Monday, November 26, 2012

Why the End of the World Isn't In Your Future

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus repeatedly said, "You have heard it said. . ." or "It has been said" and then recounted some false teaching of the Pharisees followed by "but I say to you" and the correct teaching.  We know Jesus wasn't changing or correcting biblical principles, because He didn't say, "The Scripture says,"  "It is written," or another phrase indicating a scriptural quote.  In this teaching, He contrasts the false teaching of the church leaders of the age with truth.

If I may be so bold, I am attempting here to follow the example of Jesus and say, "You have heard it said, but Scripture says to you..."

At the church in which I grew up, we were taught to look expectantly towards the eastern sky for the soon appearing of the Lord in His Second Coming.  Imagine my shock when I discovered my new boyfriend (and soon-to-be fiance) didn't believe the end of the world was nigh.  In fact, he maintained this gloom-and-doom eschatology was not at all what the Bible taught.  Wanting to save him from such erroneous thinking, I began debating end times prophecy with him.  I lost - big time!

Today, I am firmly convinced the eschatological perspective I was taught (by my church, Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye, etc.) is not only wrong, but harmful.  It fills Christians needlessly with fear by misinterpreting Scripture.  It can paralyze Christians so they are not working to transform our world because, as one of the end-times teachers said, "You don't polish the brass on a sinking ship."  I don't believe these teachers purposely taught falsehood, but I do believe that was the end result.

If you are freaking out by unrest in the Middle East, or are a young person worried about never getting married because the Rapture is going to happen before you get the chance, or are not worried about planning for the future because you think you'll be raptured out before you get old, please know Christians through the centuries DID NOT believe this.  Lots of Christians today (myself included) DO NOT believe this.

Proverbs teaches us the first man's case seems just until another comes to examine him (Proverbs 18:17).  Too often, erroneous teaching is continued generation to generation simply by repetition and assertion.  Here are some example:

Does the Bible say the lion shall lay down with the lamb?  No.  Doubt me?  Read Isaiah 65:25.

Was Elijah taken up in a fiery chariot?  No.  Doubt me?  Read 2 Kings 2:11.

Does the Bible teach in the parable of the wheat and the tares that Christians will be taken before the wicked in the end times?  No.  Doubt me?  Read Matthew 13:24-30.  The Scriptures says (of the wheat and tares) in vs 30:  "First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn"

One little blog post is not enough to change your mind, but I hope it is enough to challenge you to be like the Bereans:  "These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so."

Here are some resources to help you in your investigation:
A wonderful (and little) book called, "Why the End Is Not Near," which you can pick up for $5 here.

American Vision has this article about prophecy and what is going on in the Middle East.

And while preaching through Mark, my hubby did an overview of some eschatological talking points in this week's sermon.  You can find it here.

No comments: