A few days ago a young lady that my wife knew from her childhood in Texas was killed in a car wreck. It has shocked many who now must wrestle with the emotions connected to the death of someone who only reached the age of eighteen. Death is usually devastating; it is harder to swallow when it comes so early.
Today my wife shared a song with me sung by Brooke Fraser/Hillsong United. It is a song titled “Soon” about the coming/appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is very hopeful presenting this event as our great hope. I can’t help but think that the authors of Scripture felt the same way whenever they wrote about the parousia of Christ.
Sure, for those who rebel against God there is an element of fear. I do not intend on minimizing that. Nevertheless, it seems to me that many preachers have a good grasp of how to preach the fearful element of the Second Coming. Some misguided eschatologies (esp. some so-called “rapture” eschatology) act as if God will suck all the good out of creation before unleashing devestating wrath. I do not deny wrath; I do deny the picture presented.
The wrath of God is a purifying wrath. It removes evil. For all followers of Christ this should be promising. We should want our righteous God to make the world right again. One of those evils is death itself. At the Second Coming all of creation will be restored (Rom. 8-18-23). We will be raised from the dead or transformed (as it says in Rom. 8.11 and 1 Jn 3.2). God will reign.
Preachers, tell people about our hope–one of restoration, renewal, resurrection, and righteousness. If this scares them at least it is not a scare tactic–it is likely the Holy Spirit. What we must avoid is sermon after sermon that cause the faithful to fear his coming. We must avoid anything that will distory the hope that my wife has today of seeing her friend one fine day. Rather, our churches should experience the joy of the author of Revelation who cried out, “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” at his promise to return (22.20). The second coming is hopeful, let us present it that way.
Thanks Brian. I love talking about eschatology because of the hopeful perspective. I am reading through N.T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope right now and it is good and refreshing to hear the hopeful thoughts. I shared some good quotes from the book on heaven and eschatology in a recent article on my blog.
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