Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Truth Series - Eschatology
A child playing chess? Are you kidding me? Chess is too difficult for a child. Make him stop.
Of course, I am being facetious. A child can play chess. Teach him the basics and let him walk through it step by step.
But the same voice that hinders a child playing an advanced game is the one that says we shouldn't study eschatology. Today, end times sermons are few and far between. Want to know how I know this for a fact? Because I went to YouTube and put in "Joel Osteen end times," and do you know what came up? "Joel Osteen says you are an Extraordinary Person - by recognizing this and knowing that God has a bright future for you..." Uh-huh. That's right. So if Joel has nothing to say about the coming last days, then I doubt many others do either...
Seriously, no one wants to talk about the end times. The Left Behind Series has said enough for everyone and so apparently the matter is settled. When broaching the subject of the last days, here are the most common responses that I have received:
1. It's too hard to understand - no one really knows what's going to happen
2. We're not going to be here for it, so we don't need to study it
3. I'm just not interested in studying the future - I have enough problems today to worry about
4. Since no one can agree on what the Word teaches, why would I try?
5. The church has believed in pre-trib since Jesus was here and now you think you've figured out something new?
Notice there isn't a whole lot of scripture being given in support for any of these responses. So my issue today is, why do believers ignore the return of Christ? Isn't His return the "great hope of the church"?
Well, what does the Bible say?
First, it says that Jesus is coming again. I Thessalonians 4 and 5 are dedicated to this second coming. "...For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord..." (I Thess. 4:15-18)
Secondly we are instructed to look for His return, because it is our hope. Titus 2:11-14 instructs on how we are to live today - denying ungodliness, living sensibly, righteously and godly, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
So how do we look for Jesus' return if we don't know what to look for?
Psalm 119:160 tells us that "...the sum of Your word is truth..." This implies that there is an equation. This plus this plus this will give us truth. So in looking at the last days, we need to add all the scripture together to find truth.
"But it's too hard to understand! Theologians through the ages have disagreed. It was never meant for us to understand. There's too much symbolism to be sure! Just stop trying to figure it out!"
This is such a sad view of scripture. II Timothy 2:16 exhorts us to "...study to show ourselves approved unto God, a workman who needs not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth..." Most want to add to this verse "...except when it comes to eschatology. Then don't even try..." But folks, that's not in there. We are to study the whole of scripture. It was given to us as God's instruction for man - not God's instruction for theologians with seminary degrees to teach the ignorant congregants. No, God's word was given to all men. We all have the responsibility to rightly divide it - to find the sum of His Word and stand on truth.
I am not impressed with the lame excuses for not studying the return of Christ. The salvation story did not stop with eleven men staring at the sky. These men took their story and changed the world. Why? Because they wanted to prepare the world for their Master and their Savior's return. Check out Peter's writings - in II Peter 3:11, after discussing the Day of the Lord, Peter writes, 'Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming..." The return of Christ was something to be longed for, to look for, that motivated every day living and Peter even challenged his readers to hasten its coming.
What has happened to the church since Peter penned these words? We quit looking. We quit studying. We quit using His return as motivation for our daily existence. And most sad of all, we quit longing.
Here's my take - if it's discussed in God's Word, then He wants us to know about it.
There. I said it.
Now, quit making excuses and go do it.