Biographical Sketch of Dr. Stuart E. Lease / Bible Messages by Dr. Stuart E. Lease
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FATHER We want that our hearts will be prepared and atuned to that which You have for us. May we be open and receptive to Divine Truth and be guided and taught by the Holy Spirit. I pray in Jesus Name. Amen.
May I just say a word about the study and the importance of eschatology. Thats a big word, but it really means simply, the study of future things. I attended a college where they took no particular stand on eschatology. They said that it was more important what we do and how we live now and whether were obedient to the injunctions of scripture for salvation and sanctification; and so far as the future, thats in the hands of the Lord; and well leave that up to Him. And, so while there are various views on the Millennium (Amillennial, premillennial, post millennial) they were agmillennial, they didnt know if wed have the millennial or not. They had various views.
Now I want to say that I do believe that your view of the future is very important. I believe that whats going to happen in the future and our view of it will affect the way we live right now. I think that it is not only a crucial thing in the day in which we live, but it was crucial in the day in which Paul lived. Just for a preliminary statement, Id like you to turn with me to II Timothy chapter two, and I want you to see that here Paul indicates the names of two heretics in his day who had departed from the faith. Im going to begin at verse 15 to get the background, Study [or give diligence] to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth [or cutting a straight furrough through the Word of Truth]. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus [Notice, he names them, gives their names] Now notice in what area they went astray [verse18], Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already [That folks, is eschatological false truth. Thats concerning the future but in error saying that the resurrection is past already]. Notice what effect it has...and overthrow the faith of some. Thus I believe that it is important what you believe concerning the future.
I was raised in a denomination that taught a general resurrection, that is, that Jesus was coming back and the righteous dead as well as the unrighteous dead would all be raised together; and wed all be judged together [the good and the bad and any inbetween], basing that on scripture. They based that on John 5:28-29, Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in which [How many?] all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, [comma] unto the resurrection of life; [semi-colon] and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. I made a slight reference to punctuation there, specially to notice that there is a comma and a semi-colon after the resurrection of life and then they that have done good unto the resurrection of damnation. In effect, what they say that there is no right for us to insert a time period in there. In other words, in effect what they say, What God hath joined together [the resurrection of the just, the resurrection of the unjust], let no man put asunder. You shouldnt divide scripture Here in one verse, it refers to the resurrection of life and the resurrection of damnation or condemnation. Now I have an answer for them and it is this that if Jesus could insert at least two thousand years [or approximately two thousand years] at a comma, we can put at least a thousand years at a semi-colon. You say, What do you mean by that? Turn to Luke 4 [and this is an account of Jesus] beginning at verse 16, As He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up: and, as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto Him the book of Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written [in Isaiah chapter 61 but keep your hand in Luke 4 because I want to make a point here of emphasis on the exegetical procedure of the Lord Jesus in reading the scripture; now you follow in Isaiah if you will and Ill read from Luke 4], The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. What follows that in Isaiah 61:2? a comma! the acceptable year of the Lord, [comma] and the day of vengeance of our God. Why didnt He read on? Why did He instead close the book and gave it again to the minister and sat down? Because, what He read here ends with His First Coming. In His First Coming, these are the things He was going to do; but in relation to His Second Coming, the day of vengeance of our God [the Tribulation Period here on earth almost two thousand years would have past from the time the Lord was here the first time and that day of vengeance of our God has not yet come. So that has already been inserted in there at a comma, almost two thousand years. Now if Christ could break a passage of scripture and literally insert about two thousand years at a comma, we who believe the dispensational approach to scripture can insert a thousand years here in John 5:29. You say, Why are you putting a thousand years in there? All right, turn back to Revelation chapter 20 verse 4, I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead [Now the rest of the dead are the unrighteous. The righteous are living on earth with the Lord Jesus reigning with Him, but the rest of the dead] lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection, that is the righteous dead in the first resurrection are raised and then at least a thousand years has to be in there before the unrighteous dead are raised. Thats why I think we have a right, in fact a responsibility scripturally not to believe in a general resurrection but to believe in a dispensational understanding of the future that the Lord Jesus is first coming back for His own, then He is coming back with His own, and He will establish His Kingdom here upon the earth. He will reign a literal one thousand years upon the earth. It is after that that the unrighteous, the unjust, the ungodly will be raised and will be judged; and the Lord Jesus with His saints will reign eternally. The millennial reign is simply the beginning of the eternal reign of the Lord Jesus that lies ahead in the future. Thus I believe it is essential to distinguish that from the very beginning and also to distinguish that similar to His First Coming, the Second Coming of Christ has more than one event associated with it.
The First Coming of Christ had many events associated with it. It had His being born in Bethlehem, His growing up, His ministry on the earth teaching, preaching, doing good works, miracles; it had within it His going to the cross, His dying, His burial, His resurrection. All those are aspects of the First Coming.
Similarly, the Second Coming in its broadest consideration has more than one event associated with it. The first aspect of it will be what we call the Rapture of the Church. It has to do with Christ seizing out believers from the age of grace. Then we will be with the Lord Jesus during the time when the Tribulation takes place upon the earth; and then we will return with the Lord Jesus in what is sometimes called the Revelation or technically some call it the Second Coming, because this is really the only time when He actually comes to the earth. When He comes for the saints, we meet Him in the air. He doesnt really come to the earth, He comes in the air. So, the technical term Second Coming is often applied simply to that second aspect.
Now I want to consider the subject of the Visible Return of Christ under a four-fold heading: First, the Promise of His Coming. This is a very simple statement of the Lord Jesus. In John chapter 14, after that He know and has revealed that He is going to the cross, He says, Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In the Fathers house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, [Notice these four word] I will come again, [I will come again! and I believe that Jesus meant that very literally.] I dont believe that it refers to the coming of the Holy Spirit. I dont believe that it refers to Jesus coming to meet someone when they die. I believe that it is a literal return that they expected of Him. Now of course, even in the days of the apostles there was a questioning of this. Peter refers to this in II Peter chapter 3 and he says concerning the Lord Jesus return that there would be those who would question this. Beginning in verse three, Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers [or mockers], walking after their own lusts [same root word mockings], And saying, Where is the promise of His coming? [or maybe better rendered Where is His promised coming?] For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
I remember my first day in a course in geology in college. They always said that if you studied geology you ended up having rocks in your head, and I was always afraid of that. One of the first things the professor wrote on the board was this word uniformitarianism and he said, What that means is that you can figure that whatever is happening, has happened, and you can take the rate of what is happening now and carry it back to the things that have happened in the past, and this is how you date the ages of rocks and other things like this. Well, the only problem there is with that is that time is relative, especially to God, and God can deal in different ways of time than man is accustomed to on the face of the earth. In fact, Peter goes on to refer to that, but those in so-called science are committed to uniformitarianism as a basic foundational doctrine; and it is in fact not only a doctrine, its a dogma to them. You have to believe it; and those of us who believe the Bible, believe that God can accomplish many, many things that would normally take a long period of time if He wants to in a short period of time. So, we have a but God concept that I think is correct; and of course, Peter goes on to indicate that this is not a new idea but others have had this concept and have questioned it, even in the past that the Lord is coming.
Notice verse 10, But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away [Not I think the first is the beginning of the day of the Lord and I think the heaven passing away is at the end of the day of the day of the Lord which to me would be at the end after the Millennium. But ultimately all things on the face of this earth shall be dissolved.] Now there is clearly, then in the Word of God, the promise of the Lord Jesus coming.
Second, the Procedure of His Coming. In this I want to enlarge on the Rapture, as over against the Revelation. In I Thessalonians 4 is the great passage that deals with the Rapture of the church. Now the word Rapture comes from a Latin word, rapto meaning to seize out. When you are enraptured, youre seized out of yourself, and thats where you get the term. Actually, it isnt in the King James Bible, but it is in this expression in verse 17, Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up [Thats the word seized out, and in the Latin raptos, raptured, seized out and thats how we get the term.]
In I Thessalonians chapter 4 beginning in verse 13, But I would not have you to be ignorant brethren, concerning them which are asleep [Now sleep here and elsewhere in the Bible refers to the state of the body. It is not the soul that sleeps. The body as it were at rest, and youll find this set forth in the obituaries Entered into rest. Well, in effect the body has done that, not the soul. It is the body that sleeps, ...them which are asleep [believers who have died], that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. Thus, the Rapture is selective in scope. It is only for those who believe, whether they have died or whether they are living, it is only for believers. Then, it is specific in sequence, verse 15 and following, 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 [and that word really means precede] 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. Now, the sequence is the dead in Christ, first; we which are alive and remain, next. Now some have said that the reason for that is that the dead are six feet under.
Number one, Im an old grave-digger, that was one of my first tasks. My dad was a caretaker of a cemetery; so my brother and I ended up taking care of it in his stead. People used to say, What did you get for doing that? Well, it wasnt what we got for doing that, but its what we would have got for not doing it. So, we took care of it. Later on I realized that was my first executive position. I had a couple hundred people under me, but we never buried anybody six feet under. Five was about the most you go. First grave I dug all by myself. I was 13 years old, and we had a regular shovel that we set in one corner. When we got down to that, we were down far enough. We also had a longer shovel, and I got that in the lowest corner, the most shallow corner, and we really got that fellow down almost too far. The bands they had to lower just about exhausted before they got him down. He may be the last one up at the Rapture. Now Im sure hes going to meet the Lord. He died in a prayer meeting. He was a dear Godly man. Later on, we leveled over that lot, so hes really down deeper than all the rest. Well, frankly, I dont think that makes a difference. I think its just a matter of order. I believe the others, that is the saints that have gone on, have been in heaven any number if years, some of them for a long long time; and theyve been waiting for this. I suppose in one respect, maybe a great anticipation that we, because theyve been able to see and be with the Lord Jesus He in His glorified body, they not in theirs. So, I think that they are going to be first, simply as a matter of order. Then we which are alive and remain [were] going to be caught up...to meet the Lord in the air... By the way, that same sequence is carefully distinguished, I believe, in I Corinthians chapter 15 and Id like to point that out to you. You do not see that on the surface. Its in the meaning of the terms that are used there. Verse 51, Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. [You know some of the jokes we tell about the Bible ruins scriptures for us. I can hardly ever read that without thinking of the fact that in one church they put that on the door of a nursery, We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.] Now what it really means is that not all are going to have to die, but all are going to 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 [Whats the next word?] incorruptible... Now, do you realize that when you die, your body is in a state of corruption. Corruption is taking place. It is decaying. ...and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption [Thats those who have died, their bodies], and this mortal [What does mortal mean? It means subject to death. That means you have two classifications. The corruptible, those in which decay is taking place in their body; and the mortal, those that are subject to death] must put on immortality.So you have the two distinguished there: this corruptible must put on incorruption, this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality [There again are the two classifications], then shall be brought to pass the say that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? [By the way, its one word in the Greek. The same word is there for death and the grave. King James likes to put some variations in and they did, but its really the same word.] The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, Who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, it is selective in scope, specific in sequence.
Third, I believe it is Secretive to the subjects involved. Verse 17, Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: [I do not believe that people on the earth are going to see or necessarily even know of the return of the Lord Jesus. It is the trumpet sound for His saints, and it will be secretive to them; but I believe we shall see Him in the air; for it was promised when He was taken up, This same Jesus,...shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.
Just a word then about the Revelation. I believe that it is set forth in a number of passages, but Im just going to refer to one and thats found in Revelation 1:7, Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him [That is the return with the saints to the earth when every eye shall see Him], and they also which pierced Him [That would be in particular the Jewish people]; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen. Thus, Hes coming first for His own. Then, Hes coming after the Tribulation period, with His own to establish His Kingdom, to set up His Kingdom upon the earth.
Thirdly, I want to say something about the Purpose of His coming. These Im going to give you and you can look them up for yourself. First, the Purpose of His coming is the Consummation of Our Salvation. In Romans 8:22-25, it indicates were groaning, anxiously waiting for to be delivered from this body; also in Philippians 3:20 and 21 the body of our humiliation, the body that continually humiliates us and it does. This is the culmination or consummation of our salvation [the third tense of salvation in the future tense]. Second, its for the Evaluation of Our Service II Corinthians 5:10, For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ [or the Bema] that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Now the words good and bad there, are not the good and bad in the ethical sense, but in the qualitative sense. In fact, it would be better if you would translate those, worthwhile or worthless according to whether it be worthwhile or worthless. We are going to be evaluated when we stand before the Lord Jesus. In I Corinthians chapter 4:5 Paul tells us about self-judgment, but then he indicates, Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, Who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will made manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have [and I like the way one of our revisions reads, ...have His praise of God.
Now reading in I Corinthians 3:15, Some are going to be saved; yet so as by fire. I like what Dr. Ryrie says about the Judgment Seat of Christ. He compares it somewhat to a graduation or commencement, Everybody who is there has passed the course, but not everybody gets the same grade. I believe that is true, folks. I believe when we stand before the Lord Jesus, all of us who are there will have been His, and we are His by His grace; but some will receive awards and rewards, others will receive none. They will just have passed like some students do at school by the grace of the faculty. Theyll just be there, but nothing to commend themselves. You know I was greatly motivated when I was in school. I dont really know why, but from grade one I wanted to be a good student; and from grade one to grade 9, I had all As. You say, What happened after grade 9? Well, I can tell you I got interested in girls, and that will do it. That brings it down a bit. But, I did do well in college and university; and I think the highest moment of my life, at least in relation to my father, was when I graduated from college. I had driven 400 miles from Boston to York to pick up my mom and dad and drove them up and then laster brought them back. I think that it was the happiest day in my fathers life. Out of his 13 children in my family, I was the only one who had the privilege ever to go on and earn a degree. My brother, George graduated with me from Lancaster School of the Bible where we got a diploma, but I was the only one ever able to get a degree; and Dad was there, and I think that it was the happiest day of his life. By the grace of the faculty I did graduate with honors; and they called all the four honor students up first, and we received our awards; and then we went up another time to receive our degrees. You know what my dad said again and again [I dont know how many times]? He said to Mom, Mom, Stuart went up twice! He must have said that a half dozen times or more in the next couple days, Stuart went up twice. You know, that motivated me. The greatest thrill was to have a pleased father. And when I stand before the Lord Jesus, you know what? I want to have a pleased Father [not just my dad], but I mean my Father in heaven, and thats why I serve Him. Evaluation of our service.
Third is the Glorification of Our Sovereign and thats found in John 17:24. He wants us to be with Him that we may behold His glory. Then, the Condemnation of Sinners, when the Lord Jesus comes. Tribulation is coming on the earth I Thessalonians 5:10; II Thessalonians 1:5-10 relates to the coming of the Lord in judgment [Judgment first in the Tribulation and then the ultimate dealing at the campaign of Armageddon].
Finally, the Prospect of His coming. I believe that He is coming; in fact, this has been a motivating factor in my life. Its the thing that caused me to turn to the Lord, to serve Him.
My brother and I grew up together, and he was a challenge to me. He had gone two years to college and then quit, as he had to read and study things in foreign languages that he would have never read in English. So, he quit and said, Stuart, Im going to Bible School. I thought, Well, if George tried it and didnt like it, I wasnt going to a liberal arts college either. I guess its not too bright for me to try it and find its not right either. So, I ended up going to Bible School with my brother. But, the thing that motivated us, was that we went to a church, the York Gospel Center, where on the front of the pulpit, it had these three letters KLU [big letters]; and when we first went there I didnt know quite what it meant. You didnt have to be long there until you found out that it meant, KEEP LOOKING UP! For certainly our redemption draweth nigh. And, you know, that became such a motivating thing to me that first, I wanted to make sure that I was saved. I had lost the assurance of my salvation. Then becoming sure of my salvation, I wanted to live a life of victory. Thats the thing Im going to talk about in the following message.
I believe that the return of the Lord Jesus for His own is a tremendously, challenging, purifying hope. In I John 3:3, Whoso hath this hope [in the Greek, its literally set on Him, on the Lord Jesus] purifieth himself. I know that there are differing understandings and interpretations of I John 2:28, but I believe it literally. Some men disagree with me, but it says, And now, little children, abide in Him; that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. I do believe that there are going to be some believers ashamed before the Lord Jesus at His coming. I dont want to be one of them. I want to be one who has a pleased Father! I hope that somehow, by His grace and His enabling, there will be some rewards there not just to please me, but to please Him! Shall we pray?
FATHER We do believe that were going to see our Savior, face to face. Were going to meet Him in the air. We believe Hes coming back then, upon this earth; and He is going to establish His Kingdom and rule and reign in righteousness here. But, Father, we want to be motivated by our love for You and for Your Son, so that we will literally be born along, constrained by the love of Christ He Who loved us and gave Himself for us, so that we will serve You in a way acceptable and pleasing in Your sight. Enable it to be so, by Your grace and power, I pray in Jesus Name. Amen.