Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Divine guard-rails and center-line for Bible prophecy
Acts 1:7-8 "He said to them, 'It is not for you to know the times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; (8) but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and even to the remotest part of the earth."
Matthew 25:13 “Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.”
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 “But we do not want you to be uninformed brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest of those who have no hope. (14) For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.”
The Divine guard-rails and center-line for Bible prophecy
When we approach the subject of future things, or last things or what Bible teachers call "eschatology” (the study of last things), we gain from scripture two sets of guard-rails and a centerline that keeps our Christian faith from going off into two ditches.
Guard-rail #1 "God's unrevealed will" in prophetic matters
Acts 1:7-8 gives us that first guard-rail, what we could call the “unrevealed” guardrail. In other words, there are elements about Bible prophecy, or eschatology or last things that are “unrevealed” by God to His people. For example Jesus tells His disciples in Matthew 24:36 that “no man knows the day nor the hour” of His appearing. Such things God has hidden from men so that they may ever be in a mode of dependence upon Him. Sadly many well-meaning people have tried to pry and transgress such a guardrail by setting dates and running calculations on the time of Christ’s return. The result of such folly has led to the ditch of heresy and error.
Guardrail #2 "God's revealed will" in prophetic matters
The second guard-rail of prophecy, last things or what is called “eschatology” has to do with those elements which God has revealed. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 is a prime example of things God would have his people to know. Knowing and understanding the Bible’s ordering of prophetic events is designed to stir up hope and faith. God reveals such things through His word. Ironically, vast portions of God’s church have gotten comfortable not knowing what the Bible teaches on “what’s next” so-to-speak. If the first guardrail of God’s unrevealed will prevents one from falling into the ditch of error, then the second guardrail of needing to know prevents the church from falling into complacency.
The Divine center-line in prophetic matters: "Be ready!"
Complacency and heresy are two ditches that can be avoided in matters pertaining to last-things (eschatology) providing we heed the boundaries of God’s unrevealed and revealed will. But now what about the center-line? Just as a center-line prevents head-on collisions and keeps everyone in order on a literal road, God’s center-line of “alertness” keeps God’s people on the road of faith. Sometimes Bible teachers will use the phrase “already-not yet” when discussing eschatology or the study of last things. On the one hand we are “already” experiencing some of the things promised pertaining to God’s New Covenant. We are “already” by the Holy Spirit fore-tasting the Kingdom to come. We are “already” in Christ seated in the heavenly realms, positionally by the Gospel exercising authority in spiritual matters. However we have “not-yet” seen our Lord return, for He has yet to return. We have “not-yet” seen the New Covenant fully manifest, and won’t until the Lord returns and fulfills it completely and entirely in the saving of the nation of Israel .
Thus we need to be “on the alert”. Matthew 24:42 and Matthew 25:13 has Jesus issuing this instruction: “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.” The center-line that God has prescribed in Bible prophecy is that of “being ready” or “alert”. Why? One word – faithfulness. The Father by the Holy Spirit He has sent in Jesus’ name is currently preparing the bride, the church, for the Son. Only the Father knows when the Son will come and “catch-up” or “take up His bride”. Until then, we must be about our Father’s business and occupy until Jesus comes. That center-line is where we need to be as we begin to think more from the vantage point of keeping our eyes fixed on things above, where Christ is, rather than on the things here below. (Colossians 3:1-3)
The point of today’s post was to aid the reader in understanding the general texture of the subject of Bible prophecy, last-things or what is called by Bible teacher’s
"eschatology”. We chose to employ the idea of how God has designed Bible prophecy to keep the Christian’s faith on the road of faithfulness. There are something He has not revealed to protect the believer from error. There are other areas that God has revealed to prevent the church from falling into complacency. Then there is the centerline of “alertness” that we are to occupy in order to be faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ until He returns.