COMING: READY OR NOT
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Unashamedly I have a blessed hope founded in Jesus Christ, and this hope can be apprehended by careful study. It is not too hard or too complex. There is a sane and simple approach that can be adopted, and which is beneficial.
Eschatology is the doctrine of the last things—the eschaton. It is not a perfunctory issue for petty argument or trivialised debate. It is a major topic and we must not neglect it. As Millard Erikson comments: “The truths of eschatology deserve careful, intense, and thorough attention and study”.
Like all theology, eschatology should not be treated as a dry “systematic” subject just to be carefully analysed as some archaeological research project, or dismissed as a subject too complex to waste time on. It is the dynamic culmination of all things that God planned for mankind.
A clear understanding of Abraham, the Abrahamic covenant, and Israel—the people of God—is fundamental to the study of eschatology. This must be carefully addressed. Any attempt at eschatology without that pivotal focus, is a deficient eschatology.
Likewise, a correct biblical understanding of the church, is essential to understanding the program of God. It impinges on the expectation of the Rapture—and hence on the immediacy of our hope, which in turn affects our behaviour. It helps in the perspective of understanding the Great Tribulation, which covers the bulk of the Book of revelation. To fail to appreciate where the church fits in to God’s program, together with Israel, renders the Book of Revelation incomprehensible.
Further, it is fundamental to remember that mankind is the purpose of God’s good creation. It is essential to keep this perspective when thinking of the Second Coming.
THIS IS NOT AN OPTIONAL EXTRA!
The Second Coming is the climax of the creative purpose.
All theology must be practical and living, or it is dead orthodoxy at best. And with the immediate expectancy of the Rapture, there is an heightened practicality in the area of holiness in preparation for the coming of Christ.
The Bible asserts:
"Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
"Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure."
1 John 3:2-3 (emphases added).
If we fail to face that challenge, then we have reduced the glorious hope to dry orthodoxy, and dead-end argument.
Any scoffers of the Second Coming will be identified by their immoral lives. And this will include professing Christians who are living self-indulgent lives. Their behaviour betrays their belief.
The person who says, “I have time to commit this sin, then repent of it and be ready for the Rapture” is following his own evil desires and he is thereby mocking the expectation of Christ to call him to account.
By contrast, the person who hopes in Christ will live a life that is typified by ongoing purification—“he goes on keeping himself pure” (1 John 3:3). The proof of my expectancy is the purity of my life being maintained.