When the Son of Man Returns

If there is a preservation of the saints on earth, then there must be a preservation of the Church on earth.

By Simon Padbury 21 August 2020 5 minutes read

The Lord Jesus Christ once asked, “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18.8b). Though all manner of evil and unbelief persists throughout this age—the answer to that question is yes, and our Saviour knew it.

He himself would ensure it. For Christ has prayed, and he continues to pray, for us: “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever” (John 14.16). That forever has already begun, for the Christian in this world.

Therefore, we can be sure that, just as surely as all true Christians will persevere to the end of their earthly lives, so surely would there always be a faithful company of true Christians in the world until the Lord gloriously returns. For if there is a preservation of the saints on earth, then there must be a preservation of the Church on earth.

This was prophesied by the apostle Paul. “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4.15-18).

We do not read that the true vine loses all of its branches in this world (John 15.1-8). We do not read that the olive tree is cut down, or that which comes from the mustard seed is cut down, or that the leaven (yeast) risen batch of dough is punched down, never to rise again (Matthew 13.31-33; Romans 11.16-27).

The true church in this world, though at times and in places it is beaten down by persecution, heresy, corruption and apathy, it is in general always growing and proving, always improving and bearing fruit, always reforming and reviving. For it is Christ who builds his church, and who keeps each and every one of his people, for whom he died to save (Matthew 16.18; John 6.39).

Although the world and the flesh and the Devil are conspired against us—say it with Paul: “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8.37-39).

There will be God-fearing believers in all generations, so long as the earth endures, to the end of the world. Christianity shall not be extinguished, or become extinct, or become diluted, compromised or corrupted beyond recognition. Rather the opposite is promised by the Lord: “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16.18).

The Lord Jesus Christ is building his church. The great prophecy in the protoevangelion1 was fulfilled at Calvary and its outworking is still happening today: in his crucifixion Christ’s “heel” was bruised (as though stamped on, like a grape). And the “old Serpent’s” head was even more-so crushed (Genesis 3.15; see also Revelation 12.9; 20.2). “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3.8).

The shortest commentary on the Book of Revelation consists of three words: CHRIST HAS WON! You can be sure of that. Let us never forget that glorious things are said of the city of God (Psalm 87.3)—which have their ultimate fulfilment in the New Jerusalem (Hebrews 11.10-16; 13.14; Revelation 3.12; 21.2).

So, yes, there will be a last generation of faithful Christians on earth on the last day. “They shall fear thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations…In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth” (Psalm 72.5-8).

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15.51-53). In this immortal, incorruptible state we shall be totally sinless—“whom he justified, them he also glorified” (Romans 8.30).

What is said of each Christian is said of the Church of Christ. Not only are Christians to be glorified individually, but the entire Church shall be: “Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal…” (Revelation 21.11 ff.).

This will be the never-ending culmination of God’s grace in our experience!

Fear not—walk by faith and not by sight—and never give up hope (Matthew 10.24-31; 2 Corinthians 5.1-8; Colossians 1.26-27; 1 Timothy 1.1). For our Lord has promised us, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16.33).

Christ has overcome the world. Christ has won.

  1. See footnote 4 of Coats of Skins. ↩︎