The Doctrine of the future
*Just a reminder that this study of Wayne Grudem's book, Systematic Theology, is not by any means me teaching, but rather a simple summary chapter by chapter of his book for my own enrichment.*
Grudem brings up eschatology, or future major events, such as the second coming of Christ, the millennium, the final judgement, eternal punishment for unbelievers and reward for believers, and live with God in the new heaven and new earth.
This chapter focuses on Christ’s second coming. This has and is controversial in the church, especially the question of “can Christ return at any time.”
Many verses speak of how Christ will bodily and suddenly appear coming in the clouds. John’s response in the end of Revelation should characterize our own attitude and hearts as he says, “Amen, come Lord Jesus!”
We should live upright and Godly lives, awaiting our king to return. But, as Grudem says, “the more Christians are caught up enjoying the good things of this life, and the more they neglect genuine Christian fellowship and their personal relationship with Christ, the less they will long for his return.”
If Christ could come at any time, should we stop planning for the long term? Because we don’t know the time or hour when Christ will return, we should faithfully be obeying him in the present.
Grudem says it well as he says, “There will no doubt be missionaries just departing for their mission field and men in their last days of seminary education. They may feel that they had little influence on the world. But to all of those people who are Christians, Jesus will say, “well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.”
Nobody can know the time Christ will return, and anyone who claims to have some kind of revelation should be rejected as incorrect. (For example, the Jehovah’s witnesses have made several such claims.)
Evangelicals all agree that the final result of Christ’s return will be judgement of unbelievers and a final reward of believers, and that believers will live with Christ in a new heaven and a new earth for all eternity.
There is various disagreement about the timeline of Christ’s return and the nature/time of the millennium. (This is a secondary issue).
There are several Biblical signs that should precede Christ’s return, as listed here:
1. Preaching of the gospel to all nations.
a. This has probably not been fully achieved, due to many language groups and tribes who have never heard.
2. The great tribulation.
a. Much persecution of Christians has and is happening.
3. False prophets working signs and wonders.
a. Many work with demonic power in opposition to the gospel.
4. Signs in the heavens.
a. Eclipses and comets have occurred, but not much more than that…
5. Coming of the man of sin and the rebellion. (the beast/antichrist of Revelation)
a. Ancient roman emporers, Hitler, Popes, have all been accused to be the antichrist, but they have been false, and it is likely that a worse yet man of lawlnessness has not yet appeared.
6. The salvation of Israel.
a. It is unlikely that this great ingathering of Jews to Christ has yet occurred.
We know not in which sense these have been fulfilled or have not yet been fulfilled, and should always be ready for Christ’s return.
We should always be ready, as we do not know when these things might occur. With each wave of horrible events (World war one, two, persecution of the church), we do not know if that is the final time or if another worse wave will come. God wants us to long for Christ’s return and expect that it could happen at any moment. We should remember Jesus’ words, “when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”