- would not know? Luke 12:41. What was Jesus' reply? Verses 42-43.
5. Is Jesus' WARNING especially for OUR generation -- those who are living "when he cometh"? Notice Jesus' reply in Luke 12:43 again. Are the apostles alive today?
COMMENT: How plain that Jesus meant that WE would NOT KNOW THE DAY OR THE HOUR. That is why Jesus told us to WATCH WORLD EVENTS so we could know perhaps even to the exact year -- so that we could be READY whenever He comes.
6. If we cannot know the day and hour, can we KNOW VERY NEAR the actual time of His return? Mat. 24:32-33. Had Jesus already given in this chapter the SIGNS OF THE TIMES to which He referred?
7. Does God ever act in human affairs without making KNOWN HIS PLAN of action? Amos 3:7 and Isaiah 46:10.
Isn't the SPREADING OF THE GOSPEL of the Kingdom BEFORE the end of the age A PREPARATION for the time of Christ's return to rule the nations?
8. Some denominations and sects spread the doctrine that Christ is already here. Did Jesus warn that such ideas would be spread BEFORE He really returns? Mat. 24:26.
9. Would others, however, believe that it is far off in the future? II Peter 3:4 and Mat. 24:48. Are either of these right?
1. Daniel gives a DEFINITE SEQUENCE OF EVENTS which must occur before Christ will return. Read Daniel, chapter 2, especially verse 44. (Dan. 2:44) Notice the order of Gentile world kingdoms described in verses 36 through 42.
2. During a FINAL UNION OF 10 FASCIST NATIONS in Europe, symbolized by the toes (Dan. 2:42), will the God of heaven set up a kingdom? Dan. 7:7, 17 and 18.
3. Will this kingdom be left to mortal men of yet another nation? Dan. 2:44. Or will Christ take this kingdom? Dan. 7:13, 14.
4. In the parable recorded in Luke's gospel, did Christ receive a kingdom? Luke 19:11,12. Aren't these accounts dealing with only ONE kingdom -- the Kingdom of God?
5. Jesus fills in more details in the SEQUENCE OF EVENTS given in Mark 13 and Luke 21. Before continuing, READ both of these chapters. Now turn to Matthew 24. Does Jesus describe a TREMENDOUS NOISE WHICH WILL REND THE AIR? Mat. 24:30-31. Does Paul mention a TRUMPET'S SOUND at Christ's return? I Thes. 4:16.
6. Is this the time of the RESURRECTION? I Thes. 4:16-17. WHICH trump sounds when the resurrection occurs? I Cor. 15:52.
7. Now notice in Scripture what is to happen at the LAST TRUMP. Rev. 10:7 and 11:15,18. Is this the time of Jesus' return? -- of the resurrection? -- of the establishment of the Kingdom? This tells us WHEN Jesus will return.
COMMENT: Many claim that the LAST trumpet, mentioned in I Cor. 15:52, is different from the seventh or last trump mentioned in Rev. 11:15. But notice that John was inspired to write that THE SEVENTH OR LAST TRUMP IS THE TIME OF THE RESURRECTION (Rev. 11:15-18).
John is describing the same momentous event as Paul in I Corinthians. Thus we see that CHRIST WILL RETURN AT THE MIGHTY BLAST OF A GREAT TRUMPET, which will be heard by all the earth and ALL WHO UNDERSTAND will KNOW that Christ has come!
1. Will Christ return in the SAME MANNER AS HE DEPARTED? Acts 1:11. How did Christ DEPART? Acts 1:9. Was He taken up in a cloud? Will He RETURN in a cloud? What does Mat. 24:27, 30, say about this? Did He leave from the Mount of Olives (Mt. Olivet)? Acts 1:12.
2. What will HAPPEN IN THE DAY THAT HE COMES? Zech. 14:4. Will His feet stand upon the MOUNT OF OLIVES "in THAT day"? "Day" here refers to a very brief period of time -- a 24-hour day. And who will appear with Him? Zech. 14:5, last part.
3. Did Christ VISIBLY ascend from the Mount of Olives? Acts 1:9-11. Will ALL SEE Him? Rev. 1:7. Does this, then, say there will be a "SECRET RAPTURE" of the saints from this earth?
COMMENT: When Jesus returns VISIBLY and in great glory (Mat. 25:31), He will travel AS LIGHTNING from east to west around the earth to gather the elect (Mat. 24:27). This is the only possible way by which people on a ROUND earth could see Him.
John 14:19 is often misapplied in an attempt to prove that Jesus will come secretly and invisibly. This verse does NOT say that the world will NEVER see Jesus return. It says that the people then living -- 2000 years ago -- would see Him no more because He went to heaven. But He WILL be seen VISIBLY when He returns!
The expression, "and they also which pierced Him" (Rev. 1:7), refers not to the ONE Roman who literally pierced Jesus' side, or only to the Jews, but to the ENTIRE human family -- YOU and ME! Our SINS took His life (Zech. 12:10).
4. Note I Thes. 4:16-17. At what SIGNAL will Christ return? Will there be a SOUND to announce His coming, or will He come SECRETLY?
5. Does the word "we" which is mentioned in I Thes. 4:17 mean everyone, or just the SAINTS -- those who will RISE to meet Christ at His coming? Will they be with Christ forever? Verse 17. Doesn't I Cor. 15:51-52 obviously refer to the same glorious event?
6. Do the HOLY ANGELS also come WITH Christ? Mark 8:38. When Christ came to the earth the first time, did He come with POWER? Or was He scourged, mocked, and abused? Isa. 50:6; John 19:1. Will His second coming be with POWER and GREAT GLORY? Mat. 24: 30. Will ARMIES of angels follow Him? Rev. 19:14.
COMMENT: We now see that Christ and His armies of angels will descend in clouds and that the saints (the righteous -- both the resurrected dead and the living who were then changed into spirit) will rise to meet him in the air. As He and His angels travel SWIFTLY AROUND THE EARTH (Mat. 24:27), the SAINTS JOIN Christ and remain with Him FOREVER.
Through His prophets, apostles and evangelists, God has revealed a FIXED SEQUENCE OF EVENTS leading up to the IMMINENT RETURN OF JESUS CHRIST. Contrary to the WOEFUL MISUNDERSTANDING in the churches of this world, Christ will come VISIBLY to a God-rejecting world to save it from itself. HIS Coming will usher in the BEGINNING of the MILLENNIUM -- 1,000 years of peace and prosperity for all mankind!
National leaders now REALIZE that the only hope of saving our civilization from self-destruction is the formation of a strong WORLD GOVERNMENT. But all attempts at this encounter suspicion, distrust, and HATE. The hard FACT is that MAN HAS CONSISTENTLY FAILED -- AND WILL CONTINUE TO FAIL TO ATTAIN THIS OBJECTIVE.
HUMAN NATURE HAS NOT CHANGED! Men are still quite willing to spill the blood of their fellows to satisfy their LUST and GREED. Do the men of this world really know the WAY to PEACE? God Almighty says of sinful men in general: "The WAY of PEACE have they NOT known" (Rom. 3:17). We hear a lot of sentimental platitudes about the hopes of achieving peace through the United Nations -- but the pitiful RESULTS confirm Paul's inspired statement that CARNAL MEN SIMPLY DO NOT KNOW THE WAY TO PEACE.
The history of human woe proves that in trying to govern himself, man has been attempting the impossible. It shows that carnal-minded man is UTTERLY INCAPABLE of mastering this world and bringing about lasting peace. History also shows the churches have FAILED in their attempts to reform civilization. Only Christ's return can inaugurate the promised age of peace!
But why are men so ignorant of this vital truth today? Because they are in total ignorance of the countless prophecies which clearly reveal that God has ordained Christ shall RULE this earth, teach men the WAY TO PEACE, and show all the world the right way to live. Your Bible shows that this is to occur after a definite series of events -- and after man has had time to write lessons in human suffering, showing once and for all that his OWN ways lead only to DEATH! (Prov. 14:12.)
THE WORLD IS TERRIBLY UNHAPPY TODAY. Just look at all the misery and death portrayed through the various news media! But there is HOPE! Christ said, "I am come that they might have LIFE [here and hereafter], and that they might have it MORE ABUNDANTLY!" (John 10:10.)
PEOPLE WILL LEARN TO LIVE HAPPY ABUNDANT LIVES AFTER CHRIST RETURNS TO RULE THE EARTH! UNDER HIS GUIDANCE the necessary changes will be made in this world so ALL may receive God's abundant blessings. But more about this in coming lessons.