The Gifts of This Age Point Us to the Age Still to Come

Jared C. Wilson: And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. — Luke 20:34-36 Jesus knows that the Sadducees he’s speaking to do not believe in a resurrection, and in a way, their very misunderstanding of what Jesus believes about marriage betrays their disbelief. The Sadducees, like so many others then and today who don’t believe in Jesus, think this is all there is. Nothing comes after death. You die and that’s it. They do not think on the scale of eternity. That God is endless and therefore life is endless. That when God created the world, not even the fall of mankind and the sin unleashed into the world

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The Church as the true Israel

Sam Storms in Kingdom Come: “If someone should object, as no doubt they will, that these Old Testament passages when read in their original context pertain to God’s prophesied purpose for Israel, the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, I happily concur. But again we cannot read, interpret, and apply such texts in isolation from the complete revelation in the New Testament concerning the identity of God’s covenant people. As we’ll see on several occasions, all believing Jews are included in these predictions. No one is replaced by a believing Gentile. But all those who are by faith in Christ, the true seed of Abraham, are now themselves ‘one new man’ and thus co-heirs with believing Jews of the promises made to the fathers. The Church is, therefore, the true Israel in and on behalf of whom all the Old Testament prophecies are fulfilled. Thus, when we read about prophesied regatherings of Israel into their land, we are to

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Living in the light of the end of all things

Sam Storms: It is widely reported (but may not be true) that the great 16th century Protestant reformer, Martin Luther, once said: “If I knew for sure that Jesus was coming back tomorrow, I’d plant a tree today.” Luther wasn’t trying to be cute, nor did he think that his words were contradictory. He was simply pointing out that no amount of speculation or confidence or doubt or belief about when Jesus might return should ever undermine the fulfillment of our basic ethical obligations or lead us to abandon the routine responsibilities set forth for us in Scripture. Sadly, many Christians through the centuries have taken an altogether different and unbiblical approach to this problem. Convinced that Christ was to return very, very soon, they abandoned their daily tasks and embraced a form of hyper spirituality that served only to bring reproach on the name of Christ and disaster to their own lives. How often have we heard and seen

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Not Simply a Promise, But a Happening

“Here was an amazing claim. John had announced an imminent visitation of God which would mean the fulfillment of the eschatological hope and the coming of the messianic age. Jesus proclaimed that this promise was actually being fulfilled. This is no apocalyptic Kingdom but a present salvation. Jesus did not promise his hearers a better future or assure that they would soon enter the Kingdom. Rather he boldly announced that the Kingdom (Herrschaft) of God had come to them. The presence of the Kingdom was ‘a happening, an event, the gracious action of God’ (Bornkamm). The promise was fulfilled in the action of Jesus: in his proclamation of good news to the poor, release to captives, restoring sight to the blind, freeing those who were oppressed. This was no new theology or new idea or new promise; it was a new event in history. ‘The wretched hear the good news, the prison doors are open, the oppressed breathe the air

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Kingdom Come by Sam Storms

Coming soon (excuse the pun!) from Christian Focus, my good friend Sam Storms’ latest book; perhaps the benchmark text on eschatology and amillennialism: Featured Review “…the most helpful book on the various millennial views I have seen since W. J. Grier’s The Momentous Event. His work is marked by careful exegesis of pertinent texts, and ranges widely and deeply in all of the relevant Scriptural passages dealing with the end of the age.” Douglas F. Kelly ~ Richard Jordan Professor of Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, North Carolina Description The second coming of Christ is a matter of sharp disagreement amongst Christians. Many hold to premillennialism: that Christ’s return will be followed by 1,000 years before the final judgement, a belief popularised in the popular Left Behind novels. However, premillennialism is not the only option for Christians. In this important new book, Sam Storms provides a biblical rationale for amillennialism; the belief that 1,000 years mentioned in the book of Revelation

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Why I Changed My Mind About the Millennium

From The Gospel Coalition: Editor’s Note: What doctrine or issue have you changed your mind about? TGC posed that question to several pastors, theologians, and other thinkers in order to gain a better understanding of what leads to shifts along the theological spectrum. Sam Storms launches this new series with an explanation of how he changed his views on the millennium. Although I grew up in a Southern Baptist church and was regularly exposed to Scripture, I can’t recall ever hearing anything about a “millennial” kingdom, much less the variety of theories regarding its meaning and relationship to the second coming of Christ. Like many of my generation, my initial exposure to biblical eschatology was in reading Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth during the summer of 1970. Not long thereafter I purchased a Scofield Reference Bible and began to devour its notes and underline them more passionately than I did the biblical text on which they commented. No one, as I recall,

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Inaugurated eschatology: What it is and why it matters

Tony Reinke posts a portion of an interview published in 2008 in the Southern Baptist Journal of Theology with professor Dr. C. Everett Berry. The excerpt, Tony suggests, has two particular strengths; first, it explains the basic contours of inaugurated eschatology quite well, and, second, it explains how this inaugurated eschatology should shape our thinking and daily Christian living: SBJT: How can the theological construct of inaugurated eschatology help us in forming a biblical understanding of Christian sanctification? C. Everett Berry: The term inauguration essentially refers to an act of ceremonial observance whereby a given party officially inducts another newly designated party into a special position of authority. Note also that this practice typically alludes to a significant transition wherein the subject being inaugurated represents a new phase of leadership or service. And it is here where insight has proven helpful to evangelicals as they attempt to conceptualize the theological flow of the biblical storyline and delineate the hermeneutical symmetry between Old Testament promise and

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Who Are the 144,000 in Revelation?

And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel. (Rev. 7:4) Kevin DeYoung: Many sincere Bible-believing Christians would understand the 144,000 like this: The church is raptured prior to the great tribulation. During the time when the church is gone, a remnant of 144,000 ethnic Jews is converted (12,000 from each tribe). These Jewish converts, in turn, evangelize the Gentiles who make up the great multitude in white robes in v. 9. That’s one understanding of Revelation 7.  A lot of godly people hold that understanding. Let me explain why I understand the 144,000 differently. The 144,000 are not an ethnic Jewish remnant, and certainly not an Anointed Class of saints who became Jehovah’s Witnesses before 1935. The 144,000 represent the entire community of the redeemed. Let me give you several reasons for making this claim. First, in chapter 13 we read that Satan seals all of his followers, so it

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The Second Coming and the End of All Things

  I agree with James Grant‘s concerns about holding to a premillennial eschatology regarding Christ’s return. “One reason,” he writes, “was that I thought the premillennial position diminished the significance of the Second Coming.” Sam Storms captures this sentiment in a precise way over at his Enjoying God Ministries Blog. He explains: One of the primary reasons I am not a Premillennialist (neither Historic nor Dispensational) is because of what I read in the NT concerning the Second Coming of Christ. To be a Premillennialist of any sort, you must believe that physical death and the curse on the natural creation will continue to exist beyond the time of Christ’s return. You must believe that the New Heavens and New Earth will not be introduced until 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ. You must believe that unbelieving men and women will still have the opportunity to come to saving faith in Christ for at least 1,000 years subsequent to

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I Want to Be “Left Behind”

Benjamin L. Merkle, “Who Will Be Left Behind? Rethinking the Meaning of Matthew 24:40-41 and Luke 17:34-35,” WTJ 72 (2010): 169-79. Here’s his thesis, in essence: “Although many assume that those taken in Matt 24:40-41and Luke 17:34-35 are taken to be with Jesus and those left behind are left for judgment, this inter­pretation should be rejected.” His conclusion summarizes his arguments: Throughout the context of these passages Jesus uses judgment language reminiscent of the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem and the subsequent exile of its inhabitants. Those who were taken away were the ones judged by God whereas those left behind were the remnant who received grace. Furthermore, the teaching of Jesus confirms this thesis. In the Parable of the Weeds the Son of Man sends his angels to gather out the children of the devil and throw them in the fiery furnace whereas the wheat is left behind (Matt 13:36-43). The context of Matt 24 and Luke 17 also suggests Jesus is intentionally

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Judgement Day Today? – The Pastoral Challenge and Opportunity When the Rapture Doesn’t Happen

Some wise words from Eric Landry: We must be very careful about how we respond. Will we join our friends at the “Rapture Parties” that are planned for pubs and living rooms around the nation? Will we laugh at those who have spent the last several months of their lives dedicated to a true but untimely belief? What will we say on Saturday night or Sunday morning? History teaches us that previous generations caught up in eschatological fervor often fell away from Christ when their deeply held beliefs about the end of the world didn’t pan out. While Camping must answer for his false teaching at the end of the age, Reformational Christians are facing a pastoral problem come Sunday morning: how can we apply the salve of the Gospel to the wounded sheep who will be wandering aimlessly, having discovered that what they thought was true (so true they were willing to upend their lives over it) was not? If

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Eschatological Essentials

Sam Storms, The Restoration of All Things (The Gospel Coalition Booklets; Wheaton: Crossway, 2011), pp. 7–8 (numbering added): The eschatological hope of the Christian is summarized well in the thirteenth and final article of The Gospel Coalition’s Confessional Statement. This statement does not address the variety of end-time scenarios present in the evangelical world but is designed to identify those essential elements of our eschatological hope that are embraced by all who affirm the authority of the inspired text. It is, therefore, a broadly evangelical statement that avoids the denominational and sectarian distinctives that have so often marred the discussion of God’s end-time purposes. It reads as follows: We believe in the personal, glorious, and bodily return of our Lord Jesus Christ with his holy angels, when he will exercise his role as final Judge, and his kingdom will be consummated. We believe in the bodily resurrection of both the just and the unjust—the unjust to judgment and eternal conscious punishment in hell,

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Justification – The Future Become Present

George Eldon Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament (Eerdmans, 1993), pages 483–484: Justification, which primarily means acquittal at the final judgment, has already taken place in the present. The eschatological judgment is no longer alone future; it has become a verdict in history. Justification, which belongs to the Age to Come and issues in the future salvation, has become a present reality inasmuch as the Age to Come has reached back into the present evil age to bring its soteric blessings to human beings. An essential element in the salvation of the future age is the divine acquittal and the pronouncement of righteousness; this acquittal, justification, which consists of the divine absolution of sin, has already been effected by the death of Christ and may be received by faith here and now. The future judgment has thus become essentially a present experience. God in Christ has acquitted the believer; therefore he or she is certain of deliverance from the wrath

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From Sam Storms’ – To the One Who Conquers: 50 Daily Meditations on the Seven Letters of Revelation 2-3 (Crossway) (used with permission) Chapter 50 – Enthroned! (Revelation 3:21-22) “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” No matter how many times I read this promise, I struggle to believe it. That’s not because I doubt its inspiration or accuracy. Jesus meant what he said and I embrace it. But to think of myself enthroned with Christ is simply more than I can fathom. Others of you may have a better grip on this than I do, but it strikes me as so utterly outlandish, not to mention presumptuous and prideful, that I blink at the words and have to pause simply to catch my breath.

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Perhaps the Most Staggering Promise in the Bible

John Piper: What does Jesus mean when he says to the church in Laodicea, “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne” (Revelation 3:21)? Sit with Jesus on his throne? Really? This is a promise to everyone who conquers, that is, who presses on in faith to the end (1 John 5:4), in spite of every threatening pain and luring pleasure. So, if you are a believer in Jesus, you will sit on the throne of the Son of God who sits on the throne of God the Father. I take “throne of God” to signify the right and authority to rule the universe. So Jesus promises us a share in the rule of all things. Is this what Paul has in mind in Ephesians 1:22–23? “And he put all things under Christ’s feet and gave him as head over all things

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Audio and Video for Eschatology Conversation

This is an excellent example of mature debate on a fascinating and difficult subject. I particularly appreciate the effort of the participants to affirm each other and keep the gospel as the central priority. My amillennial views remain intact! Excellent viewing. From Desiring God: You can now listen to or watch “An Evening of Eschatology,” a conversation about the end times with John Piper, Doug Wilson, Sam Storms, and Jim Hamilton. You can also read John Piper’s thoughts on this event for some introduction to the issues being discussed.

The Purpose of Creation, Redemption & Consummation

“The purpose of creation, redemption, and consummation are seen holistically as God’s purpose to glorify Christ by fulfilling the Adamic creation mandate, the universal Noahic promise, the patriarchal covenants, and the Israelite monarchy in Him, thus exalting Jesus as preeminent over the entire cosmos as the agent of creation, the true imago Dei, the Davidic subjugator of all rival powers, the firstborn of the eschatological resurrection from the dead, and the atonement through whom final cosmic peace is found at last (Col. 1:15-23).” – Russell D. Moore, The Kingdom of Christ (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2004), 108. (HT: First Importance)

The Kingdom

[T]he Kingdom of God is the redemptive reign of God dynamically active to establish his rule among men, and that this Kingdom, which will appear as an apocalyptic act at the end of the age, has already come into human history in the person and mission of Jesus to overcome evil, to deliver men from its power, and to bring them into the blessings of God’s reign. The Kingdom of God involves two great moments: fulfillment within history, and consummation at the end of history. ~ George Ladd, The Presence of the Future (HT: Rick Ianniello)

These Last Days

Kim Riddlebarger writes the following in A Case for Amillennialism. It is clear throughout the New Testament that the “last days” commenced with the coming of Christ and his triumphant resurrection(Acts 2.17; Heb 1.2). These last days are also the time of salvation (2 Cor 6.2), for with the coming christ, the new creation began. The old had gone, and the new had come (2 Cor 5.17). Paul said that certain blessings of “the age to come,” including reconciliation, were won for us by Jesus Christ through his death and resurrection (Rom 4.25; 1 Cor 15.20-28). Paul spoke of these blessings as the present possession of those in union with Christ, for they no longer belong to “the old,” that is, this present evil age. And yet it is equally true that these blessings are not fully realized until the consummation, when creation itself is finally released from bondage (Rom 8.18-25) and when the earthly at last puts on the

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