Belgic Confession, Article 37: Christ Coming With Great Glory and Majesty
by Rev. Martyn McGeown, missionary-pastor of Limerick Reformed Fellowship, Limerick, Ireland
Belgic Confession, Article 37:
Finally we believe, according to the Word of God, when the time appointed by the Lord (which is unknown to all creatures) is come, and the number of the elect complete, that our Lord Jesus Christ will come from heaven, corporally and visibly, as he ascended, with great glory and majesty to declare himself judge of the quick and the dead; burning this old world with fire and flame, to cleanse it.
And then all men will personally appear before this great judge, both men and women and children, that have been from the beginning of the world to the end thereof, being summoned by the voice of the archangel, and by the sound of the trumpet of God. For all the dead shall be raised out of the earth, and their souls joined and united with their proper bodies, in which they formerly lived. As for those who shall then be living, they shall not die as the others, but be changed in the twinkling of an eye, and from corruptible, become incorruptible. Then the books (that is to say the consciences) shall be opened, and the dead judged according to what they shall have done in this world, whether it be good or evil. Nay, all men shall give an account of every idle word they have spoken, which the world only counts amusement and jest: and then the secrets and hypocrisy of men shall be disclosed and laid open before all.
And therefore the consideration of this judgment, is justly terrible and dreadful to the wicked and ungodly, but most desirable and comfortable to the righteous and elect: because then their full deliverance shall be perfected, and there they shall receive the fruits of their labor and trouble which they have borne. Their innocence shall be known to all, and they shall see the terrible vengeance which God shall execute on the wicked, who most cruelly persecuted, oppressed and tormented them in this world; and who shall be convicted by the testimony of their own consciences, and being immortal, shall be tormented in that everlasting fire, which is prepared for the devil and his angels.
But on the contrary, the faithful and elect shall be crowned with glory and honor; and the Son of God will confess their names before God his Father, and his elect angels; all tears shall be wiped from their eyes; and their cause which is now condemned by many judges and magistrates, as heretical and impious, will then be known to be the cause of the Son of God. And for a gracious reward, the Lord will cause them to possess such a glory, as never entered into the heart of man to conceive.
Therefore we expect that great day with a most ardent desire to the end that we may fully enjoy the promises of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. AMEN.
"Even so, come, Lord Jesus." - Revelation. 22:20.
Matthew 24:30: “… and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
The most glorious and awe-inspiring day of history is future. It will be the last day, the culmination of all things, the bringing to an end of the purpose of God with this present creation. It will be the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Belgic Confession speaks of Christ coming “with great glory and majesty to declare Himself Judge.” Many passages of Scripture describe that Day, both as a warning for the wicked and as a comfort for the godly. Let us examine some of the aspects of that Day.
First, Christ Himself shall come personally. Christ comes in other senses in Scripture—He comes to the believer at death to take him to Himself; He came at Pentecost in the outpouring of the Spirit—but the Second Coming will be a personal coming. I Thessalonians 4:16 says “the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven.” The Belgic Confession uses the word “corporally” which means bodily. Second, Christ’s coming will be visible—not an invisible “rapture,” not a mystical, spiritual coming, but a coming which all men shall see. “They [that is, all the tribes of the earth] shall see the Son of man coming” (Matt. 24:30). “Every eye shall see Him” (Rev. 1:7). This means that the Lord Jesus Christ—who presently is at God’s Right Hand in heaven and whom no mortal eye can see—will suddenly be revealed for who He is. Heaven will be opened and He shall come forth, and everything which veils Him from our view shall be removed. Christ describes His coming in terms of lightning flashing across the sky. None will be able to miss it or to ignore it. “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matt. 24:27). Third, Christ’s coming will be audible. He will not come sneaking on tiptoe into this world, but with “a shout” (I Thess. 4:16) and “with a great sound of a trumpet” (Matt. 24:31). The Belgic Confession speaks of all men, women and children “being summoned by the voice of the archangel and by the sound of the trumpet of God.” A trumpet makes a long, sharp, loud blast which no one can miss. The trumpet was God’s instrument for gathering His people to attention—Christ’s trumpet will arrest the attention of all mankind. This is the final call of God to all men: stand to attention, my Son is here. Look up, church, and see your salvation; look up, wicked, and behold your doom! Fourth, Christ will come with great glory and with the trappings of deity. “They shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:30). Clouds are not fluffy, white clouds on a cool summer’s day. Clouds are thick, dark, awesome, billowing thunderclouds. In the Bible, Jehovah rides on the clouds (Ps. 104:3)—so does Christ!
That awesome day will be the end of the world. “The sun shall be darkened and the moon shall not give her light …” (Matt. 24:29). “The heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall also melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (II Pet. 3:10).
But we who believe in Jesus Christ and who watch for His coming will rejoice in that day. For us it will be the beginning of something unutterably wonderful.
Rev. Martyn McGeown (Larisa)
Pastorates: Missionary-pastor in Limerick, Ireland for the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Northern Ireland - 2010; Providence PRC (Hudsonville, MI), Sept. 2021Website: www.prca.org/current/news/churches/usa-canada/providence-prc-hudsonville-mi
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