Saturday, September 26, 2009

Stand for the Rule of Faith, Part 8

Recently Frank Schaeffer, son of Francis Schaeffer, the great twentieth century Christian apologist, went on MSNBC and derided Evangelical Christians for their alleged obsession with the imminent return of Christ and fascination with biblical prophecy. It is true that some Evangelicals are what Chuck Swindoll has called "prophecy freaks", obsessed with understanding biblical prophecy and mapping its fulfillment to the exclusion of other areas of biblical theology. Still, Frank Schaeffer came across as one who has betrayed his father's legacy and his Evangelical heritage. A solid belief in the Second Coming of Christ is foundational to the Christian faith. Like the resurrection of Jesus, faith in his second coming and the future judgment is a key article of faith for which believers must stand. The Apostles' Creed reads, "from whence he shall come again to judge the living and the dead."

From where? From "the right hand of God the Father Almighty." Christians ever since the first century have believed that Jesus is coming again, and that when he comes certain things will happen. There is a great deal of debate among believers about the details of that event, but the event itself remains a key article of faith. It is not my purpose here to go through all the various end-time theories. These core teachings are clear: (1) Jesus will return bodily and visibly to the earth (Luke 21: 27; Acts 1: 11; 17: 31; 1 Thess 4: 14--17; 2 Pet 3: 10; Rev 22: 12); the dead will be raised and be judged (Dan 12: 1--2; Matt 25: 31--46; Acts 17: 31; 2 Cor 5: 10; Rev 20: 11--15); the wicked will be sent away into eternal torment and the redeemed will be received into eternal bliss (see above references); and there will be a new heaven and a new earth where sin is an absolute impossibility and peace, joy, and worship are the rule (Isa 65: 17--25; Rev 21--22).

In light of his coming, how should we then live (to paraphrase Francis Schaeffer)? What does it mean to stand for his coming and the future judgment of all people by Christ? First, stand for real hope--hope that will not disappoint because it is grounded in the unchanging purpose and promise of God (Heb 6: 13--20; Rev 19: 11--16). Secondly, stand for holiness in your own personal life (2 Pet 3: 11--13; 1 John 3: 1--3). Thirdly, knowing that you will one day give an accounting, boldly seek to persuade others to come to Jesus by your words and your example (2 Cor 5: 11).

"He who testifies to these things says, 'Surely I am coming soon.' Amen. Come Lord Jesus!" (Rev 22: 20)

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