The Rector’s Weekly Letter to the Congregation for Sunday, April 5, 2020
Events of the End of the Age 1
Christianity is a historical religion. By this, I don’t mean to say that Christianity has existed in history. That would not put it in any class different from all other religions of the world. What I mean is that Christianity is based upon events that happened in history whose results are still with us today. The roots of Christianity go back to creation. God created the whole universe including our planet and us human beings. Human beings then disobeyed God and were banished from his presence. But God planned to come in person to take on the punishment for the rebellion of human beings.
He started by choosing Abraham. From Abraham’s bloodline, a savior would come. That bloodline suffered much throughout history sometimes looking like they would be extinguished from the earth by their enemies, but God sustained them. Eventually, God came as a human being of the line of Abraham, in the person of Jesus Christ, and visited the earth. Jesus taught, speaking mind-opening, profound messages that mesmerized his hearers, presenting God’s Word accurately, exactly as it was supposed to be understood. He was rejected by the Jewish religious fraternity of the day because he did not fit their expectations of the savior they were waiting for. The religious leaders did not know what to do with Jesus, and they perceived him as a threat. He was indeed a truly good man, but his teaching contradicted their own and made them look like amateurs in things they thought themselves to be experts. So, they killed him. But he rose from the dead and ascended into heaven where he is now enthroned in a position of power and majesty.
After Jesus went away from the earth, his disciples began teaching about him, declaring boldly under a hostile environment that he rose from the dead, and that he was the long-expected Messiah. Severe and brutal persecution ensued, but the disciples were undeterred. The more they were persecuted, the more they taught, spreading the message far and wide. More and more people were convicted by the Holy Spirit and converted to the Jesus Way as disciples fled to different areas to save their lives. They taught about Jesus wherever they went. The apostles led the movement. Some of the apostles wrote letters to groups of believers that began forming in different areas, and some of those letters later formed part of the New Testament.
Jesus and his apostles taught about the events of the end of the age. These teachings are recorded in the Bible both Old and New Testament. Christians are not agreed about the timing of some events. For example, there’s no consensus as to the timing of the millennium vis-à-vis the return of Christ. The millennium is a period of a thousand years which is mentioned in Revelation 20:1-6 and is alluded to in other biblical texts. Some Christians say Christ will return before the millennium. These are called premillennialists. They teach that Christ will establish his kingdom on earth and rule it with his saints for a thousand years after which other events will occur.
On the other hand, other Christians believe that there will be a golden age of a thousand years during which the world will embrace Christ in large numbers. Satan will be bound, and therefore inactive, during this entire period. After that golden age, Christ will return. These are called postmillennialists. There’s yet a third position, the amillennialists. These believe that there will be no literal kingdom of Christ on earth, that Christ is already reigning in the hearts of his followers, in heaven, and over the True Church. They interpret the one thousand years as a symbol simply representing a long period of time and not a literal one thousand years.
The Bible also mentions a period of tribulation that will come upon the earth. This will be a time of unrestrained evil under the reign of the personality called the Anti-Christ, that is, the opposer of Christ. The tribulation is either mentioned specifically or alluded to in texts such as Matthew 24:1-31; Revelation 7:14; 20:6-9, and others. It is believed by some Christians that the tribulation will be the last stand of Lucifer against God before he is finally defeated and thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:7-10). It is believed that it will be a period of seven years represented as a week in Daniel 9:27. There are Christians who believe that the Church will not go through the tribulation, but that Christ will return and rapture (take or snatch away) his Church before the evil starts. Believers will meet him in the clouds including the dead who will resurrect at Christ’s appearance (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18). Those who believe like this are called pre-tribulationists. Then others teach that the Church will experience the tribulation for half of the seven years and then be raptured away. These are called mid-tribulationists. Yet others teach that the Church will go through the entire tribulation period and be raptured after it passes. These are called post-tribulationists. And others believe that the tribulation already occurred in A.D. 70.
These positions are held by men and women who are Bible-believing, Bible honoring, and God-fearing folks who diligently study God’s Word and seek to obey him in their lives. Yet they study the Bible and come to different conclusions on the said matters. But although the said disagreements on the timing of the millennium and tribulation in relation to the return of Christ exist, there are other important matters regarding the events of the end of the age upon which there’s general consensus among Bible-believing Christians. We will look at those next week.
Have a great week. Please continue to be safe by staying home as much as possible. And I have heard we might be advised to wear face masks, sick or not sick.