Friday, July 25, 2008

Ordination #2, Art. 11: Eschatology

Escatology scares me. Not that I’m scared of the end of the world, but the study of it is such a maze of texts and perspectives. I went to college at the school Tim LaHaye built, which gives me more of a pretribulational rapture view of things, but I’m not so sure any more. Thankfully, in the ordination process we don’t have to nail down the rapture, though I’m sure we’ll be asked. And the other stuff, beyond that, seems fairly straightforward. Here’s the statement, any questions or clarifications are welcome and helpful to the grilling I’ll be receiving in a few months from the ordination board.

Article 11: In the personal and premillennial and imminent coming of our Lord
Jesus Christ and that this "Blessed Hope" has a vital bearing on the personal
life and service of the believer.
While eschatology can be complicated the biblical witness is clear that the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ is certain (Mt. 24.30; Acts 3.19-21; 1 Thess. 4.15-16; 1 Jn. 2.28). In addition to its definiteness, it is going to be personal because He said He Himself would come again to take His disciples with Him (Jn. 14.3). This personal return will also be visible and bodily as Jesus said He would return in the same way He left (Acts 1.11).

His return will also be premillenial. Jesus will come to reign for 1000 years (Rev. 20.4-6). The millennial state is indicated in passages like Isa. 65.20 where the present age is surpassed in blessedness, but they fall short of the eternal state (see also Ps. 72.8-14; Isa. 11.2-9; Zech. 14.6-21; 1 Cor. 15.24; Rev. 2.27; 12.5; 19.15).

Next, His return is imminent and this “Blessed Hope” (Titus 2.13) has a vital bearing on the personal life and service of the believer. Biblical authors do not discuss eschatology for the sake curiosity, but to motivate the church to vigilant (Mt. 25.1-13) and diligent living (1 Thess. 5.1-11). There is a tension when discussing the issue of imminence. On one hand, we do not know when Jesus will return and disciples should be ready (Mt. 24.42-44; 1 Thess. 5.2), but there is an indication that waiting is expected. Peter would grow old (Jn. 21.18), the temple would be destroyed (Mt. 24.2), and the gospel would go to the nations (Mt. 24.14), and there are signs that should precede His return (Mk. 13.19-26). It is possible that some of these have been fulfilled, whether it be the definition of “all nations” (Col. 1.5-6) or the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish War of AD 66-70. Because the fulfillment of these signs are uncertain, we ought to continue reaching the nations with the gospel and living diligently as if He could return any moment.

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