WHAT IS YOUR HOPE SET UPON?

“Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:13 ESV

From the beginning of the Bible to the end, the return of Jesus and the establishment of His Kingdom is the primary focal point of all expectation, longing, and hope.

What is the primary hope of your church? If you follow my blog then you know I call it living eternal now because I know His return to this earth to establish His Kingdom is not too far in the future. Time is short, we need to get on with the Great Commission. Maranatha

I am sure that if the church will prioritize meditating upon, teaching, and emphasizing the hope of Jesus’ return, it will grow and bear good fruit.

The more that we recover an unshakable passion for His return, the more eager the church will be to finish the Great Commission.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works… encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.Hebrews 10:24-25

WHY ESCHATOLOGY IS IMPORTANT TO US ALL

The following article is by Michael J. Vlach, Professor of Theology, at The Master’s Seminary. The Master’s Seminary opened its doors in 1986 to provide post-graduate theological training on the campus of Grace Community Church. He specializes in the areas of Systematic Theology, Historical Theology, Apologetics, and World Religions.

It is concerning that some churches today don’t take eschatology seriously. The very fact that God has revealed so many details about events to come in both testaments tells us that it is important. At the center of biblical eschatology is the blessed hope of the appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13). Not only should we be interested in prophetic events to come but, we are also looking for our Savior, with whom we will spend eternity.

Why do some churches neglect serious study of eschatology? One issue is complexity. There are many eschatological details in the Bible to work through and harmonize. So there is hard work to do in this area. Also, when we see godly men disagreeing on prophetic issues, it can be disheartening. Another reason might be that some don’t want to be linked with those who have abused eschatology. There are those who have become obsessed with the end times by offering a date for Jesus’ return, or treating many current events as fulfillments of biblical prophecy. Thus, some have swung from the abuse of eschatology to no interest whatsoever.

But these are not good reasons to avoid the study of eschatology. Here are 7 reasons churches should take eschatology seriously:

1. Eschatology is a major part of the Christian storyline

Eschatology is a major part of the Bible’s story. By “story,” I’m not talking about fiction. I’m talking about the narrative of the Christian worldview. Since Christianity is rooted in history and real historical events, God’s story includes past, present, and future events. All should be taught. We simply should not ignore prophetic events that are future from our standpoint—events such as the Rapture, the Day of the Lord, the Second Coming, the Millennium, and the Eternal State. We must also talk about heaven and hell, and the coming New Earth. To avoid discussion of eschatology is to avoid an important part of the Christian worldview.

2. We are called to preach and heed the whole counsel of God

There are large sections of Scripture devoted to prophesy, many of which still need to be fulfilled from our current standpoint. For example, the events of Ezekiel 36–48 still need to occur. In the New Testament, passages like Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, much of Luke 21, 1 Thess. 4-5, 2 Thess 1-2, 2 Peter 3, and Revelation 6-22 describe events that still need to happen. We cannot ignore these passages. Paul says in Acts 20:27, “I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.”

If your church does not teach what the Bible says about the future, the whole counsel of God is not being taught.

3. People are interested in the future

Christians are interested in what the future holds. But if we do not teach eschatology, we are denying important biblical information for those who want to know what the Bible has to say about the future. We are also withholding a major source of the hope that the Scripture wants us to have.

4. Eschatology is a motivation for believers

Eschatology changes our lives because what we do now impacts our future. Paul viewed everything he did in light of his standing before Jesus someday. In 2 Timothy 4:7-8 Paul wrote, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

5. Eschatology has a purifying effect on the believer

Eschatology is meant to transform our lives in the present. Why should we live sensibly, righteously and godly? Because Jesus is coming again. 1 John 3:2-3 states, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

James 5:8-9 also says, “You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord, is near. Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.”

The study of biblical eschatology is a motivation for godly living

6. Eschatology gives perspective to the troubles and trials of this age

We live in a fallen and tragedy-soaked world. We are all physically decaying and dying. Evil seems to triumph. Without Jesus, there is no hope, only despair. But for the Christian, there is the hope of resurrection and the restoration of all things (1 Cor. 15:20-28; Acts 3:21). Romans 8:18 states, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

The sufferings of this present time are real, but they are not comparable to the glory that is to come.

2 Peter 3:13 says, “But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.”

The coming of Jesus and the restoration of all things are future realities that give Christians hope and the joyful realization that the turmoils and trials of this age will not last forever. Righteousness and goodness win in the end. Christians need that message.

7. Eschatology warns the unbeliever of coming judgment

Biblical eschatology does not teach that the story ends well for everyone. It exists as a frightening warning to those who have not believed in Jesus. Eschatology warns all people that there is eternal punishment and banishment from God’s kingdom and the presence of God for those who do not repent. We should do what John the Baptist did—warn people to flee the wrath that is to come (Luke 3:7-8). Just as there is both judgment and resurrection for the righteous, there is also resurrection and judgment for the unbeliever.

In sum, biblical eschatology is an important part of Christianity. For these reasons, all true churches should embrace the importance of biblical eschatology and share its truths with Christians and unbelievers alike.

8. I would add to Michael’s reasons, an eighth, Apocalyptic Evangelism.

There are more prophecies about Jesus second coming than there were of His first coming and yet there were many of those. Christians who understand the prophetic events that are to unfold prior to Jesus return, first to rapture the church, and then after God’s wrath has been poured out on the earth with the Scroll, Trumpet and Bowl judgements, He will return to this earth and rescue Israel. He has unfinished business with His nation. All the O.T. prophets prophesied their Messiah would rule the nations from Jerusalem. Jesus will rule and reign with the resurrected saints on this earth for 1000 years. Obviously, we are in a unique position to use this knowledge in evangelism. To explain to unbelievers what is unfolding in our day and to warn the church of the coming tribulation, even great tribulation. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.Matthew 24:8-13. Jesus spoke these words and Mark recorded them as follows ” For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be. And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. Mark 13:19-20

WHY ESCHATOLOGY MATTERS

There are eschatological positions being promoted that are preparing believers to be vulnerable for the Antichrist. Pretribulationism falsely teaches that we will be raptured before the Antichrist’s (beast’s) persecution of Christians. Preterists teach that there is no future Antichrist since he already came and went 2,000 years ago. Idealists believe that the notion of the Antichrist is an idea and not an actual person. Amillennialists, and many posttribulationists, believe that the Antichrist is also not a person but an institution. What does your church teach?

One day, all humanity will be demanded to worship the Beast and his image. To be sure, many willingly will worship him thinking that he is the Coming One to bring “peace and safety.”

This is why eschatology matters and is not some incidental matter. It prepares us to be discerning. Christian leaders who minimize the study of biblical prophecy minimize the severe warnings of our Lord on these matters and thereby render Jesus himself as disingenuous.

The Beast is coming. And he is coming to demand unqualified worship. Will you bow the knee out of fear to save your life? Jesus is the only one worthy to give our allegiance to. Please read the following scripture from Revelation describing the beast (Antichrist) and note the warning; it will require “steadfast endurance and faith from the saints”.

“Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, and on its horns were ten diadem crowns, and on its heads a blasphemous name.Now the beast that I saw was like a leopard, but its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. The dragon gave the beast his power, his throne, and great authority to rule.One of the beast’s heads appeared to have been killed, but the lethal wound had been healed. And the whole world followed the beast in amazement; they worshiped the dragon because he had given ruling authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast too, saying: “Who is like the beast?” and “Who is able to make war against him?”The beast was given a mouth speaking proud words and blasphemies, and he was permitted to exercise ruling authority for forty-two months. So the beast opened his mouth to blaspheme against God—to blaspheme both his name and his dwelling place, that is, those who dwell in heaven. The beast was permitted to go to war against the saints and conquer them. He was given ruling authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation, and all those who live on the earth will worship the beast, everyone whose name has not been written since the foundation of the world in the book of life belonging to the Lamb who was killed. If anyone has an ear, he had better listen! If anyone is meant for captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed by the sword, then by the sword he must be killed. This requires steadfast endurance and faith from the saints. Then I saw another beast coming up from the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but was speaking like a dragon. He exercised all the ruling authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and those who inhabit it worship the first beast, the one whose lethal wound had been healed. He performed momentous signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people and, by the signs he was permitted to perform on behalf of the beast, he deceived those who live on the earth. He told those who live on the earth to make an image to the beast who had been wounded by the sword, but still lived. The second beast was empowered to give life to the image of the first beast so that it could speak, and could cause all those who did not worship the image of the beast to be killed. He also caused everyone (small and great, rich and poor, free and slave) to obtain a mark on their right hand or on their forehead. Thus no one was allowed to buy or sell things unless he bore the mark of the beast—that is, his name or his number.” (Revelation 13:1–17)

Beast, Image & Mark - Book of Revelation Chapter 13 ...

See full article on Alan Kurschner’s website Eschatos Ministries.

GREATEST BIBLE PROPHECY EVER

Seems like an outrageous claim, but it is hard to discount the case made by Nelson Walters, a friend and a man I greatly admire. I am confident you will agree this is another great video from Nelson. It’s on an amazing prophecy which reveals that we are living in Biblical end times with Jesus return less than 100 years distant. Nelson mentions the early church father, Barnabus, but I would include Justin Martyr, Irenaeus and Lactantius. They all held to the sexta-septamillennial construct which is that the days of creation are prophetically one thousand years (with the Lord one day is as a thousand years). Hence, six thousand years of earths history is followed by the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ. At the end of which will be the destruction of this earth, the second resurrection and the White Throne Judgement. The new heaven and new earth will then herald the start of the eighth thousand year of man’s history and eternity with our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

This Scripture from 2 Peter is such an important “end times” pointer.

“That you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” For this they wilfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgement and perdition of ungodly men.
But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” 2 Peter 3:2-8