Eschatology – How Does It All Fit Together?
What is the most simple way to put a jig-saw puzzle together? For me, I like to take the straight edge pieces of the border first.
Doing it in this manner gives helps me to know one critical thing about all the remaining pieces of the puzzle. They fit within the border.
There are four additional studies in this series, “Eschatology – How and Where Do We Put the End Times Puzzle
In other words, not one single piece, no matter how complicated it looks can properly be placed outside that framework. In like manner, God gave the border pieces for the eschatology puzzle. The failure to follow this simple process results in the chaos which exists about the subject.
Inconsistent Eschatology Creates Distrust
The effect of this confused mess causes others to doubt the truthfulness of Christianity, even charging Christ and the Apostles as ignorant and even liars. This inevitably leads to a weakening of faith in the integrity of the Bible on the part of the unlearned.
However, brilliant scholars are not immune. C.S. Lewis, Albert Schweitzer and Betrand Russell joined the ranks of those who attributed error to the eschatology teachings and writings of Christ and the apostles on the end time.
The problem, these men could not put their puzzle together. Therefore their eschatology was jumbled. It’s like the story of the busy father who kept getting interrupted by his son. So, to occupy the sons time, and hopefully provide uninterrupted focus on the his work, the father gave him a puzzle found in the newspaper.
In short order, the little boy put the puzzle together to the amazement of his dad. His dad, puzzled over the puzzle, asked the little boy how did he manage to get the puzzle put together so quickly.
The lad responded, there was a man’s face on the back of the puzzle. When I put the man together he said, the puzzle was easy. Like the father, these men, along with others who doubt the words of Christ, have their man ripped apart in pieces.
There is nothing wrong with the inspiration of scripture or the teachings of Christ and his apostles on the end time. We must keep them and their infallible words in tact, if we are to make sense of eschatology. Claiming they were mistaken or liars only exacerbates the problem.
If one’s view of the end calls into question the credibility of the inspired writers, it is the wrong view, period, no exceptions. To do otherwise, is to claim one has put a puzzle together with half the pieces outside the border and then claim the puzzle’s creator made a mistake! Ugh! Shame!
Eschatology – How and Where Do We Put the End Times Puzzle Pieces Together?
What follows is a series of articles on each of the puzzle pieces. They are listed as follows:
- The Old Testament Prophets
- Time statements
- The first century generation
- The Holy Spirit
These are the four scriptural borders of the eschatology puzzle. Get these right, and you cannot go wrong. Get them wrong, and you cannot go right.
They are not arbitrary or pulled out of a hat. They come directly from the words of inspired men, particularly from the first epistle of Peter. Speaking of the salvation and glory to which the disciples looked forward, (1 Peter 1:9), he wrote:
“Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when he testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.
To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven —things which angles desire to look into. (1 Peter 1:10–11).
From the text above, note that the prophets spoke of the salvation that would come. This is the goal of eschatology, and corresponds with Heb. 9:28, when Christ would appear a second time apart from sin unto salvation. See also 2 Peter 3:15, Rev. 19:1.
Further, because Jesus inseparably links the law and the prophets, to speak of one, includes the other, Matt. 5:17, 18; 11:13; Luke 16:16.
Secondly, the prophets spoke of the grace (salvation) which would come “to you.” That language refers to first century saints. Peter clarifies in verse eleven, to include himself in the group by saying “but to us.” A third modifier of the group are those who have preached the gospel to you.
In other words, Peter, speaking of the church in his day, (See verse one), were those to whom the gospel had already been preached. That could not possibly include people living in any generation following theirs, not to mention our own.
A fourth indicator which is one of the main parameters defining the time of eschatology is the Holy Spirit. Those who preached to them did so through the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven. This again identifies this group as the first century church.
Time Statements in Eschatology
Thirdly, the time factor. God indicated a time for the fulfillment of the eschatology of which the prophets spoke. Through out the New Testament, the end times were spoken of as near, at hand, shortly to come to pass, having come already, etc. See the texts below which challenge futurist eschatology:
Matt. 24:34, This generation
Romans 13:11–12, The day of salvation has drawn near
Rom. 16:20, God shall crush Satan under your feet shortly
1 Cor. 7:31, The world is passing away
1 Cor. 10:11, The ends of the ages have come
Phi. 4:5, The Lord is at hand
James 5:7, 8, The Lord is at hand, the Judge stands at before the door
1 Peter 4:7, The end of the all things has drawn near
1 Peter 4:17, the time had come for judgment to begin
1 John, It is the last hour
Rev. 1:1, Things which must shortly come to pass
Rev. 1:3, The time has drawn near. See also 22:6, 10.
Behold I am coming quickly, Rev. 22:12
These are the words which guided the imminent expectation taught by the apostles and expected by the church. They were not mistaken in their eschatology.
Completing the Eschatology Framework
Finally, the work and Mission of the Holy Spirit. The ministry of the Spirit lasted for the 40 years period from Pentecost (after Christ ascended to heaven, John 16:7–10) until his return, (1 Cor. 1:7,8) in AD 70.
Within that 40 year period, also called the pre-Parousia reign of Christ, the Spirit worked to prepare and accomplished the end time goal of eschatology. All events associated with the end must fall within the scope of the Spirit’s ministry and be consummated by that time.
Those are the four pieces of the eschatology puzzle within which all other parts must fit. The imminent time statements, the first century generation, the work and ministry of the Spirit and the time in which all prophecy is said to be fulfilled.
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