The World for God 2
Yesterday in the light of the latest scare story in the media one of my Home League members was heard to say the often heard phrase, "I don't know, what is the world coming to?"
As my husband preached on Remembrance Sunday, this is something that Christians do not really have to ask because we do know what the world is coming to. Jesus Christ will return to judge the earth and his kingdom will be established forever.
It is not this truth that is so hotly disputed among Christians so much as what will precede Christ's return and the sequence of events after that advent.
There are those who believe that evil will increasingly dominate our world until it gets so bad that Jesus will 'rapture' the church up to heaven. There is some disagreement as to whether a particularly bad 7 year period predicted in Revelation, known as the tribulation happens before or after the Christians are taken up to heaven. Either way Christ and the Church will return to earth to establish a thousand years of kingdom rule, which will be followed by the last judgement. This "pre-millennial" view tends to be the dominant view in much of the modern church and is encouraged by the Left Behind novels.
It is not hard to be persuaded that this sequence of events is plausible. The prevelance of evil and the secularisation of the west seem to echo the events outlined in passages such as Matthew 24 and Mark 13. The object of the Gospel in this view is to take a people out of the nations for Christ's sake but what awaits the vast majority of the world is doom and castrophe.
If we are to accept this idea we must also accept that the Church will largely fail in it's great commission. This view would have us believe that Christ commands us to work to spread the gospel with only the hope that a handful of people will believe and they have no power to stem the tide of evil. This view calls us to accept that the kingdom of God cannot ultimately be brought into dominance through the peaceful means adopted by Christ whilst on earth, i.e persuasion through grace. Rather it will only happen because Christ's appearing will force everyone to admit his Lordship.
On the other hand post-millennialists believe that the world will be Christianized through the work of the Holy Spirit through the Church. When Christ gave the church the great commission it was with the expectation that it could succeed because adequate equipment was promised and given. The return of Christ to judge the earth will occur at the close of a long period of righteousness and peace called the millennium. This view does not claim that all men will be saved. Mankind will continue to exercise free will but it supports the idea that the building methods Christ inaugurated when he was on earth actually work.
I'm not sure where I saw this quote but this sums up evangelical postmillennialism. "It believes that with the power of the Holy Spirit working through the church's preaching of the gospel, in gradual stages of growth, the preponderance of men and nations will submit to Christ at some time in the future."
There are plenty of books and websites which can give the biblical back up to this second view.
I am inspired by it, it instills great hope in me and issues a challenge.
In his book the Puritan Hope, Iain Murray quotes JH Thornwell,
"If the Church could be aroused to a deeper sense of the glory that awaits her, she would enter with a warmer spirit into the struggles that are before her. Hope would inspire ardour. She would even now arise from the dust and like the eagle , plume her pinions for loftier flightes that she has yet taken. What she wants, what every individual Christian wants, is faith, faith in her sublime vocation, in her divine resources, in the presence and efficacy of the Spirit that dwells in her fiath int he truth, faith in the Lord Jesus and faith in God. With such faith there would be no need to speculate about the future. That would speedily reveal itself. It is our unfaithfulness, our negligence and unbelief, our low and carnal aims that retard the chariot of the Redeemer. The Bridegroom cannot come until the Bride has made herself ready. Let the Church be in earnest after greater holiness in her own members and in faith and love undertake to conquest of the world and she will soon settle the question whether her resources are competent to change the face of the earth."
PS Tomorrow the Salvation Army and a post millennial outlook