Posts Tagged ‘eschatology’

Here’s how I chose to invite friends to study the Book of Revelation with me:

Humans are fascinated with the end of the world. We see this fascination everywhere. Alien invasions, Godzilla attacks, nuclear holocausts, and meteor strikes are only a small selection of our disaster movies that cinema enthusiasts relish. Even when real disasters strike, we have an uncanny knack for finding comfort in our apocalyptic entertainment and millennial charts. This appears odd at the outset. But is it, really?

Do we read books on the end of the world because we wish demise upon ourselves? Are we really that sick? Or, do we somehow believe that the end, whenever it comes, is not actually the end? The Bible speaks of the end times in great detail. But, the message seems awfully obscure to most of us. That complicates things. It seems too confusing to understand, at least for the most part. Yet we want to know. We want to know what will happen. We want to know, is the end really the end? Will we somehow triumph? Will death have the final say?

We naturally refuse to believe that kind of horrific idea, and say, death will surely not win.

This is because Christians are an incredibly hopeful people. It is built into our eschatology. We believe in all of God’s promises. We believe Jesus will return and reign at the end. We believe evil will be defeated and all wickedness will be destroyed, cast into the lake of fire.

And, we believe that the blessings Jesus brought with him at his first coming will be increased greatly when he returns. This is what theologians call the “already” and “not yet” theme of the kingdom of God in which we presently live. But that is simply the surface of what Scripture says about the future. We know it is difficult to understand what the Bible says about the end of the age and the age to come. We wonder, for example, will there be a millennium? If so, what will it be and when will it come? Will there be a “secret” rapture? If not, when will it be? There are certainly options for a framework of the key end times’ texts: premillennial, postmillennial, amillennial. But which, if any, are correct? What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses?

That is why books on the end times are written, at least the good ones. But we want to know what God’s book says about these things. If we can’t understand everything, what does God really want us to know right now, while we await the day of his return?


It is with that introduction that I invited friends into my home to study this difficult book. I’m curious as to how you might invite friends over to study the Book of Revelation? As for the study itself, my goal will be to help my friends see Revelation in terms of its present usefulness to Christians, much in the same way it would have been encouraging, useful, and needed among the churches it was originally addressed to. So, we will leave behind the charts and focus of the text itself. We’ll use the help of study Bibles and commentaries to help us as much as they can. And when we get to incredibly debated topics along the way, I’ll explain the different options and say which one I hold or lean toward.


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I am not a big fan of “church signs.”  I put that in quotations because of course I don’t have a problem with signs that inform people of church services or church locations etc.  What I do have a problem with is the trivializing of serious biblical truths that can be found on church billboard such as “Hell is hot, come on in we are prayer-conditioned.”  Despite my disdain for some of the sillier signs, every once in a while, I will come across one that I really like, this happened to me recently on the way home from running. The sign that I saw said this, “COMING SOON:  Jesus!”  I read that and I thought, “YES, my Lord and savior, Jesus Christ is coming again and he is going to raise me up to be with Him forever!”

Are you excited about the Lord’s return?  This is how the Bible ends:

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen. (Revelation 22:20-21).

When John received the promise and vision of Christ’s glorious return to finally and fully redeem his children, he got excited.  He said, “Amen” which literally means “truly” or in more modern terms, “YES!”  “Come, Lord Jesus!”  Paul was excited about it too, when Paul wrote the Philippians, he was in prison and wasn’t sure if and when he would be executed, he said, “If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me.  Yet which shall I choose I cannot tell.  I am hard pressed between the two.  My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better” (Philippians 1:22-23).  In other words, Paul is saying, if I got what I wanted, I would go to be with Christ.  Paul is saying here, “I want to be with Jesus, I long to be with Him for eternity!”  If you read on, Paul admits that it seems that God has more ministry in mind for Paul (thus he indeed live on in the flesh) and he submits himself to God’s will in that regard—there is no morbid longing to die in Paul, just a longing to be with Christ in a fuller way than he currently is.

This is a great question to ask yourself to gauge where you are spiritually—“do you long for Jesus to return?”  If not, what is keeping you from longing for that?  What is it that you want in this life that is keeping you from longing for Christ?  What do you want to experience this side of eternity that is keeping you from longing for Christ supremely?

When I was in high school and newly converted, I started dating a girl (neither of us were mature enough in our faith to be dating but that is another story) who from time to time would make comments like, “I hope Christ doesn’t come back before I have the opportunity to get married and have a family.”  At the time I suppose I sympathized with the sentiment, but I was also devouring the Bible at the time and Paul’s words, to “be with Christ is far better” seemed to contradict her sentiments.  So from time to time, I ask myself—is there anything keeping me from longing for Jesus to come back?  Are there things I think I would miss if Jesus came back now?  Those questions have helped me to identify idols in my life that are keeping me from delighting supremely in Christ.

If your heart’s desire is not, “come Lord Jesus,” why not?  Answering that question could be key in removing tremendous road blocks to growth in your walk with Christ.

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Though I do not endorse the movie, during one scene in Fight Club, Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) looks at Jack (Edward Norton) while standing in a bus and comments on a Calvin Klein advertisement showing a man with rock-solid abs:

“Is that what a man looks like?”

fightclub1Jack responds with a smirk. To the two of them, the poster resembles structuralist consumerism’s monopoly on image and gender. While indeed it may represent just that, I think it represents so much more. In the news today, a new surgical procedure promises perfect abs to its patients through “abdominal etching.” Apparently washboard abs are all the rage these days and instead of being the result of many hours in the gym and a disciplined diet, they can now be purchased. You can now live up to Calvin Klein’s expectations. Good news if your stomping grounds happen to be territories of the business world and not those of your local gym.

Of course, this is part of a much larger movement that is dead set on making everyone into supermodels and pornstars. This movement has been well-documented and analyzed before, so there’s nothing new here. But I believe today it serves us as a good reminder of the other reformation going on that has little to do with Martin Luther.

How are we supposed to read the poster in the bus? How do we interpret and understand the surging cosmetic surgery industry? And what does it have to do with reformation? There’s much to be said of how this relates to identity and certainly much more to be said of what C.S. Lewis rightly recognized as an over-indulgence of the sex appetite, but I’ll leave those topics for another time. It’s 2007, not 1517, and I believe this has everything to do with reformation.

In a world permeated with sin and cursed with death, even a secular world that lives in the here and now cries out for a reformation; a re-formation of the body. As Christians we know that we have been given a foretaste of this re-formation (regeneration) with the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. We are a new creation now while not yet entirely. At the same time, God is working to redeem the whole of the cosmos from an enemy that Christ has defeated (death).

Think in terms of generation, degeneration, regeneration, and consummation. God created the cosmos (generation), we cursed it (degeneration), Christ redeemed it (regeneration), and God will make it new (consummation).

When we see an ad from Abercrombie & Fitch or a doctor’s office selling improvements on the body, it has much more to do with eschatology than we might think. Perfect abs and liposuction are a poor substitute for the resurrection, but that’s exactly what they are. The world admits that our bodies are cursed when they seek to overcome an enemy that only Christ can overcome.

As we look forward to the coming resurrection of the body and restoration of all things in Christ, we can put industries like that of cosmetic surgery into proper focus. We live in a world that cries out for a savior, is terrified of death, and acknowledges sin unwittingly through the repudiation of imperfect bodies.

Tyler and Jack were right to read the picture beyond what it desired them to, but they didn’t really get the point. Death surely comes to us all, but not so with age. Should we have the privilege of many years on this earth, our wrinkles and so-so abs (if any at all) should serve as a reminder of how much we have been blessed. They should terrify us as we consider our stewardship of that time. Yet they should also cause us to laugh in the face of an enemy that we all must face, knowing that the battle has already been won.

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