The End of All Things

confusedThe heresies (among other things) that prompted the convening of counsels throughout Church History, in a manner of speaking, brought about maturing thoughts to the Creeds and Confessions. One such example might be the addition, at Constantinople, of the words, “whose kingdom shall have no end.”

The intent of the Counsel of course goes without saying, but it is interesting to me how simplistic the Ante-Nicene thought on eschatology was, as compared with the massive interpretations and theories available today.

Basically, the Nicene Creed states that Jesus will return in His glory to judge the living and the dead and, at Constantinople added, that His kingdom will be eternal.

The majority of Church History found itself content with this blessed hope of Jesus’ return, and refrained from speculative specifics as to just how God would enact the end times.

After the Reformation, not from Luther and Calvin mind you, Protestant theories began to populate theological discussions and eventually birthed the popular theory known as Dispensationalism. Numerous men became solely renowned for their contributions to this train of thought, which literalizes most of the difficult imagery found in the apocalyptic writings.

It would seem though that this type of interpretation goes against every founded principle the Church has historically accepted for rightly dividing the Word of Truth.

Here is why. Many modern day methods of interpreting the eschatological teachings of Scripture ignore a basic and necessary principle.

These letters were written to living and real people.

First and foremost, the letter’s message had to have applicable meaning to its original audience. We open the door to arrive at erroneous conclusions when we try to interpret the Scriptures as though they just arrived on the scene yesterday.

As an example, the recent phenom “Left Behind” series may make great fictional fodder for Christian entertainment, but I wonder what would be the response of the church at Philippi if we could send a copy back for their reading?

This isn’t meant to demean futurist’s efforts, as many believe and hold to their teachings, but to question the possibility of whether we’re allowed to interpret Scripture in light of the modern world, or are we better to retain the simple understanding of old that our Lord is one day returning in all of His glory to judge every person and to usher in His eternal Kingdom.

Maturing thoughts are one thing, but to say that we’re allowed to progressively adjust the Bible’s revelation of Jesus’ return is to admit that Scripture can say one thing in one generation and something totally different in another. It is this, by the way, that partially led Luther to declare the wrongness of Indulgences, which were introduced by name around the eleventh century. The Church argued against his conclusion by claiming Indulgences were always practiced, just done so unnamed, a thought pattern known as progressive revelation.

For Protestants, to succumb to a progressive revelation theory on any doctrine, means the necessary revisiting of Luther’s Thesis.

In conclusion, it is obvious that everything outside of the Creed’s simplistic proclamation is theoretical at best, heretical in some instances. I’m convinced an accurate understanding of last things is rightly applied when it leads us to live everyday as though Jesus may return before these words are typed (or read), but also as if He may not return for a million years. That way, we’re not only responsible for our own lives and our generation’s, but for countless generations to come to ensure they also hear the message of the glorious gospel; Jesus saves sinners, and He’s coming back to get us.

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About mtsweat

Seeking the rest that is only promised and found in Christ Jesus, along with my treasured wife of more than twenty-five years, we seek to grow in our relationship with our Heavenly Father, walk with the Holy Spirit as He moves our hearts, loving others always as Jesus loves us, and carry the news of His glory, the wonderful gospel, that gives light and life where there once was only darkness.
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7 Responses to The End of All Things

  1. NEO says:

    Very well said, my friends (all of you). far too often, I think we start projecting our world on the world of then, and it rarely works well. Mike’s point that the Epistles were letters to real, living people (and churches) needs to be emphasized far more than it is, I think.

    • mtsweat says:

      Yes, very important to hearing the author’s intent is doing our best to listen through the ears of the letter’s original recipients. As you say, the churches and individuals who received them.

      Considering the fan of history you are Neo, we might even acknowledge this necessity in all of our reading, especially with what we see the educational system doing with the records of our past. I read the other day of a textbook being used that teaches America was actually discovered by Muslims. Others have bought into the denial of the Holocaust. The way we interact with our reading definitely affects our conclusion.

      • NEO says:

        And I though Zinn was bad!! It’s something that comes up in history as well, of course, to not judge historical characters by contemporary standards.

        A lot of it is the will to disbelieve, if I was a radical islamist, I would be inclined to disbelieve the holocaust for two reasons, 1) my fathers taught me that the Jews are my enemy and 2) Hitler was my people’s ally. Unfortunately for them, truth stands on its own.

        Our education system does need a thorough rebuilding, not least as it was designed to produce automata for the 2d wave factories, not the thinking sentient, creative people we increasingly need.

  2. Rob Barkman says:

    Very well said, brother. It is an issue that I have long been a pet peeve of mine. All the grand scenarios that we have come up with to explain future events is adding to God’s Word, changing the clear meaning of it, and in some cases actually bringing shame to His name. In my way of thinking, dispensationalism is one of the greatest examples of the twisting of God’s Word.

    As you say, we know He is coming again, we know that He will judge the world, we know He will spend eternity with His chosen people, and we know He will eternally punish the lost. By going beyond these fundamental teachings, we are skating on thin ice. Lord bless you.

    • mtsweat says:

      Thanks Pastor Rob. The movement has become so big that one often shies from a simplistic approach, but it was your recent article that convinced me we’ve probably come to a place where it can be a positive thing to open the door for conversations on these things. By no means do I even pretend to have and know, but it sure seems the early believers managed to hold to a much simpler understanding of Christian doctrines. Blessings good friend.

  3. RJ Dawson says:

    Thank you, Mike. Very good. Excellent writing.

    The Word of God makes clear declarations about “adding to” or “taking away.” However, this has never stopped religious pretenders with a different agenda of doing it anyway. Is it for wealth? Prestige? Both?

    Walking in real revelation is never on an upward track as some man-made career path, but in humility before the Lord that He (Truth) may shine forth that people may be saved. The bad guys do the opposite, no matter how holy they may appear, being dressed up in religious garb as the anti-Jesus Pharisees they are.

    Regarding later interpretations of Scripture, creeds, man-inspired doctrines, and whatnot, people can do what they want and they can believe what they want. But the Living Word is pure, holy, and complete in and of itself. The Word of God IS God, and God doesn’t need anyone doing Him the favor of confusing people and fouling things up whatever their motivation may be.

    The early believers had it right. They learned directly from the Master. We must return to our roots and ditch all the false garbage introduced since then if it does not agree. It is our Lord Jesus who is the One and only Great Revelator. There is no other.

    He is the Beginning and the End…

    • mtsweat says:

      Thanks for the gracious words RJ! …and the pointed nod toward those believers closest in proximity to the Source. In the words of the ever-encouraging Mary Jane, “Go get em’ Tiger!” 🙂

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