The Resurrection and the Eschaton

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For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body (Rom 8:19-23).

Today is the day we gather and celebrate the resurrection of the Son of God. He who went willingly to Calvary for the sin of His elect, “for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame”, this one rose from the grave, because God “would not allow his Holy One to see decay [οὐ δώσεις τὸν ὅσιόν σου ἰδεῖν διαφθοράν] (Acts 13:35; cf. 2:27). There is no greater hope for the follower of Christ than in the resurrection of his Lord.

While we often think of the resurrection as bringing a future hope—the hope of heaven, eternity with Christ, etc.—we must not forgot what the resurrection brought to our world. What do I mean by this? Well, we live in tension, the tension between the already and the not yet. On the one hand the kingdom of heaven is here now. Eternity—resurrection life—is ours presently as followers of Christ. When Christ came out of that tomb he brought with him enteral life and a foretaste of what this will look like at the end of time. For example, Paul states: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come (2 Cor 5:17). This is not wishful thinking, this is reality! Because of the resurrection of Christ, the new life—resurrection life—has invaded our world of sin, death, and decay. What we long for, what we yearn for—”the redemption of our bodies” (Rom 8:23)—began at our regeneration. Paul makes this point when he proclaims:

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:4-7).

All of this to say, the resurrection is more than heaven. It is more than the sweet by-and-by. It is the story of God redeeming his creation and making all things new! So, as we think about the resurrection of Christ, remember that you have been raised with Christ now! The same God who raised Jesus from the grave has also raised us from the grave, and one day we will see the completion of this amazing truth in all its glory and splendor. One day, the not yet will become the now, and the already we long for will be here! So we cry out “μαράνα θά!”

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Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative (Sam Storms)

Kingdom Come- The Amillennial AlternativeRecently, the kind folks at Christian Focus Publications sent over a review copy of Sam Storms new book on amillennialism, Kingdom Come. While mainstream evangelical eschatology would likely be some form of premillennialism—be it dispensational, progressive dispensational, or possibly classical/historical premillennialism—Sam stands relatively alone among popular pastors/preachers with his belief in amillennialism. I remember watching a panel discussion hosted by John Piper, which included three men discussing various eschatological views. This was my first encounter with Sam, and I remember thinking that he did a good job explaining his views.

In any case, when I heard that Sam was publishing a book on amillennialism I was eager to get my hands on it. As one who holds to amillennialism, I was eager to see how this book would be received within the lager evangelical community. While it is far too early to gauge the influence of this book, I nevertheless wanted to offer some early observations on what I have read thus far.

The Audience

What I appreciate most about this work is that it is written for the laity. While terms like amillennialism and premillennialism may seem foreign or strange to some believers, Sam has done an excellent job at making these words and other relevant terms accessible for the reader. Eschatology is not an easy filed of theology to jump right into, and Sam has taken great care to make sure that the reader does not get lost.

The Critics

I would guess that most evangelicals in America are dispensational in their eschatology. Therefore, most of the readers who read this work would identify with the majority. Nevertheless, Sam is gracious towards dispensationalism, always trying to explain their viewpoints clearly and honestly. While I am sure that some would disagree with his critique of dispensationalism, Sam does come across as one who tries to fairly represent his opponents.

Some Observations

While there is much to commend, I still have a few areas I want to highlight. First, I noticed that some of the sources that he cites as support for his case are relatively old and somewhat dated. This is not necessarily a bad thing, I just was hoping for more engagement with modern works on the subject. Second, I did notice that on one occasion he makes an assertion but does not reference relevant data to support his claim:

My point is that “seventy years” is an approximate designation of length, such as we find in Jer 27.7 and Eze 4.6-8. In Mesopotamian culture, seventy years refers primarily to a certain period of desolation followed by the visitation of God.
Kingdom Come, 86 (emphasis mine).

I am not saying that Sam is incorrect in his claim regarding Mesopotamian culture—I would just like to see where his evidence for such a claim is based is all. Third, I found some parts to be a bit repetitious. For example, chapter four—Daniel’s Contribution to Biblical Eschatology—dragged on a bit too long and could have ended much earlier. Maybe because I am already convinced by most of his arguments that I felt this chapter repeated some of the main arguments, which in that case I may be too harsh with this criticism.

In the end, I commend Sam for writing a book that offers another perspetive (the right perspective!) on eschatology and the end times. When it comes to eschatology, I have found that instead of reading the works of those who hold another views, most people read a critique instead. Therefore, it is my hope that people who are interested in what amillennialism is will pick up Sam’s book and find out firsthand what amillennialism is from one who is himself an amillennialist.

The Beginning of the End: The Resurrection of Christ and the Eschaton

I wrote this post last Easter and repost it here again.

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For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body (Rom 8:19-23).

Today is the day we gather and celebrate the resurrection of the Son of God. He who went willingly to Calvary for the sin of His elect, “for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame”, this one rose from the grave, because God “would not allow his Holy One to see decay [οὐ δώσεις τὸν ὅσιόν σου ἰδεῖν διαφθοράν] (Acts 13:35; cf. 2:27). There is no greater hope for the follower of Christ than in the resurrection of his Lord.

While we often think of the resurrection as bringing a future hope—the hope of heaven, eternity with Christ, etc.—we must not forgot what the resurrection brought to our world. What do I mean by this? Well, we live in tension, the tension between the already and the not yet. On the one hand the kingdom of heaven is here now. Eternity resurrection life is ours presently as followers of Christ. When Christ came out of that tomb he brought with him enteral life and a foretaste of what this will look like at the end of time. For example, Paul states: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come (2 Cor 5:17). This is not wishful thinking, this is reality! Because of the resurrection of Christ, the new life—resurrection life—has invaded our world of sin, death, and decay. What we long for, what we yearn for—”the redemption of our bodies” (Rom 8:23)—began at our regeneration. Paul makes this point when he proclaims:

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:4-7).

All of this to say, the resurrection is more than heaven. It is more than the sweet by-and-by. It is the story of God redeeming his creation and making all things new! So, as we think about the resurrection of Christ, remember that you have been raised with Christ now! The same God who raised Jesus from the grave as also raised us from the grave, and one day we will see the completion of this amazing truth in all its glory and splendor. One day, the not yet become the now, and the already will long for will be here! So we cry out “μαράνα θά!”

Quote of the Day

On healings and exorcisms in our world today, T. Desmond Alexander writes:

…It is possible for Jesus’ followers also to experience in the present something of the eschatological age in terms of healings and exorcisms. However, this will always be less than what awaits us. God may heal, here and now, but not on every occasion. There may be occasions, here and now, when evil powers are defeated, but not always. This should not surprise us. The present evil age will eventually give way to the next. If we all received from God complete holiness and wholeness now, there would be no need for the new earth. As it is, however, we live on an earth presently controlled by the evil one. Only when Satan is finally defeated shall we know life as God intended it (From Eden to the New Jerusalem,155: emphasis added).

Presently we find ourselves living in the tension of the already-but-not-yet. We are now experiencing the kingdom of God as believers, but the kingdom awaits its full consummation. We await the return of the king of kings, who will bring with him the new heavens and new earth we long for. But as Alexander states, right now we only “have a glimpse of what the coming age will be like.”