C. S. Lewis on the Second Coming of Christ

As a college student back in the 1970s, and caught up in the Jesus Movement of the era, I anticipated the Second Coming to be very near, probably sometime in the 1970s, of course. Even though I was spiritually immature at the time, that doesn’t mean the Second Coming is some kind of fantasy. As C. S. Lewis explains, it is essential to a proper understanding of the Christian faith. In an essay entitled “The World’s Last Night,” he had this to say about the doctrine:

Second Coming 2It seems to me impossible to retain in any recognisable form our belief in the Divinity of Christ and the truth of the Christian revelation while abandoning, or even persistently neglecting, the promised, and threatened, Return. “He shall come again to judge the quick and the dead,” says the Apostles’ Creed.

“This same Jesus,” said the angels in Acts, “shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” “Hereafter,” said our Lord himself (by those words inviting crucifixion), “shall ye see the Son of Man . . . coming in the clouds of heaven.” If this is not an integral part of the faith once given to the saints, I do not know what is.

Later in the same essay, Lewis juxtaposed the doctrine of the Second Coming with modernist thought:

The doctrine of the Second Coming is deeply uncongenial to the whole evolutionary or developmental character of modern thought. We have been taught to think of the world as something that grows slowly towards perfection, something that “progresses” or “evolves.”

Christian Apocalyptic offers us no such hope. It does not even foretell (which would be more tolerable to our habits of thought) a gradual decay. It foretells a sudden, violent end imposed from without; an extinguisher popped onto the candle, a brick flung at the gramophone, a curtain rung down on the play—“Halt!”

The curtain will come down someday. I no longer try to guess when that will be, but if the time was short in Jesus’ day, how much shorter is it now?

Lewis: Paraphrasing Jesus

C. S. Lewis 1Here is C. S. Lewis in an essay called “What Are We to Make of Jesus Christ?” paraphrasing some of the words of Jesus in a way that should make us think more deeply about them:

“What are we to make of Christ?” There is no question of what we can make of Him, it is entirely a question of what He intends to make of us. You must accept or reject the story.

The things He says are very different from what any other teacher has said. Others say, “This is the truth about the Universe. This is the way you ought to go,” but He says, “I am the Truth, and the Way, and the Life.” He says, “No man can reach absolute reality, except through Me. Try to retain your own life and you will be inevitably ruined. Give yourself away and you will be saved.”

He says, “If you are ashamed of Me, if, when you hear this call, you turn the other way, I also will look the other way when I come again as God without disguise. If anything whatever is keeping  you from God and from Me, whatever it is,  throw it away. If it is your eye, pull it out. If it is your hand, cut it off.

“If you put yourself first you will be last.  Come to Me everyone who is carrying a heavy load, I will set that right.  Your sins, all of them, are wiped out, I can do that. I am Re-birth, I am Life. Eat Me, drink Me, I am your Food. And finally, do not be afraid, I have overcome the whole Universe.”

That is the issue.

Lewis: Jesus Not Just a Great Moral Teacher

Mere ChristianityPerhaps the most often quoted passage from C. S. Lewis comes from Mere Christianity. It has to do with the nature of Christ. It requires no further commentary, so I print it in full here for your consideration:

Jesus . . . told people that their sins were forgiven. . . . This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin.

. . . I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say.

A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell.

You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

Lewis: Great Moral Teacher?

C. S. Lewis 3I love how C. S. Lewis compares Jesus to other religious leaders in history. In an essay called “What Are We to Make of Jesus Christ?” Lewis lays out the claim Jesus made that He was indeed God, as opposed to simply a great moral teacher:

On the one side clear, definite moral teaching. On the other, claims which, if not true, are those of a megalomaniac, compared with whom Hitler was the most sane and humble of men.

There is no half-way house and there is no parallel in other religions. If you had gone to Buddha and asked him “Are you the son of Bramah?” he would have said, “My son, you are still in the vale of illusion.” If you had gone to Socrates and asked, “Are you Zeus?” he would have laughed at you. If you had gone to Mohammed and asked, “Are you Allah?” he would first have rent his clothes and then cut your head off. If you had asked Confucius, “Are you Heaven?” I think he would have probably replied, “Remarks which are not in accordance with nature are in bad taste.”

The idea of a great moral teacher saying what Christ said is out of the question. In my opinion, the only person who can say that sort of thing is either God or a complete lunatic suffering from that form of delusion which undermines the whole mind of man. . . .

We may note in passing that He was never regarded as a mere moral teacher. He did not produce that effect on any of the people who actually met Him. He produced mainly three effects—Hatred—Terror—Adoration. There was no trace of people expressing mild approval.

 

Lewis: Reflection on the Incarnation

In one of his letters, C. S. Lewis reflects on when God became man in the person of Jesus. Why did He not come as a type of superhero, impervious to physical harm and devoid of emotion? It’s because He sought to be like us and to reveal the heart of the Father:

JesusGod could, had He pleased, have been incarnate in a man of iron nerves, the Stoic sort who lets no sigh escape him. Of His great humility He chose to be incarnate in a man of delicate sensibilities who wept at the grave of Lazarus and sweated blood in Gethsemane.

Otherwise we should have missed the great lesson that it is by his will alone that a man is good or bad, and that feelings are not, in themselves, of any importance. We should also have missed the all-important help of knowing that He has faced all that the weakest of us face, has shared not only the strength of our nature but every weakness of it except sin.

As the apostle Paul put it, Jesus emptied Himself of all the privileges of Godhood and chose to live as a man. The writer of the Hebrews tells us that He suffered everything we suffer, even all the temptations that the world has to offer, yet did so without succumbing to sin. That’s why He became the perfect sacrifice, to set us free from sin and death. That truth should serve to humble us before Him and spur us to love Him without condition or measure.

Eternity Begins Now

I’m so glad that, as a Christian, I don’t perceive this world as all there is to life. Frankly, if I thought there were nothing more, and this is the best it would ever get, I would be in constant depression. I certainly wouldn’t get up early enough each morning to write a blog in the hope that it would make a difference, however slight, in shaping people’s beliefs and worldviews. Instead, I would see my “activity” as rather worthless and a waste of time.

There’s also the chance that I would decide I don’t really care what happens and, quite selfishly, abandon all concern for others, focusing solely on personal pleasure. I would argue that since nothing really changes for the better anyway, why not live it up?

But when Christ enters a life, one can’t give in to that type of thinking.

First, we are told by Him that the world needs His life, and we are the hands, feet, and voices entrusted with the sacred task of letting everyone know He sees and He cares. He seeks to draw each broken, sinful person to Himself and provide a new life.

Salt & LightSecond, He wants us to take that new life into the world and affect the way it operates. Salvation is not just personal, it’s societal. There should be a ripple effect as His new life in individuals begins to infect—I use that word in a positive sense—everything it touches. We are salt; we are light—through Him.

And finally, He shows us that the current state of this world—fallen, bitter, vicious—is not the ultimate reality. There is an existence awaiting us that is free from the ravages of corruption. We will be in His presence forever.

That’s what it all comes down to—His presence. He is what life is all about; there is no life without Him. Eternity begins now.

Lord, help us today to see beyond the daily grind; give us Your eyes to view every person with whom we come into contact as someone made in Your image; show us how to be Your hands, feet, and voice in every situation we encounter.

Go with His blessing today—and make a difference.

The Lamb of God Who Takes Away the Sins of the World

The words of this song by Twila Paris, combined with the haunting beauty of the melody, have always affected me greatly. While some may think this is more appropriate for Good Friday, I think it is a proper Easter offering as well, as we consider the new life Jesus promises through His sacrifice. Easter celebrates what He did two days before. Please read these words carefully, meditatively, then play the short video of this song that follows. It should lead you from deep grief over sin to an even deeper appreciation of what God has done for you. May this be your most blessed Easter ever.

Your only Son, no sin to hide
But You have sent Him from Your side
To walk upon this guilty sod
And to become the Lamb of God

Your gift of love, they crucified
They laughed and scorned Him as He died
The humble King, they named a fraud
And sacrificed the Lamb of God

Oh, Lamb of God, sweet Lamb of God
I love the holy Lamb of God
Oh, wash me in His precious blood
My Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God

I was so lost, I should have died
But You have brought me to Your side
To be led by Your staff and rod
And to be called a lamb of God

Oh, Lamb of God, sweet Lamb of God
I love the holy Lamb of God
Oh, wash me in His precious blood
My Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God

Oh, wash me in His precious blood
My Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God