Advent Testimony Address
Queen’s Hall London, Thursday Morning,
December 13th, 1917
Address by Pastor W. Fuller Gooch.
I believe that I speak for all the signatories of the statement which our chairman has so fully brought before us this morning, when I say that we are met will a very profound sense of the seriousness of the step which has been taken by issuing the manifesto and calling this meeting together today. We are being told on various sides that we incur a serious responsibility in attempting to divert the thoughts of the Christian Church from social problems and various systems of reconstruction adapted to things as they are in the world today. To those who so speak of our movement and regard us as conjectural and speculative theorists I would like to say that I am quite sure of my brethren, as I am of myself, that we have most prayerfully and carefully considered the bearing of criticism like this. I feel, for one - and I am sure that the others are with me in this — that we are happy and we are thankful to God to be allowed to incur the responsibility which is upon us all in these solemn times to give our testimony and, we hope, awaken the testimony of thousands more, to what is of infinitely more importance than social schemes of any kind originating, in the human mind. We feel this intensely, and when we look at what many are suggesting today should take the place of the statement that we have issued, we are more and more thankful that our statement contains what we believe to be a faithful representation, so far as it goes, of the living Word of God.
The Return of Our Lord
What strange things are being suggested to us to take the place of the return of our Lord; what strange things we are being told to induce us to withhold the testimony we are commencing today! We have been told within the last two or three weeks that there is no golden age of the world to be expected, that the conflict between good and evil must go on till the very end of time, and that there can be no expectation of a personal return of our Lord. We have also been told that the Lord will most certainly not reign upon the earth; that there can be no such kingdom as His personal return would set up. We have even been told this: that no one who ever did - to use the words I have in my mind — no one who ever did the New Testament the honour to become a scholar in its study has endorsed such a statement as we have made.
Any such comment as that ignores altogether the whole history of the pre-Millennial theory from the beginning until today. I have no time or desire to go into that history this morning; but I could show you that even in the dark ages and throughout the whole history of the Church there have been noble confessors of this great truth who have stood by it for the sake of the written Word of God. And as to scholarship in more recent times, one is not ashamed of the scholarship of men, as to the New Testament, like Dr. Tregelles and Dean Alford, and I would like to speak of another, one we all honour today - Dr. Handley Moule, Bishop of Durham. We might add to these names very many. But this is not a point of great importance with us, for we remember that our Lord said concerning the revealed things of God that it is God’s plan to "hide them from the wise and prudent and reveal them unto babes.” Our desire is as little children to sit at the feet of our coming Lord, to learn of Him, and to follow no schools of interpretation, whatever they are, but as disciples to follow Himself and His own precious Word.
We are not here today as controversialists: we are not here in any disputations mood or with any disputatious purpose. We are moved by deep conviction of the truths that our chairman has enunciated and that our statement affirms. We can say - and I am not at all presuming, I am sure, in taking my brethren with me in this — we can say that, concerning these truths and our affirmation of them, necessity is laid upon us; yea, woe is unto us if we conceal this important part of the whole counsel of God.
I want to say one other thing. It is in no measure of doubt or wavering of thought that we are here today. “We believe, and therefore speak.” It has become, cian the grace of God, a part of our inward, spiritual, experimental life to be looking for the cleaving of the heavens and the manifestation of the Son of God. If we thus feel and thus believe, dare we in these solemn days to keep silence or to withhold ourselves from any little influence we can exert to bring others to wait for the Son of God from heaven? I think it is an important statement for me to make in this address, that we desire at the very outset to declare that our convictions about this are based solely upon the Word of God.
Many books - almost whole libraries, we might say — have been written upon this subject. We are not representing one of them; we are not tied or bound to any of them. There is a measure of truth, as our chairman has said, in all the theories that Christian, believing men have propounded. We fail to see that any of them give us the whole truth, and we feel that to tie ourselves to systems of men, to rival schools of thought or to any propositions that cannot be substantiated by the very words of Scripture, would be to be unfaithful to our trust as stewards, as servants, of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Yes, we who are here today in this movement believe this Book to be what you, Mr. Prebendary, said it is — the Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation. We pin our faith to every statement in it without an exception, without any minimising of what the statements of Scripture are; and it is because of our such belief in the Scriptures as the Word of God that we take the stand which we are thankful to God to be allowed, in our different degree of gift and measure of responsibility, to take today.
We differ, of course - I mean we whose names are attached to this statement — on details of interpretation, but we are one — absolutely one - on the main theme of our porpositions namely, that the personal return of our Lord to this world in His second coming, as He came in the first, is certain; that it is essential to the fulfilment of the Inspired Word, and vital to the development of the Divine purpose. And withal we agree that from every sign of the times in which we live that coming is imminent in its approach. That is a great way to get in the matter of unity about the Lord’s coming. I would that such a consensus of opinion could be realised and brought to bear upon all testimony written or spoken in these days. Our divisions have done very much, as I believe, to hinder the reception of the truth. We can afford to leave matters that are fairly debatable, and concerning which we, to some extent, at least, must wait for fulfilment to be quite certain about; we can afford to drop for the time such aspects of the question if only we can be one today to tell the slumbering world and the apostatising Church that the Lord Himself is at hand. He is coming.
Everything Around Us Says He is Coming Quickly
Signs we discern; signs we appreciate in their solemn importance; signs we would study in the light of the Divine Word. But
we are not looking for signs. We are looking for Christ. We are not looking for this and that and the other to happen before He comes. He is coming,
and, as our propositions state, while it is true that the day when His feet shall stand upon the Mount of Olives may be yet distant, and certainly is, that makes no difference to the blessed hope which He has given to those who are His redeemed, waiting, believing servants - that at any moment He may come for them take them out of the darkness of judgment that will soon burst upon a guilty world, and give them to look down from the lofty heights of His glory in yonder heavens upon a condition of things of which He has forewarned the world.
You know that there have been several dispensations which have preceded our Christian Age. In every one of these previous dispensations as their end has approached God has raised up special Advent Testimony. Go back to the antediluvian world. Just before the judgment of the Flood was ripe for its execution Enoch was taken, translated that he should not see death, to be with his Lord. But before his translation he declared, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints,” and that He was going to execute judgment on the ungodly for all their ungodly speeches and ungodly deeds. Jude 14 & 15. Did not it occur? The Flood came, and that Flood is our Lord’s own type of what we are on the verge of seeing in another form of judgment upon this time of our own. Not only did He raise up Enoch for Advent Testimony as the end of the age drew near. But Noah, by a special impulse of the Holy Ghost, became a preacher of righteousness, warning, right and left, that men should flee from the wrath to come. Take the age after Noah. You know how the world had re-populated and how it soon broke away from God again, and judgment had to come. But there was a warning of it.
Melchisedek in that Age was Mediating with God and Testifying to Men
When you come to patriarchal times you how the three came from heaven, just before the judgment on the cities of the plain, to tell Abraham, first, of what was coming, and to lead him to that mount of communion with God which, I trust, God may raise us to in this solemn time. They came to Abraham as he sat at the door of his tent. Then they went to Lot, and proclaimed in Sodom that the judgment was coming. The Advent Testimony sounded just before the floodgates of judgment opened up. It was just the same, as you know, in the land of Egypt, when the children of Israel were in the iron furnace and under the bondage of Pharaoh. Moses was raised up, and he went and proclaimed what was coming and to declare their redemption. He was sent to Pharaoh and his court to warn them of what was coming; and it came, and the redemption followed. It was the same with the Sinaitic dispensation. John the Baptist appeared, and declared that the axe was laid at the root of the tree. Our Lord proclaimed the end of the Age and the judgment on Jerusalem under Titus. Twelve were sent forth; seventy were sent forth. It was Advent Testimony. The end was at hand, and they were to go into every city and town and village where He Himself would go. It was warning, Advent Testimony, of the coming of the end.
It is to be so in this our Gospel Day
The parable of the Virgins tells us that the Midnight Cry will ring out. I believe this is a part of it; I believe this movement is a sort of gathering together of spiritual forces for testimony which has been preparing for some years past. There is the Midnight Cry, “Behold” — and, people, hear it, for it is God’s message, not mine - “Behold, the Bridegroom cometh.” Yes, and the King afterwards. But it is the Bridegroom today as we stand here; and soon the King will come. But there will be advent testimony to it all. When Israel is in the Tribulation, and just on the verge of being delivered by their returning King, two witnesses will be raised up and sent to bear Advent testimony, and to say how imminently nigh He is and how surely the end of God's forbearance with the world has come. If it be so in all past dispensations, cannot you see God’s hand in its being so today? Surely it is so, as the whole Word of God declares.
Honoured brethren will take up the printed propositions, one by one, throughout the day. I have no time to dwell definitely in an expository way on many, scarcely on any, of the points involved therein. But let me just say this: there are two passages of Scripture in the New Testament which point fo the termination of our present Age. The one was uttered by our Lord. It is in St. Luke 21 v 24:
“Jerusalem all be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”
The Prebendary has told us, and anyone must admit who has any belief in the Bible or in history, that those times of the Gentiles began with Nebuchadnezzar. It is not easy to settle which particular year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign is the terminus a quo. If it were, we should fix the year of the Lord's return. But that is not for us to do. Would God that no one had ever fixed dates. We should have been in a far healthier position today about the coming of the Lord if those who have written on the subject learnedly and well had left out their fixed dates, for we have lived to see these dates pass by, and they have had to change them again and again. But the times of the Gentiles began with Nebuchadnezzar.
It is very remarkable — I am not going into the question of the year, or which year, or into chronology at all in any full sense — but it is very remarkable that in Leviticus (ch. 26) we are told four times by the prophet Moses that “seven times” of judgment would pass over Israel after their exclusion from the land before there would be a return of the Divine favour. We have Scripture for the statement that, at least in some uses of the term, the word “time” stands, in prophecy, for a year (Daniel 4 v 16). We have “times,” not the plural, but the Hebrew dual number, two years; and “half a time” (Daniel 12 v 7). That year, and two years, and half a time gives us just 422 months, which is 1,260 days — terms with which we are familiar in our study of the Scriptures (Rev. 11 v 2; 13 v 5). If in that remote prophecy in Leviticus we see in the “seven times” seven prophetic years with 360 days in each, as we do see by the study of prophecy, again and again, we get exactly 2,520 years as the period during which these times of the Gentiles should last, and we see in the fulfilment of these “seven times” of judgment over a rebellious, unbelieving Israel — we see these times of the Gentiles brought down to their very end. We need not say that it is in this year or in that. But all schools of interpretation are agreed in this — that we are within the time of the fulfilment of these 2,520 years; and I believe I am right in saying that the furthest date that any of them suggest as fulfilling the date would be the year 1934. I have nothing to say about that at all, save that it represents the furthest limit of the view which an interpretation of prophecy leads to. Thus we know that we are on the verge of the end of the times of the Gentiles.
When that time is ended what is to happen? Jerusalem is no longer to be trodden down, but to be the land of a free Israel and or a regenerated Israel, according to the covenant of God with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, their fathers. Surely, with our British flag flying today over Jerusalem, we are touching the time when Jerusalem shall be no longer trodden down, but shall be the home of the free. There is the other passage, with which I shall conclude. You will find it in Rom. 11 v 26, where we are told that “all Israel shall be saved,” and also that when that era or that salvation arrives “there shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, who shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob” - there is the return of our Lord that we are looking for as soon to come,
At the end of the age
You are told that when that time arrives the fulness of the Gentiles will have come in; the complement of the Gentiles, as Dean Alford translates it. What is that fulness of the Gentiles? When Israel was set aside through its unbelief and the crucifixion of the Lord, God revealed what He calls over and over again in the New Testament His “Mystery” — His mystery of grace, His beforetime unrevealed, undiscovered purpose — but made known when the time for it came by the special call and enduement of His apostle Paul (Eph. 3 v 1-6). The time came for that “mystery” to be unfolded - Christ not only for Israel, but Christ for the whole world - not the casting away of Israel or the breaking of the covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as though it were of no value; but that while the Redeemer was away, hidden in the heavens (Acts 3 v 21), the Church should be gathered out of the world, an Ecclesia out of every kindred and tribe and tongue to be part of His glory when He comes (Acts 15 v 13-18), That is why we know well that when He comes He will take His Church to Himself before He is seen of the world. For when He is seen by the world coming as the King, His redeemed Church, His special gift of God, during His rejection, shall swell the triumph of His train, and manifest His glory as Redeemer as well as King (Col. 3 v 1-4).
We are on the eve of that completion of the ingathering of the fulness of the Gentiles. The Prebendary has told us of St. Matthew's word about the Gospel being preached to all the world for a witness. It has been so. There is not a word in the Bible to warrant the expectation that the Gospel will save the world under this dispensation. It is to save the Church out of the world. Then shall come the Redeemer of the world, redeeming Israel and making Israel the blessed channel for the knowledge of their King and Saviour going to all the earth (Rom. 11 v 11-15). In the meantime the heathen shall rejoice under His sway, and the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, and with the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. We are looking, then, first of all, for the parousia of our Lord - a word which never means coming in the sense of motion, but always in the sense and actual meaning of the Greek term, of being present. We are looking for His presence in the air. We are to meet our Lord on His way to earth (1 Thess. 4 v 17).
The rapture of the Church
must precede His appearing on Olivet. We are waiting for that parousia, which may be at any moment. Happy they who are found watching and waiting. They shall hear the first call “with gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought; they shall enter into the King’s palace.”
Two things urge us to bear this testimony far and wide - the need of readiness on the part of God's people for what is so imminently before them, and the imperative necessity for hastening the work of evangelising the world and warning the unsaved of the peril they are in while not believing the Gospel of Christ. Of the first our Lord has said, "Therefore be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh" (Matt. 24 v 42-44); and of the second. “When once the Master of the house has risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying Lord, Lord, open unto us, He shall answer and say unto you, I know ye not whence ye are” (Luke 13 v 24, 25; 17 v 26-30).