The 19th-century evangelist, R. A. Torrey, was well known for his emphatic preaching on the 2nd coming of Christ. Biographer, Roger Martin, relates an interesting and somewhat humorous story from one such sermon.
Torrey was speaking to a crowd of nearly 3,000 in Chicago on the 2nd coming. As he concluded his sermon, he spoke eloquently about Jesus’ glorious return. The sound of the trumpet. The shout of the archangel. Torrey then concluded with these climactic words.
“It may be that before we arise in the morning…or that before we sleep tonight… or it may be that before we have finished our luncheon today … or, indeed it may be that before I finish this sermon – we shall hear the sound of the trump & the voice of the archangel announcing He is here!
As the audience sat spellbound, suddenly lightning struck one of the towers of the building with a blinding flash and a resounding crash of thunder. “The effect was electrifying,” Martin wrote. “People sprang to their feet and some shirked.” It is said that some stumbled from their seat and rushed to the exits.
But Torrey sternly said, “Oh sit down. This is nothing to be afraid of. This is nothing to what it will be when the Lord comes again.”
Following the service, it was reported that one of D. L. Moody’s daughters was present and said, “Oh, Mr. Torrey, I thought the Lord had really come and I was so disappointed that it was not so.”
Today’s Bible reading, 2 Thessalonians 1, is one of the texts Torrey used in his sermon. While other passages may offer more details, there are several points here worthy of our serious consideration.
1. Christ is coming again.
The Bible plainly teaches the second coming of Christ. Both apostles Paul and Peter as well as Jesus himself spoke of Christ’s coming and the end of the world. Sometimes referred to as “the day of the Lord,” That He will return with His holy angels is a fact.
2. At Christ’s coming “the righteous judgment of God” will be manifest.
Folks today like to think more of the love of God. Or sing about his grace. Or speak of His mercy. These are wonderful, divine qualities for which we are thankful. And they make possible our salvation. But God is also our Judge. And He is a just judge. One day we will all give account and be judged according to the lives that we lived based on His revealed righteousness.
3. To some, he will “repay with affliction those who afflict (Christians).”
The word “vengeance” is even used. But God’s vengeance is not arbitrary, irrational, or prejudicial. It is based on the gospel.
Those who deny God and refuse to obey the gospel “will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.”
4. To others, He will provide “rest” and “relief.”
Those who remain faithful to their heavenly calling will be glorified with Him. And eternally enjoy Kingdom blessings. Their faith will become sight. Their hope will be fulfilled. And their cause will be vindicated. By God’s grace we will enjoy the eternal reward of His presence and the perfection of His promises.
In the words of the hymnist, Will Thompson, “There’s a Great Day Coming!”
There’s a great day coming,
A great day coming,
There’s a great day coming by and by,
When the saints and the sinners shall
be parted right and left,
Are you ready for that day to come?
What about you? If the Lord returned today, are you ready? Would you be terrified or thrilled? Alarmed or excited? Sad or glad?
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman