The eschatological issue centers on one fundamental point: Will the gospel succeed in its mission, or not? Regardless of their numerous individual differences, the various defeatist schools of thought are solidly lined up together on one major point: The gospel of Jesus Christ will fail. Christianity will not be successful in its worldwide task. Christ's Great Commission to disciple the nations will not be carried out. Satan and the forces of Antichrist will prevail in history, overcoming the Church and virtually wiping it out — until Christ returns at the last moment, like the cavalry in B-grade westerns, to rescue the ragged little band of survivors.
Does it make a difference? Does your view of prophecy really affect your life? I think we have already seen much of the answer to that question. The basic issue has to do with your attitude toward the future. I recall a "Jesus People" newspaper of the early
1970s which carried an interview with the most popular "prophecy expert" of those days. On the basis of the "fact" that Jesus was going to rapture His Church "at any moment," this man actually counseled his young followers not to marry and raise families. After all, there was no time for that sort of thing. The Rapture was coming, so any work for dominion would be useless. (If you were the devil, could you devise a better, more "spiritual-sounding" excuse for Christians to abandon God's plan for victory?) The "Rapture Ethic" of those years led many to leave school, jobs, families, and responsibility in general; flocks of Jesus People wandered aimlessly around the country, with no clear goal beyond the next Christian rock concert. It was years before many of them woke up, and it sometimes took years more to put their lives together again.
The fact is that you will not work for the transformation of society if you don't believe society can be transformed. You will not try to build a Christian civilization if you do not believe that a Christian civilization is possible. It was the utter confidence in the victory of the Christian faith that gave courage to the early missionaries, who fearlessly strode into the farthest reaches of pagan Europe as if they were at the head of an army, preaching the gospel, driving out demons, smashing idols, converting whole kingdoms, bringing vast multitudes to their knees at the feet of Christ. They knew they would win. They could give up their lives in the struggle, certain that history was on their side, that Satan's domains were being shattered daily, his illegitimate hold weakening and slipping with every advance of the Christian forces. They were not in the least bit pessimistic about the power of the gospel. God honored their faith in His promises, and enabled them to lay the groundwork for a Christendom which will someday embrace the entire world.
When God's people disobey and slip back into unbelief, the Church begins losing battles to Satan. Does this suggest that the Hope is mistaken? Not at all; for the Bible teaches that the Spiritual growth of society is no more "automatic" than the Spiritual growth of the individual Christian. "This is the victory that has overcome the world: our faith " (1 John 5:4). The Christian does not accept growth as "automatic" in any sphere of life. All growth and development are the sovereign gifts of God's Spirit. Yet the Christian does not say that he can "let go and let
God," stop eating and exercising, and expect to grow. We do not assume that we can stop trusting God, stop praying and obeying, and still grow in grace. Nor should we say that some act of disobedience represents a "trend" in our personal eschatology, showing that we are necessarily "destined" to fail in the Christian life. And the same is true for cultural sanctification. We do not believe in some kind of "natural" progress in civilization. Our civilization will rise or fall in terms of God's blessing; and God's blessing is His personal and covenantal (not "automatic") response to our covenantal obedience (Deut. 28).
You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven (Matt. 5:13-16).
This is nothing less than a mandate for the complete social transformation of the entire world. And what Jesus condemns is ineffectiveness, failing to change the society around us. We are commanded to live in such a way that someday all men will glorify God - that they will become converted to the Christian faith. The point is that if the Church is obedient, the people and nations of the world will be discipled to Christianity. We all know that everyone should be a Christian, that the laws and institutions of all nations should follow the Bible's blueprints. But the Bible tells us more than that. The Bible tells us that these commands are the shape of the future. We must change the world; and what is more, we shall change the world.
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Preparing for Armageddon, Natural Disasters, Nuclear Strikes, the Zombie Apocalypse, and Every Other Threat to Human Life on Earth. Most of us have thought about how we would handle various types of scenarios that could signal the end of the world. There are plenty of movies on the subject, psychological papers, and even survivalists that are part of reality TV shows. Perhaps you have had dreams about being one of the few left and what you would do in order to survive.