Thursday, August 23, 2018

Find a Church that Teaches ALL of the Bible (Including the End Times)

Having spent many weeks considering one of the great end times passages of Scripture (Matthew 24-25)- let's talk a bit more about practical application: How should the prophesied future impact the here and now? What are some of the main take aways of this study? Why should we love this biblical genre?

We quickly discovered that the disciples' were confused about certain key details related to the Kingdom of God (note Mt 24:3). If Jesus is the Messianic King, why does it seem as if the long awaited Kingdom is not going to launch right away; (note the larger context in Matthew 23:37-39)?  Just like 2000 years ago, many believers today are also dazed and confused when it comes to biblical eschatology; (Unlike the disciples in Matthew 24 we have the complete Old AND New Testament Scriptures).  Everything we need to know about the future has been preserved in the Word of God.  That's a really amazing reality!  It's our job to know what the Bible has to say about future things.  More on that point in a moment.

Jesus' longest recorded answer to any question in Scripture begins in Mt. 24:4 and ends approximately 100 verses later.  This simple textual observation alone tells us something of the importance of this subject.  The Olivet Discourse is about one main thing: the prophesied future.  If the details were important to Jesus they should interest us.

In today's evangelical world we need to be reminded that ALL the details/chapters of Scripture matter...this certainly includes details related to prophecy and eschatology. Over 25% of the Bible (8352 verses) fits into this genre... and yet so many believers know so very little of how these verses/events all fit together. Pan-millennialism has become the accepted norm- "I don't know or really care about many of the biblical details related to the end times- it's too confusing...But that's ok, because it'll all PAN out in the end." "Let's move onto a subject that's more important or relevant." Matthew 24-25 should correct such errant thinking that plagues the American Church today. Note also 2 Tim. 2:15, 3:16-4:5, and 2 Peter 3:16.

This lengthy introduction ties in perfectly with the first of three exhortations from the Master-Teacher himself: In view of the prophesied future (per v. 4-31) Jesus’ disciples must be: 1) Well-versed students of Scripture- especially biblical prophecy (see Matthew 24:32-35). End times ignorance is not bliss! Yet many pastors skip over large sections of the Bible- perhaps they preach Revelation 1-5, many then skip over Revelation 6-20, and then conclude with a short series on "heaven" in Revelation 21-22. How can so many American evangelicals say they firmly believe in the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17- ALL Scripture is God-breathed and profitable) and yet be so disinterested in knowing/studying so many chapters in the Bible? Why do so many Christian churches only preach and teach 40% of the Bible? What does Jesus think of this? Study Matthew 24-25 and you'll see.

Another implication of this series is that Christians should join local churches that actually proclaim the "whole counsel of God." It's one of the ways a believer becomes "well versed" in the Scriptures.  Find a preacher who faithfully fleshes out the mantra, "Every verse inspired, every verse preached." God has no interested in wasting our time with verses, chapters, or biblical books that are unimportant. That includes Isaiah 40-66, Daniel 9f., 2 Thess., and Revelation 6-20.

Secondly, in view of the horrific Tribulation and the Glorious 2nd Coming Jesus' Disciples must be 2) Ready and prepared for the end (see Matthew 24:36-44). In Matthew 25, Jesus utilizes a series of parables/stories to illustrate how believers ought to always have one eye above-- "looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ" (note Titus 2:11-14). As a parent help your children think through what it would like for a 10 year old to live in light of eternity. Explain to them how future certainties impact today and tomorrow in one's own daily walk?

In this sermon series I found a poll wherein it showed how Muslims await the 2nd Coming of Christ with greater readiness than many professing Christians do; (even though the Muslim Jesus isn't even the historical/biblical Jesus). "Watching and waiting looking above" and "like a bride waiting for her groom, we'll be a church that's ready for you" are much easier lines to sing then they are to consistently apply. "Lord forgive me/us for not being a more faithful 2nd Coming saint/church." It is so easy to get preoccupied and consumed with the things of this world that are passing away.  We desperately Jesus' admonition in Matthew 24:36-33; 25:1-30.

So Jesus' disciples must be ready for end, while still remaining 3) Faithful stewards of the present (Matthew 24:45-51). Everything we have is a gift from above. Our intellect, our time, heartbeat and breath, wealth, our God-given talents, and our spiritual gifts, etc. When the Lord comes back or calls us home each one of us will give an account for how we managed these gifts (note Mt. 24:45-51 and Mt. 25:1-30). We all long to hear those blessed words, 'Well done good and faithful servant/steward....!" What Scripture reveals concerning the end of this present age and the beginning of the age to come is not just fascinating it is intended to be transformative (note Titus 2:11-14; 2 Cor. 4:16-18). The end of the story should impact today and tomorrow. It's one of the reasons why the Spirit that inspired Scripture includes so many verses/chapters on this subject.