Christ will Certainty Return PIV

second coming eBe curious and hopeful! 2 Peter 3:10-13 

“But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” 2 Peter 3: 13

Can you think of a specific area in your life that could use more hope? What does it mean for you to be confident and exuberant? What can you do to be more confident and exuberant?

Coming refers to when Christ will come back and gives us blessings as Christians who are faithful in Him. This is an aspect of great hope, that our righteousness do matter and it will come into fruition when He comes (Isa. 9:7; 32:16-17; 62:1-2; Jer. 32:40).

New heaven and a new earth could refer to an entire, new, created order after God destroys this one, but other passages indicate this means God reboots this one, cleanses it, and restores it as in a transfiguration process. Whatever means is used is because of His redemption that allows us to have a home of Righteousness. His righteousness will exemplify the world, not sin (Isa. 11:4-5; 45:8; 65:17-25; 66:22; Dan. 9:24; Rom. 8:21-23; 1 Cor. 15:35-57; Rev. 21:1).

Peter makes the point that since everything will be destroyed and judged, we should focus ourselves on Christ. He is our Hope and reason for life and living. He will return. There is no “if;” only “when.” It is not theory, but fact, and it points us to a faith that is sensible and useful. Our lives need to be in pursuit of Him and His Truth and principles so we are not spending our energies in sensationalism and endless debates, but rather in knowing Him and making Him known.

God calls us to be curious and hopeful with what is to come. This is to give us strength for endurance and anticipation of His work to come.

But, we are not to be obsessed and impatient or slip off the path He has for us. Our focus is to be in and on Him, not on our agendas. We are to make sure we do not fall prey to sensationalism or are not carried away by those who are deceptive, manipulative, or condescending or who play to our fears, hopes, and desires. Nor, are we to fall prey to our own faulty thinking, negating the real, revealed truths. Our footing is in Christ. Let us not lose it and fall off a cliff!

Our security, salvation, and lives are in Him and in Him only, all for His glory.

His promise to return is the climax of our life and the beginning of life everlasting. It is our hope in the midst of our trials and sufferings as well as in the daily grind of life. He wants us to live in the contentment of His love, not in the circumstances of ours or other’s notions or trepidations.

Do you understand who you are in Christ? Do you look for signs, or do you take His precepts as your sign and roadmap for life?

The Pharisees in Jesus’ day were experts in inferring what was going on in the world with people, perceived motivations, knowing ‘their’ rules, and even the weather, but they did not know their Scriptures. They knew them as had them memorized, but not understood or applied. They knew the mechanics, but not the heart and intent. They only knew what their interpretations were, what others had said, and the passion to follow the concepts they cherished. But, they did not know the facts of what God had plainly told them in His Word. Just as many Christians today.

The best view to have in eschatology is the buildup of our faith and the deployment of our spiritual formation in the lives of others.

We pave the way for His Second Coming by our faith development and deployment, not by our feeble theories and the chasing of signs! From this passage in 2 Peter, what do you understand God’s call to be for you? What can your church do to discipline and/or warn people who make apocalyptic predictions or have bad motivations for their teaching?

Advertisements

Arguing over Rapture

Arguing rapture c

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you rapture ready? Is that really important? 

How important is the “Second Coming” to you concerning how you live your life?

If so, take a look to the Book, as God does not care, in fact He is disappointed. Because He wants us Fruit ready! Think not? Read Galations chapter five and Ephesians chapter four. What does God want of us? A well laid out end times theory or a fruitful life?

Take a look at 2 Peter 3: 1-9, where God Promises Christ’s Return to us! The key word tells all, “Coming… He promised/promise of His coming. Peter is calling us to think back to what the Lord has done for us, so we don’t forget His grace, His provisions, and His answered prayers and blessings. To focus on the here and now what Christ is doing in and take hope He is coming, so we are not to be overcome with the struggles of the moment, so we do not see how He has brought us through them in the past. We are to refresh our memory in Him.

During this time, some people in the Early Church thought Jesus was coming right back right then, which was nearly two thousand years ago, and this was taught that as fact, as many do today missing the point. And, the false teachers used their impatience and misunderstandings of what Jesus taught against them too. Thus, the false teachers were spreading gossip as they mocked them and the ‘regular’ teachers were getting it wrong. Ironically, scoffing is one of the evidences that we are in the last days. We must be careful that what we believe and teach is authentic, or others will use our own words against us and perhaps be just in doing so.

We have to remember this: God does not take sides in a congregation where one side wants a beige covered hymnbook and the other side wants one with a blue cover, as God does not care if we have carpet or tile in the narthex.. He wants us to worship Him as LORD. In the same way, if someone is Pre Mill and others are Post Mill or Am Mill, or Pre Trib or Post Trib, or some are passionate about a rapture while others do not see that in Scripture. It is just not important. What is? That our fruitfulness now and that He is coming back, this is what it is all about.

Arguing about the delivery device is like getting excited about the hot dogs at a ball game, then quarrel what mustard, brown or yellow, you want on it, then not realizing you are missing the world series.

God does not take sides; He grieves when we engage in hostile actions against one another. Ephesians 4:1-6 clearly states what God wants; what He does not want is our feeble wars with one another. We must center ourselves on God’s desires and not our own!

The Christian must not be the type of person who has to have things his or her way all the time. As Christians, we must be in submission to the authority of Christ. Keep the main thing the main thing and not place our faith and worry in the trivialities.

When we are so, the natural inclination to be driven by our self-fulfilling ideas will fall off. The constant prowling to get what we want-when we want it-disintegrates the call because the result of this attitude is a reckless rudeness to others that destroys relationships and inhibits the spread of the Gospel. God calls us out of disintegration and into reconciliation.

 

Farewell to the Rapture?

 

(N.T. Wright, Bible Review, August 2001.  Reproduced by permission of the author) 

Little did Paul know how his colorful metaphors for Jesus’ second coming would be misunderstood two millennia later. 

The American obsession with the second coming of Jesus — especially with distorted interpretations of it — continues unabated.  Seen from my side of the Atlantic, the phenomenal success of the Left Behind books appears puzzling, even bizarre[1].  Few in the U.K. hold the belief on which the popular series of novels is based: that there will be a literal “rapture” in which believers will be snatched up to heaven, leaving empty cars crashing on freeways and kids coming home from school only to find that their parents have been taken to be with Jesus while they have been “left behind.”  This pseudo-theological version of Home Alone has reportedly frightened many children into some kind of (distorted) faith. 

This dramatic end-time scenario is based (wrongly, as we shall see) on Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians, where he writes: “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of an archangel and the trumpet of God.  The dead in Christ will rise first; then we, who are left alive, will be snatched up with them on clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). 

What on earth (or in heaven) did Paul mean? 

It is Paul who should be credited with creating this scenario.  Jesus himself, as I have argued in various books, never predicted such an event[2].  The gospel passages about “the Son of Man coming on the clouds” (Mark 13:26, 14:62, for example) are about Jesus’ vindication, his “coming” to heaven from earth.  The parables about a returning king or master (for example, Luke 19:11-27) were originally about God returning to Jerusalem, not about Jesus returning to earth.  This, Jesus seemed to believe, was an event within space-time history, not one that would end it forever. 

The Ascension of Jesus and the Second Coming are nevertheless vital Christian doctrines[3], and I don’t deny that I believe some future event will result in the personal presence of Jesus within God’s new creation.  This is taught throughout the New Testament outside the Gospels.  But this event won’t in any way resemble the Left Behind account. 

Understanding what will happen requires a far more sophisticated cosmology than the one in which “heaven” is somewhere up there in our universe, rather than in a different dimension, a different space-time, altogether. 

The New Testament, building on ancient biblical prophecy, envisages that the creator God will remake heaven and earth entirely, affirming the goodness of the old Creation but overcoming its mortality and corruptibility (e.g., Romans 8:18-27; Revelation 21:1; Isaiah 65:17, 66:22).  When that happens, Jesus will appear within the resulting new world (e.g., Colossians 3:4; 1 John 3:2). 

Paul’s description of Jesus’ reappearance in 1 Thessalonians 4 is a brightly colored version of what he says in two other passages, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 and Philippians 3:20-21: At Jesus’ “coming” or “appearing,” those who are still alive will be “changed” or “transformed” so that their mortal bodies will become incorruptible, deathless.  This is all that Paul intends to say in Thessalonians, but here he borrows imagery—from biblical and political sources—to enhance his message.  Little did he know how his rich metaphors would be misunderstood two millennia later. 

First, Paul echoes the story of Moses coming down the mountain with the Torah.  The trumpet sounds, a loud voice is heard, and after a long wait Moses comes to see what’s been going on in his absence.

Second, he echoes Daniel 7, in which “the people of the saints of the Most High” (that is, the “one like a son of man”) are vindicated over their pagan enemy by being raised up to sit with God in glory.  This metaphor, applied to Jesus in the Gospels, is now applied to Christians who are suffering persecution. 

Third, Paul conjures up images of an emperor visiting a colony or province.  The citizens go out to meet him in open country and then escort him into the city.  Paul’s image of the people “meeting the Lord in the air” should be read with the assumption that the people will immediately turn around and lead the Lord back to the newly remade world. 

Paul’s mixed metaphors of trumpets blowing and the living being snatched into heaven to meet the Lord are not to be understood as literal truth, as the Left Behind series suggests, but as a vivid and biblically allusive description of the great transformation of the present world of which he speaks elsewhere. 

Paul’s misunderstood metaphors present a challenge for us: How can we reuse biblical imagery, including Paul’s, so as to clarify the truth, not distort it?  And how can we do so, as he did, in such a way as to subvert the political imagery of the dominant and dehumanizing empires of our world?  We might begin by asking, What view of the world is sustained, even legitimized, by the Left Behind ideology?  How might it be confronted and subverted by genuinely biblical thinking?  For a start, is not the Left Behind mentality in thrall to a dualistic view of reality that allows people to pollute God’s world on the grounds that it’s all going to be destroyed soon?  Wouldn’t this be overturned if we recaptured Paul’s wholistic vision of God’s whole creation?              
           

 http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_BR_Farewell_Rapture.htm 

[1] Tim F. Lahaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, Left Behind (Cambridge, UK: Tyndale House Publishing, 1996).  Eight other titles have followed, all runaway bestsellers.

[2] See my Jesus and the Victory of God (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1996); the discussions in Jesus and the Restoration of Israel: A Critical Assessment of N.T. Wright’s Jesus and the Victory of God, ed. Carey C. Newman (Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999); and Marcus J. Borg and N.T. Wright, The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1999), chapters 13 and 14.

[3] Douglas Farrow, Ascension and Ecclesia: On the Significance of the Doctrine of the Ascension for Ecclesiology and Christian Cosmology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999).