A year ago I began to address formally the subject of eschatology - for very good reasons, as I will explain. But most pastors I meet say they are "pan-millenialist." This is the good-natured position that they "believe it will all 'pan out' OK in the end." And so, most pastors do not teach much of anything about eschatology. The reason is, there are so many conflicting views, it is a complicated subject, and it can be so controversial. Pastors generally don't want to go there for two reasons: they don't have enough knowledge nor the exegetical skills nor the time to acquire them on such a complicated, deeply awkward subject, and then, they don't want to open up the controversies in their church. This I understand. But it gives us a problem.
Whilst the good pastor is, every Sunday, teaching over a whole range of things the church needs to be kept alive in - faith, holiness, prayer, obedience, service, love of one another, and so on - he/she is just assuming that the flock as a whole is on the same page of "pan-millenialism," i.e., just trusting God that the future is in His hands. But actually, all the while, we have a 'fifth-columnist' in our midst. The very people to whom the pastor is not teaching a sound, conservative, biblical eschatology, are getting their eschatology from 'popular' sources. Christian bookstores, Christian television, and the grassroots of the church, all of which abound with extreme and bizarre views, promoted by self-appointed so-called prophecy experts, and based on speculation about the future rather than a proper exegesis of the Holy Scripture - it is amazing what gets taught along with the quoting of some verse that is supposed to prove it - yet no exposition of the Scriptures has taken place, and the quoted verse is totally misrepresented. So, we end up with fantasy being promoted as Christian end-time scenarios, and along with that, much promotion of what the New Testament calls "Jewish myths."
The result is that, in the absence of a pastor first learning and then teaching to their churches a proper, conservative, hope-filled, victorious eschatology, the dispensational heresy of the modern church fills the void through the backdoor - which means, in the absence of hearing anything else, or anything better - in the absence of error being publicly refuted and ridiculed - a large percentage of people are left to assume that what they hear on the grapevine must be true.
Under the surface, fear sets in too. A lot of people will, in the background, be thinking, "the world will end soon, the antichrist is coming, the great tribulation is around the corner, things could be getting bad, should we be bringing kids into this world... " and on and on. Yet all of these beliefs are rubbish! As I and many others can show from a proper exegesis of Holy Scripture.
I have good news, though, for wherever I have been this last year and taught a better eschatology, people and pastors have been so happy. Freedom is a wonderful thing. Especially freedom from oppressive beliefs and innaccurate world views. I have had some weep from relief and joy, because it brings healing.
Over many previous years, in addition to all the pastoral teaching I have done, I had been focussed on the big questions of the apostolic reformation of the church, the nature of apostles, father/son relationships in the ministry, and the goal of seeing the church become a one heart, one mind people. This was where the Holy Spirit had led me and made me fruitful, and on these subjects I have published the books which have been so well accepted.
But along the way, in preaching the 'apostolic message' all over the world, progressively I came to see more clearly what the Scriptures have to say about the church and its future - and I found myself teaching an ever clearer, ever growing picture of where this is leading us. There is a big future, and it is wonderful. I teach that the Holy Spirit is leading the church to maturity, to a state of grace called fullness. I heard the Lord refer to this as a place of "seamless grace."
Which is why, if all of this is to be pursued with faith and obedience, we are brought quite properly to the question of what we believe and should teach about the subject of last things - i.e., eschatology.
Contrary to much that we have heard all our lives, and contrary to much of the popular Christian literature and television, I have come to see clearly that the world does not have a short time to run, and the world is not getting worse and worse. There is rather a big work yet to be done in the nations, and there is much Scripture yet to be fulfilled in the nations. And wonderfully, the Kingdom of God has been advancing in just the way the Bible describes, progressively and powerfully. The advances of the last 100 years are very great, and astoundingly, the advance of just the last 60 years, the period of my own life time, is incredible. The gospel is being hugely successful, more now than ever before, and something like 10,000 souls every hour, every day, are turning to Christ.
The world is not about to end, and nation after nation will be subjected more and more to the gospel, to the law of Christ, and to the blessings of the faith.
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