There are almost as many books on prophecy as there are plastic angels and rainbows in a typical Christian bookstore. Many of these books are mere sensationalism, claiming to predict the name of the Antichrist, his nationality and even what kind of car he will drive (it's a Ferrari).
This seems like unnecessary flippancy in regard to such a relevant subject. While it's tempting to dismiss eschatology as an unanswerable question or too far in the future to affect us, the truth is that our view of end times informs and impacts our life and ministry as Christians. And it's not simply a study of the future: our eschatology determines our understanding of history and of our present age. Is our purpose to simply convert as many people as possible, or to diligently work to transform culture? What are the goals of the Church, and how should she go about reaching them? Do Christians please God only when they spread the Gospel directly, or also when making strides in education, science, politics, art and industry? Our view of the end times informs personal behavior regarding these questions.
All Christians believe God will ultimately triumph and establish the kingdom of heaven. The controversy usually surrounds the question of when and where that will take place. To help you understand our perspective, here is a brief overview:
- The Kingdom: In Daniel 2:35, King Nebuchadnezzar sees a vision of a stone that smashes earthly governments and establishes itself as a mountain. We believe that stone is Christ, and that while He was on earth He established His kingdom to grow through the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church. This expansion will continue until His dominion is complete. Christ Himself spoke of His kingdom filling the earth in the parable of the mustard seed (Matt. 13).
- The Millennium: Although Revelation 20 references a thousand year period, we understand that to mean a really, really long time. Just as "God owns the cattle on a thousand hills" means everything on earth belongs to Him, the thousand years (supposed by some to be a literal millennium-long era) refers to an indeterminate, extended period of time. Just as we use a million for dramatic effect, so God uses the word thousand in Scripture.
- Partial-preterism: We hold the partial-preterist (past) perspective that most Biblical prophecy has already been fulfilled (e.g., Matt. 24:34, "this generation will not pass away until all these things take place"; Rev. 1:1, "things that must soon take place"), though we readily grant there are prophetic events to come—notably, the Second Coming of Christ, which we understand to be real and future. This means the so-called Great Tribulation transpired during the first century, culminating in the destruction of the Jewish Temple in A.D. 70. Thus, there will be no pre-tribulation Rapture; Christians shouldn't be eagerly awaiting escape from this fallen world.
- Christ's triumph on earth: In Hebrews 10:13, the author quotes Psalm 110 to support the claim that Christ's dominion is continually increasing on the earth, and that He will not return until His enemies are made His footstool. The New Testament consistently reiterates this theme ( Luke 20:43; Acts 2:351; 1 Cor. 15:25). At the culmination of history, all creation will worship Him in a very real sense (Isaiah 45:23). We believe, then, that Christians should be actively engaged in building Christ's kingdom.
It is impossible to accomplish anything worthwhile unless there is a goal in mind. Even if the final achievement looks different from the idea, there must be purpose before setting out. God has given us that goal in the form of an eschatological framework. How we interpret that framework influences and guides our response.
We hope the following books assist you in discovering a truly biblical understanding of the future, to the end that we may all "glorify God and enjoy Him forever," not in some hypothetical future, but right now.
"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah." (Psalms 46:10, 11)
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