Consider a local church’s upcoming sermon series (below) to determine if eschatology really matters. (*If come across this blog post a few years from now, just for context I’m writing this in March of 2010) In preparation for the series, they placed brochures (like the one below) on the doorknobs of 40,000 homes. According to the pastor, “THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME” (the title of the sermon series) is apparently pretty bleak. And this is all good and well if the Bible actually teaches that “The worst is yet to come” (one of the sermon titles). However, this is not much of a blessing if the pastor is as wrong as his eschatologically-likeminded predecessors have been?
If you aren’t depressed yet, just check out these. Lots to look forward to, eh?
- “Antichrist: the Future World Ruler”
- “Apostacy: Corruption of the Church”
- “Tribulation: The Worst is Yet to Come.”
The overwhelming majority of Christians believe that horrific times are fast approaching and some of the warning signs are already evident. The Antichrist, they say, is living among us and is about to be revealed. And the world is on the verge of an unrecoverable downward spiral. These dire predictions have been in play since Hal Lindsey’s “Late Great Planet Earth” (1971), and they continue to reverberate through literally hundreds if not thousands of prophetic books, movies and sermons series like the list below.
However, the question I began asking since I’ve been hearing this drumbeat since I became a Christians in 1972 is, “Is it possible that these prognostications are based on an incorrect interpretive method? Could this dispensational premillennial eschatology that emerged in the mid-1800s and which is responsible for these predictions, be grossly errant?
What if these sermons are based on a completely inaccurate and distorted interpretation of Bible prophecy? Yes, I realize that some consider it blasphemy to even pose this question, but after all, this eschatological system has been a complete failure to predict “What God says about our future” (the subtitle of the brochure below).
I truly don’t think most realize the effects these prognostications have had on the church over the past 40-50 years. How have these expectations affected you personally? Some appear oblivious to the onslaught but the majority are affected in ways that they probably don’t even realize. In the 70s I was told that saving for the future was a waste of valuable resources; In the 80s they warned that bringing children into a world on the verge of tribulation would not be prudent, and leading up to Y2K it was a common view that life would never be the same so be prepared for the worst.
I can say rather confidently that the system of interpretation that produced these sermons is not biblically sound and that these predictions are errant. Who am I to make such a brash statement? Believe it or not, developing a sound eschatological framework is not rocket science. Sure, it will take some effort, but you would be surprised that if you use sound interpretational principles, accurate conclusions can be within your grasp. I know this sounds like an infomercial but what you may not realize is that the “experts” are ignoring some very simple hermeneutical (science of interpretation) principles.
The reason I believe more and more Christians need to get their eschatological feet wet and begin to study these things on their own is because we are losing our culture due to the tidal wave of doom and gloom expectations that have been ravaging the church. The “Good News” of the gospel appears to have been so severely truncated and distorted, that its victorious nature has been ripped from its moorings.
Even though 2,000 years ago the apostles lived in the most perilous times, even they, while they endured persecution so horrific that one grieves to contemplate, spoke of the overcoming nature of their faith. While facing danger to life and limb the Apostle John penned, “Greater is He that is within me than he that is in the world.” Shortly thereafter, from AD 64 to 66, the Neronic persecution claimed the lives of the majority of the church. They faced unrelenting apostacy, a climate rife with false Christs and antichrists (1 John 2:18) and they lived through the tribulation (Rev 1:9) that brought the most perilous events.
Isn’t it strangely ironic that all of the events today’s prophecy pundits predict for our near future, happened to those who lived through the decade of the AD 60s? Matter of fact, in 1805 Peter Holford wrote an apologetic for the Christian faith, “The Destruction of Jerusalem: An Absolute & Irresistible Proof of the Divine Origin of Christianity”. He detailed the fulfillment of every event predicted by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21). If you take some time to read this short book I believe you will be shocked. Why is this information not taught in our churches? Why is the fulfillment of these prophetic events not used as an irresistible proof of the divine origin of Christianity as it was in George Holford’s day?
I sincerely hope and pray that people begin to wake up to the historical realities. Though I believe the pastor who is preaching this sermon series below is a godly man with the absolute best of intentions, it makes me weep for our future. In my view, we have been severely hamstrung by negative expectations. How has the church gone this far off course?
In these simple but profound Bible messages, Pastor Rummage identifies crucial truths every believer needs to understand about the end of time, and the difference those truths can make in our lives today. Join us for this exciting and encouraging prophecy series.
March 20, 2010 – Apostasy: The Corruption of the Church (1 Timothy 4:1-3; 2 Timothy 3:1-5)
March 27, 2010 – Rapture: The Next Date on God’s Blackberry (1 Corinthians 15:20-24; 35-50; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
April 3, 2010 – Antichrist: The Future World Ruler (Daniel 7)
April 10, 2010 – Tribulation: The Worst is Yet to Come (Matthew 24)
April 17, 2010 – Atonement: The Center of Time and Eternity (Romans 3:21-26) – PALM SUNDAY
April 24, 2010 – Resurrection: The Hope for Your Future (1 Corinthians 15:1-11) – EASTER
May 1, 2010 – Armageddon: The Last Battle (Revelation 16:16; 19:11-16)
May 8, 2010 – Millennium: The Reign of Christ on Earth (Revelation 20) – MOTHER’S DAY
May 15, 2010 – Judgment: The Final Verdict (1 Corinthians 3:12-15; Revelation 20:11-15)
May 22, 2010 – Eternity: The Beginning of Forever (Revelation 22:1-6)