Monday, June 13, 2016

The Future

The Future

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow, because He lives, all fear is gone; because I know He holds the future…’ (Gaither), so goes the chorus of an assuring hymn. Jesus “holds the future” because God is the God of time, past, present and future. The Triune God pushes time forward as He keeps it ticking as He drags it behind Him. The resurrected and ascended Jesus awaits the arrival of the final destination of all things (including you, me and death): ‘For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive …Then the end will come, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father after He has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death’ 1 Corinthians 15:22;24-26 NIV. No matter how long dead you are, you’ll be made alive in the future!

It’s not hard to see that the Christian has a far different take on the future than everyone else. For the Christian the future is all about the resurrected Jesus putting death to death on the Last Day and then living with His resurrected people forever on the resurrected (i.e., renewed) earth. We see then why Christianity lives or dies by Christ’s resurrection. That’s why the Apostle says, ‘If Christ is not risen, your faith is futile…’ 1 Corinthians 15:17a. For the Christian living in the present the future is tied to an event in the past. Without the physical resurrection of Jesus the Christian has no future. But again, as the Apostle says, ‘But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep’ 1 Corinthians 15:20.

The Christian would much rather look into God’s Word than gaze into a crystal ball. Therein God says, ‘I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure”’ Isaiah 46:9b-10. Jesus holds the future, not the fortune-teller. And He says, ‘Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble’ Matthew 6:34. Therefore, whether it’s the near future or the far future it all belongs to Jesus.

There are three main views (each with variants within) that Christians hold regarding what the Bible says about the future: Premillennialism, Postmillennialism, and Amillennialism. (The word ‘millennium’ means a thousand, as in a thousand years. See e.g., Revelation 20.) The first view holds that things on earth will progressively grow worse before Jesus physically returns to set up a thousand year ministry, a “Millennial Reign.’ The second holds that Jesus will come back only after there has been a thousand year (or an extensive) period of peace of earth. And the third view is that things will carry on pretty much in the same dismal state until Jesus’s Second Coming. The first and the last views are pessimistic about the present and the near future. However, all three are optimistic about the distant future.

Why the different schools of thought? You may as well ask: Why the different Christian Denominations?! However, every Christians is agreed that, ‘Jesus shall reign where’er the sun, doth his successive journeys run; His kingdom stretch from shore to shore, Till moons shall wax and wane no more.’ Isaac Watts (1674-1748).