7 July 2022
We have looked at the need to ‘understand the signs of the times’ and we have pondered over the words of the Lord Jesus Himself, relating to discipleship and His second coming.
What we have considered are under the ‘umbrella’ of ‘eschatology’ – the study of ‘last things’ – and eschatology is, in one sense, the heart of Christianity.
The Bible is a narrative that has at its beginning in creation and its end in new creation. The Old Testament prophets looked forward to a time when God would rule over all the earth. Jesus came proclaiming the inauguration and presence of the kingdom of God and called His followers to live out the values of that kingdom. The Apostle Paul shared that the resurrection of Jesus was the initiation of the great and final resurrection, and that through the death and resurrection of Jesus, the ‘enslaving powers’ had been defeated. The Apostle John called on the churches in Asia Minor to remain faithful in the face of cultural pressures and outright persecution. The Apostle Peter also did likewise, directed at the dispersed believers who were under intense persecution.
All the Prophets and Apostles were confident that God’s ultimate purposes would be accomplished – every part of the Bible is written with that end in view, that, as Paul would put it, God would be all in all (1 Cor. 15:28).
The ethics of the kingdom give believers and the church character and identity. Biblical warnings of God’s judgement provide Christians with a moral vision; the promise of resurrection and new creation provided Christians with hope. Christians have a mission and the Church has a purpose. Our hope is not merely personal but corporate and universal. Christians are people of mission, and that mission is motivated by God’s love and longing for the renewal and reconciliation of His creation to Himself. The church lives in the light of that coming renewal and in hope of the reconciliation of all things to God. By her worship and witness, the church anticipates that renewal and participates in that mission and reconciliation.
In the midst of the chaos and calamities in this world, let us not forget the ‘big picture’ in God’s revelation. History is not going in circles without meaning (this is seen in Ecclesiastes), history is progressing towards an end, in God’s plan and timing, and Christians and the church are ‘part and parcel’ of this plan.