Sunday, November 22, 2009

Prophetic Distractions (6) - Jesus is Coming Soon

Most Christians believe that Jesus is coming soon.

The strange thing is that Christians in every age have believed that they were living near the end of the world. For example, Martin Luther thought that he was living near the end of the world. He assumed that Jesus would return during his life time. He was not alone in this view. It has been common since the days of the early church.

Looking at the whole of history, most people who have believed that Jesus was coming soon were wrong. That suggests that we should be careful assuming that Jesus is returning soon. It is easy to be wrong about this.

A belief that Jesus will return during the lifetime of my generation is quite arrogant. It assumes that I belong to a pivotal generation in the purposes of God. I doubt that this is true for me. Looking at the western church, I cannot see how it can be the peak of God’s work on earth.

Humans can only see their own time in history clearly. Even previous the generation seem quite dim. Earlier generations fade into irrelevance. Our limited perspective means that we get deceived about our own importance. In contrast, God sees all generation from the same perspective. I suspect that from his perspective, we are just not that important.

I believe that Jesus’ return is thousands of years away. I will be ready, if I am proved wrong, but I do not believe that Jesus is coming soon. When I study the scriptures, I see thousands of prophecies that are yet to be fulfilled. I cannot see how they can be fulfilled in one generation. One prophecy is that the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of Jesus. If such a glorious season were to last only a few years, it would not really be glorious. I can imagine this glorious time lasting for thousands of years.

Does it matter? Yes it does. When Christians believe Jesus is coming soon, they fall into short-term thinking. Many in my generation gave up their university studies, because they believed that Jesus would return before they graduated. Short-term thinking prevents people from investing in activities that will only bring benefits in future generations. This lack of long term commitment has crippled the church and held back the Kingdom of God.

Cultures that lose hope for the future collapse inwards and die. That is what seems to be happening to the Western church, as belief in the imminent return of Jesus has become pervasive.

Of course, there is a sense in which all those who died believing that Jesus would come soon were correct. Jesus came for them on the day that they died. Given that death was never far away throughout their lives, it was true that Jesus was coming for them soon.


Anonymous said...

I believe you do err, not knowing/understanding the entirety of scriptures on this subject.

Ron McK said...

John MacArthur claims that the New Testament teaches the immanent return of Jesus. The fact that 2000 years has passed proves that this is wrong.

There are only two possibilities. Either the New Testament is wrong, or MacArthur’s interpretation of it is wrong. I am not prepared to say that the New Testament is wrong, so that means that MacArthur’s interpretation must be wrong. He has erred.

Anonymous said...

A day with the Lord is as a thousand years and vice versa. I'm afraid the imminent return is no less soon or later in God's point of view. "Where is the promise of His coming?" It is right there for all to read and understand. Therefore the New Testament's declaration of Christ's imminent return and MacArthur's belief in it are in harmony. It is those who like the virgins who did not keep their lamps full of oil that will be surprised at the Lord's coming who are in error.

Ron McK said...

What you say about God is true, but it means that the second coming is not imminent.