Connections: Stanley Horton
Christmas and the Second Coming
Dr. Stanley Horton, Th.D., is distinguished professor
emeritus of Bible and theology, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary,
Springfield, Mo. An educator and theological writer for the international
Pentecostal community, Horton has written widely for the Assemblies of God. In
his book The Ultimate Victory (Springfield, Mo.: Gospel Publishing House,
1991), Horton examines the second coming of Christ. Recently, Horton spoke on
the topic with Jennifer McClure, assistant editor.
evangel: What does the Second Coming refer to?
HORTON: It refers to Christ’s return to the earth at the end
of the Church Age to reign for 1,000 years. It includes the rapture of the
Church and Christ’s coming in glory. When you think of the Second Coming, you
think of the Rapture before the Tribulation and His return in glory at the end
of the Tribulation period.
evangel: How does Christmas, Christ’s first coming, tie in
with the Second Coming?
HORTON: If you look at Matthew 2:6, which quotes Micah 5:2,
it shows that Christ is not only going to be born in Bethlehem but that He’s
going to be ruler. That’s true of other prophecies. There are a number of
prophecies that show Jesus will not only come to suffer and die but also to
reign. At Christmastime we need to recognize that Jesus was born to fulfill all
of these prophecies.
evangel: What should Christians know about Christ’s return?
HORTON: First of all, that there are many prophecies of the
Old Testament that point to the events of the Second Coming and to His person
as glorified. Jesus himself several times says He will return, in John 14
especially. It’s a very important part of the gospel message. It’s an important
part of our Blessed Hope. The only reason it’s called a hope is because we
haven’t experienced it yet, but it’s just as real because God has promised it.
evangel: How will we know when to expect it?
HORTON: There’s a lot of argument about that. Many people
take what Jesus says in Matthew 24 to apply to signs of the return of Christ,
but I don’t believe that’s true. The question they asked had to do with what
would happen when the temple was destroyed, which took place in A.D. 70, and
also about the end of the age.
What Jesus is concerned about is what they’re going to do
during the age. So what He’s saying is, you can’t expect ideal times. You’ve
got to go out into the world the way it is, with all its earthquakes, famines
and floods. But it all leads up to what Jesus says in verse 14: “And this
gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all
nations; and then shall the end come” (KJV). The only real sign that He’s giving
there is that the good news of the gospel will be preached to all nations as a
witness. When that happens, Jesus will return.
evangel: How should we respond to predictions of when He
HORTON: Jesus was not able to tell the time of His return.
He said that was in the Father’s knowledge. The thing He keeps emphasizing is
we should keep our eyes on Jesus, spread the gospel, obey Him and live. Whether
He comes in the next minute or a thousand years from now, we need to live ready
for His second coming. To keep that in view helps us to live as we should.
evangel: What do you say to those who dismiss the Second
HORTON: We have to realize that we have a sure promise of
Christ’s return. The prophecies in the Old Testament, what Jesus had to say in
the Gospels, what the Epistles have to say, what the Book of Revelation has to
say — they all declare that there will be a return. So instead of looking
at the world’s situation and trying to figure out and set dates, we need to
just keep our eyes on Jesus and believe that God has a plan and He’ll carry it
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