By Brian Riddle
In Christian theology, eschatology or the study of “last things” is one of the more debated topics. Within what is typically considered to be orthodox or evangelical Christianity, there are several views of the millennium, the tribulation, the nature of the New Heavens and New Earth, the interpretation of the Book of Revelation and so on that are considered acceptable. It is what we call an “open handed” issue in the Church, which means it is something that members of Christ’s body may disagree upon but still remain in fellowship together. This is opposed to a “close handed” issue that can make fellowship impossible or at least very unwise. The divinity of Jesus and the inspiration of the Word are two such matters, for instance.
With our various takes on the “last things”, however, we all agree on one important truth… Jesus will return to consummate his Kingdom and complete his plan of redemption. (Hebrews 9:28, Titus 2:13, Revelation 1:7) In our membership process we require that you take a course on the gospel. In that class we structure God’s redemptive plan in four “acts”. The first is creation, the second: the fall, the third: redemption and the final act is called restoration. This “restoration” brings what happened at creation back into reality where God and his people live together in harmony without sin and brokenness. Reading the book of Revelation for example, reveals how much the “end” of the story is like the beginning. God dwells amongst his people (Gen 3:8; Rev. 21:3), there’s a bride and a bridegroom (Gen 2:18-24; Rev. 19:6-9), the garden/river sanctuary (Gen2:4b-17; Rev 21:9-22:2) and true relationships are all examples of this.
So we look forward to the end of the story because God has shown us through his word that he is restoring his perfect Kingdom to its original state of peace and harmony. But we must ask the question, why do we believe this will be the case? The answer is God’s faithfulness. Beginning in Genesis 3:15 when God promises the serpent that his head will be crushed by the victorious “seed of the woman”, the Bible continually predicts and points to the coming Messiah who will bring salvation, forgiveness, a restored Kingdom and through the Holy Spirit, create for himself “new creations” who desire to love their creator by following Jesus. (I’ve attached a list of 365 fulfilled prophecies at the end of this article) It’s because God has been perfectly faithful in the past that we believe he will be faithful in and about the future.
The resurrection of Christ is the crux of this argument. In short, we believe what Jesus says about his return and the consummation of the Kingdom because he’s the only guy to have ever rightly predicted his death and subsequent resurrection from the dead. Not only did he resurrect, as if that were not enough, but he called his shot! This is a guy we can trust. (This is the same reason I trust the scriptures, because the guy who rightly predicted his death and resurrection endorsed them!)
We all know, even unbelievers, that things are not right. Paul says in Romans 8:23 that creation, along with us who have the first fruits of the Spirit are “groaning inwardly for the return of Christ” when all things will be made new. Restored. God has proven to us his truthfulness for thousands of years as if to leave no room for excuse. Be encouraged, believer, that you follow the one who calls himself “the beginning and the end”, who has established his Kingdom already through his “new creations” and has promised to bring it all to completion in the return of Christ. In the meantime, we are tasked to be in partnership with Jesus as he continues to renew his people and spread his Kingdom. In this sense, we are on mission to bring our “future hope” to the present. If the Spirit is in us, and we live by Jesus’ commands, we are bringing heaven to earth as we preach the gospel and love those around us.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14
Click on this link to see a list of all 365 prophecies