We have a mental picture of the second coming which is completely wrong in at least one very critical matter. Our mental picture is that Christ will come and appear to the whole world at once and save all the members of the church from the wicked.
And there is something horribly incomplete about that.
The Lord will not appear to save his people until they have faith sufficient for him to do so. Not just faith enough to be baptized. They must have faith enough for him to appear to them.
Now you may have two objections to this, and I will address both.
You may object that the day is set for Christ’s return, and so it cannot matter whether the saints have faith sufficient for him to appear or not.
You may also object that Christ appeared to the Nephites independent of their faith.
But the scripture tells us:
Ether 12:7 For it was by faith that Christ showed himself unto our fathers, after he had risen from the dead; and he showed not himself unto them until after they had faith in him;…
And that is the perfect model. Christ appeared to those Nephites who had sufficient faith for him to appear to them.
And that is a model for our day as well. For the scriptures say of us that the children of Zion rest under condemnation for taking the revelations and scriptures too lightly in study and action. It says that was true of every one of the saints even in a day when Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and Wilford Woodruff walked the earth. And it says that unless the church repents there will be a scourge sufficient to bring them to repentance.
Thus it was with the Nephites. The scourge was sufficient, and they were ready to receive their God in his appointed time. And thus it is with us.
The day and hour of the second coming may be set. But the Lord will have us ready, whether by our choosing to repent, or by our being scourged until those of us who remain, as a people, take the scriptures and revelations more seriously in study and action than such men as Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and Wilford Woodruff did.
And so, in some future day, after Christ reigns personally on the earth, the scriptures will say of us, just as it did of the Nephites:
For it was by faith that Christ showed himself unto our fathers, when he came to rule over the earth, and he showed not himself unto them until after they had faith in him.
Having such faith as a people comes by many individuals having such faith. It comes by many people living so that they prove their faithfulness sufficient to have the second comforter. In Joseph Smith’s words:
“This principle ought (in its proper place) to be taught, for God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what He will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them, for the day must come when no man need say to his neighbor, Know ye that Lord; for all shall know Him (who remain) from the least to the greatest. How is this to be done? It is to be done by this sealing power, and the other Comforter spoken of, which will be manifest by revelation.”