Friday, 5 November 2010

Eschatology - what is agreed...

Guest blogger Mick Taylor continues his series on ‘the Last Days’

The resources for understanding what the Scriptures teach about eschatology are many and varied. They stretch back into the beginning of the Old Testament where God promises the serpent that one day ‘his head would be crushed’ by one who is a descendant of Eve, (Genesis 3:15) and goes through to the end of Revelation with a vision of the New Heavens on the New Earth (Revelation 21:1-2;). Along the way prophets, apostles and the Lord himself make many statements that give glimpses of what’s in store - but none of them spell it out in detail. It’s a bit like having been given a variety of jigsaw pieces but no picture to work from. Most Christians agree on the pieces but there is real debate about how they fit together.

So, before considering the different schemes of how things will work out at the end, it’s helpful to consider the key elements on which most Christians agree. These are:

- The personal return of Jesus to this world. (Acts 1:11)

- Rapture: from 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 we learn that at His return the dead will be raised and those still alive will join them to meet Christ in the air. Note: Tom Wright and others think this is symbolic language and not to be taken literally but this is a minority position amongst evangelicals.

- Tribulation. There are various verses that indicate that towards the End there will be times of great stress and difficulty which will affect both Christians and the world as a whole. (Matthew 24: 21-22)

- Millennium. In Revelation 20:1-6 we read of the 1000 year reign of Christ with his saints.

- Judgement of the living and the dead.

- The ushering in of New Heavens and New Earth.

To be continued…