PHILADELPHIA, Pa., Feb. 19, 1905.
Dear Editor Of The SIGNS, And brethren: – Some time ago brother Everett R. Kinney, of Glens Falls, N. Y., wrote requesting my views on Hebrews ix. 28, as submitted by me to the church of Albany and Troy, Sunday morning, November 27th, 1904, at the lied Men’s Hall in Troy, N. Y. This is not by any means an easy thing to do, and I have been trying my very best to forget his request, not because I wished to ignore it altogether, but the task is entirely too big a one for me to handle as it deserves. One thing I cannot do, and I may as well confess it at the start, I cannot reproduce here the sermon of that Sunday morning in November in Troy to the very attentive brethren gathered there; I will not attempt such an impossibility. The best that I can do is to state here my present view of this subject, nor am I aware that this has in any way changed since the time referred to. Much controversy has occupied the mind of many able men, both in and out of the gospel, as to the second coming of Christ: what it is, how it is, and when it is. Truth can alone hush babbling tongues and soothe us with the assurance of what it really is. The words in Hebrews ix. 28, are these: “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many: and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” If I want to know the real truth about this matter, I would rely upon the testimony of these who have thus looked for Christ, and unto whom he has appeared unto salvation; these could certainly tell me about it; none others possibly could. To be more definite, I would go to these who have experienced these things; experience is the only key to the understanding of divine things. The natural mind cannot help us any, it is enmity against God. Sin to be understood, must be experienced; salvation to be understood, must be experienced; the second coming of Christ to be understood, must be experienced. Is this last a matter of present experience with the saints? Undoubtedly, yes, and just as certainly, No. I will endeavor to explain what I mean before I am through.
This ninth chapter of Hebrews, as well as the entire letter, is a connected whole, and to be rightly understood must be so handled. The apostle uses the things of the Old Testament to illustrate the things of the New, he shows here the Old Testament was dedicated with blood, likewise the New; he brings to our mind this truth, that “a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.” A man may make his will leaving all his possessions to his heirs and discriminating among them as he chooses, but as long as the man lives, his will thus written is only so much paper, no more. In order for the conditions in the written document to be fulfilled, the man must die: by his death the paper becomes a thing of power, it maketh rich or poor, according to its contents. In order for the will of God to be made known unto his heirs, Immanuel (God with us) must die. As Moses dedicated the law with the blood of calves, and goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, so did God dedicate unto his children the gospel in the blood of his only begotten Son. Every heir of God is judged in this New Testament just as in a man-made testament, or will, the father judges each of his heirs. Not until the father dies, can the children know how the father has judged them. His death however looses the seal, the will is opened, unto all the heirs it becomes known what the father has apportioned unto each.
“As it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Some have thought this to refer to a final day of judgment some time in the future when the world shall come to an end. To read such a meaning in these words would be to disconnect it entirely from the theme which the apostle is here considering. “Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return,” is a decree of God, and concerns all men. After the fulfillment of this decree, then comes the judgment. What judgment? That which is in their wills concerning their heirs, or whoever is interested therein. As I have before said, after a man dies, and not till then, his will is opened and the judgment which he has written there is made known.
“So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many.” As all men die in obedience to the decree of God, so Christ also died. Why? That the new covenant which was in him from the Father, might be made known unto all the heirs. There are many things in this New Testament of our God made forcible in the death of the man Christ Jesus.
“It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” What more do we want? Having, therefore, shed his precious blood that the will of God might be secured unto all the children, he will appear the second time unto them that look for him, without sin unto salvation. His first appearance was with sin, his second, without sin. “He hath made him to be sin for us.” “God, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.” This first appearance of Christ as being made sin for us, considered as a separate and distinct event in time, occurred during all the time of his sojourn here as a man. Considered experimentally, his first appearance is in the law, as it is consciously applied unto ever quickened sinner and causes him to know his errors, his wickedness, his condemnation. This first appearance of Jesus is always one of condemnation. The second appearance of Jesus is unto salvation, apart from sin. The experience of this is one of love mid joy and the losing sight of one’s iniquities for the time being. “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” Experiencing this, is to know Jesus at his second coining. When speaking unto his disciples of his approaching death, he promised them the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, which should be their guide, teacher and reminder. If this is not the second coining of Christ, then I do not know what is. It certainly is the messenger of the new covenant which comes unto every heir of God wherever he is and in whatever condition he may he, searching him out, bearing witness with his spirit that lie is a child of God, that he is interested in the will of his heavenly Father, and apprising him of what is his Father’s will concerning him. It makes known unto us the judgment of God concerning us, and we do not have to die the death of the body in order to find it out, but Christ died this death in order that we should find it out; these blessings are hinged upon his death, not ours. This coming of the Holy Ghost unto us as a Comforter, Instructor, Guide, &c, is unto every one that looks for him. With what eyes do they look? With the eyes of faith, of course. They hunger and thirst for righteousness, looking for a new heaven and a new earth, weary of sin, they long to be delivered from it; unto such comes the Holy Ghost without sin unto salvation, apprising them of their purity before God, of their eternal blessings in Christ. You see how, therefore, this second coining of Christ is a matter of present experience, and yet it is not. What I have said above, presents it as a matter of every day life with the children of God who dwell in the fullness of the gospel. We do not yet know what it is to conquer the grave, to triumph over death, but, by the grace of God, we will some day know this, each for ourselves, and then will we also know the fullness of Christ’s second coming, which is unto salvation.
Now I have told you all I know about it.
Yours to serve in the gospel,
HORACE H. LEFFERTS.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 73, No. 7
April 1, 1905