(This article, from the archives, has been transcribed from a talk by Pastor Lloyd Longfield at the Rialto Theatre, Kew in Melbourne, Australia on 10 October 1971.)
The Return of the Lord and the conditions relating to this climactic event are laid down in the Word of God. At that time, the Lord “… shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Philippians 3:21).
Many are being awakened to the fact that in this age of specialisation we would be wise to see whether God specialises or generalises in His department. God is the instigator of all departments, but the Word of God tells us that in this age He is specialising in salvation. There are people being filled with the Holy Spirit and, although this is essential, it is but the beginning of the salvation experience.
There has been a great acceleration of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit during the past one hundred years, but because many churches do not preach Biblical fundamentals such as water baptism by immersion, they refrain from obeying the rest of the scriptures. Although we must essentially be filled with the Holy Spirit the Bible way, we are to have love for the Lord and for each other (1 Corinthians 13). If we love the Lord we will keep His commandments. We cannot serve two masters: the Lord, as well as the traditional way we may have inherited from past affiliations with orthodox thinking.
We are to remember that the gift of the Holy Spirit is essential to having the indwelling Christ, but more than that is expected of us. We cannot add anything to what God has done, when He fills us with the Holy Spirit the work is complete; the apostle Paul wrote: “I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:4–8). If we have repented, been baptised by immersion and been filled with the Holy Spirit (speaking in tongues), and belong to an organisation that teaches anything less, this is wrong because it compromises the Word of God. We must continue in the love of God, and true love is to serve Him His way.
The greatest happening to date through all the meanderings of Old Testament history was the time when Jesus Christ came to reconcile many. He gave His life as a ransom for Israel, particularly, and for the world at large, generally. The Spirit-filled apostle Peter boldly addressing the Temple heirarchy, said: “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins [to the world]“ (Acts 5:30–31).
He poured out His Spirit that we may all become partakers of His Spirit and become communicants with Him. If we have not received the Holy Spirit and meet around the Communion table, we are eating and drinking damnation to ourselves because we are participating in something for which we are not qualified. The Bible denounces the outward show when there is no inward experience as is specified in God’s Word.
The apostle Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues as did all those in the early Church. Their ability to speak in tongues was more than just some casual peculiarity that God had bestowed on them. It gave them the ability to worship the Lord in the Spirit as distinct from the understanding. Although it is of course possible and necessary to worship the Lord with the understanding, it is not suitable in God’s sight to worship the Lord with the understanding only. It is fundamental that we praise, worship and have communion with Him in the Spirit.
In Philippians 3:8–11 Paul states: “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”
The return of Jesus Christ
The first great happening of Jesus Christ coming to this earth and the events of the Cross that opened up the portals of salvation was just the essential preliminary event. The best is yet to come. The greatest thing will be the extravaganza of seeing the Lord and meeting Him in the air with its world-wide repercussions. A relative few have taken advantage of the message of the Cross which is inescapably accompanied by the outflowing of Pentecost that was to follow soon after.
Paul did not disdain his academic qualities or the need to attend to life’s responsibilities, but but he understood that compared to knowing the Lord and meeting Him in the air nothing else mattered. This is just a comparison of the ways of God as distinct from the matters of humankind that dissolve in a lifetime, and of empires that rise and fall. These things are small compared with the things Paul speaks of, and why he wrote: “and I count all things but loss …That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection …”.
Righteousness is given when we receive the Holy Spirit at which time we receive the ability to pray in the Spirit. This is going to be important because the Lord Jesus Christ is coming back for people who have the ability to pray in the Spirit (John 4:23). It narrows the field, but we should jump for joy when we hear it. It doesn’t matter how narrow the field, may it be specific and identifiable!
There are many references in the Bible about the Second Coming of the Lord and the signs of the times that will herald this sensational event. These signs include the present technological explosion, the international scene and the nuclear age in which we live, the ongoing Middle-Eastern conflict, the unprecedented spreading of vice and crime, the generation gap, the world-wide population explosion, and pollution. These are all signs indicating that the Second Coming of Jesus is at hand. Knowledge of these problems is common to scientists as well as to Bible students. There are also the great ‘antichrist’ movements in the world coupling up with the churches when the Bible makes it clear that it is impossible to serve two masters. We are living in the time of the end of this Age.
Paul was thrilled about the power of the resurrection, and people who are looking for this power of the resurrection because they have tasted it in their Holy Spirit experience will be side by side with the Apostle Paul in knowing and understanding the enormity of what God is going to do with us when we participate in the First Resurrection.
God created the heavens of time and space, the Earth and all that is therein, the stars and galaxies that comprise the Universe, all that we can see through the microscope and the telescope as well as that which we can’t see, and our bodies in all their magnificent complexity and ability. In the midst of all of this there is a resurrection power that is yet to blossom forth to the sons and daughters of God.
When the Lord returns and takes over on planet Earth, we will enter into an entirely different set of circumstances and understanding. We will no longer labour in the natural, we will become – body, soul and Spirit – one with Him. In the ‘twinkling of an eye’ we will be changed forever. No longer will we be disjointed people. We will have a new body that is like unto His glorious Body. We will be beings of light in which there is no darkness.
The power of the resurrection is beyond our ability to comprehend. We’ve been filled with the Holy Spirit but that is a tiny portion, a mere foretaste of the power that will recreate us on that Day. The power of the resurrection is top priority for God’s people. Don’t turn to the right or the left. Nothing must separate us from the power of the resurrection. We are living in the times of the Second Coming of our Lord, and if there is one thing that the disciples were thrilled about it was not just their experience of being Spirit-filled, it was the power of the resurrection.
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
The great emphasis that we can lay on the Second Coming of the Lord is not when or how He will come; it is that we must be ready and available to the Lord at that instant.
Nowhere in the Bible do we find any particular commendation of the churches as they are today, it is the specified indwelling Holy Spirit that will make the difference. Becoming Spirit-filled is just the beginning. However, just because we are Spirit-filled does not mean that we will automatically meet the Lord in the air. We must continue to encourage one another not to compromise our attitude toward the Lord or become careless, because the great climax at the end of this age will be something right out of this world.
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God”. This statement is conditional and must be referred back to Romans 8 where we are told that “as many as are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God”. These are those who obey God. Members of the Church have been baptised into the Church by the Holy Spirit. We shall be like Him, meaning that we shall resemble Him. Many people use the term ‘salvation’ but it is not until they have been baptised in the Holy Spirit that they realise that there is a difference between using the term legally and hopefully and even earnestly, with the reality of being born again of the Spirit of God.
We can be assured that the likeness we are promised in the Word of God can be taken literally. When Jesus was raised from the dead, He was not subject to circumstances, circumstances were subject to Him. Even before His resurrection, He walked the waters, raised the dead and did many other remarkable things.
“And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:3). We must know now that we are sons of God. God’s Word is the only benchmark, and the hope we have is “Christ in you, the hope of glory”. The mystery of the ages is how to get Christ into you and Jesus explained this in John 14 where He said: “I and the Father are one and we will make our abode in you”. This is the Pentecostal happening. Before Pentecost they had Jesus, the man, with them, but not the Spiritual, resurrected Christ in them. If we are to have confidence in the Word of God and His promises we had better be sons of God now by having the experience of God’s power so that we know that we will resemble the Lord when He returns. This great hope purifies us and keeps us righteous in His sight.
What will the Second Coming of Jesus be like?
Jesus said: “For as the lightning cometh [to issue (literally or figuratively): come … proceed (forth), spread abroad] out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:27).
It has been thought and taught that the lightening that anticipates the Second Coming of Jesus will be a great immediate flash, but when translated from the Greek there is more of a sense of a light starting in the east and slowly reaching to the west. So shall the ‘parousia’ – the presencing of – the Son of Man be. In this chapter there is more than one word translated ‘coming’. The other is ‘erchomai’, meaning ‘arrival’. The Lord has promised that immediately prior to the return of Jesus Christ, He will, as a great light shining throughout the world, begin to presence Himself more obviously. This is revival as more people receive the Holy Spirit. Many are praying for this but refuse the Bible blueprint.
Jesus said: “For wheresoever the carcase is [the fallen are], there will the eagles be gathered together [the destructions will be upon them]“ (Matthew 24:28).
One of the sorrows of the Second Coming of the Lord is that although it will be joy and blessing for those who belong, for the fallen there shall be despair and destruction.
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers [God’s creative abilities] of the heavens [ouranous — man has seen some of the natural results of this power] shall be shaken: And then shall appear [phaino — an amazing, unusual, mysterious symbol] the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn [yearn, be cast down], and they shall see the Son of man coming [erchomai – the arrival of the Son of Man] in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven [the age] to the other” (Matthew 24:29–31).
We are living in the times of the great and special presencing of the power of God. In the days of the early Church, there was a particlular presencing of the Lord. God didn’t withdraw His power down through the ages, but a lack of believing minimised this power and its results. As the end of the age ingathering takes place and the Lord ripens the wheat ready for the reaper, the Lord is presencing Himself more obviously over the face of the earth prior to the time of His arrival. His arrival will be a great disaster for the fallen. Tragically, if the blind lead the blind they both fall into the ditch in unbelief and uncertainty.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Ephesians 6:10).
The credentials we must carry are nominated. The ‘power of His might’ cannot be understood until we have received the glory of the Pentecostal ‘power of His might’. We are told to put on the whole armour of God, not half of it, we need it all. This is not just making a ‘decision for Christ’, saying the ‘sinner’s prayer’, or just feeling sorry in the name of the Lord; it is putting on the (complete) provision of the Holy Spirit.
In these last days we must have the Holy Spirit within us and be able to pray in the Spirit (speaking in tongues). God’s Word stipulates ‘in the Spirit or else’. The way into the Kingdom of God is through a strait (narrow) gate. No man can enter this gate unless he does what God says and receives what God offers.
The flood in Noah’s time came because God said it would. Jesus came (at the time and in the place specified) because God said He would. People are filled with the Holy Spirit speaking in tongues because Jesus said they would be. The Second Coming of Christ will take place in God’s sequence of events because God said that Jesus will return.
“But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts [desires and beliefs that are not according to God’s Word]. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (Jude 17–21).
Praying in an unknown tongue is praying in the Spirit as they did on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1–4). This is not a product of our elocution or scholarship; it is the gift of intercession that only God can give and with which no man can tamper. Paul wrote, “For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful” (1 Corinthians 14:14).
Jesus prophesied that the day would come when those who worshipped Him would worship in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24). On the Day of Pentecost, the one hundred and twenty in the upper room received this Promise of the Father, which was the dawn of the New Covenant and introduced the new birth – the resurrection power of the Lord that is essential to both salvation and worship.
When the Lord comes, which denomination will be right? The distinction will be between those who can pray in the Holy Spirit, and those who cannot. This is the crux of the matter.
We are living in the time of the Coming of the Lord. We are not foolish enough to say how and when, but the seasons are about us indicating that we are living in the time specified by the Word of God. When the gifts of the Holy Spirit are operating, God can show us something of His power and presence: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit…” (1 Corinthians 2:9–10).
For those who meet the returning Lord on That Day, it will be a time of unprecedented, transcendent joy.
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