Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Looking Forward To The Past, pt. 2

This week we continue the conversation by considering this question from a Full Preterist friend:

In 1 Thess. 4:13-18, isn't the ‘we’ the Thessalonians in the first century? And in 1Cor. 15:23-28 Paul is speaking to the Corinthians in their time? So shouldn't the timing and the immediate audience relevance determine the nature of the Christ coming?

Below is my response.

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Of course "we" in 1Thessalonians refers to 1st century Christians. But does it refer only to 1st century Christians? Only 1st century Christians get to be "always with the Lord"? (How hopeless and futile such a position is!)

Thankfully, Paul is not teaching that only 1st century Christians will be forever with the Lord. Rather, all Christians will be with Christ forever.

"We" and "them" has regards to those who are alive and those who are dead at the time of Christ's Second Coming. There's no textual or linguistic (or theological) reason to limit "we" to 1st century Christians.

Notice in 1Cor. 6:14 Paul speaks of being among those who are dead (as opposed to alive) at Christ's Second coming.

And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.

Would you have us believe that ONLY 1st century Christians ("us") will be resurrected from the dead? (I sincerely hope not!)

And what of 2Cor. 4:14?

"He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus and will present us with you."

Only 1st century Christians ("us" and "you") are raised from the dead? Surely not!

When it comes to the Second Coming, Paul speaks of "we" being alive and "us" being dead.  He is not contradicting himself. This is simply the way WE talk.  (For example, I can speak of how we won the War for Independence and how some believe that one day Mars will be a home for us.) 

In other words, there's no reason whatsoever (linguistic or theological) to limit the hope of the resurrection and being forever with Jesus to 1st century believers.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Looking Forward To The Past

I received several questions in response to last week’s article. This week and the next we will have a look at the comings of Christ, past and future.

My friends’ questions appear bold and italicized.

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“Do you believe Jesus in Revelation 22, he is coming soon again in our near future?”

This is the kind of thing Christians shouldn't say to each other.

All of us believe Jesus. Just because we may understand things differently, doesn't mean we are unbelievers.

When Bible-believing Christians disagree, it isn't a matter of believing but of interpreting. We should try to keep this in mind. We can question each other's interpretation, but Christian love and respect should caution us against questioning each other's belief in Jesus.

Now, I do not think Jesus' words in Rev. 22 (His coming soon or quickly) have to do with our future. If it has to do with our future, why could He tell John to "not seal" the prophecy because the "time is at hand" (Rev. 22:10)? I interpret Jesus' soon coming in Rev. 22 to be in regards to His judgement coming in 70 AD, not His Second Coming.

“ . . . now, that you have shared that he came to the first century as in judgment, but that is not his second coming, when in the scripture does He say He will come a third time?”

Nowhere does the Bible speak of a "third coming." This isn't how the Bible speaks. For that matter...I'm not sure the Bible contains the phrase "Second Coming" or even "First Coming." Right?

But the concept of First and Second Comings is biblical, in my estimation, and is common, acceptable, historical verbiage.

(I would not use the term "third coming" because the First and Second Advents are not in the same category as the judgment comings of God/Christ. If one conflates these then one would have to say that what Christians call the First Advent was really a third, or fourth or maybe even a fifth. Such isn't at all helpful.)

The Second Coming, as it is taught in orthodox/ creedal Christianity, and I believe scripture, is a physical event. Two passages of scripture which I believe teach a Second Coming are 1Cor. 15:23-28 and 1Thess. 4:13-18. (Full preterists, of course, disagree—not because they don't believe these passages, but because they interpret them differently from Christians who are not Full preterists.)

"When in scripture does He say He will come..." 

The Bible—to my knowledge—nowhere says when the Second Coming will be. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Either I'm Right or God's A Liar?

I posted the following on Facebook a couple of weeks ago:

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel. ~Jesus

For whatever reason, a zealous Preterist took this as an opportunity to showcase his eschatological prowess. (I too am preteristic, but not rabidly so.)

Our short conversation is below. My friend’s words are bold and italicized.

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“Is the time "At Hand" now? Or was the "Time At Hand" when those words were written?”

I would think "at hand" meant then, what it means now.

“If they apply to both equally, then God is a deceiver. The same event cannot be "AT HAND" in the first century and still be "AT HAND" 2000 + years later. It stretches incredulity and makes a mockery of the language.
Either God said what he meant and it applied to the people that it was originally written to or he is playing us and lying to us.”

In no sense is God a deceiver. (I have no idea why Bible believing Christians say such things to each other over matters of interpretation. It's sad. It really is.)

I think your confusion may come from what is meant by "the kingdom of God," not what is meant by "at hand." ("At hand" seems clear enough. I think most folks understand the expression similarly.)

Jesus ushers in the kingdom of which He speaks. In fact, in a very real sense, Jesus is the kingdom. He is the kingdom incarnate. We enter the kingdom when we enter Him.

The church (the body of Christ) also represents the kingdom of God (where God rules and reigns in the hearts of His people). As the Gospel spreads and people convert, the kingdom spreads and fills the earth (think of Jesus' parable of the leaven). God through His church is furthering the kingdom all over the world.

The kingdom is here, now. Because the kingdom of Jesus is here/now we may—without a shred of deception—proclaim the same message of Jesus Christ: "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."

I see no reason in the world to change Jesus’ original message or meaning.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Loving Homosexuals

Are you sick to death of gay rights stories parading the news every single week? Just when I think I’ve made it through a program without drag queen nuns with beadazzled bullhorns—there’s another menacing florist story. Or the Indiana legislature goes all Taliban. Or Presbyterians vote for more downsizing. On and on and on…

And here I am blogging about it.

Now, before I say too much, I want to be very clear: The crazy-angry gays on our TV screens are not our homosexual friends, neighbors or relatives. There’s a big difference between these agitators and the homosexual next door (unless of course, you have the misfortune of living next to a GLAADiator.)

So please understand: I’m not talking about the quiet, ordinary people with whom we interact every day. These folks are not threatening pizzerias or throwing condoms at Catholics. They’re not suing or harassing anyone. In fact, I’ve heard a few of them decry such things.

I’m talking about gay activists.

Gay activists don’t want our love. This is becoming increasingly apparent to me. I don’t even think they really want our acceptance. (Lawyers, lawsuits, and firings don’t exactly evoke love and acceptance.)

No, I think gay activists use force and intimidation so that we will fear them. They want to be feared. How empowering is it—to be feared? Gay activists want power and dominion more than freedom and equality. They don’t want folks liberated. They want them cowering.

Isn’t this what bullies do? Bullies know they are disliked because of their bullying. They know this. But here’s the thing: they prefer power to popularity—lunch money to lunch-mates.

A few days ago someone quipped that gay activists are winning nearly every battle and are some of the “sorest winners” imaginable. How far will the bullying go? I honestly don’t know. In my experience bullies will go as far as they are able. They push and push until someone cowers no more. The problem is gay bullies have allies with lots of money and influence. So…time will tell.

What to do?

I don’t have an answer for our legal or political woes. I suspect the genie is already out of the bottle. But there’s something we can do and nobody can stop us: Follow Jesus.

We aren’t going to “out hate” these folks. Hate isn’t our calling anyway. Ours is the way of love. They can’t stop our loving them. They can’t stop our praying for them. I know they don’t want our love any more than they want our Truth. But we’re not asking them. We don’t’ need their permission. We’re following Jesus.

Sometimes you gotta give people what they need rather than what they want.