Error in Some Books

 •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 8
A book with the misleading title "The Hope of Christ's Second Coming" was recently put into our hands; it was written by S. P. Tregelles and has just been re-published by a section of so-called "fundamentalists." Some might think it better to ignore the book and the teaching it contains, but as it strikes at the very foundation of our proper hope—the coming of the Lord to take His own—and as it is but one symptom of the flood of error that is coming in, it behooves us to take sufficient notice to be warned of our dangers from religious error. Perhaps never before has the
Christian had so much reason to exercise care in what he reads or hears. Fanciful interpretations, amounting to error, are to be found mixed up with truth in ways that are sometimes hard to distinguish.
The whole purport of the book is to set aside the Church's expectation of hearing her Lord's shout at any moment and being caught up to meet Him in the air. The blessed hope is supplanted with looking for the apostasy, the man of sin, and the great tribulation. It is really nothing new, for it is the old mistake of confounding the coming of the Lord with the coming of the Son of man—the appearing of the morning star with the bright shining of the sun. The Old Testament closes by looking forward to that coming day when Christ shall shine as the Sun of righteousness; the New Testament closes with a personal word from the Lord saying that He is the bright Morning Star. The morning star appears before the day breaks and is only seen by a few; this is our hope—the coming of the Lord while it is yet dark and the world sleeps.
Both truths are found in the Word of God and, kept in their respective places, are each beautiful and in order; but mix the two and there is nothing left but confusion, and we are deprived of the hope that should cheer us as we wait and watch for His return.
Mr. Tregelles does not see any reason for the Scriptures to tell us about the things that are to take place before the coming of the Son of man in judgment unless the Church were still to be on earth at the close of the tribulation. He forgets that the Lord reveals His secrets to them that fear Him; for instance, He told Abraham about the doom of Sodom although he was not going to be present.
Another underlying mistake of this author is that he does not seem to understand that there will be a remnant of believing Jews on earth after the Church is gone: those mentioned in Daniel as "the wise" who will understand. These will need the divine directions of the Word of God. Those who are then in Palestine will need to know when to flee, and they will indeed do that with God's help (see Rev. 12:14-1714And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. 15And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. 16And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. 17And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 12:14‑17)). The instructions that they will need are found in Matt. 24:11And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple. (Matthew 24:1).44 (these are applied to the Church by Mr. Tregelles). The visible sign for them to flee from Judea will be "the abomination of desolation," or an idol, "in the holy place" of the temple. Has the Christian an earthly "holy place" in a temple? Are all Christians to be in Judea, and so to flee? He twists these instructions to make them apply to Christians in various places from which they are to flee, but the scripture is specific—flee from "Judea."
The error should be easily apparent from verse 20; the Jews are to pray that they do not have to flee on the sabbath day. How could this be applied to Christians? unless you mix Christianity and Judaism. Are Christians to keep the sabbath? are they limited in travel on Saturday?
In verse 22 it is stated that the duration of the "great tribulation will be limited for the sake of the elect—elect Jews of that day. This he applies to the Church; evidently he does not see how God will have elect here if the Church is taken to heaven. Did He not have His own elect before the Church? and will He not have them after the Church is in her heavenly home?
Matt. 24 and 25 form one of the most beautiful and complete prophetic pictures in the New Testament. They should be divided into three parts for proper understanding:
24:1 to 44
24:45 to 25:30
25:31 to 46
Part one is instruction for the Jewish remnant; part two is prophecy concerning the Lord's coming in connection with the kingdom of heaven—the profession of Christianity on earth, Christendom -where real and false are at present
found together; part three is the coming of the Son of man as it concerns the Gentile nations. In the central portion the figures used are "the bridegroom" and the "lord"; the Son of man character is not to be found in it, except in 25:13 where it is a mistake of the translators, as all better translations will verify.
When Mr. Tregelles attempts to prove that the Church will be on earth during the great outpourings of judgment as described in the Book of Revelation his confusion is equally apparent. He will not allow that that Church is found in heaven from the beginning of the fourth chapter; but how will he explain the twenty-four elders in heaven? Are they not the redeemed from the earth? as their utterances prove. And will he explain how the Bride comes to be in heaven and there make herself ready for the marriage, before she is seen descending from heaven? All this only shows that when we give up any part of divine revelation we upset the divinely perfect balance, and bring in chaos.
Even the language used in Revelation is not that suited to the Church on earth; there is the cry for vengeance on enemies, which does not comport with Christianity; and the divine titles given are those found in the Old Testament—Lord, God, Almighty—connected with the earth and an earthly people. God as our Father is not found there.
He says that Elijah being taken to heaven without dying could not be a type of the living saints caught up, but he disregards Enoch's translation. Enoch was caught up to heaven without dying before the day of judgment—the flood—came; but he was informed by God of the judgment that was to come, and he warned others, although he was not going to be there. Noah, on the other hand, is a type of the Jewish remnant who will be preserved through it.
We can see the work of the enemy of Christ in this giving up the precious truth of the Lord's coining. Very early in the Church's history he worked to obscure this hope, and consequently the Church settled down to the level of the world. The lowering effect is evident in this book for it says that the Church is taught to pray, Our Father, which art in heaven," etc. Where does it ever say that the Church is taught to pray this? The prayer is admirable, and correct in its place, but its place was in the days of the disciples before the Lord's death and accomplished redemption. We may gather instruction and edification from it, but forgiveness is unknown in it and it is not in the name of the Lord Jesus, nor is it praying by the Spirit.
How sad it is to hear of Christians giving up this blessed hope as the very moment approaches. But unless this truth is held in the affections it is in danger of being lost. And if it is lost our whole manner of life will suffer, and there is no telling how much error we may fall into. There are other serious mistakes in the book we have reviewed, hut our purpose here is to re-examine our true hope, and so to have it with renewed freshness in our souls. There is NOT ONE THING that has to take place before He comes, but already the signs of things to come after we are gone are beginning to appear. Surely the coming of the Lord is very near. "Even so, come, Lord Jesus."