Church columnist: Last things first — looking at the end
When we use the term “last things,” we’re talking about the biblical subjects that have to do with the Second Coming of Christ, The End of the World and The Final Judgment. The theological term for last things is eschatology.
It seems like the majority of popular “televangelists” put a great focus on eschatology. They, essentially, put last things first.
The Bible does teach us a great deal about what is coming at the end of time. However, that teaching is to motivate us to be the kind of people we’re supposed to be now. It is not so that we can limit our Bible study to that one subject.
And, what is even worse is that most of what people are taught and believe about last things isn’t even what the Bible teaches. For example, did you know that the word “rapture” isn’t even in the Bible at all? Yet, the majority of people believe that they need to be “ready for the rapture.”
The idea of the rapture is part of larger body of false doctrine called Premillennialism. Premillennialism includes such popular, but biblically erroneous, teachings as The Rapture, The Great Tribulation, The Antichrist, The Restored Temple, The Millennial Kingdom, etc.
To summarize Premillennialism, it basically teaches that Christ “wasn’t able” to accomplish the purpose for His coming because the Jews rejected Him. He came up with the plan for the church as “a plan-B” until He could come again to establish the Kingdom He came to establish the first time.
Just before He comes, He will “rapture” up all His saints and bring great tribulation upon the earth for a time. After the great tribulation, He will come to destroy the Antichrist and establish His Millennial Kingdom and reign on earth for 1,000 years. At the end of the millennial reign He will then take His saints to heaven.
That is basically what Premillennialism teaches and none of it is true. Despite all the best selling books and sci-fi movies, with all of Premillennialism’s sensationalism, it simply is not what the Bible teaches about last things.
When it comes to the Second Coming of Christ, the Bible teaches that Christ is coming again to deliver up the kingdom to the Father (1 Cor. 15:24). Notice how many comings of Christ Premillennialism has – He comes back for the Rapture (second), then He comes back at the end of great tribulation (third), and then He comes again to deliver up the kingdom to the Father (fourth). Some branches of Premillennialism have even more than that!
What about Jesus coming to establish the kingdom that He wasn’t able to establish the first time? I almost can’t even write that!
Jesus is my “great God and Savior” (Titus 2:13). How could I imagine that He wouldn’t be able to accomplish His will? That is unthinkable because I know who He is and what He did to bring salvation.
The Bible doesn’t say anywhere that Jesus is coming again to establish His kingdom. Throughout the Bible we are told His first coming was to establish His kingdom.
John the Baptist, Jesus, His disciples, and the apostles all preached that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand, i.e. coming soon (Matt. 3:2; 4:17; 10:7; Mark 1:15). At the same time He was preaching that the kingdom would be established soon, Jesus was also preaching about the establishment of His church (Matt. 16:18, 19).
After the church was established, in Acts 2, the disciples no longer refer to the kingdom as being “at hand” but being present and where they were.
Paul said the Colossians had been conveyed into the kingdom (Col. 1:13). How could they have been conveyed into the kingdom of Christ if the kingdom had not been established?
Where Paul says disciples are conveyed into the kingdom, Luke wrote that the Lord adds disciples to the church (Acts 2:47). The church is not a “plan-B”! It is the kingdom of God according to His eternal purpose (Eph. 3:10, 11).
The apostle John told the churches he wrote to that he was their companion in the kingdom (Rev. 1:9). How could John have been their companion in something that hadn’t come yet? Not only did he say that he was their companion in the kingdom, which Premillennialism says hasn’t come yet, but also their companion in the tribulation, which Premillennialism also says hasn’t come yet.
So, very clearly, Premillennialism gets it wrong on the nature of the kingdom of Christ and the church – which are the same thing. The church is the kingdom, the kingdom is the church.
In future articles we’ll see that it also gets it wrong on tribulation, The Rapture, and many other things concerning eschatology – last things.