Thursday, September 25, 2014

Three Major Events Preceding the Lord’s Return

Regardless of whether one holds to the view of pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation or post-tribulation, the vast majority of Christians could agree to the core ingredients of biblical eschatology as expounded in Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians.  First and most importantly, to the vast majority of Christians, the second return of Jesus Christ is a sure fact. It is a sure fact because it is mentioned in the Bible (Matt 24:30, 25:31; John 14:3; Acts 1:11; 1 Cor 15:23; 1 Thess 4:16; 2 Thess 2:1; Rev 1:7). The Bible is trustworthy. Jesus mentioned it, Paul mentioned it, John mentioned it.

In 1 Thess 4:13-18, for example, it is comforting to know the that for a Christian, we do not need to grieve hopelessly:

But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1Th 4:13-18 NKJV)

Although not many details are known, 2 Thessalonians also mention three major events that would occur preceding the Jesus’ return:
  • There will be a sudden acceleration of apostasy from godliness (2 Thess 2:3)
  • There will be the removal of some restraining influence (2 Thess 2:6-7)
  • There will be unveiling of the incarnation of evil who will be animated by Satan and who will oppose and exalt himself above all that is called God (2 Thess 2:4,9). (Ref: Chapter 15 The Gentile Church And the Pauline Mission: Acts 11:19 to 15:35 in Tenney, Merrill C., and Walter M. Dunnett. New Testament Survey. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Pub., 1985, page 284)

As scary as it may seem, knowing that these events would come should prepare us and not caught us unprepared. Ultimately, despite the fact that we do not know all details for certain, we know for certain the essentials.  As Ravi Zacharias likes to quote the British philosopher G. K. Chesterton who argued that, for the Christian, joy is the central feature of life and sorrow is peripheral, because in the gospel the fundamental questions of life are answered and it is the peripheral ones that are relatively unanswered. For the atheist, sorrow is central and joy peripheral, because only the peripheral questions have answers and the central ones remain unanswered. Ultimately it is not so much of how much we know or even what we know, but in whom we know…and trust!

Tenney, Merrill C., and Walter M. Dunnett. New Testament Survey. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Pub., 1985

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